WDWM Ok so I’m a little late!

19 01 2008

So sorry this is long in coming – it’s rare for me to take a week to get together a race report, but a few things just took me off track … HERE IT IS! 

Greetings and Salutations from Slightly Forward of the Back of Pack! 

Walt Disney World Marathon      13 January 2008 

     This was my second bite at the Disney World apple.  Last year was “Oh my please finish” this year I wanted under 6 hours.  I didn’t get it, but I got blasted close!Team In Training Rocky Mountain left Denver on a chilly 10 January.  Your reporter was spotted Racewalking to the concession stands sporting her Stitch headdress out of boredom more than anything.  Kristin Hank of Boulder is also a Racewalker and we were just a smidge competitive whenever I looked down at her and got it going.

We arrived in Orlando during what they were considering a cold snap.  Ok.  I brought most of my own food, however it was still in transit, so I made the fateful decision to purchase a sandwich at the cash and carry at the Coronado Resort where we were staying.  Almost immediately my intestinal tract started to protest – but I was hoping it was just a case of pre-race jitters.  Sadly, of course, it wasn’t.  During both my morning training sessions I knew I was in trouble … and I can tell you where the three pools as well as their associated facilities are located!

Morning work-out was really quite nice.  After spending the last month in the YMCA working out on the treadmill or 17 lap = 1 mile track it was a welcome change.  A month prior to leaving, I had started an outdoor training post snow.  Long story short, I slipped on the ice and ended up in a ditch re-damaging my left side: ankle, knee, hip, elebow, shoulder and wrist.  It’s been a long road back.  Friday Morning, I got out and was passed by a handful of Team In Training groups from around the nation and Puerto Rico.  They were jogging along and I walked along to keep up here and there.  I’ve been a solidary worker, so having people to pace me was a little strange.  They were a little surprised to have a walker keeping up with them.  Learn something new every day.

Saturday mellow day before the race was mandatory.  I wanted to do some little sprints, but woke up at 2 a.m. throwing up.  Nothing helped.  It was to the point where I was making myself oatmeal just to have something to throw up.  By 6, I’d gone through almost an entire loaf of bread and more food than I could deal with.  I’d been feeling dehydrated before this, but now it was getting serious.  By 7, there was no Gatorade left in the room and I felt like I was running a fever.  This was NOT good.  I didn’t have a roommate because I pay to keep the room solo, therefore I was pretty much left to my own devices.  I’d brought about 2 bunches of bananas from the Pasta Party and was slowly working my way through those.  It was working, but I knew that I’d literally voided everything that I had stored up.  Not a way to go in to a marathon in the flordia heat.  By 9, I called my Dad in California.  This is rare for me to do a *help* call, but he’s a doctor.  Some of the things he said were helpful; others brought up some painful memories … but all in all it was reassuring.

I spent the day carefully wandering the resort.  I wanted to go over to the ½ to see people come in – especially a few of the team members I’ve been becoming close to.  I couldn’t do it.  I was able to get a couple of bottles of Gatorade from the spendy store and found a hammock within which I deposited my somewhat weak self with squeeze bottle and book.  When Kristin saw me, she was concerned.  She’s a nurse and she’s gotten a clue that I’m slightly competitive … and although it was predicted to have less sun on Sunday, the humidity was going to be maxed out.

Sunday: Here’s a way to start out for a race: Pray that your stomach is going to hold while making oatmeal out of the coffee pot and watching Sumo Wrestling on Japanese television!  SERIOUSLY!  That’s how I got going.  Kept me giggling throughout the race!  Something had to as when I stepped outside at 2, the air was heavy.  I knew I was compromised, so I just wanted to get as close to 6 hours as I could.

     As I was wandering around looking at the other teams, I saw how truly coheisive they were.  We were a bit more rag-tag.  No problem.  I was doing my newly discovered Sumo Wrestler deep knee bends and getting ready to go. 

     Everything was different this year.  The air was heavier, we were let off in a different place, I felt confident.  Although I KNEW there was a potential for my knee to give out, hip to stop raise and stomach to yak it’s contents on the carefully manicured lawns of Disney World, I felt like there was truly magic in the air. My Stitch ear head-dress made it easy for team members to find where we were in the sea of 18,000 runners/walkers/joggers cued up for the potty.  As I was walking one of our first-time marathonners over to the centurally located water table, a fellow athlete was wearing the stitch ears.  He pointed to the front of the line we were standing by saying “You’ve got to see the back of Gary’s shirt!  It’s Stitch eating Mickey Mouse!”  Normally I keep to myself pre-race, but this was one of those mornings to float with whatever and I proceeded up the front of the line toward a tall gent and asked to see his backside.  It’s very rare that I come up to the shoulder of anyone, but there it was.  I didn’t realize I’d be embarrassing myself so early to one of the members of the San Diego team who became instrumental in my post race recovery!

I was a lot further up in the corrals than I thought I should be.  For some reason I was placed with the 5 to 5.5 hour people.  I got my head together and started walking.  I kept a pretty good pace – was on line for a 5:45 marathon when the stomach really started in.  Yakking before the Magic Kingdom was in order.  After that I was highly careful about anything going in to my system.  I was depending on Cliff Shock Blocks for ‘food’ and peppermint gum to keep it down.

By the 1/2 way mark, I was in level 5 pain with my leg.  Many who know me know that I’ve been through a serious of accidents and situations within my time on this planet wherein I’ve had to manage pain.  My 5 is many peoples’ 7 or so.  The fact that I walked in to this race compromised didn’t help matters.  I was drinking poweraid/water cocktails from mile 5 forward and they were working to an extent, but I was losing entirely too much heat.  The positive thing was that the sun didn’t really come out until around mile 19.

Because of my compromised state, I was stopping more often to stretch and check in with my body.  I was further up in the pack than I’ve been in previous marathons, so there wasn’t the water issue, but there was a real problem with people who didn’t know how to handle a water stop.  I can deal with table grabs if people grab and go … I can deal with grabbing a water and *ade you grab and then go to the center line and go. 

I do my level best to completely Racewalk through everything but by mile 20, I caught myself tourist walking through the water stop because so many people had stopped and I couldn’t get around them.  My leg hurt that bad.  People were complaining about this and that … so I realized I had to pick up the pace to get away from them!  I knew if I could just hold on to a 14 or 14.5 minute average mile, I’d be OK even with all the stopping to stretch.  Just after mile 24, my hip was acting up and coming down a sidewalk I kicked a raised piece of cement and went flying.  A chiropractor on the team said I probably put my hip back in alignment because it felt fine thereafter … we racewalkers are quite the resourceful group.Mile 25 – put a fork in me, I’d had it.  I had nothing left.  Nothing was working.  It wasn’t only the pain level, it was that I was soaking and dehydrated.  Team Rocky Mountain coach (and friend) Jenn Hall literally ran me in.  She was running, I was walking.  I was in trouble, in level 8.5 pain but nothing was getting between me and that finish.  She kept prodding and out of somewhere someone from the side shouted “Great Form Elisabeth!”  That statement breathed life into the near dead me.  Jenn left me at the gate and it was up to me for the ending.  The end of the race requires you to go around a corner then down in front of grandstands.  I came around the corner and honestly was grateful for the noise and confusion.  The most beautiful sight was that Finish banner.  I’m a huge Stitch (character) fan and he was at the finish, but I knew if I varied off the line I was on – directly down the center – I would probably pass out.  It was a 200 meter … and I’ve been pulling those very fast.  Someplace in the fog of my head I could hear the announcer calling my name and city from my bib.  I couldn’t give a fig … I noticed I was still finishing way ahead of my current best marathon time set last year at Disney: 6:24:01.  According to my Garmin, I pulled a 8:47 minute mile.  That might not be fast to many, but it was the absolute end of my tank.  Big grin on my face – feigning lucidity – I crossed those lines and nearly fell over.  I waived off help and made my way to the water area.  My funky gait and Rocky Mountain across my shoulders tipped a couple I’d met at the Cherry Creek Sneak that I was from Denver – good timing as I was starting to pass out. 

I got myself over to the Team In Training booth and was surprised – my body was gluing itself right back together.  Pain was abating, as was my ability to see!  One of the folks I met in the early hours was named Happy.  He, Gail and I had played leapfrog for a while.  They’re with the San Diego crew.  I was a good 100 yards away from where they were but I saw him and threw my arms about his neck – estatic to see him .. or anything for that matter!  I believe I mentioned what kind of trouble I was in and a chair materalized.  Next thing I knew I was sitting next to Gary, the guy whose shirt had the Mickey Mouse being dinner for Stitch!  I honestly never thought I ‘d see these folks and next thing I knew my e-mail was being taken to send the photo along.  I don’t remember too terribly much for at least 1/2 an hour except that I’d grabbed the wrong bag leaving my house!  These folks were terribly polite and were like fairy godfathers/godmothers to me.  I was thinking about how last year I’d finished, checked in and wandered about in a very lonely haze.  I wasn’t in quite the state I was in here, but it was really quite lonely.  I’m usually the babysitter, but these guys did a great job babysitting me!  I think they were too polite to tell me how terrible I looked, but were prepared to help me if I fell off my chair!  It felt like it was going to happen twice!  I remember leaning in for a photograph and seeing spots.  After several bottles of water and *ade, everything abated.  A testimony to how dehydrated I was, I didn’t have to pee for quite some time!

The sky opened up and it down poured.  A couple of hours after my delirious ending, I was teaching one of our 13 year old patient honorees how to do The Bump.  Gotta love it! The Shep Upshot:1.       Watching Sumo Wrestling on the Tele before a race reminds you to stretch deeply.2.       Dehydration sucks.  3.       Realize the weather might work against and do the absolute level best.4.       Never give up but don’t be an idiot either.5.       Be nice to people, you never know: the folks you embarrass yourself around at 4:30 a.m. just might be your guardian angels when you can’t see straight.6.       I am really grateful to folks and love them even more when I’m falling apart and they cover! I’ll be registering for the Goofy for 2009.  Next Major Race – Surf City ½ Marathon – 3 February – Huntington Beach, Ca. Catch ya on the B side! Dizzy Ms. Lizzy – Racewalker-ette

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