Walt Disney World Donald Duck – First Third of My Quest for the Goofy

24 01 2009

I'm Such a Morning Muppet

I'm Such a Morning Muppet

Good Morning Boys and Girls! Welcome to the Disney World 1/2 Marathon in the freaking cold of Orlando!!!

 If I’d not been to Orlando in November, I wouldn’t have thought that I would be walking up to the start of a race there losing feeling in my fingers and toes, but there I was at 5 a.m. freaking freezing! I knew something was going to be up when I wandered out of my hotel room wearing a light weight race coat and race gloves. This didn’t feel right. I knew it would warm up, but this was just … cold!

We met as a team in the lobby of the hotel where I ran into folks I’ve met at other races and previous walks of this one! It was the strangest Old Home Week at 3:30 in the morning! I’d already set up with a few of the coaches that I might need help this year as I was going in injured. That took a lot for me because I don’t like to feel weak, but I truly believe this weakness was a strength and probably the reason why I didn’t completely go hell-bent-for-leather at this event and “behaved myself” like I’d promised everyone from my Mother to Dave I’d do.

There were changes. The lower post-race area had a band playing 80’s music that everyone could dance to. There was the same gatekeeper entrance to where the circle of potties was – going through by last name – but they zip tied the bag there themselves … maybe there had been problems in the past. I also noticed there was a medical aid station of sorts right outside the “S” bag drop … divine intervention? I donno. I did notice they had everything from blister band-aids to petrolium jelly (for chaffing) and, my personal favorite, pump jugs of BioFreeze.

I had a few packets of BioFreeze in my race belt. I’d made some changes … yeah, I know the law “no changes on race day” … to my water belt. I’d added a pouch with extra Clif Shots in it. It was a trial run for Sunday. I popped the BioFreeze packets in there too.

The potty lines were negligible when I first got back there so I was able to go in and then go back out to the ending area. I really didn’t know exactly how the event was going to go, but Michelle let me know that it would end going through the Epcot parking lot … uh … ok.

I guess I like to get where I’m going. I walked back through with Coach Jen from Fort Collins and that was the last time I saw her and her Fairy Coach-Mother’s wand until Sunday morning! It’s a fairly long walk up to the start and it was … cold. In previous years, they didn’t have potties lining that walkway and people dove off into the bushes. This year, there were potties and I figured it would be a good thought not to wait until I got to the start — which was going to be rather unfamiliar this year.

The walk up gave me a chance to start to check in with my legs. They didn’t feel all that good. I’ve never had hamstring issues really, but behind both knees didn’t feel terrific. My ankle felt fine, but that right calf … breathe in … breathe out … relax knowing your Kaiser is paid up through February … breathe in … breathe out … what’s that shiny thing on the ground!  I found a quarter! I laughed to myself because it appeared for a while that races I was most concerned about, I would find a quarter and I’d make it through … I found my quarter … I’m just like the guy who is going to win both these races … I’ve got my “pay-day” and I’ll have my hardware … I just won’t have to pay taxes on any of it!

It was a mess when we got to the top. The hoard of us were directed to the right and there was another small bank of potties there. I met a really nice gal on the way up and we were laughing about my finding a quarter. We got to where the pots were and then cross countried it (walked across a grassy area) to another set. It was dark and I did see a couple of people trip in the grass. Not a great way to start a race.

There was a bit of open roadway where I could warm up. The vast majority of folks were filtering into the corrals, but there was a large handful of us who were in this stretch of roadway where the fast folks would be for the Marathon. I looked at these folks and they reminded me of the fast runners from the Rocky Mountain Road Runners — but I was there to walk my own race … damn it!

I did some quick stepping, warmed myself up, and started doing my active leg swings and such supported by a light post. Three guys (who looked mighty tasty — but then again it was dark, dimly lit, 5:15 in the morning and there was 80’s rock music playing … so it could have been a trick of the light) came over and stretched near me. “Excuse me – are you going to do the Goofy?” said Cute Guy Number One. Ok – I’m standing there in a green race skirt with a set of Stitch ears plopped on my head … not exactly looking my best … or maybe looking my most … uh … me. “Um yeah.” Cute Guy Number Two said “Are you going to do that quick step thing you were doing down there?” Took me a moment … “Um – I’m hoping to racewalk both events, yeah.” Not Quite as Cute Guy as One and Two said “You’ve got to be kidding. You’re going to walk both events with no running.” … ah … I needed that to make the butterflies go away … “Yeah … why should I run slowly when I can walk pretty darned fast?” “You’ve got to be kidding,” he continued and his friends probably realized he was in a bit of hot water here … I smiled pretty and said “Yup, Sweetheart … I’m just a walker … that is just what I do.” 

Patti and me at the Green Door - the back entrance to Epcot - a mile marker for the Marathon meaning you're almost done. Shot in November at Camp.

Patti and me at the Green Door - the back entrance to Epcot - a mile marker for the Marathon meaning you're almost done. Shot in November at Camp.

I found my corral and right before we were to take off, I finally felt my phone vibrate. Patti W. from Camp was in the corral … and I turned around to see her blonde head. Now this might not seem spectacular. I was the obvious spot – 5’9.5″ with blue stitch ears on my head … but Patti comes up to maybe my shoulder! She’s a Florida local and it turned out she and her husband had problems getting her to the start due to the road closures.

Note to Self: Stay at the blasted resort with the shuttles prior to this race – costs money but saves sanity and provides peace of mind.

Patti was going to be tuning in to her Shenia Twaine (sp) but we were going to hook up for photos and congrats at the end … just had to find one another. Ok. I was ready to go.

The corral thing and staggered start wasn’t really well explained. People were climbing over the fence to get in to the corral as the National Anthem was beautifully sung. We’re really getting going … cool! I wondered what the Fireworks would be like for the half because they’re pretty cool for the full. I didn’t have a great deal of time to wait. The corrals actually worked very similar to the Bolder Boulder. They set the fastest groups out first then let the middle group go then the slowest. I wasn’t sure if they were going to have A/B/C etc for each of the waves, but it appeared not. The corrals were the waves … just like the Bolder Boulder or Surf City (minus the rain).

Pop – Zip – GO!

I was pretty ready to rock by the time we started. I was also pretty damn cold! I knew that once I got going, blood would flow and I’d potentially have my circulatory system working properly so that blood would flow back into my fingers. The downer, of course, is that this is a fairly painful sensation once it starts.

Note to Self: Wear gloves – even tossables!

We took off and I realized it was going to be a series of bottlenecks through the entire race. Yes, we were on the roadway, but a 2-lane road with something like 13,000 of my ‘closest friends’ is a tight squeeze. People were actually pretty nice, all in all. I knew the road well enough to stick hard on the left as that’s where the curve was … I was bound and determined not to add extra mileage due to not hitting tangents at least somewhat decently. I popped a Clif Shock Block into my mouth and motored away.  Since I was on the edge, however, I did get pushed off onto the grass divider a couple of times by people more intent on their music (which I could hear through their headphones) than who they were popping off the edge of the road! One gal went flying and I was very afraid I’d damage my left foot while trying to protect my right! That got the heart rate up. The guy running in, quite literally, a red speedo and shoes and socks seemed to put my cold thing completely into perspective …

Early morning on Main Street

Early morning on Main Street

Forget the cold … get the gold!  My phone buzzed against my leg. Who is calling me at this hour? Linda, my racewalking Twin Sister from Virginia!! I called her back and she said something like “you sound a little out of breath.” My response was “well – the race just started and I’m on my way up to mile one going just a smidge too fast.” She laughed heartily and said “You idiot! You’re not supposed to call me during  the race! Have fun and get going!!!”

The Donald Duck 1/2 goes directly through the main gates which is different from the full. We go around and through the back stage area and then it’s up to Main Street. I really felt psyched this year to do this. There were boatloads of people cheering for Team In Training right when I needed them. I came into the park feeling like I had wings on – It was so strange to be there in the dark, but It was pretty awesome also.

Dave and I had an e-mail discussion about how the 1/2 marathon seems to be a distance I like. Flying through the one park we get for the half, I really had to agree with him. I know, more or less, what to expect. Of course, the variable this go around was just how long were my legs going to hold out without causing me trouble.

As we were exiting the park, I decided it might be in my best interest to slather some BioFreeze on my calf and
6.5 miles in.

Just past the 1/2 way pads: 6.5 miles in.

slow the hell DOWN! I popped about 1/2 a  Cliff Shot and kept moving along. There’s this long “hill” coming out of the park … it’s just a steady incline. I looked up at it and said “spin your wheels, Lizzy … you’ve got a LONG way to go.” It was about this time that things started to come slightly unglued.

For some reason, the inside of both my knees really hurt. I’d never had a pain here before. Also, my feet felt TERRIBLE! What in the Blue Blazes was going on here? I figured it out fairly quickly. I was over-protecting and slapping my feet down rather than rolling through them. Just how long I’d been doing that was anyone’s guess and I wasn’t going to dwell on it, but this wasn’t pleasant a’tall! It was something I’d not done in quite some time.

So, since I was paying attention to things, I thought about what I’d learned in camp. I lifted my rib cage, and tried to get lighter on my feet. More roll, shorter steps. Ah … that felt better. See, Dave, I can pay attention! 🙂 I popped second half of the Cliff Shot around mile six. That is a bit early for me, but I’ve learned to trust my gut over distance or time. I felt like I needed a little something to work with.

What was concerning me was that my calf was really making it’s presence known and my ankle started to hurt. “Come on baby … keep it together!” I think things bothered me a bit more than they would have had I really known what was coming up in the course. I guess I’m a bit of a control freak this way, but when I’m not having to be quite as concerned about what “surprises” I’ve got coming up, I can plan on how I’m going to take care of myself to get there. I wonder, however, if I’d known about the “on-ramp” someplace around mile 10 that got us back on the roadway toward Epcot would I really have felt more comfortable?

This on-ramp is actually familiar to me because in the full we leave Epcot along the same path the half enters on. I think I wouldn’t have been happy at all because about mile 10 my worst fear was realized. No amount of making sure I was hydrated or eating properly would have stopped what I knew was coming … no amount of BioFreeze slather would have stopped the inevitable. My calf was starting to seize up and become extremely painful. All I could truly hope for was that it would hold Together and not go completely like it had in my bedroom on Wednesday night.

Owie Owie Owie Owie Owie ... where is that blasted finish line???

Owie Owie Owie Owie Owie ... where is that blasted finish line???

 It was truly going to be a “mental” game now. I’d already gotten myself to slow down because I had an event to do on Sunday, but now I was having to slow down to keep my promise – I would NOT kill myself! I popped another Clif Shock Block probably more to give myself something to suck on then chewed some gum … knowing my jaw was going to hurt by the end, but that was the least of my worries!

When you’re doing a fundraising event and you actually have a connection with it, sometimes those connections carry you through. I thought about how a couple years before, after I completed my first Disney Marathon, I met my close buddy She-Ra and she’s now fighting a battle with breast cancer. I thought about my cousin Bob whom I never got to meet, but then there’s Brandan and Gary whom have fought and will keep on fighting. My team had two survivors on it and … well … as my mind went wandering … although things hurt, my legs just did what they usually do … kept going.

Amazing things, legs are.

I made the most important promise of my life. I promised my calf that I would go directly into the med tent after crossing the finish line and “treat” it to a huge ice pack. I just needed it to not go completely and it could “look forward to” the following: an ice pack, a nice massage love always me, some Arcana gel, rolling out with this funky roller thing, and a long dip in the “quiet” pool. Forget the ice bath thing … my whole body was getting in a cool pool. It’d worked on Friday morning after I did my sprints. I did a just-in-case and it felt terrific.

Ok, body … let’s rock it. The half marathon is your distance … you can and will do this. It’s hot and you feel pretty unprepared … but it’s better than being in the snow! Let’s get GOING! I’d been drinking my Powerade Cocktails at most of the water stops, but I had a feeling I’d gone a little light on the electrolytes even mixing them myself. I couldn’t get into the Powerade cup grab line a couple of times, so I was popping the Shock Blocks more than I was comfortable with.

Coming in and almost done

Coming in and almost done

Don’t ask me why, but I caught that second wind someplace between mile 11 and 12, and things started feeling pretty good. I knew I was getting close to the end of leg one of my journey and the only problem I had was that calf, but even that was starting to go to the background. I felt myself standing straighter, feet starting to roll, hips feeling pretty good and that dead-feeling I’d gotten from slapping my feet … well I had full feeling in them again! Yeeehhhhh RA!
I was barely listening to my watch through the entire race. This was by design. I’m bound and determined to feelmy pace vs. being quite as dependent on my Garmin. I was keeping my mind active by figuring out my rough mileage whenever I saw a timing clock and I knew I wouldn’t be in under my personal record of 2:40:38. Um … that’s fine. The funny thing, however, was I figured I’d be in around 2:47 and change. That was roughly my time in November when I did a half marathon still sick with the creeping crud. No problem. Just a year previous to this event, I would have been psyched to be getting in at that time, but I felt a little let down.
“Excuse me, Miss Shepard,” I told myself, “you’re only a third of the way done!!!!
Coming in to Epcot really turned me around. In the Marathon, I’d used a fountain as my “ok – you’re almost done. Legs, it’s okto kick in the after-burners.” I was, however, going the wrong direction and saw a great deal of folks doubling back. Because we were in such a glut, I couldn’t see much further than the backs of the people in front of me. I did know that someplace up ahead was a turn around because there were people coming back in the opposite direction.  It was then that I hear it … “HEY STITCH WALKER GIRL!!!” Hu? I looked across the way and it was Cute Guy #1 and Cute Guy #2 … and they were still pretty cute, but I was pretty tired.  “HEEYY!!!” I called back.  “YOU GO Walker Girl!!! You GO!!! See ya at the end!!!!”
Getting happier!!! I'm so almost done!

Getting happier!!! I'm so almost done!

I  laughed and it was the charge that I needed. I’m almost done. I have no clue where I’m going, but I’m almost done!
I love this photo with me nearly done. I kind of feel sorry for the guy next to me, however, as he’s wearing his marathon number. I don’t remember him passing me nor if he was a walker or a runner … doesn’t really matter.
At any rate, I was completing the first half and I wasn’t really feeling that sense of “relief” or “accomplishment” I usually do. I was feeling a lot of “what the hell have you done to me this time” body aches. I was really hot and wondered if I was the last person from my team out there. Yeah – I still feel like I’m way in the back of the pack.
When I used to run, I loved to sprint. I had problems with long distances. For someone with as long legs as I’ve got, I always felt really slow. One of the complaints I’ve written about myself before has been that I’ve always felt like I was going so slow and that people would be waiting too long for me to complete an event. Maybe I’ve finally started to get it through my thick skull that I’m walking my ownrace … sure I would like to place highly, but when I’m walking in these running events, especially in these huge ones, I’ve got to remember the people around me have the added extra bonus of the luxury of picking up their paws and running; getting that extra umph from launching into the air. I’ve got to get my turn-over faster … using my legs with a faster cadence rather than falling back on stride length – which truly just slows me down.
As I was negotiating through the last bit of traffic, I gave myself the luxury of knowing that I was pushing myself, but that I was nearing the end of the first portion of the journey. There were people in front of me, but a heck of a lot of people behind me also. I was pushing myself while not being stupid. I learned some new things that I could use tomorrow and I did some on the fly corrections which were beneficial.
I was spinning my wheels and having a great time … sore … but having a great time. Time to take care of business, blow this taco stand and go have a Nutella sandwich! I breathe through my mouth most of the time, so it dries out – so popped another Shock Block to take care of the problem.
One down, two to go!

One down, two to go!

The absolute ending of this race is like the Marathon. There’s a Gospel Choir right before that last left hand turn to the finish. I remembered last year thinking I’d died because I was in such bad shape being dehydrated. I tipped my hat and checked in one more time … “ok legs … after-burners …”
As you come around the doorway, you start to see this crowd of people who are there just cheering. It takes a little bit to see the finish line as you’re coming out of the shade and in to the sunlight. Due to injury and foul weather, I’d not been doing my track work-outs. I did want to make sure I was stepping well and felt that last surge of adrenaline. I passed the group of people I’d gone into the Choir area with … then passed the group of people in front of them. I had my eye on another Goofy person – a guy in a yellow shirt and black shorts. I wanted to pass him before we got to the pads. Why? Because I was using him as a target to get myself going. According to the photo … I did what I wanted to. 
Cross the line … page Patti to let her know I’d finished and get a Mylarthing to keep the heat in. I was trying to grab the blanket while sending the I’m done text when I suddenly felt the blanket around my shoulders and sandwiched in a huge hug! It was Cute Guy #1 and Cute Guy #2!!! I couldn’t believe it! I was laughing pretty hard when they said that I’d easily beaten their buddy who said there was no way an “old walking chick” could come across the line ahead of him. I smiled and said … “who you callin’ old?? Dude owes you a few beers!” We laughed and got our medals together. Next time I saw Cute Guy #1 and Cute Guy #2 (twin brothers Barry and Bart), they were standing on the side in Epcot during the Marathon right before The Green Door … “YOU KEEP GOING WALKER STITCH GIRL!!! GO!!! GO!!! GO!!!” I yelled back “Where’s the Dork?” Both cherrily yelled “In too much pain to get out of bed!!!! Thanks for the beers!!!!” I meet the most interesting people in races, hu?
I immediately went into the med tent area where they were palliate wrapping ice to body parts. I’ve always said I like racewalking because you rarely see a racewalker with ice hanging off their body. I think this was an exception because I went in injured. It was completely preventative … and because my calf and associated body parts had more than held up their end of the bargain. My phone started buzzing – text messages from friends who had been getting the splits either on their cells or e-mail. I was just getting out of the med tent when I got a text from Sasha saying, simply, “EAT!” Don’t have to tell me twice!
One medal down ... two to go ...

One medal down ... two to go ...

I grabbed some powerade and had a lovely conversation with an elderly lady and her two gentleman friends! Quite the group! I needed direction to where the Goofy check in was. They were so funny and ended with “Ok, Miss Lizzy! We’ll see you tomorrow!!!”
The Goofy check-in was not well marked, but on the other side of the food tent. I grabbed some snacks and really wanted to get to my bag as Dave’d said “get some protein into you within those first 15 minutes of crossing the line!” something like that. I had one of my Clif Builder Bars (chocolate … you know they really should sponsor me!) in my bag, but I had business to take care of first. They clip off the orange band as you walk into the tent and replace it with a blue one. A really sweet lady at the far end of the tent said “when we see you tomorrow, we’ll be giving you your Goofy!” I smiled and limped away.
I exited, got my bar and wandered over to the TNT booth to check in. The ice was working on the calf, but I was hurting at the knees also. Ok – maybe I’m out of shape and/or I’m needing to do more exercises. Probably a combination of the two. I just need to get more efficient. I remembered my funky old Pentax because I actually wanted to get photos with some of the characters. I knew I wouldn’t have time tomorrow. First things first … get checked in.
It was a good thing I was there and think on my tired feet because right after I got my 13.1 pin, I heard a commotion from the Puerto Rico team just next to me. One of their bigger female members was feeling extremely light headded and was on her way down. I know that feeling and, speaking not a dot of Spanish, I was right behind her; literally catching her as she was falling backward. One of their team had seen me talking with one of their coaches, so they knew I was a “friendly”. I was very surprised that nobody called medical right away. I still had a 1/2 bottle of powerade cocktail that I’d mixed coming out of the med tent and I gave that to her friends. She was starting to shake, so I gave her the Mylar blanket and wouldn’t leave until it truly appeared help would be forthcoming. I saw the coach later at the pool and he said he’d heard about what I’d done for one of his girls. Last year, San Diego kept care of me … maybe it was turn about. During the Marathon, however, every time I needed that boost when things got really rough during the last 1/2 … there was Team Puerto Rico … “GOOOOOOOOOOOO LOCO WALKER!!!” I’d have to say that was for me!

My second favorite dog - behind Miss Bailey of course!

My second favorite dog - behind Miss Bailey of course!

At any rate – I wandered off and had some photos taken with Goofy, Pluto … it only took me 40 years to get that one, and Minnie Mouse. I guess I am forever the proud one because in each photo, I was hiding that right leg and it’s attached ice pack.  Photos done. Second Clif 20% Protein Builder Bar down … getting hot … really tired and with a huge bus cue to look “forward” to. It was a long day, but I was insanely happy. I knew I could do what I’d set out to do and I was 1/3 of my way along on my trek. My time wasn’t terrible: 2:45:31. Darned respectable! My overall place was 7602 of 12434 finishers … or 3737 (cool number) of 7181 (another cool number) gals. Not too shabby really. Had some great conversations with coaches and fellow TNT folks in line. Saw the gal from Puerto Rico was being well taken care of … all was right with the world …
 I was tired … all I could think of was … SNACKS!!!
Off the bus, to the room … devoured a sandwich and wondered if I truly could eat enough to get myself re-charged for tomorrow. Well … I could only do what I could do. I answered some texts, and brought my Clif Replenish cocktail out to the pool. Since my room hadn’t been made up by the time I’d gotten back, I hitched a ride to go find a hammock … and call Kristin … nurse/racewalker/pal/partner-in-crime … with a huge bag of snacks. 

Proof I shouldn't be allowed to dress myself between events

Proof I shouldn't be allowed to dress myself between events

Next Race: Sunday … Walt Disney World Full Marathon … and the weather report was saying it was going to be colder in the morning and hotter in the afternoon.  And awaaaaayyyy we go!!!! 






2 responses

24 01 2009

It is so much fun reading your race reports! Great job on the half, and Team Puerto Rico is lucky you were on the ball!

25 01 2009

Maryann – I guess it’s after years of going to shows and keeping care of friends!!! As you know, last year’s full marathon had me so sick I nearly hallucinating by the time I crossed the line. Friends from Denver saw Rocky Mountain on my TNT Singlet and then Team San Diego kept an eye on me even after only meeting me that morning. When we stop keeping an eye on one another … the world falls apart!!! Full should be in as soon as I get a lot of stuff done!! 🙂

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