The Goofy Challenge Race Report

I had no idea what I was getting myself in for when I signed up for the Goofy Challengelast January! Living in Chicago, the idea of heading to Orlando, FL for a run in January sounds like heaven. It was not to be.

Our flight was scheduled for Thursday morning. I awoke to the sound of my cell phone alerting me of a text – our flight was cancelled because of the snow storm. We were able to get on a flight later in the day! However, this flight had a layover in Ohio. The weather in Ohio was worse than it was here in Chicago and we sat on that plane on the runway for at least two hours. We finally arrived at our resort around 9pm. This means it took me longer to get to Orlando than it took for me to get to Hawaii! Go figure.

Getting to Orlando that late meant we missed the expo and packet pick up. It was very late when we got to sleep – and we lost an hour for the time change. It would not be fun getting up in the morning for the 5K on Friday. Oh well, it’s only a 5K.

Hopped on a bus, got to packet pick up and everything ran smoothly. It was a chilly 41 degrees and I was concerned about the temperature. We spotted some unused porta potties, headed over there and then made our way to the corrals. It was a MESS! People squashed every which way and the corrals were not big enough to fit everyone. Athletes were pushing and shoving to try to get to corrals that wouldn’t hold more people. Some were downright rude. This event wasn’t even timed, so I questioned the need to move up front. They had the character from “Up” on stage andthat was fun, but I had no idea what this movie was about. The race started – we ran, we laughed, we had fun, we ran through the parks and it was a blast. I tried to pace myself slow enough so I wouldn’t sweat. I didn’t want to be wet. The finish was uneventful with little bags with an orange, some raisins and a blueberry muffin in each.

Back to the room, shower and off to the expo. When you stay at a resort at Disney, it’s convenient to use the park transportation. They took us everywhere we needed to be – no thinking required. The expo was a cluster – lots and lots of people crammed into space not meant for so many. I think many people missed the expo on Thursday due to all the flight cancellations – this made the expo a zoo. Very meticulous process to be doing the Goofy Challenge, including a separate wrist band – they want to be very sure that you meet the requirements for this challenge and that huge medal, or so I thought.

Expo took longer than expected which meant for a late lunch – which gave us little time to nap (still dragging from lack of sleep the night before) and grab some dinner. Dinner was great, back to try and sleep and I find I can’t. I tossed and turned and I felt like I slept about 30 minutes before I had to get up at 3am to catch a 3:40am bus for the half marathon. It was colder than the day before. And sleeting. Oh well, it’s only a half marathon.

Now they changed things up – gear check was now by alphabet vs. number (I still don’t understand why they do this). Cold, windy and sleet – and no protection from the elements as we waited the almost 2 hours before the race started. We saw the fireworks marking the start of the race as we were still headed to the corrals. No rush, we weren’t going for time today. I was happy to have remembered to bring hand warmers today, but wished I could do something about my freezing toes.

The run was ok, but the sleet never stopped. My feet were wet and cold before we started and never warmed up. The course gets narrow in many places and has some sharp turns. Definitely not a course to try and run fast for that would be very frustrating. It was fun to run through the parks and see the characters, but I didn’t want to carry a camera for the run. Even if I did, I wouldn’t have stopped for pictures for fear I would get cold. Seemed to be lots of Ironman athletes there – as marked by hats, tattoos and jackets. Yes, this is an event for the endurance athlete!

After the race, I hustled through the water/food line, through gear check, said goodbye to BC and headed for my bus. I was cold down to the core. Unfortunately, I had to wait about 30 minutes (which seemed like FOREVER) for a bus to arrive to take us back to the resort. I was just shivering and wondering how long one can shiver before something bad happens. Once on the bus, I felt better, but I couldn’t wait for the shower! My feet were blue by the time I got in the shower – and the hot shower felt great!! But even after drying my hair and getting dressed, I couldn’t get warm. OK, let’s try some hot chocolate. Nope, still not warm. I put on another couple layers of clothes and hopped in bed with 2 blankets and the comforter over me. After about 45 minutes – I was finally warm!

This day went much more smoothly without the hassle of heading back to the expo! Lunch was more on time and we picked up dinner while we were there to make sure we could eat on our own time and get in a decent nap. This trick worked well and we even had some time to watch several episodes of Entourage!

Up again at 3am, catch the bus at 3:45am. This time, the line for the bus was LONG! I thought there were LESS participating in the marathon, but it didn’t feel like it. This day was even COLDER than the previous day, but at least it was dry! I had 4 layers on and the mylar blanket from yesterday’s half marathon. You got it, I was still cold. My toes were numb before the start. Got to the corrals ahead of time and was able to stand there a few minutes before the fireworks went off. Still didn’t plan on running fast…let’s just do this to get the bling!

The beginning of the race was the usual starting and stopping. There were a lot of garbage bags and throw away shirts/sweatshirts all over the course. I’ll never understand why people don’t make an effort to dump that stuff along the sides of the course! It was chilly and my handwarmers were doing the trick. I had not one, but two throwaway items – one long-sleeved t-shirt and one battered sweatshirt. At the first aid station, the water and Powerade was frozen in the cups. I was wishing they offered hot chocolate. At the second aid station, the water people were spilling on the ground was freezing and runners were wiping out all over the place. It was difficult to watch as some people went down hard. It was also very difficult to navigate around the slippery spots because you couldn’t see them until you started sliding!

I took off the sweatshirt around mile 4 and then the long sleeved shirt came off around mile 7, but I was afraid to toss it. The wind would sometimes kick up and give me a chill. We made a few porta potty stops that seemed to have long lines. Maybe it was just taking people a long time to get the layers off to actually use the bathroom! By mile 10 or 11, they were finally putting sand on the ice at the aid stations and that helped tremendously. I kept taking my headband off and putting it back on, never really getting comfortable. The sun didn’t come out until mile…hmmm, maybe 14 or 15 and it gave a little warmth and it felt good!

Around mile 17, my toes unthawed – and then they hurt. They hurt so bad, I considered quitting. But what the heck, it’s just a marathon! By mile 19, I wanted this race to be over with. I still had the hand warmers, but they didn’t seem to be working any more. I finally tossed the long-sleeved shirt figuring the sun wasn’t going anywhere, I won’t need it. My legs were feeling heavy – I wasn’t able to get in a single 20 mile run for this marathon, so I was now going to pay for it. I tried concentrating on cadence and short, quick steps to prevent the hamstring from acting up. I was passing many people but I wasn’t going very fast.

Once back in the park, lots of sharp turns, narrow pathways and lots of things to look at. At one aid station, they gave away those mini candy bars – Hershey’s Krunch, Mr. Goodbar, etc. The foil wrappers were blowing all over the place and I wondered if anyone considered the mess that would leave when they passed those out! I pushed on, my legs getting really tired and my quads begging me to stop. I didn’t want to slow down, I just wanted it to be over with already!

The music was blasting loudly and as I made the same turn into the finish as the 5K and Half Marathon had, I knew it was just about over. Turn the corner and you can see the Finish banner. I smiled as I thought about how close I was to taking a nice, hot shower! Though the weather was not ideal, it was a good race and I am the proud owner of the Goofy Challenge bling!