Yes, you CAN walk the Goofy!

Discussion in 'Events/Competition' started by Freight Train, Jan 15, 2013.

  1. Freight Train

    Freight Train Earning My Ears

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    First off, many thanks to Coach, John VN, and the many others who gave me advice before the races.

    I made up my mind to do the Goofy early last year but once I got to the 9 mile mark in training I realized my knees couldn't take the punishment. I had never been a runner in any capacity and the 1/2 was my first race ever. I was also never much of an athlete in general. So I was basically starting from scratch.

    I decided that I would just focus on maintaining a pace in training better than the sweep time. Over many months of consistent training and focusing on technique I got my pace down to about 14:30 over long distances and 13:30 for 10 miles or less.

    My training was solitary and usually late at night to try to avoid the Florida summer heat. I tweaked my music choices to try to find the songs that would be most inspirational to me and that would have a beat I could tap into while walking. I'm not going to lie-there were many times I was discouraged and scared. There were many little injuries and lots of sore muscles along the way and nagging plantar fascitis (sp?) in my left foot that got gradually worse.

    In early November I felt really good about my progress. I was scheduled for a 20-mile session but decided to do a mock Goofy that weekend. I finished both the 1/2 and full distances on back-to-back days with about a 14:30 pace for both. This is very different than proper training for running, but I decided to do it since the risk of injury was lower and I felt I needed to break through the mental barrier and prove I was at least capable of finishing. It was a big psychological advantage to me down the stretch and even in the races themselves.

    My last training session was two weeks before race weekend and I went the full 26.2 (I had not gone the distance since the November session). Again, it built my confidence to know that it was at least possible for me to finish.

    I wore an ultra-stylish fanny pack for the races under the theory that there were many items (energy gels, sunscreen, and many other accessories) that I knew I would need during the races that faster runners would not. The trade-off was that the walking motion of my legs didn't cause the fanny pack to flop around the way a runner's motion would, so it all worked out.

    I also wore a camelbak hydration backpack for both races but didn't fill it up all the way. I wanted to have water at the ready to take with my gels without having to rely on water stops that might not match my gel needs. I took water and powerade for regular hydration purposes at the water stops as normal.

    On race morning I made sure to get to the bus stop early so I was the first or second one there both mornings. Once at the race staging area I positioned myself at the very front of the waiting zone. When we were allowed to proceed to the corrals I walked briskly. All of this was in an effort to get to the very, very front of the corral, which I was able to do both mornings. Because I was in Corral H I knew that the distance between me and the last person to start (at which point the sweep pacing begins) would not be great. However, by being at the very front of the last corral I would at least have almost a full corral between me and that last person. This again was a psychological advantage that was useful mentally during the races.

    When it came to the race I struggled with the crowds. The run-walk-run folks, which were the vast majority in my Corral H neighborhood, operated on completely different paces than me, and rightly so. My consistent "slow and steady wins the race" strategy meant that when the RWRs were running they blew past me, and when they walked their pace was much slower than my fast walking. It was tricky to navigate the crowd, especially since most folks were not following the suggestion to walk on the outside and run on the inside of the course.

    Because I knew my margin for error on pacing was not going to be huge, I kept close track of my pace each mile and this helped keep me focused. Early in the half I tried to "bank" as much cushion time (time under 16:00/mile) as possible, which worked pretty well psychologically. Once mile 9 came around, I did the math and realized I could go at a 19:00/mile pace and still finish under 3:30, so I pulled back and went much slower. I finished in 3:21.

    After the half I made it a point to walk around as much as I could. I didn't feel too bad but my foot and right hamstring area were not in good shape. I also went swimming, which seemed to help a little, and put icy hot on sore areas.

    For the full I followed my same strategy early. My first 5 miles were at about a 13:40 pace. It's unrealistic to expect that kind of pace as a walker inside Magic Kingdom but I was still able to go about 14:30 or so. I didn't stop have my pictures taken with many characters but instead for most I just stopped and took pictures of them while they were waiting for the next racer to hop in. This worked pretty well and my 5 yo was happy to get pictures of all the characters even if I wasn't in most of them.

    After Animal Kingdom, which is the halfway point of the full marathon, my left calf started to cramp up. I slowed down but didn't stop and tried to focus my mind on deliberate, methodical steps. This worked as eventually the cramp warning signs diminished a little. When it did I tried to increase my pace again. At that time I was averaging about 15:00-15:30 per mile.

    One little aid I had in my fanny pack was a little chart I made of the total amount of time 16:00/mile worked out to at each mile. This allowed me to pull it out every so often at a mile marker and compare the chart with my actual time. It helped to know I had 24 minutes to give and still meet the 16:00 pace and it also allowed me to adjust my pace slower to account for the heat and physical issues without hurting my confidence.

    From miles 16-20 my pace slowed to just over 16:00/mile, but again I wasn't worried because I was keeping close track of my pace. The reason I was so obsessive about the pace was that I knew that unlike a runner there was little chance of me being able to sprint to try to make up a deficit. I just hadn't trained for that and didn't want to risk serious injury during the race. In other words, you have to dance with the one that brought you.

    At mile 21 the math changed. I now focused on how much time I had left before the 7 hour mark and what my pace needed to be to meet that mark. Once that number fell to about 19:00 per mile, and largely because my legs continued to deteriorate, I slowed up a little. The pain was pretty bad but at this point you're approaching Hollywood Studios so there were plenty of pleasant distractions.

    This is also the point where I started to focus my mental energy on how many miles I had already done and how few there were left. That sounds easy but it's difficult to do when you're walking on what seems to be endless highway.

    Once inside Epcot I again did the math and I could do about a 25:00 mile and still finish under 7 hours. So I took advantage of the many character stops they had and got lots of photos for the kiddo. It was nice that they gave runners priority in the character lines so I had hardly any wait at any stop.

    The last 5 miles were intensely emotional. I had waves of despair from the pain alternating with a sort of angry determination that nothing was going to stop me from my goal. I really wasn't prepared for that but I tried to feed off the many kind spectators cheering for us.

    Ultimately I finished the full in 6:47. I met my goals and got my medals. And lived to tell the tale.

    Let me be clear: I'm in absolute awe of the many talented, hard-working runners who are clearly in a league I'll never come close to. But when I realized in training that I would have to walk there was a time when I thought it simply wasn't possible. Folks like John VN here on the boards convinced me otherwise. For questions of technique and training, John's the man I would trust. But I thought if there is someone like me out there that person might benefit from a first-timer's view and might learn from the things I did right and the things I did wrong.

    3:21 and 6:47 aren't great numbers. But I did finish and meet my goals and I did walk over 10 hours to get those medals. I'm very happy I did and if you're thinking about walking these races here is my message to you: It is possible to walk them. And do the Goofy. As your first races ever! I hope if there's anyone else in my situation that you'll be encouraged to sign up, train hard, and achieve your goals. Much love to everyone who raced, to the thousands who finished ahead of me, and to anyone bored enough to read this entire post! :love:

    Dave
     
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  3. John VN

    John VN DIS Cast Member

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    :cool1:, :banana:, :yay:, :cheer2:, :woohoo:, What more can I say other than WELCOME TO THE CLUB YOU GOOFY GUY!!!!!!!

    John
     
  4. Rupert B Puppenstein

    Rupert B Puppenstein DIS Veteran

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    Congratulations!! :D
     
  5. Freight Train

    Freight Train Earning My Ears

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    I can't thank you enough for all your help and encouragement. There was really zero chance I would have been able to do this without you. There's a sizable chunk of whatever achievement this was that belongs to you.

    I thought about you as I was on the overpass above the McDonald's. I'm so glad you got that McFlurry.

    Turns out clicking on that "Princess 1/2 walkers" thread that first time was a defining, sort of life-changing moment for me. Seeing my wife and kids at the finish with the look of pride in their eyes made everything so worth it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    Dave
     
  6. MaMa3Princess

    MaMa3Princess I need to find the nearest Disneyaholic Anyomous m

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    Your post was not boring but oh do encouraging. Thank you posting. It lets me know that All things are possible. Thanks again for posting and I am def impressed by both your times!!
     
  7. Freight Train

    Freight Train Earning My Ears

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    Thanks to both of you!!!
     
  8. niclodn

    niclodn Mouseketeer

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    Congrats!:cool1: And thank you for posting. I hope to do the Goofy in 2014 and am worried about the full. I'm doing the Tink, Princess, Dumbo Double Dare and Tower of Terror this year and have no worries about those. It's that 26.2 the scares the beejesus out of me! Your post is inspiring!
     
  9. Freight Train

    Freight Train Earning My Ears

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    Well, it scared me too! That's an awfully big number when you look at it. I obsessed about my prep work right down to what music I wanted to hear at exact spots on the course, which sounds like overkill but all those efforts that individually produced minor mental improvements collectively got me where I wanted to be.

    There were so many great athletes and folks in great shape at the races and I have so much respect for all of them. I'm not that guy, and I'm not sure I ever could be. But it sure feels great knowing I at least finished something I really had no business getting mixed up in.

    You're coming in with experience and a you'll have a great pedigree of success to build from. If I can go from a base of zero and ultimately get where I want to be I know you can get where you want to be too!!! :cheer2:
     
  10. buckeyecinderella

    buckeyecinderella Mouseketeer

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    Good post, Freight Train! Congratulations!
     
  11. EeyoreEma

    EeyoreEma DIS Veteran

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    Awesome! I am so impressed with your story! It gives me hope that someday maybe I will do the Goofy! I did the Food and Wine half this past year as my first race ever, and I loved it! Hard, for sure, but still loved it! I am not a great runner by any stretch of imagination, but your post gives me hope that maybe I'll be able to leap forward into bigger races! Congrats to you!
     
  12. johde

    johde DIS Veteran

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    Congratulations on the Goofy.
     
  13. Terapin

    Terapin DIS Veteran

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    Congrats fellow Goofy!!!!
     
  14. Mamasmurf227

    Mamasmurf227 Mouseketeer

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    Congrats!! What an amazing story--enjoy those medals!
     
  15. rmgreenesq

    rmgreenesq Toadi Acceleratio Semper Absurda

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    Congratulations on the finish Goofy Dave! I am going to share your post with my wife. She is a walker and is scared to death of Disney's rigid 16:00 minute mile pacing requirement. It appears that walking requires just as much mental discipline as running, perhaps more given the relatively thin margins and the longer time spent on the course.

    Again Well Done!

    Rick
     
  16. John VN

    John VN DIS Cast Member

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    Very glad to have played a small part in your huge success.

    Your post is truly inspiring and I think all walkers would benefit by reading it. I just wish that before, during and after the races, all announcers would acknowledge the fact that there are WALKERS in the corrals and on the course. Your work on perfecting the walking technique simply proves how fast and enjoyable walking can be when compared to run/walk/run. Interesting also is how much a runner can wind up walking anyway and if additional training time was spent on walking training how much faster they actually could become.

    You are a Marathoner, you are a Goofy Guy.

    Your journey has just now begun and I do believe you will continue to have tons of fun.

    Good luck to you Dave.

    John
     
  17. mickeysgal

    mickeysgal <font color=blue>Orange you glad I like Knock Knoc

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    Dave,

    Your post is simply inspirational. You're giving me hope that one day, I can also run/walk a full. Up until now, I've been plain scared and have been sticking to 1/2s. Mileage that starts with a 2...:scared1:

    Thank you, thank you for posting.

    Many congratulations to you! RunDisney should read your post. Seriously.:thumbsup2

    And as a side note:
    John VN...I can't go past that McDonalds without thinking about you and your McFlurries. Each and every time, race or no race. :rotfl2:
     
  18. TEK224

    TEK224 <br><img src="http://www.wdwinfo.com/dis-sponsor/i

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    Congrats DAve! Welcome to the Goofy Club! I also did my very first half and full as part of the Goofy Challenge (8 years ago). Wish I could say I was as prepared as you were, but I did make it to both finish lines and got the first Goofy medal! It was a great feeling!
     
  19. WaDiWo

    WaDiWo WDWFan!

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    Congratulations!!!! I think you did wonderful, and i want to follow in your footsteps. I am a repeat-injured runner and will likely have to walk in a couple of my upcoming races.

    may i ask, what training program did you use for the Goofy? Did you a traditional marathon training program or a special "walking" program?
     
  20. niclodn

    niclodn Mouseketeer

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    I am the same -- I'll never win any awards. I just hope to cross the finish line:) Thanks for the vote of confidence! I know I could never walk and maintain a 16-minute mile pace (I have short legs! LOL!), but plan to use the Jeff Galloway training plan and hope that I can find a run/walk ratio that can get me that Goofy medal:)

    Congrats again!
     
  21. princessallegra

    princessallegra They call me Mrs. Disney

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    I just cried so many happy tears reading this! How awesome!!
     

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