Wednesday, January 15, 2014

CheapRunnerMike's Recap of the 2014 Goofy Challenge

Posted by CheapRunnerMike

Hey guys, it's my turn to share my experiences from the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend where I took on the Goofy Challenge…a 39.3 mile adventure consisting of a half marathon on Saturday and a full marathon on Sunday.


After arriving in Orlando on Thursday we took in the expo and packet pick up in the afternoon, followed by some outlet shopping and picking up some beer and M&M's essentials for the hotel room.  It was off to dinner and an early bedtime as it had been a long day.

Friday was another pretty lazy day as we spent some time around the pool and in the hot tub, and then went to carb load at Carabba's for dinner.  Early to bed again as Saturday morning brought the half marathon.

Michelle did her own in depth recap of the half marathon yesterday, but I'll add a few of my own thoughts as well.  First of all, I was running the half with Michelle and had no goals other than to finish and have fun doing so.  Time was irrelevant and our final time of 4:06:59 clearly indicated that…it was my longest run ever, time wise.  Oh ya, these two rock stars finished in 20189th place out of 20,245 finishers haha.  It was a lot of fun to run with Michelle and get pictures with all of the characters (and I mean ALL of them…), but running and stopping for 4-plus hours is a pretty terrible way to spend the day before a marathon.

After the race we spent some more time by the pool relaxing and then went off to do some more deal-finding at the outlets.  We all scored some deals at Nike and I picked up the Flyknit Frees that I had been eying since they came out last year for half price.  Sweet deal!  I had to double up on the carbs for dinner and try to replenish what I used up for the half so we went to the Olive Garden where I had spaghetti and (chicken) meatballs, plus all the breadsticks the waiter could throw my way.


I was carb-loaded and ready for bed by 8:00 as another 3am wakeup call was in store.

Marathon morning got started with a quick slug of terrible hotel room coffee (I decided too late that I need to start packing Starbucks Via coffee when I travel), a bagel, banana and Powerade.  We were off just after 3:30.


Once we parked at Epcot I headed over to my Corral while the girls went to hop a ride on the monorail over to the Magic Kingdom where they were hoping to get a good spot on Main Street USA to see me run by.  I finished up my Powerade and banana and went to enter my Corral, and I made the mistake of not quite watching my step…to get into the corrals you had to cross a little section of grass (and it was pretty dark at 4:45 in the morning) and I didn't see the puddle.  It sucked in my entire left foot and that was it…soaker.  I got into the corral and found a spot on the fence where I took off my sock and shoe to wring out and try to get as dry as possible before running 26.2 miles.  It didn't really work :(

As 5:30 rolled around the fireworks started to go off and send out each group of runners…the fireworks were even better for the marathon than they were for the half.  I was in Corral C, so I didn't need to wait long before I was off and running.  The first 8 miles were identical to the half so I knew what to expect…first stop, Magic Kingdom.  I wasn't trying to do much pace-wise and had it in mind to just keep an easy pace and not kill myself.  I figured if I ran around a 7:30/mile pace for the first half then I would decide if I wanted to give it a good go over the last half.  If not, then I wouldn't sweat it one bit and would just enjoy the run.

It was 5 miles of roads and parking lots before we got to the Magic Kingdom and I was keeping a pace around 7:40 and it felt relatively easy.  I made the turn onto Main Street USA and kept my eyes open to try and see Michelle and Rhoda.  Turns out they must have got there good and early because they had a great spot almost right in front of the castle!  I got my high-fives and turned into Tomorrowland, then back through Fantasyland before running back through Cinderella's castle.


After exiting the Magic Kingdom we ran a couple more miles and went for a lap of the Walt Disney World Speedway.  It was pretty cool as there was a classic car show on and there were all kinds of cool cars lining the track.  All of the car owners were out cheering us on as we ran by and it was great to have their support.

Once we completed our lap we set off on entirely new terrain to me, a back service road that led out to Animal Kingdom.  It was three miles of pretty much nothing, the only exceptions being a couple of character stops, a water reclamation facility that smelled great and also the sunrise.  It was around this time at the 11 mile marker that I had to make like Winnie and Pooh.  Ya a mid-race port-o-pottie stop really brings any goals you may have had for yourself crumbling down…thankfully my main goal of enjoying the race was well within reach, and the pottie-stop was actually a blessing because it let me just let go and enjoy everything that was going on.  As soon as I got back on track I saw Captain Hook and Mr. Smee so I jumped in for a picture with them before making my way into Animal Kingdom.  I made the turn towards Expedition Everest and made my scariest face to try and ward off the Yeti.


Animal Kingdom flew by and we were back out onto the highway.  We just passed the halfway point and I clocked my half at 1:44:28…not bad considering a bathroom break and a couple character stops were mixed in.  This highway portion of the run was the same as the Tower of Terror run we did back in October and it was BORING.  Quite a drag with the only break in the monotony being water stops and honking motorists.  Nearly three miles later we turned into the Wide World of Sports complex and set off to run through soccer fields, baseball diamonds, do a lap of the running track as well as a lap around Champion Field, the Spring Training home of the Atlanta Braves.  This span of the race took us through miles 18 to 20 and I'll be honest…this is where I crashed.  The sports fields just weren't doing it for me, despite the great crowds that were out in force.  My legs had had about all they could handle at this point with over 30 miles on them in less than 24 hours.  I kept chugging along, though I did start to walk a few of the water stations.  I kept a smile though and tried to enjoy the torture myself.


It was out of Wide World of Sports and onto Hollywood Studios…we turned into the park right behind the Tower of Terror and made our way towards the back of the park.  There was a candy station set up here and they were handing out fruit chews and chocolates (I passed), and as soon as I was past the station I heard a guy in front of me calling out for a medic to help another guy up ahead.  I saw the guy in distress and he looked like he was about to fall over.  I was plodding along pretty slowly at this point but I was able to sprint up to him and steady him on his left while the other guy that was calling the medics took him on his right.  He was in pretty rough shape but the last thing he wanted was to have to stop.  He was also doing the Goofy and was afraid if the medics saw him they would pull him from the race.  The two of us just kept walking on either side holding him up despite his attempts to get us to leave him alone…he felt bad for holding us up but it didn't bother me, my legs enjoyed the break.  We walked for nearly 10 minutes and then we stopped so he could lean up against the Backlot Tour Tram…it was then that he gave in and let the medics check him out.  As he was now in good hands I wished him well and set back off.  I checked online the next day and found his bib number…he was able to finish and complete the Goofy Challenge.  Way to go Scott!

After setting off again my legs felt pretty good and I was passing all kinds of people.  I was looking good and feeling good and there was less than 5K to go.


The race led us out of Hollywood Studios and along the waterfront walkway towards the Boardwalk area and into Epcot's World Showcase.  We came in by the France Pavilion (where I couldn't help but grab a photo with Belle) and set off for our victory lap through the countries of Epcot.  I was still walking water stations but i felt good.


One last turn past the Hallelujah Chorus and it was onto the finish line.  I somehow managed to spot Michelle and Rhoda in the crowd at the finish line and gave them a smile and wave.


Final time was 3:46:15 and marathon number 2 was in the books…and yes, I did negative split the Goofy Challenge, running the full marathon quicker than the half!  Check out this bling, three medals…the Half, Full and the Goofy Challenge.

Photo Jan 12, 2014, 9-36 AM

After the race it was off for pizza, which we decided would be the post-marathon tradition from now on, and then it was me, the hot tub and a bag o' beer…just what my aching body needed.  I continued another post-marathon tradition and had a couple of margaritas to close off the night at Margaritaville…a great end to a great day!


  1. Nicole @ Pink Elephanton ParadJanuary 15, 2014 at 7:49 AM

    Awesooooome!!!! It sounds like a good race! WWoS is where dreams and happiness go to die in the marathon, of this I am convinced.

  2. Ugh tell me about it...WWoS was okay for the Tower of Terror 10-Miler, but it just can't hold a flame against the 4 parks. It was a killer, especially with all the twists and did me in!

  3. Loved the recap!!! So nice of you and the other guy to help Scott (and I love that you checked later to see if he finished!!).
    Made me laugh that you had a faster time tun the half - 2 different reasons for running!!!

  4. I'm so glad you had such a good time at Disney and congrats on doing the half and full! That is definitely on my bucket list for 'someday'!

    It's another marathon under your belt (and still a strong one at that) which is only going to help you in the future!

  5. Sugar Coated SheridanJanuary 15, 2014 at 2:23 PM

    Sounds like such a great race...SO hoping I can make my way down to Disney to at least do the half one day!

  6. Looks like such a fun race and way to go on doing the half and full! Maybe one day I'll try a half marathon.

  7. Heidi @ www.idlehide.comJanuary 15, 2014 at 4:41 PM

    Amazing job, a half and a full in one weekend. Not gonna lie, I am quite envious of your marathon time, my goal is a 3:59, but I have a ways to go:) I'll get there though! Also, excellent choice on the carb loading restaurant, gotta love unlimited bread sticks!

  8. Love the pic with teeth! Lolll! Looks like such a fun run!

  9. I think my only real goal heading into Sunday was to negative split the Goofy Challenge, just because it sounded cool. Nobody needs to know I ran a 4 hour Half haha

  10. Thanks Laura...I felt pretty good afterwards all things considered, and even though it was slower than my first marathon I was never trying to beat that time...I just wanted to enjoy it and the end of this marathon was certainly more enjoyable than flats time!

  11. Do it Beth! Disney knows how to put on a race and anyone that loves running and Disney needs to do it (at least) once!

  12. I think any runner out there would have done the same thing and it could have just as easily been me out there that needed help. The running community is the best.

  13. Oh ya, so much fun. A half is a great goal, I just did my first one in 2013 and so long as you train for it you'll do great!

  14. You need to pop that baby out before you get marathon dreams back in your head Heidi! Won't be long now!! And yes, Olive Garden (and their unlimited breadsticks) is a perfect pre-marathon meal...wish we had them in Ontario still. Do you guys have them out East?

  15. I did that face for Jackson, that's the one he likes to make...ya, I'm a 4 year old :)

  16. Freaking awesome! Look how happy you look in all of those race pics!! You look like you are on cloud 9! Congrats!!

  17. Amanda - TooTallFritzJanuary 17, 2014 at 8:45 AM

    Great job! My tummy was ALL jacked up during the half and full. Took some of the fun out of it. And I did not enjoy the run thru the Wide World of Sports at all. It seemed torturous.

  18. You're not done are you Mike?


  19. Oh for sure Chelsea, it really was fun to run just for the enjoyment of it...I often get blinded by goals, paces and times, so it was good to have Disney get me in the right state of mind.

  20. I hear ya...while there are races to be run, you are still on a vacation and despite best efforts, eating isn't always what it should be. All those bouncy miles causes the tummy to revolt eventually. And that point in a marathon...just plain suck. Torturous about sums it up!

  21. Ya I wish Jeff...I may not be done but I think my wallet is. I'll just do the $15 MEC Race here at home instead...

  22. Wow, awesome job with the Goofy negative split there! And a big high five for helping out a fellow runner, glad to hear it sounds like he was able to finish too!

  23. Thanks Danielle! It made my day seeing that Scott was able to finish. Great job yourself doing the Dopey!