and Cathy McArthur on
the Road 2011:
I had wanted to run a "flat" marathon since having my legs trashed by the hills of Atlanta in the Georgia Marathon in March 2010. I signed up for the Disney Marathon on March 23. Shortly thereafter, my son Bill registered for the Goofy Race and a Half Challenge, which entails both the half marathon and the marathon. I wasn't a bit surprised that he went for challenge because it's in his DNA to do so. I was tempted to try the Goofy myself, but didn't think that my legs would allow it. From March into November, my training and racing were all a prelude to the Disney Marathon. In November, I suffered a calf injury as I was doing my first 18 mile training run. This kind of micro-tear injury has plagued me off and on since 1978, so I knew that I was in for a struggle to get back to running.
I went to a sports rehabilitation center for a few treatments to try to speed my recovery and I managed to do some running, but I re-injured my calf and knew that I couldn't complete my marathon training. I immediately decided to switch to speed walking training so that I could walk the marathon under the required 16 minutes per mile pace. I essentially carried out my running training schedule, but added more duplicate long walks. I struggled with my pace as I trained. I am naturally a slow walker and tend to stroll rather than walk. My natural pace is about 20 minutes per mile, so trying to train at under 15 minutes per mile was really hard.
I wasn't able to come up with a good set of goals for how fast I wanted to do the half marathon and the marathon. The best I could come up with was to try to walk the half marathon at about the same average pace that I had in my first half marathon, the Half-wit Half Marathon in Reading, PA, which resulted in a time of 3 hours and 47 seconds and an average pace of 13:48 minutes/mile. But during my training, that pace seemed way beyond my ability. Anyway, it was in the back of my head. I also wanted to try a bit of running in the two events. My heart wanted to run 5K of the half marathon and as much as I could in the marathon, but my head told me that, if I injured my calf, I would likely DNF in one or both of the races. If I followed my head instead of my heart, I would run a bit of the tail end of the marathon, so that I could limp to the finish before the sweep wagon could catch me.
We made it a family affair with Son Bill, Stacey, Sarah, and Billy and Cathy and I sharing a suite of rooms at Disney's Saratoga Springs resort. The accommodations were excellent. I have done a number of running events with my son Bill and my daughters Alex and Katie and they have always provided big thrills for me as their father. It's a kind of joy that only a parent can experience and I cherish it as much as anything in my life.
Son Bill and I awoke at 2:30 AM on the morning of Saturday, January 8. We ate breakfast, donned our gear, posed for a couple of photos, and walked to the bus stop. We arrived at the bus stop at around 3:30 AM and just missed boarding a waiting bus by 5 people. We had to wait about 45 minutes for the next bus to arrive. Meanwhile, a huge queue of hundreds of people built up behind us. We finally boarded a bus and then spent about an hour of heavy traffic to get to the starting area outside of Epcot. Son Bill and I barely made it to our respective corrals before the half marathon started. The temperature at the start was in the low 50s, which was almost perfect for a long race. I discarded my Walmart hoodie before the start. I wore two layers on top: my sleeveless underarmor compression shirt underneath, and my Team McArthur shirt on the outside. I had my fuel belt with four small bottles, each mixed with G2 and a packet of Roctane Gu. I also carried some extra strength Tylenol, my iPhone, my camera, cash, and my room key. When I started to walk, I found that the adrenaline of the event had me walking faster than I knew I could. I was able to easily stay under 14 minutes per mile. I decided to go all out and not save anything for the next day's marathon. This is so typical of my approach to life, it's almost funny. I found that I could walk faster than some of the other participants could run. It was fun seeing Disney characters and walking through the Magic Kingdom. I made two potty stops, one in a Magic Kingdom bathroom and one in a porta-potty around mile 12. Here's how I did on my GPS:
My chip time for the half marathon was 3:01:14, very close to Halfwit time. I shot a lot of video clips during the half marathon and later combined them into one video. Son Bill phoned me just after I finished. He had checked my finish on the Internet. He told me where to catch a bus back to Saratoga Springs.
The whole family ate lunch in the resort restaurant. Afterward, Son Bill and I napped for a while. The rest of the family went to Magic Kingdom. Son Bill and I went shopping and stopped at a Panera Bread for coffee. Later in the evening, all of us except for Son Bill and Billy went out to eat in Downtown Disney at Captain Jack's.
On marathon morning, I arose at 1:45 AM. Son Bill got up before 2. We ate breakfast, donned our gear and were at the bus stop by 3:00 AM. We were among the first people on the first bus to the start area. No traffic jam on this morning, so we arrived quite early. The temperature was around 40 degrees, so we were pretty bundled up. We sat around in the Cigna tent for a while before taking part in a slow mob walk to the starting corrals. I settled in near the front of the last corral, named "H" and had a long, cold wait. I kept my sweatshirt and gloves on for the start and didn't get rid of them until around mile 2. I had on an extra layer up top: my half marathon shirt from Saturday. My feet and legs hurt a bit as I started out. I had taken 3 extra strength Tylenol before leaving our room to deal with the pain. I wondered how much speed my legs would allow for the long distance of the race and was worried that I might hit the wall at some point. In the video that I put together from 30 video clips, you can hear my attitude get better and better as the race progressed. It was a lot of fun going into all four Disney parks. The spectators were a great help. I set a PR by ingesting 15 Gu packs during the six hours of the event. I took 3 more extra strength Tylenols after the halfway mark. I made 4 potty stops during the race. At mile 25, I decided to run the last 1.2 miles. I hadn't run since before Thanksgiving, so I didn't know what to expect. To my surprise, my running legs felt fresh and I easily kept a running pace in the 8:40 minutes/mile range. Here's how I did on my GPS:
My chip time for the marathon was 6:04:29. I felt very good about it. Son Bill, Cathy, and Sarah were there to see me finish. We all took the bus back to Saratoga Springs. After getting ready, Sarah and I went to the swimming pool accompanied by Stacey. The water was heated, but the cool wind was blowing pretty hard, so I was chilly in the pool. Sarah had a ball swimming and using the water slides. After we headed back to the room. We dropped the kids at the Polynesian and went to a great dinner at the California Cafe on top of the Contemporary. We were able to enjoy the scenery and stay at our table for the evening fireworks near the Cinderella Castle. Son Bill and I wore our Goofy shirts and medals to dinner.
Monday, the whole family went to Magic Kingdom for the day and had a great time in spite of a downpour before lunch, where we ate with the Pooh characters in the Crystal Palace.
We all thoroughly enjoyed the event and plan to repeat it next year. I was especially proud of Son Bill's accomplishments: under 2 hours for the half and under 4 hours for the marathon.