On Sunday I'm going to run the Disney World Marathon. As I seem be stuck in the mode of writing lists these days, here are my 10 goals for the marathon
1. Relax. Especially on the day before the marathon. This is where I made a big mistake last year. As we were in Disney World, my wife and I thought we'd just go over to Animal Kingdom and check out a few attractions in the morning. Of course one thing led to another and before I realized it we had walked several miles in the Florida heat. This year on Saturday we plan to hang out at our resort. I'll drink a lot of water, eat some light snacks, maybe read a book, perhaps do some people watching, but above all ... relax.
2. Socialize with the other runners, especially before the start. A marathon is really just an excuse for a party with 20,000 other idiots who share the same obsession. For this marathon we have to be in the staging area before 4:00 a.m. for the start of the race at 6:00 a.m. So there's plenty of time to hang out with other runners, chat about their plans for the day, swap experiences, learn about other marathons and just enjoy meeting folk.
3. Appreciate the start of the race, the music, the fireworks, the excitement. For me, just getting to the start is more than half the satisfaction. In late summer 2004, I decided to enter myself for the January 2005 Disney World Marathon as a way to motivate myself to get out and exercise in the fall. I know myself well; without something like this as a target, the last few months of the year can be a time of slowing down and turning into a couch potato. The sailing season winds down, the days get shorter, temperatures drop ... all good excuses for staying inside and vegetating. But the last two years I've had to go out and run longer and longer distances as the weather becomes colder. The training this year has gone well. I'm ready.
4. Start really slow. There's no pressure on me; I'm here to have fun. From the first step I'm going to relax and enjoy the endorphins. Look around. Take pleasure in the sights, the lights in Epcot, the music ... savor the moment.
5. Take walk breaks right from the first mile. I'm using the Jeff Galloway system this year which involves taking a one minute walk every mile. Jeff's theory is that this gives the running muscles a break without slowing the overall pace by all that much. So there's a much better chance of being able to complete the 26.2 miles in good shape. I hope he's right!
6. Smile a lot. Wave at all the Disney characters. Especially Goofy. Joke with other runners. Pose for the cameras. Last year when my son looked at the photos taken of me while running the marathon he commented that, "You almost look like you're enjoying it in one picture." He was right. I looked grim. This year I'm going to laugh and wave at every camera I see and show the world that I'm having fun.
7. Increase the pace a little after the first few miles. But not too much. I'm still going to store enough energy to get me through the final miles. Relish the experience of running through a Florida sunrise. Enjoy the scenery. Keep a steady pace up through the bizarre unreality of the Magic Kingdom. Relax. Keep a short stride through Animal Kingdom. Stay loose.
8. Run the last six miles in great shape. I know I'll be tired but I've done the training and I'm going to enjoy this part of the race. Other people will be more tired than me. Because of my training and because I started slow I'm planning on having plenty of strength left. Zoom up the hill at mile 22, power past other runners all the way through MGM Studios, glide around the lake from Boardwalk to Beach Club, and stay strong on the final trip round the World Showcase lake to the finish. Wave to the crowds.
9. Cross the finish line feeling good. Pump my arm in the air. Smile for the cameras. Wave to my wife. Take pride in my achievement.
10. Celebrate. Take my wife out for a celebration dinner. Drink a margarita (or two). Tell everyone I meet that I ran a marathon today. Phone my sons and my mum and tell them, "I did it!" (Blog about it too.)