The Happiest Race on Earth, Part 2

Friday February 1, 2013

Bring a Friend (or Enemy) Day Tomorrow!


Keg Drill
Overhead Band Distraction
PVC Dislocates
Assisted Bottom of the Squat
Pigs On Ice Skates
Over and Under Fence

Group Warmup:

Review 3-Positions with empty barbell:
5 x High Hang Snatch (Position 1)
5 x Hang Snatch (Position 2)
5 x Snatch (Position 3)

Classic and Advanced Programming:


15 minutes work up to a heavy 3-Position Snatch (low to high).

Notes: If you are still working on finding the positions, go from high to low or just work from positions 1 and 2.


For time:
100 Thrusters (135/95/65)
Perform 5 burpees on the  minute every minute until all thrusters are completed.  Start with 5 burpees.

-15 min cap-

Notes:  Feel free to scale the number of burpees or total thruster reps to make the time cutoff!

Midline / Cool Down:

3x 10 Strict Toes-to-bar
German Stretch

happiest race on earth

If you missed Part 1 of Bob’s epic journey, click HERE to catch up!  In back to back weekends, he completed the runDisney Coast to Coast Race Challenge with two half-marathons and one full marathon.  Part 2 below!:

As was pointed out to me after my previous post, I neglected to mention that in July of last summer I joined a large group of other PCFers at the Tough Mudder, a 10-mile long obstacle course.  I would have never had the confidence to even consider signing up for this without having made the running progress I had to this point and would have missed out on a ton of fun as a result, so the running training was already reaping benefits even before participating in any marathons.

In October as part of my Goofy training I ran the Manhattan Beach 10K followed by the Long Beach Half Marathon the next day.  In the days leading up to these races I tried to follow the standard nutrition advice given to runners: carb up.  As I had been following a Paleo-ish diet (no grains, starches or dairy) I took this opportunity to eat a lot of old favorites: pancakes, pizza, pasta etc.  I put on eight pounds in two days and felt completely bloated going into the weekend runs.  10K is short enough that I made it through without major incident, but I felt like crap for the last mile and the next day was left feeling unusually sore in addition to the bloating.  During the half marathon my familiar hip flexor pain developed earlier than usual and cramps set in all over my body, including areas that had not previously been problem areas for me, most notably my side and back.  I ended up walking most of the last couple of miles.  It took over a week to lose the bloat weight.

Two lessons were learned here though that turned out to be important later on.  One, no radical changes to your diet in the days leading up to your marathon.  Two, I learned about the benefits of ice baths after recounting this experience to some friends from home who had run the Goofy a few years earlier.  I gave it a try after a lengthy training run and found that I had virtually no soreness the next day, thank you Keith & Patty.  One more hindrance addressed.  I was somewhat disappointed the ice baths worked so well – dunking yourself into 50 degree water really sucks.  I can’t emphasize that enough.

Somewhere along the way I learned that Disney’s Tinkerbell Half Marathon in Anaheim was being held the weekend after the Disney World Marathon Weekend in Orlando, and running it would entitle me to a coast-to-coast medal in addition to the marathon medal.  Yes I am that superficial – I signed up.  “After all, I will have already done all the training” I convinced myself .  Again, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

I continued going to track nights and began to battle a new challenge: leg cramps.  This hadn’t been a problem on longer runs, but they developed almost instantly any time I tried sprinting.  As in, within three or four steps into a 100m sprint, most notably in my right quad.  Coincidentally a friend posted an article on the benefits of pickle juice.  No one seems to understand why but for many it makes muscle cramps go away in a matter of seconds.  I drank three to four ounces before our next track night sprint session and made it through the entire wod without any cramps.  Happy happy joy joy.  Thank you Terri!

Over the next few months I did not follow my training schedule very well.  While I had planned increasingly long weekend runs of up to 20 miles, a combination of injuries, work, weather, holiday travel and general laziness conspired to keep me from going beyond 13.  My sticking point had moved out to eight miles, but this was of little comfort given I now would have 18 more after that.

With this bearing on my mind, off to Orlando I went.  Weather was a concern as humidity levels of 90% were expected – not what us southern Californians are used to.  I knew I’d be sweating more than usual so I overstocked on gels, cubes, electrolyte tabs and ibuprofen and picked up a runner’s belt at the expo to carry these and pickle juice.  For the baths I went to a local supermarket and bought three 20 lb. bags of ice (the tap water in Florida is relatively warm).  Checkout guy: “You having a party?”  Me: “No, I’m taking a bath.”  He raised his eyebrows and stared at me looking for a sign that I was joking; I paid and left him perplexed.

Saturday morning (half marathon day) at Disney World I was again amazed by the number of people that sign up for these things.  The place was packed, it took me 40 minutes just to make my way through the crowd to get to my start corral.  I later learned that 25,000 were registered.  J. Suver (also running the Goofy that weekend) and I managed to find each other to take a picture.  The route took us from EPCOT to the Magic Kingdom and back again.  As I had planned I took it easy that first day but nevertheless ended up with a time of 2:36, only six minutes off my previous best.  Things were off to a good start.  Afterwards I downed a high carb protein shake, got a quick massage (more of a stretching really) at the massage tent onsite (this helped more than I expected) and took an ice bath (did I mention those suck?) when I got back to my friend’s house.  A big thank you to Craig & Carol K. who took such great care of me while in Orlando, including preparing Paleo-friendly meals for me!

One quick shout out to the girl who, as we were running downhill out of Cinderella’s castle, darted directly in front of me then came to a complete stop to make sure the photographer got a good picture of her, requiring me to jump (and nearly fall) around her, not to mention the complete photo bomb.  I have your bib number, I know where you live bitch.  

happiest race on earth-2

One advantage of running two races in a row: That night was the first time I’ve ever managed a full night’s sleep before a marathon.  But I was definitely more nervous about day two – I was about to run twice the distance I ever had before.  CrossFit Endurance argues that 13 miles is sufficient training if you follow their program, but I hadn’t done a great job of that in recent months either. 

The full marathon run would take us through five of Disney’s parks: EPCOT, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, ESPN Sports Complex and the Hollywood Studios, as well as around the WDW Speedway.  Sunday morning my feet were a bit sore and quads a little tight but overall I felt pretty good, or so I thought.  While I fully expected the second 13 miles to be tough, the first 13 turned out to be harder than I anticipated.  All of my usual pains set in much sooner than usual which kept me fading back and forth between pose running and race walking.  Around mile 8 my right quad began to cramp up on me but the pickle juice seemed to work its magic again; the next two miles turned out to be my best split times.  But my feet continued to forsake me so at mile 14 I stopped for a good 20 minutes at a medical tent.  I iced my feet for a bit and put some Vaseline and icy hot-like stuff on them, then stretched out the legs as my quads were getting increasingly stiff and sore.

Along the way Suver and I crossed paths at least a half dozen times as our relative paces ebbed and flowed.  Pretty cool when you consider there were over 20,000 runners (notably less than the day before, I think a lot of registrants bailed on the full marathon), and it was nice to see a familiar friendly face.  In the end she beat me handily, I believe some late race motivation was provided by her tight plane schedule.

Throughout my running events and training I had continued listening to the metronome along with my running music to monitor my cadence.  Unfortunately that morning my phone froze up on me at mile two and I ended up having to run the bulk of the marathon au natural.  I was disappointed about my inability to take pictures but on the other hand it was fun being connected to the people and other surroundings in this environment.  One highlight was a two mile conversation I had with another runner about the classic cars Disney had lined up along the Speedway we ran around.  A downside was the guy that thought it would be a good idea to run the entire marathon with two cow bells attached to his belt.  It CLANG took CLANG me CLANG over CLANG four CLANG miles CLANG to CLANG shake CLANG him.  CLANG.  You get the picture.

By mile 20 the shit really began to hit the fan.  My running had really been race walking for a while already, and now even that was becoming too difficult to keep up.  My feet were my easily my biggest problem, every step felt like someone was slapping them with a paddle, but my right Achilles was also randomly firing on me.  Everything below the waist was getting increasingly sore, the effects of not doing any long training runs was definitely taking its toll.  I probably ended up walking most of those last six miles, but I had a lot of company; looking ahead it seemed that at any one time 75% of the participants were walking. 

The final mile took us around the World Showcase at EPCOT.  As I ran by the kiosk in France where they sell Grand Marnier Orange Slushies (yes they’re as awesome as they sound) I realized the one thing I forgot to bring with me – money.  Dammit!  I spent the balance of the run dreaming of crossing the finish line with an umbrella clad frozen concoction in my hand.

My official time in the end was 6:50; when I factor in my medical tent, bathroom and picture taking breaks my actual running time was 6:17.  I had had no big expectations regarding my time going in but was not at all happy with how I finished.  (I am, however, happy I weathered this better than the girl sitting next to me after the finish who passed out from heat exhaustion.  Her boyfriend and I grabbed her to keep her from falling over; big kudos to the medical staff who quickly arrived with ice and whisked her into the air conditioned treatment tent.)  I blame my late race dragging on my lack of disciplined training more than the dual race challenge, although it was probably some combination of the two.  I don’t want to leave it that way so there will likely be another marathon at some point in my future if I can address the feet issue (this is going to take some experimentation). 

Back home one week later I had some redemption as the Tinkerbell Half Marathon went much better.  My Achilles was still sore but I had otherwise recovered from the previous weekend.  I once again managed to keep increasing my pace in the latter half of the race and I ended up finishing in 2:17, 13 minutes better than my previous best.  Perhaps it was the red beans and rice (I guess this is now my traditional pre-race meal).  I was both happy and relieved to be done.  I exchanged a lot of high fives with other dual (Tinkerbell and Coast-to-Coast) medal winners, acknowledging our mutual superiority over those who had earned “merely” one medal 😉

A few final lessons/observations/recommendations:

1.  If you’ve never run a marathon before but think you’d like to, go right now and find one six months or so out and sign up. Do it.  Signing up gave me focus and provided strong motivation to keep my training going, it will probably do the same for you.  Sign up!

2.  If you’re nervous about your potential performance I have found that you can count on Disney marathons to provide a lot of ill-prepared runners to make you feel good about your relative athletic prowess.

3.  There has been a lot of discussion whether crossfitters need to do marathon specific training or simply rely upon their regular wods.  This probably won’t end the debate, but for me the running specific training was critical in getting through all this.

4.  Pickle juice, it’s nature’s PowerAde.

5.  And for God’s sake people, always carry some money with you!  You don’t want to have to run by the Grand Marnier Orange Slushie stands of life and leave empty handed, trust me.

So what’s next?  I’m going on a five day hike with some friends through the Grand Canyon later this year.  Other than that, not sure.  I’d like to do a triathlon or two at some point.  A couple of stretch goals would be the Boston Marathon (the qualifying times look absolutely ridiculous to me right now, but who knows, maybe some day) and there’s a 150 mile race in Madagascar next year that looks fun.  For now however I’d like to focus on lifting/strength development which lately has taken a back seat to running.

Once again I’d like to thank Frank, Diso and my other coaches at PCF for turning me into a runner (although I still don’t think of myself as such).  I would also like to thank my fellow PCF wodders who routinely kick their own asses which helps motivate me to try to do the same.  Lastly, thank you to all friends and family on both coasts that have offered their constant encouragement.

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