The Day I Became a Believer in the Jeff Galloway Run/Walk Method

With Jeff Galloway at the 2011 WDW Marathon Expo
Nothing really prepares you for the pain and suffering of your first marathon.  You really don’t have a clue until you live, barely, through it.  I apologize to all my half marathon friends, but you cannot compare the two distances.  In my novice opinion, they are two entirely different beasts.  Once you finish your first half marathon you are definitely tired, sore and spent, but once you finish your first full marathon you want to DIE.
I consider my first marathon a disaster.  I hit the wall at mile 20 with every single muscle in my torso and legs cramping.  Muscles that never hurt during training were now crying out in pain with every step. At mile 18 I was scanning the side of the road looking for a nice ditch to lie down to rest or a vehicle to throw my body in front of in the hopes of ending my misery.
I don’t remember exactly how I got my body to the finish line, but I know it wasn’t pretty and I wasn’t running.  I had to continuously stop to stretch out my cramped calves.  I finished in 6:03:33 with tears streaming down my face so happy that I was done and with a vow that I would never, ever, ever run a marathon again.  EVER.
The pain wore off and in March 2009 I stupidly registered for my first Walt Disney World Goofy’s Challenge.  What’s Goofy’s Challenge?   Here’s the official write up from www.rundisney.com:
Goofy Challenge Wristband
“If you think that a marathon is just a walk in the park, put your endurance to the test and compete in Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge! A 39.3-mile adventure held over two days, participants will run the Half Marathon on Saturday, followed by the Marathon on Sunday. If you finish both races within the pacing requirements, you will be awarded the coveted Goofy medal in addition to your Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse finisher medals.”
You see.  The Goofy Challenge is not a big deal.  I had completed a full marathon and I had completed a half marathon.  How hard could it possibly be to complete them in the same weekend?
In March of 2009, I don’t remember where I came across the name Jeff Galloway.  It could have been from Runner’s World or maybe one of his books, but at that time I don’t believe he was affiliated with runDisney.  All I knew was there had to be a better way to complete a marathon and I needed to figure it out before I began my training for the Goofy Challenge.
Jeff Galloway’s run/walk method intrigued me with the goal of “finishing in the upright position.” Since I normally ran at a 10 minute pace I choose the 3:1 ratio.  Jeff outlines this on both his website and in his many books.  The 3:1 ratio meant that I would run 3 minutes and then walk for 1 minute.  Walk breaks would help me to reduce fatigue and also speed my recovery in preparation for Goofy.  I also decided that it was now time to invest in a Garmin watch.  I bought the latest and greatest (at that time) the 405CX, but soon realized that I needed a Ph.D. to program the thing.
Never-the-less, I trained the entire season running and walking during my intervals. I was making this pilgrimage to WDW with my best friend, Terri-Ann, who was going to run the 5K Fun Run.  In January 2010, Florida was experiencing records cold temps and the weather in Orlando was actually similar to the weather in Connecticut – it was COLD.
At the Start of the Half Marathon
We stayed at Disney’s Old Key West resort and I remember walking to the Half Marathon corral on Saturday and seeing SNOW at 5am.  All during the Half Marathon the weather was miserable with continuous freezing rain.  I stuck to my 3:1 intervals and also threw in walks through the hazardous “water” (ice) stations.
I finished the 2010 Walt Disney World Half Marathon in 2:22:15 a 10:51 pace.  This was slower than my first half marathon in which I ran at a time of 2:15:36, a 10:21 pace.  I was fine with the time because I had a full marathon to run the following day and I was wet and chilled to the bone.
At the start of the full Marathon
The weather on the day of the 2010 WDW Marathon was better than the day before in that it was not sleeting, however, it was still “Connecticut Winter cold.”  Florida is not supposed to be that cold.  It is not pleasant.  Water stops were still frozen ice rinks, however, my run/walk plan was keeping me calm and focused until I crashed at mile 22.  All I remember is crying into my cell phone telling Terri-Ann to come pick me up so I could find a nice resting spot to die.  I don’t know exactly what happened, but all of a sudden, I saw Captain Jack Sparrow out of the corner of my eye and he was following the 5:30 pacer and THEY WERE DOING THE RUN/WALK METHOD TOO!!
Oh my gosh!  This was the lift I needed.  I mustarded all my strength and I followed their feet, willing my own legs to keep up with theirs.  Terri-Ann came into view somewhere in Mile 24 next to Disney’s Boardwalk playground coming to rescue me from the marathon; however, I blew her off.  I couldn’t stop NOW because I was following Captain Jack Sparrow and I was going to FINISH!!!
I don’t remember a lot of that last mile and a half of the marathon.  I know crying was involved.  I know spectators were cheering me on.  I know I looked horrible.  I know that when I turned the final corner and saw the Gospel Choir I was hyperventilating.  I know that I hugged the volunteer that gave me my WDW Marathon Medal (Mickey) and I totally broke down when another volunteer gave me my WDW Goofy Challenge’s Medal (Goofy).  God bless the volunteers who put up with the delirious, blood, sweat and tears of the marathon finishers!

I finished the 2010 WDW Marathon in 5:38:39 with a 12:54 pace.  This finish was 25 minutes faster than my first marathon a year before plus I had run the half marathon the day before!  This was the day that I became a believer in the Jeff Galloway run/walk method.

Officially Goofy with Goofy himself, Donald and Terri-Ann

2 Comments on “The Day I Became a Believer in the Jeff Galloway Run/Walk Method

  1. Pingback: Jeff Galloway’s e-Coaching | Maker Mother Marathon Runner

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