Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Walt Disney Marathon Weekend - Saturday, January 7

Today brought another super early alarm.  I got up and got dressed and ate the bagel that I picked up at the end of the 5K.  It was dry and boring, but that is what happens when you forget to pack anything for breakfast and have to make do with whatever you find.  (I will be much more prepared for all future traveling meals! I even have a super cute little cooler bag thing to keep everything stored in!)  It was still pretty cold out, but I had a pair of pants that I brought that I was planning on throwing away at some point on the course when I warmed up.  I also had a sweatshirt that I was wearing, but since mom was coming with me to the start, I could give it to her right before walking to the corrals and avoid having to check a bag.  We got on the bus, again without any issues, and headed over to EPCOT.  Things were a lot more busy than they were for the 5K.  People were everywhere, and again there was a DJ playing music and stuff.  At one point Tony Horton, the P90X guy was doing a warmup.  I was so cold and so nervous that I basically stood frozen in place and just watched everything around me. 

Once they made the announcement that it was time to head to the corrals, I handed mom everything that I did not need, stole her gloves, and started the long walk to the corrals.  I think every time I make this walk it gets longer and longer.  There are tons of people, all packed in and moving super slow.  I have no clue where it even goes, and would never be able to retrace the route at a regular hour of the day, without 28,000 people crammed in with me.  At one point we walked past some kind of tram "graveyard".  It was sad and creepy.  I made it in to my corral and waited for the race to start.  I think I was in corral D, or maybe E...its all a blur now, but it was a good wait until things got started.  Donald, Mickey, and Goofy came on stage and Donald sent the first group of runners off, accompanyed by fireworks!  I went to turn on my Garmin, and received the most dreaded message...LOW BATTERY! I wanted to cry.  Garmy is like my electric security blanket.  There are clocks at every mile, so its not impossible to do the math and figure out your pace, but after about 4 miles I start to forget and it gets ugly.  I almost had a nervous breakdown at mile 8 because I forgot where I was at mile 7 and somehow determined that it took me 20 minutes to travel this one mile.  It didn't, my math was just a little messed up :-)  So this is why Garmy and I are such good friends.  She alleviates any panic attacks and keeps me on track!

Eventually my corral was up and ready to run.  The first few miles were noneventful.  I do not remember much about anything before the Magic Kingdom, except pulling off to the side of the road to ditch my pants.  This was probably quite entertaining for everyone running past me because I of course could not get them over my shoes, and was hopping around trying not to land on my bottom.  I really was not ready to get rid of them...but there was no way I wanted to run through the castle with those pants on! A little way down the road I tossed my gloves (well mom's gloves technically).  Thankfully they were the cheap 99 cent version, so she did not care :-)

Magic Kingdom is a little tricky when running! You run past the sign over the entrance to the parking lots, and get all excited because you are almost there....only its still a long way away.  Annoying as it is, it helps to spread out the excitement.  Once you come around the corner of the backlot area and on to Mainstreet USA things get awesome.  This is by far the best part of the race, short as it is.  The streets are packed with people cheering and yelling.  Its like being famous or something :-) I think its safe to say there are very few people who manage to run this part without tearing up a little bit - I know I can't!  I do not even know why...maybe because it brings out the kid in me, or something equally sentimental and deep :-)  We turned and ran through Tomorrowland and back around and thru the castle.  Mom was waiting right at the bottom of the sidewalk where we came out of the castle.  I have no idea how she scored such an awesome spot, but it was really nice to see a familiar face in the sea of people. 

From there we went back out of the Magic Kingdom and onto the long boring stretch back to EPCOT.  This is where I had the 22 minute mile miscalculation/nervous breakdown.  This is what happens when you do not have your Garmin and know you are not at all trained for a race.  Lesson learned :-)  To be honest, I was physically feeling pretty decent.  Unless I was just so worried about those balloon girls jumping out of somewhere to drag me off the course that I did not even notice any pain? Once I made it past mile 8 and up onto the ramp I looked back out over the course and there were still tons of people behind me.  I let out a sigh of relief and knew I could make the last few miles. 

Going back into EPCOT was much more fun than it was during the 5K because the park was actually open and so there were people inside.  I bet those guests that did not realize they were going to be there on the same day as a half marathon were not very happy though!  But it cracks me up that with all of the thousands and thousands of runners participating in the events over the weekend there were still people that had no idea what was going on.  That would be an unpleasant surprise...although I bet every park was empty by 5pm since we all had such early wake up calls!  They had little walkways and I guess they were letting people cross when there was a break in the action, but I am not really sure.  Finally I made it around the corner and past the gospel choir.  This is the second part of the course that always makes me cry.  Who knew running was so emotional.  I could not tell you what they were singing, or if they were even singing at all, lol.  Its more significant because you know you are literally around the corner from the finish line than for any religious purposes, but they are amazing nevertheless! 

The finish line was the best sight of the day.  I had little confidence that I would even see it.  I happily collected my Donald Duck medal, and picked up some snacks before heading over to meet mom.  They were giving us some mini cliff bars - one was chocolate mint...woah was it yummy!  Once mom and I met back up, we decided to go into EPCOT and find some food, rather than wait to take the bus back to our room.  I cannot even tell you where we ate (Electric Umbrella or something maybe?) but I had the most awesome cheeseburger ever! Would it be so awesome if I was not starving and had not just run 13.1 miles? Doubtful.  But at that moment it was delightful.  I met a woman in there who had done the race, and was now in a wheelchair due to blisters.  And she was doing Goofy so she had to do the same thing all over again.  Hopefully she stayed off her feet and got those things healed up or something!  After eating we headed back and checked out and went home. 

This was the most stressful half marathon experience for me.  And it was all mental and unnecessary, but still.  I knew I had not trained like I should have (or really trained at all).  Instead of enjoying the race, I was panicked the entire time about not being able to finish.  I think I stopped for maybe one picture.  The funny thing is that I took 5 minutes off my Disneyland time, but that is from not making a single stop.  Once I saw my official (slow) time, I realized that I was ahead of pace the entire time, and pretty much stressing myself out for no reason.  I have no idea why I have such a fear of those sweepers!  I know I am fast enough to keep pace...I have been lucky enough to never even see a sweeper on the course, but still. 

The good thing is that this experience taught me alot.  I have been really good about getting in all of my runs and have been going to yoga three times a week as well.  Yoga has been awesome!  I wish I had not waited this long to start going.  26.2 with Donna is this weekend and then back to Disney for Princess 2 weekends after that, and I am crazy excited for both!  They are probably my two favorite races ever. :-)

So, thats that as far as my WDW recap.  From here on out things will be on time...and hopefully with pictures!! Get excited :-)

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