The biggest fear I had about running a 1/2 marathon was not being able to finish. Yet once we got to Disney and started picking up race packets and such – I never really gave it another thought. I was getting that darn medal for finishing.
Truth be told, my biggest fear (as usual) was speed. My sister, who is a very good runner, kept telling me pre-race that she was expecting me to run the last mile in 10:30. Ack. I wasn’t sure she realized just how slow I can be….so I tried to psych myself up to getting some strength to keep up a better pace than usual.
One of the first things I need to learn better about races is how to get sleep the night before. I tossed and turned from 10pm till 3am (wake up call). I’m not sure I got quite 3 hours of sleep in there….and I could feel it at one point on the course. Early mornings are not actually much of a problem for me – particularly as I was so excited and eager
to get my medal to get the race started. In fact I think we (Rob, Stacia, and I) were all excited – Rob especially after we found the Disney food court open at our resort and fully stocked with coffee. Steve took pictures of us all and admitted later being a little envious. (Of course he needed to get more sleep as the marathon was still 24 hours away.)
The number of people waiting for buses to the race start was a bit overwhelming to me. While I’m sure the whole resort was not there for marathon weekend, it certainly was clear just how popular the Disney races are. The number of Goofy bibs we saw was also surprising and we liked joking with a few of the people wearing them.
The Goofy is when you pay and purposefully sign up to run the 1/2 marathon on Saturday and then the full marathon on Sunday. You get a medal for completing each race – and then an additional Goofy medal – for basically mastering the insanity of running 39.3 miles across two mornings. After the race on Sunday, you could always tell the Goofy runners as they would be wearing two medals (Mickey and Goofy) and would be clanking their way along. Three medals, three t-shirts, one weekend – I’m pretty sure I would have renamed it after a different Disney character: Dopey!
The hardest part of the Disney race is getting from the buses to the start corral – as it seems as if you walk around all four parks to get there. The start/finish is essentially a section of the Epcot parking lot (and yes, Stacia, they are in the same location! – see Disney Part I). Any non-runners can come with you – but once you go to check your bags, it’s runners only. I suppose a few brave souls could stick around – especially if they have a VERY fast runner to cheer for. But there seemed to be few of those around.
Ah – bag check. So we knew it would be cold at 4 in the morning. And any clothing you want to wear pre-race and then shed gets picked up and donated by Disney. Last year Steve ran the 1/2 and he just bought some sweats at Wal-Mart. This year Stacia happened upon sweats for her and I at Target – on sale for $2 each. Hello! Great deal. Problem though? They were COMFY! So we debated the whole “these are awesome sweats that we want to keep” vs “it’s wiser to stay warm before the race”. Comfort won out – long term comfort that is. We checked our bag of cell phone, extra snacks, and comfy sweatshirts (we hadn’t needed the pants). Yes, this could be seen as silly. And yes it could be seen as … well silly. Although frankly the cold wasn’t as bad as it could have been. (I’m typing this days later mind you.)
Next up – port-a-potty line. I only mention this because I never have used a port-a-potty before. Never. And while everyone complained about them – the lines were incredibly long. So awful but necessary. I was stunned that there was no light inside. Nor were there any hidden Mickeys inside – come on Disney! But I have now used a port-a-potty. Or in other words – I’ve learned to hold my breath above water.
Moving on…you do move on. A giant cattle call to the start corrals. We were at least moving and keeping generally warm. And my anxiety would shoot up (and thus bloodflow and warmth) every time Rob would say, “The papers say you have to be in the corral by 5am. We’re not going to get there in 5 more minutes….they’re not going to let us run!” I’m not sure if he was seriously worried – but the crowds behind us seemed to suggest that Disney was not about to enforce that ….I hoped.
I’m not sure what time I had predicted on my entry form – but I thought it was 2:50 – which got me placed in corral E. Stacia and Rob were assigned D – you can move back but not up. So we said goodbye to Rob at the split and Stacia came to start in E along with me.
On a related side note, I didn’t realize till after the race that Stacia probably could have run the 1/2 in about 2:15. I guess I had never really thought about her pace and her potential time. I just kept telling her I was slow and kept worrying about that. As she is my sister, Stacia might point out that makes me selfish….I like to think it’s just that I was worried about the abstract not the specific. Either way – I will always be grateful that she ran her first 1/2 with me. She totally could rock a new PR in the 1/2 easily….her willingness to not meet some time goal means so much to me. I truly don’t know that I would have made it in under 3 hours if it weren’t for her.
Waiting is the worse….but eventually the corrals started moving forward…..we cheered on the wheelchair start (man they are fast!), the elites, and corrals A-D. (We cheered on Rob – I’m so sure he heard us.) By the time Stacia and I got near the start line, I was pumped. We had spent much of our time talking to this nice lady whose husband was up in corral B. But once the gun and the fireworks sounded, it was all about Stacia and I….and avoiding all the people around us.
People will tell you that Disney is challenging because of the number of people running. Thousands of people. It’s hard at points to get yourself to pace just because there are so many bodies in one place….and some of the paths get a little narrow. (Like running down Main Street in Magic Kingdom – so cool but 1/2 the road is roped off and it gets tight in terms of elbow room.) Steve had said that last year he felt like it took 2 miles to get himself up to pace.
Amazingly – we didn’t seem to have that much difficulty getting into our pace early on. In fact, the first 5K was my best 5K time ever. Something like 34 mins. We were doing 11:15 miles or so for the first several miles. And I felt good. I was high-fiving all the cheerleaders (tons of people on the sidelines – including high school bands and cheerleaders) and thanking people. And I didn’t lose Stacia. (Although yes, I might not have always paid attention to when there were slow people in front of her….my apologies again!)
Overall – the good feeling lasted about 6 miles or so. I remember hitting 5 miles in about an hour – which was good for me. And was a goal I had. But somewhere around 7 or 8 miles, I started feeling off my pace – largely cause my Nike+ app was off from all the official race mile markers. Now – I love my Nike+ app – but I have no idea how it got so off during the race. I had worn Steve’s Garmin when I did my longest run in training (11 miles) in order to calibrate it. And at that time it was only off by about .32 miles. Not bad at all. So I am a little confused. But the difference in mileage (which was about .7 miles!) started to throw me off in my calculations and my feeling good.
Overall, I think I could have finished stronger and shaken off the app issue…..until around mile 10. I took a funny step…and bam – my right foot did something funky. I could still run and walk but there was pain all over the top of my foot. The last three miles were bad…lots of walking (but my sister kept telling me it was okay). However Stacia made me run the last mile and anytime I tried to walk (3x) – she’d grab my hand and start pulling me. Rather than start a sister fight in the middle of Epcot – I picked up the pace. Thanks Stacia – I needed that.
Overall – good start to the race….moderately okay middle of the race…..and just unhappy with the last few miles. Stupid foot. But given that I already have plans to do better at DIsney next year….you could say that it clearly was a great experience.
Things I’ll never forget:
- Running through Cinderella’s castle
- Stacia grabbing me to drag me along those last bits of Epcot. (Man her hands were cold, but she is an awesome sister.)
- Crossing the finish together with our hands up
- Getting that medal (I almost took my foot over to the medical tent – but I opted for the medal instead – good call)
- Not happy about the water stops – only cause the road was SOAKED by the time we got there….so afraid I’d slip and fall….which, if you ask my sister, was quite likely. Thankfully it never happened.
- Stacia’s surprise that it was mile 8 as she had missed the mile 7 sign.
- Wanting to jump over the cones and not actually run all the way down to the Christmas tree in Epcot…..but I didn’t.
- Getting that medal and crying – although briefly.
- Discussing Powerade flavors. I swear that lemon-lime tastes like piss. Stacia says that since I’ve never actually tasted piss, I can’t say that. Younger sisters….
- But seriously – why do they only serve lemon-lime at the races?
- Hitting about mile 10 and realizing that I will indeed finish despite the pain.
- Seeing some of the elite runners run past us – nearing the finish as we were starting. We cheered loudly for them.
- Looking down from the overpass near the end and seeing that I was clearly not in last place.
- Finishing. Side by side with my sister. And thinking that next year, we’ll be coming in faster. Together.
Next up – Part III – thoughts and observations on Steve’s Disney Marathon and the post-even wrap up.