Thursday, January 24, 2008

RR: Walt Disney World Half Marathon

It takes some serious dedication to the distance *OR* a serious case of "Medal Ho"ness to get you up at 3AM to run 13.1 miles.  It is the only part of the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend experience that really makes you question your reasons for racing.

But there I was at about 3:10AM, waiting on a bus that would take me to the staging area for the WDW Half Marathon.  I had with me a banana, a oatmeal raisin powerbar, a bottle of water, a vanilla GU and 2 packets of Margarita flavor CLIF BLOCKS and 6 salt tabs for the race itself.

After about 1.5 hours of sitting on a parking lot with 9,000 other runners, listening to a great 80s coverband, contemplating the effectiveness of eating a powerbar at 4:30AM when I should be in bed was almost surreal.  But soon enough, they were announcing that Waves 1 & 2 could start heading to the START LINE.  I wandered over to the Port-O-Potty, did what I needed to and then headed out for what was about a half mile walk to the START CORRALS.  From then it was another 40 minutes of sitting in my assigned START corral until the official START of the race.  

About 5 minutes prior to the race start, the speakers by our corral went dead!  So we watch the screen and when it became obvious that somebody was singing the Star-Spangled Banner, many of us sang along!  Then BOOM went the Fireworks and off went the first of three waves of runners.  It was about 10 minutes between waves and we got another set of Fireworks to start off Wave 2.  I was VERY happy to have been able to provide a "proven" Half Marathon Finish and get into WAVE 2, even if I knew it would not be a PR-kind of race day.  I took my vanilla GU as Wave 1 got underway and finished up the last of the water I had with me, I was ready to race!

At 6:10AM, I started my Disney Half Marathon.  All in all, the course was pretty easy.  We ran through the back-roads on Disney property.  Up and Down exit ramps, past on-property Hotels and eventually up to the Magic Kingdom and Cinderella's Castle.  Since Heather, Rich, Jim and I had just spent the previous day in the Magic Kingdom, it was that much more fun for me to run under the TommorrowLand sign, past Space Mountain and through FrontierLand remembering the fun we had the day before! 

As we came to Mile 6.5, we ran though Cinderella's Castle as they blew the trumpets - DAH-DAH-DAH-DAH and Sleeping Beauty and the Prince waved to us. (Cinderella was no where to be seen....HHMPH!)  I got total GOOSEBUMPS and once more, I was more than frustrated the I forgot to bring my camera when we ran past WINNIE -THE-POOH on the other side of the castle.  I would have LOVED a picture with POOH-BEAR!

After a loop through the Magic Kingdom, we followed the same route back (think lollipop-shaped course) back to EPCOT for the race finish.  For the most part, I kept my pace smooth and easy.  I had not gotten much training in over the Holidays and I was just out for fun.  Not to mention that I was running in 75 degree heat and humidity for the first time since September.  

Around about Mile 10, I realized that I was not going to make my goal of coming in around 2:45-3:00 hours on the race clock.  I was experiencing some pretty significant pain from my rotator cuff tear and my pace was off.  I couldn't run the last 5K in less than 20 minutes so I picked up the phone and called Jim to update him on my location.  My slow pace turned out to be a total blessing because Jim, Heather and Rich were sitting on the Disney Monorail - FUMING because they thought they were going to miss my finish due to bus delays and road closures.  So when I called, I eased some stress for them AND they actually saw me out on the course because the Monorail was passing right by the 10 mile sign AT THAT VERY MOMENT!

So even though my pace was slow, it all worked out for the best because Heather, Rich and Jim made it to the finish line in time to see me finish AND to let me know that MY FAVORITE CHARACTERS - CHIP & DALE were at the Finish Line.  So as I approached the FINISH, I ran right over to CHIP (or was it DALE??) and gave him a HUGE HUG and then ran across the finish arms held high!  

Finish Time: 3:17:21

13.1 Miles before 9:30AM - Now that is a way to start your day!

It worked out great that I ran the Half Marathon because it gave me a chance to scout out half of the Marathon course for Heather's race the next day and I was able to give her some heads up on what to expect at 3AM and what the course was like for me.  The biggest obstacle that I had was the oppressive humidity that hit us at Sunrise.  Once the Sun was up, it was fine but that 30 minute stretch between Dawn and Sunrise was NUTS!  

In comparison to what I heard of last year's race, I thought Disney did a great job with the Water Stations.   There we 9 stations for 13.1 miles - that is alot of opportunities for water and PowerAide.  My only complaint, really, was that the PowerAide was very watered down - I'm glad that I had the foresight to bring salt tabs and Margarita flavor CLIF SHOTS which have extra sodium since that is usually my biggest issues (losing salt from sweating alot)

All in all it was a FUN RACE while it was not a fast race for me (or for Heather the next day) but we both got some awesome medals, were able to ooggle the GOOFY people (those running both the Half Marathon and full Marathon the next day) AND we decided that in 2010 we could come back for the Disney Marathon 20th Anniversary and GOOFY....

Let it be said, Let it be done!  All in all, a great way to start the year!


mlittle said...

Congrats! It looks like it was A LOT of fun! Hey... post a close-up picture of your medal, will ya? I need to drool some more. ;o)


(I'm serious about that close-up, btw.)

ps.... I finally got another nike+ unit. Mine has been mia for quite some time now. We may have to get busy again.

*jeanne* said...

Yup - up at 3 am for a 13.1 mile run. NUTS. Runners are NUTS! But it was FUN, wasn't it?

*marathonmama* said...

2010 or the 20th (2013?) frankly, i'm up for both, hahaha!! i think it was Dale :) I had sooooooooo much fun, i wish we never had to leave (just swing back by SC and pick up the Ro-Bean!) Love you sister!

Ellie Hamilton said...

What a great report and great race! You did great!