|I named my newest racing flats: "La Fée Verte" |
(French for "The Green Fairy(ies)
Fitting I ended up in fairy wings for the half, no?
Disney Half Marathon Race Recap
The Expo: What. A. Cluster. We arrived at the Wide World of Sports a little before 10 am and were immediately sent into "the line ride." It was busier than any expo I've ever attended!
|I feel like this picture doesn't really do justice to just how crowded it was.|
Pre-Race: After the expo I had a pretty busy day working remotely and Spike didn't fly in until late that evening. All in all I think we got maybe four hours of sleep before our alarm went off at 3:30 am. Ugh.
Start: Because we stayed on the Disney property we were able to bypass a lot of the usual race morning hoopla by utilizing their shuttle, which was very convenient. We arrived at Epcot with just enough time to check our bag, use the facilities, and make our way to the corrals. Spike and LeBrian were planning to run conservatively, for obvious reasons, so I split ways with them and hopped into the nearest corral after fighting my way through the enormous crowd.
|Ready to get our half on!|
Miles 1 - 5: It took me almost 15 minutes after the first wave went off at 5:30 am to get over the start line, then I spent the first mile weaving around a zillion people, running in the grass, on curbs, you name it. SO. CHAOTIC. I was relieved when I saw the first character station because I knew it would eliminate some of the crowd. In the dark there wasn't much to see, but I knew this stretch was mostly service roads anyway so I just did my best to find a bit of real estate to run my own speed in. It was disgustingly humid, but without the sun, I was doing ok, and just tried to stay on top of my hydration and keep it consistent. Before I knew it we were heading in to the Magic Kingdom and the general excitement from the spectators, my fellow racers, and the volunteers was electric.
Miles 5 - 10: Spilling onto Main St. all lit up and then rounding the corner to see Cinderella's Castle all lit up made all the chaos suddenly worth it. Wow, just wow! I loved that the spectators were cheering like crazy and the volunteers were helping the runners get that coveted pic with the castle in the background; it really added to the whole *magical* experience. Heading in to Tomorrowland I chanced upon Buzz Lightyear before anyone else noticed him, so I decided it was totally worth the stop to snap a pic with him. Then, moments later I was treated to REAL bathrooms open on the course! (I had needed to pee since mile 2, go figure) Then it was time to run through the castle! Leaving Magic Kingdom on such a high note made the next few miles zip by and then, out of nowhere, I hear my name and look over to see my favorite Disney loving couple and blogger friends, Bethany & Ryan! So crazy to run in to them mid-race, we chatted it up for a few and then I took leave to go finish up the race. (Just after seeing them I got quite the chuckle out of the Toy Story toy soldiers getting runners to do six push-ups mid-race. Ha! I passed on that, it was getting way too hot for me and didn't want to play in the sun any longer than I had too!)
|iPhone snaps of some of the Magic Kingdom awesomeness|
The Last 5k: Mile 11 was up and around an on-ramp, right into the angry sun, but once I crested the hill I kicked it back in to gear for the remaining miles and, with my arms outstretched and my smile wide, I "flew" across the finish line!
Official Chip Time: 1:55:56 - 2nd fastest Half ever! Woot!!!
(No AG results as I was running under some else's bib)
|One fairy happy Redhead!|
Post-Race: Unfortunately, I didn't get to partake in any of the post-race festivities or see the boys finish because I had to hop on the shuttle back to the hotel to get ready for the wedding shower. But, I'm happy to report that the boys survived the day, and the heat. (Starting so far back they got a lot more of the angry sun then I did and you know how much Spike hates the angry sun!) Thankfully, I was able to run in to them as I was leaving, to give them a post-race high-five!
|Finished with the first 1/3 of their Goofy adventure!|
Post-Race Thoughts: Considering my only goal was to have fun and *maybe* go sub-2, if I could swing it with the crowds and the temps, I am VERY happy with how this race turned out. I felt strong throughout and never once had to stop to walk, which randomly enough is a first for me, I always end up hitting a wall in half's for some reason. I think taking the pressure off really helped, in my head it was just a catered training run with a medal at the end. :)
Goofy Challenge Spectating Recap
After the wedding shower, recap forthcoming, I headed back to the hotel to meet up with the gang for another pre-race carb-load dinner. The boys were in great spirits and seemed ready for the following days marathon. After dinner it was off to bed for another early 3:30 am wake-up call. Ugh. (Again)
By 4 am the boys were off to the shuttle and I killed time making posters while LeBrian's wife enjoyed a few extra hours of sleep that my excitement wouldn't allow me. When the alarm went off again at 5:30 am I was ready to go get my spectate on... but then we found out that the shuttle service gets suspended and all roads closed between 5 am and 7 am. We were sooooooo bummed out as we had planned to cheer them as they went through the Magic Kingdom. Boo. With no other choice in the matter, we grabbed breakfast at our hotel, and then cheered on other runners as the course wound through our hotel grounds, about Mile 24ish. The runners loved our signs and cowbells, and I happily spotted a few B.R.A. friends from my FL running days! As the hours ticked by, the heat intensified, and the runner alerts on the boys' pace and ETA slowed, we knew they must be struggling under the angry sun on tired legs. Thankfully we finally received their 20 M alert and hopped on the shuttle over to Epcot to cheer them in.
Holy crap was it a zoo over at the finish! Spectators were at least 6-8 people deep and being as short as we are, we couldn't see a thing. Thankfully my Beaker Luv had joined us for the cheering and brought her super fancy camera so I was able to zoom in from a hill, snapping pics of them as they spilled out of Epcot and towards the finish; meanwhile LeBrian's wife had wedged her way into the crowd and was able to cheer them in as they ran by. They had done it, they finished the 39.3 Goofy Challenge!!! I am so freaking proud of them and they definitely earned their mega-multiple-medal-bling!
|Spike & LeBrian: Certifiably Goofy|
Post Event Weekend Thoughts: In the 11+ years I lived in Orlando I never once ran a Disney race because I didn't feel it would be worth the hassle (or cost) and after having finally done so, I won't say my opinion is very much changed. Although I had a blast, and even though Disney runs a very well organized, fun event, there is just too much chaos for me. Once again, just like back in 2010, spectating was a cluster and overall the crowds for everything: from the expo, to the race, and after, were overwhelming. We think this year was especially crazy because it was the 20th anniversary of the marathon, but even still, I just felt like it was SO much. Outside of that, everything else was pretty awesome, and I get why people want to do it. My only advice is that if you ever do decide to run a Disney event, staying in the Disney resorts area really is the only way to go. (Just have your spectators do some serious recon)