Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend (part 1- half marathon)

I feel like the last year of my life has been consumed with the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. I've been thinking about it constantly, talking about it, avoiding thinking or talking about it, or generally, stressing out and worrying about it. I've been nervous, excited, proud, anticipatory... and now it's all over. I'm ready to do it all again.

I ran Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge. The majority of the people that I told about it were concerned or judgemental of my choice. In fact, I was a little concerned about it, myself. 39.3 miles is a lot to run in 2 days. My training was a little less than par, especially last semester, my first in my master's program. I was consumed with school and I ran, but my mileage was short and my pacing was weak. However, I'm not the girl that quits... anything. Ever.

Thursday and Friday

The expo was really exciting! I got my bibs, shirts, I bought some running gear- and a t-shirt to wear after the race and show off. It says "I did it. Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge." It finally started to feel real... that the weekend was right around the corner.. that my first full marathon was a few days away & that... I needed more time to train for sure. However, time was over at that point, so I had to do with what I had.

I was very excited at that point, though.. and nervous. Excitement and nerves were my strongest feelings.

.the night before.

My mom flew in Friday morning. I met her at Downtown Disney Friday afternoon. My friend, Katherine, my mom's friend, Jen, my mom, and I had dinner together and talked about the race. I decided to carb load and ate a huge portion of macaroni & cheese with a LOT of cheese (ha)- definitely not in my regular diet anymore, lol.

We went back to the hotel and tried to go to sleep early. I definitely had trouble falling asleep, but since we had to be on the bus to EPCOT, I had to put in the effort. I ended up sleeping off and on, but definitely did not get the sleep that I had wanted to get myself through the night.

.half marathon.

The alarm clock went off at 3 am. Exhausted, I was glad that I had set out my clothes and put my pins in my bib the night before. So. Glad. I got dressed as fast as I could and we went out to the bus stop. It was COLD... and early. We watched a few full busses go by before one stopped and picked us up. However, waiting ended up being worth it, because, instead of riding a Disney bus, we rode a charter bus to EPCOT.. and ended up with soft, comfortable seats. The traffic was ridiculous. I was, and still am, very thankful that Jen let us stay at her hotel room for the weekend. Driving would have been insane.

We got to EPCOT and started toward our corrals. I said bye to Kath, as she didn't run, but was spectating both races. (She made a cool sign and lots of strangers took pictures of it!!!) Jen, my mom, and I hiked something close to a half mile (I'd guess) to the starting corrals. It was ridiculous. I didn't realize how long a walk that it was going to be. When we got to the corrals, the three of us split up. I went to mine and tried to get as close to the front of it as possible, as I had already heard that some people walk the majority of the race and take up a significant part of the road. I didn't want to get held back.

It was pretty chilly outside. Granted, it was a(n earrrrly) Saturday morning in January, so I should have expected for it to be cold.

Disney always starts things off right, so the send off was incredible. Each corral got their own countdown and fireworks, which was awesome... Also, Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy were at the start line sending people off, so, naturally, I stopped at the beginning for a photo op with the four of them in it.

The first mile of ANY run, whether a training run, a short run, or a race, is always the most difficult for me, so I always push myself as hard as I can for the first mile. However, the Disney World half marathon was pretty awesome in the entertainment field. From bands, to cheering sections, to awesome mileage signs, everything was really neat to see.

Knowing that I was doing Goofy's Challenge, I had no intention of getting a PR. In fact, I did not have any goal time set in my mind at all. I took my camera with me and just wanted to have fun. I stopped for almost every photo opportunity that I came by. I had a ton of fun stopping to see the sights, enjoying the characters, and just running with happy Disney fans. I talked to a lot of really neat people along the way.

At mile 10, I stopped for a photo opportunity with Tigger and Eeyore and... all of a sudden, I saw my mom running up. She had not stopped for pictures, as she had set a finishing goal and wanted to hit it. However, we decided to run the last three miles together and finish together. Beforehand, we had joked about how we would each be watching the other finish the race.. so we both ended up compromising and finishing as a team.

My favorite part of the half marathon was running down Main Street in the Magic Kingdom. A lot of people were really excited to run through the castle, and I was too, but there was nothing quite like running onto Main Street and seeing ALL of the people cheering for the runners. I knew Kath would be there and found her talking to another spectator... she wasn't even paying attention and would not have noticed that I was there had I not stopped!! haha. As with every other race that I have run, the best part of the race is the spectators and the people cheering. It was the same way with this race... and the most abundant number of spectators were on Main Street. It was incredible.

Here are some pictures from the half:

I'm going to update about the full marathon later. I decided to split it up so it would be a little bit easier to write. :)