Monday, January 21, 2013

Marathon Weekend 2013 - Saturday - 1/2 Marathon

Okay, let me just say I love Disney races (duh, I'm sure you figured this out by now).  But, one of the things I really really really don't love is how early you need to get up in order to go to these races.  Because you run through several of the theme parks and they only have so many roads (and over 25k racers) for logistics the races have to start early.  Also they are a bit limited in their staging areas so not only do you have to show up early, you have to walk a bit to get to your corrals.  I think that is the one thing that I'd tell anyone that wants to try running a Disney race, just plan on getting up early, really early.   Basically my morning looked like this:

2:30 - Alarm goes off
3:15 - Drive to the start to avoid traffic (you can also take a bus, they leave from 3:00 to 4:00 am from Disney resorts).
4:15  - Team AllEars Photo and Meetup
5:35 - Corral A Start

So this trip I actually decided to drive instead of taking a Disney bus like they suggest.  I liked it quite a bit better.  My car was right outside where all the runners gathered so after the race I could head back to my car and quickly change into comfortable clothes and such without having to really bag check a lot stuff.  Once I got there my running team was already starting to gather.  The temp. that morning I think was around 61 degrees at 4:00 am.  It was going to be a hot day.  At the expo the day before I had asked to move up from corral C to corral A.  It's not that I was planning on running really fast, but I figured if I could start a bit earlier, I'd finish before it got really hot out.  In retrospect I think it was a great idea and I'd do it again if I had to.  Not only did I start earlier, I also avoided some of the crowding of the course that lots of other runners experienced. =(

Once we had gathered and taken our team picture, after talking for a few minutes, we headed to the corrals. We tried to stay together but eventually Brian Camphouse and I split off to try and make it to Corral A.  We knew we were cutting it close as the national anthem was playing as we walked up to our corral.   After about 10 more minutes of waiting, they sent us off in our waves.   One of the cooler things is for each wave the have a huge send off with fireworks.  Pretty exciting way to start a race.

Heading into the staging area

Jorge, Eddie and myself pre-race

Knowing I had a marathon the next day, and I had done some park touring already I had planned to take the course pretty conservative.  I was thinking I was going to do around a 2:15-2:25 half time.   I'd walk parts, take pictures and just enjoy it.

Once I started running, it was a bit of a different story.  I was worried about the heat and humidity and honestly I just plain felt good.  I also think my predicted time above was based on a level of fitness that was just no longer realistic.  I picked up the pace and was running at just over a 9 minute pace, predicting to finish the race in just over 2 hours.  While my cardio felt totally fine (heart rate was actually really low) I was a bit worried about my legs so I decided to start stopping for characters.  It was actually a lot of fun!

Jack and Sally - Don't get to see them very often!

As I was running I got to see our faboulous Team AllCheers squad all over the course.  They were setup at Mile 1 and 11, Mile 6 in the magic kingdom and a few other places as well.  Let me tell you it was really a morale booster (especially during the marathon) to have them cheering for us.

Around mile 6 you head through the Magic Kingdom, down Main Street, around through Tomorrowland and Fantasyland and then through the castle.  My good friend Brandon was stationed just through the castle waiting for his wife and good friend Paul to come through.  I just barely caught him yelling my name so I stopped and had him take a quick picture.

Just ran through the castle
After the Magic Kingdom the course gets a bit more difficult.  You run out the back of the theme park and then down near the Grand Floridian, the Polynesian hotel and then down World Dr.  The road really narrows and can get pretty congested.   This is sort of when I save up any sort of mental fortitude to just pound through it.  I think the first few times I ran this course I dreaded this part but I've gotten to really enjoy it lately.

The Green Army Men at the top of the overpass

After World Drive you head up this overpass onto Epcot Center Dr.  I think it is right around mile 10.5.  If it's your first half marathon and especially if you don't run with a lot of hills, this can really suck.  It's long and actually fairly steep.  The Disney folks do a good job and put the Green Army Men on this hill to shout encouraging things as you run up it.

Race #1 down!  26.2 to go

After that hill it's pretty much downhill from there.  There is one more overpass but just over 2 miles to go.   Not to mention at the end of it you get to run through Epcot and they even have a actual Gospel choir singing for you at mile 13 right before the finish.  

I ended up finishing in around 2:07 I think.  I was a bit worried that it might have been too fast but honestly I felt pretty good and I just wanted to stay out of the heat.  After I finished up I quickly got a massage from the massage tent, changed and headed into Epcot as per my now normal ritual.  I ended up grabbing fast pass for Soarin' and had some breakfast at Sunshine Seasons.  A few other of my running friends finished up and joined me for breakfast and we all went on Soarin' together.  I went back in the park and cheered on the runners for a bit before heading back to my hotel for an ice bath and nap.  

Brr, it's cold in here, there must be some Toro's in the atmosphere...

My wonderful wife Joelle was heading out to the parks with our friends Shane and Steve that day but she was a sweetie and went and got a bunch of ice for my ice bath.  I think I was a bit of a wimp and didn't have the water cold enough to start with and so she ended up dumping more and more ice in the tub (much to her cackles of glee).   After the ice bath I ended up getting in about an hour nap before heading out to our main team meet. 

Waking up a bit late from my nap, I quickly headed out the door to the team meet over at the Dolphin.   The main team meet is where we announced the total that we have fund raised as a team for Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.  This year, we ended up making an all time high of 78k from a team of around 100 people.  It was pretty amazing.  I wasn't sure if we would beat the previous year's total or not.  Thank you to everyone that helped us get to this goal, especially to everyone that donated to make me run out Mt Sanitas (I still have a few Sanitas laps to do over the next few weeks).   

After finishing up the meet, some of the team (Go Nerd Herd!) was headed into Epcot for a few beers and some snacks.  Myself I was avoiding the alcohol until after the full but I know I needed some more calories before the full the next day.  We ended up getting pretzels in America and then hung out in Germany trying to stay off our feet.  

Go nerd herd!

A few of us decided to do the single rider for the new test track before heading out to get sleep.  After all I'd be up at 2:30 am again the next morning for the marathon....

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