Friday, January 31, 2014

2014 Marathon Weekend - 1/2 Marathon

If you haven't checked out my 5k and 10k coverage, you can go back and read that post here.

By the time of the 1/2 marathon things were getting serious.  It was the third day of waking up at the ass crack of dawn.  While the 5k and 10k were both good races, I felt like the half is way more serious.  First of all there were around 24k runners participating this year.  I believe there were 16 corrals now for the half marathon, and they were much smaller.  The idea is that it might take a bit longer to launch everyone, but the two big congestion areas (heading into the Contemporary and cone alley before the Grand Floridian) wouldn't be as bad this year.

After figuring out the two cars the night before, we all piled into my car (aka Pony Magic) and left the house at 3:15 am with the idea of making it to the Team AllEars pic at 3:45 am.  Traffic wasn't bad at all, and we had no problems getting through security and over to the gathering area on time.

We took the team pic and started the slow walk to the corrals.  From the gathering area to the corrals takes about 15 minutes to walk.  I met up with another team member, Dave Dunkowski. He and I ended up hanging out for about 45 minutes until the start of the race.  This year, one thing that I thought was pretty special was that they redid the fireworks for the start of the race.  It's a small thing, but those fireworks are one of my favorite parts of Disney races.  It used to be that there were two small sets of fireworks set off for each corral, one at the start line, and one farther back on the bridge.   This year they only set off the front ones, but I thought it was a much cooler display.  I guess that when my wave went off there must have been a malfunction, cause we didn't get a fireworks for our corral.

Improved Fireworks this year

My plan for the half was to run it about a minute less per mile than my marathon pace to conserve my legs.  That still meant that I could run through the Magic Kingdom while it was dark (one of my favorite things to do in the half) and I'd finish without being on my feet for two long.  How I ended up accomplishing this was I used a run/walk strategy but then also made sure to stop at any character stop that had a short line.  It seemed to work well last year for the goofy and it worked great this year as well.

Me and Launchpad McQuack

By the time I hit the overpass around mile 10, I realized how good the taper really was for me.  My legs were strong.  I really wanted speed up here, but I had to keep reminding myself to hold back, I had an entire race to do the next day.  I did stop and carry on the tradition that was started at the princess last year by Eddie, Alex, Lee and I of doing pushups at the Green Army Sergeant (okay, so I didn't actually do any at the princess but I took some damn good photos of them doing pushups).

Pushups at Mile 10

I had a strong finish, right around 2:08.  After finishing I headed into Epcot over to Sunshine Seasons for my traditional post half breakfast.  I was going to ride Soarin but I knew that the rest of the Nerds would be passing through Epcot at any time.  Instead I headed out onto the course, took off my medal, threw back on my bib and joined them for a loop around Epcot.

Finding the nerds in Epcot

After finishing, we had to hurry back to the house.  When I signed up for the Dopey, I had already decided that I was going to do almost anything I needed to do to have a successful race.  One of those things is I set aside some money for a massage at one of the spas on Disney property.  Looking at their prices, an 80 minute massage at the Grand Floridian spa was $195 and that was without tip.  Crazy, right?  I figured I could do better than that.  Instead of booking a massage at an on property spa, I decided to see if there were any sports massage therapists in the area that made house calls.  After looking around on the web/craigslist, I was pretty much striking out.  So I decided to reach out to Carissa Bealert.  She is one of the RunDisney race announcers but I also knew that she and her husband ran a gym in Orlando.  I figured they must know someone in the field.  She quickly got back to me and recommended a therapist named Gypsy Danielson.

After contacting Gypsy, she was more than willing to make house calls and her prices were very reasonable.  I threw it out to the other people staying in the house and quickly ended up with 9 of us wanting a 1 hour massage each.  I mentioned this to Gypsy and she said that she knew a second therapist, Brian, that would also love to come help out.

So on Saturday morning both Brian and Gypsy showed up at 7:30 am with their massage tables (and sheets, music, massage lotions, etc) in hand.  We ended up putting them into two private rooms in the house.  Some of the people staying at the house that weren't running the 1/2 took the first few hours.  Then once we finished, we rushed back to the house and took our spots.  From the looks after people were finished with the massages, it was clear that both Gypsy and Brian were experts at their craft.  Not only were they totally professional, they both work with a local triathlon team providing sports massage for them both in town and sometimes when they go on the road.  I highly recommend either of them if you are in the Orlando area and need a sports massage.  They also said that they are willing to make hotel room calls as long as the hotel will allow them to bring in their massage table.

I'm providing their contact information in case anyone is interested.
Gypsy Danielson -
Brian Schmidt -

After the massage, a carload of us headed over to the main Team AllEars meet at the Swan Hotel.  First of all, I want to point everyone to Mike and Michelle's blog entry.  It summarizes the amazing journey that we have had over the past 5 years (I was only on the team for 4 of the 5 years myself).  Over 5 years the team has raised over $330,000 for Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.  Not only that, the friendships I have made will carry with me for the rest of my life. It was really this team that got me onto the road of health and wellness.  If not for Team AllEars, I would have never have run my first half marathon.

$330,000 over 5 years..just amazing.

After 2 hours of sharing memories, thoughts and goodbyes with the team, we parted ways and headed over to Hollywood Studios for our pre-marathon carb load at Mama Melrose.  I had never eaten there before, but my wife and I really liked the food.  I had a big bowl of pasta and they were nice enough to discount it for me since it normally comes with meat, and I got it without.  We also ran into a bunch more of our team that were eating there at the same time.  After riding Star Tours (Dan got to be the rebel spy, yay!) we waited around for a bit and got a picture of all of us in front of the hat.  We fought a downpour of rain (Christina and I hid out under a space blanket trying to stay dry) back to our cars.  

All in all, it was an amazing day.  Maybe I stayed on my feet a bit too much, but as you will see in my next blog entry, it didn't seem to affect me all that much.

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