Work has been ridiculously stressful since returning from vacation. I do not recommend taking a vacation almost immediately upon returning to work after the holidays. NUTS! Enough of that let's get to the good stuff... GOOFY challenge!!! It's finally the weekend and I have time to
bore entertain you with my experience and pictures. If you are facebook friends with me you've already seen the pictures.
Settle in this takes awhile. Or just skim and look at the pictures ;)
My husband and I arrived in Orlando with no travel issues on Friday afternoon. I had signed us up for the Disney Magical Express bus to take us to our hotel. There wasn't anything too magical or express like about the bus. Much like anything in Disney it took FOREVER. We finally arrived at the hotel to find that about half the team in training teams were in our lobby! Excitement was in the air but I was stressing out about making it to the expo and finding dinner. Luckily, we made it to the expo and picking up my bibs was relatively painless. Heading to pick up my shirts/remainder of the packet was a mess. After buying much needed Gu chomps and shot bloks we were on our way to dinner at the hotel.
DAY 1: 13.1 miles
The Saturday morning wake-up call came early but I woke up before the 3 am alarm and was out the door and on the bus by 3:30 am. As the busy pulled into the Epcot parking lot I remember thinking to myself I have never seen so many people awake at that time for a non-drinking event! Everyone spilled out and made their way to bag check. I popped a squat and ate my breakfast before heading to holding area #1. Around 4:30 race officials released all 27,000 of the half marathoners to make the 1/2 mile walk to the starting corrals. We all needed to be lined up and ready to go by 5 am for a 5:35 am wave start. Temps were in the 50's but with no sun felt very cold. Nothing like last year I know where temps were in the 20's and it was sleeting! It was the theme of the weekend :) The cool thing happening this year for the half was we would be starting at the same time as about 500 servicemen stationed in Iraq. A husband stationed overseas and his wife usually run this half together but since he wasn't home they set up a dual race so they could still run together!!! Plus the wonderful thing was she and her daughter could see/talk to him via the satellite feed. So awesome.
Around 5:40 a.m. my corral made it to the start line to see Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Donald see us off and a firework display with every wave!
We started out along the dark service roads towards the Magic Kingdom. I had my camera in hand and took it easy. No need to rush out with 39.3 miles looming over my head. The weather was perfect for running even if I struggled to see where I was actually running in parts. The course was crowded and once we got into the parks there was a lot of trying not to trip over people. I ran with my camera in hand and enjoyed myself. The service roads were dull but it was incredible hitting the Magic Kingdom before the sun came up!
Magic Kingdom Christmas tree early in the morning. It made me smile as I ran into the park.
yep, this is my new profile pic
before going through the castle
I love cinderelli!!!
on the way out of the kingdom and onto Epcot via some more service road in which we ran by the parade floats
these guys were awesome. I also may have a little thing for this jack sparrow - swoon
By mile 7 we were out of the Magic Kingdom and on our way to Epcot. I was taking it easy having fun and taking in the morning. By this point the sun had come up and I was blinded. I forgot my much needed visor in my luggage. Oh well. Along the golf course I ran into Mickey and Minnie, passed them, realized who they were, and turned around to stand in the long line. After 3 trips to DW I finally got my picture with the bosses!
By the time mile 10 rolled around I honestly was ready to be done. I wasn't tired but just a little bored. This was my longest running 1/2 marathon by myself. I picked up the pace ever so slightly and started trying to make my way around the masses.
While I didn't talk to anyone during the race I stopped and took pictures with the different characters, took my time at the mile 5 pit stop, and walked if I wanted/needed to. I actually didn't walk too and would instead slow my pace. Much most of my time was eaten up by standing in line waiting for a picture. Starting and stopping is no joke; that ate up my quads the most.
Overall I finished 2:31 and some change. That works out to 11:25 pace. A personal worst BUT one of my most fun races by myself!
back at the hotel showing off round 1 of bling to the husband. he slept, I ran.
Post race my husband and I got breakfast then headed to the Magic Kingdom. Not the best idea to walk around most of the day post half marathon but we had limited days to work with and I didn't feel much like sitting in the hotel when it was so beautiful outside! I got off my feet when I could, drank a ton of water, and re-fueled pretty well.
DAY 2: 26.2 miles
Sunday morning 3 am was a lot less easy than Saturday. I woke up in a daze of wondering where I was and what in the h*ll I was doing. I was not feeling very confident about my abilities but I had paid my money, told people I was running, so I got dressed and was on my way a lot less chipper than the day before. The start was the same as the day before but on Sunday I made a friend on the 1/2 mile walk to the corral and another one in the corral. The morning was much colder and I didn't have any throwaway clothes other than my space blanket from the day before. Honestly, I was kind of miserable those first 2 1/2 hours before the start and really questioning my ability to run a full marathon.
The start went down the same way as the day before only I was 2 corrals further back. As we took off everyone started flying by me. It made me slightly anxious through the first mile but I settled in and found a happy relaxed pace in between 10:30 - 11:30 minute miles. My plan once again was to take it easy, have fun, and finish strong with a smile on my face!
It took me about 3 miles until I finally warmed up. While I was freezing I stopped to say high to Tink and her friend...
then it was time for Epcot in the early morning.
I thought mile 10 was a good place to take a picture. On our way to the Magic Kingdom and feeling good.
Magic Kingdom in the morning. I didn't take a ton of pictures through here since it was much the same as the day before only light outside.
on the fly down main street
it's hard to see but there were trumpeters welcoming the runners
After the Magic Kingdom we headed through some more service roads to the Animal Kingdom. I stopped by the same golf course as the day before to hang with Goofy and Donald.
Around this point (mile 14 - 15) I started to find some new energy even though I was STARVING. I decided I would pick it up a bit on the back roads to get to the next park sooner. While Disney had something (music, characters, a band, etc) every mile these parts weren't too exciting. The parks are where everyone found their energy. I entertained myself by taking portraits and passing the walkers...
Mile 16 tends to be my mental block of all training runs and marathons. Have to take a picture! This is right before heading into the Animal Kingdom. And it smelled like a zoo.
they are standing kind of far away from me. I think Chip and Dale could smell me and not in a good way. At this point the bride and groom passed me and I had to hear bad marathon of life jokes from all the dj's the remainder of the run. Yes, these 2 got married Saturday night and ran and marathon Sunday very early. Props to them! I wish I had gotten a picture but I forgot to snap one when I was behind them and she was showing off her ring.
Animal Kingdom fun!
a nice spectator with her son offered to take my picture. he liked my ears - too cute! Right after this a very nice spectator had some very yummy pretzels. I was hungry!
look! I'm on the big screen at mile 21.6
almost to 22 and feeling the pain. here I'm thinking I can do anything for 4 miles! At this point I definitely allowed myself to start walking more
squirrel! love the UP dog!
Finally, around mile 22-23 we were in Hollywood Studios. My favorite park! Though I was seriously hurting. My left foot was off since mile 15 and my quads were on fire. My mantra was "Fast or slow it all hurts the same... get it done!" Again the park and the crowds gave me the lift I so needed.
the girl in the middle was hamming it up for me
down the main street in Hollywood Studios less than 3 miles left
After Hollywood Studios we headed through the Disney Boardwalk (by several hotels and over a wood bridge). A very pretty part of the course before finally heading back to Epcot. I walked more than I should have here but who the heck cares!
just before 25 and trying to figure out how much longer because I have absolutely no kick
mile 25 in France
In Epcot before mile 26 my husband found me and took a series of pictures. I was so happy to see him! It gave me the boost I needed because I wasn't sure if I would see him at all.
After passing Jacob I put away the camera and headphones to take in the last three-quarters of a mile of Goofy! I couldn't believe I was going to do it! The path narrowed but there was no jockeying for position on my end. I stayed the course. I tried to pick it up but all I had energy for was to put my arms in the air and allow my eyes to swell up as I neared the finish line. Well that, and to high five Mickey and Minnie ;)
The hubs who is a master at finding me in a race crowd found me as I headed toward the meet up tents and grabbed a final picture...
Finally, the bling that has since been added to my display. Love the bling!
Another overall personal worst but who the heck cares. For the record 4:51 and change. My last half marathon was my fastest out of both days. Which is exactly what I wanted to do! Yea a race plan worked. But seriously - what a freaking experience!!! I went into the race with a cold and not the best training because of a multitude of excuses. I came out 39.3 miles later with a pride I haven't felt since crossing the finish line of my first marathon.
After walking around Epcot after the race and seeing everyone with their medals and shirts at the park I felt like I joined a new club. There were head nods, there were congratulations, there were smiles all around. It. was. awesome.
Overall race thoughts:
Disney knows how to put on a race. Everything was incredibly organized to the minute detail and the volunteers were unlike anywhere. My only complaint - the lack of food at the end of both races. They totally want you to spend your money at the resort. Though because I was expecting more at the end it really hurt me come day 2 and I had some problems. But had I known that going in I would have been better prepared. While there are a lot of first timers there are also a lot of seasoned runners and those running with friends. Everyone there is for a fun time and it's not so serious (at least where I was in the crowd). It was an incredibly fun weekend away feeling like a kid again in some nice weather away from the snow. I recommend it to anyone and will be back in the future for sure!