Monday, January 21, 2013

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend - Half Marathon

Last time we talked, I was off to bed with visions of sweet PRs in my head.   The task seemed easy enough.  I trained at paces that would allow for a PR, so a PR should be attainable during a race.  The biggest piece of contention was the weather.  I had been training in the 30s and 40s.  The temps were to start in the 60s and increase to the 80s.  Factor #2 was the humidity.  It was Florida, after all.  I could train indoors to simulate the heat; however, the gym would surely frown upon me taking the treadmill into the sauna.

Alarm buzzed at 2:45am and I was off to the showers as my physical wake-up call.  Today I had planned to wear my orange barrel outfit (see bottom of this post). All fretting about the weather aside, I was quite happy to put on my running singlet again.  I downed my usual bagel and banana.

Today's running crew was Joe VI, Lauren, Rebecca, and Jaimee; however, everyone kept to their respective hotel running mates.  Mine was Jaimee.  We left for the buses shortly before 3:30 am.  Buses for runners started at 3:00am.  After 4:00am, the busses were for spectators (although I'm sure they would still allow runners to board). For our hotel, we only had to wait for 2 buses and it was not long.  I counted 8 buses lined up waiting to pickup runners.   Joe VI reported they waited for 18 buses from their resort.

By 4am, we had arrived in the Epcot parking lot and proceeded to walk about 5 minutes to the bag drop off.  Given the time, I couldn't really get my bearings compared to the day before.  It was not the same place we were staged for the 5k.  Jaimee dropped her bag in the bag check tent and we hit the port-a-potties.  This place was CROWDED.  It wasn't claustrophobic, but extremely crowded.

I had read and heard that there was a 20 minute walk to the start corrals; however, I had no freaking clue if we were at the start corrals or not.  The day before we were waiting right by the start corrals but I couldn't see anything that resembled a start line.

I finally asked around and was told by a volunteer that we were going to head in "that direction" once they opened a gate.  So Jaimee and I popped a squat and just waited.  People were literally stepping over us, it was that crowded.

Right in the middle of the port-a-pots in the distance is where all these people were headed.

Eventually they opened up the gate and there was a slow half mile hike to the start.  It was nearing 5am at this point, which is when corrals were to be closed, or so the pamphlets said.

Once out of the port-a-pits, you marched to the start corrals.
Jaimee was in a different corral, so once we got the corrals we wished each other luck and off we went our separate ways.  The corral was probably at 50% capacity so I managed my way all the way to the front.  Even so, I matched up with the 2:00 hour pace group.  Not a good sign for someone wanting to go sub-1:45, but I knew I would be toeing the line for our corral start.  Plenty of open space.

I do not envy these people carrying pace signs.
Once corral "A" moved forward to the start, I saw a couple people jump out of our corral to join them.  The RunDisney people were on it and forced them back into our corral.

At about 5:30am, corral "A" was released and about 8 minutes later we were too!

Miles 1 - 3

Goal: 8:00, 7:45, 7:30
Actual: 7:52, 7:45, 7:32

(Note: these are GPS miles.  I forgot to change my watch to manual laps.  Oops)

These miles were pretty boring and slow.  It was dark and we were running on the highway system within the Disney parks.  Considering I was at the start of the corral, there wasn't much in front of me.  A couple guys took off to catch the first corral (see ya!) but it wasn't long before I started to catchup with corral "A" myself.  Mostly walkers (not sure how they qualified for the first corral).  It was around mile 2 that they started having photo stops.  Aid stations were about every mile.

Close to the end of Mile 3 is the entrance to Magic Kingdom.

I hit my timing pretty much right on and I was feeling great.  PR is in sight.

Miles 4 - 6

Goal: 7:15, 7:15, 7:15
Actual: 7:21, 7:25, 7:39

It took two more miles before we actually entered the park.  Roads were starting to become narrow and harder to pass people during mile 5. I was in the thick of corral "A".  It was still dark out and actually eerie because of the fog.  It was like Disney had fog machines going for the photo stops.

Going through Magic Kingdom was pretty cool.  It was too early for a ride on Space Mountain though!

By the time I hit the end of mile six, we were out of the park and it was still dark.  I hit mile 6 in about 46 minutes. While not hitting my planned goals due to the park being hard to navigate at speed with the turns and people, I'm still on target for a great PR.    Let's just not lose it.

Gel at mile 5-ish.

Mile 7 - 9

Goal: sub-7:15 pace
Actual: 7:28, 7:26, 7:38

We are working our way through some of the access roads back towards the highway system.  Still dark out and we started running through some of the darkest parts of the route.  They did provide mobile lighting for some areas but there was about a half mile stretch that with the combination of darkness and fogged up glasses made it easy for me to run someone over.  Luckily, it never happened.  We were coming up on 6:30am.

I knew I wasn't hitting my paces but I knew I was going to PR if I could keep things under 8.  What did cross my mind is that, while I'd kill my PR, I'd probably miss some milestone, like going sub-1:40.  So I kicked it up.

Mile 10 - 12

Goal: Run to a PR!
Actual: 7:46, 7:47, 7:36

Finally back on the highway system and I could see people still running towards the Magic Kingdom.  Some of the later corrals didn't even start until after 6:30am.  The sun was starting to lighten up the sky and we were beginning to hit some real inclines as we were taking entrance ramps.

I was definitely looking forward to this being done.  We still had to run through Epcot.

Mile 13

Goal: Run to a PR!
Actual: 7:31

I knew I had started 7 or 8 minutes after the gun clock but I didn't know for sure.  This would have been nice to know since all mile markers had timing clocks.  I knew I would beat my PR by 5+ minutes at this point but now I was eyeing "that" milestone.  Would I be able to go sub-1:40?  It was going to be close.  I'm not sure what the weather was but it was pretty warm plus the humidity was killer, or at least that's what I remember.

We didn't run around the entire park of Epcot but just enough to fill out the remaining 13.1 miles.  Fortunately, the last .2 miles was the same as the 5k. I knew the distance and it was time to kick it up!

Mile .1 (.21 as my Garmin recorded)

Around a few corners and into the finish chute!

TKB and crew were there to see me finish but I couldn't hear them amongst the other spectacle going on and the fact that my ears were drowning in sweat.


Time: 1:40:10
Division: 58
Overall: 461 / 23,125

Killed my PR by nearly 6 minutes but I missed that sub-1:40 by 10 seconds!!  Argh! I'm still thrilled get that PR though.

Everything post-race was exactly the same as the 5k in terms of the medal pickup, photos, food, etc.  I rested for a while trying to get use of my phone.  Everything was soaking wet in sweat, so it was a bit challenging to use a touch screen.  I drank all the fluids I could find and eventually worked through my goodie box before walking through the bag check to the other side.

The weirdest thing happened, or so it seemed.  The way bag check works is they have this 150 foot long tent with about 7 or 8 entrance.  You walk through the one with the letter of your last name to drop off and get your bags.  Only athletes are allowed in the bag check.  Even though I didn't check a bag, I walked through one of the tents to get the the athlete/supporter meet-up.  Everyone just slowly started clapping as I and another runner were walking through.  It was so weird... appreciated, but weird.

Almost immediately I found TKB.  That's the nice thing about the GPS tracking software I use on my phone.  By this time, Jaimee had finished so Jill, Jess, and Ron were walking around finding her.  We parted ways at this point to meet up later at the hotel room.

We were still waiting for Rebecca and Joe VI & Lauren to finish.  So I setup shop on the bleachers while everyone else was finishing.

Nice smile... dork.

Post-Race Saturday
Eventually I grabbed the change of clothes from TKB and found a handicap port-a-potty to change in. At this point my sweat was all dried up.  It would have been nice to take a shower, but we were getting too close to brunch time to go back to the hotel.

We watched Rebecca and Joe VI & Lauren finish.  Once Rebecca made her way out, we took off for brunch, which we had to go through Epcot to do so.  Luckily we purchased a 4 day park hopper to use.  Brunch was delicious and perfect for preparing for tomorrow.  Plenty of carbs and plenty of protein to repair the body.  The hotel that housed the brunch had a restroom with wash clothes, so I gave myself a little sponge bath while waiting for our table get ready.

Meat... potatoes.... chocolate milk.

Brunch was a character meal.  Got to hang out with my race's namesake!

We walked through Epcot a bit on the way out before we finally separated our ways.

TKB and I rested up at the hotel and then for a little swim so I could let my legs float in the pool.

Playing around with the waterproof feature of our new camera.  Hiding my hideous runners toes.

That afternoon we went over to Joe VI and Lauren's resort where I had another bowl of pasta (same as the day before).  Joe VI did the same but ordered a pizza for the family and we went back to their room for the evening (we were putting the final touches on the costume).  TKB then left around 7:30 to go spend some time with Rebecca and Jake.  Around 8pm I went back to my room for bed.

My heart rate was running really high, which I think was actually a problem with the heart rate monitor.  I don't think I hit 213 HR during the race.

Rebecca coming in for her finish!

Lauren and Joe VI... in green behind the team in training (purple) people.

Rebecca displaying her medal with Donald!
Seen while we were hunting a frozen beer.

The "Bowling Pin" buildings of Pop Century.  My namesake!

Up Next ->  Completed the Goofy Challenge  -- Full Marathon Style!

Also... be sure to check out Jill's blog for her race/spectator reports!

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