Okay, I should be able to end this story now (maybe). The shuttle ride to the start went by much too quickly. I was hoping to squeeze in a nap, but that didn’t quite happen. I wasn’t too surprised to see a large crowd of people when I arrived because I had experienced this before. The Disney events always draw a large crowd. I just didn’t realize how large until I was standing in my corral waiting for the race to begin.
So, I sat huddled on the ground (yes, it was slightly chilly so I was thankful I wore my warmer running clothes in addition to my “throw aways”) waiting for my friends to arrive from their hotel. My running buddy was one of those friends. We had decided to stick together throughout this whole race and a half. I was thankful that I wasn’t going to have to run 39.3 miles alone and we knew when to push it and when to back off. I only tried to think about how much fun it was going to be. I didn’t want to dwell on the distance and the pain that would most definitely follow.
Have you ever been a cow being herded back to the barn for your dinner of hay? Probably not. Well, when you do a race during Disney marathon weekend it pretty much feels the same. I have even heard the occasional “moo” being blurted out in the crowd… seriously. So, the starting corrals (funny that they even call them “corrals”) are only about half a mile from the parking lot, but it takes about 45 minutes to shuffle there (while tightly squeezed between people). You also need to remember to leave yourself an extra 15 minutes to use the port-a-potty and I must say that Disney does a good job of providing loads of them (but the shortest line is still 15 minutes long). Oh, unless of course you are a man. They are often seen peeing in the grass just 10 feet from the port-a-potties.
Just 10 minutes before the official start, my buddy and I “herd” into our corral. We stand there debating when we should lose our “throw away” clothing… now or wait till we warm up? Yes, Disney actually donates a lot of clothing that people chuck during these races. You have to be careful not to trip over clothing in the street while you are running (come on people, at least toss it to the side!). I do remember seeing one runner fling his sweatshirt onto an innocent runner who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Stuff like that just happens.
Anyway, Donald is on stage (the half-marathon is his race because I guess he can’t run as far as Mickey 🙂 and some announcer is trying to delve out some motivation. If it is your first time, then you get prepared to start right at 5:30. However, you will only be disappointed. They start in waves. If you have done this before then you know that those waves are actually a good thing. I think my buddy and I crossed the starting line at around 5:50. If you want to know where you stand during the race then you must have some kind of Garmin or other running application because the clocks at each mile checkpoint are way off.
As soon as we actually started running we became frustrated because we couldn’t really run. I remember the announcer saying something about 27,000 people and I couldn’t help but believe that he might be right. Our method for the half marathon was to keep it easy, but this was ridiculous. We were actually running intervals because we would be forced to run slow and then would speed up during passes. I knew that it would just kill me in the end to keep running like that, but I couldn’t accept the slower speeds. In most cases, a race will start to thin out the further you run, but that wasn’t the case with this half marathon. It was cramped the entire way! My buddy and I just joked about how we planned on making this our slowest half marathon ever. Yet, somehow we manged to do better than we anticipated. I was just worried that my legs would not be happy about the sudden changes in pace that occurred throughout the 13.1 miles.
It was over and I was ready to head back to my hotel to take a shower and refuel (eat). I attempted to take a nap, but for some reason my neighbors were still in their hotel room… seriously? I could not get any sleep so I decided to go for a walk around the Disney boardwalk. I just wanted to take a short walk, but ended up doing a long loop that I didn’t really need. Then I was so hungry, but spent about an hour trying to figure out what to eat and ended up going back to the hotel before I could make a decision. I knew that I needed to eat something that would not only help me recover, but also help me prepare for the next day. For some reason I finally decided on pizza. I don’t normally eat pizza before a long run, but it just sounded so good and I was literally starving by that point so I didn’t care anymore.
I worried about going to bed that night and of course I had every reason to worry. The neighbors were there again. And they were loud… again. Another 3 hours of sleep before a race… again. Whatever.
Okay, I need to stop rambling and get to the marathon right? Well, stay tuned for the Finale.