I RAN MY FIRST HALF MARATHON!
A week later and it doesn’t quite seem like I ran 13.1 miles. All the miles are jumbled together in my mind and it kinda feels like a 5k in my brain. My body kindly reminded me it was in fact 13 as I was a little stiff the following day.
We signed up for the race in August when it all seems like a really fun thing to do and sure you have more than enough time to train. If you have never signed up for a Disney race, the spots go quick and I recommend getting set up on the e-mail reminders. When I signed up online they put me on hold….. I didn’t know that was a thing, but it is. So I “trained”. I ran some miles, did some work outs, but I didn’t really stick to the plan and wasn’t near running long enough distances. Yes, I realize the term “long runs” is a personal opinion. I knew I was in shape but not sure if I was half marathon in shape.
Our group of four packed up and headed to the happiest place on earth. Magic Kingdom. We spent our Friday enjoying all that Magic Kingdom has to offer. Despite it being Florida’s “day of winter” at a windy 50 degrees, we had a blast. Thanks to the weather the line for splash mountain was nonexistent. So splash we did. We had a surprisingly healthy and yummy meal at the Harbor House in the kingdom. I highly recommend this location for some food. Because it was winter day in Florida they gave us free hot chocolate. Bless them.
|Packet Pick Up|
Saturday we went and picked up our race gear and went to the expo where they have all things running and Disney. We had a fun casual day getting excited for the race and checking out all the vendors selling running stuff I didn’t know existed. This also made me second guess what I did/didn’t have to get me through this race. Would I need one of those foot massager foot sticks? Would I need compression sleeves for my legs?? Did I need the special muscle cream?? There is only one vendor with the privilege to sell Disney race gear with shirts and skirts and all the other things you didn’t know you needed in trend with your favorite Disney gal. While I really did like the companies clothes, I wasn’t crazy about their designs. They put big bows on all their items and that’s just not my style. I was a little bummed to not see some of the cute shirts I had seen on pinterest with cute quotes from movies. Like one that says “just keep running, just keep running”, However, I walked away with a Disney princess race weekend shirt that I like. After dinner at Bongo’s in down town Disney we were off to bed.
At 3:30 the alarm went off. Ya’ll. That’s crap early. To my surprise I woke up relatively easy and excited to run. We were very calm and zen like beforehand which was not how I anticipated feeling. I’m sure I was calm due to my excellent training regiment. (I really need a sarcasm font) A few granola bars later and we were on the shuttle to the start line. We stayed at the fabulous Pop Culture resort. I recommend staying on property for the race. It will take a lot of stress out of your morning trying to get in the park and find a place to park and then walk and walk some more. Trust me on this one. The shuttle system they have set up for the race is flawless to and from the race. Kudos Disney on the transportation. Also, all Disney hotels cater to the runners schedule with breakfast on the go ready to be purchased for a small fee of course.
So when you get there you walk a little ways to get in to the holding area. You can drop off your gear if you need and then take a nice little walk to the starting corrals. There are more than enough porta-potties along your walks for all you nervous peers. If you’re like me and not crazy about being cold. You can wear and old jacket or sweater and drop it at the start or along the race and your item will be collected and donated. Again, nice touch Disney.
With 4 in our group 2 having ran before and 2 newbies, we were all set to be in different corrals. We just picked one the middle and it worked out just fine with us all running together. So we lived like cattle and hung in our corral with the other runners.
|All the runners taking pictures!|
Out comes fairy Godmother to wish us well and the fireworks go off and the really fast runners take off. The rest of us chill in our holding pins like cattle. Every few minutes, more fireworks and another group goes. The sound reminded me of the Hunger Games when they put the pictures up on the sky at night. Fairy Godmother is quickly replaced by two guys who are fairly entertaining as each group gets its start. 30 minutes after the start it was finally our time and we’re off to the Magic Kingdom! Just past the start line is a marching band to get ya going, Nothing like a good drum line to start a race. With a mix of running levels we went with a run 4 walk 1 pace for the race from the start and it was the best thing we ever did. The first part of the race is on back roads and the highway in the park. They have set up characters and some parade floats to keep you in the Disney magic. Porta-pottys are along the race trail and if you can make it to mile 2 or 3 the lines are gone and it won’t kill your race time to stop.
Lines quickly form to take character pictures as well. This is the part of the race where you see the first group of runners looping back, you’ll hate them. Around mile 5 you hit the Magic Kingdom. And you need it at mile 5. I was starting to the wall but then you realize how close you are and you forget that your have just run 5 miles and have many more to go. Entering the Kingdom is pretty awesome to say the least. Running down Main Street while the crowd cheers like crazy. Through tomorrow land past the tea cups and you will be greeting with gentlemen with boxes of tissues. While running this race is emotional, I didn’t feel the need to cry about the castle. Maybe I’m just too much of tom boy for this emotion. Once you go through the castle and wave to the crew from Frozen, it’s picture time. It’s a cool place to stop and take a few pictures. After a few photo ops we took off through the rest of the park. Back to the side roads where characters and DJs cut jokes. You have one hill and it’s curved road up to the overpass. It’s NOT FUN. It’s just an awkward nor level road, but because they are Disney and every little detail has been thought about, you will find one of the green army men from Toy Story encouraging you and engaging people in push up contest.
After that it’s a straight shot to Epcot. You hit the 12 mile mark and you decide to book it to the finish (well, we did) and in to the park you go and down around the fountain that you really just want to jump in you loop the fountain and head back to the globe. I ran around corner after corner waiting to see the finish line. I was on the last mile by golly! And the sides are lined with people cheering “you’re almost there!!!’ and took all I had to not stop and grab someone by the collar of their shirt and demand they tell me exactly where the finish line was. It felt like the longest mile and point one of my life. But then I saw the finish line, so I ran. and I ran. I crossed the line not sure if I should cry, jump for joy, hug some one or just collapse. I collected my medal from one of the Grandma volunteers who was as equally excited to give me my medal as I was to receive it.
After the race there’s lots to do, take pictures, have a beer, and enjoy your snack box while you sit down with a bag of ice on your feet. I didn’t think I was hungry, and then I opened my box where it was filled with salty chips and cheese dip, apple sauce, chocolate, and much much more. I loved my snack box more than I probably should have.
We came in under 3 hours with our 4:1 pace which was perfect for a first race. I never felt like I was going to die or just couldn’t keep going. I’m sure running with a group and being entertained by all the magic of Disney helped and what ever is in those little cliff bar jell packs. That thing gave me a new leg on mile 7.
I didn’t know how this race would go and I probably prayed more about finishing this race than God needed to hear about, but I finished and felt better than expected. It was an awesome first for sure. I would highly recommend this race to any new runner or experienced runner. It was nothing short of amazing and magical. One day I would like to do the glass slipper challenge where you run the 10k and half in a weekend. You get a special Medal and t-shirt for it. But that’s a story for another day. I doubt I’ll ever feel the need to run full marathon and I’ll stick to being half crazy for now.