Friday, January 23, 2015

Walt Disney World Half Marathon

Starting line with fireworks
Next up in my series of Florida recaps is my Walt Disney World Half Marathon experience. This was most definitely one of the highlights of the weekend. So was my 10k race that I blogged about earlier this week, but overall the half marathon was even more exciting! The non-exciting part...the middle of the night wake up call that comes along with Disney races. I believe this day I work up at 2:53 in the morning, making it the third day in a row I was up by three. After throwing on my race clothes, along with some throw away clothes, and making some breakfast we boarded the bus to the starting corrals. 

After checking our bags and finding some additional Virginia friends we made the long walk to the start. I'm not really sure why they make you walk miles to your corral before they have you start a half marathon, but they do. On our way to our corral this day we spotted the BEST costume EVER. A lot of people come dressed as Disney characters. There are some really dedicated friends that put some work into these costumes too. My absolute favorite was this guy dressed as Peter Pan and then there was a guy with him completely covered in black. HIS SHADOW! So funny! As my friend and I were walking to our corral we wondered if the shadow would run behind him the whole time. 

Peter Pan and his shadow
Once we made it to our corral we still had waiting to do since there were a bunch on corrals in front of us. With every corral that started there were fireworks that went off. I was thankful when we started approaching the start. I was ready to start so that I could warm up. As our corral's fireworks went off we started running. Like the 10k, the half marathon starts off on highways outside the Disney parks. There is some entertainment the first few miles, but not much. There were some marching bands and volunteers cheering, and big screen playing some disney cartoons. Somewhere around mile two or three we were on an off ramp of the highway. This was terrible. Your legs are uneven and everyone is cramped together. I was not a happy person. Thankfully it felt like it ended quickly. Once we were back on normal ground we saw the pirates and their pirate ship and passed the Walt Disney World Speedway around mile four. 
Mile Four-ish!

I was excited about making it to mile four because we knew our friend Julie would be cheering around there. Races are so much more fun with spectators, especially ones you know. I was so excited to see her face when we found her! So exciting! She quickly snapped our picture and we were off again. 

We were now headed toward the Magic Kingdom. I was excited to get to this part because it would actually feel like we were running at Disney instead of just on highways. We ran down Main Street where there were tons of people cheering. That was a pretty fun part. From Main Street we went into Tomorrowland. We ran past Space Mountain, Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, Buzz Lightyear, and the Tomorrowland Speedway. Next we got to run through Cinderella's castle. I think Elsa was there and I think she was making snow. It was very crowded and hard to look to really see. After coming through the castle we stopped to take our picture in front of the castle. After our quick picture we ran through Frontierland. This is where my friend and I separated for a little bit. I went ahead of her until I saw the 10k split mat and a water stop. After I ran through those, and was about to exit the Magic Kingdom by Splash Mountain, I waited for a quick minute for her to catch up. People were very concerned about my stopping, but I reassured everyone I was going to make it. 

After exiting the Magic Kingdom things get a little crowded. There are a lot of people in a little space. This was annoying, but also one of the highlights of my race. They were playing some music over big speakers. The song that was playing was Taylor Swift's Shake It Off. I sing all the time in my car, sometimes I sing to my running partner. That day I sang to all my crowded friends. Some people even joined me, and some other people danced while running. It made a more annoying part of the race much more enjoyable for me. Miles eight and nine are back on the highway and you pass The Grand Floridian and The Polynesian resorts. There was also a wedding singer on the side of the road. This part of the course had some people cheering as well. 

Everything was going just great during the race. The weather was pretty perfect, I felt mostly good physically, I was having fun, Kathy was great. Then came mile 10. I got mental. Really. My hip was hurting and there was this ramp. Similar to the early slanted ramp from around mile two, but this was also uphill. I was starting to lose it. I remember being mad at myself for not being able to get my mental game back together. On this ramp there is also a green army guy from Toy Story yelling at people, and making them do push ups. Not humane. Seriously. We finally made it to the top of the incline and ran the downhill, but I was upset with myself still. I struggled through mile eleven too. I knew I must have been looking pretty mental when Kathy started singing to me. Not something that would normally happen. I was grateful to have such a fabulous running partner. Mile 11 also included our last uphill which was also that stupid slanted ramp business. After reaching the top and being able to run down it, I felt SO MUCH BETTER. That might have also had something to do with the fact we were now at mile twelve. Only a little over one mile left. 

Mile 12
Kathy's husband was waiting for her at mile twelve. He had already completed his own half marathon much earlier. Mile twelve also leads you into Epcot. This is another exciting section since you are actually feeling like you are in Disney. This time entering Epcot we were right by Spaceship Earth which was a little confusing for me since that's also where you finish. I decided not too think to hard about it and just keep moving. I had a goal for this race. Well really I had like a multi-level goal for this race. I really wanted to beat my Pittsburgh half time, which was very possible but I was worried about crowds. I knew the whole race that we were doing OK and would beat it. As a second part of that goal, I also wanted to be under a certain time and knew pretty much the whole race we would be, but I was also getting mental about that during my break from reality a mile earlier. So once we were nearing the end I just wanted to keep running. That, plus there was a lot of professional photographers and I always like to look like I'm having the time of my life when they are around. 

Just before the finish line we saw the Gospel Choir singing. That was fun! After we turned the corner we could see the finish just like the day before. It was definitely a better feeling this day, though. I was very excited that I beat my Pittsburgh time by almost 15 minutes and had met my goal for the race. After crossing the finish line and collecting my medal we went to get ice. I needed some for my hip. This was quite the adventure. When they wrap ice on your hip, things get interesting. I looked like I had a saran wrap thong. 

Post race complete with beverages, medal, and saran wrap thong
Just like the 10k, I thought this race was awesome. Obviously I had a rough two miles, but they really weren't totally terrible. I was a little disappointed in the lack of entertainment along the course, but at the same time that's not really what completing a half marathon is about (to me at least). Mostly I am sad that my half marathon is over, and that I am not going to Florida for the Princess race in February. I need to win the lottery and just run fun races all the time. That would be the life.

Half Marathon medals

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