The happiest place on earth.

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If you’re going to do the work of driving a distance for a race, you might as well make a weekend out of it, especially if you’re going to Disney!

We had a bit of a snafu a few days before leaving- Bryan found out he had to work and my dad had to have emergency eye surgery and wasn’t sure if he’d be able to make it. At one point, I thought I might be making the trip solo, but in the end it was myself, the twins and my parents packed tightly in our Highlander.

I didn’t want to wear myself out spending too much time walking around parks, but wanted to try to hit at least one. Since the twins were coming we decided on Magic Kingdom, because Abby and Miles wanted to meet “Mickey Minnie”.

Friday was park day. We got parked around 10 and it was raining. We rode the tram over and it was raining. While riding the monorail it was raining. BUT, by the time we got to the actual park, it had stopped (yay!), and I was pleasantly surprised to find the “town square” area was still decorated for Christmas.

 

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Our first and most important stop was to meet Mickey!

Mickey in person was a bit different from our stuffed animals at home so we were a little hesitant but at least no one was crying.

Most of the rides we picked were kids rides: Winnie the Pooh, Toy Story, Small World (x2), Dumbo, but I made sure to get a Fast Pass to ride Space Mountain because it was closed for repairs the last time I was here.

Abby sported a fun pair of Minnie ears.

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And there were at least 4 parades. We were fortunate to position ourselves by a float right next to Minnie, and Abby spent the majority if it waving to her.

Saturday was packet pickup day, and I have to say without a doubt it was the largest race expo I’d ever seen and I wish I had thought to take pictures. Saturday was a fantastic day because I got a chance to catch up with not one, but two friends I hadn’t seen in years. Kate moved to Florida 5 years ago and drove over to our timeshare to have coffee and chat, and Jenny was running the race with me (though I use the term “with” loosely, as she is quite a bit faster than I am).

Sunday morning came earlier than most race mornings, with my alarm going off at 3am. My dad was nice enough to drive me to the race start. We were on the road by 3:30 and to Epcot by 4. I wish I’d thought to take picture of this too, but the area where all the runners were gathered was also quite a scene, with several booths, character pictures (I didn’t feel like standing in line) and even a stage with a DJ. From there we walked about a half mile to the start. IMG_0053

Sunday was warm. All week, the weather had been predicting somewhere between 64-66 on race morning, and come Sunday at 5am, it was actually 68. The good news (I thought) was that it wasn’t predicted to get any warmer, but it turned out that really didn’t matter.

I was slated for Corral E

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The corrals were really well marked, and for a race of almost 20k runners, we didn’t wait for a porta potty longer than a few minutes. I wanted to get a picture of the start line but with the lighting I couldn’t get a decent one. Corral A started at 5:30 am, with the rest following about 2 minutes behind for each. I started around 5:40.

Truthfully, standing around didn’t feel too bad. Jeff Galloway was speaking, and I distinctly remember him saying that for every 5 degrees above 60 you should expect to run 30 seconds per mile slower. Ha, I said. That’s not happening.

By about a half mile in, it didn’t feel that WARM, but man it was HUMID. By mile three my enjoyment level decreased by quite a bit. But, I really wanted this time goal, my butt wasn’t bothering me, I knew I had it in me to do it so darn it, I was going to try.

The first few miles were on the road headed towards Magic Kingdom, though they weren’t without entertainment. There were a couple of Disney Characters and even a couple high school marching bands. It was still dark when we ran through Magic Kingdom, so the castle was lit up, which was really cool.

The race took runners through each of the parks. The run through Animal Kingdom was about halfway through, and thanks to the cruddy weather, it smelled like shit, literally. BUT, there were goats, so that was cool. Supposedly we ran though the Disney Speedway, but I  must have suffered from amnesia during that part because somehow I have absolutely no recollection.

Some more connecting roads take you to the ESPN Wide World of Sports, where every runner runs through the baseball stadium. You can see each person on the big screen, there are fans cheering in the stands, and the announcer calls your name as you pass. The next stop was through Hollywood Studios, and I wish I had been able to enjoy seeing that one more, but by then I was toast and struggling. Finally, runners go through a portion of Epcot and finish where the race started. The finish line is quite the exhibit and had more spectators than I’d ever seen, and even Donald to high five at the end (though I missed him as I was right behind another person).

We spent quite a bit more time on connecting roads than I expected (though I’d known if I had looked at the map), but you didn’t go far without seeing something, wether it was a character, a band or a water table. It was by far one of the best set ups for water, food, biofreeze (biofreeze tables SUCH a good idea!) and cheering. One table later on even had chocolate and a couple with bananas, though I didn’t have the coordination to run and peel a banana so I skipped that one.

Pace wise, I wanted to run an 8:40 average the first half and an 8:30 the second, getting me an 8:35 average and 3:45  finish time. The 8:40 pace felt harder than it should have,  but I should have expected it considering the weather. I was on pace at Mile 10, and then my body started to slow no matter how hard I tried. By the halfway point I was averaging 8:43, which was a bit slower than I’d wanted but I figured I’d still have time to recover. I hit a wall of some kind though around Mile 14, and my pace just started to get slower from there. I’d stopped at every water stop to either drink or dump water on my head, but it didn’t matter. By the time I’d made the halfway point, I was ready for the water before I reached it and they had tables every 1.5 miles or so. Every time I walked through a water station from Mile 14 on, it was harder to get going again. By Mile 17 I was averaging an 8:48 and running each mile in the low 9’s. My quads started to tighten up. I started walking more slowly through the stops and grabbing not one but two cups of Powerade or water along with one to dump on my head. I’m not sure I officially hit a wall, persay, but each mile was progressively harder and slower. I quit watching my average by mile 20 because I was just getting frustrated. I contemplated saying screw it and taking some character pics, but I really still wanted at least an under 4 hour finish.  I tried stopping to stretch my quads around Mile 24, and my left hamstring nearly cramped. By mile 25.5, I started to get lightheaded. My pace had slowed to the mid 9’s and I didn’t give a crap how slow I was going as long as I wasn’t walking. I actually crossed the 26.2 mark per my watch around 3:53 and some change, but still had a quarter of a mile to the finish line. The finish line was really a cool thing to see, but I’ll admit I really didn’t get to enjoy it like I thought I would because I wanted to be done running. Luckily the lightheadedness subsided once I started walking and drank some more so I didn’t need to visit a medical tent. My official finish time was 3:56:03.

My parents brought the twins to the finish line and I looked for them but didn’t see them cheering for me. We met at the end and Abby wore my medal.

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Disney is by far one of the, if not THE coolest race I’ve run and probably ever will, but because of the temperature and humidity, felt like one of the hardest. I wanted the pace goal so badly I didn’t run smart from the start. I dunno that I really regret it, though, because this was the opportunity I had and I really wanted to try. All things considered – my injured butt, the fact that I wasn’t even sure I’d get to run it a month ago, and the weather, I really can’t be disappointed in my finish. It does make me want to try again, but that’s a blog for another day.

Official numbers:

Finish time: 3:56:03 (PR by nearly 7 minutes) or a 9:01/mi pace for the official 26.2. Per my watch I ran 26.5, which gave me an 8:56/mi pace

Overall Finish: 912/19838

Gender Finish: 213/10315

Age Group Finish: 36/1734

And now I am officially not training for anything, and officially unsure of what to do with myself. 🙂

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