I’m back to continue my 2015 Disney Marathon Weekend series with part 4- half marathon day!
This half was kinda special to me. In 2012 I launched my crazy running obsession by completing my 1st ever half- the 15th running of the Disney World Half Marathon. It was the biggest physical challenge I had ever done in my whole life. It gave me the courage and confidence to reach for even bigger challenges.. and I never would have even dreamed of doing the things I’m doing now before my first big milestone. That medal means the world to me.
This year, I returned to Disney to take on the Dopey challenge… and as part of that, I would be completing my 10th half marathon. I am so glad I was able to come back to the place that started it all and continue the magic with another great milestone 🙂
Anyways.. another 3 am wake up. This time however, it was not quite as cold. The temps were in the 40’s.. which was still cold.. but balmy compared to the previous 2 days. I decided to wear my black jacket under my costume again, as we were going to be out on the course longer than the previous races. Dawn and I were going as Marlin and Dorey for this race. I made a shirt that said “Just keep running, just keep running” on the front, and the back said “
Sydney Epcot or bust!” I thought it was great… but for some reason, not a lot of people got it. I had several people come up to me on the course and ask if I was from Sydney. “Um.. no.. Finding Nemo..? Oh never mind.”
Tony and Mike were spectating for us, so they joined Dawn and I on the bus and in the parking lot before the start.
The starting line for the half and the full was different than the one for the 5K and 10K. The walk to the corrals was much longer- almost a mile! Once we were in our corrals, we waited for the start. We were in corral H, which if my memory serves me right- is the same corral we were in the first time we ran this half marathon! Soon they were playing the National Anthem, and letting the Elites and wheel chair divisions go. One by one corrals were released and we crept closer to the starting line.
About a half mile down the road, I turned to Dawn and said… “would you hate me if I told you I have to use the bathroom already” Then she told me “no, cause I have to too!” We skipped the first couple of porta-pots due to the lines, but I couldn’t hold it anymore by mile 2, so we stopped near the Pirates of the Caribbean ship. I was pretty self conscious about how wide my homemade tutu made me feel.. but I decided to take it off when visiting the bathroom.. less to get in the way and less chance of a *ahem* wardrobe malfunction.
After the potty break, we soon found ourselves entering Magic Kingdom property! I was excited because this meant we would soon see Mike and Tony, who were waiting for us at the Transportation Ticket Center.
On mile 3 we saw Wreck-it Ralph and the crew from Nightmare Before Christmas. We kept a look-out for Mike and Tony and finally found them right before mile 4!
Moving right along… we ran under the tunnel making our way through mile 4.. I always love the DJ standing above us, with his giant hands and empowering music. So much fun. We came up on Space Mountain right by mile 5. Right after that we made a sharp turn and ran ourselves right onto Main Street!
Continuing on, we ran through Tomorrowland. There was a huge line for Buzz Lightyear.. and for every character really. I started to realize that we really wouldn’t be stopping for characters this year as we had hoped. It was around this time that I announced to Dawn that I had to go to the bathroom AGAIN. (I don’t know what was wrong with me.. I never have to go this much.)
After my bathroom break (of which I had to double back because I left my phone in the stall! Seriously… what was wrong with me!?) we ran our way to the back of Cinderella’s castle. On the balcony was Anna and Elsa from Frozen greeting everyone as they ran through!
On our way out, someone jumped in front of me and stopped right in front of the photographer, so I didn’t get a picture coming out.. but we decided to stop and get a picture in front of the castle (something we’ve never done before!) There were a lot of photographers here, so the line moved rather quickly.
We pressed on and hit mile 6 near Frontier Land. We wound our way through the rest of the park and exited out behind the scenes. As we were leaving the park and making our way back to the highway, there was a DJ playing Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off.” He was keeping us going and being pretty funny- telling us “You’re half way there runners! And if you’re running tomorrow…. you won’t even be close!”
We ran by the golf course and Polynesian resort. I got a text from Mike saying he and Tony were waiting by an unmarked cop car. We chugged along until finally we saw them! There is nothing better than seeing your people cheer you on as you’re getting tired.
Speaking of getting tired.. I didn’t mention in my last post that during the 10K, I had started getting some sharp stabbing knee pain on my right knee. It felt like it was just under the knee cap. It wasn’t every step, but every couple of steps, and it came and went, and came again. Worried about this, I decided for the half, to wear my knee brace on my right knee. Prior to the half, I had not felt any hint of the knee pain I had been experiencing towards the end of my training on my left knee. This pain in my right was a whole other type of pain… one that I could tell could be debilitating if it decided to become a real injury. The type of pain I had in my left knee was more of a softer pain, one that came on gradually and became more intense over time. Ironically.. the pain I had been experiencing in my left knee was the same pain I had in my right in 2013 that caused me to walk half of the marathon.
During the half, I felt no notion of the stabbing pain on my right knee. I did wear my brace, with the idea that if the left knee started hurting, I’d switch the brace over. Around mile 7, I could feel the pain creeping into my left knee. By mile 9, I had to switch the brace.
We continued our 90:90 intervals, but I was definitely feeling run down and was hurting more and more. The brace helped, but only to a point. I think the damage was already done. I was stopping to stretch more, and definitely running slower. Mile 10 was very welcome.. especially considering who was on the sign!
On mile 11, we met two girls who were also running as Marlin and Dorey.. it was pretty cool as they said they had not seen any others all race.. and neither had we! As we entered into Epcot.. I was hurting pretty bad. I didn’t have to stop running, but I could tell my gait had changed and I was gritting my teeth at the end of every run interval. I was excited to be back in the park though, still smiling for the cameras!
Apparently Mike and Tony were standing by the finish line. Mike said Dawn saw them, but I was in the zone. I SO wanted to be done.. I was hurting pretty bad. Dawn grabbed my hand and we charged for the finish line… another race and my 10th half marathon in the books!
This half ended up being my worst half time ever.. over 3 hours! Strangely, I was ok with this.. because I still had a full marathon ahead of me.. and I had NO idea how that was going to happen.
Once again, heat sheets were not being handed out after the race. It was annoying, but at least I had given Mike my coat to hold while we were running, so I had something to throw on. It wasn’t terribly chilly, but being sweaty, it was enough to make me feel cold. We ended up finishing before 9, which was perfect because I really wanted to watch Trenton run in the kid’s races that morning. We wasted no time and hopped on a bus back to the hotel. There was no direct transport to the ESPN complex, so we had to go back to the hotel to catch another bus back out. Since we had plenty of time (The kids races started at 11) I decided to have a quick shower before we headed over.
Even though I was worn out and didn’t like the idea of walking to/from our room.. the shower was the right decision. I didn’t have time to soak in my Epsom salts, but I felt 10 times better after getting a little fresher. Not going to lie though, my knees- both of them, were shot. The left one hurt, and the right one was very weak and tired. Navigating stairs was a bit of an issue.. and I could not go fast. Again- I had no idea how I was supposed to run a full marathon the next day.
We boarded a bus bound for the ESPN complex.. and then sat at a traffic light for 4 cycles. ESPN was literally across the highway from where our resort was… and it took us almost half an hour to get there. In true runDisney fashion, the bus let us off at the furthest possible place it could. It was 11 at this point, and I was really worried that I would miss Trenton. I still had to
gimp walk about a mile to where the races were being held and I couldn’t go very fast. We made it with about 10 minutes to spare, although I almost died going down the stairs. (OK exaggeration.. but it hurt.)
We waited while they sent the kids off in waves. Trenton was running the 200 yard dash. He was pretty hesitant before hand and kept saying he was going to walk. We decided to split up so that he could have cheering spectators all around the track. I took Gemma to the far side, Mike was in the middle, my sister stood at the start and raced around as he ran, and AJ was at the finish line. I almost didn’t see him coming, and I might have missed him if I hadn’t seen Diane running near me. I looked up and saw him trotting along.. with a kind of worried yet determined look on his face. We cheered him on, but I’m not sure he heard us.. at least he never responded.. I guess he was really concentrating!
Well, he finished in second to last place in his wave.. but he didn’t walk at all! We were so proud of him and wanted to take pictures.. but all he seemed to be interested in was getting Mom’s iPhone so he could “text Aunt Stephanie something.” Sigh.. that kid is a class-A tech geek at age 5.
We meandered our way out of ESPN and made plans to meet them over at our hotel for lunch. My sister had made us a wonderful lunch of egg salad, avocado hummus, and snacks. It was really great and she’s a pretty good cook! When we first planned out our trip- we were going to hang out by the pool and spend some time with the kids. Unfortunately Mother Nature decided to make it the coldest week of the year in FL, so we couldn’t use the pool. After a bunch of post lunch silliness, Gemma was getting cranky. My sister asked if we would take Trenton while they drove around with Gemma so she could nap a while. No problem-o!
What I really could have used was a nap myself, but I was happy to spend some time with my favorite boy. I really wanted to take an Epsom salt bath to try and relax my sore and tired legs, so that’s the first thing I ended up doing to get it out of the way. Mike hung out with Trenton and I took my timer and soaked for 20 minutes. It felt so good and was so needed. When I got out I snuggled into bed between Mike and Trenton. Mike started dozing off as Trenton played with Diane’s phone and was trying to get me to text him. Over and over and over. Eventually I had to tell him that I needed to charge my phone and he couldn’t text me anymore. I got out my iPad and he was tickled that I had a folder on there labeled “Trenton”. I told him it was because he put a ton of apps on there last time I came to visit, and I put them in his own folder- he said he didn’t remember doing it! Eventually he got bored and decided to take a look at all our running gadgets. I was explaining what each one did when he came across Mike’s Bluetooth earphones. He had to ask Funny Mike what they were and how they worked.. and was genuinely attentive and amused. He had us set them up on Diane’s phone and danced all around the room to the music in his head. He thought they were the coolest thing since sliced bread. It was so funny.
It was around this time Diane and AJ arrived back with Gemma. Gemma was so excited to be in the room because she is a huge Little Mermaid fan! She kept telling me that “Aweal is coming!” “We gotta find Aweal!” We sat and watched the beginning of Frozen and then she wanted to watch her “egg videos” which apparently were weird Youtube videos of a woman opening chocolate eggs to reveal toys inside them. (Diane said she found them once and now watches them all the time. Weird little kid.) Later, she found my tutu I had worn in the race earlier and exclaimed “Hey! Check THIS out!” Yes, this kid is 2.
We all had dinner reservations at The Wave restaurant in the Contemporary Resort. After taking some time to get ready, we finally headed out. Trenton wanted to ride the bus and the monorail, so he hung out with Funny Mike and myself. Diane, AJ and Gemma drove in their car. We waited a long time for a bus.. over 20 minutes! We saw buses for every other park EXCEPT for Magic Kingdom. In fact, we had seen multiple buses for all the other parks. By the time we finally got on a bus (and waited another 10 minutes for it to load up some disabled guests, we finally got on. They crammed us in, but we managed to find a seat for Trenton. I was a little mad I had to stand because Magic Kingdom was the furthest park away, and my poor legs were still very tired. But I didn’t complain.
We got to Magic Kingdom and walked over to take the monorail to the Contemporary. This was also very crowded. We were getting texts and phone calls from Diane and Dawn wondering where we were. We let them know we were on the way as we had to wait for 2 monorails before we were able to get on one. When we finally got to the restaurant.. we saw that everyone was still hanging out waiting to be seated. So much for making a reservation. (We did however, get to catch the end of the Ravens game on a tv by the bar… and were devastated that the had lost and were now out of the playoffs for the Superbowl. Darn!) It was after 7:30 by the time we were finally seated.
The restaurant was pretty nice. It had somewhat of an upscale vibe, even though Disney only rates it as two dollar signs ($$) for dinner. There were a limited amount of entrees to choose from, but it hit pretty much all the basic groups (chicken, pork, beef, pasta, fish, and vegetarian.) I had the pork tenderloin and Mike had ravioli. While we were waiting for our food, we shared some house bread.. and Gemma decided to eat a lemon slice. Seriously. I think there’s something wrong with her :-p
When dinner was over, Dawn Tony Mike and I jumped on the monorail.. except we got on the wrong one and ended up in Epcot instead of Magic Kingdom. We had to walk a little ways from the monorail station to get to a bus stop. All that walking! I was SO tired, I could have collapsed and fell asleep right there. I was also still sore, and was REALLY dreading the next day. It was kind of funny that earlier in the week, I had expressed the thought to Mike that I was scarred from the last time I ran in Disney.. and all those feelings I had back in 2013 about running the marathon and how worried I was at the time came back to me even though this time was going to be different. Well maybe it was a gut feeling or a bad omen or something. Because here I was two years later in the same exact position-. dreading having to run all those miles with a hurt knee. I was feeling rather sick over the thought of running.. it was really bringing me down. All my hard work, all my precautions of taking it slow, running intervals, and paying attention to my body did nothing, and I was still showing up to the starting line injured. And this year I wasn’t starting in Corral C.. I was starting back in H.. meaning I had less of a buffer if I could run anymore to finish in the required time. On top of all that weight on my shoulders.. I was exhausted and it was really late.
We got back to the room sometime after 10. I wanted to take another Epsom salt bath, but I really needed to get in bed and sleep. I decided to ice my knee for about 10 minutes and try to sleep it off.. after all, I had to be up in 3.5 hours to run a marathon.