Disney World Half Marathon Review!

It’s now been almost 24 hours since I finished the best race in my history of racing! I PR’d and met my goal, but I’ll get to that soon.

There are so many incredible things to say about this race. It was organized, fun, flat and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. Seeing all the elements aligned like that the morning of, I knew it was going to be a good race.

The night before was a different story. We got to the expo, picked up our packets, and went to Subway for a “carb” dinner before heading to a super early bedtime: 6pm. Yeah, when you aren’t used to going to bed when it’s light out, it’s difficult. My plan was to veg in front of the tv for about an hour because that always makes me sleepy, but of course the remote didn’t work. So I tightened the blinds, covered every surface of light, and just tried to sleep. Well, the rush hour traffic on the main road outside my window obviously didn’t care that I had a race the next morning, because it was blaring. Rude.

I didn’t fall asleep until close to 11. Robert was up until midnight. Our alarms went off at 2:45am. This was not good. However, I woke up feeling fresh and excited, so I rolled with it.

We had all of our stuff already laid out, in order of dressing even, and were ready to head out the door at about 3:15. The race packet had me terrified that parking would be a nightmare and we would miss our start times if we didn’t get there by 4am, but there was literally NO issues parking and getting to the area we needed to be.

With time to spare, we ate bagels and peanut butter in the car and sipped on some water.

**TMI WARNING**
skip the paragraph below if you don’t want to hear about my #2 issues.

I have a horrible time “going” before races, and usually end up getting horrible stomach cramps/ruining my time because I have to stop at the portapotties along the route. I was hoping that the bagel would help with this (it worked a couple of times on long training runs) but no such luck. I wasn’t able to “go” before the race, and still had horrible cramping issues and even worse issues after the race. Any other suggestions to eat before races or long runs??

**END TMI SECTION**

We got to our corrals, and I was happy to be just 2 corrals behind Robert (he was A, I was C). I was a little bummed having to stand in the cold by myself for 45 minutes, but the pre-show was amazing. They had little stories of encouragement, music and the time flew by. The best part of the pre-show was about a couple who ran the race last year together, but the husband has since been deployed to Iraq. They had him via satellite from the base in Iraq, and his daughter and wife got to see him. He wanted to run with her again, so he got 500 other soldiers on base to do a simultaneous half marathon. They were able to run together, halfway across the world. As a military wife, this touched me and I definitely shed a couple of tears when his daughter, who couldn’t have been more than 3, screamed HI DADDY!! when he popped up on the screen. So cute.

Okay, so finally it was time to start. Fireworks, cheers, Mickey Mouse were all involved. For each corral, not just the first. It was still dark, but by the first mile I was warm enough to chuck my ugly $4 fleece and gloves. I didn’t even need music yet, there were bands and cheering squads all along the sidelines, and I was enjoying the stretches of quiet, running in the dark along the treeline.

**Side Note**
If you are running this race solely to run through the parks, do the marathon not the half. Most of the half course is through the back roads and forest, with probably only 3 miles total that are actually through park attractions.
**End Side Note**

Mile 1 went by so quickly I was shocked. At every other race I’ve been in, mile one is my slowest by far due to the crowds and having to weave through people. I was right on pace for my 2:10 goal from the start. I felt powerful and strong, so I just told myself to keep that pace. Mile 2-4 came and went and before I knew it, I could see the castle lit up ahead. I held back a couple tears (i’m a huge sap, if you didn’t notice), and took advantage of some of the steep downhills, trying to catch a few seconds.

We came up through main street, and there were so many people cheering! This part did slow down quite a bit because the path became very narrow. I was excited to be on main street but I definitely got frustrated trying to get around people.

We ran up main street and through Tomorrow Land, and then up through the castle!! I tried really hard to jump in front of a camera here to get a good shot. :)

There was so much going on throughout the course that I was never bored. The water and powerade were perfectly distributed in my opinion, and I ate my Vanilla Gu at mile 7, right after the castle. I started to get a stomach ache so I only took water if anything at the last few stations, which was probably a bad idea.

I got to mile 10 and told myself I just had a 5k to go. I was still running about 10 minute miles, with a few extra seconds. As soon as I hit mile 10, I pushed it as hard as I could. I ran sub 10′s for the last 3.1 miles, which I couldn’t believe I was able to do. The Epcot ball was in view, and I knew I didn’t have much farther to go. The mile markers seemed to fly by, and I started sprinting as soon as I reached 12. I needed this PR so badly.

I looped around the big Christmas tree display and was hoping to just hightail it to the finish, but the same problem on main street happened again. The running area reduced by about half and became very congested. I had to slow my pace and even hop over a short wall to get around people. Finally I got around enough to see the finish sign, and ran as fast as my legs could go.

I passed the finish line, looked down at my watch, and fist pumped right there. 2:10:16. I had made my goal.

I got my medal and big silver cape and staggered forward hoping to see Robert. He saw me and ran up to me giving me the biggest hug ever, and told me he had beat his goal by a full 3 minutes. I showed him my watch, and we both jumped up and down and laughed. We walked over, had our picture taken, grabbed some free grub and walked to the car. All this walking hurt, but I’m sure it helped in the long run.

As soon as we got in the car, we checked our official times and then headed back to the hotel to shower and stretch and then finally find some food. My stomach felt a little upset and a little cramped, but I figured it was just from sprinting at the finish. I was wrong. I got horrible cramps and was basically in and out of the bathroom for the next 3.5 hours. I could barely eat anything, but we went to Denny’s and I ate some yogurt and half of a whole wheat pancake.

Throughout the day my eats were a little strange and erratic.

I had a non-fat chai tea latte at about 2 while we were walking around.

Half a cup of sweet potato soup and a few pieces of fontina and asparagus flatbread and House of Blues for dinner.

A cucumber and cream cheese sandwich on an Arnold’s thin around 8pm when I couldn’t sleep and my stomach was growling.

I woke up this morning STARVING, so I made a bowl of cookie dough cereal and feel a little bit better. I don’t think I really ate enough after the race yesterday, but I just couldn’t stomach anything.

All in all, I’m happy about the race. I’m already setting a sub 2 hour race in my sights. My first race in March of 2010 was a 2:29, my second race in November of 2010 was a 2:16, and this one was a 2:10. If I add more speedwork and train really well, I think I could do a sub 2 by the end of race season, or maybe next fall. We will see!

Thanks for reading this pictureless monstrosity, I only have one picture from the day because the camera battery was dead:

finisher!

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Disney World Half Marathon Review!

  1. Congrats on finishing the half marathon!!

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