Walt Disney World Half Marathon

January 11, 2014 That alarm sure does ring early on race morning. Regardless of when I try to lay down and go to sleep, I don’t usually get to sleep until my “regular” time of about 10:30. That was true last night too. I got in bed about 8:30 or so and had the lights off but I was watching TV. I generally put the TV on something that I won’t pay a lot of attention to and turn the volume down just low enough to hear it but so it won’t keep me awake if I fall asleep. I watched for a little bit but finally turned the TV off about 9:30 and tossed for awhile. The last time I saw the clock was just shy of 10:30. I get up and head straight to the shower. Sometimes a shower will wake me up enough to at least get me going. After a quick shower I feel slightly more alive so I can move through getting myself dressed. I get my contacts in and then get my running clothes on. I am always thankful that I lay everything out the night before. I don’t worry about forgetting anything while I’m stumbling through my morning routine. While I’m getting dressed, I eat some cereal and yogurt. I was out yesterday afternoon after the WDW 10k and was able to stop by a grocery store. I picked up some cereal, yogurt, granola bars, milk and some fruit. This will keep me from having to spend a lot at the quick service area for breakfast. Plus, I am picky about cereal and milk and I wasn’t super excited with the selection at the quick service area. I finish breakfast and grab my gear bag. I’m going to check a bag today so I can have a few things for after the race. I packed a towel to sit on and I’ll throw my light jacket in there before I check it. I also have some Tylenol and an extra bottle of water. I make once last check to make sure I have everything and I’m out the door to the buses. There was a little bit of a wait at the bus but it moved really quickly. I, along with many other runners and spectators, boarded the bus to EPCOT. I talk with a few of the runners around me and learn that the lady that I’m sitting with is a Perfect Marathoner. She’s done all 20 of the Walt Disney World Marathons and she is one year off from being Perfectly Goofy. She’s doing Dopey this year and I also learn that she’s from the Space Coast area on the east coast of Florida. We chatted the whole way to EPCOT which made the ride really enjoyable. She was super nice! We file off the bus and we’re directed towards the same familiar area for bag check and such. While I’m walking, I overhear a family ahead of me say something about football and I strike up a conversation with them. I learned they were from Wisconsin and the family; dad, mom and two older teenage daughters; are running Dopey together! What an amazing accomplishment and a fun family adventure! They all enjoy running and they’re using this as a sort of “last family vacation” since the oldest is already in college and the youngest is headed that way shortly. I give them air fives as we all head through the security check and off in different directions. I make my way to gear check and drop off my bag. Once you’re through the gear check tents, you make your way though the runner area and start your long hike towards the corrals. I’m in Corral L (of P) so I’ll be in my corral for quite awhile before I get to start my run. Since I know it’ll be awhile and I also have a bit of a walk, I go ahead and stand in one of the lines for the porta-potty. I happened to jump in one that moved pretty quickly so I’m able to start walking to my corral. It is a pretty nice morning. It’s cool but not breezy so it is comfortable. Unfortunately, it is supposed to warm up quite a bit and be pretty humid. I figure I’ll get started on my run about 6:15-ish so that means I’ll be done about 9:15 at the latest. This is good because it won’t have gotten too hot and humid. For January, the weather today will be on the hot side. Standing in your corral there isn’t much to do other than talk to other runners and try to stretch and stay loose. You can sit for a little while but once more runners start filing in, it gets crowded and you have to stand up. The DJ is playing music and I find myself singing along with a lot of the songs. I also chat with people around me and meet a couple of first time half-marathoners. Once it’s finally time for the elites and the first corral to go, time seems to move much more quickly. The fireworks go off and each corral starts moving forward. After several more fireworks, Corral L is finally waiting at the start line. I always get a little jitter when I know it’s almost my time. It’s probably more excitement than anything.

It's almost time for my corral to go at the WDW Half Marathon. 13.1 magical miles and two theme parks!

It’s almost time for my corral to go at the WDW Half Marathon. 13.1 magical miles and two theme parks!

Our fireworks finally light the sky and we’re off for 13.1 magical miles. The first mile or so is always really crowded in any runDisney race. But, it will thin out. I run most of the first mile because this helps me get warm. And, since it’s fairly crowded and you can’t run too quickly, this is good to help me keep myself from taking off too quickly. Once it starts to thin out a little and I feel warmed up, I switch to run/walk intervals. I don’t want to overdo it today knowing that after 13.1 miles, I still won’t be halfway through my total weekend mileage. I need to make it to tomorrow with strong legs so I can’t burn myself out today. I didn’t stop for any pictures today. I just kept with my run/walk intervals and kept a comfortable, happy pace. I enjoyed the sites and the characters and the spectators. I always love some of the signs that people make. Not only are they encouraging, some of them are just plain funny. I wish I had stopped to snap a pic of a few of them because some of them were quite clever. This course is the same as last year (and the same as the Princess half marathon course) so I am familiar with it. (WDW Half 2014 Course Map) I know where it will be crowded and where it will open up. I also know where to expect water stops and such. I don’t carry water because the water stops are plentiful at the runDisney races but I do carry my own fuel and I have to have something to drink with my peanut butter pretzels or Honey Stinger Vanilla Waffles. I get to about mile six and know that I need to eat. There is a water stop just ahead so I go ahead and start eating my waffle. I grab some Powerade and water to wash it down. As soon as I finish, I’m back to my run. I enjoy the rest of my run as I make the turn into the EPCOT parking lot. It’s the last mile and I’m hot. It’s humid and warm and I am sweaty! I make the u-turn at World Showcase and make my way through the final half-ish mile towards the finish line. The support from the crowd is great and I get a few high fives from guests and cast members alike. This always makes me smile. We head out of the park and we’re in the final stretch. The Mile 13 marker is just behind me and I know the finish line is just around the corner. This is when every runner tries to pick up the pace; well, at least I do so I think other runners do! I’m making my way through the final 50 yards or so and I got the biggest smile when Carissa (whose name I have probably spelled wrong); one of the race announcer; says my name and welcomes me to the finish line. I was so excited over this. I’ve run a handful of runDisney races and this was a first for me. Needless to say, I crossed the finish line with a HUGE smile across my face. As with the two previous days, the Dopey runners; and now the Goofy runners; have to check in for our armbands. After I get my finisher medal and grab some water and Powerade, I make my way through the chute and wait in the line to get my armband. I get a new armband and head to get my finisher picture. After that, I grab a box of food and head back to the gear check tent to get my bag.

13.1 miles done; the Donald Duck WDW Half Marathon Medal

13.1 miles done; the Donald Duck WDW Half Marathon Medal

It’s crowded in the main area where runners can meet their family and friends. I find some space and sit down to stretch and refuel. I don’t take too long. I’m hot and pretty much ready for a shower and some relaxation. After I finish eating, I pack up and head back to the bus area. The line isn’t terrible but I have to wait a couple of minutes. Once I’m back to my room, I know I won’t be up too much longer. I’ll shower and then stretch out for a nap. I’m tired and I don’t want to do a lot since I need to keep my legs rested. I stretch out some more and spend a few minutes foam rolling my legs (I brought my foam roller with me). Then I shower and crawl back in bed. It doesn’t take me long to fall asleep.

My makeshift medal rack in my room is starting to fill up! Three does done and one to go.

My makeshift medal rack in my room is starting to fill up! Three days done and one to go.

I was pleased with my time (2:47:56) in the half today. I didn’t want to push myself too much knowing I still have the marathon to go. This will only be my second marathon ever and my goal is to beat my time from last year when I ran Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge for my first marathon. I’m looking forward to the full marathon and 26.2 more magical miles. Update: After my nap, I made a quick trip back over to the Expo. I didn’t get my picture in front of the official Dopey banner and I wanted to look for some new headbands. It wasn’t as crowded today since the only folks left to get their packets were the marathon runners. I didn’t stay long, but I did get my pic…

Dopey Challenge banner at the Health and Fitness Expo at Wide World of Sports.

Dopey Challenge banner at the Health and Fitness Expo at Wide World of Sports.

Until then… Happy running!

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