Did you know there was a 3:00 in the AM? I had heard rumors about it. I feel like when I was much younger, I may have seen it on the way home from a bar, but I was drunk and can’t really trust those memories. I may have seen while X was a newborn, although I was half asleep and hopped up on mommy-hormones so I’m not sure how accurate my clock reading skills were. But this past Saturday morning, I was wide awake with the adrenaline pumping as I got ready to catch the shuttle from the Disney Beach Club to Epcot Center for the Walt Disney World Half Marathon.
This was the most crazy organized race/event I’ve ever been to. Event staff/volunteers were everywhere and giving direction and encouragement at every step. Bag check was huge, but sectioned off by last name. At our t-shirt pick up at the expo we were given big plastic bags and a sticker with our bib number to use for bag check. The Running Mamas skipped bag check though. Our hotel was close enough that we really didn’t need to bother.
There were more port-o-potties than I’ve ever seen in my entire life, but with 20,000+ runners and their families and friends, there were still lines. Even so there was ample hand sanitizer and toilet paper! I’m not used to those kinds of luxuries at OCRs.
There were 16 corrals and we were in the second to last because we didn’t submit qualifier times for the earlier corrals. At 5:30 in the morning, the opening ceremonies were starting and there were speeches by people I couldn’t see and the national anthem was sung by a singer I couldn’t see at a bandstand that I couldn’t see. What I could see, though, was this:
Which they did for every. single. corral. Every 3 minutes or so, Donald Duck took to the microphone and either counted down or gave a “Ready.. Set… Go” in his oh so Donald-y fashion and the fireworks went off. Corral O was treated no differently than corral A. I thought that was really awesome.
When it was our corral’s time to run, I heard Spartan Race start-up music in my head – The Dropkick Murphy’s “Shipping Up to Boston.” Amped up and ready to go, I took off with the team at Donald’s command. Then I promptly realized that my running app, which should have been alerting me to run for three minutes and then to walk for one, wasn’t telling me a goddamned thing. Well, there went that plan. Had to resort to actually looking at the clock to maintain the method.
Maybe a mile in, we all had to pee. Again. Hyper-hydration plus running plus mothers’ bladders just don’t add up. Luckily, there were banks of port-o-potties along the course! Go Disney!
3.1 Miles in, I was feeling great. It was humid as a steam room in Hell and I was sweating like a pig, but I my app said my 5K time was about 38 minutes, so I was happy. I also came to realize that each corral had over 1000 people in it and the throng was not spreading out like it does at, oh, every single race I’ve ever done. This complicated things.6.2 Miles in, I was feeling ok. I have no idea what my split time was at that point because my app, Christina’s app, and the mile markers weren’t lining up at all. An hour and 20 minutes or so was the approximate. Running a little bit slower than I had wanted, but I guess that was to be expected for being in temperatures 30-50 degrees warmer than what I had been training in.
Maybe 8 miles in, I was dead. My knee was starting to bitch at me. My lungs were writing up secession paperwork. I was getting seriously irritated that the clogs of people weren’t breaking up at all and I was perpetually darting between people and running around groups trying to find a clear place to run at a comfortable pace. It is hard to run slow and I needed to break free to run a little faster or I would never be able to finish. I kept moving because I promised Christina we’d finish together and I couldn’t back out. That and I spent nearly a grand getting there and I was leaving with a medal if they had to strap it to my casket.
Mile 10 – Just a 5k left. Somehow it seemed like both a teensy distance and the expanse of the Great Plains all at the same time. From here on out, 3:1 fell out the window and running occurred when feasible and walking when necessary.
Mile 13ish – My thought process: Dear Sweet Baby Jesus we are almost there! We should be seeing that finish line soon! Um… soon? WHERE THE HELL IS THAT FINISH LINE!!! They moved it didn’t they? Those bastards! They tricked me. Ooh! A Gospel choir (proceed to sing Nugget Man in my head because that’s where my mind goes)
Mile 13.09 – I can finally see the finish line. Time to empty the tank that it currently running on fumes anyway. Looking at my splits later, I see that I quickened my pace by nearly 2 whole minutes!
Mile 13.1 – WE FUCKING FINISHED. My app said it took us 2:51:57 to run the 13.48 miles that it thinks we ran. Run Disney’s official time says 2:54:56 – 11,528th out of 20,245 finishers. I had anticipated a finish time of 2:30-2:45, but I will gladly take this as my first ever half marathon time.
Stay tuned for Part III – The Aftermath