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Tuesday, January 9, 2007

2007 Disney Marathon

I'm in the Orlando Airport right now, on my way home. In general, the race was good and the weekend was great. More details to follow...

Friday, January 5
We left very bright and early (the plane left before 8am), and made it to Orlando in the late morning. We checked into the Saratoga Springs Resort, and our room wasn't ready so we headed on over to the marathon expo to get our race packets and check out the vendors. I got my number and chip and whatnot, I talked to Jeff Galloway, and I bought a cute windbreaker with the marathon logo on it. I talked to the guy selling me the jacket and asked him what the return policy was if I didn't finish... After taking advantage of the wireless internet offered at the Wide World of Sports Complex, we headed on back to Saratoga Springs to go to our room (which was ready).

A change of clothes and we were off to dinner at the California Grill. Dinner was spectacular. Wonderful view of the Magic Kingdom, great wines, delicious food (SUSHI!), and wonderful service. We took a stroll around the Contemporary Resort (I was on a quest to find Mickey ears to wear in the marathon) and then watched the Magic Kingdom's fireworks from the viewing thingamadoodle at the top of the Contemporary. I couldn't have asked for a better evening.

Saturday, January 6
Up late, and then we hit the pool for some relaxation time. After a couple of hours of sunning, swimming, and going down the slide, we headed over to Epcot for our DiveQuest appointment. Some cast members met us at Guest Relations and walked us backstage to the Living Seas. We got an introduction to the aquarium and what we could and could not do, etc, and then we geared up and headed into the aquarium ourselves. I had forgotten my mask in the hotel room (which sucked), but at least they had one for me.

It was so much fun!! I was having a lot of bouyancy issues, but I got to wave to the people watching, including those in the restaurant, and this was the first time I'd ever swam with sharks (7 or 8 foot Sand Tiger Sharks). Sting rays, a BIG turtle, lots and lots of fish (Todd is more helpful than I am at identifying fish). We spent about 40 minutes in the water, including some time in a diving bell where we could take off our masks and regulators and talk for a second (ok, and maybe smooch or whatever). Good times.

After the diving, we were in Epcot, so we rode Mission:Space and Test Track. By then, it was getting late and we hadn't eaten, so we high tailed it back to the resort and picked up some dinner. They were having a special pasta dinner in the restaurant, but I was getting VERY NERVOUS by then. Once back at the room, I talked to Sharon on the phone to try and coordinate where she was going to be for the marathon, then I got all of my stuff together and laid it out and got to bed by 11:30 or so... not falling asleep until after 1am sometime.

Sunday, January 7
MARATHON DAY!! The alarm went off at 3:15am. SUCK. It literally felt like I hadn't slept at all. And really, I had barely slept. After getting everything on, choking down a Clif Bar (I have GOT to find a solution to the Clif Bar issue, this time I really did gag on the last bite), we headed down to the bus stop to catch the bus to the start.

There was a walk to the bag check in, and then more of a walk to the starting line itself. The place was crowded. Todd had decided to run with me, so we headed to the same corral, but somehow there was some confusion and I was registered as the faster one, so we had to go to his corral. Mickey, Minne, Goofy and Donald talked for a bit and then counted down to the start at 6am.

First off, let me start by saying that Todd was a Godsend. He ran the entire race with me, running a bit ahead here and there. He gave me water and powerade when I needed it. He gave me sodium pills when I needed them. He made me drink, he talked and joked and sang to me and he kept my spirits up. He talked to the people around me whom I would not have talked to otherwise, he ran ahead to stand in line for me when there was a character that I wanted to get my picture taken with. I could not have finished this race in the time that I did without him. He made a couple people mad by running backwards, but for the most part, he was entertainment for everyone. Todd is awesome.

It was dark and foggy at the start. We first headed into Epcot and ran from the entrance over to Mexico and Norway and then headed backstage to head towards the Magic Kingdom. We saw a guy dressed as Mr. Incredible. I took a picture of him and then he commented to his friend that the pictures were going to get old. We also saw some Annapolis Striders folks who apparently knew my mom. She knows everyone. The sun came out sometime between Epcot and the Magic Kingdom and it started getting hot. I started getting miserable and tired. Part of the problem was that I was trying to maintain a pace that was a little fast for me (6 hours).

We passed the Contemporary and headed backstage in the Magic Kingdom. Then, we crossed through a gate and we were in the Town Square and made a right to head up Main Street USA. OH MY GOSH, but the rush from running up Main Street was awesome. There were crowds lining Main Street up towards Cinderella's Castle and I was slapping hands and cheering and having a GREAT TIME. The best time I have ever had running, EVER. We headed right around into Tomorrowland and Fantasyland and then Todd ran ahead to find a character for photos. I crossed through Cinderella's Castle and right to Liberty Square and Frontierland, where Todd was waiting for a photo with Woody from Toy Story. Then, we were off backstage again and heading towards Animal Kingdom. At some point in the Magic Kingdom, my watch had died, but Todd fixed it. I'm getting tired of that stupid watch.

The road between the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom was BORING. At first, we passed the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian and Sharon, Frank, Frankie and Jillian were standing with big green signs that said "Go Aunt Kim!" and "Go Todd!" and were cheering. I stopped for a minute to say hello and then headed along again. Then, there was just sunshine beating down. The temperature was in the 80s and I was getting hot and miserable. I am not built for running in that type of weather. We met up with a guy named Chris who was also having troubles, and I was trying to stay hydrated, eat (bananas and oranges, sodium pills, etc), and stay positive. It was rough, especially when we passed the recycling plant. All along the way were cast members cheering, dressed up, singing, and being just incredibly cool.

Finally, we reached Animal Kingdom. I think this was mile 15 or something. 16 maybe. There were some cast members with animals (hawks and parrots and lizards and things) backstage, and I think Goofy was back there also. We were then in Asia and there were LOTS of spectators, although some seemed to be a little annoyed because the park was crowded. We passed Expedition Everest and Dinoland, then headed backstage and crossed in front of the entrance to Animal Kingdom. It was the parking lot of Animal Kingdom (mile 19??) where I didn't exactly hit a wall, but I just could not keep up the same pace in that heat. I was on black asphault in beating sun, 85 degree weather, and I had run 19 miles. I was TIRED. Todd was ahead and turned and said "It's a run... Run!" and I said "no." I added a couple of longer walk breaks and then I finally resigned to the fact that I needed to switch from 2:1s that I'd been doing to 1:1s and I stuck with the 1:1s for the rest of the race.

The road between Animal Kingdom and MGM was highway. Long, sunny, boring, tiring, and two water stops had run out of water (granted, Disney had doubled the water stops because of the heat). At one point, I was in tears, and I had to walk for a while. People that I had long since passed were catching up to me. I ate some, I drank, I walked, and I recovered!! Before I knew it, it was mile 22, the mile marker I'd been waiting for. At 22.5 when we turned backstage to MGM Studios, Sharon and family were standing across the street jumping up and down. We headed into MGM with spirits high.

This is when Todd decided to let me know that I was capable of PRing if I sped up a bit. So, I tried. I was taking longer runs and shorter walk breaks. I was walking briskly. It was KILLING ME, but I knew I'd be angry at myself if I didn't give it everything that I had. Todd was incredible cheering me on. I mean it, I cannot say good enough things about him - at one point, he ran a quarter mile holding ice on my neck. Everything in MGM and the resorts and Epcot was a blur. I was getting emotional and choked up periodically. Sharon and family were standing at the Boardwalk hotel with their green posters.

We crossed through International Gateway with TONS of spectators. Someone took a photo. World Showcase was a blur. People kept telling me the finish line was coming. Todd kept shortening my walk breaks. I passed Spaceship Earth and then we were in the Epcot parking lot and there was the finish line. I crossed it. There were Sharon and Frank and family. I had to hold on to the fence to continue standing while I talked to them. I got a Mickey medal. I got rid of my chip, I got a space blanket...

... I missed my PR by 1 minute. But there was NO WAY that I could have finished that race any faster than I did. I pushed myself to the absolute limit and there was no chance of beating that heat and sun. At Marine Corps, I was disappointed in my time because I feel like I wasted it and I could have been faster. This was NOT THE CASE for Disney. Oddly, Disney was more fun, but it was a lot harder.

I'll talk about the rest of the trip later... :)

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