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Monday, January 12, 2009

2009 Walt Disney World Half Marathon

We headed down to Florida on Thursday night for Disney's Marathon Weekend. Our hotel this time around was Saratoga Springs, my DVC home resort and the same hotel that we stayed in for the 2007 Marathon. We took the time Thursday night and Friday morning to relax and sleep in, since there was a busy weekend ahead.

Friday afternoon, we headed over to the Expo to get our race bibs, etc. In what was a string of dumb things that I did, I realized that leaving my drivers license in the hotel room was a bad idea, since it was required for packet pickup, so we had to travel all the way back to the hotel to get it. This sucked. However, once we had it, the packet pickup went without a hitch. At the expo itself, we bought some nice Mizuno gear and then ran into none other than Jeff Galloway at the Mizuno booth. We talked to him for a few minutes, and he affirmed that my plan for running 1:1s during the race was a good one. Jeff is awesome. :)

Friday night, we went to dinner at the Spirit of Aloha dinner show. I had never been before. While Disney did really hike up the cheeze factor during the show, the dancing was awesome, the food was good, and the company was awesome. So, we had a nice time. I can't say it's something I'd do again just for fun, but still good and definitely worth seeing once. We headed back to the room and I prepared for the half.

The half marathon was on Saturday. Todd was getting his first opportunity to spectate a large race alone, and I must say that he did a splendid job. As for me, I was not looking forward to this race. It's not that I wasn't trained, but I didn't feel as though I stuck to my training quite as well as I had before Frederick or Baltimore earlier this season. Even though I'd gotten in all of my long runs except the ones missed while I was in Belize, my heart wasn't in the ones that I did do, and I've been feeling slightly burned out. I'm coming off of Baltimore, which was a terrible race for me, and I just did not feel right. I was looking to just have a good race and not embarass myself, quite honestly.

It was weird leaving Todd to go to the starting area alone. This was my first Disney race by myself and my first race over a 5k where I stood at the starting line alone. Still, I made my way down and waited for the start. I must admit that with all of my nerves and worry, it was exciting to see Mickey on the screen and watch the fireworks at the start. I was in the second wave, and headed out around 6am.

The weather was nice and cool (I'd had a trash bag on before the start), and I felt great from the start. I saw Todd right after the start (thanks to him yelling, it wasn't light yet, and he was standing in the dark wearing all black and waving a sign across a three-lane highway and a median). It was hard for the first two miles to go the pace that I'd been wanting to go because the road was so narrow and there were too many runners. In the end, though, I think that was probably for the best and saved me later on.

I saw Todd again at mile 4 (Ticket and Transportation Center) and that helped to pump me up. I was feeling great. As I headed towards the Magic Kingdom, I looked up at the monorail passing overhead and saw Todd in the window, waving at me! It was very cool (we were RIGHT under the tracks or I wouldn't have seen him). We headed into the Magic Kingdom, and there he was again, on Main Street, telling me that he loved me :)

The Magic Kingdom was a total blur. I saw characters, ran through the castle, smiled and waved along with other runners, and I managed to get my photo taken with a country bear (and I think I only lost about 15 seconds in doing so). It was over very soon, and I was off into the boring backstage area. I spotted on my cell phone that Todd had sent me a text, that he'd missed me at the castle.

Then, as I passed the Polynesian, I slammed into a woman with a double wide stroller. That woman had no business on the course. She was a spectator and had been on the right side of the course with the stroller and decided to cross. As she did, runners had to dodge her, and she hit the curb with the stroller, coming to a dead stop. The runner right in front of me dodged her, but I only saw her at the last second and slammed into her. I had no remorse, I think I cussed at her, and if I hadn't been keeping such a good pace I may have stopped and pummeled her to death, right there in the happiest place on earth. People - this is what happens when you mess with distance runners.

Anyway, enough with that negativity because the race was going wonderfully otherwise. The sun was coming out, but it was still reasonably cool. Todd had missed me at the Polynesian, but had let me know that he was waiting for me at mile marker 12. I was headed back to Epcot, and feeling great.

It was at around mile 10 1/2 that I looked at my chrono and realized that I might PR. I did the math a few times. My splits had gotten messed up because I missed a mile marker, and then I'd hit the lap button during the stroller incident. So, I really hadn't known what my splits were for several miles. I was certain that a PR was in reach. I headed into Epcot, passed Todd my water belt at mile 12, and sped up.

Inside Epcot, I re-thought my math and realized that I wasn't as far under a PR as I'd thought. It was going to take work to get it done, but I knew I could do it for once, and sprinted in more than I ever have. My photos will show me working very hard at the finish, and my watch was showing that I was about 15 seconds under my PR. I was pleased.

After doing the post-race stuff, I found Todd, who showed me my official time, which was....... 3 minutes above my PR. Somehow, my watch and my chip time didn't match. But, you know, I was too high on the run to really care. I'd had a great time, a great race, and I just couldn't let it bother me. It was what it was. I have no idea why the discrepancy, I tend to want to blame the stroller lady for screwing up my watch, but I'm not really certain. It's fine. I still did awesome and I was definitely well below my Baltimore Half time.

We went back to the resort, and I was feeling so great that we went straight to breakfast (after all, it was only 9:30am). I took a shower, we took a nap, and then we spent some time relaxing at the pool. Davida came by and we chatted, had a pasta dinner at the Artist's Palette and then we headed back to prepare for the marathon on Sunday.

Sunday morning. Day 2 of getting up at 3am. I'm not going to comment too much on Todd's race, as that is his job. However, from a spectator's perspective, I had a great time. I was at the starting line, but missed Todd. I stayed there, though, and saw him at mile 4. I hurried and caught the monorail and saw him again at mile 9 (Ticket and Transportation Center). Monorail to Magic Kingdom, and I caught him on Main Street. Off to the Polynesian and I saw him again, giving him a banana and a drink.

I made the mistake of trying to catch a bus from the Polynesian, but it was a no go, so I ended up catching a bus to Animal Kingdom from the Ticket and Transportation Center. It was taking forever and I was regretting my wasted time. I know how much Todd wanted me to catch him at AK, so I was quite upset. I called and he was already entering the park and I was still trying to get there. At last, the bus made it and I ran across the parking lot and still managed to catch him there at mile 19. What a relief. I would even catch a glimpse of him again from the bus on the way to Hollywood Studios.

I caught Todd again, and even ran with him from mile 24 to 25, leaving him at Beach Club to catch a bus to the finish. I missed the bus, so I missed Todd crossing the finish line, but we'd made that deal earlier in the week, knowing I was risking it by being at Beach Club.

I did catch up with him though, and we headed back to the resort to eat, and rest by the pool, where Davida joined us. Davida had a great race, setting a new PR and was feeling awesome :) In fact, I missed her the whole race because she was too fast for me to catch her!

We had dinner last night at the Kona Cafe, then breakfast with the characters at 1900 Park Fare (in the Grand Floridian). We love the characters! :)

The flight home, and now we're back in Baltimore (where we shared a plane with a local news guy, but didn't talk to him). Relaxing. Todd is asleep because he's had a long weekend. I'm about to join him.

Great weekend and congrats to everyone that ran!

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