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Monday, January 11, 2010

Walt Disney World Marathon 2010

Rachel and Me at the 5K on Friday Morning.

My first two marathons were Marine Corps 2006 and Disney 2007, with 6:23 and 6:24 times respectively. I probably could have done better than 6:23 at Marine Corps, but I plodded along, afraid to leave my friend Kristy and run alone, and stopping for multiple potty breaks that I didn't even need. I expected to do better at Disney, but with temperatures rising above 85 degrees before the end, there was no way. I melted in the heat, and was lucky to have gotten through it only a minute slower than my previous time. It was close to a PR, anyway.

The following season, I ran the exact same race calendar, but failed to keep up the same level of training as the year before. 6:25 at Marine Corps 2007, and then after complete and TOTAL failure to train for 2008's Disney Marathon, a very slow 6:42. What it came down to was that training at that distance was so HARD. I couldn't get used to the longer distance because I was never getting used to the shorter distances, either. I couldn't improve in both speed and endurance at the same time.

And so, the ideas behind running the 2010 Disney Marathon happened at breakfast the day after the 2008 Marathon. I formulated a plan. Stick to half marathons. Become faster and better at that distance, and then run the Disney marathon in 2010. Take a year off. And not only come back and run - but kill my previous times. I had a goal of doing it in under 6 hours.

And so, here we are.

We left Thursday evening from Baltimore. I had known that the one thing that would kill my potential for getting my under my time goal was heat. As it so happened, though, the weather forecast kept getting colder and colder, until it was predicted to be below freezing for the start of the full marathon on Sunday morning. Fine with me, but as the weekend went on, more and more people complained and complained and complained until I was tired of hearing about it. PEOPLE - running in cold won't hurt you. Not that little bit of cold, anyway. Count your blessings, heat is so much worse.

Once we arrived at our hotel (Beach Club), we pretty much relaxed for the evening, and I worked out with Rachel how I was going to meet up with her and Chrissy for the 5K the next morning.

Friday morning, I was up early and ready to run the 5K. I met up with Rachel and Chrissy. Rachel had picked up Todd's number the day before (Todd is injured, hence I was running his race for him). Rachel and I stuck together, running very slow, taking photos, and just generally having a great time. It was a nice race, winding around Epcot and finishing at the same finish line as the half and full marathons.

After the 5K, I went back to the hotel to shower, change and collect Todd. We went off to the Expo and got our packets, and we also bought some stuff. Gotta have stuff. We ran into ErikaW, MichelleA & Misty while we were there. Then, we spent some time in the parks - Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. Dinner was at Kona Cafe at the Polynesian, and then we strolled through Epcot to get back to our hotel. Good times. It was cold though, and we had to buy some hot chocolate in Epcot for the walk home.

I maybe did too much walking on Friday, so on Saturday we just relaxed. Saturday was supposed to be a pool day, but since the weather was cold, the pool wasn't open. We went to the movie theatre and saw Avatar (very good, btw). We had dinner at the food court at the Pop Century Resort, and then headed back to the hotel room to get to bed early.

And so... It was race day.

The alarm went off at 3:20am. I was up right away, having slept well for the last 2 nights (thank goodness). I got everything together, and still debated about what exactly to wear. I ended up in capris with a thin long sleeve and singlet on top, and I ended up wearing my Disney Marathon 2007 windbreaker on top of it all. I had throwaway old sweats and sweatpants to wear over top as well. I also had gloves and a Mizuno Breath Thermo headband.

All bundled up in the hotel room before the race (about 3:45am)

We headed down to the bus and arrived at the Runner's area at about 4:15 or 4:30 or so. We met up with Misty, and shivered while we waited for Chrissy, Kristy and Holly. Todd, who wasn't running, eventually headed off to find someplace warm to go. We waited... and waited... and my toes started to hurt from the cold... and we waited... and my fingers started to hurt from the cold. Finally, at 5:30, I insisted to Misty that we couldn't wait any longer and we needed to get to the starting line. We headed down and saw the fireworks for the start before we were even down there. The first wave was gone before we made it to our corral, and then we couldn't figure out how to get in. I finally decided to climb the fence, so that is how we finally got in. Not exactly the non-stressful method of getting to the starting line that I'd envisioned.

And so, we were off. Misty and I separated right away, since I was planning a bit of a faster pace. I ran the first 13 miles alone, and it was just fine. It was cold, though. The water at the water stops had ice floating in it, and the ground was frozen at the water stops from others before us who had spilled water there. It was slippery. My first half was fairly uneventful. I followed the plan, keeping to a 13:15 to 13:30 pace for the entire way. I ran through Epcot, through the Ticket & Transportation Center, and through the Magic Kingdom. The lines for the characters were really long, and because of my time goal, I couldn't stop to get photos. I have plenty of photos with the characters, anyway.

At first, I had to hold myself back to stay slow. Then, after a few miles, I hit a groove and I was easily keeping the pace I wanted. This was working well.

Soon, I met up with Todd. He had been waiting for me at the Polynesian, right around the 13 mile marker. He was running the second half of the race with me. Things continued on well, and I kept up my pace. It was around mile 15 that I was having to push in order to keep the same pace. I was determined to not let the mental aspect get to me, and I pushed through those horrible miles around Animal Kingdom. There was no point in feeling tired or thinking about how my legs were getting sore, I had to keep going.

Usually, I poop out in the parking lot at Animal Kingdom, which is around mile marker 18. It's hard, knowing how long we have to go and how anticlimactic Animal Kingdom had been. But, no, I was determined. It was around 19 or 20 on the highway that I realized that despite my usual lack of need, I had to stop for a potty break. Now, the potty break was what got me at the Marine Corps race in 2006. I didn't want to, but I was feeling more and more miserable and was going to have to stop. Around mile marker 20, I found a block of potties with no line and pulled open the door to find... a guy standing in there peeing. I cussed at him until he left, and then went in myself. It was quick, and I was back on the road fast, feeling much better.

After the potty break, I found it easier to pick the pace back up. We were heading into the out and back that was some of the worst mileage of the course, but it wasn't bad at all. There was music playing, I wasn't burning up hot, it was fine. I made it up the hill and into Hollywood Studios.

I knew I had it. I could walk it in and I would still PR. Another woman, Carla, had met up with us. She was doing 1:1s, but her watch had broken, so she started following our intervals. She stayed with us from mile 21 all the way almost to the 26 mile marker. In the meantime, I was still keeping the pace, through Hollywood Studios and around the hotels to Mile Marker 25. I didn't have any desire to stop at our hotel this time :)

I slowed down somewhat in Epcot, getting in a couple of 14 minute miles, but still. Carla left us, and I was hurting, but I was determined. I had gone 26 miles without skipping a single run or taking a single extra walk break. I was going to make it. And then, there was the finish line. I wasn't as emotional as I'd expected to be, I was just numb and surprised to not have to run anymore. Medal, photos, the works. I had made it. Final time? 5:52:40. Well within my goal.

I was sore, but not too bad. I wanted to stay to see Misty cross the finish line, but I just couldn't. We came out of the runner's area and there was nothing but a parking lot. No where to sit. Just high winds and cold. I couldn't sit on the ground and I didn't know how long I'd have to wait, so I went back to my hotel and ran out the back to mile 25 to see if I could find her. Alas, she'd already passed and the spectators there encouraged me to go back to my hotel room. Ah, shower, sweet shower.

At the Contemporary post-race

Rest, and then dinner later on at The Wave at the Contemporary with fellow Galloway runners Jack, Lynn, Chrissy and Don. Then, back to the hotel for more rest.

Minnie & Me at breakfast
This morning, we were back for breakfast at Cape May Cafe, the same place where I'd made the decision to run this race in the first place.

It's good to make a goal. Now what? Well, it's time to take it easy for the next year. Half marathons, Cathe's STS program. No full marathons for at least two years.

My awesome support and the Duck

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