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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Walt Disney Marathon Relay 2012

Mickey and me at Marathon mile 18
(Relay mile 5)
As you may know, I've run the Walt Disney World Marathon three times, 2007, 2008 and 2010. I've run the half marathon once, in 2009. We missed the 2011 marathon weekend because we were getting ready to go to Indonesia.  Back in 2010, I told Todd that what I really wanted was for us to both run the half marathon. Before that, we were either both running the full, Todd was doing the Goofy Challenge, or one of us was doing the half and one of us the full. I thought if we were both registered for the half, we'd be a bit more relaxed and be able to do some other stuff besides prepare to run.

Lo and behold, for 2012 Disney introduced the Disney Marathon Relay! It is a two person relay for the full marathon, and Todd and I registered right away. While the Marathon has Mickey as its mascot, and the Goofy Challenge has Goofy as its mascot, and the Half marathon has Donald Duck as its mascot, the Relay's mascot is Chip and Dale! Hooray!

We left for Florida on Thursday the 5th. We basically followed the same schedule we've followed for our four previous marathon weekends, and got to our hotel in the evening. We were staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge this time. Our room was in the Kidani Village, which is the new building specifically for Disney Vacation Club members. While very nice, it was very spread out, and our room was as far as possible from the lobby. We timed our walk and found that it took over 10 minutes of constant walking to get from our room to the lobby. That's a lot. Still, it's an awesome resort. We had a savanna view room, so we could see the giraffes, zebras and other animals wandering around the property from our balcony.
From our balcony, you could see giraffes and zebras
Friday morning, I was supposed to go on a run, but I realized that I forgot a prescription that I needed and became preoccupied with that. We resolved it, but then it was time to go to the Expo and no running had been done. I decided that the walk to the room was enough (actually, I just figured out the distance, and it was about a quarter mile walk each way).
The expo was crazy-crowded. We picked up our race numbers and our special relay gift - which was a pad to sit on - and also stopped by to see Kitzzy, who was volunteering. We had plans to purchase new sunglasses, and some race merchandise. I was disappointed to find that the merchandise for the relay was limited to a single long sleeve cotton t-shirt. Seriously? When we asked, they told us that it was because there were so few people registered for the relay (and indeed, when I saw the results, there were only 416 finishing teams).

After the expo, we met Kitzzy and her SO for a late lunch at Downtown Disney. It's the first time I've met up with a fellow blogger, so very cool! (actually, that's kind of not true, once I thought about it, but the other one I met with happened to be someone who turned out to live in Baltimore and also ran at Fleet Feet, so I don't think that really counts). After lunch, we headed back to the resort to relax for a while.

Todd with ports and Grand Marnier
Dinner on Friday night was at Artist Point, one of the "signature" restaurants that I've always wanted to try. The food was delicious and our server was fantastic. We split a bottle of wine during dinner and then during dessert, I had a Grand Marnier Flight and Todd had a Port Flight, which basically means trying a bunch of different kids. Todd's four port wines were 10, 20, 30 and 40 year ports and my Grand Marnier were 50 year, 100 year and 150 year. They were all delicious, and we were feeling pretty happy after. The wonderful thing about Disney is the transportation that they provide, but I'm sure that the bus drivers were annoyed with the drunken two of us yelling "Take us to Animal Kingdom, dammit!" forgetting the "Lodge" part and the bus drivers thinking we were fools trying to get into a closed theme park.

 Saturday morning, our nephew Josh came by to hang with us for the day. I wanted to do nothing, and that's what I did. We hung out at the pool at the hotel for most of the day, relaxing and having a great time. For dinner, Todd and I had pizza and then went to bed early in preparation for the relay the next morning.

Disney races are notoriously early, and our alarm went off at 3am so that we could get ready. I was trying to eat a lot because I was nervous about having a race experience similar to New York where I was hungry the whole race. I ate two pieces of wheat toast with honey and jam, and a small bowl of raisin bran. I packed a cereal bar in my jacket pocket to eat at the transition point.

Jeff Galloway and me at the race start
We took the race bus from our resort to the Runners' Village, and I was torn between being happy I wasn't running the whole marathon and intense jealousy for those who were. Very weird. We had signed up to go to the Jeff Galloway VIP tent, which was nice because it was chilly and they had heaters for us. Soon, it was time for Todd to go and he headed down to the starting line.

In the meantime, I hung out in the race village, watching the starting line from the jumbotrons. I don't know what went on last year because I wasn't there, but this was the first year I'd seen a wave start at Disney. I don't know how well it went (I have a feeling that there wasn't enough time between waves), but there were 8 waves and each had their own fireworks, which I could see above the trees from where I was. Once everyone had started, I stood up and that is when I realized how cold I was. I was wearing a singlet and shorts for the race, and my NYC marathon jacket. The asphalt where I was sitting was COLD and I was shivering uncontrollably. Temps were about 50 degrees. I wished I was running! I headed back to the Galloway tent, to find it empty, the heaters turned off, and headed towards the relay buses.

Todd and me before the race
I was excited to see the course heading by, and managed to catch Todd at mile 3 before getting on the buses. The buses took the second relay runners to the transition point at the half marathon point, and we proceeded to sit on the ground again and I was still shivering. At least they had mylar blankets to give out, and many people wrapped themselves from head to toe. I settled on wrapping my legs. I realize that I should have brought that pad to sit on that they gave us at the Expo, but I forgot it. So did everyone else, apparently, because I didn't see anyone with one.

There was about an hour and a half wait at the transition point, and then along came Todd! I gave him my jacket and headed out, still cold and shivering like crazy. My ankle was hurting from sitting on the cold ground, and I almost wiped out before I even made it out on to the course.

I had set my watch for 1:15 and 1 intervals, the same as I'd used for the Indianapolis half back in May. I hadn't given a lot of thought to what I was going to do for this race - if I was going to really race it or not. I was trained and ready for anything, including a PR, but I wasn't sure how the results would eventually be posted and if the results would show as a real half marathon or not. Plus, while I was freezing cold when I started running, I knew that the high temperature for the day was supposed to be 77 degrees, which is too warm for me to PR. I decided to just keep up a good clip and see how I did. I chose not to set my chrono on my watch, so I was unaware of how fast I was running during the race.

I had to pee right away, which was annoying. I hate stopping for potty breaks during a race. I decided that I would try and make it as long as possible, since maybe I was just feeling that way from sitting on the cold ground. I felt like a big cheater coming into a marathon halfway through. The first 3 miles of my race are some of the most boring of the entire marathon, and those doing the full were clearly starting to wear out.  Here I was, fresh!

Peter Pan, Me and Wendy, at Marathon Mile 15 (Relay Mile 2)
It was right after the marathon mile 15 marker (my 2 mile) where I saw Peter Pan and Wendy. They didn't have much of a line to speak of, and I wanted some photos of this race, so I decided to stop. And with that, I threw away any thoughts of doing any sort of awesome time at this race. I thought I would just try to set a new PR in having fun at a race, and I succeeded in that! :)

Into Animal Kingdom we went, and I was having a great time. Usually, at this point in the marathon, I'm filled with dread about the out and back on Osceola Parkway that I know is coming. Not this time! We passed into Asia, and I started asking myself the question I'd been asking all weekend - should I ride Expedition: Everest? You see, I'd always seen people jumping on the roller coaster during the marathon, but I'd never done it because I was so focused on my time.  I slowed and then stopped in front of the entrance, and a (non-racer) woman standing there said, "Go for it!!" and so I did. My and some other guy who was doing the relay or Goofy or something ran in, got in line and rode the roller coaster. It. was. awesome.

I was disappointed that the ride photos weren't working. They took them, and a cast member would look for them for you, but I didn't want to take all of that time, so I left. I wish I had taken a self portrait with my cell phone, but I didn't.

Me and Rafiki in Animal Kingdom (Marathon Mile 16, Relay Mile 3)
Then, I was back out running again. I ran through the rest of Animal Kingdom, actually feeling some guilt for riding the roller coaster. Mickey was waiting outside of Animal Kingdom, so I got my picture with him. Then, I was out on Osceola Parkway, the worst part of the entire marathon. This is 3-4 miles of highway in the blaring sunlight. It was really starting to get warm. I was determined that I was not going to complain (even in my head to myself) or feel the least bit upset about this section of the course. I set my brain on ignore. I mean, this was only miles 6-9 of my race, when others were in miles 19-22. I listened to the music from the bands on the course, waved at cars and spectators, and generally tried to stay in good spirits. I ended up finding a potty with no line around mile 22 / 9, and took my potty break that I'd needed since I started running. Whew, that felt a lot better. I felt great entering Hollywood Studios.

With The Incredibles, Marathon Mile 23, Relay Mile 10)
There were a whole bunch of characters to get photos with, and I was SO HAPPY that the hardest part of the race was over! It was around the point that I was getting my picture with Dug and Randall from Up that the 5:30 marathon pace group caught up with me. I had seen them behind me at the out and back on the Parkway, but I thought that I could stay in front of them. My photo stops were killing me, though, and I ended up mixed with them through all of Hollywood Studios. This is so annoying - I hate getting caught in a pace group. The course seriously narrows after Hollywood Studios, and I wasn't able to get around them. I let them go and stopped worrying about it.
Dug, Randall and Me, Marathon Mile 23, Relay Mile 10
Outside of Beach Club, Todd was waiting for me. I gave him a kiss and headed on. I was dancing to the music and having a great time, just like my friend Davida described during her Disney marathon in 2009 (when I thought, no way). I headed into Epcot and looked for more photo opportunities, but ended up deciding not to get my photo with Snow White or Mulan. I did really want a margarita from the Mexico pavilion but unless they were going to put a lid on it, I wouldn't be able to run with it. I seriously considered it, though.

If you've run Disney before, perhaps you've seen the gospel choir that is the very last band on the course, at mile 26, right before heading down the home stretch to the finish. Usually, this choir makes me burst into tears. This year, I was so happy to see them that I ran down the line, slapping the hands of every single choir member in the front row. To the choir: I love you guys, you are AWESOME and one of my very favorite parts of the Disney marathon.

I crossed the finish line, saw Kitzzy handing out blankets, and managed to find the relay medals. Todd found me outside of the bag exchange and we had our photo taken together in front of the relay backdrop. I was on cloud 9, this was a great race.

Todd did his leg in 2:37:35, I did my leg in 2:54:26. Our transition time was 3:40, so our final time was 5:35:40. My time confirmed what I knew - when I was running, I was running FAST, possibly on PR pace, but I had stopped so many times that I actually clocked my worst half marathon time. I could care less.

Todd and I spent the afternoon at the pool, then had dinner at The Wave. We fell asleep early and then woke up to breakfast at Boma, one of my favorite breakfast buffets in Disney. Then, it was time to head home. We headed to the airport and made it in to Baltimore just in time for rush hour traffic.

This was an AWESOME race. I had so much fun, more fun than any other race I've ever run. And, boy, I needed a really fun race.  We are making plans to return next year to do the relay again, but this time Todd will run the second leg and I will run the first. He's already pledged to ride Expedition: Everest during his leg. LOL.

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lindsay said...

I didn't know you could hop on the rides! That's awesome. Was there a long wait? "only 400+" runners. Thatd be a decent turnout for any other race. I wasn't impressed with the race gear in general. I didn't like the I DID IT! Shirts. I could come up with 100 better, cooler designs... Anyway, congrats to you and Todd on the relay!

abbi said...

I've read tons and tons of recaps on Disney over the past couple of years because there's just something about this one that really intrigues me and I've never heard anyone mentioning getting on a ride...I think it's pretty awesome that you did it! Congrats to you on the relay, sounds like a fun day!

Kim said...

Wait, Lindsay, were you down there? I had no idea!

There was no wait for the roller coaster. The thing is, I think Animal Kingdom is the only park where you could reasonably ride rides. The Magic Kingdom isn't open yet when you run through, and Epcot and Hollywood Studios are really crowded by the time you get there. AK is just opening. Expedition Everest is right on the course, and so are a couple of other little rides that would maybe work, but the rest of the rides are too far off the course, so Everest is your best bet for the entire race.

That being said, we finished this Disney marathon in 5:35, and that's the fastest I've ever finished. I don't know if AK would be closed if you were faster or not. In that case, the roller coaster wouldn't be running yet.

We (me and this other guy who was doing the same thing) basically got right on, and according to Wikipedia, the ride is 3-4 minutes long, so I would say that I lost about 8 minutes total of the race riding the ride. It was worth it!

Kandi said...

Sounds like you had a blast! Awesome that you rode a roller coaster in the middle of the race. This whole race recap made me smile.

Jen said...

Awesome report! What a fun weekend! I'm extremely jealous!

Sadly there are already rumors circulating that the relay may not be back next year. I guess it didn't sell out as early as they liked or something. Plus, next year's focus will be on the 20th anniversary of the marathon.

I also thought 416 seemed like a small number of teams, but a friend of mine corrected me. There were actually nearly 800. The results are broken down into male, female, and coed. So yes, there really was no excuse for the lack of merchandise, and everyone I know who did the relay was also highly disappointed in that.

I never several people who finished with margaritas or road EE. I need to remember to do that next year. ;)

Black Knight said...

Congrats on the relay, it looks like a fun race in a wonderful place where you met many VIPs from Peter Pan to .... Galloway.
Have a good week end.

lindsay said...

I still think its awesome that you rode mid-race. Thanks for the added details :)

Also good points about seeing runner outside the other parks. My complaint would still be about having to drive over there and dealing with closed roads or clogged traffic. If only they'd put the monorail everywhere!! :) I am not an experienced enough spectator to feel confident in driving from one spot to another, especially at a place like Disney. Plus I wouldn't have wanted to lose my parking spot at the finish and make Josh walk even further haha. I guess if I had driven to animal kingdom I probably wouldn't have been able to see him at miles 9 & 12. The race booklet doesn't mention anything about spectating anywhere past mi 12 unless you have the park ticket which is why I wrote what I wrote. Not the end of the world though - I was still able to see him a good bit and by then I was tired (I know, can't really complain haha) so it was fine to just sit down for a bit. :)

Kitzzy said...

So glad you had such a great race and I LOVE that you rode a roller coaster during it. Reminds me of geocaching during that half lol When I run Goofy next year, maybe I'll do the same since I won't be focusing on time at all. But I am not huge on roller coasters, so maybe one of the other little rides will work better.

It was so awesome meeting you and your husband. Thanks for taking the time to hang out with us. I hope we get to meet up again next time you are in Florida or maybe I'll make a trip up there sometime.

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