Thursday, January 20, 2011

January 12, 2011 - Disney Marathon Recap

I am home safe and sound, and so happy to be back with Josh and the kids. They all did great here at home, as I knew they would. Josh is the greatest. :)
The Walt Disney World Marathon was a blast. Seriously... it was SO much fun. Disney does everything so well, and this was no exception. There were so many little details and extras that just made the whole experience amazing. This is a race I would LOVE to do again (and again, and again). :)
I won't bore you with too long of a detailed race report again, but here are some highlights of the trip, the race, etc.
- My stats!! I finished #3,499th out of 13,522 total Finishers (all runners who finished), top 25% (That means that they had about 4,000 runners NOT finish or not show up, as they said they had over 17,500 runners registered for the full marathon) I can tell Amanda I beat a lot of boys! :)

I finished 971st out of all 6,267 Female finishers, top 15%. I am pretty proud of that one!
And I finished 192nd out of 1,086 n my division, Female finishers 30-34 years old, top 17%. Woo hoo! I am pretty proud. :)
- The trip to Florida was a bit crazy. On the way down I took a shuttle bus to Salt Lake and I had a really really eccentric driver (he was chewing tobacco the whole way and had a full manicure. Yeah....) Then I had to hang out in the airport for five hours. Then I got on the plane and was seated next to a four year old who was traveling alone. He reaked of cigarrettes and his mother put him on the plane with nothing in his little backpack but four blowpops and a small bag of potato chips. Then the stewardesses ingored him the entire flight. Seriously??? I fed him my banana, my apple and half a sandwhich, bought him a movie and tried to entertain him. So much for resting!  Then it was a 45 minute bus ride to the hotel (Disney's Caribbean Beach) and I was finally with my Dad and Pam at about 11:45pm on Friday night.
- On Saturday I got up early and went for a short two-mile run around a boardwalk at the hotel. It was LOVELY. It was so great to be running outside in shorts and sunshine. Then we went to the expo to pick up my number, goody bag, shirt, etc.  The expo was very well organzied (much less chaotic than Vegas). Then we had lunch, relaxed in the afternoon and went out to eat at Downtown Disney for dinner (we ate at Wolfgang Puck's). I stuck to plain old pasta, red sauce and bread. It was a lovely day, and one of the highlights of the trip was getting so much time with my Dad and Pam.
- Race morning started EARLY. I had to be up by 2am Florida time (which is midnight Wyoming time!) and be out the door by 2:45am. I caught a bus to the starting area, and then got to hang out in the "retreat tent" which thankfully was heated. It also had it's own bathrooms, a padded stretching area, food and drink, private bag check, and Disney characters to take pictures with. It was very nice! It was about a 20 minute walk to the starting line. I was in Corral C and got in there just about 10 minutes before the start. It was COLD (even for this Wyoming girl) so I was glad to not have to stand around for too long. The starting line had inspirational people talking, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Donald, the National Anthem, and fireworks. Very fun!
- The first few miles were tough because it was very congested and it was impossible to run at the pace I wanted to. I planned on starting slow and easy, but this was MUCH slower and easier than I wanted. There were so many runners though (and it was dark) that there was just no picking up the pace until things started to spread out at bit (around mile 5). I was trying not to get frustrated that I was moving so much slower than I wanted.
- It was FUN. The whole course was amazing. I can't imagine a more fun course or atmosphere. There was fireworks, bands, Disney characters, music, and all sorts of entertainment. Running through the parks was just super cool. It was emotional for me at times running past rides we took the kids on when we were there on the Make A Wish trips, and also seeing their favorite characters and hearing the music to their favorite movies and rides. I have a lot of good memories from being at Disney World with my family. It was also cool getting to see parts of the park you normally don't. We ran through a lot of service and staff entrances which was neat.
- We started in the parking lot at Epcot, ran into Epcot and back out, into Magic Kingdom (through  Cinderella's castle!) and back out, into Animal Park and back out, into Hollywood Studios and out and then back into Epcot for the finish line. It was as cool as it sounds. Even on the stretches when we were inbetween parks there was entertainment, fun signs to read to keep your mind busy and lots of fun.
- There was every Disney character you could imagine! Lots of people stopped to take pics along the way, but I just kept running. My favorite to see were Buzz, Woody and Bullseye, Princess Tiana (Belane's favorite),  Mickey (of course) and Captain Jack Sparrow. :) On the way out of Magic Kingdom they had a huge pirate ship set up with the music from Pirates of the Caribbean blasting, and Captain Jack and a bunch of other pirates hanging out to take pictures. It was a fun moment and as I ran by I yelled "Jack!" He looked up and gave me a wave and a shout out, "Hey Love!"which was really cool.
- Dad and Pam saw me at the start line, at mile 4 (coming out of Epcot), twice in the Magic Kingdom, and then at the finish line. It was awesome to see them! They were the best spectators ever and such troopers getting up so early and waiting in such COLD weather.
- I felt great and everything went perfectly except my stomach gave me a bit of grief. The race started at 5:30am Florida time,which is 3:30am Wyoming time. Sorry if it is TMI, but lets just say that things weren't "moving" that early. I ended up having to stop at mile 6, 9 and 16 to use portapotties and then my stomach finally settled and was fine. The three stops cost me 10 minutes in time.
- My legs, feet, breathing and everything else felt great. I didn't get the side aches like I did last time and my legs were a lot less crampy and sore. I felt really strong the whole way and was able to pick up the pace continually through the second half of the race, which felt great. I finished the final stretch to the finish line at a 6:06 min/mile pace, and I love being able to finish strong.
- I went past a blind runner and his guide and it was VERY inspirational and emotional. I told the runner that I had a son who was vision impaired and that he was very inspiring and he thanked me. I definitely had tears in that moment.
- A man from Brazil ran with me for about a mile and was very fun! He had limited English and a thick accent but he was SO enjoying himself that he made a fun companion for awhile. :)
- There were lots of costumes! Lots of Tinker Bells, lots of Micky and Minnies, Lots of Goofy's, a really cool Aladin, several Peter Pan's and Alice in Wonderland's and lots of princesses, and lots of other fun stuff. The craziest I saw was the mostly naked Gladiator... yeah, he had on a tiny little Speedo and a helmet and was running with a big sword.There were runners from every state and I believe 18 different countries.
- I ran without my IPOD and never missed it. I really enjoyed hearing the other runners talking and not missing anything.
- The aid stations were plentiful and I can't say enough about the volunteers and Disney park staff. The support was OVER the top and so much fun. The crowds were awesome too.We were treated like superstars before, during and after the race. (Seriously, we got so much attention wearing the medal after the race. I have never been told "congratulations" so many times in my life!)
- I finished in 4:20:18, which I am very happy with. I ran the first half in 2:12:21 and the second half in 2:07:57 (negative splits, yes!)With the 10 minutes lost at the potty breaks and the forced slower pace over the first five miles, I did the best I could with the conditions I had. I felt great, I enjoyed it very very much, I ran the entire 26.2 miles without walking, I got faster as the race went on,  and I finished really strong. I finished with no aches or pains and only very minimal stiffness and soreness. I feel better this time than I did after Vegas, and I did not feel badly after Vegas at all. (I did three easy miles this morning and they felt great).
- When I was done I got my bag out of the tent, put on a hoodie, changed my shoes, grabbed a plate of fruit and went out to meet Dad and Pam. I took pictures with a couple of Disney characters and then we got on one of the marathon buses and went back to the hotel for showers and rest.
-  That afternoon we went to Disney Hollywood Studios, which is my favorite park and was the only one Pam hadn't been to. We rode a few rides (even got Pam on Tower of Terror!!), watched a couple of shows and had a really nice night. We enjoyed a dinner at a really nice Irish restaurant in Downtown Disney (where I was almost falling asleep at the table) and then went back to the hotel to SLEEP. :)
- On Monday we had a nice easy morning, got packed up, and then went over to Downtown Disney again for lunch. We left Disney for the airport around 3:30pm and I got on my flight at 5:40pm uneventfully. Dad and Pam's flight left a little later than mine. I got into Salt Lake City around 9pm and Josh and Noah picked me up. We were finally home sweet home around 1am on Tuesday morning.
- Again, it was an incredible experience. I loved being at Disney World, I loved running the marathon, I loved getting so much time to spend with my Dad and Pam, I felt great, and I enjoyed all of it. Thank you again to my "Santa", and to Dad and Pam, and to Josh for making this wonderful weekend possible.
- For those who have asked about what is next, I signed up to run the Salt Lake City Marathon in April. :) It is over three months away still so I have plenty of time to recover and get ready again, it is two months before Ragnar which is good timing, and it is plenty of time away from the two fall marathons I am considering. I figure since I love doing these races, it only makes sense to take advantage of the ones that are close to home and don't require traveling. And, this race is just a week before my two-year "running anniversary", which is a fun way to celebrate.  Mostly I just really like having a race to train for. I enjoy the  training, the racing, and all that goes with it, and I've been able to train without impacting my time with my kids or family. My body feels great and I enjoy the challenge. The SLC marathon will be much smaller and will have much less fanfare than the other two, but that is ok and I will enjoy the smaller field and the calmer atmosphere. :)
Ok, pictures! They had professional photographers taking TONS of pictures and video during the race. When I get those I will share. :) These are all from Pam, who did a great job. I told her she was hired as my racing photographer! There are a lot of pictures of me which I am not used to posting...
Here is my Dad and I on our way to the expo. I haven't gotten a good picture of us together in a long time so this is great to have (and there are a few others that Pam took as well!)
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Pam and I! :) I didn't have any pictures of just the two of us either, so I love having these.
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At the expo getting goody bag and super cool race shirt.
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Leaving the room at 2:50am, on my way to catch the marathon bus to Epcot.
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A picture that Pam took at the starting area (I am not in it, I don't think...) :)
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Sunrise at Disney! Isn't the yellow color pretty?
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Dad and Pam, bundled up and waiting for me in the Magic Kingdom. They are the greatest!
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This is me coming into the finish line. I love that neither foot is on the ground in this pic. :)
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Almost, almost done! The final stretch into the finish line was just beyond this. I should get actual finish line photos from the race photographers in the next few days. Can't wait to see them!
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My Dad and I at the end!
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Gotta love Pluto! I got some other character pics too.
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This was later that day at Hollywood Studios. In that room behind me  is where Solomon's Make A Wish came true in March 2009 and he got to meet Buzz and hang out with him for awhile. SUCH special memories.
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Saying good bye at the airport. :(
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Thanks to everybody who sent "good luck" messages before the race and "congrats" messages after. They were so much fun to get and the love and support means A LOT. More soon!

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