This winter has not really been the best for me, health-wise. I posted a while back about being sick and falling behind training, but on top of that, I got sick right after Valentine's Day and skipped a TON of classes because I was so ill right before the half. I was a nervous wreck I wouldn't be able to even WALK the thing, let alone run it. Despite everything, I went home a little earlier, slept a ton, and caught a Friday late-night plane to Orlando to race.
I had paid the entrance fee, after all. I might as well go to Disney World, one of my favorite places ever. The whole reason I signed up for this race in the first place, to be my first half-marathon, was because 1) I wanted to be a princess 2) Since I never ran the distance before, I wouldn't be self-conscious about my time, and 3) Running through the Magic Kingdom--can it get any more awesome than that?!
So I tried to dispel my worries and went to the Expo (see above). I still wasn't feeling well simply walking around, and the race was TOMORROW. I was more than a tad worried, and kept praying I would at least be able to walk it and not be picked up by the 16-min-per-mile pacers, something I had NEVER worried about while training.
I got some freebies (LUNA bars! Yogurt!) and gear, including an I DID IT! shirt. I was dying to wear it. I knew I had to earn it. I could only hope that I would.
There was even an awesome running "glass slipper" on display. I can only say, wow, Disney is so great with attention to detail....
I had to sit down because I started feeling lightheaded and dizzy. This, in turn, made me freak out even more. And did I mention I still had a DEEP chest cough? Nowhere near ready to run the next day.
Even then, as I was feeling pretty crappy, I couldn't resist posing with Gaston and my "muscled bod."
After a 3:30 pm dinner (I kid you not, I went to bed at 5 pm...but didn't fall asleep until 7) at the All Star Movies Resort, my parents and I went to bed.
I have never, ever been in bed that early before. Even though I was exhausted from the previous week, I tossed and turned (and coughed). I freaked out around ten pm when I woke up coughing. Thank goodness I had my inhaler, and that seemed to help the coughing.
With one very early wake-up call, we boarded the buses and headed to the Epcot parking lot!
But not without a few fiascos. I have read OVER and OVER not to do anything differently from training on the morning before the race. So I brought peanut butter to eat, and some crackers. Great. It was three am--I forced a spoonful down and had to be satisfied that that was all my body would accept, and I counted on the fact that I had eaten well the day before.
Additionally, packing for the race, I planned to wear shorts, a tutu, and a wicking tank top.
It was only about 35 degrees out at 3 am, and would be in the 40s to low 50s all day.
Tank top? I don't think so.
Luckily, I had thrown in a shirt I had just bought and still had the tags on at the last second into my suitcase. Relieved, I went to put it on...and the security tag was still on. You know, those bulky, ink-filled plastic things cashiers sometimes forget to remove with their handy-dandy machine?
Need I remind you, it was three am on the day of the race. I certainly wasn't going back to the store.
Thank goodness that Disney always has places open. My mom ran to the hotel store and they used their machine--backwards--on my shirt, and it came off after a little finagling. If they hadn't, I would've frozen!
Now, I had done a lot of reading about what the beginning of this race was like. With about 19,000 runners, most of them women, things can get a little crazy. The lines for the Port-A-Potties appeared ridiculous, but I headed toward the back and only waited two minutes.
Aaah, the little things in life.
I was still coughing, but not as much. It helped that the weather was warmer.
Here I am, all bundled up in my throwaway hoodie (...I still really liked that hoodie, but I was ready to admit it doesn't fit me anymore). After the LONG walk (it really was about 15-20 minutes) from the Port-A-Potties, backstage, past MORE Port-A-Potties (if they had come to life, the runners would have had absolutely no chance of escaping the Port-A-Potty army), and finally, I arrived at Corral C.
My mom sneaked in and took a pic while I waited nervously for the start. I felt very alone and with a bunch of older runners. There were, oddly enough, quite a few guys in my area, many running with their own princesses. Awww.
Eventually, my mom left me, and I stretched a little and tried to keep warm. After the wheelchair start (and each start had fireworks! How cool was that?!), it was soon time to go. I expected a crowd, and I thought running the Rock 'n' Roll 10k had prepared me for a decent crowd, but nothing like this! Here's the crowd right before the starting line:
I started way too fast. I did my best to keep to the side and let runners pass me, but the crowd swept me up. I think I covered about an 11:40-12:15 mile pace at first. Now, that's plenty normal for me while I was training, but I kept in mind that I was still sick and I wanted to go as slow as possible in the beginning, at least for the first half of the race.
I wanted to badly to finish.
I kept coughing. I knew I could only use my inhaler twice during the race, so I wanted to wait and use it sparingly.
I was feeling bad at mile 2 and unsure if I would make it. I decided to take a ton of walk breaks and persist with a slow jog.
It's worth mentioning all the mile markers were storybook scenes, and very nicely designed. I enjoyed passing them, and they made each mile more special (after mile 8, every one after that was a new distance PR!). I also decided to keep my hoodie as long as possible (when I'm warm, I cough less).
Here's what began my time lapse. Now, I knew going into this race that I was going to take a ton of pictures (why wear a tutu, after all, if you're not going to be in photos with it?!). So, I stopped at the first character stop--Jack Sparrow and a giant pirate ship.
I waited about ten-fifteen minutes in line, and the photo's still dark because the sun is still not up (My corral start? Approximately 5:57 am).
I also read that this race is all highway. If you are reading this, thinking about doing the Disney Princess Half or the Regular Half, it is! Still, I entertained myself looking at other people's costumes, and I'm such a huge Disney geek that I loved running behind the scenes, or "backstage," in Disney lingo.
I loved that I have driven this same route a zillion times in my life.
This next photo stop was COMPLETELY worth the wait. All the princes? The "smolder" of Flynn Rider? I was so there. Did I really have to keep running after this?
Well, yes, I did. I wasn't even halfway finished. But here is one of my favorite, unexpected parts of the race:
That would be running through the Magic Kingdom toll booths. Really. I run through TWO theme parks and pass a ton of awesome characters, and one of my favorite parts was a toll booth?
Well, yeah. The operators (I assume?) were out there, directing people and cheering people on. As I passed the speed bump, I thought, I am not a car, and that thought kept me amused for a very long time. Hey, it was only six am, okay? I am easily amused.
Unexpected moments during a race can be good (tollbooths!)...or bad (I certainly didn't expect to be sick). Have you had any unexpected moments in your life lately?
Non-running related, I ran into my boyfriend the other day in one of the strangest places in an academic building on campus. Unexpected, but it totally made my day!
I'm on spring break right now! Woohoo! If you could take a vacation RIGHT NOW, where would you go?
Well, I'm currently in a beautiful place, so I think I'll stay right here. =D