Tuesday, January 12, 2010

1/12/10-WDW Half Marathon race report

Being a native Floridian, I’m used to the crazy Florida weather-raining in the front yard but not the back yard, “sun showers”, temperatures climbing into the 90s in November and humidity constantly so high that even the most expensive hair products are useless. But never in my wildest thoughts when I hit the submit button to register for the WDW Half Marathon last March did I ever, ever think that on race day I would be running with snow flurries in the sky and sleet pelting my face. Yes, you read that correctly.

I started my “official” training plan 14 weeks prior to race day, training in temperatures up to the 90s-with humidity just as high. On my longest run (12 miles), it was in the low 60s with almost no clouds and a nice light breeze which for me was the perfect weather to run in. Once race day was within the 15-day window where we could start to get an idea of what the weather might be like at the start, I began to wonder about the outfit I was planning to wear (running skirt and tank with a throwaway sweatshirt on top, maybe a pair of throwaway gloves depending on starting temps). Rain in the forecast-no biggie, been there-done that. But as the forecasted temperature kept dropping...then I dug in my drawer and pulled out a pair of Nike dri-fit stretch pants I had bought to use at the gym and tried them out on the “coldest” day we’d had so far before the race (it was in the 50s the Tuesday before I left for WDW).

Race day. Awoke to freezing temperatures so I put those pants on with my running skirt on top, long sleeved wicking top with a sleeveless tank over it and my sweatshirt on top...and of course my kids’ knit gloves I picked up for fifty cents (2 pair for $1) at Target. Loaded up my Spibelt with my gels, phone and camera and went down to the lobby to meet up with friends from Running of the Ears. We headed to the bus pickup at about 3:30am. Once we arrived in the Epcot parking lot, we headed over to the “H” tent to meet up with others from our forum. Announcements were being made that everyone needed to head over to the start in five minutes so I went over to check my bag. They wouldn’t let us back over to the tent area after that so I got separated from all the ROTE people...so I headed over to the start by myself.

I was in Corral G, the last corral but I was able to maneuver myself to the front. It was only about 5am so we still had almost an hour to wait before our corral would be able to start. It was freezing-and then we started to get light sleet with snow flurries mixed in. I fired up my Garmin around 5:30 and waited. Finally the wheelchairs started and each wave went off with a countdown and fireworks. Ours was the last group to start. Started my Garmin and off I went for my first half marathon! Started out jogging for the first two minutes before switching over to a walk. I started my iPod shuffle with my playlist of favorite songs over which my fantastic husband had overlaid a voice to tell me when to walk and when to run (I was doing a 3-minute walk, 2-minute run).

The first mile was a little tough since I was starting out in unfamiliar weather territory, but after that I got used to it. The sleet pelting my face was a bit annoying but hey, I was at Disney World and wasn’t going to let it bother me. We headed out on the roads from Epcot toward the Magic Kingdom. It was neat seeing the characters from time to time-I didn’t want to stop though as I wanted to make sure I was staying ahead of the sweepers. My Garmin showed I was doing okay but I didn’t want to risk anything. A little before getting to the Magic Kingdom parking lot I finally couldn’t hold out for the bathroom so I trotted over to the port-a-potties, wasting about 2-3 minutes waiting for a turn. I’m glad I did though as I didn’t want to interrupt my run through MK with a potty break...plus I didn’t have to go the rest of the race.

Entered the MK parking lot, then down past the Contemporary hotel and finally over to MK itself, entering onto Main Street. Down Main Street I went running, waving at the ROTE cheering section before turning into Tomorrowland. Walked through there and part of Fantasyland before running again near the carousel and through Cinderella Castle into Frontierland. Finally we were backstage again and headed back out to the roads taking us toward Epcot again. I took pictures of as many of the mile marker signs as I could and some of the characters. Once I hit mile 10 I started to flag a little bit...then I saw the green army men with only a couple of people in line so I finally stopped for a picture. After that I was smiling and energized again. Even the few “hills” toward then end from climbing the overpasses didn’t faze me (although I did walk them---but at faster than the 16 mile/minute pace!). Unfortunately, the sleet had changed over to rain---I say “unfortunately” because even though the sleet was gone, now it felt colder then it had before! During the last 3 miles I did walk through several of my run intervals, but rarely throughout the entire race did I go slower than the 16 mile/minute pace.

Finally entered Epcot Center itself and the final mile. Once I made the turn out of Epcot toward the finish, I started my final run interval (it was funny to me that every time I was at “key” points where there would be ASI photographers or special places on the course like Main Street, the Castle and the finish area my special playlist was on a “run” section-it just coincidentally worked out like that). I was smiling the whole way through the grandstand section and across the finish. I had done it! My first half marathon was over...and I had done it with no problems at all. I even felt like I could have gone a few miles farther!

Got my mylar blanket and wrapped myself up (those things really do help!) and walked over to get my medal-with a huge grin on my face! Grabbed a muffin, banana and some water before heading to the bag check tent. The line for my section was huge and I had to wait almost 20 minutes to get my bag, during which time I kept getting colder and colder, shivering in my wet clothes. After I finally got my bag, I exited the tent to find my best friend, her husband and my godson waiting for me. I was way too cold to stay to meet up with anyone at the H tent so we went to the car so I could start to warm up. It wasn’t until I was back in the hotel room for quite a while-like almost an hour-before the shivering stopped.

All in all it was a unique experience for my first half marathon. I mean, who thinks they are going to do their first half in “sunny” Florida at Disney World in freezing temperatures with sleet and snow flurries? But overall I had a great time...and later that day once the results were posted I found out my official time was 3:22:13, a 15:26 pace. I was hoping for 3:15 but considering the conditions (and the mildly hypothermic condition I was in at the end), I was happy with the time. My Garmin showed 3:17:43, but I had forgotten to switch off the auto-pause feature that stops the timer when you are stopped, so it had stopped timing when I was waiting to potty and to take the picture with the green army men.

Now to look forward to next year...and wonder whether I should try for the full in 2010. Hmmm.....decisions, decisions.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

1/5/10-Oh my, it's almost here!

Today is Tuesday, January 5th...tomorrow I will be working a half day (getting off at 12), then stopping at WalMart/Target to hopefully pick up a couple of long sleeved tops before coming home, packing up the car and driving up to Disney! Tomorrow night I'm staying off property (using a free night reward), then will be checking into Pop Century at WDW Thursday morning. Then on to the expo at Wide World of Sports to be there when it opens at noon. I'll get to meet up with many other people from the Running of the Ears (ROTE) website (I'll be wearing my bright red ROTE hat!), some I've already met once at the Royal Family 5K back in March at WDW (Princess 1/2 weekend). They might not recognize me though, I've lost weight since then plus I was dressed horribly that morning...I knew nothing about dressing properly for running and was wearing an oversized cotton tshirt and running skirt that day-once I saw my pics i just cringed as I kinda looked like a big boxy thing. Now I know better...although I'll be bundled up that morning anyway. The low marathon morning is supposed to be in the upper 20s! Yes, here in Florida!

I tested out a pair of stretchy Nike Dri-Fit legging-type workout pants on my run today and it seems like they will keep my legs warm so I'll most likely be wearing those with my running skirt on top of them. Then either a long-sleeved (if I luck out and find out tomorrow after work) or short sleeved top with the ROTE red tank top over it. If our ROTE tops don't come in on time then I have another tank to use. I got a sweatshirt to wear over those until I get too hot, then can toss it. Also got kids knit gloves from Target (2 pair for $1.00, such a deal)...might hold on to those though, they will probably fit in my Spibelt especially once I start eating my gels. And of course my red ROTE headsweats hat!

Since I'll be wearing the sweatshirt, I plan on picking up some "toggles" for my Spiblelt at the expo---they clip onto the race number bib so you can attach it to your Spibelt...then I won't have to worry about my number being hidden by the sweatshirt so I won't have to dredge through tons of pics on the ASI photo site afterward trying to find myself.

Anyway, I'm about 2/3 of the way packed, just have bathroom stuff and then my electronic stuff left. Will probably do most of that when I get home from work tomorrow. Going to hit the sack shortly...next blog will be my race report!

Walt Disney World Half Marathon, here I come!!!