You know how you can work and train and sweat toward a goal for so long that when it is over, you almost don't believe that it happened? Meg, Luc, and I started planning for our first marathon in May 2009. We started training in earnest in August 2009. We ran a MARATHON (26.2 miles) on January 10, 2010 in Disney World. Wait, really?
Audrey, our veteran marathoner friend, Luc, and I ran for the Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research, and raised over $7200 through amazing friends and family and hosting a 5k.
The four of us endured increasingly frigid and dark training runs as New Jersey fell into winter, running up to 21 miles before tapering in the few weeks before the race. Meg suffered a hip injury, started physical therapy, and kept on running. This was an expensive and time-consuming venture--no one was giving it up!
Finally, January 7th arrived. NJ=freezing. FL=...freezing?? Yes. Florida decided to have a cold snap the one week we visited it. Luc, Meg, and I arrived in Orlando super excited to be going to DISNEY WORLD anyway. Rally gave us a room in the Pop Century resort, so we took the Magical Express from the airport. Yesss. Ten minutes after arrival, we were already cared for by smiling Disney Cast Members and surrounded by Mickey Mouses.
Disney knows how to put on a smoothly-running ginormous event. Every 5-10 minutes, a bus left the resort and headed to the Expo at the Wide World of Sports:
We picked up our bibs, shoe tag, and goody bags with our schnazzy *marathon* shirts, bought cute pink souvenir *marathon* shirts, and enjoyed the buzzing excitement of the
health and fitness expo. We got free sports bar samples, looked at running clothes, and made signs for Josh and Luc's dad, Lee, to hold as our cheerleaders:
Meg, Luc, and I ran for 45 minutes before dinner at Downtown Disney. I bought Mickey Mouse ears while we waited for Josh, Lee, and Audrey to arrive.
The next morning, Audrey and I woke up to find happy signs on our door from the Rally folks!
We are SO glad we were a part of a team for this race. The little things--like the signs, the matching shirts we wore for the race, the cheer groups they had along the route, and the candy in the Rally tent at the end--made the experience very comfortable (considering) and enjoyable. :) One of the BIG things was the team pre-race pasta dinner and coach's clinic on Friday the 8th (day before the half, two days before the full).
We met at Epcot in our red shirts:
And were escorted into the park as a group of about 130 red-shirted athletes, family, and Rally staff. (We all considered "losing" the group and riding on Mars Mission instead of eating spaghetti, but we were good.) We were secretly pleased to discover that most of the other 114 Rally runners were only doing the half marathon, and then realized that Disney is possibly the only place we could feel bad about ONLY doing the FULL MARATHON: Audrey and a few others were running the Goofy Challenge--BOTH the half AND the full. Sigh. The coach's talk actually made me more nervous. Audrey reminded me that I trained and was ready. I'd be fine. I knew how to fuel, I had my running shoes, and I ran IN THE COLD ALL SEASON, so Florida's freakishly frigid temperatures wouldn't hurt.
We ate tasty pasta and fruit (and everyone snagged extra bananas and apples for our rooms--Disney is EXPENSIVE) while listening to Rally families share their stories (some brought tears to my eyes :( ) and the Rally CEO share her story (it was pretty cool). Then, they passed out prizes to teams and individuals who raised the most money. To our surprise, our team came in SECOND!!!
After dinner, Lee took us to the Polynesian resort for a drink. (Although Audrey the Goofy went home to sleep before her early morning 13.1 miles.) A small one. With lots of water. We must stay hydrated, you know!
Audrey woke up Saturday morning at 3am for her half. I heard her drink water, then do something, then drink water, then do something. She left around 3:45am. I woke up around 7am to start an ice bath for her and get hot chocolate and coffee from the cafeteria. It was below freezing at the half's 5:45am start time, accompanied by snow and freezing rain. Brrrr. She did so well though: she finished in 1:47:00! "Oops, I probably ran that too fast. Haha!"
She came back FROZEN and jumped immediately into her bathtub of ice and ice-cold water. Why? To help her poor muscles heal before the full the next day! She shivered for 15 minutes before taking a nice hot shower. Then she swam in the rain for a few minutes in the nice hot pool, and then took another nice hot shower. :)
Audrey and our weird resort:
The rest of the day, we all mostly lounged and ate. We had lunch with Lee at his resort, Saratoga Springs. We zipped over to the Expo to buy a souvenir for one of our favorite supporters (two-year-old Wally, who made us a running playlist with his mother's help), and then watched Chariots of Fire in our hotel room. Finally, we ate LOTS of pasta for dinner, and went off to our hotel rooms to get ready for the next day.
Audrey and I attached our shoe tags and bibs to our shirts:
Our bibs had our FIRST NAMES. I LOVE DISNEY.
We were in bed by 9pm, I believe. Time to sleep. Our 3am alarm will come all too soon.