Monday, March 15, 2010

Disney World Marathon, Part II

Someday I will finish this blog post. Is today the day??

So. Back to January and the Disney World Marathon. Pictures were taken either by Meg, Luc, or I on the course (we had disposable cameras with us!), Josh on the sidelines, Luc's dad Lee's iPhone, or the official race photographers. (If you aren't sick of them by the end, even more can be found here.)

Our three alarms woke Audrey and I up at 3am on the morning of January 10th, 2010. The instant reaction of, "do I really need to get up?" was quickly mastered by, "OH MY GOSH TODAY I HAVE TO RUN 26.2 MILES GET UP AND DRINK WATER, GIRL." We quietly got dressed, drank water, grabbed our packed bags, and headed to the Pop Century restaurant for 3:30am breakfast with Meg and Luc. Groggily found overpriced bagel, water, and coffee along with other marathoner-to-be zombies. Grumpily eat with barely-awake friends. We were on the bus by soon after 3:45am.

The buses let us off outside of Epcot center, a frigid 10-15 minute walk from the staging area for tents, checked bags, and meet-and-greet areas. By frigid I mean... 28 degrees F. Oh yes. TWENTY-EIGHT DEGREES FARENHEIT. IN FLORIDA. The walk to the Rally tent was surreal--hordes of sleepy people moving toward gigantic stadium lights and the pounding of DJs gettin' it on at 4am. Someone commented that usually one is ending the night in a situation like this, not beginning a day!

At the Rally tent, we attempted to warm up with our teammates while stashing post-race essentials and posing for team pictures at 4:30am:
The Rally Marathoners!

By 4:45am, we were walking over a mile to the start line. We passed port-o-potties, and nervously used them. Audrey left us to go up to a corral near the start of the first wave. We didn't provide approximate finishing times, so we were put in the last corral. With over 20,000 people in the race, there were three major starting waves, and each corral was set free one at a time within a wave. This meant we had over half an hour to stand around doing nothing. I repeat: in 28 deg F. Our corral reminded me of a homeless shelter or refugee camp: people were desperately trying to stay warm, using garbage bags, bathrobes, blankets, etc--all of which would be discarded as soon as we started running. Strangers huddled together for warmth. Thankfully, I had two non-strangers with me!

Meg and I shiver together:
Meg and Jess are nervous, excited, and cold!

We were excited to see FIREWORKS! at 5:45am when the first wave started. Then we were excited ten minutes later when the NEXT WAVE ran off! We walked closer and closer to the starting line. FINALLY IT WAS OUR TURN: around 6:15am, WE STARTED RUNNING A MARATHON!!!!! AAAGH!!!

Start line!

Miles 1-5:
Well...we started plodding a marathon. A BAZILLION people walked this race. Starting in the last corral meant we had to dodge thousands of people the entire way. For the first five miles, our average pace was just under 12:00 min/mile, a whole minute slower than our usual long run pace. This was actually great for our first marathon--by keeping slow and saving energy, we were more likely to finish strong. :) (We really, really needed the mental boost.)

We ran through Epcot Center, and then it was off to Florida highways. At mile four, we passed Josh for the first time! I threw him my gloves (already warming up), and he took our picture:
Later, Josh caught us at mile 4! :D

At mile 3 or 4, I started fueling. I carried (in my wee key-sized pockets) three Gu packets and then what was provided along the course, about 100 calories every 3-4 miles. They say you can store about 2000 calories, which you'll burn in about 20 miles. So, one should eat about 600 calories during the race! Gu is weird, but I kind of like it...they had bananas at a later mile, though, and that banana was AWESOME. (Calorie count: 1 banana+5 Gus=~600 cals.)

It's SUPER important to thank people for handing out water and fuel. The volunteers were AMAZING. The water stops got pretty scary slippery from the spilled water and Powerade. Be caaareful.

Mile 5-10:
The sunrise made us very happy. For a while, it was just a wonderful morning run, with tons of camaraderie and some sleepy enthusiastic supporters.
Just keep running, just keeping running...

Josh saw us again at Mile 9!
Josh found us at mile 9!

Before mile 10, we took a bathroom break. Our last of the race. Mile 9-10 was therefore the longest of the race, at approximately 15 minutes.

Mile 11-16:
Just as we were starting to get a wee bit tired of highway, we entered the MAGIC KINGDOM!!! After sneaking through some back lot entrance, the most amazing view of the race (besides the finish line, let's be honest) was turning the corner onto Main Street USA and seeing CINDERELLA'S CASTLE. It was breathtaking! The supporters in the parks were phenomenal, too. The sidewalks were as crowded for the race as they are for the parades, and people were as excited for each one of us as they are for Mickey. (Okay that's probably not true. But it felt true. And that's what we needed.)

Cinderella's Castle and me
My beautiful buddies.

Josh continued his trooper-ness and found us at 12.5:
Josh found us AGAIN at mile 12.5!

Some of the things that amused me the whole way were shouts from the crowd. As our names were on our bibs, we'd get personal "GOOOO JEEEESSS!" "YEEEEAH LUUUUUC!!!" "THAT'S AWESOME, MEEEG!!!" As we were in Minnie and Mickey ears, we got a lot of "LOVE THE EARS!" "YOU ROCK, MINNIE!"

I also enjoyed yelling back at signs I liked. One was "SQUIRREL." So, I said, "SQUIRREL." The lady cracked up.

Between Magic and Animal Kingdoms, we passed the Disney World waste water treatment plant. OH YES. THEY HAVE ONE. It wasn't too stinky...just...boring. So much Florida highway. Florida scenery is not that exciting.

They did have speakers pumping in music every mile or so, occasionally live musicians performed, and a few times we saw Disney characters, just out with the trees, reminding us that we were in/near the Happiest Place on Earth.

These might be 10k, or 10 miles, or 13.1 miles, but you can see the three of us!
Luc leads the charge!
Smile, Meg! :D
I smiiiiile because I like running.

Miles 16-17:
FINALLY! ANOTHER PARK! The Animal Kingdom was such a welcome sight. More cheery spectators and cast members and characters! More photo opportunities!
Mt. Everest:
It's Mt. Everest!

(Btw, did you know that there are a few marathons on Everest? Just, you know, fyi...)

Yes, I can take my own picture while running a marathon.

Over-the-shoulder picture of Meg and Luc!
Animal Kingdom!

Sadly, somewhere between that picture and this one:

I lost Meg and Luc. :( The streets got too narrow, the crowds got too pushy, and I forged ahead. Meg, I need to add, was running WITH A HURT HIP. 26.2 miles. With the constant fear of bringing back great pain. She is possibly the toughest person I've ever met.

Miles 18-23:

Highway. Again. Forever. Overpasses. Underpasses. On-ramps. Exit-ramps. Trees. Pavement. Sky. Runners. Little pockets of spectators. None of mine though. I miss my buddies, but enjoy the rhythm of my steps and breath, the fresh cool air, and the relative quiet.

Mile 18 was difficult. I was getting a bit warm, and decided at the mile 19 marker I could pause "only to take off my long-sleeve shirt." I never worked out how to delicately disrobe on a highway overpass full of people, as by mile 19, I decided I could just keep going.

Besides Philippians 4:13 ("I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me"), a phrase that kept me going was from Dory: "Just keep swimming!"

Mile 20 started the super annoying downhill-for-a-mile-then-turn-around-and-run-back-up. However, at the turn-around I thought, "I might see Meg and Luc!!!" and I DID! I SAW THEIR BEAUTIFUL FACES! Sadly, I didn't get my camera out in time, but Luc did:
I pass back by Meg and Luc!


Now, people say you "bonk" at mile 20, and the last 10k is the hardest of your life. I don't know if it's because I was a good little fueler and ate 600 calories on the run, but at mile 21, after reaching the top of that hill, I felt SO good, I started running faster!

Mile 23-24:

Nearing mile 23, I entered Disney's MGM Studios. At mile 23, I started gasping for air and tearing up, just like I did at the end of our half marathon. I was so tired of running. It'd been over 4.5 hours of running. The end was near (in a good way) and I wanted it so badly. One lady yelled, "YOU'RE MY HERO!!" Perhaps it wasn't to me, but between hearing that, seeing some people smile encouragingly, and getting some water, I calmed down.

Mile 24-25:

Running along the Disney Boardwalk (yes, they have one), I completely zoned out and stopped thinking beyond "keep running, don't trip, dodge the walker". I walked through a final water stop, but only as long as it took me to drink it. Then it was move move move.

Mile 25-26:

Finally, I GOT BACK TO EPCOT!! I sped up. The loop around the world isn't that long. Run run run. You're almost done!!!

Marker 26-26.2:
I again almost started crying when I saw the finish line ahead. I sprinted with all of my might, hardly believing that I could stop SO SOON FROM NOW OH MY GOODNESS GOOOO!!!!!



****** 5:13:50 *******

As soon as I stopped running, it hurt. All of it. It hurt so goood. I hobbled with my cohort of suddenly arthritic athletes over to get our medals, space blankets, pictures, and recovery food:
So happy!

I found the Rally tent and AUDREY! AUDREY who ran a half-marathon the day before and completed her marathon in 4:04:00!
Audrey finished way before we did, and got her two medals!

Meg and Luc came over soon after I arrived! YAAY!
My favorite engaged couple ROCK the space blankets.

I love being an athlete! Hee!

We found Josh and Luc's dad, Lee, and slowly made it over to Lee's resort, Saratoga Springs, where we would spend the next three days. Appropriately, the resort has a winner's circle:
Appropriate that our new resort had a winner's circle.

We relaxed in a beautiful hot tub:
Never has relaxation been so complete.

And then, realizing that it was only 45-50 degrees F, we bundled up in the sunshine:
"You all look like you're Northeasterners on vacation."~Lee

Lee: "You look like a bunch of Northeasterners on vacation."

We spent the rest of the day and the next two leisurely enjoying the parks. We wore our mouse ears and medals everywhere, and never tired of being congratulated, or exchanging knowing smiles with other members of our very strange, painful, and wonderful little club. It was an incredible experience and I can't wait to repeat it. :D

Aren't we beautiful and matching?!

Tokabats and Mickey

We are Rally Athletes. We are marathoners:
My team is happy!!


Vicki said...

GREAT JOB!!! Jessica, wonderful pictures. I am so proud of you. I can't imagine 24 miles.

I Run for Fun said...

Thank you for visiting my blog. Wow! What a race! It sounds like so much fun too. I'd love to do this race. "It hurt so goood"...LOL!

physikerin said...

Thanks for reading! :D It's a terrific event--you should do it!