Sunday, January 18, 2015

RunDisney Dopey Challenge Part 3: Half Marathon

After getting cleaned up after the 10K we made our way to Disney Hollywood Studios for the day. I figured since it was a smaller park we would be able to save our legs a bit. We did wind up racing a couple times to just barely catch shows as they were starting. That was the downside to being there during the slow season was the limited shows. We managed to squeeze everything in and got out of the park early. It was early to bed for us.

Clearly thrilled Xmas trees are up on Jan 10th.

We had made the decision to not arrive quite as early for the half marathon and that may have been a mistake. The crowds were much larger and it took the bus awhile to make it to the drop off. Luckily gear check was efficient, but with the crowds I couldn't find Jennifer or Vijay so headed towards the start corrals. The port-o-potties were lined up like no other in the start village. I remembered in my research that there were more to use by the start corrals so I join the stream of people and headed that way. It was a long walk to get to the corrals. There was a cheer station about halfway there if that tells you how long it was. I finally spot the port-o-potties and find a short line to jump in and do my business. I wind up making it to my start corral just as the national anthem was starting.

I was alone on this day. I was still in Corral C, but that was based on my submitted time. Jennifer and Vijay were "in a corral far far away" according to Vijay's race shirt. After determining that I couldn't tolerate the GoPro head mount for anything longer than the 10K I decided to give the chest mount a whirl. This did not work out as the video wound up being much to shaky. I apparently move my body a lot when I run. Anyways, after a much shorter time between corrals we were soon off.

It was a tight crowd to start the race so I just hung with things until it opened up. My first mile was by far the slowest of the day. I had some doubts about whether I would really pull off the marathon the next day. Soon I fell into a comfortable pace. We were running on the highways between parks and it would be desolate for awhile. I soon spotted someone who was wearing a picture perfect costume of Forrest Gump. He was discussing with someone how he wasn't running for time. I came up beside him and said let me guess, you just felt like running? Not long after I spotted 1972 Olympian and RunDisney consultant Jeff Galloway. He was pacing someone along, but before I could unhook my GoPro to try and take a picture his watch beeped and he started walking. Yes, he actually practices what he preaches. I was in a zone and didn't want to start walking so it was an photo opportunity lost.

Disney did try and make things interesting along the highway. There was a marching band out there and a pirate ship set up and they were blaring the Pirates of the Caribbean theme. It wasn't long before we hit the parking gates announcing the Magic Kingdom was up ahead. This was a little misleading since it was still a couple more miles before we would be in the park.

After a couple of miles with growing crowd support around the resorts as well as a big underpass that was fun to go down, but not so much on the way back up, we wound our way from a backstage area into the Magic Kingdom. We headed towards the Town Square before turning up Main Street towards Cinderella's Castle. Disney let supporters into the park to cheer on the runners and the crowds and noise were massive. Everything was completely lit up and almost blinding at spots. We took a right at the castle into Tomorrowland, around into Fantasyland, through the bottom of the castle, into Frontierland, and back out of the park. It was one of the most exciting mile or so part of a race I've done. I'm glad I have at least the shaking video since it all happened in a blur.

Leaving the Magic Kingdom we were about halfway done with the race. Something crazy had happened along the way. I found my legs. I was now hitting splits in the low 8s. I was still trying to keep a handle on things since I had the marathon the following day, but felt good. I also knew I was still running much slower that my PR time. I soon figured that If I ran well enough I might hit my 2nd fastest half time which isn't saying much since there is just over an 8 minute gap between my top 2 half marathon times. I've only run the 1 race since I really got myself into top endurance form.

Mile 9 wound up being sub 8 and I felt like I was getting a little ahead of myself. I got myself back into low 8s for the time being. We then hit a stretch of 3 overpasses in a row. These "hills" took a bit of the wind out of my sails. I partially walked the uphill thinking it best to save the legs. Epcot came into site and knew we were hitting the final stretch. I was close enough in time to give things  a go. I sped through the park and this being the 3rd day of having the finish line being in the same spot I knew where I wanted to kick things into gear. The final mile was my fastest of the day. The last quarter mile was at a 6:32 min/mile pace. I was no where near spent yet and that kick felt great. I still wound up finishing 26 seconds slower than my 2nd fastest half marathon time, but I was happy with a run that left me with energy in the tank for the next day.

I got changed and waited for Jennifer and Vijay to finish. Luckily they had handicap port-o-potty stalls since that gave me enough room to change without any problems. I wish all races had those. I chilled for awhile and set up shop near the DJ on lawn chairs they had out. I got to see the award ceremony before Jennifer finished. The top 2 women were teammates from the Hanson-Brooks Distance Project in Michigan and 3rd place was Jeff Galloway's daughter-in-law. Jennifer apparently had an emotional finish and I knew she was going to have trouble with the overpasses. Vijay came in a bit later and off we went to get brunch.

Brunch was a treat. We had reservations at Chef Mickey's and took the monorail over to the Contemporary. It was a little bit before we were seated, but it was worth it. It was a buffet of all sorts of delicious breakfast items. I pigged out on Mickey waffles, bacon, and country potatoes. I had 2nds and contemplated 3rds. The other bonus of brunch there is that the Fab Five come around for photos. My only clear shot is one with Donald. Stupid lighting didn't help.

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