Well it’s been almost two years since my last post and we just completed a half over the weekend so I want to detail it while the memories are fresh. Since my last post my husband was selected for Marine Corps Recruiting duty and our family moved to central Florida. This means my husband works about 14 hours a day and I’m what we call in the military world “a married single parent.” I’m adding this because we haven’t had the chance to race as much as we would like to. In 2011 we made a goal to run a half marathon in all 50 states. Between September 2011 and May 2014 we completed seven half marathons and a tough mudder. It took us till January 9, 2016 to run our eighth half marathon.
Back in the spring hubby and I attempted to register for the Walt Disney World Wine and Dine Half Marathon. We logged on 15 minutes before the sale started and we couldn’t get in, the server jammed and the race was sold out in record time. The Wine and Dine is still on my list for a future race, but I think it will have to wait till his retirement as it usually falls near the Marine Corps Birthday. After all, how can it get better than Disney, running, and wine?? A few months later we were successfully able to register for the Walt Disney World Half Marathon. I started my 12 week Hal Higdon plan in October and made most of the runs. This fall/winter in Florida has been one of the hottest on record, we were averaging 85 degrees for most of December, which isn’t exactly ideal running weather. The training was rough but I made it. Due to hubby’s work schedule I think he ran about 5 times before the race. My in-laws flew in around New Year’s to take care of our girls and on last Friday we heading east to Orlando.
The trip there was uneventful and we made it to the expo with plenty of time to spare. It’s amazing the time and effort that go into organizing a race. The aid stations were already in place as we were driving through Disney property. We picked up our shirts, bibs, and commemorative wine glass and pin at the ESPN Wide World of Sports and headed to the Shades of Green resort with a gorgeous sunset as the backdrop. Due to the 0530 start we decided to have dinner at Manginos on the Shades property. We weren’t fans, the caesar salad had way too much dressing and the chicken alfredo needed more garlic. The wine and beer were decent and helped us get to sleep in preparation of our early departure the next morning. Wait, did the desk clerk just say the buses arrive at 03?
I had my typical breakfast of a bagel and hubby ate a clif bar which later he found out wasn’t enough. I had a gorgeous Snow White tutu made for me by Race Junkie, Snow White is my favorite princess and there’s just something fun about running in a fluffy tutu. After breakfast we boarded a nice, clean, and comfortable charter bus and headed for Epcot. Due to recent nationwide events all runners had to pass through a bag check and metal detectors complete with sniffing dogs, I’m not sure what they were sniffing for, but whatever. We made it to the corrals with minutes to spare before a Marine sang the national anthem. We were able to submit proof of time which got us into corral B. If you’ve read my blog about our first half at Disneyland on the west coast you’ll remember this is a big deal. Disney attracts a lot of beginner runners, which I think is awesome but there are some of us out there that don’t want to dodge the groups of walkers. Hubby and I have an agreement that we start together but if one of us is feeling good it’s ok to run their race. We prayed and then the fireworks announced it was time for Group B to get started.
We started running on the connecting roads and hit Magic Kingdom around mile 6. The first 6 miles I passed a blind runner for the first time ever, I was so impressed and inspired. Elvis ran by with a full on black jumpsuit and sang a bit which caused the blind man to smile. I was also running next to Indiana Jones, who was carrying a golden skull and wearing the full getup, yes even pants and they weren’t moisture wicking either. Indy fell back before we hit the Magic Kingdom. We started on Main street near the big Christmas tree, I know I’m still trying to figure out when exactly they do take their decorations down. Main Street was lined with people cheering and we ran through with the castle lit up in front of us. Tomorrowland was eerily quiet, we passed through fantasyland and let me tell you I am a huge Disney fan but they had this group of characters by the carousel I couldn’t place. From there it was through the castle and off to Frontierland. After leaving Magic Kingdom we ran by the golf courses and started our journey back to Epcot. Around mile 10 something happened that boosted my spirits.
I have to admit I was discouraged with my running for most of this race. With all of my long training runs I made an 8 minute mile with no struggle but on race day it was a fight to get an 8 minute pace. When hashing this out later in the day with hubs he told me I was most likely chopping my steps because it was dark. This made so much sense, I am so clumsy and because of this I never run in the dark. Around mile 10 a super fit guy runs up beside me and says something, I took out my headphones and he repeated himself. I was starting to loose steam and he says to me, “you can’t quit now, you’re the most consistent runner I’ve ever seen and I’ve run over 22 marathons.” He continued telling me that I was more consistent than the pacers he’s run with. He told me he was following me the whole race and he didn’t even look at his watch because I was so consistent with the pace. Well hearing all of these words of affirmation, (that’s my love language by the way) built me up enough to really push the last 3.1 miles. His name is Mike and he stayed next to me and we chatted the rest of the race. His motivation caused me to run mile 13 at a 7:35 pace, my fastest mile of the race. He was trying to talk me into running a full marathon, insisting halfs are almost easy for me. Easy for him to say, did i mention I wanted to die on mile 13 at that pace? Mike and I finished at 1:45:27. Out of the 8 half marathons this was my 4th best time. Hubby finished at 1:53:01, it was also his 4th best time. His time blew me away with his lack of training. I’m super proud of him. This was also our largest half marathon to date with 21,497 runners. Now onto the crazy part…
We saw a champagne stand so of course I had to have a glass and hubby had a beer. We saw a lady with a Marine Corps Marathon jacket and chatted with her group for a few minutes before heading toward the busses to go back to the hotel. We caught our bus with some other runners and started the slow trek back to our hotel. All I wanted was a shower, food, and a nap. Our bus stopped at the Disney Transportation Center and tells us to get out. A few people said he was supposed to take us all the way to the resort but he insisted we all get out. My legs were starting to hurt and I had a headache coming on at this point. So we waited for a bus and none came, I called the resort and they weren’t much help. Another guest at our resort found an alternative shuttle that agreed to take us to Shades of Green. When pulling out of the transportation center we could almost see the driveway for our hotel but for some crazy reason security made our driver go in the opposite direction. Traffic is a nightmare since roads are closed for the race and we end up in something I’ll compare to Interstate 95. Well my crazy ass husband tells the driver to open the door in the middle of the road and let us out. He gets out and starts running. Did i mention my throbbing head and legs? He is trying to catch another bus that is apparently heading to our hotel, this bus looked to be a quarter mile away from me. My head and legs hurt so bad I could barely run and another lady and her daughter followed us out of the shuttle. So now we’re attempting to run on a sloped and grassy median and I’m over the whole thing and cursing my husband for being crazy. I didn’t know this but hubby saw the struggle and starting praying and then God sent Miss Sue. This really nice Mercedes pulls up beside me and asks if I want a ride. Don’t tell my mom but I took it! Miss Sue who spends part of the year in Long Island and the rest in Celebration stopped and picked us up out of the goodness of her heart. I mean seriously people she picked up four stinky, sweaty, grassy half marathon runners in her nice Mercedes and drove us back to Shades of Green. Miss Sue, wherever you are, you don’t know what a blessing you were to the four of us runners. I was so sick at this point I almost threw up in that beautiful Mercedes. We made it to the room, I ate some dried fruit and felt much better. We then showered, ate leftover pizza and slept for three hours. Thank God we booked that hotel for two nights. After our nap we stopped at the Starbucks in the lobby and then headed over to Universal Studios. We rode three of our favorite rides: The Mummy, Gringotts, and Men in Black, picked up a Lard Lads donut for breakfast the next day and then ate dinner at the NBC sports bar and grill. The food at NBC was fantastic, thats one of my favorite things about Orlando-the food. We are foodies and unfortunately all our new hometown has is chain restaurants so we enjoy getting over to Orlando for the variety of good restaurants. And that my friends is the story of half marathon number 8. Disney is such a special place and if you ever have the opportunity to run Disney I highly recommend it.
Run 50: Eight-Florida
Race: Walt Disney World Half Marathon
Date: Saturday January 9, 2016
Finish Time: 1:45:27
Age: 23 out of 1843
Gender (Female) 133 out of 12,303
Overall: 575 out of 21,497