After spending Thursday night and all of Friday at my brother's house in Florida enjoying sunshine, beach, and delicious food, my brother, dad, and I headed to Disney Saturday morning for the race expo.
|My Belle-themed race number and the wonderful towel Mickey left for us by housekeeping :)|
It took awhile to drive from the hotel to the parks (even though we were on the property...I never remember how ginormous the disney property is!), and even longer to walk from the parking lot through the "backstage" roads to the starting corrals. Even though it was about 60 degrees, I was freezing thanks to a chilly fog that was lingering in the air...loved that cold clammy feeling! Oh Florida and its drinkable air...
There were lots of characters on the course, but as an already sloooow runner, I figured I better not spend too much precious time waiting in photo lines! This one was worth it, though! Thanks to the foot/knee-ish pain, plus some "hills" (okay, they were just highway on-ramps, but when you're born and raised in the Prairie State, EVERY incline feels ike a MOUNTAIN!!!), I definitely did more walking than I would've liked in miles 8-11...oh well! When we got near Epcot around 11 1/2 miles, my leg and foot were ACHING, but I started to get a little of my spark back, especially when we got closer to the Epcot ball:
By the time our corral was heading to the starting line, my nerves had given way to a general antsy-ness. To run. To move. To get this show on the road. And in true Disney form, a show it was! The Fairy Godmother (from Cinderella) said "magic words" and counted down each wave, and--get this--instead of a starting gun, we were sent on our merry running way with fireworks! Um, can every single race please have a fairy godmother and fireworks? If that doesn't get you excited to run, I don't know what will!
The first 5 miles felt GREAT! We ran from Epcot down the highway to the Magic Kingdom. I kept a steady 12 minute pace and stuck to the 3/1 intervals of run/walking that I'd been training with (even though it was soooo tempting to just RUN!!). Between miles 4 & 5 (I think...), we ran under the sign at the Magic Kingdom entrance, and I literally got chills. :) Even though I knew we were still about 1 1/2 miles from the actual park, I coudn't contain my excitement! Running through the Magic Kingdom was why I signed up for this race in the first place!
Finally, around mile 6 we turned onto Main Street and were greeted by a crowd of spectators, including Dad and Brother!!! I was SO excited to see them, not to mention to be running through the Happiest Place on Earth! I put on Katy Perry's "Firework" and dashed down the cobblestone paths through Fantasyland, Frontierland, Tomorrowland...and, yes...through Cinderella's Castle. :) Disney was really great about having tons of volunteers lining the entire course. There was always someone ready and willing to grab your camera or phone and snap a quick picture of you. Of course, I couldn't resist stopping to take this one!
Running through the Magic Kingdom was wonderful, and I hated to say goodbye and head back onto the back lots and highways! The race got really tough for me around mile 7. While my calves have been killing me lately, they actually held up great! I attribute this fact largely to the extreme amounts of foam rolling and massage I'd put in, as well as to running in my recovery socks. I may never take those babies off again...However, I DID get an awful pain in the muscle (tendon? who even knows anymore...) behind my right knee that I couldn't seem to stretch out. Soon after that, my left foot started freaking out too, both the arch and the outer edge/heel (which is STILL killing me, hence the ice bath pictured above). Any thoughts on what that pain might be? Please don't say another stress fracture...When the pain started, I figured it was time for a quick break, and what better break than a photo opp with my all-time favorite princess:
|I was trying to "flex" like Gaston, but my chicken arms just look silly...oh well!|
Right outside Epot, around mile 12, I saw Dad and Brother again!! It definitely gave me the burst of energy and enthusiasm I needed. Awesome brother even snagged this video.
For the record, I thought he was taking a picture, which is why I kept the exact same pose and kept looking back towards the same direction lol!
Once in the park, I decided it was time to go for it. I listened to "Firework" on repeat and decided I'd done my walking, it was time to run. What was I saving it for, the ride home? I plodded through Epcot, and, when I realized I was getting close to 13, I let loose. Suddenly I was passing runners right and left (Where did that energy suddenly come from? Why didn't I tap into it sooner??), mostly because I glanced at my Garmin and realized that even if I wasn't going to make my "dream race" goal of 2 1/2 hours even by a long shot, I could still come out under 3. I would like to personally thank Katy Perry for pulling me through that last mile and a half. :)
Suddenly, the finish line was in sight--I was practically in tears by this point, overcome with I don't even know WHAT emotion. (BTW I got teary like one million times during the race. I am a sucker for any sort of "in memory" or "in honor of" shirt, or any with a picture. One just said "FOR MOM" and I almost lost it. I guess running makes me even more of a basket case than usual!).
I crossed the finish line with a final time of 2:51:30 (according to both my Garmin and my brother's stopwatch). Even though I had to walk a LOT more than I had hoped, I am very proud of my time and honestly just glad that, in spite of every crazy training obstacle, I FINISHED! The straggler's van wasn't even in sight. :) This (amazingly blinged out) tiara medal was well-earned! (So was, I guess, the gross heat-rash-something I seem to have developed on my upper back...Thank you, 85 degree heat and buckets of sweat...TMI? Sorry...)
After a shower and some brief "laying time," what better way to refuel than with one of these awesome Mickey Mouse waffels courtesy of the hotel food court?
Seriously, after this, I may never be able to race a non-Disney race...
All in all, the half-marathon and weekend in Florida was an amazing experience. I am so glad that I had the crazy idea 7 months ago to impulsively register for it after barely starting to run again, and glad I decided not to drop out when I got my stress fracture. I'm also incredibly grateful to the support I received during my training and during the race weekend. From emails with motivating words to facebook messages to texts to surprise notes slipped into my purse before leaving, mailed to my brother's house to greet me race weekend, and hand delivered to my house to be waiting for me when I got home ((thanks you for the notes, A, T, and N--I feel so ridiculously loved!!!)), you guys have been amazing, and I can't thank you enough. Not to mention the amazing support from my blogger friends!!!! I could not have done this without all of you!!
And as long as this foot pain is not another stress fx (dear god, I cannot make it through another 4 months of agony...), it will be worth the aches and pains too. Now, as my runner hero M suggested, should I quickly sign up for half number 2 before "the excitement wears off and the [real] soreness sets in"??
Possibly this amazing-sounding race???