Sunday, March 8, 2009
The Disney Princess Half Marathon
430am...Daylight Savings Time...UGH...5 more minutes?? I hit the snooze and rolled over!!
Wait?? I sat up straight in bed and realized...Im at Disney and I need to get moving. The princesses and all their friendly Disney characters awaited my arrival (along with about ohhh roughly 10,000 other crazy runners). I jumped outta bed and got moving. Dress and ready, I grabbed a coffee and some Cheerios and made my way to the Monorail. We stayed at the Contemporary over the weekend to make the race morning a little easier.
My partner in crime today was my business partner: Rick Stafford. After having knee surgery in January and being unable to run the Disney Marathon, this was his first race since having his meniscus fixed. Out of thousands of women runners, we found out he was one of only 217 male runners in the race. He didn't care!! All he wanted to do was test the knee prior to some future Half Ironman distance races and qualify for the Coast to Coast Medal (more on that later).
After making sure his 13 year old daughter was still tucked in safe and sound in their room, we headed off to Epcot. The Monorails were running very slow so we ended up arriving at the race site at 620am. We really had to hustle since the race start line was over 1.7 miles away from the Epcot parking lot (a 25 minute walk). We grabbed one of the photographers, got a quick "before" race shot and then headed towards the start.
I somehow ended up in the front corral! Go figure. This body and race speed didn't deserve the forward placement, but I took it!! Disney is a scary place to race for those of us in the back of the pack. They close off the course and pick up participants at anytime if they feel you are not maintaining a proper pace. The gun went off, the group moved forward and we were on our way.
Hector had asked me not to race with any "gadgets" as he calls them for this Half Marathon. This meant, no GPS. I convinced him that i really needed an Ipod to make the time go by faster so he allowed it. I finally broke down and wore my watch. I don't know how I would do interval walk and run without a watch. He wanted me to start focusing on my level of effort and exertion and not on the gadgets.
When I first started doing these races, I would run for 1 minute and walk for a minute. Then I move to 2 and 1 then 3 and 1. I am now at 5 and 1 and very proud of this. It has taken alot of work because this body just isn't a running body!! I started off my morning with two sets of 2 - 1 and then went right into 5 -1's. Out on the highway, I was feeling strong and comfortable and in the zone. Rick came by me at mile 3 and was looking great. The knee was functioning well.
From the start to mile 5, I felt amazing. Good turnover of my feet and some ok speed (for me that is). I got up to the Contemporary Hotel where Mike and Vi Auld were waiting to cheer me on. They were quite a welcomed site!! A couple of hugs and I was on my way to the Magic Kingdom.
Running down Main Street always brings back memories of my first half marathon which was at Disney in 2003. At this point of the race, on Main Street in 2003, I was lightheaded and sick to my stomach. Today was different, I was feeling fantastic. I went past the store where just yesterday, I had gotten my father a Mickey Watch for his birthday. I ran next to Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger ride-my godson Christian's favorite ride and onto the Carousel...my favorite ride as a kid. So many amazing memories.
Through the castle and a smile for the professional photographers and we were on our way out the back gates of the Magic Kingdom. It was at this moment my hamstrings started to tighten. Rut row!! This could get ugly fast. I started thinking ..."I went out too fast...too too fast" but I kept moving and thats what a long distance race is about.
My Ipod playlist for the Disney Half Marathon is set up with some strategic music for certain spots of the course. As we past the Grand Floridian and headed back to the highway, "Life is a Highway" was playing in my ears. As we approached mile 9 where I seem to always have issued, the Olympic Anthem played. At mile 10, Van Halen's "Jump" kept me moving forward but my run pace was seriously lacking at this point.
By the time I made it to mile 11, I was hurting and not for the reason you think. My running buddies know that my body seems to feel the need to play weird tricks on my during events and just "start" things several days before they should occur in the month. My body decided it was time at mile 11!! Holy Moley!! Now what do I do??
I work at the Living Seas at Epcot, which is where the course enters the park. I decided to make a quick detour up to my locker at work and take care of this matter and return to the course. It definitely destroyed my chance of having a good finishing time but I KNOW this was a good decision. As I headed out of the building, a couple of my co workers were a little bewildered at my presence at work during the race...but I smiles, waved and told them I would explain later. And off I went.
Down to the World Showcase and we were headed to the finish line!! At this point, I decided to walk and enjoy the crowd and this journey I had begun 3 hours before. At the finish line, I met Sally Edwards who interviewed me. I told her if it had not been for her 9 years ago and the Danskin Triathlon, I wouldn't be where I am today..running races and preparing for my Ironman. She cried and I smiled. If she only knew. I am just happy to be alive no matter what the time on the run clock says. 12 years ago, I was told I wouldn't see 40. Today, Im 45 and running Half Marathons for fun. Who would have ever thought.
My plan along with Rick is to run the Disneyland Half Marathon in September. By completing the Princess Half and the Disneyland Half, we will qualify for the Coast to Coast Challenge and get a third medal for our efforts. You know..its all about the medals!!!
I met up with Coach Beth, Sandi,Geni and her hubby and great support crew, Neil and took a girl's photo. Rick had headed back to the hotel to check on Jessica and to pack up. A wonderful day, great friends, a beautiful race...and its a great day to be alive!!!