Holy schmoly! Where do I even begin? This weekend has been a whirlwind of excitement. From our luggage not making it to Orlando with us, but thankfully showing up Saturday afternoon. Getting to meet Brooke and Audrey and see ChristieO again has been fabulous. Despite our cozy quarters in the hotel room, Brooke, her husband, T and I seem to be getting along quite nicely. Well aside from the couple on the floor above us having a little too much “fun” (if you know what I mean) while we were trying to fall asleep last night.
So, on to the race. It was a bit nippy this morning as we headed out. Cooler than I expecting, but I knew it was supposed to warm up, so I dressed lightly in shorts, a running tank w/a tech tee over it, my running sleeves, and a hat with a my new 26.2 Disney BondiBand. Disney really had their stuff together. ChristieO had heard some people had trouble getting on the buses to the start line for the half marathon because the lines were so long, so we planned to meet at 3:15 in the hotel lobby. The buses were running between 3 and 4 a.m. And if you remember 3 a.m. EST is midnight for me.
The bag check area was easy to find. We all had time to visit the port-a-potties on more than one occasion. ChristieO and her tri-buddy, Nicole wore pink tutus and pink fairy wings. They were pretty cute together. Once we got to the corrals my fingers were numb and my teeth were chattering. Like I said, it was a bit nippy. I was impressed with Disney’s wave starts. After San Diego, I’ve been leery of wave starts. Granted there were only 17,000 people here and 30,000 in San Diego, but it moved so quickly. T and I crossed the start line together at about 10 minutes after the gun first went off. There were fireworks with the gun and then with each subsequent wave. That was pretty cool.
In the beginning I kept reminding myself that this truly was a marathon and to just take it easy so I didn’t wear myself out. I did *not* want to hit the wall. My hip was amazing. No pain or twinges at all. The ankle? Well, it held up. One of the highlights of the race was the aid stations. They had huge containers with pumps of BioFreeze. I made it a point to stop at every aid station and rub BioFreeze on my ankle. As the race went on, I started rubbing it on my knees, and at the last aid station around mile 23, I just rubbed it all over my legs. The funny thing is that in the beginning of the race when my fingers were so cold, I couldn’t figure why they weren’t warming up. *smacks head* Uhm, duh, BioFreeze all over them. Obviously my brain was preoccupied.
I *loved*, absolutely *loved* running through the parks. The in between times on the highways and back roads of Disney was a bit slow. The volunteers were fabulous. There was always someone there cheering you on. Our names were printed on our bibs, so I had a ton of “Great job, Kristen!”, but I didn’t care. Someone was making an effort. I made a point to stop at various places along the course to have my picture taken with some of the characters. I can’t name them all now, but I know I met Sleeping Beauty, Chip & Dale, King Louie and Balou, Rafiki, Jasmine, Rapunzal & her beau. I refused to stop for more than 4 people in a line. I didn’t want to lose that much momentum.
There points in the race where had I been running at home alone or on my treadmill, I would have just called it quits. There was no way I was doing that today. But I remember hitting mile 16 and thinking, wow, only 10 more miles. That’s funny right? Because I thought it was funny. Then I hit 18 and remember thinking that I was more tired at the end of this 18 than I was at the end of my two 18-mile training runs, but that might have something to do with the lack of sleep. Anyway. When I hit mile 20 I took a picture of myself with the sign behind me. This was a milestone. I had never really gone more than 20 miles. I was headed into unchartered territory. The next two miles were good though. By the time I hit mile 23 I told myself that I had a 5k left. That was it. Just a measly 5k. Easy peasy. Yeah, not so much. That 5k felt like the longest 3 miles I have ever run. At this point I was chanting in my head “right foot left foot right foot left foot” and remembering to stay in form and not slap my shoes on the ground out of exhaustion. I knew I’d hurt myself if I didn’t pay attention to my stride. Because I was so focused on my stride, I was sure I had to be getting close to mile 25. But nope, there up ahead was the mile 24 marker. Ugh! And then I did it again. I was *positive* I had missed the mile 25 sign and I had to be getting close. But nope, look up there! Mile 25. It didn’t help that a ton of people along the course kept saying “you’re almost there! You’re so close!” It seemed like I would just keep running forever and never hit the finish line. But finally (phew) I saw looked up and saw the finish line. I had just enough gumption to sprint, as only one can sprint after running 26 miles for the first time, but sprint nonetheless the last 100 m or so. And then I prompted began crying. And not the pretty tears streaming down your face, but full on sobbing. I couldn’t believe I had actually accomplished this. I mean I knew I would, but those last three miles were soooo hard.
After I collected my space blanket and my medal, I picked up all my snacks. Hey race coordinators! Take a note from the Nike Women’s Marathon. Provide bags at the finish line. I took all the snacks they had which included: a soda, bottle of water, orange, muffin, Lara bar, and Powerade. Have you tried carrying all of those things while trying to manage a space blanket in the wind? It’s tough. So just get someone to donate in the future m’kay?
I met up with T and ChristieO’s friend and we waited for Brooke and ChristieO to finish. It took me probably 30 minutes to not feel like sobbing. This was such an emotional experience for me. The training was so hard and long. The culmination of knowing I had completed this race and had my friends here with me was amazing. I can’t even describe it.
Race Results: Time 4:48:27
Overall: 5790 out of 13,522
Age Group (30-34) 1961 out of 6267
Brooke, ChristieO and I pre race.
Some of my biggest supporters were on my wrist.
The fireworks after the gun went off.
The picture I took at the mile Karena said she wanted me to earmark as “hers”.
Mile 20. Entered unchartered territory.
T and I with our medals
Me, ChristieO, and Brooke with our medals
WE ARE MARATHONERS!!!