So when we last left off, I was heading to bed at 3 pm to try to get a little sleep before I had to get on the bus to head to the Wine and Dine Half Marathon. I had a hard time falling asleep but ended up sleeping for about 90 minutes.
I got up around 6 pm, had a muffin and started to get ready. Seemed to be no doubt that it was going to rain, so I pulled out the garbage bag that I had packed just in case. I also found 2 others that I had in my suitcase from past race weekends so I threw those in my pockets too.
I headed to the bus around 7 pm and was on my way to the start line. Again, I hung around with the Mickey Milers until it was time to head to the corrals.
As a matter of a little background, it is still a challenge for me to maintain the 16 min mile pace requirement of the Disney races. I was swept at Mile 11 in the January half in 2013 but I finished the Princess Half this past February. I was starting in corral I so I had a three corrals behind me which gave me a little extra time. I had trained and I was ready but I was nervous! I have never done a night race. What if my legs didn’t have enough strength in them after walking the 5K and through Epcot today? What if it rains and that slows me down too much? What if I couldn’t do it?!?
But me and my nerves headed off to the corrals. It wasn’t raining yet so the ground was dry. There was still time to wait so I had a seat on the ground. About 15-20 minutes before corral A was set to start, it started to rain. I pulled out my garbage bag and was happy that I had it. There were a few people around me that had nothing so I gave out the other two garbage bags that I had in my pockets. I was very happy that it didn’t rain the whole time we were waiting and that I had the garbage bag for protection until we got started.
As the corrals got started, I was obsessively watching the time between corrals. It was exactly 3 minutes between them. I figured I had about 10 extra minutes… which didn’t seem very comforting.
It was raining a bit harder but I ditched the garbage bag and got my Garmin watch ready. Chris had wrapped it in a Ziploc bag which he has done before for me and it has worked fine. I had been having trouble on and off with the watch but it found the GPS signal and seemed ready to go. I had my Ipod with me but didn’t think I would use it because of the rain. But at the last minute, I decided I would use it and hope for the best.
It was finally time to get started. AHHHH!!! My goal for this race was to finish and be able to stop for one photo somewhere on the course. I have never been fast enough to do that at any of the other Disney races. My plan was to monitor my pace and after the halfway mark determine if I had enough time to stop.
We were off and running! I had my gymboss set to :30 / :30 intervals to start with… with plans to change to more walking if needed. I crossed the start, started my iPod, started my Garmin and hit the road. I had a light jacket on because of the rain and a long sleeve running shirt under my Mickey Milers t-shirt. It wasn’t long before I took off the jacket and tied it around my waist. It also wasn’t long… about ½ mile… when I heard my Garmin watch beep. I looked down and it had stopped. UGH!! I tried to restart it but it wasn’t working… plus in the dark and in the rain, it was really hard to see exactly what was going on. So now I had no way of knowing where I was at for time / pace.
I will admit that I got a little panicked. But there was nothing I could do about it. So I decided to just focus on my intervals, listen to my podcasts on my IPod, put my head down and just go for it. I figured at that point, my idea of stopping for a picture was done but I could still finish.
So yes, it was raining. But honestly to me, once I was all the way wet, that couldn’t get any worse so it really didn’t bother me that much. As with most Disney races, there was a lot of time on the highways around Disney, so having podcasts to listen too paid off in terms of keeping my mind occupied. Every time there was a turn where you could see how many people were behind you, I would strain to see as far back as I could to try to spot the balloon ladies (they are the 16 min pace that you must stay in front of).
We went into Animal Kingdom at around mile 3.5. I really liked seeing the Tree of Life lit up at night. There were characters but mostly really a lot of construction as I had seen in the day time during the 5K. Oh yeah and there were nice puddles that were hard to see in the dark so my whole sneaker took a bath a few times…not pleasant.
We came out of Animal Kingdom and had quite a few miles on the highways before we would get into the parks again. My podcasts were still going strong. And to my surprise so was I. Despite the weather, I felt surprisingly good. I had been working a lot on nutrition in my training runs and it was paying off. Now I had no idea of my pace so I thought that maybe I felt good because I was going too slow… but with no balloon ladies in sight I kept moving.
We headed into Hollywood Studios and I was so ready for the Osbourne Lights. Little did I know that we had some detours around the park before we were hit that area. A guy came up to me as we were in the Rock n Roller coaster area and said ‘No worries from here. There are no more sweeping buses now.” I didn’t believe that and I said I think there is one more. I told him that but he insisted that wasn’t the case. Oh well. I wasn’t about to stop now so I kept going.
I was still feeling good and still doing :30 / :30 intervals which was really surprising. In training, I have always had to add more walking after mile 10.
I finally got to the Osbourne Lights and running through there was very cool. I looked ahead and saw a photo op with some Christmas elves. There were only 3 people on line so I decided to go for it! Most times, they take your picture on the race course and you can find it later online by your bib number. That is what I was expecting but then I noticed that this stop was only a cast member using each person’s phone / camera.
I wasn’t happy about having to pull out my phone that was tucked away to avoid the rain, but I did. I looked down to get the camera ready and saw a text from Chris. He said “Keep going. You have an awesome pace going. 16:13 at the 15K mark.” (He was set up to get runner tracking information). What?!!? That was my best pace ever by that point in a half. I was so happy and thought I could actually get a PR!
I was also really happy to get my picture with the Christmas elves. It took me a few minutes while I was walking along to get my phone back in its safe spot and then I went right back to my intervals. I was so happy with my pace and that I felt really good.
As we came of out Hollywood Studios and headed for a path that would go to the Boardwalk area and then Epcot, there were sweeper buses! So there was one more sweeping point. But they weren’t getting me!! As that point, I knew I was going to finish and I had taken my photo. Goal accomplished!! Now to go for that PR!
Unfortunately, it didn’t take too long until I realized the PR wasn’t going to happen. The path I was on was about wide enough for 3 people. At this point, a lot of people were slowing down and walking. It was hard to get around people and I ended up walking most of that. I got to go back to some intervals in the Boardwalk area.
(A side note of a very odd experience: There was a Disney person at the bottom of the bridge as you turn right into the Yacht / Beach club area. She was cheering for all the runners. And then all of a sudden she yells “F***king finish!” I thought maybe I heard that wrong and then the woman next to me said “Did she just say what I thought?” and then another guy said “She must be new.” Bizarre!)
As we headed into Epcot, another guy started talking to me and we just ended up chatting our way to the finish. I knew that meant no PR but I was ok with that. Of course, when I saw my time and that I was only 3 minutes shy of that PR, I was a little annoyed!
I was so happy to finish and finish feeling good. Yes, I was wet and then cold once I stopped running. And yes, it was then a long walk to the bus to get back to the resort. But I couldn’t have asked for a better race for myself.
I got back to the room and took a hot shower. I got into bed around 3:30 am. It was only then that I really started to shiver and feel the cold. Seemed odd that it took that long but I put on every blanket I had and tried to get some sleep. No morning plans so I could sleep as late I would like… even though that didn’t work out…
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I have been a huge Disney and travel fan since childhood. I love going to new places and, of course, heading to Disney as often as I can.