Saturday, March 2, 2013

"I am the lost princess!" Princess Half Marathon Weekend Part 3

First of all - this is my 100th post on this blog - what a cool thing to be able to write about on my 100th post!

The day of the half marathon started REALLY early. In fact, it starts so early it started the night before!  Marathon weekend I woke up at 11:50 PM with a REALLY bad case of nerves because I had never run 13.1 miles before....and never went back to sleep.  Saturday night/Sunday morning I woke up at yep, you guessed it, exactly 11:59 PM. I'm not sure I would call it nerves, I just didn't want to run. I mean seriously I was hatching a plan to get on Facebook and ask if there was anyone in the area who wanted my bib. Still not sure what that was about but the smart thing I did do was to get on Facebook. The good thing about living on the east coast is that a lot of my friends were still up.  I posted a message about my nerves and within 30 minutes I had at least a dozen positive messages from my friends reminding me that I COULD do this!  Luckily for me, I was able to go back to sleep - but that 2:15 AM alarm came really quick!

Best family, friends, and teammates in the world!
As expected, even at 2:30 AM it was warm and ridiculously humid - I was VERY glad I had ditched the idea of doing a costume for the half, and instead put on my blue WDWRadio Running Team shirt, some black shorts and added a little bit of sparkle with my purple SparkleSkirt and brand new tiara Bondi Band.  I was up and ready and apparently so was EPCOT because from my Boardwalk view room I could see the HUGE flood lights illuminating the parking lot where the runners would gather.
This is how I do Princessy in 100% humidity at 4 AM!

Around 2:50 I headed down for the bus and again ran into my friends Steve and Valerie at the Boardwalk entrance....maybe they're my good luck charms ;).  We exchanged quick hugs and then I headed for the runners bus.  Again, it was a quick ride over to EPCOT and the runner's area was buzzing with excitement. If I thought people were dressed up the day before for the 5k - I hadn't seen nothing yet! There were tutus and sparkle and costumes everywhere! Men and women! I quickly found my team over by the T-Z family reunion tent and was time to wait.  But we made use of the time talking, laughing, taking pictures and doing my best to down a Pop Tart and a bottle of water. After a while, we did our traditional group shot, and our traditional pep talk from Lou before heading to the corrals.

Amazing! Were all looking the same direction for once!

Group hug before heading to the corrals
As always we got into our corral early after a potty stop (I skipped this - big mistake - no this is not TMI - I find runners talk a lot about using the bathroom and it might be important later!).  We were in the corral for so long I was getting hungry again (I still need to figure out this eating before a race thing) but that didn't last too long because the excitement kept growing and growing!  From our corral we could see the big screen with characters and celebrities (yes, Lori's friend Sean Astin in his pretty tiara) being interviewed and the DJs keeping the crowd pumped up.  Before long, it was time to go!

Ever wonder what its like to be in a half marathon corral? Yeah it looks something like this!

Ready, set, go!

This was kind of a different race for me because I had decided to run this race by myself - first time I had ever done that!  I train by myself at home so I figured I could run by myself. I love running with my friends but  actually for the most part it was kind of nice - I just cranked my tunes and ran my race, walked when I need to - no need to impress anybody.    As I mentioned before it was VERY humid so it didn't take long before I was sweaty - yuck!  Unfortunately that wasn't the worst of it.  At some point during the half marathon in January I had messed up my IT band and I'm still hurting a little bit and the pain returned at about mile 5....not even half way! Yikes!  I tried hard to ignore it and focus on all the cool stuff along the course.

Just like at marathon weekend there was a huge pirate ship where runners could stop and take their picture with Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbossa.  The line was already long so there was no way I was waiting in that line!

 Right around mile 3 we reached the Magic Kingdom toll both - not actually in the park yet but it's still pretty exciting!

Along the way we also passed photo ops with the Disney Villains and Lightning McQueen.   Early on we also got to see the giant puppets that were part of the surprise at Mile 20 during the marathon - and I only had to run about 3 miles to see them! Sounds good to me!

Next up, my much hated "Contemporary hill of doom" that goes underneath the Seven Seas Lagoon.  Remember that knee pain I mentioned? Yeah it kicked in right about here - especially when I caught my foot in a grate on the road. Ouch!  I luckily stayed on my feet, moved over to the side, took a second to evaluate. No major damage done so I kept moving but that knee hurt so you can bet I walked up that hill.

Next up - finally the Magic Kingdom!  I try my hardest not to walk in a park - especially on Main Street. Just BEING on Main Street gives you an extra boost of energy.  Entering the park through the gate between Tony's and the Chapeau is awesome but THEN I see my team on the corner cheering me on and THEN turning the corner to see the Its SO hard to explain.  I honestly don't remember much of running down Main Street marathon weekend so I tried hard to soak it in this time - I remember fog and the purple lights slowly fading away.

 Pretty soon it was through Tomorrowland, back into Fantasyland where we are greeted by two trumpeters and then THROUGH the castle.

Thanks James for letting me borrow this!
This always reminds me of being in my college marching band when before each football game we would come through the underpass screaming and yelling and chanting...people do the same thing through the castle!  As I came through, I remembered what I'd read on the internet to head left if you want your picture taken in front of the castle, as I headed down the ramp I made eye contact with a photographer, smiled, and then some stupid princess dodged in front of me! I was sure she had bombed my pic!  Looking to my left I saw the lines to get your pic taken in front of the castle weren't so bad, and since I was sure my other castle pic had been ruined I headed over for a quick shot.

At this point, my knee was bugging me a lot, and as much as it killed me, I decided to slow down a little bit through Frontierland - where I felt a tap on my shoulder - it was my friend and teammate Liz!  She was on a walk break too so we hung together for a little bit before it was time to head out of the Magic Kingdom.  Remember when I said, it was a bad idea to skip using the porta-potty before getting into my corral? Well this is where it caught up to me.

I pushed myself through the 10k mark past Aurora, Phillip and "the castle-float-they use for everything" and made a pit stop before heading back out onto the road.  Luckily, these bathrooms weren't used much and there was no wait since I think a lot of people stopped to use the facility inside the park.

Feeling a little lighter (LOL), I kept on running, downing a vanilla Clif Shot at the next water stop (wow makes me sound like a real runner!) and then passed Mary Poppins and Bert in front of the Grand Floridian. I remember thinking how warm she must have been since it was Mary in her hat and coat - not Jolly Holiday Mary. About this point, I notice the tongue of my shoe had rubbing against my big toe and it was REALLY starting to bother me so I stopped a couple of times to try to fix it luck :(. It was still warm, and I was hurting so I decided to not be mad at myself if I went over 3 hours and do a little  more walking.  This is where my training outdoors at home came in handy. I've become VERY good at "all you need to do is just run to that sign, or just run to that light post".  Pretty soon, I ran into (not literally) my teammate Amanda, who gave me a big boost of encouragement that I so needed!  Around the half way point we got to listen to the song picked as "the theme"....Girl on Fire by Alicia Keyes.  I get the "Girl Power" message but not really a great running song in my opinion! Too slow! So I cranked my music and kept moving.

About Mile 9 I sucked down another Clif Shot - this time Mocha with a full shot of caffeine! Woohoo! I must have done something right because during marathon weekend 9-13 seemed SO long, this time those miles seemed to fly by. Maybe because I knew what to expect, but I think the caffeine REALLY had something to do with it!  Then it was time to conquer what I "lovingly" refer to as "big stupid overpass".  Basically we have to climb up a HUGE onramp, and then about a mile or so later we hit another part of the clover leaf with a HUGE hill.  Just like January, Sarge was there "encouraging" us up that hill.  I didn't stop to do any pushups for him, but I did salute him as I ran by ;).

Everything I've ever read will tell you not to swerve back and forth because all it does is add mileage to your race but when we reached the top of the overpass I moved WAY right to look over the side and then made my way WAY left to look over the side and was thrilled to see SO many people still behind me. :)...Hey, whatever gets me through right?

At about mile 12  I ran into another friend, Jess who I hadn't seen in a long time and took a few minutes to catch up with her and her new job at Disney!  By now it was time to head in to EPCOT!  I knew my team was there but they seemed farther ahead than I thought they would be but I found them and they gave me that last boost I needed.  These miles can be really fun because there are a TON of people cheering you on!

Into EPCOT - I knew there were LOTS of photographers so it was time to run again!

One loop around  Future World and I would be just about done!  Took a little walk on the other side so that I would look good at the finish line. This time I felt MUCH better about the gospel choir being there and then kicked it into high gear. Mom and Dad were waiting there, cheering for me a few hundred feet from the finish line and then....I finished!!!! I received my medal and grabbed a bottle of water, got my finisher's picture taken and grabbed a banana before heading to the self-medical tent to ice my knee and get that shoe off my sore toe!  (But I'm happy to report besides my knee and my toe - I had no other injuries - no blisters and I still have 10 toenails!)  Honestly, a few tears were shed, I'm not sure if its from the pain, or from the emotions, or just the excitement around me but here I was, a two time half marathoner in about 6 week time span!  AND I was thrilled to see that I had finished in 2:55:04 - just barely 1 minute and 30 second longer than what I had run in January! Imagine what I would have done if I hadn't stopped!


After the race, I hung around for a while, then caught a bus back to Boardwalk which wasn't as much of a nightmare as you might think. Unfortunately, the bus back to Boardwalk was also shared with runners staying at the Swan, the Dolphin, the Yacht Club AND the Beach Club. But they were doing a great job counting off enough people to fill the bus and getting them out of there ASAP.  The worst part was probably that the Boardwalk bus line stretched passed the porta-potties that had been um...well used :(.  Good thing for me that those buses were moving quick because in addition to running the race that morning, we were checking out of Boardwalk and checking into Animal Kingdom Lodge which meant I had to be showered and checked out by 11 AM!   I think the line from Princess Diaries applies itself well here "A queen (or a princess) is never late....everyone else is simply early"...cause now I'm a true Princess - I've got the medal to prove it! :)

Lessons learned:
Like I said, this was the first race I ran the whole thing by myself. Honestly I was REALLY nervous about doing that. But, I kind of enjoyed it. Sometimes when I run with others I feel like I have to "impress" them - running longer than I probably should, no potty stops.  But this time I ran my own race and I still ran a sub 3 half marathon!  Imagine if I hadn't stopped what my time would have looked like!

Drink water!  Disney is very good about putting water stops about every mile or so on the course and with how humid it was, water was so important.  At quite a few water stops, I actually stopped so I could drink the whole cup instead of just getting a few sips or spilling half of it down my front.  

Its okay to walk! Even in my training I HATE to walk but this time due to certain parts on the right side of my body I was forced to walk a little bit.  Jeff Galloway always talks about how taking walk breaks keeps you running stronger. Hmmm guess he's right!  

Katie needs a smartphone. It KILLED me to leave my camera at home but I knew it was going to be super humid so I decided to leave my running belt at home (which can hold my phone and camera but gets a little heavy) and bring the phone (for obvious reasons) in my armband.  Being the photo junkie I am of course there were about 1000 pics I wanted to take and my phone camera sucks so much I didn't even try. But I did make a smart choice wearing the arm band, my back felt better than it did after my January half. 

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