When I last left you I was in severe pain, miserable, and ready to start a fight with any costumed character that got in my way. There, did I miss anything? I had just passed Mile 9 and was entering a lengthy zigzagging run through the Studios.
Mile 9 (continued):
I had just passed behind the Great Movie Ride onto Mickey Avenue and things were looking grim. I was doing everything I could do to keep my legs moving at my current pace, including talking out loud, pleading with them not to stop. Passing Toy Story Mania and a costumed Woody with a goofy grin I clearly would be happy to wipe off if asked, the inevitable happened, my legs stopped. My legs, after 9.8 miles, said no more and all forward locomotion all but seized. I was reduced to a brisk (meh) walk. With every bit of energy I could muster, I screamed at the top of my lungs in frustration (which I’m sure surprised runners in my proximity) and watched a bevy of runners I had passed now fly by me at exponentially faster pace. The wave of grief I experienced was humbling to my very core. Now, I understand never running a half marathon before, there would be points of the race where my body, under tremendous stress, would want to quit (even involuntarily), but not here. Not at the park where I spent so many days working as a gangster, a bandit, and multitude of other roles. I looked at the facades and soundstages, areas where I once used to be able to navigate nimbly at 3:00 in the morning for Super Soap Weekend, were now brick walls destined to keep me from finishing. I was heart broken, I was no longer a runner, I was dead. Worse yet, I knew what a battle it would be to get back up to pace after such an intense pressure on my legs. But, I had to muster on, it wasn’t like this was my first long run. So, after about 45 seconds of walking I began chugging back up to pace. We still had a lot of Studios to go, but I just didn’t care. I wanted out of that place ASAP. The rest of Mile 9 took us through the Costuming Tunnel and backstage past my old production office.
Mile 10 kept us backtracking to Perimeter Road nearly where we entered, which I thought was kind of ridiculous. We continued down Perimeter Road until we hit Lights, Motor, Action where we ran through the show area. They had a stationary camera set up so we could see ourselves on the big screen which was a nice touch. We then headed up New York Street where many of the Osborne lights were illuminated. If I were in a better frame of mind, I may have enjoyed them, but really I was feeling pretty low. My legs were still burning and my heart just wasn’t in it. We cut through the Star Tours gate and ran past Darth Vader who looked how I was feeling.
This mile took us back onto Perimeter Road, past the castmember costuming building, back onstage, and then out the park through the overflow gate near Theater of the Stars (Beauty & Beast Stage Show). Thank God! I was out of the Studios and headed towards the Epcot resorts, the end was in sight. We followed the narrow walkway towards the Boardwalk which was tight, but not horrible. I was starting to feel a bit better, but still pretty down. The music on my iPhone just wasn’t doing it, even the Power songs I had put in there. In fact, it turns out the volume was as high as it could go and I couldn’t even tell (which now leads me to believe I may have been experiencing some kind of weird fatigue condition). Not to mention, the same songs which I found so powerful before just sounded like garbage. There were 1 or 2 songs that were still working and I just kept playing them over and over again. Unfortunately, at this mile, I passed a runner who was hobbling so badly, it was clear there was serious damage. But, the person refused any help and just wanted to finish. I commend that.
Mile 12 took us behind the Boardwalk and in front of Yacht & Beach. The course was littered with onlookers cheering us on which gave me a new burst of energy and positive spirit. I dug in just a little harder and upped my pace a bit. While feeling better, I was surprised to find myself feeling an odd kind of sad. Even though, this race completely kicked me around and spit me out, I was sad it was ending soon. All this work, dedication, broken bones, rehab, early mornings, late nights; it was all ending in 1 mile. I started to hyperventilate and needed to physically control myself so as not to let my emotions overtake me. I headed over the last incline to International Gateway and readied myself for the home stretch.
The finale mile put us backstage adjacent to the rear of The Land. On the side of the road was a huge hot air balloon lying on its side. The pilot was firing flames into the canvas and I could feel the heat. Also, there were a ton of castmembers with signs that said “400 Yards to Go” and “One More Turn for Beer”. My prerace concerns of no straightway finish were realized as we made a few cuts to a clearing where the Finish line lay. I closed my eyes, dug in for a weak mad dash for the finish, and then it was all over.
I had just run my first marathon in a respectable 2:11, 11 minutes over my goal time. It was okay, though. I did it. I was now member of a new club, the 13.1 mile club and it felt good. I walked over to the bag pickup and got my stuff (it was a breeze), then checked my phone to see if I could tell when Devin would be finishing. From the text alerts it looked as though she had about another 45 minutes to go. She came in at a 2:57 time. I was so proud of her. Turns out, she and Eileen stayed together the whole time, propping each other up when one would fall behind. I thought that was awesome.
We didn’t do much of the after party since it was freezing (even with our change of clothes) and Devin wasn’t feeling that great. We ended up walking back to the Beach Club and much needed sleep.
There you have it, my race recap. Overall, I was super happy with this race. With it being my first half, and being able to do it at Disney was just amazing. The course was good, not great. I wish there was a better way to get to the parks without the barren Osceola Parkway, but it’s not a deal breaker.
- The Weather: It was perfect! Low humidity, and low temps, perfect running weather! So glad the cold front came in.
- The Course: I should caveat this with, “to a certain extent”. Wide World of Sports is a great place to start a race and Animal Kingdom at night was unbelievable.
- Bag check and pickup: Easy breezy
- The Expo: Well planned out (plus, we got to meet Jeff Galloway)
- RunDisney Merch
- Meeting a great group of ROTErs. Thanks guys!!!!!
- Cheddar Cheese Soup in Canada (of course!)
- Watching your wife cross the Finish Line in her first half-marathon (she liked it so much, she’s running the half in January!).
Areas to Focus On:
- The Course: There was just too much of the Studios. All that back and forth was kind of ridiculous
- Entertainment: I know there’s only so much Disney can do, so not too miffed.
- Cliff Shots: Please. Never. Again.
Did you run the W&D Half this year? Let me know about your experience.