Wednesday, April 18, 2012

2012 Walt Disney World Marathon Recap: Part III

Okay, it's taken 4 months, two posts and now a captive seat at 33,000 feet for me to finish this marathon report (a marathon, itself).

Sunday morning, race day! I was up way earlier than needed, but c'mon who really sleeps the night before their first marathon? Devin's coughing fits subsided enough for about 3 restful hours and she was out cold (thanks, codeine!) I took a quick shower and tried to eat something, but I'm not much of a breakfast person and my body was really fighting my attempts to get some food in it. So I downed a Powerade, ate some performance jelly beans and grabbed a bag of mini Chips-A-Hoy from our snack bag and headed out the door. It was early, like 3:05, early and like yesterday, the Wilderness Lodge lobby was devoid of any and all human life, save a few runners who had the same idea I did which was to get to the race early. We hopped on a somewhat full, but very quiet bus. Sensing the tension, the bus driver shut the door and said, "Off to the airport!" We all sat up in our seats and he said, "Just kidding!"

The trip to the race was very quiet, so much the voice in my head was screaming for me to hop out the emergency window and steal off into the night so as not to have to run. In a bit of a panic, I sent off (as I was expecting due to the hour of the morning) a feeble post on ROTE asking for "some love." To my surprise, a good many of ROTErs were online and shot right back with motivation (love you guys).

Got to the race, but there were just so many people, I couldn't find any ROTE folk, which bummed me out, but in the line for the bathroom found some nice folk from Chicago so spent some time with them. When it was time, I made the death march with everyone else to the starting line and noticed just the sheer amount of people running as I made my way to Corral A. The anticipation and excitement was simply too much and I just wanted to start the race immediately. No fanfare, no DJ chatter, just start the race!

Finally, the time had come and after seeing the fireworks shoot up into the air I was off, hoping the lack of training wouldn't lead the paramedics on a 500 foot trail of poop to a frozen corpse on the side of the road. My goal was to run a steady, easy pace for the 1st half of the race and then bump it up for the second half, but I was about 1 mile in and at that point, anything was possible. As we hit about Mile 2, I ran into Fundulidae and DeltaPilot (from ROTE) who were humming along at a good pace. We hung out a bit and then parted ways (Thanks for the kind words, guys).

The course led us into Epcot through the auto toll, where I encountered a wheelchair athlete in a standard wheelchair struggling. I wasn't sure what to do so I told one of the race people as I headed into Epcot. The course took us through Future World and backstage through Mexico, heading back around to where we started the race. After making the loop, we turned onto World Drive towards the Magic Kingdom through the TTC. I absolutely loved this part of the race, since it was really the first chance to get close to the folks who were cheering us on. Seeing them was more than inspirational, and quite frankly, I don't think there is a word in the English dictionary to describe the feeling a runner gets when first encountering a group of people cheering them on. So, I'll establish a word: Motivationarunneralabalous! Yes, seeing the people was Motivationarunneralabalous! It was so cool, I sped up to a 8:30 mile. "Holy shit!" I exclaimed, scaring the runner next to me , "I gotta slow down." As I motored through the TTC, I felt great and headed towards the Contemporary. Heading down the incline underneath the boat crossover, I started running backwards and sticking out my thumb to the passing cars, getting a bunch of laughs from all the other runners.

We were reaching Mile 11 and the point everyone single runner was anticipating, the magical run down Main Street towards the castle, and let me tell you, I was not disappointed. Making the turn onto Main Street and seeing all the people cheering, with the castle, I would be lying if I said I didn't well up with a tremendous feeling. And then it got better, running through Main Street, I caught eyes with the most gorgeous looking woman in the crowd and low and behold, it was my wife! She was there with my mom, and her parents. Let me tell you, that moment was ├╝ber-Motivationarunneralabalous!!!!!!!!!!  At that, moment I felt like was I was going to shoot right into the lead and win this sucker (a fleeting thought for sure).

We headed to the right, through Tomorrowland, Fanatsyland and then that magical trip through the castle (which was amazing). We rounded out our Magic Kingdom visit through Frontierland, backstage through Gate 6, and left towards the Grand Floridan. I knew this would be the last place for awhile where there would be onlookers so I drank it in as much as I could. I knew right ahead of me was dreaded Mile 13 and the dark forest of nothingness.

Mile 13 was near the Hess station and banana distribution. I absolutely hate bananas, but knew I had to eat something, so I muscled it down and prepared to shift into the second piece of my strategy. My Garmin beeped Mile 13 and my mind shifted towards a new focus, "Speed. I am pure speed." I got a hungry look in my eye and looked to up my game. One problem, my legs never seemed to have gotten the memo. I was still running, but my run was something akin to your first car where it could never seem to cleanly find second gear. Grinding, straining, and with the occasional backfire, I was stuck in neutral and slowly losing time. Worse yet, we were at the sewage treatment plan, no man's land. So, I immediately came to grips with not hitting my goal time and figured I'd just do my best and leave it at that. Making out way though the back areas, Disney had some signs up to keep us occupied, the funniest of which being a sign that read, "If you believe in telekinesis,  raise MY hand." Clever.

The second half of the race was rough, and I was wrought with emotion. Sadness, anger, denial, depression, all the emotions every runner feels as they attack a marathon, but I kept moving forward.  It also helped that a few runners patted me on the back when I had to walk,  cementing my belief that runners are the most compassionate athletes. 

Passing through Animal Kingdom which the course layout was "meh" at best, we turned onto Osceola Parkway which was built for the sole reason of making runners die.  After being on OP for what seemed an eternity, we headed through the Studios, past the Boardwalk, Yacht & Beach and back into  Epcot. Running through World Showcase, it was just a mere 4.5 hours before I was jamming along feeling great. I motored through the Finish in a sad, but I guess respectable 5 hours, 1 hour past my goal time. Who cares, though? I did it! Adding to my 13.1 membership, I had just been inducted into the 26.2 club, and man, is that Motivationarunneralabalous!

Never been so tired and happy!

Running through the castle. Amazing!
Seeing my family along the route
Running into ROTErs
Course entertainment

Osceola Parkway