Sunday, March 18, 2012

Race Report: Disney Princess Half Marathon - Part Three!

Oops! I can't believe I let so much time pass before writing up the final part of my race report.  My apologies!  I just finished my second LSD run in my next half marathon training plan - 10k - and sitting on the couch icing my ankles and knees and drinking chocolate milk seems like the perfect time to tell you the rest of the story.

This is Part Three of my Disney Princess Half Marathon race report.  Check out Part One and Part Two, as well as my post on the Princess Half Meet Up and Expo!

Shortly after we left the Magic Kingdom, we hit the half way point of the course.  They had Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger" blasting (which had been picked in a poll on their Facebook page, which I thought was clever).  It somehow felt like we were further than halfway because I had read somewhere that it was "as you left the Magic Kingdom" but my definition of leaving the Magic Kingdom was apparently very different from theirs.

I rode the high of the Magic Kingdom for a while, feeling pretty good.  There were spectators out near the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian Resorts.  Julie and I had ridden around the Disney property the day before with our families, partly because our Dad really likes riding the Monorail around and seeing everything (and I can't lie, so do I).  We saw a lot of places we had seen on our Monorail ride and joked that Dad wasn't allowed to ride the Monorails anymore to see Disney - he had to run.  (We told him this later and he didn't find it nearly as funny.)

Somewhere around Mile 8 I started to hit a bit of a wall.  I was getting tired.  The route wasn't fun anymore - just highway and trees to look at.  Everyone around was starting to drag a bit too.  The energy of the first few miles was over, the excitement of the Magic Kingdom had passed, and at least 3 miles stood between us and the crowds at Epcot.

More awesome costumes.
At Mile 8.5 there was a Clif station giving out all sorts of Clif Shots.  I had never had Clif Shot before and was a little worried about trying something new, but Julie obviously knew I needed something in me and fast to get me going again because there were still almost 5 miles to go.  When I think about it now, I can't believe there were 5 miles to go at that point and much less that I made it through them.

They had big flags up to indicate the different flavours.  I saw that the Mocha flavour had caffeine in it and headed straight there.  I had no idea what to do with it, but I figured out how to rip it open and sucked back as much as I could.  It was like eating thick, coffee flavoured brownie batter.  It wasn't the best thing I'd ever eaten but it was definitely the best thing for that moment.

Major down side though - it got all caught in my throat/mouth and there wasn't a water station for almost another mile.  Julie and I both commented that we could have really used some water at that point.  From what I understand you should always hydrate when you eat something when running so we thought it was strange there wasn't a water station there.  We made it to the next station, grabbed some water (Powerade for Julie) and kept on trucking.

Around Mile 10 we faced another highway ramp, which was so much harder than the one at the beginning of the race.  The energy was starting to increase again because we knew Epcot wasn't far away, but it was still tough.  What was really neat though was looking back as you crossed over the ramp to see everyone still coming behind you.

The last few miles of the race were really hard.  In my mind I knew that I had never run this far before, but also that it was only five more kilometres so how hard could that be?  Turns out the last 5km are pretty hard!  Julie was really encouraging and only joked about leaving me behind a couple of times.  We finally passed a character station with less than three people - it was even Chip and Dale, my favourite! - but we kept on trucking because at that point I wanted to be DONE.

So close to the end!
Running through Epcot gave me a burst of energy, though I did take a couple quick walking breaks in the last few kilometres.  When I knew the finish line was around the corner, it was a sprint to the finish.  I couldn't believe the energy I found deep in my legs somewhere, but I wasn't going to slow down until I was done.  Julie and and I grabbed each other's hands, I high-fived Mickey Mouse, and just like that we had finished our first half marathon!!

We crossed the line in 2:31 officially - only 1 minute shy of the goal I had set of running it in 2:30.  I couldn't believe it!  (But I must admit that my second goal of beating Julie did not come true, as she crossed the line apparently one step before I did in the official standings.  :-))

We did it!
The man who gave us our medals was awesome.  He posed for pictures with us and was full of smiles.  Just what we needed to see.

And what is finishing a race without getting glitter pixie dust sprinkled on your head?  Of course we lined up to get some of this action.  Julie was a lot more willing to line up for things once the finish line had been crossed.

We even got the pixie dust to prove it. 
They had lots of bottles of water and Powerade available right after the finish line, which was great.  The snacks were available further down the path.  Before we reached the bag check and snacks, they had logo boards set up with Brightroom photographers taking pictures of everyone.  It was a really great system, with lots of boards and photographers available (and really no way to pass without getting a picture, but I suppose they have to make some money somehow and these pics are probably popular).

We grabbed lots of snacks - they had neat pre-packaged snack boxes full of goodies, yummy Luna Protein bars I had never tried before and Disney themed gummy snacks.  Then got our bags at bag check. The girl who handed me my bag said she was really impressed and she maybe would try a 5k someday - I told her to do it!  I told her I had run my first 5k less than a year ago and now I had just finished my first half marathon, and that she could definitely do it.  I hope I inspired her a little!

At some point we found the "self treatment" area and I grabbed a much needed bag of ice.  My left knee, that had been giving me trouble since my 10k last September, had felt like poured concrete almost as soon as I stopped moving when we crossed the finish line.  My chiro told me later that was definitely my popliteus muscle, the one she has been working on with Graston for the past few months.  In hindsight it's probably a very good thing we didn't stop for character pictures, or I might not have got moving again.

While Julie found her bag (we were in different lines because she uses her married name) I pulled on my sweater because my body temperature was starting to drop (they didn't give out any mylar blankets).  I was so glad I packed it.  Julie found our boys near her bag check and they found me waiting by mine.  I was so happy to see The American and so exhausted I almost cried when he hugged me.

Julie was a little disappointed that I had put my sweater on already because she wanted pictures, but we made do.  My sweater still matched my outfit!

We did it!
And of course I had to get a picture with my #1 fan, The American himself:

After I pulled myself together.
We did not stay for long after that in the finish line area.  There was a lot to see and do, including race merchandise (not much though, just what was left from the expo), food, champagne for sale, places for pictures (even with characters I think, though I didn't see any), etc.  But it was just starting to rain and we were pretty beat.  We found our way to our bus - which had almost no line, thank goodness for staying at Saratoga Springs and not at a busier or bigger resort - climbed aboard very gingerly, and headed back to our hotel.

At the hotel I iced my knee and checked out all my friends' adventures at the Princess Half on Twitter.  I congratulated the many people who had met their goals, and felt sad for the many who didn't make it for some reason or another.  I read so many messages of congratulations from friends on Twitter and Facebook who had followed my progress through the automatic splits (although somehow my 5k split had posted at around an hour and some friends were very concerned).  It was amazing to sit and soak it all in.  We took turns showering off the sweat and the pixie dust, put on our street clothes, and headed back to our parents' house for breakfast.

On the way back we stopped at the grocery store for bacon (they were cooking some in the Race Retreat and it smelled so good!)  We made the boys go in the grocery store while we sat in the car, too tired to think about moving.  When we got home, our Mom made us pancakes and bacon, and we told stories of the morning.  Shortly after that we all crashed for a few hours, exhausted from the wake up call, the race, the excitement of it all, then we lazed around the pool and the deck for the rest of the day.

All in all, it was an amazing experience and I would recommend it to anyone who loves running and Disney.  I may put up a final post with the details - our splits and things like that - just to have the whole story here.  And if you liked our arm warmers, stay turned for a giveaway of the extra pair I ordered!

1 comment:

  1. Great report-- congrats on an awesome race! Sound like such a fun experience... I've never run Disney, but maybe someday! It would make a great destination vacation/race when our daughter is old enough to enjoy it. :)