Monday, March 5, 2012

I am a Run Disney Princess (recap)

I finished the Princess Half Marathon!!  I still can't believe that I actually said that.  3 hours 37 minutes and 15 seconds.  I hadn't set a time goal prior to the race, but had hoped for around 3:30.

So, here is my race recap. 

I actually did well getting to bed at a decent hour.  I was in bed and asleep by 9:30, wow.  Can I say, I love melatonin.  First, let me back up a couple days.  We arrived in Florida and at our resort on thursday afternoon.  We spent part of the afternoon visiting with old friends from Ohio.  I used to babysit for them.  After parting company, we headed to the resort to check in and then once we got upnacked and settled, we headed to Downtown Disney and picked up our park tickets.  We were planning for the Kingdom on Friday following the expo. 

My sister and I headed to the expo early with the intent to get her a Dooney and get our official race gear.  In addition, I knew that I wanted to visit Running Princess and get my tiara visor that I had missed out on last year.  We had set on a quick trip and planned to be back at the hotel by a given time.  WE DIDN'T MAKE IT!!  If you haven't attended a Run Disney Expo, especially the Princess Expo, it is amazing.  It is wall-to-wall vendors and more.  Speakers, plus official merchandise.  Additionally, we had a Facebook group that had badges or signifiers of who we were.  We were attempting to locate each other in the mass of humanity that is Run Disney.  20,000 runners. 

We finally made it back to the hotel around lunch and we had stopped to pick up lunch at a McDonald's on property.  Let me tell you, McDonald's on property was ridiculously expensive.  It seemed like almost double. 

So back to the hotel with lunch, we ate and then hopped on the bus to the ticket and transportation center.  The monorail line was way backed up and we took the ferry.  The kids weren't happy with that, all they had asked about the whole drive was riding the monorail.  We promised at the end of the night, we would ride the monorail back.

So around the park we went from 1pm until 12:30am.  Holy cow is that a lot of time.  I met some nice ladies that were also running the half and we have become friends on facebook.  Only bad thing is, I developed a blister on one of my toes and it was a bad one. SERIOUSLY!!!  Two days before the race.  I had a serious WTF moment, sucked it up and was glad I had packed my Five Fingers shoes.  They were a blessing for my toe on saturday as we went through our additional plans.  They isolated the blistered toe and prevented it from getting any worse. 

So back to bed time. 9:30I typically don't sleep well the night before a race.  Whether it is a triathlon, a meaningless 5k or my first half marathon.  I had recently started using melatonin to help me sleep.  Amazingly enough, I really didn't need it saturday night, but took a smaller dose anyway to prevent me from waking prematurely.  I was asleep quickly and soundly.  The next thing I know my iphone alarm is ringing in it's alarmingly annoying fashion.  We get out of bed and begin dressing for the days events.  It is 2:15 am and I am stunned at how well I am moving.  In no time at all, I am having a full on panic attack.  I can't find my running shoes.  Oh crap, where are they.  The one thing I had forgotten to lay out the night before.

I finally remembered that after our late night at the Magic Kingdom I had removed my shoes in my mom's hotel room and her room was locked up with her and the kids.  That was pre-planned so my sister and I would get plenty of rest and not be kept awake by kids on the night before the race.  I ring my mom's room at 2:45am and have her unlock the door and I find my shoes quickly.   I don't even have them on and my sister and I are headed to the lobby to meet a group to walk over to the Polynesian for the bus to Epcot and the start line.  We get over to the Poly just after 3 am and ride over with a group of ladies from Canada who were there with Team in Training. 

We arrived and begin our gentle walk over to the bag check, plastic potty land and the party that is pre-race at Disney.  There was a DJ spinning, people dancing, lights flashing and spotlights scanning the sky... before 4am.  It was like a flippin' club in the Epcot parking lot and I was all about that.  Only thing missing was the adult beverages which I'm sure a fair amount of us were wondering why we didn't have them in our hand while we were dancing in the cold in the parking lot.  After a stop to plastic potty land (let me tell you about those briefly.) I finished my oatmeal and a banana and headed to bag check. 

Disney has the best smelling and cleanest port-a-pottys anywhere in the world.  One runner made the comment that everyone poops Rainbows and Flower when they are at Disney.  I'm sure a lot of that is that famed "Disney Magic" but still that is insane.  I nearly fell over laughing.  For being this race that I have looked forward to for months, I was trained, I was calm and the nerves never showed their ugly face.  I was surprised at how many people there were suddenly filling in around us in the holding area before the corrals and had even seen a Tobacco Trail partner (introduced myself) waiting in the holding area. 

They open the gates from the holding area to the corrals and my sister and I were on the way to our corrals, she in H, I in G.  I made one last stop on the walk over to plastic potty land.  Headed my way to Corral G and saw her stationed in the front of Corral H and wished her well and headed to the front of G.  I sat down, stretched and prayed while waiting for the official start.  As the music started again and dancing, I got up but decided to conserve my reserved actually for the half.  The ceremonies started, the countdown, the celebrities.  All of a sudden, we have the anthem and Fairy Godmother kicking off the first corral.  Oh man this is really happening.... I have to pee.   One last trip to plastic potty land before we start moving.  I make it back to the front of my corral before we start moving towards the front.  As we move, I begin to feel the nerves creeping in, but my buddies in the corral kept me sane.  We kept getting herded toward the front and the start line.  We crunch down through a narrow spot and I go from front row to second row, which is fine by me.  They are talking to me about getting ready to go, we start dancing to YMCA and next thing I realize is that there are 5000 people behind me ready to run my butt over to get away from the balloon lady waiting at the back of corral H.  Oh crap.. I really need to run from the start.  Probably faster than my planned starting pace, but if I would be able to get right and settle into my normal pace I would be okay.  3, 2, 1 go.  Fireworks and off I go.  I probably go for about 2 minutes just from the adrenaline dump I just received.  I start heading to the right side to settle into my walk/jog routine and get settled into a spot.  Next thing I know I see the flashes from the fireworks behind me.  Corral H is on the course and where the hell is the balloon lady.  I really don't want to see her.  All of a sudden, I see mile marker 1 and look at my heart rate monitor. 14 minutes.  Uh oh.  I started my heart rate monitor a minute before my actual corral start which meant, I was WAY too fast.  I need to slow down a bit or I wouldn't last.  I also realize that I am really sweating.  I had my favorite jacket on.  But I was way too hot.  I didn't want to donate the jacket, but I also didn't want to carry it for 6 more miles.  I stripped my jacket off, tossed it aside, heard something go thunk, wondered what it was and kept going.  I should have stopped.  My heart rate monitor had a GPS sensor that I put on my arm at 2:15 and that was what the thunk was.  I threw my GPS away as a donation.  CRAP!! I didn't realize this until 5 miles in and reached the Magic Kingdom.. too late to do anything about it.  

Mile 2 was at around 16 minutes, I crossed at 28 minutes.  I was slowing down, but now too much.  I had to find a comfortable happy medium and settle into it.  I had already bypassed Captain Jack and a marching band and this was actually part of the plan.  I hadn't planned on stopping for any picture spots until the back half of the race.  I loved the stilt walkers, I was going to high five one, but I got cut off and really didn't want to topple her. 

Mile 3 and the brain fog has set it.  Game face was on and I had settled into the rhythm.  I finished my 5k according to my splits in 48:54.  That is pretty close to my best 5k time ever.  I was stoked and it gave me the energy for my next 5k.  I had decided to break the race into quarters and the first quarter was over already in just 49 minutes.  I passed the Race Track in the Disney Parking lot, saw the handsome drivers, but I hadn't met my first goal.  Ticket and Transpo center.  BTW, as soon as I started, the pee feeling was gone.  I didn't have to pee anymore.  I also skipped the first two water stations.  I made the third one and knew that if I didn't want to make a green room stop, I would have to stop in the park.  Especially since I had tossed my toilet paper with my jacket.  WHOOPSY!!

Mile 4, the worst hill profile wise on the course.  DJ is there.  He says that the half way point is just around the corner.  Seriously, can you exaggerate any more we are 2.5 miles from that point so stop blowing sunshine up my shorts.  I made it through the worst hill and figured that if I could conquer that hill, I had the rest of the race covered. 

Next thing I know, I see Space Mountain and realize we are back stage.  I start to realize that we are heading to Main Street, USA.  One right turn and OMG, it's the castle.  I've been waiting for a year for that turn and to see the castle.  That is when the tears start falling down my face in earnest.  I had to suck it up and dry it up.  Otherwise I'll be done and won't finish. 

Mile 5 is essentially in the Kingdom.  Imagine all the characters in the Kingdom, people lined up Main Street cheering and overall being so enthusiastic that you can't help yourself but to run a little faster.  So up Main Street, stop for a picture prior to the right turn to tomorrowland, and off to the planned bathroom stop.  The great thing about a Princess Race is only 1500 men and that meant that the men's rooms were fair game.  The ladies room was lined again and I saw a couple ladies run out of the men's along with one guy.  What the heck, I'm married and have been for nearly 20 years.  Look straight ahead, find a stall and go.  I head in and it is nothing but women.  Hahaha, too funny.  In, out and back on the run, we run by the tea party, Cinderella's Carousel and then it's the back side of the castle.  Minnie is off to the right, but the line is too long.  I head under the arch way and then I hear the trumpets announcing our presence in the castle.  WHOA, that was cool.  Out the front to our adoring kingdom and I stop for my Castle picture.  I'm done and back on the run toward Frontierland.  We are heading by Splash Mountain and backstage again. 

Mile 6 and we are back stage where they stage the light parade and house the other parade vehicles.  Kind of cool, right turn and there is a medical tent.  I decided to stop for a tylenol and keep moving, they gave me a tylenol, water and took note of my race number.  I had my tylenol, headed towards where I would finally see my family. 

Mile 6.5... HALFWAY!!  Kelly Clarkson's Stronger is blaring from the speakers lined down the road and the sign saying halfway, time to get stronger. I start seeing bits and pieces of the Grand Floridian and then see a hook and ladder truck up ahead and ooohhh we have eye candy... Firefighters.  Thank you Disney. 

Mile 7 and I am still feeling strong.  I run past the wedding singers from Grand Floridian, start seeing pieces of the golf course, I am close to Shades of Green, which means it's time to start watching for the family.  I pass Belle, Beast and Gaston.  Uh oh, I see Lilo and Stitch and some of the Polynesian tiki's.  We should be really close.  Where are they...  THERE THEY ARE!!!  I honestly hit a flat out sprint in the grass and found my hugs.  Nothing beats hugs from the kidlets.  I get my hugs and ask my mom is she had received a 5k text from Krista.  Crap, that's not good.  She got swept before 3.1.  I was upset and wasn't sure what to do.  My mom and husband urged me to get moving and beat the balloon ladies.  They had gotten one of us, it wasn't going to be two today.  I said goodbye and took off. 

Mile 8 meant food, luna and clif were there.  I wanted a banana more than anything, no such luck.  I saw the offerings they had for the gels and despite the fact I was carrying my own gel, I saw they had a mocha with caffeine.  I grabbed one, ripped off the top and in it went.  I needed the caffeine surge.   I grabbed a water cup to drink with the gel and a powerade cup to rehydrate.  not too much, don't want to slosh.  I'd done that before and it sucks. 

Mile 9 and I was starting to hurt.  My feet hurt and it felt like I had been running barefoot on marble for hours on end.  I wanted more tylenol, but I had lost track of my time and didn't stop at the next medic tent.  I stopped for a picture with Pocahontas.  I had visited Pocahontas during my 5k the year before and promised I'd stop for a half marathon picture the next year.  I fulfilled my promise.

Mile 10.  I had a 5k to go and honestly I was doing well until I hit the entrance ramp for the turn to Epcot.  I came up the ramp, skipped the Green Army guy because he was on the left and I was on the right, the ramp was packed with people and I just couldn't get there.  I yelled a HOOAAH and kept going.  Then came the over pass, the first of 3.  CRAP!!  This hurt.  My hamstrings and calves were calling me things that I'd never heard before.  I just wanted to sit down by the Mile 11 sign. 

Mile 11, I was greeted by the mile marker and on the marked is Shang, Mulan, little brother and Mushu.  I was 2.1 miles from the finish and questioning my sanity.  Half marathon is definitely a head game.  At this point, I was all head and it was killing me.  I felt bad for my sister because I knew in my heart that despite my families encouragement and white lies about not setting up the text system correctly that she had been swept from her first half marathon, prior to mile 3 and was most likely freezing her butt off at the finish waiting for me.  I wanted nothing more than to get to the end, but at the same time, my legs were shot.  Another freakin' Florida hill, stupid overpasses.  They hurt me.  Along the way to mile 12, I saw a couple girls looking for their mom and I stopped and said hello and was greeted with little characters to take with me to the finish. A bull (my birth sign) and a snake.  I needed their energy and it sustained me a bit longer.  I realize my mistake now, I didn't get enough nutrition when I needed it and really my body was bonking. 

Mile 12 and I can see Spaceship Earth.  The kids call it the big golf ball.  A right turn and the final overpass, get me over this thing, I have a downhill into Epcot and almost to the finish.  I stopped and took a picture with Mushu.  Mulan was supposed to be with Mushu, but she must have been taking a break.  Back on my way, we are backstage again and I see medics with a runner that had fallen and was trying to keep going, but they had told her that she was beyond the sweep line and would not be swept from this point.  YAY!!!  I made it, I could crawl from here and  wouldn't get swept.  I head into Epcot and realize they had staff holding ropes.  Had Epcot opened?  Oh well, I was still running and Epcot was mine.  Out towards the big lake and the turn around.  I make the turn around and the smile spreading across my face along with the tears greet the rain.  Soon, I am on my way back out of Epcot toward the finish chute. 

In all my reading, I had been told that when you hear the choir, you are almost done.  All of a sudden I turn the corner, hear and see the choir, I found another jog and jogged by the choir high-fiving the whole front row.  I needed them at that moment. 

Mile 13 sign and we have .1 to go.  I know where I am because the 5k last year used the same finish chute.  I am close, one more turn and I can see it and I had saved my last run for the final stretch.  I did it.  13.1 miles and I was a Princess.  As I cross the finish line, I see Minnie Mouse in her Princess dress, I walked up and hugged her and cried. 

I continue past Minnie and hear the words, "Bling this way."  All I needed to hear.  I get my bling, get my gatorade and then off to self-treatment to get my knees iced down.  Grabbing my food box along the way. 

I had yet to see Krista and now the fatal flaw of our morning plan has arisen.  Neither of us has a phone on us.  How the heck will I find her in this mass of humanity.  I head towards bag check and go to the wrong check and head out to walk around to my bag check location and I spot Krista's skirt and yell.  She jogs over and I hug her and cry saying I did it.  I show her my medal and gimp my way to get my bag.  My right foot hurts, why I don't know, I hadn't felt that the whole race, but now everything hurt.  I sit down, strip off my shirt and pull on my I DID IT! shirt and my rain coat that I had begrudginly packed in my bag check bag. 

Krista headed to catch one of the busses to the Poly while I tried to hopefully find my GPS sensor (no luck.)  I caught the next bus back.  I tried to climb the stairs onto the bus and curse the inventor of stairs with each one.  Sat in the front seat and napped on the way to the hotel.  I walked back to Shades of Green much slower than I had walked to the Poly a few hours earlier, but at least I had company.  I had a grin from ear to ear, enjoyed my walk and knew that if the gator came out of the pond, I would be lunch in my current state. 

I made it to the room, crashed for a while after my shower and then enjoyed my breakfast with my family. 

I finished a half marathon and I had said that prior to the Princess that this was a one and done opportunity.  With six knee surgeries to my credit, I figured that I would be lucky to survive the training, let alone the actual half.  My left knee was a tad sore, but otherwise, I was good.  

Thank you Run Disney for a wonderful FIRST half marathon... there will be more.  Actually, I am doing the Diva Half in North Myrtle for my 39th birthday.    I am migrating from Princess to Diva.  WOOHOO!!


Amy said...

Congratulations! I am a freinds of Krista's. Next year you ladies will do it together! I ran the princess too. What a great experience!

V's Fuzzy World said...

What a great race recap - thanks so much for sharing! I'm planning the 2013 Princess 1/2 and appreciate all of the details you included. Congratulations on a race well-run!

heath9802 said...

I love it! You rock! Congratulations and I know next year will be Krista's year!