Disney Half Marathon Race Report
If you don’t want to read the details, here’s the result.
Total time: 1:25:52
10th overall female
3rd in age group
1st 5K: 20:30 (6:36 pace)
2nd 5K: 20:25 (6:34 pace)
3rd 5K: 20:11 (6:30 pace)
Last 3.8 miles (6:31 pace)
I flew down to Orlando on Wednesday evening and Marty picked me up at the airport (he had driven down). We made our way over to Kissimmee which is where our condo was; we were staying with our Aussie friends, John and Bron – we hadn’t seen them in over 2 years! It was so great to spend several days with them. They were also doing the half marathon and were the reason why I decided to sign up (I got a lot of “why in the world are you doing DISNEY?!” from our friends in Orlando. Although it's a huge race, it’s not popular with the locals because of the logistics and expense).
As my last post stated, the weather forecast was absolute crap, and in fact it didn’t even get out of the 30’s over the weekend down there. To be completely honest, though, I wasn’t super worried about the weather during the race. It was the before and after that I knew would be brutal, but once you’re racing it’s not typically a big deal. And I’ve run in pretty crappy weather before and have had some good races in it. The only thing that was bumming me out a bit was that I really wanted to get a good time. Usually when the weather is bad you can say, ‘oh well, it’s bad for everyone’ but I could care less about everyone, I was concerned about the clock! And no matter what, rain/sleet and cold certainly don’t make you go any faster. But, whatever, right?
We had some fun prerace – watched the BCS Bowl Game at BW3’s with everyone, and had a pasta dinner at our condo on Friday night. The alarm went off at 2:55 am on Saturday morning. Yeah.
We all piled into John and Bron’s rented minivan and got an excellent parking spot. We hung out staying warm in there for awhile before I ventured out to drop off my bag and use the bathroom. It was cold, but what really got me was the wind. Back to the now fogged up van for some more warmth, another bathroom break in much longer lines with Bron before some more warmth in the van. While in the port-o-potty lines it started to SNOW. No lie. It apparently hadn’t snow flurried in Orlando since 1989.
Thankfully, Bron had bought us all poncho’s from a tacky tourist shop the day before and I put my on as the flurries turned into a light rain. Marty and another friend Chris walked/jogged with the mass of humanity to the start line (about 20min away). Along the way, I did one final bathroom break in the woods with several other people (it was dark). I was thankful that I had on 2 pairs of WalMart gloves as only 1.5 pairs made it out the woods :) I made it to my corral and gave Marty a quick kiss goodbye. I was in the elite wave, but it was still quite crowded so I wasn’t right at the starting line or anything. Here’s a picture of the start – I circled and pointed out myself (kind of towards the right side).
So standing in the corral, I had on my eventual race outfit (shorty tights, under armor sleeveless top). I also had on a throw away cotton long sleeve shirt, and throw away sweatpants and sweatshirt. And the poncho. Plus a throw away hoodie and 1.5 pairs of gloves. The poncho and sweats were shed about 5 min before the start. The hoodie was thrown off at around mile 2, the one extra glove at the entrance to the Magic Kingdom, and the final cotton long sleeve was left around the half way point. I wasn’t exactly hot but getting rid of it felt like, “Okay, the gloves are off! Let’s do this!” I wasn’t cold for the rest of the race, but about 1min after crossing the line I was freezing.
The one thing I was most worried about was starting off too fast. I knew I needed to hold 6:38’s to run a 1:27, but I ended up being a little too conservative the first mile and came through in 6:47. I know it’s not too much off, but you don’t want to start in the hole right off the bat! I really should’ve been clued in by the fact that there was someone dressed up as Snow White running right with me – she was even wearing a wig. Thankfully, I picked it up a bit, got back on pace, and dropped Snow White.
After 3 miles (I think, I can’t really remember all these details totally), we turned and headed straight for the Magic Kingdom. Nothing says the happiest place on earth like getting pelted in the face with sleet. I found a pretty big dude and tucked right in behind him – I mean RIGHT in behind him. I doubt he even knew I was there. He was slowing a bit but the wind was pretty strong at this point and I figured it would be better to run a little slower and not fight it. I would’ve thanked him afterwards but I got ahead of him in Tomorrowland. But I truly appreciate his wind-blocking body :) At one point we turned out of the wind, and I was running next to him, but then we turned back into the wind so I went to go run behind him again, only to find someone took my spot! I said this out loud and the guy dropped back and let me in! How nice was that?!
Running through the Magic Kingdom was pretty neat, but it was over very fast. Pretty much you ran 6.5 miles to the park, ran around it for a couple of minutes, and ran 6.5 miles back to Epcot. The volunteers were great, but I think we all thought we’d get a little more Disney at this race and not so much regular road.
Back to the race. I felt good, I was able to hold it together and stay strong and even negative split the thing. I knew I was back on goal pace by the second mile and then just started adding :38 to what I should be at, and I was under each time – and that was growing pretty much every mile to the point where I was like :45 under where I should’ve been at that point (this was probably around mile 8 or 9). But then I convinced myself that I was not in fact under pace, but just slightly over pace, because I was off at the beginning. I don’t know why your mind gets dumb in these longer races (or maybe it’s just me) but it wasn’t until mile 12 where the math is easy that I realized I was under pace! And wait a minute, maybe I can break 1:26?
The last little part through Epcot was annoying as hell – too turny too close to the finish. The last couple of miles I could definitely feel my hips and calves tightening up quite a bit, but nothing I couldn’t deal with right then. I hit the 13 mile mark and saw it was already well into 1:25…..and now we sprint. I know I looked really gross that last .1 but I really, really wanted to get under 1:26 now. The overall clock time was going to be close, but I knew I had some breathing room because of where I started. In the end it turned out to be a :10 difference so my real time was 1:25:52.
I finished and immediately could barely walk. How you can go from running 6:30 miles to immediately not being able to walk is beyond me. They wrapped me up in a mylar blanket and like I said earlier, I was freezing right away. Marty met me as I was walking out of the finish chute and he had a big smile on his face, “Bri! 1:25?!” My initial reactions upon finishing are not always the best. This was my response: “Yeah. I’m happy. Uh…that was long. And kind of hard. I don’t know about this Triple T thing.” He just laughed and said we hadn’t signed up yet.
I made my way (very slowly) to get my bag, take a really gross finish picture and then back to the warm van. No cooling down after this one.
The rest of the day was lots of fun – went to see the in-laws and their very cute daughter, met up at a bar with a bunch of former FSU swimmers on I-drive, then over to our friend Dan’s house for a little get together. We got to catch up with several of our friends that all used to be in the running group down there – dang those people can make me laugh. I have to say, I definitely felt validated with my race when Dan told me I did really good. Coming from him made it seem real.
Okay, tired of typing.