When I think about this past weekend and the races there is just so much in my brain. I think I’m still a little bit in shock that I actually ran two half marathons in 24 hours and did it with shockingly low levels of pain. Maybe this means that I’m ready to knock that fist goal off my list?
But let’s back up, and start at the very beginning. I apologize in advance for one LONG post!
I actually arrived in Florida on Wednesday morning, a whole three days before the race. This was a good thing, because it gave me some serious relaxation time before the onset of pre-race freak out mode (does anyone else get this?). The tendonitis in my lower right leg had been bothering me so I had taken about a week off of running so I was REALLY well rested. Which meant I was able to really enjoy some time with my sister and Larry, a visit to Islands of Adventure, and some bumming around time. Which was really needed.
But I suppose perhaps I was too chill, because before I knew it was Friday night and I was climbing in bed at 8.30 to get ready for that big 3am wake up call. Amazingly, I had the BEST night’s sleep I’ve ever had before a half. Unfortunately, I don’t think Noel (who also ran the half!) was quite so lucky. Before we knew it we were on the monorail headed to Epcot with one of my teammates, and then soon after we were headed into the corrals. As we dropped off each runner at their corral, my excitment built just a little bit more. I had never been worried about this half–after 4 I know I can finish one–but it really started to build! I was in the A corral so I headed up to the front, hoping that I would be able to hold my pace back with all of those fast people in A!
Before I knew it, we were over the start and heading towards the Magic Kingdom. I remember loving the quiet right after the start at the Disney half last year, and this year was no different. It’s calm and quiet, and you’re surrounded by runners. It’s really a running zen out moment. The miles seemed to fly by–soon we were under the Magic Kingdom gate, then in the parking lot, and very quickly in front of the Contemporary, where a good portion of Team Peacock was waiting to cheer me on! After that we were into the Magic Kingdom proper–always my favorite part of this race! It was still dark (last year the sun was rising as I was in MK) but it was still wonderful, especially because it wasn’t as crowded as during last year’s race, thanks to my first corral position.
As we wound our way out of the back of MK, I was feeling good and I was right where I wanted to be for pacing. I knew the hardest part of the race was in front of me–the “boring” stretch of World Drive back to Epcot, followed by those horrible overpasses between miles 10 and 12. I got a serious pick me up from seeing Mary Poppins in front of the Grand Floridian, although I could have killed someone because she had NO LINE and I was sans camera! It figures!
The overpasses were just as horrible as I remembered them being, which just proves that even though I’m in much better shape this year, running up a banked surface is never fun! I felt so much stronger than I did last year as we turned into Epcot and headed towards the finish–no deaths doorstep pictures this year! Soon I was crossing the finish, feeling good and knowing that my journey was halfway over. Knowing that recovery was a top priority, I made it to the medical tent and had them ice my quads and left knee, before heading out to meet up with the team. I had a bagel with almond butter waiting, and I patiently ate it while we waited for Noel to come in. I was so happy to see him at the finish–I think he was just happy to be done!
The Chip and Dale
My preparation for Chip and Dale continued on Saturday afternoon after Noel finished the half. I didn’t want to sit around all afternoon and let my muscles tighten up, so after a quick nap we headed out to the Magic Kingdom, where we rode the Jungle Cruise and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad :-) I was pretty much starving all day, so I was happy to head our friends Robyn and Scott’s for some wonderful homemade lasagna for dinner! I was in bed and passed out by 9.15 or so–that early wake up call for the first race sure did make it easy to sleep for the second!
Friend and Usual Suspect Carlos was running the first leg of the relay, so I got up with him at 3am to see him off. I knew he was in good hands meeting the team at the race start, so I planned to go straight to the exchange zone (thank goodness it was in the Magic Kingdom parking lot, which was easily accessible from the monorail!) and enjoy a much needed extra hour or so of sleep. I was back up at 5 to do the normal pre-race routine, plus destress a bit by joking around with Noel and Eileen. My legs were a little bit sore, but I could tell the ice had helped.
Soon we were off, Eileen to wait for Carlos in front of the Contemporary, which was mile 10 in the full marathon, and Noel and I to the exchange zone. In a happy surprise, the exchange area was only a few hundred feet away from mile 8 on the course, so we were able to watch the runners stream through for a bit and actually see Carlos before I settled in the exchange zone and waited for Carlos to finish. Before too long I saw him turning off the marathon course and coming down the chute. And then I was off!
I had done a good number of back to back long runs, but nothing quite prepares you for being out there on race day. Although I wasn’t in a ton of pain from Saturday, my quads did hurt almost immediately, but not so bad that I couldn’t keep chugging along. I think it helped that the back half of the marathon course was totally new to me–and I LOVED seeing all of the backstage areas! About 8 miles in my quads really started to hurt, so I did stop and apply some Biofreeze, which was a real life saver.
After a particularly horrible stretch on Osceola Parkway, we were coming into Hollywood Studios. From the Studios to the end there were a TON of people cheering, which really helped me to power through those last couple of miles when I was starting to feel the time on my legs and the heat of the day. I got seriously emotional as I went around the Boardwalk and into Epcot. I also started cursing any sort of rise in the course (even if it was just a baby bridge between England and France!) The last mile around the World Showcase seemed to last forever, but soon I could hear the gospel choir that always hangs out just before the finish. I did it. I was done! And I pushed myself right out of my comfort zone!
And not only did I have a great weekend of racing, I also had an amazing weekend with some wonderful friends. I have a very supportive group of running friends online, and most of them were at Disney for the race. It was wonderful to be surrounded by friends and sharing such a big accomplishment with them. I always get a little bit emotional at Disney, but this trip was one for the special books!