Half marathon morning dawned bright and early. I met up with my friend Kelly and her husband Mitch to drive to EPCOT. Along the way I chewed on a peanut butter and jam sandwich. My mouth was dry and I wasn’t hungry but the sandwich made its way down anyway.
When we got to the drop off zone in EPCOT’s parking lot it was bustling with energy and tons of people. We had plans to meet some friends by bag check, coincidently right in front of Green Army Man telling us to move, move, move through bag check!Nikki happened to find us too!We finally found our other friends Mike and Jen and it was time to go through bag check and start our trek to the start line. I was not expecting the wall of people on the other side of bag check. It was the slowest mass of moving people ever. It took us an hour to make it from bag check to our corral!! Despite the crazy number of people around a fellow TTL’er found us in the crowd to say hi. Laurie and Mandy also found me in the sea of people!Laurie managed to spot me at the crazy, crowded expo Friday afternoon and we had a total blogger fail by forgetting to take a picture. Luckily we had a chance to make up for it!
The walk to the start took so long that we missed the national anthem and the start of corral A. Luckily we made it into Corral D before they started moving everyone up. There was little time to get nervous now, just time for a quick picture in our corral.I had two goals for this race. Number one, have fun running slow and steady with Kelly. Number two, get character photos. Kelly was in charge of not letting us get caught up in the start to make sure we started off really slowly. We hit the start line and Jen and I took off. Within seconds we heard Kelly yell at us to slow down!
In a couple of miles we spotted our first characters up ahead – a pirate ship with Captain Jack. I couldn’t believe the length of the line for a photo op! We quickly came to the realization that character photos were likely to not happen on this race. We wanted to run slow and save our legs for the marathon, but in order to make it within the pacing requirements we’d have to run faster than we wanted to. I wasn’t too disappointed about not stopping for character pictures. I’ve run at Disney many times, getting some great photos along the way. It was more important to stick with my pacing goals for the day.
I was surprised by just how busy it was along the course. It felt like there were way more people running the half than before. The course narrowed as we approached the Contemporary Resort and it was just a mass of people. As we ran toward the underpass we heard medics racing towards us on bikes and a poor woman sitting on the sidewalk, bruised and bloody knees and nose.
Before we knew it we were entering the Magic Kingdom on Main Street. This is one of my favourite parts of the race – the sights and the spectators are amazing. I also knew my husband and dad would be here! I tried to soak it all in. We entered Tomorrowland and took the opportunity to hit the bathrooms. Yay for flush toilets and running water in a race! I gazed wistfully at Buzz Lightyear as we ran past him. The character lines were getting longer and longer.We passed through Fantasyland and on towards Cinderella's Castle. I loved the trumpeters atop the archway of the castle!As we ran through the castle everyone slowed down as the people in front of us jockeyed for position for the perfect castle photo. People would just stop right in front of the photographers. We walked down the ramp (since there was no room to run) and we pulled off to the side to get our photo in front of the castle.As we exited the castle I spied my husband and I ran over for a quick high five. The rest of the run through the park went so quickly!
Once you exit the park the race definitely becomes mentally difficult. We narrow down to a single lane and there is barely any room to move. You’ve just run through the most exciting part of the race and now you are running on a boring, straight road along the backside of the Magic Kingdom resort hotels. We had done a great job keeping our pace consistent up until this point, but I actually wound up picking our pace up through here just slightly. It was either attempt to move through all the people or get caught up and slow down. By focusing on making our way through the crowd I didn’t have that usual low moment.I kept wanting to pick it up as we ran the last part of the race but luckily I had Kelly and Jen to reel me in. I was excited for the mile 12 marker as I knew my husband and dad would be there. As we ran over the overpass approaching mile 12 Kelly started to not feel so hot. Nausea was hitting her hard. She managed to push through it to continue on just as I spotted my dad with the camera.We were on the final push to the finish as we entered EPCOT and ran past Spaceship Earth.Exiting EPCOT!And on to the finish.Two thumbs up for finishing strong and happy with Kelly and Jen! All done in 3:02:16!After the race I grabbed the peanut butter sandwich in my checked bag to munch on as soon as possible. It was then back to the hotel for an ice bath, calf sleeves and plenty of rest and relaxation in anticipation of the full marathon the next day…