Disney Half Marathon Race Report (Read 562 times)

Mile Collector

Abs of Flabs

    It was not my first half marathon but for some reason, my heart was racing and I couldn't sleep the night before the race. I think I got about 2 hours that night, and was up by 2:50 AM even though I set my alarm clock for 3 o'clock. My friends that did Disney the years before told me that it could be cold at the start but will warm up nicely. I brought along some toss away sweatshirts but I had no use for them. I went outside to check the temperature and I felt like I entered a sauna. It was warm and humid. I was sweating in my singlet and shorts. The bus dropped us off in one of Epcot's parking lots and we made our way to the assembly area, which was another parking lot. I sat down on the gravelly asphalt ground trying to waste two hours. There was a concession stand on one side of the lot. I guess the word "concession" didn't sink in (I'm blaming the early hour and lack of sleep), but I couldn't grasp the concept of paying for water and coffee at a race. It is true that nothing is free in Disney. The announcer kept hurrying us to get to the corrals as if he had some place else to be. We continued to sit at our spot until 5 o'clock. We didn't even move for the people taking a group photo right next to us. Across the lot was a group of folks in a circle doing calisthenics. Some of them got down on the ground and did pushups. Shouldn't they save their energy for the race? A line of tents formed a runners' only area. They also doubled as baggage drop off area. In the middle of this area was the only water station. It served the tens of thousands of runners that roamed around like cattle in a feed lot. The portal toilet formed the outer perimeter of this area. The lines were some 30 to 40 people deep at certain locations. The corrals were another half a mile away. There were no signs of where I was in a sea of people. A jumbo-tron playing music videos interspersed with interviews of runners to keep everyone entertained. At one point, the hosts interviewed a couple. Good grief, I thought, another human interest story. They asked the most mundane questions such as how long have they been dating (7 years); how long has she been running (less than a year); how long has he been running (7 years). Then one of the hosts asked if they left out anything and the guy asked if he could say something. It was a set up I thought immediately. How did he pull it off without her knowing something was up? After making a short speech, which I couldn't remember, he got down on one knee, took out a ring, and proposed to her. She answered with a kiss and the women around me started crying while all I could think of was she would be so surprised if he arranged the wedding to be somewhere along the race route. Anyway, it's half way through my race report and I haven't even ran a single step yet. Hey, I'm trying to give you a detailed report here so you can live vicariously. Yes, the waiting was really that long. And yes, I lived through it and now it's your turn. I was supposed to be in Corral A but ended up in B and somewhat regretted it. It was a wave start. Corral A started at 6:02, and B had to wait another 10 minutes. When we walked and jogged to the start line and I thought the pace would pick up after that. To my surprise, there were people walking right from the start. Runners were dodging them left and right. The first several miles were in the dark. The roads were lit by occasional portable lamps. At around mile 2, I thought I was hallucinating. The trees ahead disappeared only to reappear a split second later. They looked like that alien dude in the movie "Predator". No one else seemed to notice this strange behavior so I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. When I got near, I realized what it was. The spotlights from the Epcot parking lots shined on these trees and made them appearing to blend in with the gray horizon. With the world back in order again, I continued my run. The field never thinned out because the roads got narrower. One lane of the road was coned off for the runners while the other was opened to vehicular traffic. At one point, the pace slowed to a walk. The road was wide enough for six people running abreast. Up ahead, three people walked side by side, blocking half of the road. Everyone had to run around them, causing a traffic jam. Some of the impatient ones, including myself, ran outside of the cones when the traffic got heavy. As we neared the Magic Kingdom, a row of speakers divided the road into two. If you run to the left, you'll hear country music, while the right played Rock 'n Roll. Once we're inside the park, the Cinderella Castle teased us from a distance. It came and went as we wind through the streets. Just as I thought we were approaching the castle, the route made a sharp right turn, leading us away. When we finally got to the castle and ran through the tunnel, every bit of it was magical. The spectators cheered wildly as the race photographers aimed their cameras at each person coming through. The excitement made me want to pick up my pace, which averaged around a 10 minute mile. I had to remind myself that it was only a warm up run; that I need to conserve my energy. Soon after that, we found ourselves back on the road again. The next six miles were on the long lonely roads. There were entertainments about every mile, which consisted of DJs hired for the occasion and high school bands. The steel drum band was my favorite. The water stations came regularly, but some of them could not keep up with the demands. One of my friends said they ran out of water near the end. She also said that they ran out of medals as well. People were livid and were ready to kill someone. Somehow, they managed to find a box of medals and just handed them out to anyone wanting one. The lack of sleep the night before kicked in by this time. My eye lids got heavy and all I could think of was closing them and sleep. The race ended in Epcot. We had to do a short out and back route around the geo sphere. By that time, I just wanted to finish. I picked up the pace and sprinted to the line with a chip time of 2:09:29. My goal was to complete the race without exhausting myself and I accomplished that. So, it was a good race. To be continued…

      Mike - this was not my first Disney race, and I was not happy about the hot/muggy race this time around. Last time it was so darn cold, I never got hot enough to throw off the old running coat. It has been a hot winter down here in Florida, making the December and early January races very unpleasant, even for us Floridians. Looking forward to the Tampa Gasparilla this weekend, going to be 48 degrees at start time, should stay cool through the 15K distance - YEAH!'
        Great race report .. very detailed Smile !
        2009: BQ?

          You may find it hard to believe, but I had overlooked your reports until today. But now I have read all of them, down to the last instalment Phew! Amazing! Are you sure all of this really happened? And to do a half + a full marathon in two days... Beatiful madness. bas

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