I’m all signed up for the Flying Pig Marathon! I missed my run this morning, so signing up for a marathon totally makes up for it, right?
… Continued from Part 1
I crossed the start line at 6:01 AM. Beside me was Roxy, who was faster than me and I would soon say goodbye to. Behind me were my Marathonfest group leaders, Emily and Sue, and fellow group member and first time marathoner, Christina. Or at least I thought they were behind me. A few minutes later I turned around and they were gone in the masses. It would be 20 miles before I saw Christina again.
I found myself alone, yet surrounded by runners. I popped in my ear buds and settled in for the long haul… one foot in front of the other for the next five plus hours.
The start of the race had us running down Epcot Center Drive and looping back around to the front of Epcot. I knew Donnie and my mom would be right in front of the entrance on the left-hand side. As I approached the crowds I started trying to focus on the many faces. My night vision is horrible and I was scared that I would somehow miss them.
I found them just before the entrance and started waving. They later teased me for not stopping for a photo op, but I knew I would see them around mile 9 again and figured I would stop then. My original intent had been to stop and take off my arm sleeves before Epcot, but it was still cold out. I kept running.
When I entered the park, the infamous Epcot ball hovered before me, glowing in the night. I instantly felt like a kid again, amazed by its presence.
We ran partially around the World Showcase Lagoon and I thought about all of the wonderful food I had tried there recently during the International Food & Wine Festival. My pre-race breakfast of an english muffin with peanut butter seemed like ages ago and I was already hungry.
We exited Epcot through a back exit. Next up was the Magic Kingdom, but it would be several miles on property highways before we reached it.
I kept myself entertained myself by taking inventory of all of the people running in costume around me. There were Tinkerbells and Peter Pans and Minnie Mouses and Snow Whites galore! My favorites were all the men running dressed up as Tinkerbell, even wearing tights. Sometimes I would just stare at a costumed runner in front of me and think to myself, “That just can’t be comfortable.” I’m glad they didn’t turn around to see me staring at them with a puzzled, yet amused look on my face.
Towards the end of the run to Magic Kingdom, the sun had come up and I rolled my arm sleeves down. As we approached crowds I started to look for Donnie and my mom. I was so happy to see them that I asked for not one, but two kisses from Donnie. I thought he was taking a picture of me, but it turns out he was video taping me:
I love how you can hear my mom yelling my name at the very beginning of the clip. And Donnie cracked me up. Ha!
As we entered the Magic Kingdom I got really excited. As a kid growing up in Orlando, we used to visit Disney at least once or twice a year. But it had been more than 10 years from my last visit, and I was looking forward to running (literally) down memory lane.
When you enter the Magic Kingdom, you run down Main Street towards the Cinderella Castle, but veer through Tomorrowland first.
I found a volunteer and asked them to snap this shot of me in front of the castle:
My next stop was a bathroom in Tomorrowland. I have to say that one of the pros of running Disney is that it’s possible to never have to use a port-o-potty. At each of the four parks you visit you have access to their clean restrooms.
Running through the Cinderella Castle I couldn’t help but think how small it looked. When I was a little girl the castle always seemed so BIG! Either it got smaller or I got bigger. Regardless, it was still pretty magical.
Next up would be Disney’s Animal Kingdom, approximately four miles away. But first, we got to run through their compost facilities. I can pretty much cover that with one word: Ew.
As we entered Disney’s Animal Kingdom through a back entrance, they had a bunch of animal handlers lined up with different animals. I saw a goat, the cutest owl I’ve ever seen, rabbits and some other animals. A lot of people were petting them, but the last thing I wanted wanted were dirty animal hands. I kept running. And I kept my eyes peeled on the ground ahead of me. I could smell the poop and didn’t want to step in it.
I’ve never been to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, so I was trying to take it all in. Funny how I never noticed the giant mountain behind me:
Here I am monkeying around:
Shortly after that picture, something horrible happened: my iPod Shuffle’s battery died. I panicked. What was I going to do without my most amazing playlist to get me through the final miles? Around this time I started to notice how hot it was getting. Were there really no clouds in the sky?
Lucky for me, they were handing out cold sponges at one of the next water stops (mile 17.5). Hooray for small miracles! That little fifty cent sponge could’ve been gold to me at that point. I had remembered Donnie telling me that he had kept his during the ING Miami Marathon and had wet it during every water stop so rather than toss mine like everyone else was doing, I kept it. I was so glad I did!
Here’s a pic of me and my golden sponge:
Around mile 18, my IT band in my left knee started to hurt. I pulled the wrap I had tighter and grabbed some extra-strength Tylenol at the next first aid station. It helped enough to keep me moving.
The run to Disney’s Hollywood Studios was more highway, which means we were out in the open with no protection from the sun. I really missed my music. And the sunglasses and hat that I always said I was going to buy but never actually did.
This is a good time to mention that I trained with run/walk intervals. I run five minutes, walk one minute, run five, walk one and so on and so forth. I did this on race day as well. Up until around mile 18 starting back up on the run after walking hadn’t been so bad. But slowly that was changing.
I think I had just taken one of the atomic energy bites that Emily had given me from her final stash when I heard my name. I looked back and saw Christina. I was so happy to see her. I think I screamed when I saw her. In my head at least. I may have been too tired at this point to actually make any noise.
She looked and sounded great. Her energy level was up and she was keeping a good pace. I, on the other hand, was having trouble bending my knee and the sun was killing me. I had hit the proverbial wall and she looked like she had just climbed it and kicked its ass.
We caught each other up on our race so far. She had lost Sue and Emily and had been running the last 10 miles by herself. She felt good and was stopping to get pictures and had caught up to me. I grunted something about my dead iPod.
Mile 20 and 21 are a bit of an out and back so I got to see some friends that were ahead of me. I was surprised that we weren’t far behind one particular group of friends. I later found out that they had stopped to ride a ride in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Ha!
At one point I felt bad flaunting my nice cool sponge in front of Christina so I tore mine in half and shared it with her. I think she loved it almost as much as I did.
I got excited when we hit mile 23 because I knew some fellow Marathonfesters would be manning the candy table. I spotted two of my group members immediately and they dumped lots of chocolate in my hands and pushed me on my way. It was a nice little boost for our final 5k.
Between Disney’s Hollywood Studios and back through Epcot we ran on the boardwalk that runs along Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resort. I struggled here the most. Let’s just say that the walk breaks came more frequently at this point and every time I started back up to run I sounded like a sailor. I also started to get angry at people that were yelling “You’re almost there!” Sure, three miles might be a short run if you just started, but after running for 23 miles, it seems like forever away.
At the end of the boardwalk we came across the local Lululemon girls that had come out to cheer on the runners. Andrea from Run, Eat, Date, Sleep was there and blogged about their cheering here. Their energy was great and their signs made me smile. And I was amazed that the educator that had helped me pick out my race day clothes a week earlier remembered my name. Now that’s outstanding service!
As Christina and I entered back into Epcot, I almost cried when I saw that we had to run around most of World Showcase Lagoon again. Wasn’t there a monorail we could take to the end? And why were all of these people smiling? Didn’t they know how much pain I was in??
As we neared the Epcot ball for the second time that day, I willed myself to keep moving. I only had to run for a couple more minutes and this would all be done. We could hear the crowd up ahead and suddenly I was overwhelmed with emotion. I remember trying to thank Christina for sticking with me, but only managed to get out about half of it.
As we rounded the last corner and saw the finish line, my body suddenly got lighter. I heard my mom yelling and I saw Donnie jumping up and down and hollering my name. And seconds later I finished my first marathon.
I honestly still can’t believe I did it. Years ago I stood on the sidelines of the New York City Marathon and said that I could never run a marathon. Well… never say never.
Here are some pictures from after the race:
On Sunday, I did something that up until last year I thought I could never do: I ran my first full marathon! And while these were some of the hardest miles I’ve run to date, they were also the most rewarding. But let’s start at the beginning.
I chose the Walt Disney World Marathon because I live in Orlando and it’s a local race, but also a big race. Although many runners I talked to suggested staying on Disney property for less stress on race day morning, I was trying to minimize costs and decided to make the commute instead.
Along for the adventure was one of my best friends, Roxy. Roxy’s fast. And when she runs it’s beautiful and graceful. I don’t hold this against her though. It just means she’s always at the finish line waiting for me at the end.
Rox and I left my house downtown at 3 AM. We made good time and were on Disney property by 3:40 AM and parked in the Epcot parking lot by 3:50. Since we were meeting my running group at 4 AM this gave us 10 minutes to get our stuff sorted and write our names on our arms:
Since my name is a little hard to pronounce if you’ve never seen it (it’s pronounced “Hey-marie”), writing “Go Hey” on my arms gets people to yell just that. And usually my closest friends call me that, so every time a stranger yells it it makes me smile. I added mouse ears on Roxy’s arm. Perfect!
The rest of my supplies were:
When I got out of the car I didn’t think it was that cold (it was in the 50′s) so I left my throwaway towel in the car. This ended up being a mistake because it got cooler as we walked out to the corrals. Lucky for me, Roxy shares and she had a nice warm blanket.
At 4 AM we met our group in front of the information tent in the start zone.
Around 4:40 AM we set off on our walk to the start corrals. Take thousands of runners and have them walk approximately 20 minutes on a path. Have fun not losing part of your group several times (as we did).
There were port-o-potties set up along the entire walk. The ones smack in the middle of the walk seemed to have the shortest lines. However, this caught my eye:
Behind the port-o-potties were runners lined up peeing in the woods, and they weren’t always boys. Girls did it too. I suppose some people just don’t wait in lines, no matter how short they might be.
By the time we got to the start corrals, it was pretty close to the race start. We stretched near corral G then joined in the excitement. All around us people were laying down or sitting and I just remember thinking that if I did either of those I might fall back asleep.
The bright light was where the giant screen was. Though I liked to think it was an angel watching over us.
Our National Anthem was sung by the Beast from Beauty and the Beast! Okay, that’s not true. But the male singer’s voice soared through the sky and surrounded us in its beauty. It was incredible. And in my head, it was totally the Beast singing.
Corrals were released in waves, with Mickey Mouse counting down each wave. With every wave there were fireworks, which I failed miserably at capturing on my iPhone. However, this was hands down the most exciting start line I’ve been witness to.
After about thirty minutes of shuffling, we finally reached the start line. I crossed the start line at 6:01 AM.
To be continued…
Yesterday I finished the 2012 Walt Disney World Marathon in 5:56:56.
It was amazing.
It was painful.
At times, it was awful.
But, it was all totally worth it.
Thank you for the support along the way!
(Stay tuned for a race recap coming soon.)
After my Friday spent downing Emergen-C, I was surprised to wake up Saturday feeling decent. Since I had felt so awful all week I hadn’t gotten around to going to the grocery story so my pre-race breakfast ended up being a bowl of rice cereal with vanilla soy milk and a scoop of peanut butter. Not my finest meal, but it did the job.
Since the OUC Half Marathon starts at Lake Eola, my friend Rox met me at 6:15 am for our warm-up walk to the start line. There we met with our friend T and one of her friends.
Here’s the view from our meeting spot:
And here we were:
When Rox and I trained for our first half marathon, T had trained with us until an injured hip forced her to stop, followed by her short-lived breakup with running. When I found out a few weeks ago that she was training for the OUC Half, I got really excited… we could finish what we started a couple of years ago! I signed up for the race last week and hoped to run it with her.
We headed to the start around 6:55 AM, five minutes before the start. I always love the energy at start lines.
If this picture looks familiar, it’s because it’s essentially the same start as the Seniors First Turkey Trot 5k.
And we were off. Below are some pics from the race.
Here we are around mile 3:
We had just run into Carolina from Peas in a Blog who was wearing the best t-shirt ever:
Shortly after we saw more of T’s friends wearing shirts with T’s mug on them:
I have now requested that Donnie make and wear a t-shirt with my face on it for the Walt Disney World Marathon. He said he will oblige.
I’m sad I didn’t get a photo of the two finer ladies sitting at a small table in the middle of a median around mile three drinking mimosas. Now that’s how ladies spectate!
Somewhere mid-race we saw the local Lululemon ladies:
Here’s T and I around mile 7. One of us had just pointed out that we were more than halfway finished:
The marathon was a mix between running in downtown neighborhoods and some shared highways. Here’s a long stretch of a shared road in front of Boone High School:
Here we are giving it a final push along mile 13. I love that T was a good sport with all of the pics I was taking. At this point she was digging deep to find energy she didn’t know she had. And there may have been cursing…
T finished her first half marathon! I’m so proud of her! Rox finished too… Way ahead of us… I’m proud of her too.
Here’s a shot of me with Rox and two of my running group ladies, Erica and Beth:
I knew I would be facing challenges in running someone else’s race . I wasn’t able to run my usual pace, which was at times extremely difficult. And I had to play the role of encourager, which doesn’t always come naturally to me. But before the run I had decided that the rewards of being a part of T’s first half marathon would far exceed any personal best time I could get.
And even though it took us 3:01:06 to run the half, this half became a different kind of personal best for me.
I’ll definitely run the OUC Half Marathon again next year.
Have you run the OUC Half Marathon? How was your experience?
Yesterday I got my spectatin’ on at the Space Coast Marathon in Cocoa, FL.
The day started early with a 3:15 am wake-up and a 4 am meet-up time with friends that were running the race. We got to Cocoa in less than 45 minutes so that gave my friends plenty of time to warm up and get to the start line by 6:15 am.
The start of the race was signaled by a big screen rocket launch and a simple “Go!” on the speakers. I overheard a couple of racers complaining that there was no gun or bull horn to start the race. Personally, I’m never at the front of a race start line so I don’t care either way. I go when the people in the corral in front of me go. Or someone pushes me forward.
I watched the runners take off then ran over to King Street to catch my friends again when the looped around. By then it had started to lightly drizzle so I walked back to the car for an hour of rest before I headed back out to the finish line to catch the half marathon winners. I got there just in time which was awesome because fast runners are so fun to watch.
Afterwards I walked back to Brevard Ave. where I was scoping out somewhere to get some coffee. This woman caught my attention along the way:
Can you believe that she ran the entire marathon with that stroller? There were three kids in that bad boy and I think I saw her come in under 5:00!
Shortly after, I hit the jackpot when I stumbled across Ossorio, a cafe and bakery with tables outside. I ordered some iced coffee and decided I deserved a chocolate croissant for waking up so early.
Here was my view:
I sat here until I saw the 5:00 pace group run by then moved up the street a little. While I waited for my friends in my new spot I caught a few fellow Marathonfesters as they ran by. I was standing somewhere around the half marathon marker and loved that I saw so many people still smiling.
When my friends approached I could tell this wasn’t their best run. They talked me into walking a mile with them while they tried to muster up the energy to run the rest of the marathon. They begged me to say something funny but it was a bit too early for me to think of any jokes. I was stumped so it’s a good thing that seconds later we came across this sexy volunteer at the next water stop:
I walked a little over a mile with my friends then dipped out to get out of the sun. By this point the clouds had cleared and the sun was beating down. This did not fare well with my black jeans.
I walked back towards the finish line and stopped to watch some dolphins that were feeding in the inter-coastal. I love me some dolphins!
Back at mile 26, I settled on the grass in the spot that I would remain in for the next several hours:
Time flew as I sat and watched runner after runner round that corner and realize they were almost finished running 26.2 miles. I saw them suddenly shed that weight of months of training and hard work and pick up their heavy legs. I saw them cry in pain, or relief, or joy, or a combination of those all. I saw kids running that last .2 miles with their parents, looking proud and excited. I saw complete strangers encouraging runners to “Keep it up” and “Finish strong.” I saw hard work, determination and accomplishment cross in front of me in all shapes and sizes and ages. I saw badass in men and women 2.5 times my age. I saw amazing.
If you’ve never stood at the finish of a marathon, I strongly recommend it. It’s one of the most emotional and incredible things to get to witness. Make sure to bring a tissue, because you’ll more than likely cry at least once.
Back to the Space Coast Marathon… here are the pros and cons that I overheard, noted, etc:
I would consider running the half marathon course, but you won’t find me running any full in November in Florida two days after Thanksgiving.
Have you ever run the Space Coast Marathon or half? If so, how did you like it?
Five years ago I ran my very first 5k on a cool Thanksgiving morning. The Seniors First Turkey Trot 5k has quickly became one of my favorite Thanksgiving Day traditions and is the only 5k that I make sure to run every year.
This year my boyfriend Donnie was sidelined with a bad case of tendonitis, so he decided that he would cheer his Pops and I on from the sidelines with our two pugs. I felt bad that he couldn’t run, but he had to do this last year too and I knew that I would love seeing his face along the run.
The race started at 8 AM, so Donnie’s Pops and I set out on foot to Lake Eola around 7:20. Pops commented on how this would be his first time to arrive to the race on time. You see, Donnie doesn’t have a good track record with getting to races early.
We got to the start line about 20 minutes later and did some stretching before we jumped into the start line crowd.
Here are a couple of pictures from the start:
Usually Pops and I race each other, but this year we decided to just cruise and enjoy the race. Since my other foot is now hurting me, I welcomed the relaxed pace, rather then the usual bobbing and weaving I have to do in such a large crowd:
A little after mile one we saw these three:
Rex (the fawn pug) was a little preoccupied with all of the runners to pay little ol’ me any attention, but Tank (the black pug) wanted to be pet. I quickly obliged then off we went again.
Here’s a shot of the last mile. I always like this stretch, it means we’re almost done.
I sprinted the home stretch so I didn’t get any pictures of the finish line. I finished the 5k in just over 34 minutes. Certainly not my best time, but it really was a beautiful run and I love that I got to take it all in this time.
Afterwards I went to get a banana with Rex in tow. I didn’t realize that he’s basically a rock star and would get so much attention. A little of this special petting attention resulted in Rex getting sprinkled with red energy drink:
He didn’t seem to mind.
While Donnie and I waited for Pops to get his post-run snacks, Rex and Tank had a small group of runners petting them. I looked up and recognized one of the runners when she mentioned her new dog Molly. It was Andrea from from one of the running blogs I follow: Run, Eat, Date, Sleep. It’s always fun to meet people face-to-face!
Pops and I caught a ride home with Donnie and the pups:
When we got home I made us some yummy pumpkin pancakes to celebrate.
Did you start your Thanksgiving Day with a run?
The New York City Marathon is at the top of my marathon wish list. It holds an extra special place in my heart because I’ll never forget living in Sunset Park, Brooklyn and watching the marathon runners run up Fourth Ave and thinking “I could never do that.”
Here are some of my favorite recaps I’ve read so far from the 2012 ING New York City Marathon:
Runner’s World (added 11/13/11)
Did you blog about your ING NYC Marathon? I would love to read it! Post the link to your post in the comments section.
I was recently introduced to the wonder that is www.joggingjeans.com, which is a blog that consists of… well, people jogging in jeans. Which is preposterous, yet hilarious. Well maybe it’s not that crazy. I mean as kids, didn’t we play and run in our jeans all day, every day? It never seemed to bother us then, right? You never see a kid stop their fun and say ,”Wait guys. Let me put on some more appropriate clothing for running.” Nah, they just take off.
This got me to thinking about the most ridiculous things I’ve run in:
What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve run in?
And by ‘this mess’ I mean running.
When I lived in NY, I went to the gym 3 or 4 times a week. My gym was only a block away from my Astoria, Queens apartment so it was really hard to talk myself out of going. I usually spent my time alternating between the bike, the stair climber, the elliptical and the weights. I stayed as far away from the treadmill as possible. To me running was the devil.
But when I moved back to Florida, I lived in Tampa for 10 months and money was tight. Plus my hours at the office were long and the thought of coming home and working out within more walls made me cringe. So I started to walk along Bayshore Blvd. And then I started running ‘until the next light post’ or ‘until I passed those people walking their dog.’
Not long after, I moved back to Orlando and continued setting short term running goals:
I met a lot of these first goals with the help of my boyfriend Donnie’s support. He would run to Lake Eola (I would drive there) and he would run laps with me. He would tell me to dig deeper and push harder when I needed to hear it (and sometimes when I didn’t care to hear it). And he bought me my first pair of running shoes. Up until that point I had been running in old cross-trainers and had started to feel some pain in my ankles. Without his help, I would’ve given up early on.
Shortly before that first 5k I started to run with some ladies from my job and after running a few 5k’s we started talking about running a longer distance. Our friend Tim, who was also a co-worker, got tired of hearing us ladies talk about it, but never actually do anything about it. So he picked a small half marathon held in Baldwin Park in November 2009 and told us we were training for it. From then on we called him “Coach.”
Running with this group of friends was an incredible motivator. Together we ran, we laughed, we got lost on runs and we commiserated. We dragged ourselves out of bed on weekend mornings, we struggled, we got injured and we learned the importance of listening to our bodies. We encouraged each other and we pushed each other. By the time the half marathon came around, two of our ladies were injured and had to run the 5k instead. But we all showed up that morning ready to run:
Because we all have different paces and jobs now, we no longer run together. But occasionally you’ll still see us at the finish line cheering on our old running buddies.