Quick ish post about the half today: I am really tired so excuse typos etc and lack of real detail. Things step up a gear on half marathon day at the Walt Disney World marathon weekend. The number of participants about doubles to roughly 20000 people. Everything is just bigger. Anxiety was kicking my butt this morning. I didn’t sleep as well as I had previous nights.
Once sorted we got ourselves downstairs and onto the monorail to Epcot. This time we had a bag packed for after and we were heading to the Race Retreat – a large tent with somewhere to sit, food, loos and changing areas. I was not a happy bunny. Anxiety levels were through the roof and I was struggling to stem the rising panic. I did not want to be there and I didn’t feel like I belonged there. I was also really not looking forward to the crowds. The monorail was quiet though and because our bags we security checked as we got on it, we didn’t have to go through the main security check when we got to the race village. In fact we came into right next to the Race Retreat.
I settled eventually but not completely. We had a multi grain croissant, water and then a banana in the tent, multiple toilet visits and more toilet stops as we walked the half mile or so to the starting corrals. We were in F for this one. We got in there about 5.10am and watched as people were still streaming into the area, the crowds seemed endless. Eventually, after an even screechier version of the national anthem than yesterday, the first wave was off, people were still streaming in. Volunteers started turning people around and directing them to the last corral, including an elite runner who was less than happy. The instruction actually clearly say you must be in your corral by 5am so there’s no excuse.
Then we were off. We ran the first mile or so and then dropped into 2 minutes run and 30 second walk intervals. I didn’t feel too great. Ok but not as confident or strong as I had for the 5 or 10k. Still, mile one came and went as did mile 2. At just after mile two I realised I had settled and was beginning to feel fine. We kept to the intervals throughout except through water stations where we jogged until we had water and then walked to drink it. There were a few section where the course narrowed and the easiest thing to do was just to fall in step with those around so we skipped the walk breaks. Before I really knew it we passed 3 miles and then 4 and went past our hotel and turned left to enter the Magic Kingdom at just after 5 miles. We jogged through the park mostly. Running up towards the castle all lit up is quite stunning.
We had a toilet stop in the park – the toilets are much nicer than the porta potties along the way and the queues move faster. I felt more comfortable after that but the problem with sweaty running pants is that they don’t really pull up again very well and I couldn’t get them to sit right – chafing is a thing people! The rest of the park is a bit of a blur but I remember humming along to the songs being played and smiling lots. We left the park around half way.
The next stretch is quite narrow because they close just one lane of traffic (the other lane is open but I think only for official and emergency vehicles) and I felt like I was losing my rhythm completely. Instead of taking walk breaks I just slowed a little and kept running. A look at Kath confirmed that this was ok. she was responsible for pacing and keeping us sensible and getting us round. She was awesome, constantly talking to me, reassuring and encouraging. Between miles seven and eight there was a sudden call for a medic which and we saw a woman on the ground. she was being helped by others and it looked like a trip and fall rather than her collapsing so we kept going. I freaked out a little bit but managed to settle quickly.I was surprised to still be going as strong as I was at 8miles, and then 9 and then suddenly we only had a parkrun left. The last couple of miles were a little hard but I knew it would get hard at some point so I kept telling myself that this was going to happen and that it was awesome that it was only now happening. With a mile and a half to go I felt strong.
We entered the park and ran the Epcot loop and to the finish last little bit was tough. I was getting tired. I wasn’t pushing the pace or anything like that, I was being sensible but I was at the end of 13.1 miles, I was tired. I crossed the finish line and was a bit overwhelmed. My Garmin suggested we’d actually covered 13.38 miles in 2 hours 46 minutes and 27 seconds. Faster than almost the same distance at Toronto by a smidge over 2 minute sand my Garmin also informed me that I did in fact run 13.1 miles in under 2 hours 45. 2 minutes under apparently. That’s quite a huge personal best there. I’m excited about that. I knew I could go under 2 hours 45!
I was expecting to feel happy and proud to have done the half. I was expecting to not really massively enjoy the actual doing it. I have said before that I like half marathon distance because it is a proper challenge but it doesn’t break me. Well that’s absolutely still true but now I can honestly say that I can also enjoy running the distance. I had fun out there. I enjoyed seeing the characters out on course (again no photo stops, that’s just not me), soaking up the atmosphere and hearing the music. I should also say thank you to all the really enthusiastic staff and volunteers cheering us on and particularly to whoever was driving monorail red this morning – turns out the monorail horn makes a very encouraging noise!
The rest of the day has been about eating and sleeping. Tomorrow is simply Mind over matter. The is a weather advisory in place for warm and humid but we’re prepared, we can do this!