This past weekend was probably one of the BIGGEST weekends of my life thus far!! I know I just started this blog, so you probably didn’t know that I was training for my very first half marathon! I will go over my training in another blog incase you are wondering how I got to where I am! Back in August/September I decided to sign up for the Disney Half Marathon. At the time this was a LONG SHOT for me! I was barely doing 3 miles in under 30 minutes. Although I hadn’t started to train yet, I signed up anyways (this is why I believe that if you PAY for something, you will get it done, especially if it is a big chunk of change!)
OKAYYY! So onto my wonderful weekend!! My boyfriend and I went together, we flew out Thursday morning. Since I was going to be running in a few days, I was NOT about to get sick!! I drank my Shakeology for breakfast and then in the air port I had a clementine for a snack (along with string cheese and apples!)
We stayed at a Disney Resort, Port Orleans. Now, I have only ever stayed at a time share when I went to Disney. Time shares are a lot like apartments, the Resorts are basically themed hotels. Well this one was CRAZY! It was a little over the top if you ask me. Our room was Princess Style. All decked out in Cinderella and Snow White and Princess Jasmine… It wasn’t really that bad, but it was a TOTAL SHOCK when we first walked into the room. Mostly because we looked at pictures when we booked it, but this was NOT what we saw! HAHA!!
After getting settled in and grabbing a little something to eat, I figured I should go for a run!! It felt so AMAZINGGGG to wear shorts and a tee shirt running again! I haven’t worn a wardrobe like that in 3 months to run! I do have to admit, I was a little scared when I was running. It was a pretty humid night. It was tough to breath and all I kept thinking about was what if that was what the weather was going to be like during the morning for me race! What if I had a hard time breathing for a whole 13.1 miles!!! Needless to say I was really worrying over NOTHING!
Moving onto the next day…
Now it was Friday! I woke up and went to get a little breakfast… I kid you not, EVERYTHING is Disney this past weekend revolved around this race! Even getting off of the plane the flight attendant asked who was coming into Orlando to run, about 25 people raised their hands from what I could see! I was only going to get a bagel, but saw this! It came with a little bit of everything, and the perfect foods for the prep day of a race!
As the day goes on I went and sat by the pool to read for a little, then get ready and went to the Expo! This was at the ESPN Sports Zone. Traffic was HORRIBLE! It took us about an hour to go three miles! Of course I’d say that 89% of the people in Disney that weekend were participating in the race events, so obviously everyone was going to the same places! The expo was pretty cool, I finished and finalized my registration, got my bib number and bag, then I went to change my proof of time. I was SO GLAD I did this. When I originally signed up I put my estimated time to finish as 3 hours! As I went on with my training I decided my goal was 2.5 hours. I did a 9 mile race Thanksgiving morning, I used that as my proof of time and got moved from Corral F to Corral B!! That got me so pumped and READY to do this race! There were vendors of all sorts at this Expo, the line to get into the building (shown on the left in the picture below) was SO LONG! At least the line moved at a decent pace! Then we decided to leave because it was so crowded you could hardly move or even think! We made our way back down to the bus and I got my picture taken with my bib number!! (second photo down)
Since my race STARTED at 5:30AM we were in bed by about 8:00pm! I was surprised how well i slept for being so excited!! I woke up a few times, but fell right back to sleep (thankfully!) The morning was very rushed. I set my alarm for 2:45 am! I was dreading it setting that time, but honestly, I was too excited to even think about it when the alarm rang. I ate a little something and got myself together. We headed for the bus for 3:30am. The lady in change of the bus stop when we went to the expo told us to catch the 3:30 bus but deff no later than 4:00 to get there and have enough time to get situated and everything. Well we got the the bus stop around 3:30.. we waited.. and waited.. and waited! it was about 4:00 maybe a little after and a bus FINALLY stopped for us! There were other buses that went past, but they were ALL FULL! So we got on the bus, then got stuck in traffic!! We got off the bus in Epcot around 5:10am. I was almost freaking out! My race started in 20 mins and I had no clue where to go or what to do! So I walked really really fast with the group of others getting off the bus. I quickly handed my bag and sweatshirt to Evan and I went with the crowd of people. All I could hear was the announcer saying that were was 18 mins to start time and a 15 min walk from the bus drop off to the starting line! i pushed my way through the people who seemed to be taking their good old time and made my way to the front. I saw my Corral B sign and a little bit of weight was lifted off my shoulders. I walked up to it, noticed I was on THE WRONG SIDE OF THE FENCE! Without thinking I climbed up and jumped over! Surprisingly my clumsiness didn’t decide to take action and let me fall flat on my face! I was finally in my starting position. Before I knew it they were setting off fireworks to start off the wheelchair racers, 5 mins later it was Corral A, then 5 LONG mins later, it was my turn, time for Corral B to step to to the starting line. 3..2..1 FIREWORKs go off, and everyone takes off…. WALKING!?
I was pretty surprised and actually a little disappointed! The slow start put me about 2 mins behind for the first two miles. In a way I am kind of glad they all didn’t take off sprinting! Crossing that start line and waving to the camera felt AMAZING, to say the least. I am really glad i decided to run with my phone because then I had the opportunity to take pictures and videos while I ran! I have a few videos I will try to upload for you! I must apologize in advance because I was RUNNING while taking these, most are all over the place! — Especially the last one when I am nearing and then crossing the finish line, I got a little carried away and forgot I was recording!.
They had bands, and choirs, back drops, disney characters, scenes, DJs, and everything else you could possibly imagine! There were a few spots on the interstate that didn’t have much to them. They did have people flying these really cool kite things though in some of the boring places! There were photographers EVERYWHERE taking pictures of you as you go. Have a mentioned all the people yet!? Okay, to start off I am pretty sure they said that 25,000 people were running the half marathon that Saturday! So crazy, but I believe it. The amount of people there was just breathe-taking. Now for the spectators. I can not thank these people enough! They got up and supported each and every runner out there. There had to be THOUSANDS of fans standing along the course with banners and noise makers yelling and cheering as we all ran past. The BEST part I think was going though Cinderella’s Castle, they blew horns as you entered, ran, through, and coming out on the other side saw AT LEAST 500 people waiting and cheering!
I also need to take time in here to give gratitude to all the people working the water stations, the medical stations, the people in costume, anyone that had a part in this process deserves a medal as well! They were all do helpful, motivating, and accommodating in every way possible!
So everything went SO SMOOTH, until mile 4 or 5. It was still dark out and we were making our way under this little bridge/over pass thing. There was the road, and then a concrete drainage type crevasse, well that turned into a SIDEWALK! I was in the process of trying to get around someone. I was concentrating on not getting in their way or tripping them or myself. Well, what happens? I fell, I slid, I wiped out! However, I just got right back up and kept on going. There was no point in stopping to see if I was bleeding because i wouldn’t have been able to do anything until I got to a medical station anyway! I shook it off and continued on with my race.
I don’t even care that I fell, I would have been bad if I would have hurt myself enough that i couldn’t continue, but thankfully that wasn’t the case. The race was SO MUCH FUN. I loved literally almost every minute of it. The time between miles 12 and 13 were a little rough. All I could hear was people shouting, ” You are almost done!” “You did it!” “You are in the home stretch!” All of that is very encouraging, but makes that mile seem to go on FOREVER!!! the last 0.10 mile was AWESOME though! I finished and received my medal!! They showered me with water, Powerade, and snacks! It was an amazing feeling and experience. My goal was to finish in under 2 hours and 30 minutes.. well I am happy to say that my ending time was…
If you have ever thought about doing a Disney race, DO IT!! It is SOOOO worth it. If you do decide to go, I have a few tips for you.
#1. Stay on Disney Property. It is so convenient to walk to a bus stop to take you everywhere you need to go. Plus they have a bus service to take you to and from the airport, no rental car is necessary!
#2. Make meal reservations ahead of time. If you know of places you really want to eat, call before you leave for your trip to make your reservation, you can make a meal reservation up to ~180 days ahead of time at Disney. If you don’t know, I recommend making a plan as soon as you get here and see where there is to go, and make the reservations for the entire weekend.
#3. Take a small gym bag. I recommend taking a drawstring gym back with you. They provide you with a very large bag with everything you need for the race, but the bag is not practical. Take your own, plus it will not get mixed up with any of the other thousands of bag that look like yours.
#4. Get the bus early. I highly recommend this for the morning of the race, but you can use the same advice for anything bus related during the race weekend. Give yourself an hour and a half time frame to get where you need to go. So if you know the bus ride is 20 mins to get from A to B and you want to be there by 12:30.. don’t go for the bus at 12:00. Try to get to the bus stop between 10:30 and 11:00. The traffic was so backed up it took us an hour to get almost anywhere we needed to be!
#5. The shirts are made BIG. The shirt that are given out for free are co-ed. This means they are not a womens shirt or a mens shirt. I got a small, and it is HUGE on me!! Just a little tip to keep in mine for co-ed events with free clothing!
#6. Spectators. If you have someone or a group with you cheering you on, have them go to the rundisney website and sign up to track the runner. It will make things a lot easier, and most enjoyable for them to know where you are and how you are doing!