So I last left off after successfully completing two days of racing at Disney and enjoying some quiet and relaxing time at the hotel.
Half Marathon day re-united me with Jeff, my first marathon guide, the guy who helped me qualify for my first Boston Marathon, and who guided me in that first Boston as well. Had a minor scare the night before the Half as I got a message from the hotel saying that we had to meet at 3:30am at the latest to get the buses to the start line…which was a slight problem as I had told Jeff 3:45 meet up time, and didn’t know if I’d get the message in time to him to get that time changed. I called the front desk, they relayed that they had no idea why we were having those messages left, as the shuttle buses would be running well after 4:00am, so I went to bed not worrying about the time and still planning to meet Jeff for 3:45.
Morning came early, was up and ready to go and my wife took me down to the main lobby to meet Jeff. we had to wait in a short and quick line and were on a bus and off we went. Traffic seemed to be much busier for the half – I guess when you double the number of runners, that’s likely to happen, but we still made decent time, also thanks to a great (crazy) bus driver that drove around huge backups in traffic to deliver us on time.
I was really glad we made it when we did, as we almost missed the Athletes with Disabilities walk out to the start line – and just like in the 10k day we followed the wheelchairs out to the very front, once again getting to begin our run before the pack, which really helps the safety for all involved when running as a visually impaired runner. Weather for the run was perfect running weather. Start temperature was about 4 Celsius, with very little wind. I was able to run in shorts and a long sleeve tech shirt, which is probably my favourite running attire. Had a throwaway sweat shirt and windbreaker, so I was plenty warm enough standing around waiting for the race to begin.
Half Marathon start was a breeze, we let the wheeled athletes get out over the line first, then began our 21km trek after them. Had to laugh as one of the announcers kept screwing up the race and celebrating the 25th running of the WDW Marathon…. on the Half Marathon Saturday. I made a comment to Jeff joking about it moments before his co-host corrected him, telling him this was just the Half. I can understand….it was early morning starts for everyone!
Some really early excitement, as we got to watch/listen to the elite runners blow past us after their start. I couldn’t really see them all that well, but could see the tail light of the race officials on bikes that were leading them along and was amazing to see just how quickly, and effortless, the running seemed to be. Someday…..someday…I’ll never be that fast!!!
Half Marathon course is a fairly straight forward one…it starts in the Epcot parking lot, and heads out to the Magic Kingdom, through the park by running up Main Street, through Tomorrowland and Fantasyland, out the middle of the castle, then through Liberty Square and Fronteirland, heading out of the park, running past the Grand Floridan and Polynesian hotels before heading back down World Drive and towards Epcot. You finish the race with a quick tour through Future World, then out Epcot, into the parking lot and the finish line.
Not too much to note on the race, we ran a semi-conservative run that day. Knowing Jeff like I do, and knowing that he’s pretty competitive I knew that even the easy run would be a bit faster paced, but was cool with that. Despite the run being a bit faster than I would have liked, still was comfortable and kept an easy conversation the whole time and hopefully would be leaving plenty in the bank for the full marathon the next day.
Finishing time was 2:12 and change, which also was a new Half Marathon race PR for me, and was about 5-10 minutes faster than I was actually hoping to run the half, but it turned out to be all good, it was one of those perfect race days that just came together in a perfect finish.
Headed back to the hotel, had a quick breakfast with the entire family group before some headed off the Animal Kingdom for the day, I once again stayed back and hung out and relaxed for the day, spent some time with my parents and with the hot tub and generally took it easy before the big show the next day.
When I’m running long, and especially when I’m running early the next day I go against the common wisdom and generally like to have my big meal for LUNCH the day before, electing for a smaller dinner the night before the big race. That fuelling strategy worked really well for the Half Marathon, so decided to keep it for the full. That means a delicious build your own pasta for lunch, complete with chicken, some vegetables and marinara sauce, then the light dinner was a turkey sandwich.
I’ll also be honest, I was almost nervous for the full the next day, and I’m not the kind of runner that gets nerves before races. I knew I had my training dialled in, I had great runs leading up to the race and was ready….but I had just finished three days of running, three days of early wake ups, and three nights of not quite enough sleep (about 5-6 hours each night…a bit less than I’d normally like). The thing that kept me from being nervous was knowing that I had that good training cycle in, and that I could trust my training to get me to where I needed to be – and also knew that whatever happens will happen, and worrying about it before hand isn’t going to change the outcome, so its best to just relax, enjoy the day, and more importantly, enjoy the next day to come!