Three weeks ago, I flew to Florida to run the DisneyWorld Wine and Dine half marathon 2014 with my best friend Joanna. I’ve been having an issue with my left hip and wasn’t able to prepare properly. So we planned to run and walk but not on a timed schedule like we did the the Big Sur 10.6-miler. Nothing we imagined about the race came true.
It wasn’t until 30 minutes before we started the race that I became miserable with nervous doubt. I had done a good job until then of not obsessing and overanalyzing the fact that I was so ill-prepared.
I hadn’t run more than 6 miles in the past 7 months. And even then, those 7 miles had been my farthest non-stop run. We had never even considered running the entire 13.1 miles.
Joanna on the other hand was sufficiently prepared to test her limits with two 9-milers and one 10-miler behind her. I’ve been so very upset with myself for stumbling this past summer and falling so behind on my running journey. But like I said, I was doing well with not obsessing and overanalyzing. That is, until it started raining.
Standing there in the “L” corral (the very last corral in the queue), my mind began to unravel increasingly with each rain drop that fell on my unsheltered head. I had no rain jacket or hat. “Why would I need a hat in the middle of the night?”, I wondered to myself as I was packing for the trip just four nights before.
I was tired, I was ill-prepared (physically and mentally) and I couldn’t muster a smile. And to make matters worse, I had accidentally checked my Garmin into the back check.
The rain started shortly after the first corral took off at 10:00 p.m. and was forecasted to continue for the following 10 hours. After standing in the rain for about 30 minutes, we took off. It was slow going because of all the walkers. We hadn’t expected this. The idea of walking 13.1 miles in the dark, on purpose, still confuses me.
We weaved in and out while I set a slow pace. The walkers slowed us down also but I didn’t mind because when I got to the 3 mile marker I was still breathing incredibly easy. I told myself I should stop at mile 4 or I’d surely burn out.
We got to the Animal Kingdom and the bottlenecks were excruciating… and so much fun! We darted in and out, Joanna yelling “On your right!” and “Passing!”. I commented to her “This feels like a trail race!”
We passed mile 4 near Everest and there was no good reason to stop so we kept on with zig zagging our way to mile 5 where I was sure I’d have the urge to walk.
We made it out of the Animal Kingdom and realized that it was taking a long time to get to mile 5. A few minutes later we saw the mile 6 marker. Somehow we missed mile 5. I was still breathing easy somehow, afraid to undo all the progress we’d made getting through the walkers. Besides, we were completely soaked but running kept our bodies warm and our minds off the unfortunate timing.
It wasn’t until we got to the 10k marker that it seemed we had passed most of the walkers. I still felt surprisingly good. This made no sense to me. But I tried not to overthink it. I wanted to walk for a bit to eat a Gu. It took me a minute and I was ready to get going again. It was actually uncomfortable to walk at that point between the soaking wet clothes and shoes, rain and muscles that had so far been happily carrying me along at a leisurely pace.
I wondered if I’d want to start a run/walk routine at mile 7, which was the longest I’d ever run (without significant walk breaks). But we somehow missed the mile 7 marker and when I saw the time at mile 8, I noticed we were keeping an 11:30 minute pace. I started to wonder if I might be able to keep running to the finish.
Mile marker 9 came and went. Four miles left. With my breathing under control and my legs doing their own thing, there was still no good reason to stop. It felt like it would have been a painful effort to force my body to walk at that point. A very unfamiliar sensation. I was overwhelmed with confusion and hopeful excitement. Is it possible I would go from 6 miles to 13.1 just by slowing my pace by 1 min/mi??!!
We made it to Hollywood Studios. The disco tunnel was Joanna’s favorite part. I enjoyed the gaudy Christmas light set up on a NYC street studio. We stopped for a minute to take a picture with Boba Fett. No line! Can you tell he was checking me out and I was leaning away from him?
When we got to mile 12, it was feeling surreal. Had I really just run 12 miles? Joanna, who was in much better shape than me, was wanting to surge, I could tell. And since I felt a little bad for slowing her down, I wanted to let her set the pace for the last mile. I had a little juice left in me (or so I thought).
But when we got to the 20k marker and she announced “only 0.6 mile left!!”, I thought “actually 0.7 mile and that sounds like fooooorrrreeevveeerrrrr!!” I didn’t actually say this because I was quickly losing my breath.
I had to slow it down and noticed that even though I sensed the pace increase and decrease, my legs no longer felt like they completely belonged to me and I wondered if I really was speeding up and slowing down. I didn’t even feel any pain or discomfort, except for the bottoms of my feet, which felt exactly as they did after a long day of touristing around NYC.
My legs were on auto pilot and I was so grateful they were carrying me out of this wet misery.
I apologized to Joanna for slowing her down. I had thought to encourage her to sprint ahead of me but knew she was too dedicated to me to do it. When I saw the finish line, it seemed so close and I tried to run faster. I’m not sure my body really did but my mind and heart did. Joanna and I finished it together!
I was going to write another post about all the awful things about this race. Like how they pulled a lot of the characters off the route before most people got to see them, people were sarcastically “Mooooo”ing as they herded us through the section to get our one free wine or beer and the lack of photos (there are only 6 with me in them and we didn’t get any of bib pickup or finish line photos!!) and the best part… my medal broke (and I wasn’t the only one)! But I’m really over it at this point and I don’t want to drudge up all that misery. Short story is that I’ll likely never do another Disney race.
This picture pretty much sums up the event experience we got. This picture would have been epic. Joanna looks perfect but that lady is totally blocking me!
And this one where I’m grabbing Joanna’s hand right before we both raise them up in triumph! Well there were about three pictures of me grabbing her hand and NONE of us with our arms up!
Oh well, I guess that just means Joanna and I will have to run another half!