Monday, January 14, 2008
2008 Disney World Marathon Race Report Part A: Pre-race and the Start
Eighteen years ago, my husband Jim and I made the decision that we would spend the rest of our lives together, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, all the way to the "finish line" of our lives. This week, we celebrated with a 26.2 mile journey together through the magical world of Disney!
In the week leading up to the race, we took the typical precautions - making sure that we ate the right foods, got plenty of rest, and making sure our bodies "felt" right. My husband has been suffering through some foot and shin issues through his training, making his preparation less than ideal. His longest long run was 18 miles, run back in November. Since then he maxed at about 12 miles. But he was mentally ready, and in his mind had already completed the race. For me, I was concerned about the tiredness and lack of energy on recent long (and short runs). My last few runs were encouraging, but my heart rate readings were indicating that I was using up "gas" much sooner than I would like. The weather report had some rain in the forecast but before going to bed on Saturday night, it appeared we may not have rain - or if we did the chances were low. We brought gear in case it rained before the race - but figured once we started it didn't matter so much.
We decided to not get a room at Disney and to make the morning 50 minute commute to Epcot. As is my custom on "absolutely must get up" mornings, I set 3 alarms. I got up on the first alarm which went off at 2:30 am. We had breakfast and got ourselves ready and out the door by 3:15 am. By about 4:25 am we had reached the pre-race staging area where we checked our bags and found a port-o-potty before we were led to the starting corrals at 4:45 am. It is about a 15-20 minute walk to the starting corrals. We were in our Corral (Corral E) at about 5 am - waiting for the 6 am starting gun. It was about 60 degrees with fairly heavy fog - making the moist air feel a bit cool. I donned my rain poncho to keep warm since I was wearing a singlet and shorts for the race. I did feel that it was a bit more fashionable than the traditional garbage bags - and at $.88, not a bad deal. Hubby wore a short sleeve tech shirt and shorts. Our only other race gear was our fuel belts complete with Clif Shots. I also carried a cell phone in case Maddy was going to make it to cheer us on and for coordination with family when we finished.
We looked to see where the 5 hour pace group was going to line up - but they were no where to be found in our corral. Then I saw the 5:30 pace leader line up in the corral in FRONT of us! Where was the 5 hour pace leader and why was the 5:30 leader in front of us? We found out that the 5 hour pace leader was in Corral C, which was lined up behind A and B over on the other side of the roadway. We were in Corral E, behind Corral D (Corrals F, G and H were behind us). These two groups enter Epcot in two different areas and merge at about mile 4. We could only hope to find the 5 hour pace group. I wasn't completely dismayed. Being in corral E with only one corral in front of us meant we would cross the starting mat fairly quickly - with few folks in front of us, we could keep pace until we ran into the 5 hour pace group. That was the plan anyway.
Because of the 15th running of the race, we counted down from 15 with Mickey and Minnie before the fireworks went off, lighting up the sky and starting off the race. We crossed the starting mat 2 minutes into the race. We were on our way!
We all ran through the night, heading down the first stretch of highway, then after a couple of miles entering our first (and last park), Epcot. Epcot was ablaze with light - all the torches around the world showcase were lit as well as the countries and the World ball thing in the middle of the lagoon. The music was upbeat and inspirational. We ran by Spaceship Earth (the ball thing) and around the world showcase before exiting Epcot and joining with the other half of the marathoners who started on the other side of the road. We circled back toward the starting area and passed the starting line at about mile 4 of the race. The early morning starting line race supporters were there cheering on the runners on their second pass of the morning and sent us all on our way to the Magic Kingdom.
Before the race started, Jeff Galloway himself made a few remarks and indicated he would be running 1 min and walking 1 min. He planned to finish in about 4:45. We figured we would never get to see him. As we ran along past the 4 mile mark, we noticed a familiar face who was in the middle of a walking break. As we ran by my husband asked, "Isn't that Jeff Galloway?" A lady near him (his wife) replied, "Yes, it is." That was so cool! Then I had a thought...could we run walk with them and finish in 4:45???? When they started running and moved quickly by us, and I realized that we probably couldn't. But we did run near them for quite a while, then lost them in the crowd.