Sunday, October 23, 2011

Disney's Wine & Dine Half Marathon - My First Ever! (Part 2)

I knew I would need walk breaks as I ran. It was how I was trained and I needed to stick to it. I just couldn't stand the thought of 3:1 intervals though! See? Stubborn! So I decided to walk when I felt I needed too and always at water stops. The nutritionist I listened to at the Expo, Tara Gidus, said to take Powerade at most stops. She's the nutritionist for the Orlando Magic, she must know what she's talking about! So I took Powerade and water at almost every stop. At about Mile 1, I saw the trucks go by with all of our bags. That was kinda funny! The first three miles are all highway to the Animal Kingdom. As we neared the park and turned in to the parking lot, the songs I had programmed for Animal Kingdom (Hakuna Matata, The Bare Necessities, etc.), began. It was exciting that, so far, the playlist was working! As we headed in thru the main entrance of Animal Kingdom, I ran past Jeff Galloway and his wife - they were walking. Once thru the turnstiles, we were greeted by a path lit up with animal tusks! I then rounded the corner to see the Tree of Life all lit up in the dark night sky. Animal Kingdom closes at dusk, so this was quite a sight to behold!
Blurry picture but you get the idea!

Tree of Life at Night
All throughout the park, cast members were posted clapping and cheering us on. My most favorite part of Animal Kingdom was rounding the bend and seeing Everest all lit up. It was absolutely breathtaking!

The first character stop for pictures was also in Animal Kingdom, but way in the back in DinoLand, USA. It was Pluto! I had to stop!

 Then it was out of the park and back on to Osceola Parkway for the journey to Hollywood Studios. My iPod continued to belt out tunes. For the highway run, I had a variety of tunes that were inspiring ("I'll Make a Man Out of You" from Mulan) and fun ("Fabulous" from High School Musical). I hit Mile 7, the farthest race distance for me since June. This is where I also started to take photos of each Mile Marker sign. One thru six somehow just were not as important as 7 - 13!!

We headed up the biggest "hill" on the course to the encouragement of our very own drill sergeant from Toy Story. He said I was doing great multi-tasking as I ran and took his picture!
Then it was time to head in to Hollywood Studios. We ran up World Drive to the cast member entrance. The very same entrance I used to use when I worked at then Disney-MGM Studios way back in 1992. And miracle of ALL miracles, perfectly timed on my playlist, the Twilight Zone theme played in my years as I entered in the shadow of the Tower of Terror! I couldn't believe just how perfect it was! I yelled out an exuberant "YES!"

This was also Mile 9. My furthest race distance EVER was 9.3 miles in the Gate River Run. I was about to pass that! As I passed by the Tower, I headed to the Rockin' Rollercoaster with Aerosmith joining the party as "Dude Looks Like a Lady" played. I was grinning from ear to ear. We ran down Sunset Blvd. turning left onto Hollywood Blvd. and past the big Mickey hat. Next character stop, Buzz Lightyear!

I was now also past Mile 10 at this point. At about 10 1/2 my legs started to yell at me. I ignored them. I guess that was my "wall." We ran thru the back of the park and onto the Backlot where we ran thru the Costuming Tunnel. I had read that last year it was horribly hot in this spot. In perfect Disney form, they had fixed that this year by having fans on. Perfectly pleasant! I passed Mile 11 somewhere around here and had officially crossed into the point of longest distance EVER!! Then it was onto the set of Lights! Motor! Action! where I made sure to ham it up for the video camera!
The best picture of the night was also taken during my run thru Hollywood Studios. It was also the character stop with the longest line! I love this one!!!
I tried to look mean too, but couldn't stop giggling!
The race course then took me out of the park near the entrance. I ran right past my old store, Mickey's of Hollywood. I should have stopped for another picture but chose to keep running. I did get a little emotional at this point remembering my old life. We rounded the bend to the lagoon that separates Hollywood Studios from Epcot and onto the walkway that winds thru the Beach & Yacht Club hotels. Mile 12 was a tight walkway but I still managed to stop and take a quick pic! I was in amazement at this point. I was really doing this! I had run 12 miles and was almost finished!!!

"Go the Distance" from Hercules came on my iPod and it was hard not to tear up. The song fits me so well. As I got closer to Epcot, the "Entrance Melody" (yes, I actually have that on a CD - I am a total Disney nerd!) started to play. It seemed a little early but I also knew I was close. At that point I think I stopped really paying attention to the songs in my ears. I was so overcome with the fact that I was almost finished with my first Half Marathon! I was tired and my legs felt heavy and sore but I ran the entire last mile point one to that finish line. Cast members were EVERYWHERE at this point with funny, encouraging and crazy signs. The cheering crowds were amazing! I hit Mile 13...
Yes, a cornucopia of food, wine and celebrating was one tenth of a mile from me!!
As I ran towards the finish line, Disney was playing the theme from Rocky. Could there be any better song for what I had just accomplished? Nope. I don't think so!
Never been happier!!!

Disney's Wine & Dine Half Marathon - My First Ever! (Part 1)

Finally time to get ready for my first ever half marathon. I felt a little nervous, but mainly just excited to get out there and do it! I got dressed in my new Running Skirts outfit, packed my race bag with WAY too much stuff (but I like to be prepared!) and headed to my car. I had to drive to the finish line and park at Epcot then board a bus to the start line at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports. All of the buses were different. This was mine:
Dream Coach? You got that right! I was living my dream and soooo excited! While on the bus, they played a video explaining different points of our evening and offering tips. Most of the things they mentioned I already knew from reading Disney's very thorough race materials or from blogs that I had read. It was still a good last minute reminder and one more way to keep me pumped!
The buses dropped us all off at a large field. There were so many people already! I immediately got in line for the first of what would be many pictures for the night, but I was going to document it all!
The field was alive with activity! I walked around to try to find a friend from my Galloway training group and to get myself oriented as to where everything was: bag check, photo ops, corrals, water and the all important porta-potties! Not much luck finding Brittany, so I hopped in the line to get my picture with Chef Mickey.
While in line, I saw a group of the Disney running bloggers I follow walk by - that was pretty cool! I was too chicken to call out to these people I had never met before (have to work on that) but it was really fun to see @DisRunner, @DisneyProject and @InIronsPL! I also was able to find Brittany. I tried calling out to her, but the DJ and music were so loud she couldn't hear me! Luckily, she stayed in that same spot and after my pic with Mick (I wasn't about to leave my spot in line!), I was able to meet up with her. 

 It was time to check my bag and head towards the starting corrals. The bag check was quick and painless. They were loading all of our bags into big pods that they would then transport to the finish line. It was all pretty cool the way they had it planned out! I kept my "food supply plus" bag out so I could have what I needed right before the race and then dispose of anything extra. I had these great pockets in my new Running Skirt which I immediately filled with my Sports Beans and lip gloss. The rest could wait. 
Needless to say, I did not have any Ziplocs with me...I will remember that for my next one! :-)
Brittany and I sat and rested for awhile chatting about our lives. She asked about my playlist so I pulled out my iPod, only to discover the battery showing red! What?!? How could that be? I had just had it plugged in to my computer earlier as I was making last minute adjustments to my playlist. I was so distraught! I needed this music! I made sure it was off and clipped it on, praying that when I needed it, somehow, someway, it would work! We headed to the starting area and got in line for one last potty stop. We went straight to the corral after that. It was almost time to start. Brittany was in Corral D but was able to walk right in to Corral B with me. We were packed in there like sardines but very giddy & excited sardines! Corral A went off at 10:00 PM. We were next in Corral B at 10:05 PM. We even got fireworks to start us off!! So amazing! I love Disney!!

It took quite a while to actually cross the start line. Brittany and I ran together chatting for awhile. She decided to stick with her intervals from Galloway and took a walk break. Me? Being the competitive, stubborn girl that I am, I kept running. Nothing fast, just a good easy pace. She caught up each time and we kept up with each other until about the first mile and a half water stop. I lost her after that. Which really, was good for me. This was my race, my night - And I wanted to experience it all on my own! I turned on my iPod and ran. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Day before the Night

Prepping for a night race is totally different than prepping for a morning one. I'm definitely calling this one an all out experiment, since I wasn't totally sure what I was doing. I've read blogs and articles, listened to a nutritionist, and even consulted Jeff Galloway. But what my body (and brain) do on race day is only now coming to light.

I'd say one of the hardest things is waiting. I was so excited I could hardly stand it! I had never run this far before. I knew I was ready so I just wanted to get out there and prove it! Especially in the morning when the weather in Orlando was perfect for running! A cold front came in so it was sunny but cool with barely, if any, humidity.

But I waited. And waited. And waited.

So I went to breakfast at Perkins and ordered a nice real breakfast! Scrambled eggs with cheese, hash browns, a biscuit and 2 slices of bacon. I figured two slices won't kill me, right? And of course, coffee!
 I entertained myself for a little while driving around my old haunts. I grew up in Orlando - even though that was almost 20 years ago! Geesh, I'm old! It was fun to go see my old house and my high school, which now sits in the shadow of Hogwarts Castle. Somehow that just fits. Then off to the Disney Village Marketplace. It was walking distance from my hotel so I parked the car and enjoyed the lovely weather. I visited all my favorite spots and walked all around. My legs were a little tired and I needed a snack so I got a pretzel (carbs + salt) and a Powerade. Perfect!

  I came back to the hotel and lounged by the pool to rest for a bit. My room is right off the pool. I could not have asked for a better location! It will make sneaking out to soak my legs tonight that much easier!! After relaxing by the pool for a bit, I got cleaned up to head out to my early dinner. I was settled on Italian for sure and thinking I would probably have pizza. I always have pizza the night before my morning races - why should this be any different. It was only 5pm. I still had five hours before race time.
I arrived at Portobello's at Downtown Disney and sat at the bar. This was my first visit to the restaurant. It was lovely inside. Family style seating and lots of warm wood. The bar was beautiful and the bartenders were very friendly. I ordered a Diet Coke & water - I needed caffeine to perk me up. I decided on the Margherita pizza and it was the perfect choice! It was about ten inches across with a thin, brick oven baked crust. The sauce was light, the mozzarella melted all over and strips of fresh basil were scattered across the top. Before my meal, they also brought out warm rolls with a whole roasted garlic bulb! The look on my face must've clearly communicated that I was unsure what to do with this little gem! The bartender proceeded to tell me that I should pop out one of the cloves and spread it on the bread like butter. Ok. It was different but of course wonderful! I'll be safe from vampires tonight!!
After my lovely pre-race meal, I went back to the hotel to REALLY get ready. Time to pack my bag for before and after and get dressed. I bought a new outfit from Heather at the Running Skirts booth at the Expo! I was really excited to wear it! They say you shouldn't run in an outfit you haven't trained in but it's not like I was putting on a snow suit! So it's off to the race!