Quick summary ... This was one of the best running experiences of my life. I ran well within my fitness and executed my race plans perfectly. I had energy for family time in the theme parks before and after each race.
My Team Triumph
For the half marathon I wore my race t-shirt from myTEAM TRIUMPH an organization that helps persons with disabilities have an endurance athletics experience while also creating lasting friendships. I was running for all of the mTT captains on Saturday. I am looking forward to racing with mTT again soon!
Pre-race for the half marathon.
With a 0535 start time we had to wake up about twenty minutes before 3 am. I quickly changed, finalized my drop bag and guzzled a cup of coffee. I brought with me a water bottle and bagel with peanut butter to eat in the corral about 90 minutes before starting.
Runner bus transportation was close to our Corando Springs room and a mostly empty bus pulled up just as we arrived. At the next stop there was a long line of team in training runners. The bus filled and we were on our way to Epcot.
My wife was also running the half so we chatted about race strategy and the nervous energy of several dozen team in training runners and walkers. team in training, which I believe benefits leukemia and lymphoma is the official Run Disney charity partner. I heard they raised more than 3miliion dollars with more than 1500 participants. On the bus I spoke with a sweeper.her job was to make sure everyone finished and had anything they needed. She was to be the last team in training finisher. There were also lots of coaches that were either running with participants or lining the course. Coaches had a grab bag of guu, band aids, power aide and other things runners might need. They also had silly hats, Pom pons and cow bells.
Runners arrive to the start village by bus, dozens of buses, private vehicle, foot, and monorail. Our trip was quick as I think we were ahead of much of the traffic. It is a 5-10 minute walk from the bus to the start village. The start village was complete with lots of port a potties (our first stop), photographers, and a DJ. We found a spot to meet post race, listened to a green army guy give encouragement, and visited with a few other runners.
|Just after getting off the bus. The walk to the staging area.|
|Looking back at the dozens of buses lined up to drop off runners.|
|Red carpet walkway and Mouse ears to enter the staging area.|
For many runs the bag drop is the back of a truck or a constricted area with no clear entry or exit. The bag drop was by last name and was the walk through to the staging area to the start. In the F to H tent there were 10 drop off spots and a one way flow of traffic. My bag would stay in this tent and not be moved, another bonus.
Given the hot weather my drop bag was pretty empty .... Water bottle, room key, phone, hat, dry shirt and dry shorts (I was anticipating chaffing and wanted to be able to get dry as soon as possible post race). Many runners didn't have a drop bag, which I considered but didn't want to run with my phone and room key.
|Staging area after moving through the bag drop|
Just after the split there was another long line of porta potties. Pro tip, walk further down the line of porta potties for a shorter line. Although I was assuming the corrals would have porta potties I decided to make a final stop. This is where I said goodbye to my wife. She was in corral B and I was in corral A.
|One of many rows of porta potties|
|The wide angle shot ... yes many of those people are in line|
|The road we walked from the post bag drop staging area to the corrals|
|The split for A-E and F-H corrals|
|Milling around in Corral A|
|Inspiration from Goofy, Mickey, and Donald|
I was expecting porta potties in the start corral. Alas there were none. Although my need was urgent I opted against hoping the barrier and ducking into the woods. I didn't want to face plant into the concrete. Held it in for on course porta potty.
The corral gradually became more and more crowded. Lots of runners in various Disney character outfits. Without going into details my favorite was a Jasmine outfit and several Minnie mouses more reminiscent of an adult Halloween party than Minnie from the Magic Kingdom.
A Disney vocalist sang the national anthem and the wheelchair race started with fireworks at 0530 (I had been awake for almost 3 hours at this point).
|Starting with a bang!|
To the Magic Kingdom
Large parts of the route are on the roads between the theme parks. Probably less than two miles of the half is run in a theme park.
|Running through the toll booth to Magic Kingdom parking|
The first character sighting was Captain Jack Sparrow. Runners were lining up for photos and music was blasting. It was a neat sight. Even neater was the monorail zipping by to our right.
The route turned into the ticket and transportation center which was nice because lots of runner friends and family were there cheering. Plus it was well lit after running a couple of miles in the dark. We continued out of the parking area and past the contemporary hotel. By this time I had settled into a comfortable pace. I didn't want to run to fast and risk both having a fun day with my kids and the marathon the next day. I was very content to run easy miles and enjoy the sights.
5K split in 28:43 (pace 9:15 min/mile) with an estimated finish time of 2:01:10.
Near the Walt Disney World speedway I stopped for a photo with Chip And Dale.
|Posing like the Clay Maker|
|Running in the fog near the Contemporary Hotel|
|Looking south on Main St. USA|
|Looking at Cinderalla's Castle|
Inside tomorrow land I stopped with a photo with Buzz Lightyear.
|To 13.1 and beyond!|
The route runs through Cinderella's Castle. The exit is spectacular into bright lights and flash bulbs of race photographers and spectators. In front of the castle I posed for a photo and made the turn into Frontier Land.
Inside Frontier Land I stopped for a photo with Jessie and Bullseye (Toy Story). I was surprised more people werent stopping and I never waited more an 2 to 5 people. You could have an official race photo taken as well as a photo with your own camera by a cast member.
|Holding the reins ... like Psy|
We ran past a Reedy Creek station I had not seen before and just after the 6 mile mark a reedy creek ladder was parked next to a DJ and cheering section.
|Run Strong, Be Safe from Reedy Creek FD|
Back to EPCOT
We ran a long straight section that eventually took us past the Grand Floridian and Polynesian. Just after the transportation center we rejoined the road....south bound lanes... of the road we had run into the Magic Kingdom.
|Runners/walkers still a few miles from the Magic Kingdom|
|Runners and walkers moving in both directions|
|End of the race, literally being swept off the road|
|Why the Penguin? I am about to get happy feet so keep reading.|
|Reedy Creek FD ambulance at Hess station, but I couldn't find the crew.|
|A few Reedy Creek FD personnel at the medical tent around mile 8|
Central Florida is very flat. The only hills on this course were when we changed roads. The switch from southbound to eastbound was a long sweeping clover leaf 270 degree bend. Near the top a couple of green arm guys were giving encouragement and my wife reported later challenging runners to do push ups.
|Top of the dreaded clover leaf, looking down at runners about to start the long curving hill|
Pick up the Pace
After the clover leaf I realized I needed to step up my pace to get to finish in under two hours. I felt well rested, hydrated and I had eaten a gel a few miles before. The sun wasn't yet over the horizon so I stepped on the gas. Although this section was straight and fairly mundane it is always fun to pass other runners.
|Pushing it with the sun about to rise|
Just before the EPCOT parking lot Warren Sapp and another ESPN personality were shouting out hometowns of runners. I got Warren to give a cheer for the packers (playing that night). Later I realized I could have kicked him in the knee and shouted, "that is for Chad Clifton."
At this point I was really pouring it to the coals and making lots of passes. We ran through the bus drop off area and into EPCOT to the left of spaceship earth. I stopped for a photo with @jeff_EMT and continued to blast toward the finish.
|Great to see you Jeff!|
I felt great as I smiled for lots of photographers. It was another goose pimples moment as we left EPCOT and ran by a gospel choir. I was thrilled to see 400 yards to go and know that I was well within 2 hours.
|Spaceship Earth ... one of my favorite rides|
The finishing chute is quite long with plenty of space between the medals, water, powerade, finisher photos, and food. It was quite spacious. I enjoyed some snacks, posed for lots of photos, and watched others finish. Bag pick up was easy and I was handed my bag before I reached the table. It was Magical.
I arrived at the finish in 1:57:23 (pace 8:57 min/mile).
|Just after crossing the finish line|
|A fine looking medal .... thanks Donals|
|Lots of cold drinks, water and Powerade|
|Walking into post race staging area was a long line up of race potographers|
|These ladies put the B into bananas|
|Bag pick-up was easy peasy ...|
|Post race ... happy and hydrated|
After Amanda arrived we had a photo with Daisy Duck.
|No quacking about my runner chicken legs|
Laps from my Garmin
Overall place: 2061 of 23125
Gender place: 1537 of 9998
Age division place: 295 of 1725 (this is sort of stunning to me that there are this many runners in the 40-41 male age division. Perhaps I am sorting wrong or mis-reading)
Generally I like to be in the top 10% of the field (I call it the front of the middle of the pack). I think my placement reflects two things:
1. A generally slow field with lots of walkers
2. A race with more female than male entrants
Stay tuned for my recap of the Full Marathon.