Thank you for bearing with me and the delay of these posts. We spent a couple extra days at Disney World after the races, and updating the blog via Blackberry wasn't going to look pretty. But now that I'm back at a PC, I'll provide more comprehensive recaps. Pardon the picture quality, however. My phone is a pretty poor camera, especially when I snap while running.
First recap - the Half Marathon race on Saturday, Jan 10th, 2009.
It was a beautiful day for running, with the 5:50am starting time temperature hovering around 40 degrees. Mom and I got up at 3am, dressed, Body Glide-ed and headed over to EPCOT by way of monorail. All was quiet in the land of Disney except for the +15,000 runners and supporters buzzing around the parking lot.
We purchased "Race Retreat" packages ahead of time, so we were allowed to enter a heated tent. Pre-race breakfast and bathrooms were provided, and it gave us a chance to sit on comfortable seats and wait out the 90 minutes prior to entering the corrals. Definitely worth the money.
Interior of the Race Retreat Tent
Mom was nervous the entire time, this being her first half marathon. The corrals were large and full of people. We settled into Group C, Wave 2 and waited.
Us at the start line around 5:30am
When the gun went off, so did a large set of fireworks. Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy cheered everyone on as they ran under the start line scaffolding and out along the street.
Mickey at the Start Line
The first four miles of the race take you along the highway between EPCOT and the Magic Kingdom. The first small victory you experience is the Magic Kingdom welcome entrance between miles 3-4.
Welcome to the Magic Kingdom...at 6:30am
After that, the course winds around the Richard Petty Driving Experience and into the ticket and transportation area. Crowds of supporters gather here to cheer everyone on. The course was flat and we kept an even pace. The energy of the race picks up through the TTC and over to the Contemporary. More people, more sights.
The Contemporary Hotel before the sun came up
Just after the 5th mile, we entered the park. This is where it gets good. Characters, music and the sights of Disney World all take over. It doesn't feel like running anymore, it's totally distracting.
We enter from a side lot, go down Main Street and then through Tomorrow Land.
Entering Tomorrow Land...on the run
From Tomorrow Land, we headed through Fantasy Land.
From Fantasy Land we ran through Cinderella's Castle.
This moment is why you run the race
After the castle, we turned right into Frontier Land. I made Mom stop so we could get a picture with Splash Mountain in the distance.
Smile for the camera phone!
Then from Frontier Land we went out of the park and set off for the return run to EPCOT.
I felt good through the entire race. Mom was sweaty, but ran faster than she expected she could. Although the return miles to EPCOT seem long, it's only 3.5 miles from park-to-park. After two rolling hills (overpasses and on ramps) we re-entered EPCOT. I knew we would break 3 hours by this time. Mom didn't know, and didn't believe that we would. But at mile 12, we were far below the 3 hour mark, so we ran hard the last mile past the big ball, through Future World and past the Hallelujah chorus. Then it was out the back of the park and into the parking lot where the FINISH LINE greeted us. Chip Time: 2:37:38!
Finish line photo pictures, medals and space blankets - all were collected. We returned to the Race Retreat to get a real breakfast, and for me, start loading up for the marathon 22 hours later.
Post-race eggs, salsa and potatoes.
The rest of the day found us milling about Disney's Hollywood Studios on the new Toy Story 4D ride (awesome) and taking in older attractions like Star Tours and the Muppets 3D show. Dinner at the Wilderness Lodge restaurant "Artist's Point" helped fuel me up for the next day's race. After an early dinner it was right to bed. Another 3am wake up time would come all too soon...
Me and Mom with our medals.
Mom and Dumbo
(Stay tuned for Pt 2 - Full Marathon recap)