- The duct tape on my feet held perfectly. The secret: proper placement of the tape, Body Glide on all the edges, and spray antiperspirant on the bottom of my foot. When I pulled my sock off 7 hours later, the tape was perfectly in place, though all of the silver was rubbed off on the spot where the blister usually is.
- I borrowed the clip-on towel from Scott’s golf bag, and clipped it to my belt pack during the race. It was the perfect length to wipe my face, and I was able to tuck the loose end into the belt so it wasn’t flying all over the place.
- Food and drink. I followed the recommendations in the race booklet and it worked perfectly for me. I peed once in a port-a-potty before getting into my corral and then not again until we were back in the hotel room. I packed 2 bags of Craisins and a bottle of water in my belt pack, and only finished about half of what I brought. I had plenty of fuel and water, despite the miserable conditions.
- I got to the race incredibly early and got into my corral early enough to be in the first 100 people across the start line. That was really important, because the “van of shame” race pace starts the clock when the last person crosses the mats so I probably had a 10-minute buffer.
- It was still in the high 70’s when the race started, and was incredibly humid. Though I trained all summer long, we planned our long runs to start around 6 am when it was “only” in the low to mid 70’s. I was grateful that it didn’t rain, but couldn’t believe the amount of sweat pouring off of me once we started running.
- The first 1/3 mile was basically up an onramp, and was a spirit crusher for me. I got to the top and was already winded and sweating like a beast. Also, a lot of the faster people who started behind me were passing me so it felt like I was the slowest person on the course. I didn’t think I would make it to Mile 2 without collapsing. I knew I wasn't going to just quit, but very early on I was actually wishing for a twisted ankle so I'd have to stop.
- After the 2-mile sign and a run through the Animal Kingdom toll plaza, there was a water station right before the U-turn to go back up Osceola Parkway the opposite direction. They had run out of cups on one side and were handing out full bottles of water. So I decided to walk a while and drink what I could. And then “Life’s a Happy Song” came on my playlist (which, by the way, is on shuffle so every new song through the whole race was a fun surprise). That song could not have come at a better time, because it instantly put me in a better mood. "I've got everything that I need...right in front of me..."
- 5K Time: 46:35; Pace: 14:60
- We went past McDonald’s, which smelled like delicious french fries from a distance…but Filet-o-Fish up close. Ick!
- We left Osceola Parkway some time before the 5-mile sign, and the access road we were on at that point was gravel. Most of the people decided to walk this, which seemed a good plan to me. I enjoyed the fast-walk break and the “haunted” scenery we were walking through surrounded by trees. Right at the end of the access road was the one thing I wish I had taken a picture of: a skeleton in a cage…and he was wearing a race bib!
- The run around the Sports Complex was great for me. The whole area is flat, and since that’s where Walking League happens it was sort of like a little homecoming for me. I liked running around the track, and there were still maybe 100 spectators in Champion Stadium when we ran through. They had funny posters and were yelling and screaming, which was good motivation to push onward. I was expecting to see Scott at the stadium, and when he wasn’t there I was really sad. I still smiled running past the event photographers at the exit though!
- 10K Time: 1:39:23; Pace: 15:60
- Scott was actually on the road out of the stadium, which ended up being perfect. I was actually able to go up and give him a soggy hug and a kiss. As I left he yelled that I was doing great and I yelled back, “I KNOW!” I didn’t know whether he was blowing smoke, but I knew that I was almost at mile 7 and still felt pretty good and there were still a lot of people behind me.
- At the exit of the Sports Complex, I decided to take an extended walk break. There was a water station halfway between me and the end of that road, and I decided to fast walk the whole thing. The closer I got to the intersection, the more ready I was to start running. I knew I felt good enough to run the rest of my intervals on Osceola Parkway, and bargained with myself that if I ran that much that I would let myself walk the last mile and change when we were going through the Studios.
- On this last stretch of the course – maybe 2.5 miles? – I became aware of the number of people I was passing. Some were leap-frogging with me because we were doing similar intervals, but there weren’t as many passing me as I was passing.
- Right before the 9-mile sign, there was an older lady in an ECV holding a sign that said “I’m a complete stranger and I’m proud of you too.” It almost made me cry (though I had been near tears about every-other mile the whole way…they had changed to happy near-tears about 3 miles back). I did yell over to her “I love you complete stranger!” and she laughed. She’s probably the thing I’ll hold onto for a long time. I still get misty-eyed thinking about her.
- It turns out I lied to myself when I said I would stop running when we got to the park. There were so many cheering spectators at the Studios that I could barely hear my music or (more importantly) the interval beeps. So every time I heard a beep in my ear, I would start running and then switch back to a walk either when I was tired or I heard the next beep. I’m 100% sure that my final mile was 15 minutes or less.
- We passed a teenage volunteer who told us, “supposedly there’s only ¼ mile left!” His honesty was refreshing, and it was nice to laugh. That last stretch was backstage, and I was still feeling strong. Really, I don’t know how I was doing it. When we turned the corner and actually saw the finish line, I said to no one in particular “Oh my GOD I can’t believe I made it!” I managed to jog the last bit, and crossed the finish line smiling, with my arms up in the air.
- SMILING! AND STILL RUNNING!
- Finish Time: 2:43:14; Pace: 16:19
- After the finish line, the volunteers are there putting the medal around your neck. Then I called Scott, since I didn’t see him at the finish line area, and his phone went straight to voicemail (it was dead). I left him a voicemail that I wish I could save for posterity. All I know for sure is that I said “I just finished. Holy f--- I finished!”
- The rest of the runners-only zone was a mass of confusion for me. Someone handed me a snack box, others had bananas (they were HOT – probably more than 90 degrees. I managed to eat two bites before tossing the rest of it), and I got a bottle of yellow Power Ade. There were runners laying on the ground all over the place, and we actually had to walk up ANOTHER hill to get out. Last stop: official race photographs in front of the backdrop, and then they dumped us out into the party.
- Official Race Result: 7944th place. That might sound awful to anyone who is competitive, but for me even “DFL” would have been a tremendous achievement. (side note: I once saw a picture on Pinterest that says “DFL is better than DNF, which is better than DNS” it became my mantra) The final runner was #8721, which means 777 people finished after I did! Plus, there were maybe another 250 who either didn’t finish or didn’t show up at all.
After I got reunited with Scott, we wandered off to find a quieter spot before trying to call Laura and Richard (who had finished a half hour before me at least). There were people everywhere with ice packs strapped to their legs, sitting on the ground with their shoes off, and otherwise looking miserable. We ran into a girl he knows and she was near tears. I was none of those things. Sure, I was sore and tired, but I got a late adrenaline boost that lasted for a long time and was happy about everything! When we found Laura and Richard (very near where I had been in the first place…sigh!) we sat at a table and ate salty food and talked about the race. They ran the whole thing, so we had very different experiences. We ended up not doing any rides or character photos, and I never even bothered to change into my dry clothes. Really though, it was a great night, and I left the park very very happy.
I never did manage to have the “ugly cry” I expected to have at the finish line, and as a result I’ve been randomly leaking tears ever since. Really, by nature I’m not a goal setter. I’ve always been more of a “try it until it gets hard” type. So the fact that I did this still is hard to wrap my head around. All it takes is for anyone (just ask the people in my office) to say they’re proud of me and my throat gets tight all over again. Yesterday I was getting so many “congrats” on Facebook that the notifications were nonstop. I told Scott it was like my birthday, “but I earned it,” which made it so much better!
My hips hurt, my hamstrings are tight, and I have two HUGE blisters in places on my feet I’ve never even had red spots before. I’m pleasantly shocked they didn’t pop during the race. I also have a friction burn the size of a dime under my boob, we think from one of the safety pins for my race bib. Other than that, I feel good. My knees and ankles are fine, as are my calves, shins, and back. I am going to enjoy the heck out of this week, skipping the gym and sleeping in until a luxurious 6:30, and then take it easy at the gym for the two weeks after that. I’m going to wear old sneakers and do the elliptical on my cardio days instead of the treadmill to really give my blisters a chance to heal as completely as possible before training starts back up again for the Princess!
November 10: Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K. It’s through Animal Kingdom and it’s Christmas-themed…how could I resist??
December 2: Color Run Orlando (hopefully…they still haven’t opened up registration yet). Scott said he’d do this one with me. They say it’s fun, crowded, and messy!
February 24: Princess Half Marathon
I’d also like to find a 10K or 15K to do in January, just to fill in that gap a little and to do a longer run that doesn’t require Scott to follow me on the bike!