All week last week, people who work in my building kept asking if I was running this weekend. "Nope, I'm just cheering this time" became my standard response. My next scheduled race is Celebration in two weeks, so my weekend plans included cheering for the 10K and full marathon and an 11-mile training run of my own on Saturday.
Fate, however, had other plans! A friend (who was also not planning on running) acquired a race number from someone else, and then decided at the last minute to pass the number along to me. And in case you were wondering my definition of "last minute," I didn't know at 2pm on Friday when I left work that I'd be waking up 12 hours later to run in this race!
Cat planned to run, but failed to train. She decided that her lack of training meant she'd be at my pace anyway, so we decided to run together. This is the first long race I've run with someone else, and I can't even tell you how much better that made the whole experience.
The course for the WDW Half is the same as for the Princess Half - start on the highway near Epcot, run to and then through Magic Kingdom, run some more highway, trudge up the on-ramp of death, tackle some more unexpected hills, run through the front half of Epcot, finish in the Epcot parking lot. When I ran Princess, I just didn't understand what all the fuss was about. People seem to love running toward Cinderella Castle and talk about how special and magical it is. Last February, I was unimpressed. There was a great cheering crowd, but I thought the whole park was a choke point and I would have been happier running in a wide-open space instead.
|Cat was just as thrilled as I was...I swear!|
Did I mention magical?
The rest of the Magic Kingdom was just wonderful - through Tomorrowland, past the Tea Cups, through the Castle, past Liberty Square and Frontierland, and out through the back vehicle gate. Before we knew it, we hit the halfway point. Halfway ALREADY?!?
Cat and I talked the whole time, about family and friends, work, life, how the race was going, how long we'd make it before we would have to stop to pee (4 miles)... occasionally we'd high-five for silly reasons or chat with strangers.
I particularly loved the water stop manned by Disney Cruise Line workers. It was great to hear the different tunes that the ships' horns play, and there was a lady with a PA announcing groups as they ran past - "Disney Cruise line welcomes the Team in Training!!" - which made me long to go on another cruise.
My absolute favorite part of the entire race is going to take a few sentences of flashback to explain. Back in 2009 (I think) when Scott still worked at the Magic Kingdom, he had a 3am shift on a Marathon Sunday. His car battery died, and he woke me up to drive him to work. As we pulled into the MK gate, there was a giant marker for Mile 10. I laughed and asked him to take a picture of me fake-running past the sign in my pajamas and flip-flops. He declined, and I've pretty much reminded him about that every race weekend ever since. The photo that got away...
Fast forward to this past Friday:
I found myself alone with the Mile 5 marker for the 10K (featuring Nemo, Dory, and Marlon), and took a picture of it and posted it to Facebook with a comment about wishing someone was there to take a picture of me fake-running past it in my jeans and boots.
|perhaps for my next race my signature|
move should be *actual* running
instead of just faking it for photos!
Like most races, the last 5K of this race kicked my butt. I didn't think the on-ramp and hills were quite as bad this year, but I was still pretty winded and exhausted by the time we made it into Epcot.
Right before the park, we passed a girl with a poster that said "2 LEGIT 2 QUIT," and I asked her if she was old enough to understand the reference on her poster. Her answer "I'm 35," followed by the hand gestures that go with the song. "Oh, then I guess you are." I hope she was flattered and not annoyed!
After running the entire race together, Cat and I stuck together all the way to the finish line.
...but I slowed down and veered left to high-five Goofy and she ended up crossing the finish a few seconds before I did.
There was more high-fiving, and I found myself choking back tears for the (at least) third time. Even if we had planned for this and trained together and worn matching costumes, I doubt we would have had a better race together.
|Friends with medals (and balloons oddly positioned behind our heads)|
We might go weeks without talking sometimes, but my friendship with Cat is one of the most enduring and constant of my life. Frankly, the fact that we're still friends after 13 years (including one where we shared an apartment) is kind of mind-boggling. And sharing this moment with her might have been the best moment of our whole friendship. It's in my top five for sure.
My Race Stats:
Clock Time: 4:23:53
Chip Time: 3:29:08
Overall Place: 17761/20242
Division Place: 1035/1254
My Splits (according to RunKeeper):
mile 1: 14:06 min/mi
mile 2: 14:04 min/mi
mile 3: 14:28 min/mi
mile 4: 14:15 min/mi
mile 5: 15:18 min/mi
mile 6: 14:28 min/mi
mile 7: 14:43 min/mi
mile 8: 15:16 min/mi
mile 9: 15:02 min/mi
mile 10: 15:41 min/mi
mile 11: 16:09 min/mi
mile 12: 16:13 min/mi
mile 13: 16:28 min/mi
I don't think I mentioned that heat and humidity were definitely a factor in this race. And talking slowed us down a bunch. But neither of us were in it for a PR, and we had an awesome time.