Well…. I did it! I finished my first half marathon today for Team In Training. I can’t believe I actually did it, given my lack of organized training, but for many reasons, I just had to do it- and I am so glad I did. (For those who don’t know about Team In Training, click here.)
First of all, let me just tell you that this morning was cold. And not just Florida cold-cold by normal standards too. It was 33, but felt like 27, or so weather.com reported, but the crazy thing is that it actually SNOWED. Seriously. The snow itself didn’t last long- I noticed it during my 30-minute wait for the port-o-potty before the race- but it soon turned to sleet, and then really really cold rain. Oh yeah, perfect weather to be standing outside for three hours in before my first marathon.. and that was just before the race begun!
I was a dork, and I ran with my camera. Most of my shots are taken while moving (albeit slowly) so aren’t very clear, but you’ll get the idea. Let me start at the beginning!
I woke up at 3 am this morning, because the race instructions were to arrive at EPCOT by 4 am. The night before, I carefully got my clothes together, charged my ipod, my Garmin Forerunner (which I brought to monitor my pace and make sure I didn’t get picked up for going too slow, haha!) and got everything I was bringing with me ready to go. I tried to get to bed early the night before, but.. I have a hard time getting to bed. I went to bed at around 10:30, that was the best I could do, so I got about 4 hours of sleep.
Here is where I have a tiny complaint- there was absolutely no reeason for me to get up at 3. I could have arrived at 5am or even 5:30, and been fine. I waited around freezing my butt off for 3 hours before the race started! But I digress.
Here was the scene at Epcot (in the parking lot) when I arrived:
There was a Toy Story army guy walking around the crowd this morning.. kinda weird.
I looked for my Central Florida Team in Training Team, because oddly enough I had never met them, but I never found them. Most of the team trained together every week, but I was unable to make those sessions due to lack of babysitters! I was kind of bummed that I never got a TNT shirt- so none of the 1,000s of runners and supporters could see that I was with them. Oh well!
I got myself a bagel and some coffee, and just wandered around the area.. in an hour or so, they started having the runners walk to the starting line- I would say it was at least a mile or two walk just to get to the start.
Lots of people wearing trash bags. I had a few layers on so I was actually ok- although my hands were pretty cold!
When we got to the starting “area” the runners were organized into corrals. Since there were over 17,000 runners, they had 4-5 start times. I was in the last group, so I didn’t take off until 6:20 am.
That is an overpass up in the distance. This was in the starting corral- just people on every side, as far as you could see. It is pretty bizarre to be in a gigantic group of people in the dark at 5 am.
Every time a group went off, they set off a bunch of fireworks.. and of course Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Donald were at the starting line to cheer us on! You could just feel the excitement of the crowd- it was so cool!
Just getting started.. It was so crowded, and kind of hard to run with all the walkers and runners all mixed in together. As soon as we started to run, people started throwing their layers of clothing onto the shoulder. There were literally thousands of hats, gloves, sweatshirts, etc on the side of the road, which got picked up and donated to charity. Kinda cool.
Around mile 4, we got to the Magic Kingdom!
Mile 7, and I was actually still running. I did take plenty of walk breaks between miles 4 and 6, but seven was a good mile. No pain yet:)
Mile 10 was when my legs started to rebel. They just felt like 100 pound weights and my knees were starting to feel stiff, so I walked the majority of the remainder of the race. I was really just quite ecstatic that there were still a lot pf people behind me and I hadn’t been picked up by the pace car for going too slow:) Actually, I had a technique.. since I was running alone, I would pick someone else who was running alone and nonchalantly try to stay up with them. Not like, right next to them, but in the general area. Many times I would lose my person at a water stop or restroom, and I would just find someone else to be my silent, unknowing partner. (That’s not like stalking is it?)
The home stretch! I jogged the last mile or so, more because I wanted it to be over than because I wanted to improve my time:) My legs were hurting, and I realized that my fingers were super, super swollen. This always happens when I work out, but this time, I’m guessing because I had been exercising for 3 hours, it was almost scary. My fingers were so swollen I couldn’t even think about taking my rings off and I almost thought about going to the medical tent. Note to self- take rings off next time before I run.
I got a high five from Minnie just before I crossed the finish! (*note- that time is from the start of the first wave of runners, who started 40 minutes before me)
After I stopped running is when all of a sudden it got SERIOUSLY cold. The rain, which continued the entire time, didn’t help.
Yup, it’s upside down. I’m going to hang my Donald Duck medal up right next to my Mouster’s Degree. Yes, I really have one of those. Don’t be jealous.
So, that’s about the gist of it. I did this race in honor of all the people who are battling or have battled blood cancers, but I also did it for myself. I finally have a sense of accomplishment in doing something I have always wanted to do, and meanwhile I raised 2,400 dollars for cancer research. I will definitely do something like this again in the future! But with much better training:)