My alarm wakes me at 3:00 am. At 3:18, I’m boarding the bus to the starting line of the 2014 Walt Disney World Half-Marathon. It’s just me and 20,000 of my close personal friends.
I’m missing HB’s company right now. In our last race, we had built-in support in one another. And it helped to keep our minds occupied during the long wait for the start. But right now, she’s sleeping in. Her bum hip has made even a 13-mile plod impossible.
I’ve brought an early breakfast. A banana, a Greek yogurt and a bottle of water. So I sit in a parking lot at Epcot and eat while runners swarm around me, waiting for the start. At 4:15, we begin heading for our corrals.
The last hour before the gun consists of hanging around in our corrals, waiting. Most of us fidget nervously. Just before 5:30, the wheelchair division heads out under a shower of fireworks. The parade of starts has begun – 17 of them in all.
I’m in “L” corral, so I get to see a lot of fireworks before my group finally toes the starting line. But we finally head off into the dark at about 6:00 am. It’ll be 3 hours or more before most of this group sees the finish.
Being Disney, this is an epic party. Especially this far back in the pack. There are bands along the course and entertainment. Lots of Disney characters greeting the runners. And we run through Cinderella’s Castle, photographers waiting as we emerge.
Runners dress in fun and funky costumes for this event. Mickey ears everywhere. Lots of women running in tutus. A guy dressed in a Tigger suit. A couple decked out as Donald and Daisy Duck. Even PacMan.
Near the finish, I pass a pair of pirate wenches. 12 miles in, and they’re still styling – making sure their costumes are right and their hair looks perfect. They won’t set any records today, but they’re determined to look great at the finish.
The holidays were pretty busy. So I’ve missed a few workouts. And my diet may be limited, but I was still able to indulge in a few – okay, a few too many – holiday treats. I’m a little nervous, but I stick to my plan: switch to a brisk walk every 4th mile.
I’m not in the shape I was in November, but I feel pretty strong through most of the run. At mile 8, I realize I’m not far off my November pace.
Still, I’m awfully glad to see the 11-mile marker. 2.1 miles to go… and the 1st one is a walk. At mile 12, we’re almost back inside Epcot, and I break into a run again.
Before I know it, I’m across the line. I feel much better at the finish than I did in November… and I’m only 8 minutes slower. In this humidity, I take that as a win.
36 hours later, HB and I are nestled in bar stools at Raglan Road. We’re enjoying a well-deserved drink and planning our next half-marathon. We’re thinking the Disneyland Half-Marathon sounds like fun…