Wednesday, May 22, 2013
15 June - Volunteering for the OSS/CIA 50 Miler night race. I'd thought about running this one, but the cutoff is too close for comfort.
21 July - Rosaryville 50K - Registered.
10 August - Martha Moats Baker Memorial 50K (Possibly)
1 September - "Labor Pain" 12 Hour Endurance Trail Run (Possibly)
4-5 October - Ragnar DC - My office is putting together a team for this one.
20 October - Army Ten Miler - Registered
16 November - Stone Mill 50 Miler - A must!
In other news, I checked out another local park and it's quickly become my favorite local trail to run. It's got everything. A paved path, a flat wide and straight dirt path, plus MANY single track offshoots. I can pretty much train for anything out there. And it's only about 15 minutes from my house!! I'll be writing up more about it soon.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Twenty-four hours. That was the challenge. Could I endure a race of this magnitude or not? A timed race, vs. distance, was new to me. A novel approach to running. Intriguing indeed. It isn't about how quickly you can traverse a distance, it was about how long you can continue going.
I came across this race shortly after completing the Stone Mill 50 miler. I was searching around the interwebs for other ultras to run, when I remembered about timed races. in particular, I'd remembered reading about 24 hours races where the course was a 1/4 mile track, or one mile loop. Those did not appeal to me, but perhaps there was a timed trail race. Sure enough, there were!
The 24 Hour Adventure Trail Run appealed to my preferences. Fairly close to home, a longer trail loop (6.25 miles), and of course, trails!! I was hooked.... line and sinker.
There was a problem. I checked my calendar and I was already registered for the Blue Ridge Marathon for two weeks before this race. Two weeks?? Is that enough time between races? I usually feel normal within 5 days of a race. Fourteen days should be fine right?? My mind was made up. I'm running it!
This constituted a new challenge. I'd lasted 14 hours during the Stone Mill 50 Miler, but would I be able to handle passing through my sleep cycle? Once my body said it was time for bed, what then? Challenge called out and accepted.
Winter was upon us. I'd been dealing with ITBS issues, and ran the Disney World Marathon successfully. After that, it was hill training for Blue Ridge. If you're a follower, you'll know that most of my training involved the treadmill. I had little desire to pull myself outside this winter. Needless to say, my training for the Blue Ridge Marathon was not ideal, not to mention getting in any real trail work. I was hedging on faith in my own bodies abilities to overcome. Come April, it paid off just fine with The Blue Ridge Marathon. I'd survived, and overcame my bodies desire to walk in those last few miles. It was a success. I felt confident it would work for the 24 Hr ATR as well.
Those two weeks between races were lethargic. I figured there was no sense in pushing to train in those two weeks. I took them easy, rested, and focused mentally on the upcoming challenge.
Pace: I was ambitious. Given that I'd run 50 miles in under 14 hours, I figured I would shoot for 75 miles in 24 hours. The typical me, I calculated out that if I could maintain a sub 17 pace, I could enjoy about 10-15 minutes at the aid station between laps and be on target for 75 miles. The unexpected always occurs, but I felt this was a doable goal. boy was I wrong!
This race was an entire weekend event. A mandatory race meeting was scheduled for Friday evening, where an entire campsite was reserved, cabins included for the race. The plan was to leave work a bit early and drive down to the Quantico area Friday afternoon. Enjoy the pasta dinner, race meeting, then relax in the cabins until morning. All went as planned. The dinner was yummy, the race directors were awesome, and I socialized a bit and got to know some of my fellow runners. As nightfall approached, I returned to my cabin (thankfully I was able to snag one by myself), prepped all my race gear, then went out for an evening walk along the course, testing out my head gear and getting a feel for the course. Quite hilly.
Our group was serenaded by a pagan group at the neighboring cabin as bedtime approached. Oh no, I couldn't get to sleep! The anticipation (as well as a small cup of coffee at dinner) kept my mind racing. It had to be after 1:00 am before I finally nodded off, with a 5 am alarm awaiting me. Crap! I was not off to a good start!
Buzzz! buzzzz! my alarm sounded. Time to get up! I pulled myself together, taking a bit longer to wake up. Threw on my race gear, and hit the breakfast. Pancakes, eggs, etc. A rather hardy meal. I needed it. Soon, we gathered near the starting line, where additional race instructions were given. A few encouraging words, and we were ready to go. Traffic was horrible out on the main interstate, and several runners were running late (pun intended), so they pushed the race start back nearly 10 minutes. Lined up, we (all those that had made it on time) were ready to go. And then bang! Or whatever it was that signaled the start. We were off...
For those of you unfamiliar with such distance races, it was rather uneventful. There was no mass exodus of bats from hell. Few people went out guns a blazing. It was more a slow trot. Reminiscent of middle school kids forced to run laps in gym. Slow and steady we went.
I guess now would be a good time to describe the course. It's a 6.25 mile lollipop loop. The stem is approximately a mile long, then a counterclockwise loop, and back along the stem. The terrain is more difficult than Stone Mill 50 miler, and more challenging than I was expecting it to be. lots of roots, several quite rocky places. A rather step wooden bridge, and almost 100% trail. The stem wasn't particularly difficult, but the beginning and ending was fairly hilly. The first half of the loop was the easiest section of the course. Some small hills, but for the most part it was flat and relatively soft terrain. A psuedo-aid station of water/sports drink, and a few bags of chips was located about three miles in. Right after that, we climbed a fire road for about a mile, then it was rolling hills back to the stem. All together, this was a challenging loop to run once, let alone multiple reiterations.
The energy was high, and we were fairly crowded. By about the mile mark, I was running alongside a guy at a decent pace. Chatting away about everything under the sun. He'd run the race last year, so was fairly familiar with the course. We finished up this first lap fairly easily. I was in good shape, but took a good ten minutes at the aid station before heading out for lap two. I'd lost him, as he headed out before I was ready.
I headed out strong, but alone. The crowd and thinned, and there was nobody near me. This lap went well, but I was feeling fatigued by the end. Not good! Something had me drained of energy already, and it wasn't necessarily the course!
One thing I really enjoyed about this course was the interaction with fellow runners. Running the stem allowed everyone to cross paths, no matter what level you were at, you were bound to cross paths with each nearly everyone at some point. Coming into the end of Loop two, I crossed paths with a woman and she abruptly asked me if I'd run that race. I realized I'd worn my Blue Ridge Marathon shirt, and said that I had. She had done the same, and her legs were worn out already as well. Two weeks between races struck again. That confirmed it. I knew that, at least part of the reason I was already fatigued was due to Blue Ridge. Finishing up, I was still in good shape. Somewhat ahead of my intended pace.
Jen and the Kiddos:
The week before the race, Jen contacted the race director and volunteered to, well, volunteer at the race. They were running a bit behind, but thankfully I ran into the kiddos just before I started lap three. Cell phone reception was nearly nonexistent out here, so I had no clue what their ETA was. It was only pure luck that I saw them come out of a building as I was heading out for my next loop. Jen snapped off a shot. One of the few I've got from this race.
I went out fairly well this loop. The wide variety of foods kept me well nourished, but the fatigue soon set in. My running vs. walking went way down. Try as I might, the fatigue was gaining ground. I persevered, but by the end, I'd effectively hit the equivalent of the marathon wall. I took a longer break at the aid station, an enjoyed Jen's company. She was doing a great job helping runners with needs, and ferrying food back and forth from the kitchen. Soon, I was heading back out. 18.75 miles down!
I was toast. Burnt, and ready to be thrown away. This loop was probably 80% walking. I tried to run, honestly I did. But I was gone. I struck on and finished the lap, but was in severe need of some rest, of the ZZZZZ persuasion. That lack of sleep the night before finally kicked my butt. I skipped the aid station, other than some much needed water, my hydration pack went dry about 1/2 mile from completing the loop, and headed straight to my cabin with a plate of fruit in hand. I decided I would take a short nap, of about 45 minutes. Close my eyes, and hope to lessen the fatigue. It worked fairly well, although I didn't actually sleep, just laid there with some music going.
I must give thanks to the wonderful cooks that provided food for everyone the entire event. They were flat out AWESOME!!! From Pizza to Perogies, there was plenty of hot, freshly made goodies at all times. You never knew what you were going to find after completing a lap (That is, unless you happened to memorize their menu!)
I was feeling better. Refreshed and alive. Was the nap just what I needed? It sure seemed to be. My knee had been giving me some minor words, so this time around, I grabbed a stick and turned it into my running buddy. The first half of this loop I was feeling great. Not only was I running more than walking, I was feeling fairly peppy about it. That is, until I hit the backside fire road. That climb knocked me back down. I finished decently though, and took an extended break while I awaited Anne, a good friend that volunteered to pace me a loop. It worked out wonderfully, Jen and the kids were tired, and ready to leave, but they stuck around until she arrived.
I was gone. I didn't have much left to run on, but I was determined to continue on. Anne is a fellow "bugologist" that I work with, so we spent quite a bit of time talking bugs and work stuff. She's also a fellow runner, and we're putting together a group for this year's DC Ragnar Rely in the fall. Unfortunately, her "run" with me consisted of almost entirely hiking. Still it was great having someone out there with me. Not only that, we found three giant millipedes to add to our work zoo! Score!!! I was on the fence about continuing after this loop. I was dead tired, night time had set in, and the fatigue was ever increasing. much of my mental struggle this loop was trying to decide to continue or not. Within the last half mile, I decided to throw in the towel. I had nothing left. just finish this one up, and turn in my timing chip.
Finally, we reached the finish line, and I informed the timekeeper that I was done. He tried hard to convince me otherwise, but I'd already made up my mind.
Soups were out on the food table, and it felt awesome getting something hot and brothy down my stomach. The Race Director, Alex, came by, and he threw up a big fight to keep me in the game, but alas, I just couldn't go on. I was out. 15 Hours in and I'd decided to give up. 37.5 miles. It's still a heck of a run, but the cards weren't in it for me today. Lack of sleep, still recovering legs, and later, a cold, all contributed to early fatigue. i didn't know it yet, but a cold was setting in, and I ended up being out sick the next two days of work! After thanking Anne for pacing me, I hobbled to the cabin, and promptly fell asleep until morning.
Bang! The gun went off, signaling the end of the race. Which meant breakfast was waiting, and the ending ceremony. I was amazed at the distances some of these people made, but nothing near as much as I was the winner. A woman from New York that ran a heart attack-inducing 112 miles!!! She was a machine! We'd crossed paths quite a few times throughout the race, and I last saw her about 10pm, flying past me as I hobbled out my last loop. Not only her, but several others, I'd talked with persevered and made it further than they'd anticipated. Congrats to them all!
Finally, the race was over, and we all headed home. I was exhausted, my cold was getting worse, and I was feeling down about not pushing myself to continue on. By this time, I was recovered enough to wish I'd not thrown in the towel, that I'd elected to take another hours nap, and try to get back out there. It was a long ride home, then bed for most of the next three days.
In hind sight, I realize my mistake...other than the fatigue issues. My mistake was that I mentally tackled this race as I would a typical distance race. Continue on virtually nonstop, until the distance was done. You can't take a timed race in this manner. It's one step at a time, just keep going, and not looking at the end. Time is a far less forgiving feat than distance. Especially when you're mentally challenged with a difficult loop and one heck of a spread of food.
I immediately set this race on my calendar for next year. I will be back, and I will persevere! Three things I'll be doing differently.
1. No other races at least one month out.
2. Get off the treadmill this winter and hit the trails far more often. Focus on trails over road running.
3. Mentally prepare to push through those loops. It's not a distance, it's a time. I have plenty of it. I just need to manage the running to continue all night!
I don't take this race as a failure at all. I did make it 37.5 miles, making it my third ultramarathon. I did push myself beyond my limits. My limit just happened to be lower than I'd hoped. Run on!!
Sunday, May 19, 2013
This race report starts with a blog giveaway. Not mine but a fellow runner, Lauren, I follow at (Sweat Junkie). She posted a giveaway for free entry into the Blue Ridge Marathon. I entered…and won. I wasn’t expecting to have a mid-spring marathon, but I wasn’t going to complain.
I’d heard about, and considered running, the Blue Ridge Marathon. Touted as “America’s Toughest Road Marathon”, I wasn’t sure if I would want to punish myself for the road. I’m much more a trail runner now. Given a choice, I wouldn’t have paid for this race, but free entry… sign me up!
Training for this race was not great. I had zero interest this year in outdoor running through the cold. Instead, I trained on the treadmill. Not a favorite of mine, but I regained my respect for the ‘mill after my (mishap) a few years ago. Training mostly consisted on either a few mile run, or more often, power walks at a 15% incline. Due to several work commitments, I wasn’t able to be as consistent as I would have liked either. I did get a handful of longer distance runs in, as the weather warmed up, but I topped out at 12 miles.
This course is tough! It doesn’t get it’s nickname for nothing, but I still underestimated just how difficult it was going to be The organizers did a fantastic job of putting together an elevation map, but as you’ll read down below, it was deceptive. From the elevation map, the last 6 miles or so appeared to be relatively flat. Not so! Although this isn’t totally accurate because less than a week before the race, the course was altered due to high waters along the river.
Just one week shy of this race, and tragedy occurred. Nothing personally with me, but the bombings during the Boston Marathon happened. Blue Ridge was actually the first US marathon to occur post-Boston. The entire week between, was a frenzy. The organizers and the city of Roanoke did a fantastic job or adjusting plans so that safety was a priority without sacrificing the race.
Logistically, getting there in time to pick up the race packet was challenging. We had over four hours to drive, and had to sneak the kids out of school a bit early, then high-tail it out of the DC area. On top of that, we had rain most of the drive down. Still, we made it in time. Grab some yummy Cuban food for dinner, and headed to the hotel.
Here’s where it gets interesting. We arrived at the hotel, the lobby was packed with elderly (some sort of convention going on), and the desk clerk seemed to have a difficulty getting us checked in. He did, and we headed to the room. Ooops. There was someone already in there! Back to the lobby we go. Come to find out, there was a guy that checked in with out reservation. He had the same first and last name, so they had given it to him. he problem, he went to the wrong hotel. He had reservations elsewhere, and they were all booked up. They called around and got us a room at another hotel for free for that night. It all worked out, as the other hotel was closer to the race and better.
RACE DAY! Everything went smoothly. We got up, hit a convenient store for some breakfast (the hotel didn’t start serving until later), and off we go. I was dropped off at the start as Jen and the kiddos headed to Paige’s race start Paige did an awesome job of running 25.2 miles prior to the race, so she could finish her first “marathon”. A wonderful setup for the kids really. Not anything additional for the race organizers Just say the kids have to run in advance and call it a marathon. It meant far more to Paige than just another kids one miler.
It was cold, but many of us held out that morning inside one of the buildings. We had over an hour to spare, so I relaxed, enjoyed my hot chocolate, and mentally prepped as I watched other runners go through their routines.
Back during the Disney World Marathon, Jen dared me to find a funny hat to wear during races. I accepted this challenge, and here is what I’ve come up with. A novelty bug hat, safety pinned to one of my running hats. It fits the Runner’s Bug image quite nicely!
We started lining up and the excitement hit. There were some mushy words related to Boston, and soon we were off! The first mile or so was flat, then we hit the incline. It wasn’t steep at first, but unrelenting in it’s incline. Up, up, up we climbed, through some gorgeous scenery. I did my best to maintain at least a power walk, if not running. I was surprised how well I was handling the mountain. The treadmill workouts did well. About mile three, the course diverged. The half marathoners headed to the right up Mill Mountain, as the full marathoners headed left towards Roanoke Mountain.
I started chatting with a guy and we ran together for the next several miles. About mile 5.5, we hit an aid station, and everyone was telling us just another short hill. Yeah right! This was where it really got steep! Up we went, still chatting with the guy as best we could through bated breath. I began noticing some slight sensations in my left knee, ITBS area. Ooops. I pushed it too quickly heading up this mountain. Time to slow it down a bit. Just as this occurred we reached an overlook, which I took as the top. Wrong, I was about 1/4 from it. A few photos, and I was off again. I fell behind my running partner, and kept it slow until the real summit. More photos, a short food break, and I’d beaten Roanoke Mountain. Number one of three.
Running down this mountain was fairly tough going. My knee was still speaking up and the decline was intense. I was putting the breaks on most of the way down. Slow and steady. I did not want to deal with a bum knee this early in the race. Soon, I was back at the aid station at the base of the steep inclines. My knee was feeling better, and the decline was leveling out. I’d gone mostly alone the entire trip down, but fell upon an older gentlemen running with a younger lady. I hooked up with them, and struck up the typical “where are you from?”, “What races have you done?” banter as we made out way up Mill Mountain. They were slower than I was, but I stuck with them up the entire mountain, hoping my knee would feel better. It was a bet that paid off greatly. As we reached the summit, I realized I’d had zero knee issues since the Roanoke decline. A few more photo ops of the city and of the famous Mill Mountain Star, and a quick potty break, the the three of us took off for the intense switchback decline. This is where things started to turn around.
As we hit the decline trail, I just took off. At first, I wasn’t intending to leave them behind so quickly, but I felt great. My knee was good, and the downhill felt just right. This next 1.5 –2 miles flew by. I must have been running a sub 9 min mile through here. Passing people left and right, I came to the realization that down hills were one of my strong points. The entire time, Scott Jurek’s voice kept playing in my head. “Free Speed!” he’d say….. and I did. Reaching the bottom, I knew Jen and the kids were close. Scanning around the road ahead, and there they were. A quick hello and a photo with Paige and her medal for her marathon race, and I was off. Two down, one to go!
Peakwood was the mountain I didn’t expect. I knew we had another to go, but I underestimated the intensity this mountain entailed…. as did nearly everyone! Not to mention there was a conspiracy to withhold the truth. The previous two mountains were secluded. Mountain roads with nothing but trees to line the way. Peakwood meandered through a residential neighborhood, and the natives were restless. Many residents held up outside to cheer us on. But one thing we noticed, they were all saying the top was “just a bit further”. It was a conspiracy tell you. A CONSPIRACY!! That damn road was brutal. Not as steep as Roanoke and not as switchbacky as Mill Mountain, but the curvy inclines, especially the inclines that I was not expecting, simply killed my energy. I finally made the summit, a dead-end cul de sac with an aid station. Ah… Much needed potty break and some fuel. I’d made it. Three mountain climbs down. Zero to go, and a relaxed 6 miles of easy peasy road to go… Well, that didn’t turn out to be the case.
Jen and the kids again awaited the bottom of the mountain. And again, I flew down the decline. It wasn’t as steep and my pace wasn’t as quick as Mill Mountain, but I continued to gain grown. Another family pit stop, quick and sweet, and I was… you guessed it… off again!
These last six miles contained far more overpasses and other hills than the elevation profile led us to believe. Granted, the course was altered here due to high water levels along the river, but still, I was not expecting it to be very hilly. By miles 23, my hamstrings were cooked. I was tired of the gu and other artificial energy gunk and really craving something real. I’d fallen to primarily walking, as was everyone I was around. My energy was down, legs were zapped, and three miles to go. A text from Jen wondering my progress, and this was my reply “Mile 23. Mostly walking. Hamstrings are wiped out!” As I wrote that, I had no idea how much running I had left in me. Thankfully, the next aid station was loaded with actual fruit!! Bananas and oranges! I was in heaven!!!! Loading up both my mouth and my pockets, I was determined to finish strong. The fruit worked. Within about 10 minutes of scarfing the fruit down, and my legs were reviving. About two miles to go, and my energy was rebounding. Was this my third… fourth wind. I sure hoped so! My running increased substantially. I was back to mostly running, with short walk breaks sprinkled around. Another big boast, was that everyone else I crossed paths with was walking. I don’t believe I saw a single person running (besides myself) those last two miles. It was a great feeling. Mentally, I was renewed. Physically, I was still wiped clean, but still had enough to push on. It was time to break out some music. No headphones, just my phones speaker. I needed some motivation.
Then there it was, the last mile. A couple of turns, and I knew I’d be on the finish line’s door. Pushing it more and more, I hit that final turn and saw the finish, maybe 200 yards away. Push, push, push. I thought. The crowd was cheering, the announcer was talking about me. I drove on. Pushing the pace up to a sprint those last 100 yards. At least as much of a sprint as I could muster. And finally… I crossed the finish line in 6 hours 17 minutes, and 13 seconds. A great sigh of relief! That was one heck of a race!! But I’d beaten it. I’d faced “America's Toughest Road Marathon” and kicked it’s butt. Sure, I’d had some slight knee issues early on, but they never resurfaced. Sure, my time was slow, but this wasn’t your mama’s marathon either. Not to mention that I had a 24 hour trail race to run in only 14 days. I couldn’t push my self too hard!
We finished out the weekend with a drive up Roanoke and Mill Mountains the following day, so the family could see the views. Jen was quite amazed at how difficult and steep the climbs were, and we were in car. :) Then we took a stop off at Luray Caverns on the way home. One difficult, but successful weekend for us all!
Sunday, May 5, 2013
It’s four month’s late, but I’ve finally finished Part II. Go here for Part I of the Walt Disney World Marathon 2013 Race Report.
We left off Part I of the Walt Disney World Marathon 2013 Race Report with me leaving the Magic Kingdom and heading towards the Animal Kingdom. Before reaching the Animal Kingdom, we had a short stop off at the Walt Disney World Speedway. Coming through a tunnel, we emerged onto the track to see probably over 100 classic and modern race cars lining the track. Looping around the track, this was the first really good view of the field ahead of me. Packed to the hilt with runners of all sizes, colors, and fitness levels, truly an amazingly diverse group of racers!
I enjoyed seeing all the different cars, taking some photos here and there, but I wanted to keep moving, that is, until I ran into Mater from Disney’s Cars. Of course I just had to stop for a photo with the ole clunker. :) Lightning McQueen and Finn McMissle were right next to Mater, but I didn’t want to spend too much time, so I skipped on them, and headed out of the raceway and towards Animal Kingdom.
There wasn’t much too look at for a couple of miles, until I started to notice something foul in the air. Looking around for the culprit, I realized it was the sewage treatment facility. Yeah, it stank! Picking up some speed, I high-tailed it away from that mess!
Arriving into the backside of the Animal Kingdom, there was a line of animals and their trainers waiting to greet us. I still had not fully jumped into Disney Spirit, but I stopped for a few photo shots with some animals before heading into the park.
Animal Kingdom is by far my favorite Disney Park. I’m a Nature Nut, and the feel of the park is nothing short of a world wind tour safari. First stop, Mount Everest, and another potty break (Really!! My first marathon I didn’t stop but once. My second marathon, only a couple of times. This marathon, I’ve stopped like it was the only potty on the whole course!). As I was heading away from the Everest section, I noticed the rollercoaster was going, and people were on it. DAMNIT! The park was closed. Those WERE runners! I gave it a brief pause to turn around and run the 1/8th a mile or so to the entrance, but decided to press on in the hopes that the Tower of Terror would be open. In hindsight, I should have gone for it!
I saw Minnie Mouse, and just had to take a photo. Right after getting one with her, Daisy Duck came out, and got one with both of them. Pressing on, I came to the entrance of the park, and they were just beginning to let people in. There was a large line of spectators/park goers cheering us on. Another fantastic part of the race. From here, it was a long trek over to the ESPN Complex.
The trek to ESPN seemed rather long. I didn’t study the course enough to know at what mile point I entered the park, so I just kept trudging along. Jen was awaiting me here, and I was excited to see her. After what seemed like forever on the plain jane roads outside the parks, we entered into the park. I also didn’t know how long we would be winding through it before hitting the big stadium. I kept thinking it was around the bend but it wasn’t. Through several training fields, around an outdoor track, and more training fields, and we finally hit the stadium. Jen was at the bottom of the grandstands and I meet up with her for a couple of minutes rest. We were expecting a big surprise at mile 20 and everyone seemed to think it was in the stadium, it wasn’t, we had about 1/2 a mile to the 20 mile mark. The big thing at the stadium was live video of runners on the Jumbotron. After saying “hi” and “Bye” I was off around the outfield and out of the ESPN Complex.
Shortly, we hit the 20 mile mark. Lots of characters, including Mickey and Friends dancing up on a stage. Not as impressive as the made it out to be. We had a good couple of miles to Hollywood Studio’s, where I was hoping to redeem myself for not riding Everest. I was fairly certain that the course ran near the Tower of Terror, and I was determined to hop a ride. The crowd was still quite thick along the road and I was having a difficult time trying to pass runners. Gaining ground was just not an option through here. I estimated that at any given moment, 75% of the runners were walking. It was worse than the Army Ten miler crowds because at least with that heavy crowd, the majority of people are running.
We entered the Hollywood Studio’s park along the Studio Backlot tour. I’ve always liked this ride, and enjoyed seeing all the memorabilia from movies gone by. Much to my dismay, we did not make the left and head towards the Tower of Terror. Instead, we ran through the heart of the park. Somewhere along the way, I came across someone dressed as Princess Leia. Given my Yoda hat, I just had to strike up a conversation. She was quite friendly, and offered me to join in a special event at the 25 mile mark. I thanked her, but somewhere along the way, she strayed behind. I didn’t expect to see her again.
We left the park and followed the Epcot Resorts – Hollywood Studio’s Connector Path. I didn’t realize how close these two parks were. This stretch had the biggest amount of gridlock on the course, and most everyone was walking. Grrr!! Somewhere along this stretch, I met back up with Princess Leia, and she said to stick with me to get the royal treatment. I obliged. :)
Finally we came into Epcot, the final park, and a little over one mile to go. Hitting the2 5 mile mark, Princess Leia was true to her word. A tent for a group called “Run Disney to Eat Disney”. For those that sign up, the have to eat three pieces of bacon and they get another medal. I didn’t sign up, so no medal for me, but I had some bacon and a glass of beer while Princess Leia (The groups leader) was interviewed by Run Disney! I didn’t get the chance to thank her, as she was being interviewed, but I found her on Facebook and did.
From here, it’s a loop around the countries, by the Ball, and out the front gate to the finish line. The crowd was fantastic. Cheering us all on. After leaving the countries I realized I was running behind a guy dressed as Elvis. It was quite comical. Apparently he was pacing a group and kept turning around giving them words of encouragement. I stuck behind him through the end. Through the finish, I got my medal and found Jen. That last mile was a struggle, but I ran nearly all of it.
We hopped the bus back to the car, returned to the hotel, and promptly took a long nap.
The following day we chilled in the hotel room about half the day, then went to Animal Kingdom and enjoyed the animals and food.
After that, we headed to Downtown Disney for a drink and some music. We ran into a guy we saw here on Friday night. He’s a flamboyant older gentleman that apparently enjoys dressing up and dancing around crowds. I wish I was as carefree.
All in all, this was a great race. I finished in 6:27:58. Calculating all the stops I made for photos with characters, I estimated I was standing in line well over an hour, so had I not done that, this would have been a PR. But also, had I not done that, I would not have embraced the spirit that is a Disney running event. I don’t foresee this being the last of my Disney Runs. Hopefully in a few years, we will return and be able to run it together.
Some “official” photos.