**See the second part of this race report here**
BLUF: The trip was wonderful. The race was awesome. I took it very easy, and had a blast. I’m considering doing the Goofy Challenge (1/2 marathon on Saturday, Full on Sunday) next time.
First off, you’re probably wondering what “BLUF” means. It’s a common Army term for “Bottom Line Up Front”. I figured I’d add that one as this will be a long post with way more pictures than my normal. Ok, here goes….
Background: This race original started as a tag-team. Mrs. Runner’s Bug and I planned to run the race together, at her pace, but compartment syndrome in her leg killed that idea. She had to drop from the race, leaving me high and dry.
Travel and Race Expo: We flew down on Friday, arriving in Orlando fairly early. First things first, get the rental car. We arranged for a compact, and boy was this thing compact. It was a “Lime Squeeze” Ford Fiesta. We named it Kermit.
We hit the race expo, where Mrs. Runner’s Bug had a secret rendezvous to ditch her bib since she couldn’t run it (Sssh. That didn’t happen). We walked around a bit, I’m not a fan of spending a long time at expos, but she likes them. We did happen to run into Jeff Galloway. We had a brief chat, and he remembered by name the owners of my local Fleet Feet, where I occasionally do group runs. Soon after seeing Jeff, we headed to our hotel.
We stayed at the Disney All-Star Movie Resort, amore budget-friendly hotel, but it was still nice. Kind of like a movie themed version of a Comfort Inn. We lounged around for awhile, then headed to Downtown Disney for dinner and music. We came across a Yoda wearing Mickey Ears sock hat, which Jen bought for me to run the race with. Challenge accepted, and completed!
On Saturday, we headed to Universal Studio’s Islands of Adventure. Yeah, yeah, sacrilegious right? We’ve been to Disney plenty of times in the past but never here. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was AWESOMEE! That’s “awesome” with an extra “e” at the end because it was so worth it. All I can say is BUTTERBEER! The Jurassic Park Exhibit was wonderful too! We left early to head back to the hotel for sleep. A 2:45 wakeup call and 26.2 miles were awaiting!
Race Day: Yup, 2:45 is not fun to wake up to. It was a struggle to get out of bed, but soon we were up and getting ready for the day. One ready, we headed to the lobby entrance and boarded the bus. I had been in communication with the Facebook group called “Disney Pacebook Running Club” and I planned to meet up with one of the pace groups to stat with. I wanted to go out at a nice and slow pace, and see how my knee felt. Getting off the bus, we had a bit of a walk to the runner’s entrance, and once there, I quickly meet up with my group. We stood around for awhile, got a snapshot of the entire Pacebook group, I said goodbye to Mrs. Runner’s Bug, then started the trek to the start.
About half of us were slated for the last corral (H), but several were towards the middle corrals. The plan was to hid the H’ers in the middle, and distract the checkers from seeing them. We agreed on corral F and headed that way. A guy walking near us from corral H tried to enter corral F He didn’t even attempt to hide the big letter H on his bib, and one of the checkers spotted him from about 15 feet away. BINGO, I used that distraction to slip in, as did the rest of the group, except one lady. She simply walked further up, then hopped the gate. Sweet! With 45 minutes until the start, and even longer for our corral, it was a sit and wait game.
We were quite a ways back, but they had jumbotrons for us to watch Mickey and gang send us off. First, the pledge of allegiance, some comments, then the wheelchair racers were off with fireworks. Disney knows how to put on a fireworks display, and we had fireworks up front as well as behind us, pumping up our adrenaline for the start. One by one, each corral was sent off with flair. Soon, it was us and we were off!
The group I started with were doing 1:1 run/walks, slow and steady. The pace group was for a 6:20-6:40 pace, typically, that would be way too slow for me, but with my knee, I wanted to go easy. Little did I know that I’d spend so long standing in lines, that I’d be within that range anyway.
The first 4 miles were filled with chatting and several pee breaks. Of course, there were no port-a-potties, so it was off to the tree line I went. I don’t know why, but I peed a good 10 times by the first half of the race, not typical for me on race day.
Around mile 4, I was feeing great. We were getting closer to the Magic Kingdom, my knee was giving me zero complaints, and I was itching to speed it up. I said goodbye to the pace group, and headed out. I increased the intervals to a loosey-goosey 2-3 minutes of running per minute of walking. As we entered the Magic Kingdom, the festivities were picking up. We had loud music, dancing guys with HUGE fake hands, and many other oddities. There were several characters, but at this point I was feeling good and didn’t want to break for a photo. Coming through the backstage area was pretty cool. I enjoyed seeing what Main Street looks like from behind. It sure put a different spin on the magic!
It was There were two pivotal moments in the race that stand out regarding spectators. Coming into the Magic Kingdom, and coming into EPCOT. All I can say is the feeling of coming onto Main Street and seeing a HUGE crowd cheering everyone on was an amazing feeling. It reminds me of running down Constitution Ave. during the Army Ten Miler, but with different associations. Mrs. Runners Bug was held up at the turn in front of the castle. I saw here, ran up, and gave her a big kiss. Snapped a few photos, then said my goodbye and headed to Tomorrow Land, and yet another potty break. After some relief, I was back on track through the newly remodeled Fantasyland. To be honest, I didn’t even notice a difference. There was a construction wall on the right, but the rest of it looked quite as I remembered it from 2010. From there, we ran through the castle. That was another awesome experience, coming out of the castle to a big crowd, not near as much as Main Street or EPCOT though. This was the moment I made the decision to screw any potential good race time and simply enjoy the festivities. I made a quick turn off for photos, handed my camera to a crewman and posed for my first of MANY photo ops. A blur through the rest of the park and we were on the way to Animal Kingdom.
For the sake of long posts, I’m going to stop here. Stay Tuned for Part II of my Walt Disney World Marathon Race Report!!