(Seriously, if you can afford to upgrade to business or first class after a destination race - DO IT! Hell, even if you can't afford it, upgrade anyway.)
The fireworks had gone off and I was bouncing along to Eminem as my playlist started. If you haven't read part 1 of my recap, you can find it here. Go ahead, I'll wait.
Glad you're back! All caught up now? Did you grab yourself a beverage? This is going to be another long one. You know I'm overdressed but feeling really good at the start of this race. I'm not warmed up though, but since I've never started a race with a warm up run anyway, I'm not too worried about it. I've missed the excitement of the starting line and I can't wait to have all my training pay off. I'd taken it really easy on my legs during taper week, swapping out 2 runs for a cycle workout and swim. My last 2 mile run plus strides on Wednesday went great and felt easy at race pace.
Now, onto the race itself.
My plan was to start out slow - somewhere around an 11 or 11:30 m/m pace. (I knew from Tink I'd need to weave around people & the start would be crowded). I figured once I got out on the main drag it would quickly open up and I could pick up my pace a little. I was wrong. Right away, I felt bunched in but also like I was running a bit too fast. It felt like I was working to hold about a 10:30 pace but every time I looked at my watch I saw high 11's. My breathing was already feeling off and I couldn't get my groove. It also felt like the first 3 miles were uphill, but I know there was a dip down in the 2nd mile based on my splits. My Garmin was beeping the miles before the course markers, but I figured it was from all the weaving early on or possibly the course markers weren't exactly in the right places. I tried to just get lost in the early songs on my list and find holes in which to get around people. (Side note: I have no issues with people using the Galloway run/walk method since they are out there covering the same distance I am, but their timers should be set on vibrate because the constant buzzing gets annoying fast. Also, they need to learn to watch behind them when the start walking so people running don't run into them. Really. If you are walking a race or need to stop for some reason, please, for your own safety, take a peek behind you and then move to the side.) There was a band playing along this stretch and I said "hi" to Mr. Incredible as he passed me (we'd leapfrog for a part of the race). I hit the 5k mat just before I entered Animal Kingdom. My paces were all over the place but overall I still felt ok and my target pace for the first 3 miles wasn't bad.
5k (3.1 miles) in 34:37 (11:08 pace). Mile splits from my Garmin (remember they beeped early): 11:22, 10:45, 10:59.
Most of the 4th & 5th miles are run through Animal Kingdom. The paths were very narrow with a lot of sharp turns. This park is DARK. I remember a man working a giant lizard puppet and the smells of animals. Seeing Everest lit up and running through "Africa" was incredible, but mostly I kept my head down. I couldn't believe how tired I already felt and how much I was sweating. As I exited Animal Kingdom around mile 5, I took a gu (Espresso Love if you're wondering). This is a tried & true flavor & I chased it with plenty of water (I was making sure to drink at every mile marker plus a little extra at the water stops). Somewhere in here I switched from water to Nuun since I was sweating so much. The 6th mile was outside of the park and I was able to speed back up a little (but not to nearly the pace I wanted to be at here). I crossed the 10k mat and was disappointed to see how much I'd slowed down already. I knew my ultimate time goal was gone at this point.
10k (6.2 miles) in 1:10:24 (11:20 pace). Mile splits: 11:28, 11:24, 11:05.
Most of this section was parking lot and roads and was wide open but I couldn't seem to pick up the pace. I did some mental math at mile 7 (very difficult for me to do which was a really bad sign) and knew if I could get my shit together and pull off a negative split that I could still PR, but it would be really tight. There wasn't much to see here that I remember, just some cute lighted cars from the Electrical Light Parade doing circles in the parking lot. I do remember one of the green Army men from Toy Story at the curve around mile 7.5 yelling at us to get up the hill. He made me smile, even though the hill and curve of the on-ramp were kicking my ass. (To be honest, I don't remember many characters at all and the ones I did see did not have Disney staff taking pictures, just people with their own cameras. Not cool if you were running alone. They might have been there, though, and I just didn't see them.) Anyway, I was getting close to Hollywood Studios and starting to feel a little sick. My stomach was cramping up and this was a totally new experience for me. I've gotten nauseated if I take a gu too fast, but nothing like this. I kept burping & started feeling like I needed to make a pit stop. Did you know, when you think you have to go there is NEVER a place to stop? I kept plugging along but started taking some short walk breaks to see if it would help. I should've taken another gu at the end of mile 9 but I was afraid if I did it would make things worse, so I really set myself up to bonk at the end.
15k (9.3 miles) in 1:46:48 (11:27 pace). Goodbye PR dreams. Mile splits: 11:10, 11:43, 11:35.
Miles 10 and 11 are run through Hollywood Studios. I LOVE this park. I ran by Rockin' Roller Coaster and really wished I'd had some Aerosmith on my playlist. The route here was great as far as visuals go - around the hat, thru an area covered with Christmas lights, thru the Imagineer's Workshop. You name it - Disney hit all the highlights. Except port-a-potties. There were none. I walked a lot in mile 10 and was starting to wonder if I was going to be THAT runner. You know the one. The poor soul who craps their pants during the race and then either doesn't finish or finishes with shit running down their legs (sorry if that's TMI, but it's not an urban legend). Finally in mile 11 (I think, my brain is pretty fuzzy at this point) I saw actual bathroom facilities that were open. Woo-hoo!!! I ran in and hit the first open stall. Only...I couldn't go. Just peed a little and the cramping feeling stayed with me, but at least I was pretty sure I wasn't going to be known as "Poop Pants" for all eternity. I decided then and there that I was ready to be DONE. I felt like shit - literally - and figured I'd run as much as I could to get this race over with. It was all about "left foot-right foot-lather-rince-repeat". My one regret was not taking pictures at this point. I knew all my time goals were gone and I was in it to finish and have fun. I should've gotten my phone out and started preserving the memories. This was by far the most scenic area of the race and I blew it as far as race pictures go. The 12th mile runs along Disney's Boardwalk and here there were a ton more spectators, but it was also more narrow. I wanted to run but people wouldn't move! I got lots of "Go Jessie" cheers and even a few "Go Woody"s. Really? You can't tell the difference? It made me laugh, though, which I really needed at this point. Finally I was heading into Epcot. I couldn't believe how many twists and turns there were! (This was very similar to Tink now that I think about it. That last .25 never seemed to end either.) Finally, I saw the finish line and busted out my fastest pace for the whole race in the last .26 miles - a 10:15 - the pace that was supposed to be my average for the race. At least I was able to hit it for a couple minutes, right?
Official time: 2:33:52 (pace 11:44). Mile splits: 12:08, 13:59 (ish-my Garmin stopped when I was in the bathroom), 12:04, 11:38, and 10:15 for the last .26 (my Garmin had the course at 13.26 and a time of 2:33:55 when I added back in the stopped time). Even though my time wasn't what I'd trained for, I was thrilled to see I'd finally broken into the top 50% of a race - in all areas, overall, gender and division!!!
I was DONE!!! and if there is anything that Disney does right it's race organization and medals. I got my race medal, some water and then my Coast to Coast medal - the main reason for doing this race. Clearly I was thrilled to be done.
I quickly got my bag from bag check (totally impressed by this, Disney!) and used the changing tents. Then, I grabbed my pouch of sangria (the choices were sangria and Michelob Ultra - there might have been others but they were gone) . I drank about half before I had to dump it. My tummy was still pissed. I was also limping at this point. My left calf was completely cramped up and nothing was going to make the knot go away. I was hoping walking around would help.
A couple weeks ago, I set 6 non-pace goals for this race.
I was thrilled with finishing (goal 1) and having fun (goal 2). I think I made my friends and family proud (at least all the tweets and Facebook messages from you indicate I did - I love you guys, THANK YOU!!!). I tried through the race to "Believe" I would finish and I found "Strength" to keep going when I really thought the last 3 miles might end up a death march to the end. Double bling? CHECK! and CHECK! As for energy in my legs for the afterparty...you'll have to wait for the next post to hear about that.
I finally made it to bed around 5:30 am, feeling more hate for running than love thanks to the agony in my legs and disappointing finishing time, but I was definitely in love with my bling. It was so bizarre to start a race on Saturday and finish it on Sunday. It was a 2 day race! Maybe if I ever do this one again, I'll get fast enough to finish on the same day that I start :)
What I didn't post when I talked about race goals were my time goals. Those of you who know me knew I would have some. (And please respect my feelings about "racing" this race by not slamming my decision to do so or telling me that my finishing time is something others would dream of or is better than nothing at all.)
I failed at all my time goals. I had not posted them here on the blog or really anywhere (just a few people helping with my training knew). My training was designed for a 2:15 half. It would've been a 12 min PR and as of my last long run, I believed I could possibly hit it under the right conditions. My 2nd time goal was for a PR in general - I'd have needed to be under 2:27 and I truly believed this was in the bag. I'd missed it by a mere 6 minutes. I was incredibly disappointed in myself and I've spend the past day or so trying to figure out what I did wrong. What I've come up with is that it just wasn't my day (or night). Just like the bad training runs that happen, sometimes there are bad races. It just sucks out loud that a Disney race was my "bad" one. I was overdressed, the temperature was a full 30 degrees higher than what I'd trained in for the past 2 weeks (and almost month), the course was too crowded and twisty, and I really wasn't 100% healthy with my leg acting up in the 2 weeks before the race. The issues with my gut? Who knows. I still haven't figured that out. I don't know if it was just the night atmosphere, eating the wrong foods, severe dehydration, or what. I might never figure that piece out.
I may not have set a PR at Wine and Dine (although I did blow away my previous Disney half time from Tinker Bell in January by 15 minutes!) but I did learn a lot during this race. Those lessons learned will be shared in another post because this one is already too long!
One thing is for sure, though....3 is definitely better than 1 :)
Did you run the Wine and Dine Half? If you did and you wrote a race report, please leave a link in the comments so I can read it!