Thursday, January 16, 2014
I'm officially Dopey!!!!!
I got to Orlando, got my bag and picked up my rental car and headed straight to the expo to get my bib# and do a little shopping. I was on a mission. I had a few things in mind that I wanted to get and I had brought a couple of books with me to have signed by one of the Runner's World editors that was going to be there. I never thought the expo could get any bigger, Disney is absolutely one of the biggest health and fitness/marathon expos I've ever been too and I LOVE it. Only one bigger was Berlin because it was in 5 airplane hangers AND outdoor space too. Well.....Disney kicked it up a notch this year and instead of just one building filled with vendors and running gear gallore, they had TWO and some outdoor vendors. Seriously, when I die and go to heaven, I think it will look like the Disney Expo.
I got my bib#s, we got 2. One bib to wear for the 5K and the 10K and one bib to wear for the half marathon and the full marathon. I had to make a mental note which one was for which races because I instantly had a mini anxiety attack vision of showing up with the wrong one. From the packet pick up I made a b-line for the shirts and then the official merchandise. I kind of wanted a hoodie, but I didn't see any Dopey hoodies, plus, if I'm honest with myself, I really don't NEED another hoodie. The rest of the shirts were running shirts or t-shirts and I really don't need any more of those, I have boxes and boxes of race shirts in my basement. I looked at the magnets and car decals, but my car is getting kinda old and I don't want to put a new sticker on it if I am not going to have it much longer. I settled on a nice necklace with a 48.6 and a little Dopey on it.
From the official merchandise booth I made my way systematically through the rest of the expo zig zagging my way up and down the aisles trying not to miss anything. I poked around in a few of my favorite booths and checked out some new gadgets. I bought a t-shirt at Raw Threads, I love their shirts. And then I went ot look for the Runner's World booth. I got there and Mark Remy was starting to walk away. I panicked and said, "wait, you can't leave now!" and threw my books in front of him. Nice, real nice, Alicia. I don't understand why I can be totally normal most of the time and can work a room like a politician but then other times I fumble and say the most awkward and random things. I would have loved to chat with him and the other guy about the Runner's World half marathon in Boston later this year and about books and writing and all kinds of stuff but I was so embarassed by my own awkwardness that I kept it short and got the books signed and ran away.
Lucky for me the next stop I was looking for was right nearby. I wanted to get a sparkle skirt for the 10K. I tried one on and loved it. It was perfect to match the Minnie Mouse ears I had. Ok, mission complete. Done with the expo. On to the hotel and grocery shopping. Orange Lake is only about 15 minutes away from all of the Disney stuff, it is AWESOME. It's where I usually stay with my friend Jason and Kristen and anyone else we can convince to come with us. This time I was all alone, it wasn't going to be the same without my partners in crime, but I'd make the most of it. I checked in and dropped off my bags and then I went shopping for food for the week. It's tough to buy food for one person and not buy too much because anything you don't finish just goes in the garbage. Such a waste, but not much you can do about it. They don't make single serving peanut butter or tiny bottles of olive oil.
Back at the hotel room, which was a King Villa with a full kitchen, I made some pasta and a salad and went to bed. Alarm set for 3:45am, the latest I would get to sleep in all weekend because the 5K started at 6:15 and the rest of the races started at 5:30. Plus, Disney insists that you get to the parking lot by 4:30 and in your start corral by 5:00. It's crazy early. It would be awesome to sleep a little in the corral before the start but I'm usually too excited.
The 5K Family Fun run was so different than all the other Disney races I've done. The start area was not nearly as crowded. It was more like a local race, smaller and more low key than the other Disney races, but still lots of characters and costumes and fireworks at the start. My plan was to run the whole thing because I had rested for several days before leaving for Florida and I wanted to shake out the legs and get rid of a little nervous energy before the bigger races. Well, I got a mile and half into the race and saw Dopey on the side and a very very long line to take a picture with him and I couldn't resist the urge to stop. Plus, I figured it wasn't a bad idea to take it easy and save my legs for the half and the full. I waited nearly 20 minutes and got my picture and then ran the remaining mile and a half to the finish. Done before most people even got out of bed for the day.
After the 5K I had all day to kill time and nothing to do so I went to the Magic Kingdom. I haven't been since I was in middle school and that was a miserable trip with my mom and a few of her friends and my brother. The only other time I went was when I was 11 and that was even worse. So, I figured this was a great opportunity to see the happiest place on earth when I am at my happiest and really enjoy all the magic. The park wasn't really crowded and because I was by myself I was able to cruise through most of the lines. I did all the major attractions - Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, It's a Small World, and some of the newer rides too. I walked around and just took in the sites until I started to get tired and hungry. I looked at the restaurant options and nothing really appealed to me, although I was really tempted to get a turkey leg in Frontierland.
Wrapped up the day and went back to the hotel to eat and relax. I set the alarm for 3:00am this time and ended up falling asleep on the couch watching Law and Order around 7:00pm. Got up and got dressed for the 10K Friday morning. I wore a black tank top, capri pants and my new sparkle skirt, topped it off with my Minnie Mouse ears. I must admit, I think I looked pretty cute. The 10K start was a lot like the 5K, less crowded and more low key. They announced that there were 7000 Dopey runners and about 10,000 total so I think that less than half of what they have for the half and the full. My plan for the 10K was to stop and take pictures of all the mile markers to break up the race and resist the urge to run hard. It worked perfectly. I still managed to finish in a little over and hour and I got some great pictures. Afterwards I waiting in a ridiculous line to get my picture with Minnie Mouse, totally worth it!!! I love the pictures.
It was a little later in the morning, but still early. I think I got back to the hotel by 9:00am. I took a shower and got dressed and had a little bite to eat then headed to Downtown Disney. When I got there it was still so early I wondered if the stores were even open yet. I shopped around for a few hours and got some souvenirs for friends at home. Then I went to the movies to see Frozen.
Headed back to the hotel to make dinner and get ready for the half marathon. I had a frozen pizza for dinner and tried to get to sleep really early again. Up at 3:00am again, starting to feel it and could see it in my face as I got ready to run the half marathon, I looked like death. I decided to ditch the Rapunzel costume because the forecast was for 70 degrees and 95% humidity. It was gross and swampy out. I knew I would be done before it got really hot out, but the humidity was a killer. My plan for the half was to stop at EVERY character for a picture, but I was in corral K and most of the people around me were walking so it was super crowded and a little annoying right away. I took a few pictures in the first 5-6 miles, but after that I started to skip characters because I was getting annoyed at the lines and walkers. Usually, I'm in corral D or E and there are no lines because the people RUN and fewer people stop for pictures.
I finished the half in 3:12ish soaking wet and feeling pretty happy about it. It felt like I swam 13.1 miles, but my legs were feeling really good. I hydrated really well and fueled right. I got one of the RunDisney beers at the finish area, not really because I wanted a beer, but because I was thinking ahead to the next day. The Beers were $8, but refills were only $4, so I kept the cup and planned to bring it with me the next day. :) Yup, I'm wicked smart. After I finished the beer I left and got some lunch on my way back to the hotel. Back at the hotel it was time to test out the water slide and pool right behind my room and it was perfect timing because it wasn't mobbed with screaming kids. SO MUCH FUN! I spent the afternoon at Downtown Disney again and saw Lone Survivor, it was amazing and very inspiring for the 26.2 mile journey I was about to go on. It is really amazing how much pain we can tollerate and still keep moving and keep fighting.
Sunday morning I had to wake up a little earlier because of road closures and having to get to the start corrals and whatnot. I was ready though. It was show time. The rest of the races were just for fun. Now it was time to get down to business and get serious. It was time to run a marathon! I was a little nervous, but mostly excited. I started in corral K again, but this time I planned to get ahead of the walkers in the first few miles. The 5:00hr pace group started in corral J so my plan was to catch them and pass them. I did it, by the time I got to Cinderella's castle I had passed the 5:00hr pace group and I was feeling amazing! Continued on around the race track at the speedway and towards Animal Kingdom feeling good. I was doing 10:30s and 10:40s and consistant even paced for the first half. The sun came up and by mile 15 I was starting to feel all the miles adding up.
I was still running strong, but my pace started to slow a little at a time. I started doing the math in my head, 10 miles to go so if I can keep an 11:00 pace I will still finish in ?????? It's tough to do math when you're running and tired and dehydrated and hungry. Made it to ESPN Sports complex around mile 17 and knew this was where things fell apart last year. I did not want that to happen again. I kept moving and convinced myself to push through the pain, I had more miles behind me than ahead of me and I could do it. The 5:00hr pace group passed me around mile 18 or 19, but I knew that because they started in the corral ahead of me I still had a little buffer room and if I could keep them in sight I could finish in under 5hrs which was my goal. I really wanted to get a 4:45, but knew 5hrs was more realistic.
Through Hollywood Studios and around the boardwalk into Epcot for the last few miles and I was doing great. I was hurting and pretty sure my feet were bleeding, but I was doing it and I was about to finish my 15th marathon and my first Dopey Challenge! I picked up my pace in the last few miles and started passing people. I feel bad for those people, I've been there and it sucks, but I felt awesome and knew I had raced smart the whole week leading up to this moment and conserved just enough to finish strong. I rounded the corner exiting Epcot and into the parking lot where the finish is and kicked a little more to get across the line. Not sure if I wanted to scream or cry or hug someone. I felt the rush of emotions that I get everytime I do this and I remembered why I love running marathons so much. For the GLORY and of course.......after water and food and a mylar blanket....... the BLING!