Sunday, March 6, 2016

Race Report - Disney Princess Half Marathon

We could call this one "the Princess Half that almost didn't happen".  Not because I didn't get registered in time; not because the weather messed up travel plans. Nope, none of those things went wrong - I was online as soon as registration opened, and got in just fine; the weather was fairly decent, and travel was a breeze.  No, this time my body was the traitor.  Pre-race stress, a certain time of the month, a migraine, and a possible stomach bug all came together to make me think that I wasn't going to be able to run. 

The night before the race, I felt like my head was going to explode, and I couldn't eat without throwing up. I was not exactly in prime race condition. At all.  But going to bed early and sleeping with a heating pad on my head eased the headache enough that by our 2:00am alarm, I was feeling halfway human. And pre-Disney race excitement was pulling me through - It was time finally time to wear my Buzz costume!

My original plan for the day had been to go to  my corral and run by myself, with a goal to finish in about 3 hours. But the way I was feeling, I didn't want to be by myself, so I stayed with Becca. I needed her to pull me through.

I was feeling ok as long as I was moving around, but unfortunately, Disney races have a lot of hurrying up to wait. We rush to the bus at 3:00am to make it to the start area with plenty of time, and then sit around and wait until it's time to go to the corrals. Normally, this isn't an issue, but this time, the longer we waited, the worse I felt. When it was time to drop off our bag to go to the corral, I didn't want to take off my sweatshirt. I knew as the race progressed I wouldn't need it, but I was feeling a particular attachment to it for some reason. But I took it off and gave it to Becca to put in the bag so we could head out.  I remember saying "I don't want to do this" but don't know if I was referring to leaving the sweatshirt or the race. It became clear that I meant I didn't want to do the race when I had to stop to be sick in a trash can by the port-a-potties. I was close to giving up and telling Becca to go without me, but I pulled myself together and we headed to the corral, discussing silly distracting things to keep my mind off of how I was feeling (have you ever noticed how you don't often see runners wearing the same shoes as another runner? Check it out some time - there really is an amazing variety of running shoes out there.)

And after some more time sitting around in the corral, it was finally time to start. I no longer had a plan, other than to put one foot in front of the other until I reached the finish line. The first mile or so, we followed the beeps on my watch, running 2 minutes, walking 1. But I soon felt like we were starting too fast and hard and I would  use up what little strength I had way too early. So instead of starting strong and finishing slow, I decided we'd switch our strategy so we were starting slow and finishing strong - or as Becca so helpfully pointed out, we might end up starting slow and finishing slower - and we started walking.

We walked until we got to the Magic Kingdom and then started running a bit here and there. We ran (as much as we could, considering the crowd) down Main Street and towards the castle, making the turn toward Tomorrowland. And there was Buzz. One of my goals for the race was to (finally) get a race picture with Buzz (especially important this year, since I was him). So we stopped:
And then continued on with the race, running through the castle (always a highlight), noticing that the Kristoff on the balcony actually looked just like Kristoff (from Frozen). The next few miles were a blur and I don't have much specific memory of them - I was putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward. But at some point, I started to feel better - strength was back, tummy was settled - it was all good. Right around the time I started feeling better, Becca was starting to struggle.  But we were running 1:1 intervals along the boring back stretch back to Epcot (where we usually just walk).  The billboard with Flik appeared sooner than we expected it to; the hill with the Green Army Man wasn't quite the struggle it had been in prior years (we even managed to run because the army man was threatening to make anybody walking do push-ups, and as hard as running might have felt at that point, push-ups would've been impossible.) It really wasn't until mile 11 that we found and hit the dreaded wall (further into the race than we usually feel it).  So my start slow, finish strong plan actually sort-of worked. We were fairly strong until almost the end. But even in the end, when each step hurt, when the last miles seemed extra long, we pulled each other through. We crossed that finish line. Together. A team. And I couldn't have done it without her.

Race Stats
Disney  Princess Half Marathon
Sunday, February 21, 2016
Finish Time: 3:31:06 (garmin); 3:42:27 (official) (we stopped for pics, to stretch, etc. and my garmin auto-pauses)
Place: 17,589 of 20,126 overall; 15,731 of 18,090 women; 1,953 of 2,240 age group