New Years Resolutions. Some people say that they are stupid. Gyms are bursting with couch potatoes come January 1st and then parking lots are bare in front of those very same gyms just a few months later.
But some people….some people keep those New Years Resolutions. I was one of them.
A few years back I was a 225 pound couch potato who was inspired by runDisney to lose some weight and sign up for a half marathon. That very first half marathon was the 2011 Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon. I finished in 3:29 and I was stiff as a board after crossing that finish line.
This year I finished in 2:58 and felt like a million bucks. I had finally broken through my 3 hour half time and it was my very first solo half marathon where I ran intervals. My what a difference two years and proper training can make.
This race was also special because I finally converted two of my best friends into runDisney half marathon addicts. Rick and Leslie Howard of Kingdom Magic Vacations. Here they are at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort ready to run in their very first half marathons.
Rick and Leslie both ran sub 3 hour halfs. AMAZING! We made our way from Port Orleans to the Epcot parking lot. I wasn’t staying on Disney property after the race. I was going to drive home. Perk of being a local. This was my first Disney half marathon where I wouldn’t be staying at a Disney resort after my race. I knew I would want my car right there in the parking lot at Epcot so I wouldn’t have to take a bus to Port Orleans and then drive home. I have yet to feel like walking around World Showcase after this race. Maybe in 2014?
Rick and Leslie on the bus on our way from Epcot to Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports…where the race start was.
This was a first. Security checkpoint before entering the race staging area. Went smoothly.
Here’s official bag check. Another smoothly run station with no wait.
We had a few hours to kill so we found a spot on the grass and sat down and chilled for a while. We found our friends Carrie and Kevin.
And I also ran into some more of my runDisney friends Shalon, Todd and Cliff.
We made our way over to the port-o-potty city and stood in line for a half hour there. Leslie and I happened to be in the same corral…thank goodness. We decided it was time to get in position a lil bit early so we could find a nice spot to sit down and save our legs before it got uber crowded up in there.
I had a nice time talking to these gals while we waited.
The time had finally arrived and the fireworks for previous coral starts were slowly sounding of as we inched closer to the start line.
Even though Leslie and I were in the same corral, we were not going to be running together. She does a straight run and I am a run/walker. I downed a GU. Put my yurbuds in my ears and pushed “Start” on my GPS watch. I had been training with a run/walk ratio of 30 seconds/30 seconds. This would be my first race doing a strict pace of 30/30s.
I knew I wouldn’t be able to pace myself that way until I got out of the congestion of the start. And that point would be the turn onto Osceola Parkway headed towards Animal Kingdom. I just plodded along with a fairly slow pace until I hit that point. When I got onto the parkway and the runners spread out, I turned on my iPhone interval app and started running 30/30s.
I knew I would have to push through a few of the 30 second runs and turn them into 60 second runs so that I could make up for lost time at the start. However, I never took more than a 30 second walk break. It took me until around mile 5 before I really started feeling like I could sub 3 hours. I just kept looking down at my GPS watch to make sure I was under a 13:43 average pace.
Because I ran this race alone, I didn’t really think to take any pictures. I snapped one. When we ran down the Streets of America and through the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This is really the most magical part of the race!
I had my doubts after I exited DHS about weather I would finish in under 3 hours. I knew the path from DHS to Epcot was narrow and it had been the most congested portion of the race in years past.
I was excited to be passing new runners. See, for the majority of the race I had been bobbing back and forth with the same group of runners. They’d pass me. Then I’d take a walk break. Then I’d pass them and so on. Well because I had been doing the run/walk/run, I had quite bit of gas left in my tank towards the end of the race and I was seeing the backs of new heads. It felt GREAT!
I entered Epcot with a renewed sense of accomplishment. I blasted through Future World and then past where we normally see the gospel choir. Then came the blinding RAVE lights and I knew I was close to the finish line. I was going to do it! I was going to finish in under 3 hours! I pushed as hard as I could and gave it everything that I had and finished with both hands raised high in victory!
I looked down at my GPS watch. Under 3 hours. I waited for my official finish time to be texted to me. YES! Officially under 3 hours. A few seconds later and Rick finished with a time only seconds difference from mine. Leslie was waiting for us just beyond the finish line. She had subbed 3 hours as well. I asked them if they had plans to run any more Disney half marathons to which I got an emphatic YES from both of them.
I was too pooped to hang out with them after the race. I knew I had an hour drive home and a shower in my future and it was already 2am.
This continues to be my favorite runDisney half marathon and the only one in which you can run through three of the four Walt Disney World theme parks. See y’all in 2014!!!