This year started like every other year- an unwelcome 2:45am wake up call for the second day in a row. I had laid out flat Erika/flat Belle again the night before, so I was prepared to jump up and go. I did forget to charge my Garmin, and frantically threw it on the charger in the hopes that I could get enough juice to get me through the race. Lesson learned- this was the first race that I had my Garmin for, and you need to charge it after a 10K if you have hopes of getting through the 1/2. Mine just barely held on to cross the finish line, and I was legitimately praying every time I looked at it for it to just hold on another hour, then another 50 minutes... you get the point.
We caught a bus around 3:40 after scarfing down a pre-race breakfast of some water and half a bagel with peanut butter for the second day that weekend. The line wasn't bad at all, I'm pretty sure we were on a bus within 5 minutes. Side note- PHM really does bring people together. I was in line right behind my high school gym teacher, who didn't recognize me for a second, but was still super funny. I'm glad she didn't remember me, though after I introduced herself she probably had that moment of "this girl couldn't finish the mile, how the hell is she doing GSC?" Yes ma'am, I had the same thought myself, you were not alone.
Once we made it to Epcot, through bag check, and 3 bathroom stops, we headed toward the corrals. It wasn't long before we saw a couple of construction porta-potties at the beginning of the walk and jumped off the road to use them before we got to the long lines at the start line. We managed to snag a group shot before we headed off, and also saw a number of the Disbroads follow our lead and jump off to use our construction potties as well. Yes, I did feel a little star struck, and no, I didn't say hi. Yell at me later, but I let my shyness get in the way and kept it moving toward the corrals.
Princess Erika, Meg, Amy and Jenni, ready to run!
After a 5th and final bathroom stop, we were ready to get into our corrals and get moving! Unfortauntely, each of us was in different corrals, but we all wanted to run our own races, so it did work out for the best. Jenni started up in A, Meg in E, I was in H, and poor Amy was back in O (proof of time people- submit it!). I really didn't have a strong goal for this race, other than to beat my time from last years and get a new PR. I didn't care if it was only by a couple of seconds, as long as I could say I PRed the race. I was prepared for it to be miserable again with the humidity, and even brought along an extra washcloth from the hotel room to keep in the pocket of my Sparkle Skirt so I could wipe my head and keep the sweat from my glasses. The first corrals got going and soon H was up and ready to go!
When I tell you it was humid, it was HUMID. Not as bad as last year, mostly because it was overcast, but damn, that fog was brutal. I ran through most of the first mile and then slowed down to start my intervals. I'd recently bumped down from a 3:1 to a 2:1 and found that I was able to maintain my intervals much longer than I was on the 3:1. Coming off of an injury this fall, it helped to slow down too and was probably the only reason I didn't reinjure myself when shoving all of my training for this race into 7 weeks.
I started noticing around mile 3 that my splits were much better than I was expecting, and started calculating a finish time in my head. I'm not sure yet if this was a good or bad thing, but I realized that I had the opportunity to make this a sub-2:30 half (last year was 2:39), and that motivation sent me into overdrive. I knew as long as I stayed in sub 11:30 miles, I had the chance. It would be close, but doable. I had a new goal, and it felt AWESOME.
I am not a picture taker, and I generally zone out for good portions of the course, so I can't tell you exactly what was going on before Magic Kingdom. I did manage to see my bestie Greg at TTC, waiting with a "Chafe now, Wine later" sign with all of our names on it. I gave him the quickest cheek kiss of life and probably screamed "THANK YOU!" at him as I kept running, but it was worth it to see someone cheering for me out on the course. The sun was coming up by the time I hit Magic Kingdom, and the one picture I did want to get this year was in front of the castle. But with my new sub 2:30 goal in mind, there was no way in HELL that I was stopping in the lines for an official one. Thank goodness for the kind cast member who knew how to catch and was paying attention as I threw my camera at him and begged for a quick shot on Main Street. It's one of my favorites from the race and was worth the precious seconds that I gave up.
From that point on, it was just one foot in front of the other. I loved hearing "Let it Go" at the halfway point and shed a few tears knowing that I was completing a new goal this weekend. The spectators along that portion of the course were great, and helped me keep focus. And then I hit mile 9, and the nausea kicked in hardcore. I'm not sure if it's because of the humidity, because I don't have that problem in training at home, but both years I've gotten horribly nauseous around mile 9-10. Last year I thought it was because of the powerade, but I limited that this year and was still sick, so who knows. I spent most of mile 9-12 just praying that I wouldn't vomit on the side of the road and end up getting picked up by the sweepers. I saw my splits start to get worse, and doubt crept into my head, but I did my best to push it back and keep moving.
By the time I hit Epcot, it was better, even though my intervals were completely off. My Garmin beeped to tell me that I hit the 13.1 mark, but I wasn't out of Epcot yet and knew that the weaving I had to do early in the race was catching up to me and was going to impede my goal time. I hit the home stretch though, through my hands in the air, and did my best to sprint across that finish line with pride. I had completed a 19.3 mile journey that I didn't even know I wanted as badly as I did. It wasn't perfect, and it wasn't always pretty, but the journey was mine and that was enough for me.
I got my medals, took my finisher picture, and hobbled toward the reunion area to look for a bench to crash on. I pulled out my phone to find a text from Meg saying that she and Jenni were back at the hotel showering and one from Kevin, who was getting my splits via text back at home. His simple "Good pacing babe. Keep it up and finish strong! Proud of you!" was my undoing, and all the stress of the day piled on to let out one ugly cry in the middle of the Epcot parking lot. After getting myself together, I found the elusive champagne tent I've always missed and took one last victory shot before heading back for a much needed shower.
Can I be honest? Despite the fact that Disney's official timekeeper tells me I didn't manage a sub 2:30 half, in my head, I did it. Garmin agrees with me too, and if Garmin says so, it must be true right?
Mile 1: 11:22
Mile 2: 11:24
Mile 3: 11:21
Mile 4: 11:18
Mile 5: 11:18
Mile 6: 11:10
Mile 7: 11:04
Mile 8: 11:33
Mile 9: 11:18
Mile 10: 11:11
Mile 11: 11:35
Mile 12: 11:53
Mile 13: 11:39
Mile 14 (.32): 3:38
Garmin 1/2 time: 2:29:19!!!!!!
Garmin official time: 2:31:44
runDisney official time: 2:31:54
We celebrate on Sunday the way that we alway do- lunch and margs at San Angel Inn, followed by tequila shots, and a beer ( or in my case, a glass of Reisling) in Germany. We walked- a LOT- all over Epcot, and by 7:30 I was overtired, barely moving, and slightly nauseous again. Greg had met us back at Epcot after his own spectator power nap, and he was gracious enough to drive me back to he hotel while the rest of the girls finished off the night in Epcot with some apparently amazing French pastry ice cream sandwich.
I've come to the realization that I have a serious love-hate relationship with 13.1 miles. I love running this race at Disney, because it makes each mile go by that much faster and reminds me that my dreams can come true. Never in a million years did I think I could run 19.3 miles in 2 days and survive to tell the tale without injury. But I did, and lived to tell the tale. I still love PHM, and will most likely be back for one more next year before I have to give it a small break. But it was always have a place in my heart as my first and second (and so far only) half marathon!