Thursday, January 14, 2010

2010 WDW Marathon Weekend - Part 4: The Marathon

As I was sharing with someone about my run of the Disney World Marathon today, I told her that I hadn't had much sleep in the few days leading up to the race, I was a bit worn from running in the cold on Sat and I had a headache when I got up to get ready for the race. But some days you feel crappy when you go out to run and then end up having a great run - sometimes you feel great but the run doesn't go so well. All you can do is get out there and let the run be what it will be. This run, my friends, was something else!!!

Like Sat morning, the early morning started out cold - even colder than the previous day, although without the rain and sleet. I could go with the cold with out the rain! We still had the issue of the wind, which made for a bit of a wind chill, but Sat taught me more about how to dress for the race. I was actually a bit warm at times running on Sat, so for Sun I wore the same get up except I left off the tights and just wore the capris. I knew I would warm up once I got going.

My husband wisely decided to pass on attempting the marathon. Since he really hadn't trained, he was already feeling the affects after finishing the 5K and half marathon (no small feat to begin with) and thought that even walking the marathon would lead to a miserable recovery week. So I set off on my own to drive to the race. I did snag his wrist band to the runner's retreat which I offered up to Maddy. I got to the Epcot parking area about the same time as the previous day - 3:30 am and headed inside for breakfast and race prep. Maddy joined me a little after 4 am.

Maddy and I were, once again, bundled up to stay warm in the corral. This time, in addition to my running gear, I wore an old pair of sweats (shirt and pants) over my running clothes, sported my fashionable garbage bag and brought along my mylar blanket from Sat. I was just fine except for my toes, which I couldn't feel after awhile. When we got ready to start, I shed it all except the stuff I was going to wear for the entire race.

With a great training season, I knew I had a shot at a PR. However, I had not trained in the cold so I had no idea if it would have a positive or negative affect on my pace. This is part of what I love about long distance don't really know until you are in it!!

With that, just before the gun Maddy and I hugged and wished each other luck and I was off on my own. I had an interesting plan. Negative splits don't seem to work well for me. I was worried that I would start easy and slow later - losing my overall desired pace. So I did what you probably shouldn't - I started off at a more ambitious pace of 11:00 min/mi (but one I had been training with well) and tried to hold it as long as I could. A contributer to the pace was taking less walking breaks. I had trained to take a 1 min walking break each mile. For the race I was going to walk 1 min at the water stops. I also wanted to build in a little extra time in case I needed a pit stop on the way.

I felt strong early on in the race, and although I did feel the urge to make a pit stop, that urge eventually went away which worked out well for my time! I definitely could feel the effects of the run from the previous day - I could feel the tiredness in my legs. I worried a bit about how long I would last - but I kept pushing on. My choice of clothes worked out well and by mile 1 I was warm and running easy. I couldn't feel my toes, however, until around mile 3 or 4! It was definitely nice not having sleet stinging my face.

We reached the Magic Kingdom shortly after mile 10. I enjoyed my usual run down Main Street USA with the crowd on the left side and Disney cast members cheering on the right. The trumpeters were there at the castle to herald us in and soon we were out the other side headed toward Frontierland. Mile 11 comes right as we left the Magic Kingdom.

The temperature seemed to get colder again after MK but I felt okay (I did lose the feeling in my toes again). About the halfway point, I began to feel a bit sore in the legs. I was wishing I felt a bit fresher at that part of the race but I was keeping a good pace. I was running at just over 11 min/mi and hit the halfway point at 2:25 - almost 10 minutes faster than the half marathon course PR I had set the day before. An interesting phenomena as a result of the cold was the ice. With temps in the mid 20s, the water stops became hazardous areas. Water spilled on the ground turned to ice and volunteers were having to spread sand around. We had Powerade slushies and ice water at the stops with the ice that formed in the cups!

Although I could feel the tiredness of the miles, the miles went by fairly well. At about mile 18, I started to feel my calves tighten and the tendon in my right foot began to pull. I had cramped up under my ribs and in my feet after finishing the half on Sat and I was concerned about cramping late in the marathon. As I felt the twinges, I kept pointing my toes and hoping that I could make it to the end without cramping up. And when it got a little tough, I thought about the wristbands I wear. I wear a Pray for Elijah band - Elijah Talley is a spunky young man who is battling neuroblastoma. His fight has been particularly tough over the past few months but he is hanging in there. If he can fight such a tough disease, I can run another mile! I also wear a Livestrong band to remind me of my Aunt who is battling lung cancer. I also think a lot about my mom who has emphysema and heart disease. She is out of breath just walking across the room. If she can hang in there for that, I can run another mile! I wish I could run their illnesses away...

As I got to mile 20, 21, I realized that I was well on pace for a sub-5 hour race. That thought also kept me moving. I entered Epcot just ahead of mile 25, and I started to cry....I was nearly done! And though I had a couple of minutes to spare for a 5 hour race, I didn't dare walk any more. I would never be able to live with myself if I missed beating 5 hours by 2 sec!!!

I check my time as I ran by the choir at mile was going to be sub 5 hours. Around the corner and there was the FINISH line!!! Mickey and Minnie were there to greet the runners. As I crossed the finish line, I let out a loud yell!!!! After crossing, exhausted from the last mile or so, someone called my name and came up behind me just after the finish line - it was Betsy Hughes, co-owner of Track Shack and one of the race directors for the Disney Marathon. She saw me finish and wanted to greet me! She was the first to congratulate me on the race!

As I walked to gather my Mickey medal and mylar blanket, I began to cry again. I don't know about you guys, but the emotions for the entire race, for the entire training season, just seem to hit me at the finish line. I headed to the Goofy tent and got my Goofy medal before making my way to the runner's retreat where I checked my official time: 4:57:14 (later updated to 4:57:12). I had to post to Facebook my triumph with a short entry: "4:57:14 baby!!! Done!"

By the time I had changed and gotten a bite, Maddy was already finished - running in 5:25. Amazing job after she admitted to me she hadn't trained so well for the race. Yes, we will be back next year. I am not planning on Goofy - probably "just" the marathon. I have to run in will be my 5th Disney Marathon! And I don't want to miss all my Goofy friends who will be running it next year.


lizzie lee said...

What else can I say? Your training and perseverance got you there. Share your strategy at the beginning of the marathon as I did the same in my last half... First miles were going to be easier, as later, hills show up and negative splits seem not to work for me either.

Your tears at the finish line are my tears. I congratulate you again from the bottom of my heart, because your achievement was made of blood, sweat and tears (only blisters' blood, I hope)... Have a great 2010 season!!!!

lizzie lee

Running Diva Mom said...

Wonderful accomplishment and ahead of your goal -- way to go girl!!!!!! Great race report. So happy for you! I can't wait to get there in less than two months.

Petraruns said...

Chris what an awesome report and an even more awesome result! WOW WOW WOW!

I am SO thrilled with you that a great training season resulted in these great races - that's not always a given.. And I too have had my best results when going out harder - negative splits just seem to slow me down.

I am just SO excited for you. Well done girl!

ShirleyPerly said...

Congrats on all your PRs, Chris!!!

Truly incredible how everything seemed to come together for you this year. And the weather, though terribly cold for Floridians, was probably much better than running than in 80 degs. I'll have to consult you if I ever run a race in sub-30 deg temps :-)

Rest up and enjoy your recovery. You earned it!