Saturday, January 15, 2011

Disney World Marathon Weekend: Donald's Half Marathon recap

The first event in my three-day event had come and gone (you can read about Buzz and Woody's Best Friends 5k here), and now I was getting ready for the real meat and potatoes of my weekend.  To get ready, I planned on having a home-cooked spaghetti dinner the night before.  We ate dinner at about 6:00 pm, and I was in bed by about 8:00 pm.  The plan for the morning was to wake up at 2:00 am, and be out to the bus by 2:45 to leave at 3:00.  My parents were both running the half marathon, as well as a my pseudo-training partner and his wife, so I had some company in the morning.

We all had made the decision to pay for what Disney called the "Race Retreat Tent".  Due to the horror stories of 2010's marathon weekend (snow, sleet, hurt feelings, etc.) we decided to pay for the tent so we wouldn't have to worry about those things, whether they happened or not.  The tent opened at 3:00 am, and we could stay in it until whenever we wanted, but there was a 20 minute walk to the start line, and a 5:35 am starting time.  So needless to say, we all wanted to get there early to get our money's worth!  

The tent was actually pretty nice.  It was nice and warm inside, with breakfast and assorted beverages, a small stretching area, some port-a-potties that were only for "race retreat" use, and some Disney characters to take pictures with.  Now, I'm a pretty big fan of how well Disney usually does things.  This tent was not one of those things.  It was nice to be somewhere warm.  The rest of the "amenities" were pretty lame.  They said there would be a special race retreat merchandise section, which ended up including only one type of t-shirt.  The private bathrooms were just sectioned off port-a-potties.  But the lamest part was that the tent was in the farthest possible area from the starting line!  So even though we were paying to stay warm in this tent, we had to walk farther than everyone else that didn't pay!  However, I am glad that I paid for it.  It was extremely nice to be sitting in a warm area from 3-4:45 am and let my morning coffee do it's work, if you know what I mean.  Oh, and as an added bonus, those people who signed up for the Race Retreat were given a small cooler, towel, and first-aid kit:

At first I thought, this stuff is pretty cool.  Then I inspected it a bit.  The cooler is nice enough.  The towel is just some blue towel, no embroidery or anything.  And the first-aid kit is nothing special.  I figured that for the amount of money I paid for this thing, they could have taken the "free gift" a little further.  And then I realized that I had paid for 2 days in the tent, so I was possibly getting 2 coolers, which I thought would be only fair.  But on my second day in the tent, I was surprised with a different gift, which is pretty much just as lame.  I'll save that gift for the next post.

Now on to the race.  For breakfast, I woke up and had 2 Marathon Energy Bars and 1 cinnamon/raisin bagel.  This combo proved very trusty when I ran the Disneyland half marathon back in September, so I decided to go with it again.  Following that, I had a single cup of coffee.  Everything seemed to be going just fine.  

When we walked outside, it actually wasn't too cold.  I think the temperature was around 52*F, which is pretty perfect running conditions.  What helped even more was that we were being herded like a bunch of cow to the starting corrals.  It was pretty warm walking with that huge group of people.  As we started walking, I ended up separating from the others, because I was to be starting in corral A and they were all in various other corrals.  

Once in my corral, I did my routine stretch (and I think I was the only person stretching!) and got ready for the gun to go off.  My plan for this race was to run anywhere between 9:00-10:00/mile pace.  The course was pretty fun, and didn't really have any surprises in the forms of hills or obstacles.  There was actually a fair amount of entertainment on the course.  I didn't really have any nutritional plan for this race, as I was taking it fairly easy.  I found out quickly, however, that I would need to change my morning strategy for the marathon.  Why?  Well, by mile 4, I had to make a "natural" stop (as they call it in the Tour de France)  This was alright today, but tomorrow it could ruin my race.  Besides that short stop, I took a drink at each aid station and ate a Power Gel at mile 9 (or whenever they were handed out).  All in all, it went great.  I finished in a time of 2:03:15, which is nowhere near my PR, but it was a 9:24/mile pace and was exactly what I was aiming for.  Here's a little clip of my finish:

Like I said earlier, I am a pretty big fan of how Disney does things.  Minus some of the lame parts of the Race Retreat tent, Saturday's half marathon was great.  Not only was it really fun for the runners, but I think it was really fun for the spectators.  I mean really, where else can your kids do this while you're off running a half marathon?

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