Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Disney Marathon 2012--Another BQ!

I am so excited to finally write this race report but at the same time I don't know where to even start.  I am now three days out from the marathon and am still feeling it.  I guess sore hips are a small price to pay for running a race I will never forget.

I woke up just before my alarm went off at 2:30am.  This would normally seem way too early, but I was sleeping by 7:30 the night before, so I was happy with seven hours of very restful sleep.  I hopped out of bed, took a shower, and started getting ready.  Besides having a sore throat for the past few weeks, I felt great and so full of energy.  We left our room with our bagel in hand and headed to the buses around 3.  Our hotel was very close to Epcot, so it was a short bus ride over to the parking lot.

We arrived at the parking lot and headed to the VIP tent.  At Disney you pay for the VIP tent, which they call the Race Retreat.  It is not cheap, but it is SOOOO worth it.  It is a heated tent with seating, mats, food, porta potties, and changing rooms.  If the weather is bad or you have to wait for someone at the finish, this is the way to go.  
Sisters ready to run a marathon!

We met Erin at the tent and sat for a few minutes.  We all took turns going to the bathroom and then checked our bags in the tent before heading out to the corals.  We left the tent at 4:15 for what should have been a 20 minute walk to the corals.  I would have to guess it took us about 45 minutes to get down there.  We hit the porta potties one more time and Erin and I made it into the A coral with only about 15 minutes to go for the 5:35 start.  I let her head to the front of the coral as I knew she had faster goals than me.  I didn't want to be tempted to go out too fast so put myself in between the 3:25 and 3:35 pace groups.

The start at Disney is AMAZING.  I have been at the same start line for 5 years now and I get just as excited to see the fireworks and characters as you cross the starting line.  One goal I had for this race was to keep a smile on my face for as long as possible.  I figured it is a lot of work to be in pain and smiling always makes me feel good even if I am not feeling happy.  So I crossed that starting line smiling and was ready for an awesome race!

One thing to note with a 5:30 race is that is still dark outside.  There is enough lighting on the roads so that you can see where you are going, but looking at your pace on your Garmin is not as easy.  Because of this I was trying to run by feel for the dark miles and not keep up with the 3:25 group because that was too fast.  The first few miles went by quickly when we circled Epcot.  I told myself at mile 2, "This is your day!"  HA!  As soon as I said that to myself I laughed.  Who was I kidding, thinking I was going to run a good marathon 2 miles into the race.

My first 6 miles looked like this:

My mile splits were faster than my goal pace of 8:08, but I really did try to slow myself down.  When you can't continue to look at your Garmin, you have to trust that your legs are going at an OK pace.  I figured it was the beginning of the race and hoped that as long as I wasn't approaching my half marathon pace, I would be OK.

After mile 6, you loop around on the highway and head towards Magic Kingdom.  The first 2 miles on the highway are really dark and really boring.  The entire race, I pretty much was running alone.  I had people around me, but I was not in the tight pack that you feel in the further back corals.  This is great for avoiding weaving and really allowed me to concentrate on my race.  Mile 8 welcomed us into the Magic Kingdom property and I knew I was going to start seeing crowds.  The spectators at the Transportation and Ticket Center were great, they always give you the boost to get into the park.  At this point the water stops seemed to be coming at nearly every mile.  I have a tendency to dehydrate easily so really focused on grabbing a Powerade and water at every aid station unless I had just taken a gel then I only grabbed a water.  I was worried my strategy would over-hydrate me and cause me to stop to use the bathroom but it worked out great.

I knew mile 10 was coming up and that would mean a mat to send our split for everyone tracking me and also that we were entering Magic Kingdom.  I actually considered slowing down even more before this as I didn't want you all thinking I went out too fast.  :)


I guess my legs were not ready to slow down yet.  At this point, I figured I was going to post a nice positive split marathon.

We entered Magic Kingdom and as always, it is impossible to not pick up the pace.  Main Street was packed with people.  I ran down Main Street and into Tomorrowland when someone kicked my heel nearly sending me to the ground.  I stumbled a bit but just kept moving and headed into Fantasyland where I saw Alice in Wonderland, Rapunzel, and Cinderella.  I was tempted to get a picture as my daughters would have loved to see it, but I didn't know what lied ahead for me so I headed for the castle ready for the photographers on the other side.
Exiting Cinderella's Castle

I always seem to slow down as soon as I leave the Magic Kingdom as it is a long road to the Animal Kingdom.  There was a relay this year that split off at the halfway point, but I barely saw anyone headed that way.  The crowds were starting to build around the half marathon point and I was got a little scared that I had to run 13 more miles at this pace.  I hit the half at around 1:45:30 or so.  This was WAY faster than I had planned so I knew the 2nd half would lead to a slow down.

Split at the halfway point:

Leaving the halfway point is when my legs finally started feeling something.  I wasn't tired by any means, but I could feel a burn in my thighs and knew my mental game was going to have to start then.  I was taking my gels every 5 miles and I think I pulled out my third gel around 14.75 miles.  At the same time I developed a side cramp.  Oh how I hate side cramps.  I knew that if this side cramp went on for too long, I would have a terrible stomach ache the whole week, but I also knew, I was not letting a side cramp slow me down.  This is when I remembered what Steph had told me about her marathon. She told me she had yelled at her legs when they started hurting so I yelled at my side.  I told myself, you will not win today body, I am not slowing down.  I questioned the amount of electrolytes I was getting so decided to drink extra Powerade and see if that would help.  

I was hurting when I entered Animal Kingdom but welcomed the distraction of the characters and music.  I put on a smile for the cameras and pushed through the park.  I got out of the park and at about mile 17, the cramp disappeared.  This is when I thought to myself, maybe today really would be my day.

You would never guess mile 15 I was in pain, maybe I was running from the pain:

The Animal Kingdom parking lot was full of people and my favorite person of the day appeared with a box of tissues.  When the sun came out about 30 minutes before, it was bright, but my sunglasses were soaked with sweat.  I saw that tissue and nearly gave that woman a sweaty hug.  I wiped my sunglasses, put them on, and got ready for what would be that hardest part of the race thus far.

Exiting the Animal Kingdom parking lot is mile 18.  This is the point last year when I knew I was going to qualify for Boston.  I looked at the clock and again did the math and figured that if I could maintain a decent pace, today was going to be my day again.  I also got excited because it was at this point that I wasn't going for a sub-3:35 anymore.  I got to race to see what time I could get.  I was in control of the outcome of my race.  

This is also a highway-filled part of the race.  The next 4 miles were spent running on highways to Hollywood Studios.  Normally there is nothing fun happening at this point, but today I noticed something exciting.  I was starting to pass people.  Lots of people were slowing down and I was still maintaining a decent pace.  I knew mile 20 would be the out-and-back and I could look for my friends that I was running with and also gauge where I was.  I took another gel just before mile 20 and headed into the out-and-back.  First I saw the 3:25 pace group.  I knew they were well in front of me so wasn't surprised to see them.  Next I saw, Erin taking water at an aid station.  I yelled for her.  What a boost it was to see her.  I hit the turn around and began the trip back.  Not far behind me was the 3:35 pace group.  I figured I had at least 2+ minutes on them.  I love out-and-backs and that one was no exception.  That mile flew by and I was suddenly at mile 21.

This is when the race started to really get tough for me.  I cringe at the memories of how tired I was.  First you have a highway ramp that has a pretty rough cambered incline.  My hips were not happy with the incline and a climb at this point wasn't so fun.  You peak the ramp and then you are still on highway for another mile before you enter Hollywood Studios.  My stomach was starting to hate me at this point and I concentrated on drinking more.  My power songs came on my iPod and I laughed to myself that I somehow timed it perfectly for when to put them on.  I entered Hollywood Studios and wasn't as excited as I would have liked.  I was so ready to be done running and I had so far to go.

My splits tell the story, as does this picture from Hollywood Studios.

I was hot, sweaty, and completely spent.  But I also knew I was so close to running an amazing marathon and if I could help it, I didn't want to slow down much more than I already had.  I exited the Studios and saw the path where I fell last year.  I concentrated on lifting my legs and heading onto that path without tripping. 

I knew I had a 5k left to run and was trying to figure out what pace I could run and where that would put me at the finish line.  I think all the math I did in my head during the race really helped keep the negative thoughts out.  I was hurting but was constantly doing numbers to see what I could do.  The path from the Studios on the Boardwalk was nice, but I just wanted to get to Epcot so pushed as hard as I could.  I tried high-fiving as many people as I could as I knew I was basically done and I had made my goal.  I knew I could run a slow final mile and still qualify for Boston so it was time to celebrate and enjoy that final stretch. 

I entered Epcot and would pick up the pace and then slow down over and over again.  I would pass someone and they would congratulate me and I would start yelling.  Yes, I did celebrate for over 1.2 miles.  Yelling out when you have a mile to go is not easy to do, let me tell you.  :)

I finally entered the Mexico Pavilion and knew my final stretch was just around the corner.  My calf muscle seized up for a second but I shook it out and tried picking up my pace.  I continued to yell my way out of Epcot and rounded the corner to the Gospel Choir.  If you have never done the Disney Marathon, I suggest you do for the choir.  At mile 26, the choir sits there singing you in.  I waved and thanked them and turned my last corner and saw that finish line.  

The crowd wasn't cheering much but I did my part to get them going.  I was cheering myself when I saw that the clock had 3:33 on it.  I didn't know what my overall chip time would be, but my clock time was still an amazing time.  I sprinted as fast as my legs could and crossed that finish line with my arms in the air.

Final Splits:

And there you have it.  I am now qualified to run the Boston Marathon in 2013.  I walked around on cloud 9 on Sunday and am so excited to start my training for Boston after 2 weeks of rest.  

Thanks again for everyone's support this past week.  It really helped mentally to know that I had people following my race and that I would get to report back to you.  The blogging/Twitter community has made my running that much more fun.  And if you made it through this entire report, thank you.  

It's time to start talking BOSTON!


jessica (pace of me) said...

So awesome, Robin! Congrats on an incredible race! I hung on every word of this post. I am so happy for you, and so inspired by you! I'm training for my first BQ now - running my marathon in DC at the USA RnR on March 17th. I love reading about your journey! Hope to see you in Beantown in 2013 :o)

Amy said...

Awww, love reading your post! Congratulations on your marathon & BQ (love that runnah T)

Your race photos are awesome, but the finish line is the BEST ;)

Stone said...

Great race / great story. It inspires me to keep running. I ran my first race on Friday, the 5K Family Fiesta. With some luck, I will be running the half wine and dine in November. Good luck in Boston.

pmcarp said...

What a great day! You pushed through! Can't wait to start talking Boston! BUT, enjoy your rest! You earned it.

krissy murphy said...

SOOOOOO proud of you!!!!!!!! You are an inspiration, Robin!!! AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING.

Stephanie said...

You got the best pictures ever I love it!!! You actually make me want to run Disney. I hated the half but the full sounds really great. I am glad you told the side cramp who was boss. HA! You totally rocked it. I expect Boston to be under 3:30 if not 3:25. Mark this as the day I pretty much say you will eventually run under a 3:15 marathon just saying, I knew you when....Congrats!!!!!

Kristen said...

You're such an inspiration! Congrats on an awesome race!

kathy shoemaker said...

wow - great race report and pictures! GREAT job on your time - that's so awesome!

Laura said...

I'm so excited for you--what an incredible run! Your splits are so even, all the way to the end. Great job pushing through the pain and running such an awesome race. I'm impressed you were able to fall asleep by 7:30 too-- I didn't realize the Disney run had such an early start!

~K~ said...

love the race recap! you got great pictures! =)

Christy @My Dirt Road Anthem said...

Great job, definitely a run to be proud of!

The Journey TV said...

Congrats! Awesome recap and pictures.. BQ!!! nice!

Desiquayle said...

WOW! Again, you're my running hero!

Erica Haggins said...

Woohoo you go girl. That was a really great race report I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Congrats on Boston. :)

Heather McGowan said...

Great report and awesome finish pictures!

Jana said...

Awesome race recap! Congratulations again on such a fantastic race.

Lisa Rini said...

Yaaaaayyyyy!!! How awesome are those pics?! :) You're getting me pumped for my marathon in May. Now, granted, it's no Disney Marathon, but, definitely ready to kick some marathon butt!! Congratulations, and next stop..Boston! So excited for you, Robin!

Fit Bee said...

I had tears in my eyes reading this!!!!!!!!! YOU are simply AMAZING and INSPIRING!!!!!! What a kick ass marathon and BQ!!!!! Wooohoooooo!!!
I am so lucky to live and train with such a great runner and friend :)
Go Robin Go :) Cannot wait to read your Boston Marathon recap!!!!!!!!

Amanda McMeniman said...

Fantastic job and fantastic race! See you in Hopkinton! ;)

Katie said...

Yay! Sweet race! Disney is a fairly challenging marathon for us New Englanders too. It nice and brisk here, but a bit too warm there...Congrats!

Jenny @ The Little Jbird said...

Awesome race!! :) Congrats on BQ

runningforthekitchen said...

LOVE the recap! you are so amazing! congrats again! see you in Boston maybe ;)

Jess said...

You are awesome! LOVE THIS!! Can't wait to see you run Boston!!

Jessica@Runningtobeskinny said...

That's so awesome, I'm beaming like a proud mama and I don't even "know" you. :) Sounds like a totally fun race too. I'm starting to think I need to pay for the VIP tent...hmmm. :) How is it you look great in every single photo. Congrats!!

Teamarcia said...

Congrats again Robin! This was fabulous and I loved reading it. Your pace consistency was amazing. It truly was YOUR day!

Jane Zeytoonian said...

robin, you are amazing!

Goofy4running said...

Awesome race! I have been wondering how you did! Amazing!

Michele Gonzalez said...

Finally got a chance to read this amazing writeup of your fantastic race!! You were holding sub-8 miles for most of the race!!! Before you know it, your times will even be faster and you'll run your slower ones at sub-8!! Maybe we will both be running boston 2013 =) Congrats, Robin!

Sara - Words to Run By said...

This is such a great recap - I LOVED EVERY SECOND OF IT! Do you realize what it took you to run the FULL, it took me to run the HALF?! Just amazing, my friend. I truly admire your athletic ability - you are an awesome runner and I am so happy for you and proud of your BQ! YES!!

We stayed at the Beach Club (also by Epcot) so I think we may have been near one another! I wished I could have just walked through EPCOT to the tents instead of getting up early and going to the bus. I didn't finish the Marathon, but it was so worth the experience. I can't wait to go back and show Goofy who is boss next time.

robinbn said...

You know what is funny is, I have one of my marathons that I want to show who is boss. I have run the Twin Cities Marathon twice and both times I missed my goal by a lot. I swear that course gets the best of me every time. I am tempted to go back this year so I can show that course who is in charge. :)
And thank you for your comments. :) I loved every second of the marathon, thus loved writing about it. And yes, we will get a chance to meet I am sure as we both will be back down there. :)

Rpeete said...

Your race report was so great! It brought back so many memories of the Weekend! I am so amazed by your run and your story! It encourages me to keep moving! I am running my first Full in October at the Chicago Marathon (nervous and excited about this new goal).

I hope I will be seeing you again at Disney in 2013. I am going "Dopey" (seems like a fun challenge even though I know my body will hate me for it on Sunday afternoon). LOL

robinbn said...

So happy you enjoyed it. I will be at Disney in 2013. No Dopey for me. One Goofy was enough. :)
Good luck at Chicago!

Sarah Trout said...

Loved the report! I'm a newbie runner who is signed up for my first half at Princess 2014. I'd love to know your power songs!

Natalee Gooden Burkard said...

Love the report. My first marathon shall be Disney in a week. I did a 50k trail race before a marathon. My half time is 1hr 32mins, used to qualify for coral placement in Disney.