Well I don’t even know where to begin. The entire half marathon experience was exciting, emotional and just beyond amazing! I would do it again in a second.
The morning of the race, my alarm went off at 2:45 am. Seriously, 2:45 am. That’s insane. After the food poisoning scare from the night before and my nerves being on edge, I didn’t sleep very well and I think I was mainly running on adrenaline. Luckily, no one else in the house got sick and Katherine seemed to be feeling much better. It is still amazing to me that she got up and ran the race.
I got dressed, packed some clothes for after the race, and made a quick breakfast. My pre-race meal consisted of half of a whole-wheat bagel with natural peanut butter, a banana, and a cup of decaf green tea with Kombucha. I took all of this to go as Amanda and I were quickly out the door by 3:20 am.
We headed over to the Boardwalk to pick up Tiffany and then it was off to Epcot. With all the traffic on the road, you would’ve thought it was 8 o’clock at night, not 4 in the morning. Quick tip for future races, stay to your left after you enter the Epcot gates and try to park in the Create parking lot. It’s closer to the entrance and also closer to the finish line, which you will be very thankful for after 13.1 miles.
We met up with Marc before we entered the pre-race area, which is where we got a glimpse of the best shirt of the race. I love that he had this made!
Tiffany and I headed to check our bags, which was much more orderly than I had imagined, and when we exited from the other side of the tent I couldn’t believe all of the energy and excitement! There was a dance party going on with a live DJ, lights, etc… and remember it was around 4:30 am! This was a scene I was familiar with from my early 20s, but I had been up the whole night before and was ready for bed…this was a whole different ball game.
Among the dance party was a sea of port-a-potties, which was quite a sight. I have never seen so many in my life! But even with so many available, there were still long lines. Keep that in mind if you’re running a Disney race and allow extra time for bathroom breaks before heading into your corral.
At around 4:45 am we began the long ¾ mile trek to the corral area. The road is narrow and when you have 20,000 people trying to get to the same area, it can be just a tad crowded. Actually, I felt like I was in a herd of cattle…sparkly princess cattle.
Once we arrived at Epcot Center Drive where corrals were set up, I couldn’t believe the scope of it all! The corrals were set up on both sides of the highway: A – E on the left and F – H on the right. Marc headed off to his super speedy corral C, while us ladies went right to our slower corrals. Tiffany and I were in F and Amanda was in H. We tried to have Amanda join us, but they are VERY strict about checking your bibs and only letting the corresponding letters in each corral. You can however go back a corral if you choose. I decided to stay in F since it was my first race and I wanted as much of a time cushion as possible. Plus, I knew Amanda would catch up with me at some point.
Since we arrived early, we were luckily able to get right to the front of our corral, which was good for two reasons. 1. We had even more of a time cushion than the rest of the corral and 2. We could see everything that was going on up at the starting line. It was chilly and breezy that morning at only about 53 degrees, so standing around was not the most comfortable thing. We still had about an hour until our corral was set to go off. Our friends Kristin and Megan also met up with us and we laughed so much that the time seemed to go by fairly quickly. This was the first half marathon for all four of us and we all had some great stories about what lead us to this point.
Just before the official start time of 5:45 am, the National Anthem was sung and the Fairy Godmother welcomed all of us princesses (and princes) to the race. All wheel chair racers took off first (I think there was only one) and then a few minutes past 5:45 corral A was off amidst fireworks and fairy dust. What I didn’t know was that when corral B was ready to take off 5 minutes later, they were counted down and got fireworks as well! Which meant we were going to get our own fireworks all the way back here in corral F!
It was at this time that runDisney officials began to slowly walk our corral closer to the start, and this was the point where my nerves started kicking in. The whole time leading up to this race I was surprisingly calm considering my injury the month before and sequential lack of training. I was really doing this. I was about to tackle 13.1 miles. Was I crazy?!
After of sea of endless people passed us from corrals A – E, we were taken to the starting line. Holy. Crap. My adrenaline was pumping and that lack of sleep didn’t seem to matter any more. I was ready to do this thing and finish. Party Rock Anthem was playing and we couldn’t all help but dance in excitement. As we were counted down by the Fairy Godmother, it was like we were the first group to take off and conquer this course. The fireworks exploded and we ran…and ran…and ran…[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTiQSfH20qA&w=560&h=315]