Archive for January, 2012

Race Report – Part 5

Leaving mile 15 behind and entering some of the hardest miles I’ve ever experienced. After we left the waste water treatment area, we saw another character meet and greet:

The famous villians of Peter Pan, Captain Hook and Mr. Smee.
As we approached Animal Kingdom we saw some of the characters that can be seen there.

One of my favorite princesses, Pocohantos, who once told my sexist son that “Not all princesses wear ballgowns and live in castles. I know how to use weapons!” I will always love her for that!!!

And finally Mile 16!
As we entered the backstage area of Animal Kingdom, some of the parks denizens came out to meet us:

Although I didn’t stop to meet the animals, I thought this was a really cool touch.

Jiminy Cricket is another one of my favorite Disney characters. I love that he’s Pinocchio’s conscience. So many of us could use a conscience that actually reasons with us!!!
As we entered Animal Kingdom proper, I encountered what was perhaps my most memorable part of the race. Indoor plumbing!!!! Yes, there was a women’s bathroom along the course. I probably lots 2-3 minutes waiting in line to use a toilet that flushes but it was totally worth it. The bathroom was air conditioned and I was starting to overheat. In fact, another runner told me to splash water on my face because I was turning quite red from the heat. The ability to splash my face and wash my hands was amazingly inspiring after 16+ miles of racing!!!!
Leaving the bathroom I took a few pictures of Animal Kingdom.

The icon of Animal Kingdom – The Tree of Life

The famous Mt. Everest (part of the roller coaster, Expedition Everest, which I have sadly never had the opportunity to experience!)

Mile 17. A welcome site!

Even Minnie took a break from her safari to come greet us.
Animal Kingdom has a reputation for being the hottest of the Disney Parks. What I experienced was that the miles after Animal Kingdom were starting to get uncomfortably hot. We ran near the parking lot of the park and there was no shade and lots of direct sunshine. In any other context this would be a welcome site in January. Not so much during a marathon….

Mile 18. You can see the blacktop on which we were running and all the sun.
During the 3 mile stretch on Osceola Parkway, we encountered some morbid sights….

The Grave diggers from Haunted Mansion were out.
Around this time I started to not feel well. I had a headache and just felt “off.” I had heard stories of dehydration during warmer weather marathons and started to drink more than one cup of water/Powerade at the water stops. I tried taking more gels and an extra salt tablet, too.

Mile 19.
I think this is probably when many people “hit the wall.” It was hot, we had run almost 20 miles, and we were on a long, boring stretch of road in direct sun. Not a good combo!

Mile 20. I had made it to the point of my furthest run. Every mile after this was uncharted water. I think it’s obviously in this picture that many “runners” are starting to lose steam and walk. It’s also a weird point in the race because at about mile 20.5 you do a 180 degree U-turn and go the other way on Osceola Parkway for about 1/2 a mile. We could see the runner just ahead of us coming in the other direction.

runDisney – Disney World Full Marathon:
AMANDA NORTH at 20M in 4:24:23.
Pace: 13:13 min/Mile.
Estimated Finish Time: 5:46:31.
Estimated Time of Arrival: 11:47:02.

Still holding on to my pace for 20 miles. And then things went downhill….

Race Report – Part 4

The next 5 miles include the most anticipated mile of the race – the run through Magic Kingdom and the castle – as well as my most anticipated part of the race – running past my family. After passing the Contemporary we headed on a cast member route into the Magic Kingdom.  This is truly one of the highlights of a Disney race! Entering from a backstage area you soon find yourself running down Main Street, U.S.A.

Holiday decorations were still up on Main Street.

The icon of Magic Kingdom!

We then made a right hand turn into Tomorrowland….

And then a sharp left and we head towards Fantasyland.  Which, sadly, still has all the construction walls up.  Like any good Disney geek I took some pictures beyond the construction walls.

Off in the distance is a glimpse of Beast’s Castle which will be the 2nd castle in Magic Kingdom.

More construction pics!

Rapunzel and Flynn Rider.  Supposedly he’s been a victim of some costuming issues involving very tight pants…. 😉

Liberty Square.  I took this picture with the sign of Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe for Tom who likes to mispronounce the store name.  It’s become a family joke.

And Mile 11 which is in Frontierland.  I love the mile markers in the parks!

From there we exit Magic Kingdom, following the parade route.  The backstage area is next to Splash Mountain.  For my 40th birthday Tom and I took the Keys to the Kingdom tour which brought us to this backstage area.  It seems a little different after running 11 miles!

You can just see Tigger and Pooh past the mile marker sign.

Mile 12 was right at the Grand Floridian and I knew I’d be seeing my family soon!!!

The single most energizing part of any race for me is the moment where I see my family.  There’s nothing better than kissing your loved ones and hear them cheer for you to motivate you to keep going!!! I handed off my arm warmers and non-working Garmin and was given a 20 oz bottle of water, 2 poptarts, and a stop watch in exchange.  And got lots of hugs and kisses as I ran off!!! The crowd for the marathon was much thinner than the crowd for the half marathon the day before.

Not the best picture in the world.  Soon after this was the exchange point for the marathon relay (new this year was a 2 runner marathon relay called the Chip n Dale where each person ran half the marathon).  The relay runners veered to the left into the Ticket and Transportation Center to finish their portion of the race.  The crazy ones – i.e. ME – continued to the right to begin the long, boring stretch of hell.

runDisney – Disney World Full Marathon:
AMANDA NORTH at HALF in 2:50:34.
Pace: 13:01 min/Mile.
Estimated Finish Time: 5:41:16.
Estimated Time of Arrival: 11:41:36.

My slowest half ever but still at a respectable 13 min/mile.

I know it’s a stretch of hell because we soon encountered some Disney villians.

After the villians we entered a portion of the course that went past the Water Waste Plant at Disney.  Let’s just say the smell left something to be desired.  Especially after 14 miles.  You may also notice that the sky is a perfectly clear shade of blue with no clouds and lots of sunshine.  Remember that!

There were some lost tourists out there with some useful advice…

And a not-so-great picture of Captain Jack Sparrow.  Yum.

I will say that despite the character meet and greet spots, there were almost no spectators in this stretch of road and nothing interesting to see.  Again, I’m thankful for a good playlist on my iPod because it kept me going during an otherwise difficult stretch of race.  No splits at the 15 mile mark.  Next up? Animal Kingdom and the highlight of my race…..


Race Report – Part 3

After the Epcot loop the next 5 miles basically take you from Epcot to the entrance of Magic Kingdom.  There’s a cloverleaf-type loop at the beginning of this stretch and the route takes you past the Contemporary Resort before entering the iconic Magic Kingdom park.  I did most of my training in 5 mile loops (so I could refill water bottles and use indoor plumbing) and I consistently found that I took the 2nd five miles too quickly.  I feel like I probably did the same during this race.  I took some pictures from the overpass early in this segment but they are too blurry to share! One thing that surprised me a bit is that I felt that the amount of entertainment was somewhat lacking on these stretches between parks.  I almost left my iPod behind and, even this early in the race, I was very glad to have it.  I made an upbeat, sing-along running mix and definitely felt that I needed it!

There was someone yelling down to us from the balloon.  It wasn’t anyone that I recognized but I’m known for being pop-culture stupid!

(Remember that I started about 25 minutes or so behind the posted time.)

These miles seemed to come quicker than the 1st five! I was definitely getting into my groove here. Around this time I texted Tom to bring me a bottle of water and a package of pop tarts for when I saw them.  I forgot that I was eating breakfast about 2-3 hours before starting the race and I was a little hungry.  Also, for some reason, I felt like I was getting enough fluid….

The entry gates to Magic Kingdom (where you pay for parking).  I’m pretty sure we ran through the toll gates on the half marathon last year.  Magic Kingdom has tremendous sentimental meaning for me and this sign just makes me smile!!!

Look at how crowded it is here.  Believe me, the crowds were small compared to the crowds for the half marathon!!!

Near the Contemporary.

You’d be surprised how much a sight like this can energize you when you’re running a long distance!!! This just made me laugh!

Close to Magic Kingdom.  You can see the monorail tracks ahead! Ten miles down.

runDisney – Disney World Full Marathon:
AMANDA NORTH at 10M in 2:09:42.
Pace: 12:58 min/Mile.
Estimated Finish Time: 5:39:58.
Estimated Time of Arrival: 11:40:33.

Close to 13 min/mile.  A good pace for me, given my training.  I slowed down a bit from the 1st five miles but definitely within the target range.  I felt good at this point, ready to take on the Magic Kingdom!


Race Report – Part 2

After the fireworks went off the runners started moving towards the start line. This is actually a slower process than you might think. We were walking slowly and then faster. As I crossed the start line I clicked both my phone timer and my Galloway run/walk timer. Like I said this was set for run 1 min/walk 1 min and I knew I needed to stick to my training plan, even in the excitement of the race start. My biggest goal for these early miles was to make sure I was going slowly enough. 26.2 miles is a long distance and starting too quickly is a major disaster for the later miles. With the adrenaline rush of starting a race, it is easy to start too fast!

Maybe you can appreciate how many runners are trying to get to the start line (which is located underneath the MARATHON sign).

The start of the race is located in the parking lot of Epcot and the 1st five miles are pretty much a loop which takes you to the front of Epcot, into Future World, then to World Showcase going clockwise until Norway, into a backstage area, and back around parallel to the starting line.  A few “rules of thumb” of any Disney race.  Water stations are generally plentiful but there are no water stations in any theme park.  For the 1st half or so of the race, water stations were about every 1.5 mile.  For some reason the early mile markers seemed like they were really far apart! And it seemed like the water stations were super far apart.  I had done fine with pre-hydrating but still felt like I needed water.  This will be important later!

I took a picture of every mile marker on the course!

Entering the Main Gate of Epcot (where you would pay for parking if you drove to Epcot)

Mile 2 (the time posted is the time from when the 1st runner crossed the starting line).

A very dark picture of Spaceship Earth as we entered Epcot.

I love the landscaping, especially in the front of Epcot!

The Christmas Tree as you enter World Showcase from Future World. We turned left past the Christmas Tree and ran past Mexico before turning left at Norway.  Yes, I paid homage to Grete Waitz who has a statue in Norway (for the unenlightened, she was a famous marathoner from Norway who recently died from cancer).

Almost 5k done!!!

1st of many character meet and greet spots.  (And, no, I don’t know the runner who is posing.)

Not all of my mile marker photos are in focus….. 😉

I actually think I know the girl wearing the fluorescent green shirt (I have one also).  The back of the shirt says:  DLF>DNF>>DNS.  Dead last finish is better than did not finish which greatly trumps did not start. (That may be a paraphrase instead of an exact quote – I’m too lazy to go get my shirt!)

At mile 5 Disney sent out texts/facebook updates/twitter feeds/emails with your time.   Here’s my post:

runDisney – Disney World Full Marathon:
AMANDA NORTH at 5M in 1:04:18.
Pace: 12:52 min/Mile.
Estimated Finish Time: 5:37:20.
Estimated Time of Arrival: 11:37:39.

I was relying on my phone for pacing and I think I may have been a little off.  I thought my 1st mile was slower than 13 min/mile so I tried to speed up a little to “catch up.”  I may have overdone it a bit as I didn’t expect to finish my 1st five miles under 13 min/mile pace.  Nonetheless I felt good at the 5 mile mark.

Race Report – Part 1

I’ve been waiting to start my race report until my pictures were uploaded and the stars aligned in an ideal way. I finally realized that I will have forgotten all the little details by the time that happens. I will later add pictures once they are ready but I want to start writing before everything leaks out of my brain.
I went to sleep early on Saturday night and found myself awake by midnight. The “what ifs” were acting up and I was imagining all sorts of outcomes. I dozed on and off until the alarm went off at 2:45am. My intellectual self understands that it is pointless to take a shower before embarking on a 26.2 mile run. That having been said, there is something envigorating about a morning shower. And so that is part of my race day routine. My clothes and gear were ready and I got dressed and packed up to leave.
I have learned that pop tarts make for a decent breakfast before a long run. I grabbed a package of 2 along with some gatorade and headed to the monorail station. There were only a few of us waiting at this early hour and the monorail arrived soon. We exited at the Ticket and Transportation Center and waited for the Epcot monorail. And waited. And waited. The crowd kept increasing with no sign of a monorail. Luckily I found some nice people to talk to while waiting.
Finally we were packed into the monorail and off to Epcot. I ate my pop tarts, drank half the Gatorade, dropped off my bag at the bag check, and headed to the port-a-potties. For those non-runners out there, I’m afraid that those horrible, nasty outhouses are a sad reality of racing. Yuck! At least these were equipped with toiler paper….
In one of my online running groups I encountered Shannon. Her bib number and mine were close to each other and we knew we’d likely start in the same corral. We exchanged phone numbers and texted each other to try to meet up. As luck would have it our plan worked! We walked to the starting corral together – with another port-a-potty stop thrown in for good measure. Shannon and I were both running our 1st full marathon after each running 3 half marathons so we were a good match. We had no plan to run together but knew that we would appreciate having company during the long wait in the corral. One negative to Disney races is that they want everyone in the corrals by 5am even though the 1st start isn’t until 5:30. Our corral was scheduled to start at 5:59am.
The morning temperatures were around 54 degrees. I was wearing a short sleeved tech shirt with arm warmers, compression shorts with a hot pink sequined running skirt, hot pink compression calf sleeves on my legs, and a Mylar wrap to keep warm. The Mylar wrap is a warming blanket handed out at the finish line of races to prevent post-race chilling. I have kept mine and they are useful “throw-aways” for future races. I also had 26.2 tattooed (temporary, of course) on each knee.
One thing that surprised me a little bit about this race was how much more “hard core” the collective group seemed compared to my half marathons. In our corral there were plenty of 1st time marathoners but as a group the full marathon runners just seemed more….intense. I found it just a teeny bit intimidating but I also kept telling myself to trust my training. It helped a little that Shannon was more nervous than I was and we met several other people who seemed similar to us.
As we were preparing for the starts, I threw out my Mylar and attempted to get my Garmin watch set up. A Garmin is a really awesome GPS watch that can track pacing and distance and stuff. Mine was a Christmas present and I love it! My watch was locked and nobody could figure out how to unlock it. I even woke Tom up in a panic for help. Although I knew I could race without the GPS, I always run with a stop watch for pacing purposes. I finally realized that I had a stopwatch on my iPhone and decided to use that. I also arranged for Tom to bring my regular sports watch to our meeting point. During this time the other corrals were starting and I pretty much missed all of it while I tried to get my Garmin to work (side note: I never got it working but Tom was later able to fix the problem).
Finally it was our turn! One thing I love about Disney races is that the same excitement and fireworks display that is used for corral A is also used for corral H. My run/walk timer was set for 1/1 and I started my iPhone stopwatch as I crossed the start line!!!

’twas the night before…

Here I sit the night before the Big Race and think about everything. This blog, somewhat like my training, remains a bit unfinished. I guess that’s fitting. I’m writing while I wait for my iPhone to charge – the battery is almost dead because my children were playing with it all evening – again, how fitting.
How did I get to the Eve of my 1st marathon? I remember saying once that running a marathon wasn’t important to me. And here I am. I feel like this is where I should be. On and off over the last 15 years or so I’ve flirted with the idea of running. 2 years ago I started the Couch to 5k and then signed up for a half marathon. A year ago I insisted my 1st race. And started to become hooked.
My training has been far from ideal. Good enough to finish, for sure. But I know if I had the time to make sure I did my 3 runs per week – and maybe that elusive cross-training day – I could go faster. Does speed matter??? Should speed matter??? I don’t know. Part of me wants to run a 2 hour half. Or a 4:30 marathon. Or better. But maybe seeking time goals takes the fun out of it? Maybe my life is stressful enough that turning recreation into competition is exactly what I don’t need?
My outfit for tomorrow is ready. A combo of whimsy with function (it IS a Disney event, after all). My fuel is packed and ready. The camera and phone are charging. The pre-race dinner is done. Now all I can do is try to sleep a few hours before greeting the pre-dawn. And, although I’ve finished 3 half marathons, I still don’t know what to expect.
Tomorrow, unless something goes horribly wrong, I’ll become a marathoner. See you on the other side!

The week before Christmas I practices exactly what I should not have done. My calf was still bothering me from that Saturdays’s 15 miler. I should have been in full-blown “do not get injured” taper mode. I did rest for the early part of the week. My son’s 102 fever helped convince me to skip Monday night running group. Tuesday was busy but by Wednesday I was feeling pretty good. With night arriving before I get home and cooler temperatures I chose a “race pace” session on the treadmill. Or maybe faster than race pace. For 20 minutes I was cruising along at 12 min/mile or so and then the left calf started to hurt again. Whoops! I walked the last 15 minutes and finished with slightly faster than 13 min/mile.
My calf was bothering me for the next few days. On Saturday I decided to walk my scheduled 6 miles. Since Tom had an emergency at the hospital, I had to stick to the treadmill. Instead of being content with a nice slow, comfortable walk, I pushed it a bit. And jogged a minute out of every 5. And my calf really hurt for several days.
Not a good idea!