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!!!