“A person should set his goals as early as he can and devote all his energy and talent to getting there. With enough effort, he may achieve it. Or he may find something that is even more rewarding. But in the end, no matter what the outcome, he will know he has been alive.” - Walt Disney

Friday, October 8, 2010

Race Report: Wine & Dine Half Marathon Relay

Let's start this report by backtracking to one day before the race.  On Friday, I had an 8am flight out of Dallas and arrived in Orlando at 1:30pm.  I had checked in at Disney's All Star Sports Resort (one of the host resorts for the race) by 2:30pm.
I ran over to the room to drop off my carry-on bag, and was very pleasantly surprised to see that they had upgraded us to one of the "premium" rooms in the "Surf's Up!" section of the resort, facing the main pool (see view below) and really close to the main building - wuhoo!  And surprise! - I opened the door and found a Minnie Mouse towel animal on the bed - too cute!
I grabbed our race waivers, and hopped on the event transportation bus over to the race expo at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex to pick up our race packets.
The Expo for the Wine&Dine was not nearly as crowded as the January Marathon Weekend expo is, so it was easy to pick up our bibs, race packets, and goody bags, which left me with plenty of time (and room) to explore the booths freely.  I ended up buying a new tube of Biofreeze, but no actual race-themed merchandise (plenty of cute stuff, but the prices were a little steep for me).  After a lot of browsing , but very little purchasing, I headed back to the hotel to meet up with my best friend, whose flight had arrived at 4:30pm.

Carrie got to the hotel about 5:45, and we put on our Halloween-themed outfits (no costumes, but we did have bobbly-pumpkin headbands, and I had a black shirt that said "Happy Halloween" in silver & orange glitter (see pic below)).  We got some CokeZero in our refillable mugs to bolster us with a little caffeine, and hopped on a bus to Magic Kingdom for Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party!  The entire Park was decked out in Halloween decorations - lots of pumpkins, scarecrows, hay bales, etc., super fun and very festive!
Lines for rides were practically non-existent, and we rode several things multiple times.  We watched the Happy HalloWishes fireworks and the Boo to You Parade, ate dinner at Casey's on the outdoor patio overlooking the castle, and stocked up on plenty of candy from

the trick-or-treat trails and stations.  One of the highlights of the evening (and the thing we waited in the longest line for) was getting our picture taken with all 7 dwarfs!  We left the park when the party ended at midnight and headed back to the hotel.

Saturday morning we woke up at 8am and dressed in our Texas Longhorn Mickey shirts in honor of the UT/OU game that afternoon.  We headed out at 9am for our 10:35am brunch reservation at Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge.
After eating a large and yummy brunch (we didn't over-stuff ourselves, but did use the very convenient excuse of the run that evening to eat plenty), we headed over to Downtown Disney, where we got in a little shopping and found quite a few items we'd like to buy when we come back in December.  Carrie got a scoop of ice cream from Ghiradelli, and after we both grabbed some food to-go from The Earl of Sandwich, we went back to the hotel to rest, relax, and watch the UT/OU game.

Keeping an eye on the clock, we watched the game and did all of our pre-race prep: filling out the emergency contact info on our bibs, getting our race gear and paraphenelia ready, and reviewing the race instructions and course maps.  We had our sandwiches about 5:30, hoping we were eating early enough to prevent running on a full stomach, but late enough to still get the energy out of the food while running (seems to have worked well).  Around 6:30, we changed into our running clothes and put on our sparkly-bobbly-ears, bibs, shoes, ipods, Garmin watches, etc..  We left the hotel room right on schedule, and were able to hop on a race bus to ESPN Wide World of Sports around 7  We were finally on our way to the race!

We arrived at the staging area about 7:20, and there were tons of people milling around!  They were staging us in a grass overflow parking lot, with a stage and speakers set up at one end and bag check trucks at the other, and a sea of port-o-potties along the back in between.  We made a quick potty stop, walked around for a while, then checked Carrie's bag.  We were worried about her getting to the exchange point, so she took my bag and hopped on another bus.  I sat on the grass (a nice change from hard asphalt while waiting for a race) and made fast friends with a small group of runners sitting nearby.  We chatted until 9:15, then I decided to make another bathroom stop before moving toward the corrals.
Because we had submitted Carrie's January half time as our anticipated finish time, I was in Corral B (leg #1) and Carrie was in Corral #3 (leg #2).  This was a first for me - I've never been in a corral that close to the front!  The news that there would not be a wave start, instead just a mass migration to the start line, slowly filtered back through the crowd.  Oh well, at least I was fairly close to the front!  At this point, I received a text from Carrie saying that their bus driver had gotten lost and they were just now arriving at the relay exchange point - crazy!  As the start time drew nearer, I chugged a 5-hr energy shot (hey, it can't hurt to have a little extra help for a night race).  Then we heard the National Anthem, and the wheelchair start.  Finally, it was our turn.  With the whole crowd counting down from 5-4-3-2-1, and a flash-bang of fireworks, the race was underway!
Right at the beginning, I was getting passed left and right by faster runners, so I felt like I had a slow start and pretty slow first mile out.  But looking back at my Garmin results, my first mile, at a 13:30 pace, was actually my second fastest of the night!  Maybe it was just my mind playing tricks on me because of all the passing going on.  Or maybe it was the fact that the first mile was just getting out of the Wide World of Sports Complex and starting down Osceola Parkway and included the uphill part of the large overpass over World Dr...

The second mile was another uneventful one, but also my fastest - at a 13:15 pace.
Perhaps it was the mostly downhill straightaway down Osceola Parkway, or maybe it was the 5-hr energy shot kicking in...who knows.  Disney did a great job of keeping it interesting for runners on the long stretches of dark road.  There was plenty of entertainment, including bands, D.J.'s, characters (the dancing hippos and ostriches from Fantasia) and floats from the Spectromagic parade parked in the median.

The third mile included the second and last (and smaller) overpass in the first leg of the relay.  This overpass is also mile 7 (approx.) of the half, and is the place we saw the first half marathon runner coming back towards us.  We all cheered him on, and then a few minutes later we let out more exhilarated whoops as the first wheelchair participant came through.  What a motivating sight!  I was starting to feel pretty drained towards the end of mile 3, and had definitely slowed down (13:54 pace for the mile) so I went ahead and took a Cliff Shot, just to make sure I'd be able to make the push through Animal Kingdom and finish strong.

At the beginning of mile four, we first caught sight of Animal Kingdom as we turned off Osceola Parkway and into the Animal Kingdom parking lot.  We ran past the bus stops and the ticket booths.  Then we ran past large, tooth-shaped objects lit blood red - adding a spooky, animalistic feel to the park entrance - very cool!  Mile 3.9 was right in front of the tree of life, but there wasn't an ASI photographer there, just a Disney cast member taking pictures with personal cameras.  The only thing I had was my phone, so I knew the nighttime picture wouldn't turn out, and thus, wouldn't be worth wasting my time.  Big bummer for me, because I have no intention of  ever running the full marathon, so this was probably my only opportunity to run through Animal Kingdom, and I didn't get a picture!  This was also my slowest mile  (14:15 pace) - there were some definite bottlenecks due to some of the narrow pathways through the park, and I think I also unintentionally slowed down to take in the scenery around me...

The last 0.8 miles of my leg of the relay led us past Anandapuhr and Expedition Everest.  The strings of overhead lights were on, and the peaks were lit up, with the Yeti's roars confirming his presence within the forbidden mountain.  There were plenty of cast members within the park, directing runners and giving shouts of encouragement as we passed.  Next it was  past Theater in the Wild, through DinoLand U.S.A., and then into the backlot and onto service roads back towards the
parking lot.  I took advantage of the fact that it had thinned out a little, and ran through several of my designated walk intervals, trying to make up some time.  The back road was where they split out the relay runners from those running the full-length half.  Relay-ers to the right, half-ers to the left!    I was pretty much on my own in the right lane - there were only two other relay runners that I could see near me.  We took a sharp right turn away from the other runners, and bang!  There we were at the exchange point, and we were done!  I crossed the relay exchange point chip reader at 1:05:26, for an overall average pace of 13:38.  Not great, and slower than I'd anticipated, but not too shabby either!

I spotted Carrie in her corral surprisingly easily, and we ran together towards the end of the chute.  She then turned left to start her leg of the relay, and I turned right to get my medal and post-race refreshments, then on to collect my checked bag.  I was able to get on a bus almost immediately, but we sat there for almost 45 minutes, waiting for the course to clear so we could cross it.  We finally made it to
Epcot, which was very crowded with runners and spectators.  I was able to weave my way through the crowds, and made it to the finish line.  I grabbed a spot on the end of a bleacher and only had to wait a short while until Carrie came through, headed towards the finish!

We had an overall time of 2:38:49.  Awesome, yay us!  It took Carrie quite a while to make her way through the mob at the finish (way more people here than at the relay exchange) and the checked bag pick-up process was a mess!  I didn't see her again until almost an hour after she crossed the finish line.  Of course we had to pose for pictures with our medals!
We hung around the Finish Line Party at Epcot, working our way around World Showcase, using the complimentary "taste" and "sip" coupons included with our race registration, but it was super crowded, and every line was ridiculously long, so we didn't get to try nearly as many items as we'd have liked.  We headed towards the Epcot entrance and snapped one last picture, in front of the iconic Spaceship Earth ball.

We left Epcot at 3am, and went back to the hotel to shower and pack.  We were able to grab about an hour-and-a-half of sleep before we had to get up to catch our Magical Express bus back to the airport at 7:30.

Taking into account the January half(s), last year's TOT 13K, and this race, I can now say I've run through all four parks (and as I said earlier I won't be doing the full marathon - ever - so that's quite an accomplishment!)  It was a really short, but really fun weekend.  We decided that we had a great time, but we won't attempt to do this particular race again until they've worked out more of the kinks and can manage the after-party crowds better.  I have a whole list of complaints, many of which I've heard/seen shared by other runners in other race reports, but I didn't want my report to "go there"...All-in-all, a Magical Weekend, though!

Garmin results: Wine & Dine Half Marathon Relay Leg #1

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pretty Speedy There!

Okay, so it was said by a man who was part of an older couple slooooowly walking their small poofball of a dog - but it was said!  As I jogged past them on the trail this evening, the little old man yelled out "Pretty speedy there!"  With a surge of pride practically bursting in my chest, I kicked it up a little and yelled a jaunty "Thanks!" over my shoulder.  Then as soon as I rounded the next bend, I switched into my walk interval.  As silly as it sounds, it's awfully nice to know that at least somebody thinks I'm fast!

Today's stats:
  • 0.54mi warm-up walk
  • 3.0mi run; 0:39:18min; 13:06min/mi

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Feet Hurt!

I felt great after Saturday's relay (race report coming soon), but I was still,  for some reason, dreading today's 3.5 mile run.  But I went out and did it.  My body and legs feel fine, but man, oh man, are my feet killing me right now!  Not sure why, but I'm guessing they're still tender from the race?  Oh well, tomorrow (or Thursday) is another day (or training run).
Today's stats:
  • 0.54mi warm-up walk
  • 3.5mi run; 46:06min; 13:10min/mi