At long last, here is my race report with photos of the girls from our visit to Disney World last weekend. The first is Dagny wearing Annika's Minnie hat. Then, Annika inside the mouth of one of the sharks from the Nemo ride at Epcot. This was originally an informative ride about the ocean, but now it is an informative ride with Nemo and friends. Dagny and Annika LOVED it. At the end was a cool play area (where the shark is) filled with cool shark facts and children. Next, Annika with her face painted as "princess kitty" - her choice. She wore the face paint for two days until it wore off (after we were home).
Last, Dagny gets to know (or pounds, whichever) Eyeore at the Crystal Palace restaurant. If you go to Disney World, this place is great for lunch because (1) the food is good, (2) they have the Pooh characters, and (3) it is very close to the baby center, which has clean changing tables for use and baby supplies for purchase.
Lest you be disappointed at the lack of running photos, the following links show me at the race finish and post-finish with my medal (not beautiful - I'm not Miss Photogenic). Please note that in the finishing photo, you can clearly see the reason that our friend missed me at the finish (Doug was off placating Dagny, who had lost her marbles).
On race morning (Saturday), I woke at 2:58am. It was two minutes before I planned to get up, but 10 minutes before the alarms. I took some Tylenol and started my coffee in the coffeemaker and my oatmeal in the hotpot. After showering, coffee, and as much oatmeal with soymilk as I could manage, I got dressed and left - without waking Doug. I was to meet our friend Joe at 3:50 so that he could drive me to the race. He volunteered to do this so that he could scope it out for his marathon on Sunday. Alas, we left one important part out of our plan - WHERE to meet. He wasn't in his room and I had no phone. After a moment of adrenaline panic, I banged on our door and woke Doug up so that he could call Joe on his cellphone. Bless him, Doug called Joe for me and we were on our way!
Race morning was warm and damp. Florida is quite humid. Disney does not skimp on any aspect of their race, so I was able to take care of "business" no less than three times before we even got to the starting area at 5:30am. I also ate some more Tylenol before the start (Doug's advice). The start of my race was on the road just beyond the Epcot parking lots. The wheelchair racers started first, then the fast folks (wave A) and then my group (wave B). Wave C brought up the rear. I thought that I was in the middle of the wave, but perhaps was at the back. Mickey, Donald and Goofy started the race for us and shot fireworks for each starting group. It was slow going at the beginning and shortly before the mile 1 mark, the folks next to me dropped to a walk because we were essentially running in place. After we ramped down to World Drive, the crush eased a bit and we were able to get to a better pace. Miles 2 and 3 passed without significant speed as we all plodded along in the dark. I realized how slow the first miles had been and gave up all hope of keeping to my 10 min per mile goal pace. As we ran, I found and chatted with Brittany Brown from Kansas, who I had met as we stood in line to get our numbers at the Expo on Friday. Go Brittany! At each mile volunteers dispensed water and gatorade in appropriately colored cups and there were portopotties.
As we approached the Transportation and Ticket Center (could have been Magic Kingdom), there were cheerleaders chanting and clapping for us and then two divergent paths with music (country and rock). The sun was starting to rise at this point, but I still didn't need my visor yet. Joe had advised me to fuel after 40-50 minutes of activity. He trained hard for his marathon and read a lot about fueling. Because of my knee, I hadn't done any training runs long enough to require fueling and really if the point of exercise is to burn calories, why would I consume extra ones (other than beer?). Seriously, other than water, I had consumed nothing while running. So, because the local Target has Sports Beans (made by Jelly Belly) and Joe said that they weren't horrible, I packed those in the key pocket of my shorts. As we came into the Magic Kingdom, I busted out the beans - because of the danger of hurling, Joe advised consuming water at the stops before and after eating them. Because of the humidity and my lack of experience at this distance, I consumed water everywhere. I munched on my delicious jelly beans as we ran through Tomorrowland, past Space Mountain (and the real potties), the Teacups, and the Carousel. I stopped eating to pass through Cinderella's castle (they take photos there, you know) and finished them up on the way out through Frontierland. At this point, the race volunteers were handing out bananas. I almost passed them, but ate a few bites of one as I ran just in case the beans were too "hot" for my tummy. The beans might be harder to consume if one were running at a faster pace - for a first-time racer, they were perfect. I wasted a whole mile concentrating on eating my beans one by one without dropping any.
The sun was fully up by this time and I realized that I was making better time as we passed miles 6, 7 and 8 out of the Kingdom, past the Grand Floridian and the golf course. This guy said that this was the difficult part of the race because of the boring scenery, but I loved it - so green and relaxing. Also, as I exited the Kingdom, Annika appeared in my headphones, yelling "Go, Mommy, Go!" Doug had secretly taped her with several different uplifting messages and uploaded them to my i-pod. I laughed out loud and then got misty. What a great husband. He also put my tunes in a good order, which I didn't realize and messed up because I started with Whitesnake instead of Christina Aguilera. Anyway, after mile 7, I decided that a potty-break was in order so I waited until the mile 8 marker since it was over halfway and past any distance that I had ever run before. At mile 8 there were two potties facing the road and about 8 facing away. I ran to the "away" ones and there was NO line. Marvelous.
Lighter and with a spring in my step, I continued down the road, listening to my tunes, taking my earphones out to listen to the marching bands and the steel drum band and the DJs who liked the road. It was so much fun. I didn't stop smiling the whole time. At mile 8, prior to the potty break, my left foot started to hurt. I thought perhaps my shoes were askew and tried to stretch it as I ran. The knee was OK - a little stiff but nothing bad. I decided that I could start running faster. Miles 8-10 passed without incident, though I did figure out that the Team-in-Training coaches were running ahead on every mile and then waiting for their peeps to come by before sprinting ahead again - those TNT folks and their spectators were great. I made a mental note to require all friends running in the ING race to wear matching shirts (a joiner, I TOLD you). At mile 10, I figured that I was close enough to the finish to run at racing speed. I tried to keep up with this beautiful woman (dark green singlet, dark skin, single long braid, a very tall, good-looking man passed her in mile 10/11 and gave her a kiss) because she was running so well. She passed me, though, on the flat part of the highway as we went over the overpass. Because we were on the highway for the last 3 miles, there was a big crown in the road. Inclines of all kinds seem to make my knee hurt, so I ran a lot in the grass. There was less pounding there too, seemed like. Anyway, there was another food stop at mile 12/13 where volunteers dispensed Cliff Shot Bloks. These were sour apple flavor and smelled heavenly. However, it was nearly mile 13 - who needs calories there? Not me. I sprinted past the beautiful woman in the green shirt, into Epcot, around the Christmas tree and straight to the finish. I had the best time. It was so much fun - I couldn't stop smiling all day. This was the perfect first half-marathon. No water/fuel/potty worries, plenty of music, cheering, distraction - so much fun! I definitely would do this race again, if finances permit, but I would save the park visiting until after the race and after the other kids are back in school to avoid the crowds.