Monday, November 12, 2012

Disney Marathon Weekend 2012 Part 3-the Marathon Relay

When I signed up for Marathon Weekend 2012, I was initially only going to run the Marathon Relay (Chip & Dale) on Sunday, but wound up also signing up for the Half Marathon for Saturday.  I rationalized that a couple of ways-it was my SIL’s first Half Marathon, so I would run was a progression towards eventually going Goofy (2010 Half, 2011 Full, 2012 Half/Half, 2013 Half/Full) was an opportunity to do back-to-back half marathons on consecutive days which I’d never done before.  Whatever my reasoning at the time, this would be a very new experience for me since the closest I’d ever had two half marathons together was 2 weeks back in 2010.

After a take-it-easy first half on Saturday, I was up again in the wee hours of the morning on Sunday to make my way to the start area for the Marathon Relay AKA Chip & Dale.  I had partnered up with a fantastic ROTEr named Carol from Georgia after we found each other on the Running of the Ears forums looking for relay partners.  Since I was running the half on Saturday and the first part of the full marathon course for Sunday was pretty much the same course as the half, plus I had never run back-to-backs before and didn’t know what kind of shape my body would be in, I wanted to do the 2nd leg of the relay so I could see the 2nd half of the course; I was also concerned about being too slow if I was runner #1 due to the prior day’s race that I might get swept (I learned later that even I that were to happen, the runner #2’s would still get to start).  Thankfully Carol was just fine with being runner #1.

It was pretty chilly at 4am, all the way down to 44 degrees at the lowest!  I hadn’t worn my throwaway pants as my legs aren’t normally chilly-I had a throwaway fleece blanket instead ($2.50 at Walgreens, great deal!).  I did have on a long-sleeved t-shirt over my short-sleeved tech top so even with my fleece blanket I was still chilly.  After meeting up with the other ROTErs in the start area, those of us who were relayers running leg #2 went to the shuttles as a group to be transported to the exchange area over at the Magic Kingdom parking lot.  Once there, not much was going on.  There was a DJ and a big-screen that they showed clips of the race start, then later as the first of the runner #1’s started arriving, they would put them up on the screen.  Until then, though, there was not much to do except sit around and chat and try to keep warm.  Since it was so cold, the volunteers were actually handing out the mylar blankets to us to keep warm with the caveat that we give them to our partners as they came in.

Those mylars really helped!  We waited and watched as the sun came up-it was a beautiful morning with clear skies.  I had signed up to get text messages from the runner tracking so I knew where Carol was and when to expect her at the exchange area.  She was unbelievably consistent so once I went over to the chute where we’d exchange, I only waited a couple of minutes since I knew when she’d be there.  She was originally slated to start in corral F (out of H), but I believe was moved up to D based on proof of time from another race.  Between that and her AMAZING 2:43:43 time (you ROCK Carol!), she made it to the exchange around 8:30 am-ish where I got to take over.  I was glad I had done a Disney relay before (Wine & Dine 2011) so I knew what to expect in the exchange area.

It was a pretty interesting time for me to start.  Considering I’m usually in either the last or next to last corral where you have a lot of walkers and walk/runners, starting while there are tons of people just running (and running at a nice pace too!) was really weird...but cool at the same time since I’m never around people going that fast!  I made sure to get all the way over to the right as quick as I could.  I was a bit stiff at first but as I kept on everything started loosening up.  I didn’t need to wear my long-sleeved t-shirt for too long and tossed my throwaway gloves (those 50-cent kid ones you can get at Target) a little before arriving at Animal Kingdom.  The gloves I didn’t mind tossing but the top I kinda liked, it was really comfy so I tied it around my waist instead.  

One of the great things about being able to start the 2nd half of the full marathon course so much earlier than when I had reached that point the year before when I ran the full was how much more I was able to see since I wasn’t anywhere near in any danger of being swept.  Heck, I could have taken an hour longer than I did and not been swept (*bowing down to Carol for both her speed and agreeing to be my partner*).  As I entered the back of Animal Kingdom, they had actual animals out that you could pet and take pictures of:

And of course, the characters (yay for getting Minnie!):

As I passed by Expedition Everest, I was really tempted to take a ride since the line was super short (plus from what I heard, if you were a runner the cast members were letting you go to the front of the line), but I felt like that would be taking extra advantage of my huge head start from my partner so I kept on going.  From Animal Kingdom it was back to Hollywood Studios.  As we came across one of the overpasses, I snapped this shot of the backup of traffic due to the road closures from the race (you think the drivers were mad?):

But one of the killer spots of the full is this hill heading toward the Studios:

My legs, after doing the half the day before, were screaming at me saying “What the &%$#! do you think you’re doing?!?!?!”  Yeah, I walked up that you can probably tell, most people were walking.  I give a standing ovation to those that were running (or attempting to run) up that.  Remember, I’m a SoFla Flatlander to the max.  Our idea of a hill is a bridge over a highway.  And I personally live out near the Everglades in some of the flattest land down here, so just looking up that incline made my legs want to go run and hide LOL.

One of the best parts of reaching Hollywood Studios when I did the full last year was the candy stop--yummy chocolate!  Um, yeah-at 20+ miles that tastes heavenly.  At around 9 or 10-not so much...I thought I was going to gag and had to wash it away at the next water stop.  But that’s okay-I was in the Studios and could actually watch everything around me!  

Once I got out of the front of the Studios and started heading down the walkway toward the Boardwalk resort, I knew I was home free.  Not that I was anywhere near being herded on to a bus.  Just passing by the buses that were already there for those coming later knowing I didn’t have to worry about that was such a relief!  And once across to the Boardwalk side, past all the resorts there came my favorite part-entering Epcot for the final lap around the World Showcase before heading to the finish line!  Here’s some tiny pics from that:

I wound up finishing my half in 4:01:04, much slower than any other half I’ve done but I was thrilled to still be in the upright position after completing the half the day before.  Yes, I was sore.  Yes, I was tired.  Would I do it again?  In a heartbeat!  I thoroughly enjoyed the relay-it was wonderful being able to actually take in my surroundings during the 2nd half of the full marathon course instead of worrying that I would be taken away for not making the pace.  Our combined time was 6:59:45.  Yes, I made us a slower team, but still within the 7 hour pace time...not that we were anywhere near being swept away ;-).

The relay is not being held for 2013, but I’m hoping that’s just because of the 20th anniversary year for the full marathon with the course change and other “surprises” they have planned.  I would love to do the relay again, especially as runner #2.  Here’s some parting pics:

Have you ever done half marathons (or longer) on back-to-back days?  Would you do it again?  I sure would, especially Disney!

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