Monday, January 16, 2012

Race Report - Disney World Half Marathon

Day 2 brought us the Disney World Half Marathon. After the 5K on Friday, we all went to the parks for the day and evening and got in late. When all was said and done, I think I got 4 hours sleep. I woke up a little before 3AM to get ready and was at the bus by 4. Once on the bus, I sat in the back and closed my eyes on the way to the starting area. Traffic was congested so it took awhile to get there.

Once we got there, a lady tapped me on the shoulder and said it was time to get off. The bus was already empty. Apparently I fell asleep on the bus. There was only 40 minutes until the start so I had to hurry to the bag check, get my shoes on, hit the portolets and then try to make it the 1 mile to the start line. I took this time 1 mile to try to warm up with some light jogging where I could. It was so crowded though that I could only go a little ways before I had to walk and go around people in the wet grass. I was a bit nervous that I wouldn't get to my starting corral on time but did find an open lane in the road median and got to my spot with about 5 minutes to spare.

I was in corral B so corral A and the Elites where ahead of me. The first wave set off and about 2 minutes later, our corral was moving to the start line. I am not sure how this happened, most likely since I was on the edge of the corral, but I found myself a head of the group before the line. I decided to take this opportunity and go a bit before the B corral started and I am glad I did. I had about a mile of open roads where there were stragglers from corral A until i met with the crowds from A.

By a mile and a half, the roads were narrow and the crowds were dense. I kept asking myself what these other runners were doing in corral A when they were doing a lot of walking and very slow running already. I found it very difficult to keep a pace that I wanted to run which was 8:00 even for the first 5 miles or so. There were times the road was wide enough to run smooth but all I could do was maintain about an 8:10 pace for the first 5 miles.

It was quite dark out for most of the race. Too dark in many places if you ask me. I almost tripped multiple times on other runners that were hard to see in the darkness. Disney needs to do a much better job in lighting some of the areas.

As I run through Cinderella Castle at about mile 5 or 6, you can see how dark it still is.

After I left the Magic Kingdom and was on the back roads near The Grand Floridian, I wanted to increase my pace to try for the best time I could get. This road was also very dark and crowded so it again was difficult. I was passing people from the very beginning of the race and all the way to the end as well. At mile 10, I was still only at 8:10 pace and knew I really needed to pick it up if I wanted to even break 1:45 even though I really wanted to run near 1:40. I guess 3 days in the parks and a 5K the day before wasn't going to allow me to get a fast time.

I began pushing up the hills and running faster. Mile 11 was a bit uphill but I managed to run a 7:59. I saw a young lady in front of me that caught my eye as she has the same slight leg swing to the side that I had. I struck up a brief conversation with her and found out she was running a good time for her so I told her to keep with me as I pushed ahead. Amy gladly came along as we passed runner after runner. It was beginning to become a ton of fun passing so many runner yet frustrating having to weave in and out to do so.

Mile 12 was a 7:26 even with all the weaving and I was feeling pretty good. I knew I had to run pretty fast if I wanted to break 1:45 so I pushed it even harder hoping Amy was still there. We entered Epcot and made a short run to the beginning of World Showcase before turning around for the fine half mile to the finish line.

With a half mile to go, I kept the pace fast! Still not very light out.

I knew it would be close so I pushed harder. I kept looking down at my time to see if I would still make it. Mile 13 was 6:59 and I saw the finish line and took it as hard as I could. I ended up crossing the finish line in a net time of 1:44:48 and I was happy with that time. This was good for 988th place overall out of 22,421 finishers. Cool, top 1000. Not too bad for 22,000+ runners. Sure I could have run faster if I didn't go to the parks 3 straight days before hand, or if I didn't run the 5K the day before, or if I got a bit more sleep, but that wasn't the goal of the race. A good time was a goal, just not the ultimate goal.

Right as I am crossing the finish line, a high five from Goofy was a must.

So I got my Donald Duck medal and was done with 2 of the 3 races for the weekend. Only the Full Marathon to go the next morning. I knew by running hard in the half that the full would be a long day and I was OK with that. I did not expect a fast time at all for the full. But then again, I didn't expect what would eventually happen in the full either. More on that in the next post.

After the race, I was surprised to not see Donald Duck around for pictures. Pluto took up the slack for Donald Fauntleroy Duck.

After the race, I walked around, congratulated other runners, took some pictures with some characters, did a little dancing in the parking lot with other runners and then headed back to the room to clean up before heading out to Hollywood Studios for another day full of fun.

So what was good and what was bad. The good is that Disney puts on a very good course with a lot of entertainment along the way. The course is just challenging enough for a faster time without too many hills to kill you. The medal is very cool. The best half marathon medal I have ever seen. The bad is that you have to wake up way too early and it is way way way way WAY too crowded of a race. I mean 22,000+ runners for a half marathon!!!! Seriously??? Too many runners!!! Too dark in many spots to run comfortably. And too narrow in many spots for a good runner flow.

My next post will be my report on the marathon, the second and final race of the Goofy Challenge.

In the mean time...

Keep on Running!!!


Mark said...

Great job, Bill..awaiting the marathon report!

Beth said...

Congrats on the first half of your Goofy! I bet it was slow because people were taking it easy for the next day. I think they should ask the goofy runners to move back if they plan on running slower or walking. Going to catch up on the marathon report!