Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Race Recap

As I posted on Friday, last weekend I ran Disney's Half Marathon. The entire week before I was worked up into a tightly-wound tizzy, not over the race, but over the weather.

What kind of weather you ask? Well, the start of the race was 27 degrees and what the weatherman called a "Wintry Mix" which I now know consists of a lovely trinity of rain, sleet AND snow. It was awesome.

I had assembled an enviable race outfit--a long sleeved Nike dry fit shirt, running tights, pants to go over top of them, a running jacket, a big Target fleece jacket that I planned to ditch along the race, two pairs of gloves (laugh if you will) a scarf, and a headband to cover my ears. I sounds ridiculous, but it kept me from freezing to death.

I woke up at 3am, necessary if I was to make it to the last shuttle from the hotel which was at 4am. I got to Epcot where the race started, checked my bag, and found a nice spot near a tent to block the wind while I tried to stay warm. That's right about when it started to sleet. As a horrified Floridian, I watched the little balls of ice land on my glove and roll around. Now I understand why the northerners look at palm trees like they're something special, cause ice from the heavens might as well have been a three-headed dog the way I was staring at it.

I made a friend by that tent, Vanessa, who happened to stop there to eat her bagel with the same hopes I had of keeping warm. It was all for not, but it did keep the wind at bay. But we started chatting, waited in the pre-race port-a-potty line together, went to the start together, and before I knew it we were at the finish line together.

Here we are at Mile 4.2 where we stumbled upon Rey.

Let's back up. I started in the last corral. Even worse, I started in the BACK of the last corral. This meant, I spent miles upon miles upon miles dodging walkers. You have NO IDEA how many people did this race intending to walk the whole thing. Walkers from the start! DROVES of them! And the ruder of the bunch would walk seven or eight across so it was impossible to pass. I had really taken for granted that in my typical running I am able to go in a straight line, one foot in front of the other. This was not the case here. I wish there was a way to calculate how much energy I expended and how much extra length I added to the race with all of this bobbing and weaving. Next time I think I'll turn on my GPS to see... I think Disney should reserve the whole last wave for walkers, cause they were a total pain in my ass.

I started running on the grass because then I didn't have to dodge the walkers, but there was a whole new obstacle there--thousands of articles of discarded clothing. Jackets, shirts, hats, gloves, ponchos and even trash bags.... it was however the lesser of the two evils and as long as the ground was flat enough I was pretty much on the grass. But all the bobbing and weaving and jumping over people's crap, my hips were screaming.

I decided to chronicle my journey with some high quality iPhone pictures. It was fun to run through the gates of the Magic Kingdom, and I couldn't help but think about how many times I'd been in that same spot, except in a vehicle.

Rey, bless his heart, was running from point to point on the race with my camera like he was the paparazzi. I admit it was really fun to see him in random spots on the race, kinda like a Rey version of Where's Waldo. And I handed him a bunch of layers of clothes at one point too so I got to keep the cheapo jacket I bought intended to discard on the race. I became rather fond of it.

Unfortunately, Rey is completely clueless on how to function my camera. He took tons and tons of picture--all on "Close Up" mode. So the majority are blurry messes. I will have to give Rey some rudimentary lessons before we try this again.

Somehow he got a good picture of this guy, running along in a surgical mask and rubber gloves, like he's about to perform surgery in the middle of the race a la M*A*S*H (which I now know stands for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, thanks to last night's Quiz Night).

It was so cold that my Gu packets were in a semi-frozen state. That was really freaky. I'm used to being able to shoot them, swig some water and go, but I daresay I had to chew the buggers. And my Carmex was definitely frozen. And everyone knows how I can't live without my Carmex. The fact that I'm in Flordia, running, and small packets of things are freezing... well it's just not natural.

After 6 miles, we got to the Magic Kingdom, which was really a lovely sight. I had to pee since almost the beginning of the race. It was either stop at one of the water stations and wait in a ten person deep port-a-potty line, or stop somewhere in Magic Kingdom. Which would you choose? Tomorrowland it was. But I still had to wait in a line, and it was painful, painful to watch the walkers going by that I would have to start dodging again.

Then I saw Buzz Lightyear. And I thought I should take a picture of him, the boys would get a kick about it when I recapped my race to them.

Except then Buzz sorta charged at me. In a freaky, scary, serial killer kinda way.

So I took a picture of that, too.

And just like that, you were out of the Magic Kingdom. The race was roads, roads, more roads, five seconds in Magic Kingdom, then some more roads, roads, more roads, then five seconds in Epcot, then it was over.

To say I was cold afterwards would be a complete and utter understatement. It was below 30 degrees, I was sweaty, I was down several layers of clothes, and it occurred to me only then that I was soaking wet. When I took off my gloves my fingers were bone white and shriveled up like prunes. My feet were even worse. It took me over an hour to warm up, most of which I was shivering so bad I could have dang near bitten my tongue off.

Cold is one thing, cold and wet is a kind of pure torture.

Despite all that unpleasantness, I had a fun time. I met so many people it was amazing! It was like we were all banded together in this insanity of running a race in what can only be described as horrific conditions. I love meeting people, so it just added to my fun factor.

I am glad it's over, but I would totally do it again. I could only hope it would be minus the "Wintry Mix."


Kathleen said...

I have been waiting on pins and needles for this recap! I'm so glad to hear you were able to muddle through the mucky weather and finish the race. Sucks about all the walkers though. At the track where I've been running since it's been cold, there really aren't all that many people... until now. Since the new year started and everybody's doing their "I'm gonna work out more" resolutions, it is CROWDED and I hate having to weave through all the people. Not that I'm running super fast or anything, but there are walkers and when they're not staying in their DESIGNATED walking lanes, I am highly annoyed.

So do you think you'll do another? What about a full one - gonna try for that next?

Amber Greenawalt said...

Way to go Ashley!!!! Lived hearing about all the details. You are totally my hero! :)

BrianG said...


JBW said...

Hello there...I have been following your blog for a while after I stumbled upon it from Amber and Lucinda's pages. This latest entry, even though I do not know you, had me laughing out loud... especially the part about Buzz Lightyear!
Thanks for sharing.