Originally posted at laurabowers.net on February 3, 2015. I’m updating my author website by moving all older runDisney and running content here!
Warning: This post is going to be really, really long. You might want to hit the bathroom or refill that coffee cup first! Oh, and if you missed my first three recaps, here’s this one and this one and this one!
Anyway, where were we? Ah, yes, Jackey and I left Epcot and headed back to Pop Century for an early dinner. Now, not to crack down on Pop – I liked it there, but yikes, my chicken and pasta was not good. Not good at all. Since Jackey and I have so much in common, though, we did have a nice chat in the dining area before going to our room to get ready for the half.
This is when we discovered we do have some differences.
Me, I meticulously lined up my race belt, costume, and gear bag following a pre-made list on my phone. The end result:
On the other side of the room, it took Jackey about five minutes to get ready:
Yeah, she said I’m like Larry and she’s Balkie from the show, “Perfect Strangers,” but since I’m ten years older than her, I compared us to Oscar and Felix from “The Odd Couple.”
Her Balkie/Oscar outlook was a lot healthier, though, because my Larry/Felix OCD anxiety soon kicked in, making me second-guess everything in my race belt. If my husband, Bob were there, he’d step in and calm me down. Instead, Jackey filled his shoes by convincing me I wouldn’t need half of what was on my list. (Which I didn’t.)
Soon it was alarms set, lights out, go to sleep time.
And here’s where my pre-race nightmare began.
It all started with a nose whistle. You know, when there’s nothing to blow out and nothing to sniff in but something is causing an obnoxious whistle? Then I nodded off only to wake myself back up with one of those loud snort snores. Right then and there, I knew my insomnia was gonna hit me full force.
Boy did it.
I tried everything to fall asleep. I counting sheep, both the real and cartoon Serta kind. I chanted mantras. I did yoga relaxation exercises. Listened to classical music. Then white noise. I tried to read with my Kindle, which only hurt my eyes.
Mostly, I tried praying.
Dear God, if I could get just four hours of sleep, that would be awesome.
Dear God, how about three hours? I could get by with three hours, so please, can you help me out?
Dear God, okay, apparently three hours is asking for too much, but fine, whatever, I’ll take two hours although that’s hardly enough considering I’m running a HALF today and A FULL MARATHON tomorrow just so ya’ know!
Dear God, is one #@&%# hour too much to ask for??? I mean, seriously, ONE #@&%# HOUR, can’t I have at least that?!?!!
Hey, God … me again … yeah, sorry about that …
So I got zero sleep and when our alarms went off at 2:20, I promptly started to cry. Jackey didn’t miss a beat, though. In a groggy voice, she told me about hearing Jeff Galloway talk on a podcast about runners having problems going to bed and how he ran his very best race once with no sleep. So I sucked it up, drank half a Coke, took a quick shower to wash away the brain fuzzies, and got ready.
It was going to be rather chilly, but instead of wearing full length pants and a long-sleeve Under Armor, I went with capris, a light-weight base shirt, and some throw-away layers, because really, we’ll warm up once we start running, right?
(Yeah, you know where this is going, don’t you?)
We had planned on taking the first 3:00 bus but ended up getting to the bus stop at around … oh, 3:20? 3:30? Whatever it was, we still had plenty of time to check our bags, hit the port-a-potties with no line, relax, and hang out with friends.
After eating a granola bar and wishing everyone a great race, we soon headed to the corral area with a DJ spinning some energetic music.
Stephanie and Linda, (the gal I ran my first Princess Half with, were in corral E but since the only proof of time I had for registration was from when I ran the Baltimore Half Marathon with a nasty urinary tract infection, I was in J. Still, I was extremely grateful seeing as how my TOT and W&D times included a ton of pictures!
Have I effectively conveyed how chilly it was? No? Well, it was chilly. And I regretted my outfit choices. Shoulda worn my long pants. Coulda worn my cold gear long-sleeve. Woulda been much more comfy and warm. Shoulda, coulda, woulda.
Add to that my worries over being up for 24 hours by the time the first corral’s fireworks went off, so yeah, my anxiety was nearing a code yellow level. But still, I did my best to just be cool. Besides, it’s impossible to not be moved by the energy and excitement of all the many, many runners. I debated chucking my throw-away pants seeing as how they’re the wide-legged yoga variety – hardly practical for running – but I kept them on in fear of getting them stuck on my running shoes.
Pretty soon, it was Corral J’s turn to start!
From the very start, I felt … well, off as expressed in this lovely picture.
Everything felt wrong. My pace was wrong. My stride was wrong. My outfit was EXTREMELY wrong especially after ditching my yoga pants. I was too cold without the jacket but too hot with it. My ears kept shifting and my brand-new iFitness racing belt kept inching up to my waist despite being tightened all the way.
Everything felt wrong, wrong, wrong despite my cheery smile in this picture. Things got worse after tossing my jacket. Huge mistake, one I felt to the core of my soul when a chilly wind slapped me in the armpits.
This was so not how I wanted my run to go.
I could feel my anxiety nearing code orange …
Seeing this gorgeous sign did lift my spirits a tad but everything soon felt wrong again and I didn’t know how to make it right which made me feel even more crappy considering how much my family had sacrificed for me to in Disney while they were working hard at home, picking up my slack. And it pissed me off even more how I was allowing my anxiety to ruin such an amazing experience.
Anxiety is a bugger, folks.
Now, if my husband were around, this is when I would tell him, “I need to get a grip,” which is our code for, “I’m falling apart.” After nearly twenty-two years of marriage, Bob knows exactly how to put me back together but this time, I was on my own. So I started thinking about how awesomely supportive my family is. How lucky I was to be there. How much of a blessing it is to have healthy legs to run on.
Then I saw it. An abandoned black jacket, one that matched my outfit much better than the pink one.
Weirdo that I am, I considered this jacket to be a sign that okay, even though the race had started out rough, I could still turn things around and have a total blast. So I put that sucker on and said thanks to God and the wonderful stranger who had tossed it. Then I did something that I’ve never done before during a runDisney race: I took out the use in case of emergency ear buds packed in my race belt, cranked SING by My Chemical Romance as loud as possible and took off, running fast and hard, shaking off my anxiety while going into major mental “screw it” mode.
I was going to have fun, dammit.
By the time the song ended, I felt much better. Then David Bowe’s HEROES came on.
And everything finally felt right, right, right.
Thank you MCR, thank you David Bowie.
Now, about those Minnie ears. I love my Minnie ears. I made them myself and together, we’ve completed the Royal 5k and Enchanted 10k … which yeah, means they might stink a little. But this time, they were driving me NUTS! I considered chucking them which would have made things a lot more comfortable. But I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t do it.
Then I remembered how Leslie would be cheering before the mile four mark. (She’s the gal we saw at the 10k.) My hero! When I saw her, I think my exact words were, “OHMYGOSH, YOU HAVE TO TAKE THESE,” which she gladly did. Sigh of relief. Ears spared, my load lighter.
Greeted by royalty at the castle!
Now, about this picture. Let me explain before I get beaten up by some Taylor Swift fans.
See, a few days before the race, runDisney offered the chance for folks to vote on which song would play between miles 6 and 7, after the dreaded turn through cone alley. I thought Centuries by Fall Out Boy worked better because of its kick-butt vibe. Plus, Shake It Off would be more suited for a female-oriented race like the Princess Half Marathon, but the voters had spoken. Shake it Off won. Still, I couldn’t help but take this selfie to get Jackey’s goat since this is her jam.
And deep down inside, I like it too, as proved by the video taken of us dancing to it the next day after the full. So there you go.
Now, usually I never play music during runDisney events. I prefer listening to the park music and enthusiasm from my fellow runners instead. However, around this time, I started to feel tired again, prompting my anxiety to make a return visit along with some pesky fears. How in the world was I going to run a FULL the next day? What if I can’t finish? I was sick of stressing, so I dug out my headphones, grabbed the iPod borrowed from my son, and cranked up my most inspiring jams.
First up? Shake It Out, by Florence and the Machine, a song that always reminds me to forget about my past mistakes (boy, I have plenty,) and just move on.
Next? Sing by The Chemical Brothers. Just the right song at just the right time. My race strategy had been to take it easy and save some juice for the full, but forget it. This song had me running full speed and singing along because it felt so good!
Oh, and about character stops. Since both the half and the full shared the same first eight miles, I had planned on getting all my character photos during the half and only do mile markers during the full. But wow. The line for Goofy was HUGE!! It took at least fifteen minutes, but this picture was a must-have, seeing as how I was running the Goofy. But then, just as it was nearing my turn, who should happen to show up?
Bummer, the gal right behind me got a picture with both of them, but at least I got one with my guy Goofy. Then it was headphones back on, David Bowe’s Heroes cranked, time to run again!
Now, somewhere either before the twelve mile mark or before … it’s hard keeping everything straight … I once again saw Leslie who returned my ears so I’d have them for the finish line. Thanks again, Leslie! I also got to say hello to some other dear friends from my running group who were out to cheer everybody on.
I just love Laura’s “Mom” sign!
Since mile 13 was near, I took a quick bathroom break to collect myself and re-pin my ears. But what about that jacket? I didn’t want to wear it at the finish line nor did I want to tie it around my waist. It didn’t feel right to toss it, either, seeing as how that jacket was a lifesaver. But alas, my vanity won. Toss it I did. Goodbye, lovely black jacket, I shall never forget you!
When I saw this gorgeous sign, I started to feel super emotional. And exhausted. And giddy from being up for over 29 hours, as proved by my ridiculously-huge goober smile here. I was excited about finishing. And sad the race was almost over. I was all over the place. And when I rounded the turn and saw the finish line? Oh my gosh. My borderline-delirium turned me into a total basket case. It only got worse when I heard Defying Gravity playing.
So if anyone happened to see a weepy 45-year-old woman wearing Minnie ears and a red skirt at the finish line … yep, that would be me. If you listen close, you might hear a few sniffs …
I did it!
The race was over!
And judging from this photo, I really needed a nap!
My plan was to shoot some post-race video of my experience and getting that gorgeous Donald medal, but yeah, my mind was shot. Besides, I would have just cried anyway.
So instead, I wandered in a stupor to get this picture, and collect the freebie snacks and my things from bag check. Nobody from my running group was around, so layered on some clothes, put on a hat, and purchased a responsible post-race recovery beverage.
Yes, somewhere in my horizon was a long, luscious nap and this bad boy was gonna make sure that happened. Delicous.
(Tip: if you bring your souvenir mug from the Expo, refills are only $5.00. I learned that lesson the hard way!)
Afterwards, I went to join the long, long line for Goofy with hopes that Jackey would arrive in time to join me but it had already closed. Darn. That’s what I get for lollygagging! So instead, I got in line for Daisy with Jackey arriving at the perfect time to jump in:
She rocked the half!
Although both of us love hanging around for the after race activities, we called it a day since we needed to transfer to Boardwalk. So we got in line for the Pop Century/Art of Animation bus, (remember this – it will come into play during my full recap,) and shared pictures and stories from our race. Back at Pop, I decided to forgo a shower since I hardly sweated and didn’t smell, (yes, I did the sniff check, like you never do!) We also decided to call for bell services and call for a taxi.
But first … some fun!
Staying at the Boardwalk has been a dream for Bob and me for the longest time, so I felt guilty being there without him. But oh my gosh. It’s so pretty! And convenient! And pretty! Once we got to our room, I shoved my suitcases in a corner, opened the sofa bed, (well, Jackey did that part, I couldn’t figure it out,) and crashed.
Boy did I crash.
For about four hours, which was painful on one hand … napping at Disney instead of hitting the parks? Unheard of! But on the other … it felt awesome. I woke in a daze at 4:00pm and realized I’d be late for our group dinner at the Wave if I didn’t hustle. So I took a quick shower and tried to figure out the quickest way from Boardwalk to the Contemporary.
Now, when I later told this story to my mother, she said and I quote, “Please tell me that my daughter treated herself to another taxi ride because otherwise, I’m going to be very disappointed!”
I did not disappoint Mom. I broke my cheapo no-taxi rule for the third time, although this one cost a bit more. $18.00. But I was excited about seeing friends and didn’t want to be late.
And my dinner … oh good grief, it was awesome! I remember hearing on a Mickey Miles podcast to always ask if a restaurant had any specials for runners during marathon weekend so I was happy to hear that yes, we could get pasta. Could chicken be added? Oh, yeah, my heart jumped for joy.
And the perfect pre-marathon meal, much better than the chicken disaster from Pop on Friday night. Know what else was delicious?
Don’t judge me, okay? I fully intended to get a great night’s sleep and this was my insurance policy.
After dinner, Niki crammed me into her rental car and gave me a lift back to Boardwalk, (because she’s awesome,) and unlike Friday night, it only took Jackey and me about ten minutes to pack our race bags and line up outfits. I don’t know why we felt calmer, seeing as how we were both facing our first marathon. Maybe all of my crazy had been drained by then?
Who knows, whatever the case, we were both in bed by around 8:30 and PRAISE THE LORD, I slept soundly until our alarms went off at 2:20.
But did Jackey?
More on that in my next recap.
Don’t you love loose ends?
Question: What do you do to make sure you sleep well the night before a race? Seriously. I need to know because I never want to run another race again with no sleep!