Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon - Part 4 It's the End of the Race as I know it

After exiting the Castle tunnel I veered over to my left to wait in a line to get my pic taken....look how brilliant the light was around 7 am at this point.   THIS photo is what many do the race for! Yeah I get red in the face when I exercise...and I have to say, my legs have NEVER looked better!  This is what running does for ya.

I ran off into the Liberty Square area I believe next.  There was Tiana, Prince Naveen and Louis, look how cute Amy looked in her pic!  It was so surreal running this course in the happiest place on earth.

Next to the Haunted Mansion were 2 Ghost ladies who were a RIOT.  They sounded like Paula Deen - you think I was hungry or something with second thought of Savannah's first lady, in very sarcastic southern voices saying "Go Y'all. Run".

We headed through Frontier Land and Sarah Cate's FAVORITE Ride was going... Splash Mountain, though no riders.  At some point by the shooting gallery I see Jessie from Toy Story AND a professional photographer...line was short may 6 people so I hopped in.  Yeeeeee Haw! After this I decided it was a nice place to stop and stretch out the old calves, so I did the runners stretch up against a wall by the shooting gallery - some lucky princess has a picture of me in the background stretching like these ladies behind us.

Somewhere we hit 6 miles just before we exited the time from mile 5 to 6 was 14:52 minutes, not bad for potty break, 2 pictures and some stretching!  My total time for this leg 6 miles was an hour and 30 minutes. Next thing I know we are running down a hill an by all these floats that were in storage or garages between parades.  Aladdin's Genie was down there as was Captain Hook with Smee and Pinocchio with Geppetto.

As we ran past the train, over a little bridge I knew our time in the Magic Kingdom was over, it was a little sad. I could feel my heel more than before but I wouldn't say it hurt at this point. I told myself, make it mile 11 and you are home free!  Between now and then no parks, but a run through Epcot awaited at the finish.

There was a firetruck out with a DJ and some fireman dancing on top of the ladder truck. That make me laugh. We hit mile 7 and things started to hurt on my foot, I was DEFINITELY slowing down.  Between now and the end of the race I know I stopped like 4 times to stretch out my calves, but not sure exactly when. The sun was up and it was hot, I couldn't believe all the people who passed me in polyester full costumes or long running tights - some ariels, some jasmines, the incredibles.  But there was PLENTY of Powerade and Water stops which I took water EVERY time not being used to the heat and humidity.  They also had a few Biofreeze stops which I BATHED my calves and ankles in..that stuff feels great!

While we weren't in a park, shortly after mile 7 we passed Belle, Gaston and the Beast; Cinderella's Carriage - glass pumpkin one they use for weddings; and  Prince Phillip and Sleeping Beauty.  I was looking to see if I could spot a professional photographer for pics, but decided I just needed to focus on finishing..the castle shot was my only MUST have. There were spectators on the side too cheering us on.  We were by a golf course and Donald Duck decked out for Golf was there next to a Mickey golf cart.  GREAT photo ops for those who remembered to put the charged battery IN the camera.     We hit mile 8 and saw Meeko from Pochahontas.....and at some point we got our free Powerade Gel...I think I had def gave me some energy.  Oh I had been eating my Cliff Blocks every 45 minutes, so its not like I was passing out, but what the heck, it was free.

It was really starting to get hot at this point and the foot was hurting worse.  I chatted with some friendly princesses to try to take my mind off of things as it seems this leg from my memory was boring and I knew we had that freeway ramp style hill coming up.  Plus it was in my mind "the longest I made it training was 10.5"....oh that is ABOUT where that hill is located too.  The whole mental part of running was kicking in full force.  Just get to mile 11 I told myself, you see that is AFTER the ramp! 

Mile 9 to 10 was tiring as we had direct sun, but you know it was the familiar back side of the race, saw the Epcot big ball balloon again and the familiar sights from the beginning of the different to run in the early morning dark and full sun!  The pirates were still out for photos as were the princes....lines were ALOT shorter too...mental note for next year!  I was still hopeful about finishing, but ready to be done.

We hit 10 and at some point I see princesses and a few princes going up the ramp which was shaped like the clover leaf.  THANKFULLY I had read on the disboards that it was very banked and for anyone with any joint or feet issues to stay on the left as the inside - the right was the shortest distance and would be intuitively where you would want to run was really banked and hard on the joints. I think I walked the entire ramp on the side off the road as the ground was softer and relatively flat. I was shocked very few were on the ground.  About half way up, they had a green army guy from Toy Story shouting "Move it move it civilians....Get to the top of the hill" in the army man fashion from the movie. I tried to take a pic with my phone but that sucker is small and I couldn't figure it out.  I made it to the top of the hill and when on the overpass expected to look back and see a trickle of people, but it was still a sea of humanity, so felt good I wasn't last.  Are we there yet in my mind.........ouch my foot really hurts. Then "Dig a Little Deeper" from Princess and the came on Frog came on the old IPOD Shuffle!
I made it to mile 11 where they had guys on stilts from my favorite street party "Move It Shake It Celebrate It".  I high fived the stilt guy and said "Move It Shake It - Best Parade at the Kingdom". He smiled and said "you know it girl".  Yes, another giddy moment - see I have this weird thing about how much I love that parade! 

Here's where the end of the race the mental highs and lows hit me like a ton of bricks.  Mile 11 I thought - this is as farther than I made it on my training run.  Cue the tears again, I am gonna finish...well I hope I can as my feet are KILLING ME.  I would try to jog, but my jog was as slow as my walks. But I said, ONLY 2 more miles, then I thought gosh I hope I can finish them unlike that bad last long training run.  I think I cried the whole mile.  I was just overcome with so many emotions - pride in how far I had come, fear I wouldn't make it, loneliness like no on was going through what I was, I wished my family was going to see me finish AND I just was ready to be done with it all.  I would say "You are going to do this" and that would bring on tears of how hard I had worked to get up to this distance, then the stupid foot problem that stopped my training and all those weeks of "Will I or won't I finish".   I am telling you I was a bit of a hot mess I think but I kept plugging along.  Literally THOUSANDS had passed me, but hey I wasn't last.

They did have some more characters to pass the time and distance...Jane from Tarzan, The Little Dragon from Mulan - I love that movie, Mrs Incredible and the chick from Hercules.  Well we made it to mile 12 and I think the wave of emotion calmed a bit.....  AND then the shuffle on my IPOD starts to play "I'm Almost There" from Princess and the Frog!  "Trials and Tribulations, I've had my share...." Sing it Tiana!

Most of the last mile is through Epcot and when I heard someone say "Welcome to Epcot" as we ran in, I now had tears of joy. There was a group of 2 next to me and the one girl was STRUGGLING and her friend was pushing her to finish....but I think it was making the girl having a hard time mad, her face was down as her friend said "Run, finish strong". I tried to help by saying, "not much further per my Garmin - You can do it, just finish your race".  She looked a me a little weird and I decided,hmm,better back off. 

With a little over 1/2 a mile left, I saw a girl limping along. I decided to try the encouragement thing again as I NEEDED IT TOO!  She told me her foot her she had Plantar Faciitis....hey ME TOO! We chatted about our ailments and treatments.  We discussed how we were happy we were going to finish but honestly disappointed in our times and that this was NOT the way we imagined it would be, we knew it would be hard, but never envisioned being in pain.     
This is around the time I met my finishing friend..she is next to me with red bandana. Could I look any happier? Um, yeah I could! 
The Gospel Choir singing before mile 13 turned all my emotions to SHEER JOY!  They sounded great and looked so happy! 

I told my new foot problem friend as was saw the finish "come on, we have worked too hard not to finish strong.  Not only did we get up at 3 to do a half, we are doing it with an injury...we deserve 2 medals".  She said OK and we started to jog tot he finish.

My last bit of energy jog with a smile...SLOW but got it going on. Could I have more stuff on me...garmin, spibelt, Ipod Touch and the tiara bow hat .   I had my Team Sparkle Skirt which if you look good you feel good!  
I saw Minnie and Donald and Daisy..and I cut over to high five them all just before I crossed the line.

As I crossed that finish line I was SO happy I had my arms up high and  a huge smile on my face. 

That is me on the left, my last mile Plantar Faciitis finishing buddy is in the center in purple shirt with bandana.

 Proud of my accomplishment, but SO happy to be done. I told my last mile buddy whose name I don't know, she was from Chicago...."Good job". She told me "thank you so much for talking to me and getting me through the last mile, you really helped me".  She helped me too.  Then it happened...I got my medal and some pixie dust for the heck of it and got my finisher picture taken...which by the way, this is a wake up call picture, I am now trying to lose my middle.  Sheesh, stand up straight and suck in your gut would you.  Oh, the medal is Princess Tiana Colors SO pretty with some diamonds and an emerald. Amy had someone take her pic and its below.... she had finished WAY ahead of me!
And on my high from finishing got a message Jackie was at the designated meeting place with ice...I had started to go to medical, but decided to just get back to Jackie.  I called Andy and left a crying voice mail "I did it, it was so fun but so hard at the end, I love you thanks for your support in getting me here".  He called me back and tears flowed as I briefly chatted with him and Sarah who asked me "did you win mommy?".  Yes sweetie, I finished and they gave me a shiny medal with jewels....."OHHHHHH - Daddy mommy got a medal"! She was excited my sweet little 4 year old. My finish time is an embarrassing 3:29:51...but hey, I beat my 3:30 goal! 

I made it to Jackie and realized I had to go...Dear Disney, come on, the potties were quite a walk from the end and I was going SLOW!  We made it our know when you park in the dark, it sure looks different... I had memorized the row and section but there was no one out there to direct us back.  When we found the car, getting out of the parking lot was a nightmare...but we made it.  Iced my feet in the car with Jackie's leftover ice pack for her knee.  I took a nice cold water bath to soak my legs and feet and rested up for our after the party...and party we did.

(Disclaimer:  This is from my memory and reviewing some of my training buddies trip reports and pictures. To be honest, the last 5 miles are kind of a blur, particularly mile 9-12.)

to be continued.......afterparty is next.  Princess After Party

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon - Part 3 "Have Fun Storming the Castle"

As we passed over the starting line I hit the old start button on my long lost friend my Garmin to keep up with my pace on demand, cool huh!  Since I had been injured, I wasn't running outside and the old gal had not been used in over a month- I sure missed her.  As Amy ran off to hit her pace I felt myself smiling despite the fact EVERYONE was passing me, but had to do my warm up walk for a few minutes.  When the IPOD told me "RUN" I took off - it felt so good in the dark surrounded by the back of the pack of Corral B to run and I reminded myself I HAD to restrain myself to make it to the end - so I had to slow down a little.  I felt great and just had a goofy smile on my face.  I was moved to see so many spectators on the side of the road next to the Epcot Parking lot where we started.  They were cheering us on, thanks for getting out so early peeps.  I believe we next passed a high school band which again, I was moved that they came out so early to play for us. Somewhere along the line was a DJ.  Now, I was going to take pics to document WHEN I saw what as far as the course, but camera for me so this is all from memory.

cute mile markers with a Disney theme...time indicates the start of the race...Amy took this picture but you know the clock read 20:57 when I ran by...he he only mile I beat her due to her potty stop.

At some point I passed the mile one marker and was pumped! I am doing this and WILL finish I told myself.  I thought I heard someone yell "JULIE", then heard it again. It was Amy, she had stopped to wait in line at a porta potty and was coming up from behind.  She snapped these pics of me on the course - see still dark out there!

hey who is that fast sparkly runner? 

Shortly after Amy ran ahead at her speedy pace I saw the pirate ship up in the distance and began to hear that great Pirates of the Caribbean movie theme. 
pics courtesy of my weekend roomy Amy, these are just some random princesses.

There was a long line to get pics made with them - I yelled as I passed, "thanks for coming out pirates, hey Jack Sparrow". Johnny Depp um I mean Jack Sparrow pointed right at me and yelled 'GO PRINCESS'.  I was giddy, how fun that the characters were totally into the race and cheering us on! 

We also passed an Epcot hot air balloon that looked like the big ball and then the prince dudes - Tarzan, Aladdin, Eric, John Smith, and Flynn Rider from the newest Tangled movie.  I yelled "Flynn Rider I love You", he turned between photos, gave me a thumbs up and said "Good luck Princess".  It the little things you know that motivate me, I was smiling BIG time and having a blast. And that was my have fun AND to finish....and if possible do it under 3:30, but hey, I thought the first 2 were the most important.

Here is Amy at mile 3.... cute huh, love that Ariel and Prince Eric.

Somwhere shortly after either the princes or Epcot big ball balloon, can't remember which, I had my first YIKES THIS RACE IS HARD moment.  I felt great and was holding myself back to between a  13-14 minute pace with my 2/1 run/walk intervals.  I saw a girl on the side of the road doubled over and she didn't look good at all.  Two friends were standing with her, this was around mile 3.  I think I was in a WALK interval as I heard her friends say "Look if you need to rest, stay here and we will pick you up on the way back.  If you want to go on, we will stay together".  We were on one side of the divided highway and were coming back on the other side toward later.  The girl was crying and saying "Just go without me".   She looked like she was hurting....who knows, running on injury, running was a moment when I thought, CRAP that could be me later.  AND this girl was young and in shape - unlike middle aged needs to lose some weight me!  This was also way earlier than I had anticipated seeing this kind of scene.   I had a moment of fear about not finishing and just told myself to say a quick prayer for her and for me to finish. Her friends were so supportive, they were standing with her, not pushing her and letting her tell them what to do.  I jogged off and forced myself to remove ANY negative thoughts..

I tried to remember to thank any spectators as I passed, I gave them the princess one handed royal wave which some smiled and some looked at me like I was nuts.  Being silly and just enjoying the moment and being back in the familiarity of my beloved run/walk interval groove really made me happy.  And the sun was coming up!

After we passed into the Magic Kingdom Entrance under the big signs, Lilo and Elvis Stitch were dancing to some Elvis tunes. I guess we were by the Polynesian resort. 

Shortly after that we passed the Richard Petty Driving Experience and they had a car out and some cute drivers cheering us on and available for pics.  When we went by the Ticket and Transportation center, the drumming band from Japan at Epcot was beating us on, they were AWESOME and all smiles as we ran by.   

Somewhere around this time, we hit the 5 mile marker and I was thinking, soon I will be running under the castle.   There is a dip in the road that goes under a bridge by the Contemporary resort with a DJ up on top playing tunes - recognizing people by costume - I believe Captain America was around me at this time  as was the four people dressed as the Incredibles.  Loved this sign by the DJ!

He told us at the top of the on trampoline LOL.  Surely enough, we got to the top and there was a guy doing stunts on a trampoline.  I yelled "You Go Dude on trampoline" and I must have been loud as he gave me a thumbs up between tricks.  It was so great to have all that entertainment, really fun.

I was thinking wow, soon I will be at the Magic Kindgom and felt the tug at my heartstrings.  All my training was for THIS moment, its the highlight of the race I think.  I really was getting excited as we approached space mountain....when I was little I thought the coolest thing ever would be to go to Disney and ride it, I rode it the day before for the first time!

We rounded a corner through a castmember entrance - for those not into the Dis, Castmembers are Disney employees; I hear someone say "Good Morning Princesses, Welcome to the Magic Kindgom".....all of a sudden I was on Main Street.  Yeah, some tears came out. 

They had let families in to cheer on their loved ones and they were on the left.  Some cheering, some with noisemakers some just staring - I guess looking for their princesses.  I decided I didn't want to walk, but DEF slowed down the pace to enjoy every second in the park.  I felt some big tears roll down my cheek when I saw a sign that said "My mommy is my favorite princess", and for a minute I really missed my family...but it passed.

Here is Amy - what a great pic!

As we headed to Tomorrow Land I said good morning to a castmember standing on the side and as sincere as could be he smiled a huge smile and said "Good Morning Princess!".  OK, that made my morning!   Chip and Dale were cheering on runners - and available for photos, as was Buzz Lightyear, he had a huge line but gave me a Thumbs up as I screamed something to him. Those Disney folks are the best!  I felt invincible at this point though decided a stop in a REAL bathroom would be nice. Only had to wait behind 2 people at our favorite Tomorrow land ladies room and got to wash my hands and splash my face with water.  How refreshing!  We ran through Fantasy Land and the carousel and teacups were on, empty but on.  Alice was there as were Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum and the Queen. 

And now, time for the BIG moment - the castle.  As we approached I saw Prince Charming and some royal folk, but no Cinderella.  She must have been on a royal break.   Royal Minnie and Mickey were also there, big lines for all these.  The crowd in front of us were yelling as they ran under the castle. When I got in the tunnel I raised my hands.....hmm no one was screaming, so I did - I mean why run quietly in a tunnel you know? and others followed.  What a cool feeling to come out in the early morning sun - the lighting at that time was GORGEOUS and you could see the specatators at the bottom.  I went over to the left to wait in a line to get the money shot!  See the next entry for the photo he he.

As I ran jogged away from my photo, I noticed my calves were a tad tight.....I said "I WILL FINISH THIS RACE" just get me to the 11 mile marker. The Castle moment was indeed spectacular...what a rush!

to be continued...............................  Disney Princess 1/2 Part 4

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon - Part 2 Lets Get it started........Its race day!

Before the alarm went off at 3am, I woke up.  Amy stirred as well and we turned off the alarm about 5 minutes before it was to go off.  Time to get dressed, tape up the feet as if I am an elite runner and slather the Blue Emu cream on the calves and feet.  This is what early and nervous looks like in my Snow White themed running attire - it ain't pretty that early!

I was so tired and nervous, I started to try to focus on being positive. "I will finish, I can do this, its going to be so much fun, think of all the cool pictures for the memory book" I said to myself.....Amy my roommate had a pre-race panic attack "can I do this kind of thing", but she calmed down before we left.  We headed down to the lobby to meet up with Jennifer an online buddy that we were giving a ride to...never met her before, but figured doing a good deed for someone would be good karma for us all. 

Jennifer was super nice - and told us her 10 year old son was like "Mom, you are riding with strangers you met on the internet?" ha ha. Poor thing had been diagnosed the day before at the doc in a box while on vacation with Bronchitis and was just hoping to finish.  Me, well I had my Plantar Faciitis issue and was also hoping to finish without snapping a tendon!  Eve had a hamstring issue she had been working through as well, and yep "hoping to finish".  Jackie had been dealing with some funky knee thing and had a history if ITB so you guessed, she just wanted to finish.  Amy was still nervous at this point too.  What a car ride!  We left the hotel around 4:10 with no set directions but did not need them, traffic was was easy to see where to go because of the traffic and Disney had done a great job with the signs

We made it to the Epcot parking lot and when we got out to make the trek to the start, I wanted to take a photo for posterity - here is Amy's picture right after I realized my mistake and why my camera wasn't working....
Yeah, I am about to cry in this picture and not because I need to lose my spare tire - but with more training and better diet, I will lose it because with this go round my butt and hips got smaller, time for the tummy to catch up....oops back to topic.

I had my camera but when I took my charged battery out of the charger the night before, I put it back in my camera bag NOT in the camera, and I didn't have the bag with me.  I had that face of about to cry and I remember Jennifer saying Oh No..... I cried because I wanted those pictures on the race, they were my safety.  They would be my fun if my foot gave out and I had to stroll from character to character until the van picked me up.  Race Plan B was a shambles and the lack of sleep and highly charged emotional state of "will I finish" came out as tears.  I think it was Eve who said, "Its OK, now the bad thing has happened on the race, its all good from here on out, this just means you ARE finishing."  The other girls rallied to get me back in a positive frame AND gave me my time to grieve the loss of Race Plan B.

We made the long walk to the starting Corrals....seriously, it was a 20 minute walk in a herd of princesses. By the time we got to the bathrooms at the Corrals, my grief period was over......I was starting to say, I am here, have fun and lets finish this thing!  Plus there were so many fun costumes and men in Tutu's and tiaras as well.   We all did the obligatory empty out in the potty before the start, took a group photo and headed to our corrals.  Amy and I were in B, Jackie in D and Eve in E....Jackie hung back with Eve.  As we departed from our foursome, we reminded each other, Pray for Me I will pray for you!

A shout out to Amy for the pictures!

When we got in the corral, again I felt like a herd I sat down and stretched out some.  The president of Run Disney gave us a pep talk, Ethan Zohn and Jenna Morasco from Survivor gave us a pep talk and thank you for running a race which supported the Leukemia and Lymphoma society - he is a Cancer survivor, we sang the national anthem and awaited the start.  Cinderella's fairy godmother was up on the platform - she reminded me of Paula Deen for some reason, waiving her wand and giving us her magic fairy dust.  As the first group went off, fireworks shot up in the sky.  Holy cow, 8 more minutes and it was time for us to go.

Amy and I were happy at this point, "I can't believe we are finally here about to do this".  I remembered the sage advice I got on disboards about the first mile setting the pace mentally....start out with your positive mantras and a smile on your face.  Focus that first mile on how much FUN this is and is going to be.  The fireworks went off and off we went running.  

I HAD to keep it slow and the pace I would have to run to avoid injury was WAY slower than the people I was with.  I told Amy to "Run your race" and off she went ahead of me.  All I kept thinking was "I can't believe I am here and doing this half marathon".  I appreciated all the training I had completed and thought "I am so glad I got up to 10 miles and that was a great run that day".  I reminded myself I was so lucky to have a supportive Physical Therapist with the foot and she told me, "I think you ARE going to finish as your foot is SO much better than when we started". I thought of myself when I started couch to 5k back in July and those hot humid summer mornings when I was trying to just get into doing my cardio.  I thought of the runs in the cold winter as I tried to figure out how to stay warm without overheating. The payoff was here!  I worked hard, time to enjoy. It was going to be a beautiful sunny day, no worries about keeping warm here.

I told myself I could have quit, but I didn't because I wanted to be exactly where I was right at that moment.....doing a half marathon, and lucky me was at Disney.  The song playing on my ipod when we started was "Wanna Be Starting Something" appropriate! 

Off into the early morning darkenss I jogged deciding to try my original 2minute jog, 1 minute walk intervals. If I got tired or my foot hurt I was prepared to switch my running interval to 1 minute or 30 seconds, or heck walk the darn thing! I had my sunglasses for when the sun came up, my garmin to help me stay in a pace to finish without getting swept up, my IPOD strapped on my arm to tell me when to switch from Running to walking and some inspirational tunage, and my new spibelt with my Cliff Blocks, lip stuff, glasses, and room key... Pack rat I was, all ready to attack the 13.1 miles ahead of me to the finish where my medal awaited me!
I was indeed smiling.

Here we go

to be continued.........................   
Disney 1/2 - Part 3