Race Recap: Walt Disney World Half Marathon

Screen Shot 2014-01-14 at 5.48.57 PMGoing into the Disney half marathon last weekend, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was a little nervous. I hadn’t really done any serious training since running Marine Corps at the end of October and my mileage was no where near where it should have been to properly prepare me for the half. But the good thing about Disney is you can tell everyone you’re “running for fun” – and that’s totally what I did.

That is, until I set a 10-minute PR and ran my first ever sub-2 hour half marathon running a 1:52:55.

I’ve got to admit, it didn’t hit me right after the race, but I’m pretty freakin’ excited about this PR. I wasn’t expecting it. I don’t feel like I had really pushed myself, in the race or in training. But I still PR-ed, by a lot.

I think several factors came into play. For one, the Disney course is extremely flat, save for a few minor hills here and there. I’m used to running in the Lehigh Valley, PA where the only way to avoid hills is the drive to a rails to trails path, and even then there’s a slight gradient.

I also think my fitness has improved dramatically. Since running Marine Corps, I’ve added in at least one strength training session a week by doing IronStrength every Monday. I’ve also started running with faster people, including my speedy boyfriend. When you run with fast runners, you get faster- simple as that.

On Friday night as I was laying out my race outfit I thought, “I really just want to go under two hours.” That was doable. That was a 9:05/mile. And that goal is the one I told everyone, including my running partner for the day, Cait, during the prerace retreat. But secretly I thought to myself, “How cool would it be to run a 1:54?” That was roughly a 8:42/mile average and many of my long runs had been around that pace.

When it was time to start the race, I found myself lined up on the starting line, and feeling good. It was warm, about 70 degrees, and extremely humid, 94 percent humidity, but I was ready to see where my fitness was at. The race itself is a bit of a blur but I remember feeling confident in my sub-2 goal and increasingly more confident in hitting 1:54.

Towards the end though the humidity was really starting to get to me. I felt my hamstrings starting to tighten up because of the flatness and the windy finish began to take its toll. But with the help of Cait, I made it to the finish line and could not believe the time on my watch. I beat both of my goals!

I felt exhausted at the end of the race probably because I think I sweat out about a pound per mile from the humidity. I’m pretty happy with my results but the race left me craving more. More speed. More PRs. More training.

Training for my spring goal half marathon won’t start for another few weeks but I’m going to start building mileage. If I learned anything from Disney it’s that, the speed is there, I just need to believe in it and make it happen.

{Monday Motivation} Do the Impossible

Hey, guess what! I’m running not one, not three, not four (like some seriously Dopey people) but TWO races this week down in Disney for the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend! That’s right folks, I’m bravely taking on the Hannah McGoldrick challenge of running the 5K and half-marathon. Some people are running the 5K, 10K, half, and full, or even the half and full. But not me, no I’m running the 5K and half, because why not? I’m running it with the Runner’s World Challenge (check it out!) and will be at the Runner’s World booth at the expo from Wednesday to Friday. Will I see you there?

The Impossible

Walt Disney World Half-Marathon Race Recap

Last Saturday I ran the Walt Disney World Half-Marathon and shocked myself with a huge PR! I went into this race thinking I’d just run it and take it easy- I’d be happy with whatever finish time I got. But at a certain point in the race, I knew I was on track to set a big PR so I decided (literally mid-race) to start racing.

I was put in corral B and lined up with Megan and Cait, two of my speedy Runner’s World co-workers, and we all had on our matching Runner’s World singlets. They were doing the Goofy Challenge (running the half and the full the next day) so they said they were going to take it easy during the half, which meant they would run at my pace (#slowpokediaries).

Disney Singlet pic

Cait, Megan and I before the race started (at about 4 a.m.)

We were right next to the 2:00 pacer but soon realized he was actually going much faster than he was supposed to.  Some of our other coworkers, Robert, Jeff, Mark and Chris, who were a little farther back in the corral, caught up to us and promptly zoomed by because they were taking it easy too- which meant 7:38 pace for them.

I forget exactly when Megan and Cait got away from me but it was somewhere around 5 miles. I was fine with this though because I really didn’t want to push it too hard or hold them back. However, it was also around this point when I realized I was pretty far ahead of the 2:00 pacer. This is when I decided to kick it up.

Looking back this was probably the worst time to kick it up because we were about the enter the Magic Kingdom where the course would narrow down from a four-lane highway to a three-abreast road, but we all make mistakes- especially in races. I did a lot of weaving and dodging going through the park but I have to admit it was pretty cool to run through it and see all of the characters.

Running through the Magic Kingdom got me really pumped and my pace reflected that- I was running 8:50’s which is a bit quick for a half for me. But once we left the park we were back to the highway and back to boredom and I also saw the 2:00 pacer get ahead of me.

I honestly really hated the highway portions of the half, which unfortunately was the majority of the course I think. The highways were pretty bare except for the water stops and some marching bands along the way. Also, the on-ramps killed me because the contour of the ramp was really hard on my hips.

I tried not to look at my watch during the race because I wanted to run at a pace that felt comfortable, not at a pace that would predict an ideal finish time but around mile 11, just before a huge on-ramp, I checked and saw that I was doing much better than I anticipated. However, at this point the sun was starting to come over the trees and it was getting HOT.

This last on-ramp killed me. After running on a flat course for the majority of a race and then hitting a quarter mile on-ramp with a tough contour, I was exhausted. I just wanted to be done. But I knew I was so close, I could hear the announcer yelling out finisher’s names so I decided to push.

The course had us run around the big space ball at Epcot and come in for the home stretch. I glanced at my watch to see the distance and it read 13.08 but the finish line seemed so far away. Nevertheless, I pushed through the pain in my legs and my possibly dehydrated self and crossed the finish line in 2:02:22– a HUGE 17-minute PR! I really thought I was going to go sub-2 (and my Garmin said I ran 13.28 miles so I probably did go sub-2 for 13.1) but I was so ecstatic!

As soon as I crossed I was delirious and tired and just wanted water. I got my medal and made it back to the race retreat somehow where I was greeted by all of my coworkers with congratulations.

Finished!

Finished!

I learned a lot from this race that I didn’t expect going into it.

  • This was not a goal race for me by any means but I knew I’d do better than my first half but I honestly didn’t expect to PR by that much.
  •  I knew the course was going to be pretty flat, which to me meant it would be fast, but it ended up being really hard on my legs. I couldn’t believe how tired they were after the finish.
  • I was nervous because I didn’t get a lot of sleep the night before (race started at 5:30 a.m. and I had to be on the bus to the race retreat at 3 a.m.- i.e. 2:30 a.m. wake up) but I don’t think it effected my running too much.
  • I wish I hadn’t been on my feet the Thursday and Friday before the race but I was working so there wasn’t much I could do about that.
  • I thought the heat was going to be hard but really it was the humidity that killed it. I have been used to running in the northeast so suddenly running in completely different weather conditions was a shock.
  • I ran in new running apparel, which is usually a bad idea, but I had to wear my awesome Runner’s World singlet and now, I will forever think of it as lucky.

I know this is a super long recap (and I usually hate race recaps like this) but I think this race deserved it. The Disney Half-Marathon was a great race and although it would have been amazing to run sub-2, I am really, really happy with the outcome!

Final stats:

13.28 miles in 2:02:22

9:11 average pace

1585 calories

Did you run at the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend? If so, how did it go?