Saturday, January 18, 2014

January 2014 Trip Recap- 1/11/14 (Part 1)

Roll over, check phone, not 3:00 am yet.  

About 30 minutes later... Roll over, check phone, not 3:00 am yet.

Another 30 or so minutes later... Roll over, check phone, 2:45 am... close enough.  

It's Race Day!!!

At 2:45 in the morning, I got up to start getting ready for the race.  We had agreed that we should leave at 3:30 if we had to be there around 4:30.  The race didn't start officially until 5:30 am, but Disney wanted everyone in their race corrals at 5:00.  We weren't sure how long it would take to get to Epcot with the roads starting to get blocked off, so we all agreed to get up earlier just in case!

Both Eliot and I showered the night before, so I slowly started to up my hair up and get into my race outfit.  I did end up getting my Minnie Mouse outfit together for the race and I was so excited to wear it!  We almost missed the Sparkle Athletic booth since it was outside of the Expo, but I did see it when we went Wednesday and I bought my Minnie Mouse skirt and some "shwings" that attached to your shoes with your shoelaces!

Eliot and I made sure that we had everything and went over to say goodbye to my Mom. She had decided not to do the race since her leg had been bothering her a little and she was concerned about doing something to injure it.  (She did have to drive home from Florida to Maine 2 days later, so it was a good choice.)

Dad, Jeremy, Eliot and I jumped into the car and drove over to Epcot.  Surprisingly, we made it there in no time.  The only people driving around Disney property at 3:45 in the morning were clearly all of our half marathon race friends.  We drove right into the Epcot parking and I was floored at how many cars were already there.  It was packed!  The nice couple in the car next to us took a group picture for me before we left our car.

We then walked over to the staging area and got our bags checked at security.  Next, we basically stood around waiting to see what we needed to do.  We used the restrooms, aka port-a-potties while we waited.  We had a few of our granola bars for breakfast. There was a DJ playing music so that helped pass the time.  They slowly announced each of the corrals so the participants would make their way to their location.

Around 4:45, we started to make our way over to corral "O".  Our race book said that there was a 20 minute walk from the staging area over to the start line.  They did not lie. It was a long enough walk that there were sets of port-a-potties along the side of the road before we even got to the corrals.  Finally, we made it to corral O and we walked as far as we could towards the front of it.  We wanted to be as far up as we could be.  In the end, we were probably about 1/2 way between the front and back.

Then, came the waiting.  At this point, I was getting nervous.  I had already used the bathroom so I kept convincing myself that I was fine.  I guess that's a hazard of nerves. I had to pee and no matter what I told myself, I still had to.  (I've since learned that I had plenty of time to leave the corral and to come back.)

The race officially started at 5:30 with a blaze of fireworks over the start line.  Then, we watched corrals A-N start the race with their own firework display.  Well, two of the corrals didn't get fireworks.  They must have had a technical difficulty!  We slowly got moved up towards the front as each corral left the start line.  I was so excited when we were back on the main section of the road!  Before I knew it, corral M was leaving and N was moving up.  We were next!  I got a few photos of N while the DJ had us all sing Journey's "Don't Stop Believing."  (That helped calm the nerves a little.)

Then it was our turn.  We got more towards the front when we were all walking toward the start line.  We moved over to the right so we'd be in line with the slower people.  I gave Eliot a quick kiss and wished him luck.  I could just make out Donald on the stage to the left of the starting line.  (I didn't bring my normal glasses because I was afraid I'd lose them. I did have my prescription sunglasses tucked away in my bag though.)  

Donald called out "On Your Mark, Set Set, Go!" and we were off!  I made sure to get a picture of the start line as I got near it.  Then I made sure to relish the moment when I officially ran over the start line.  It was my first ever race after all!

Eliot ran out ahead of us and Dad, Jeremy and I started a slow jog.  A little ways into it, we slowed to a walk.  There were people cutting in front of others everywhere.  Runners cut around us on the grass to the right of the road.  It was chaos and I didn't want to trip over anyone.  A few minutes into the race, I got the most awful shin splints ever. My legs were burning and I pushed on.

Jeremy has really long legs, so he slowly pulled away from me and Dad.  After a few tenths of a mile of pure pain, I pulled over to the side of the road to try to stretch my legs out a little.  It didn't help much.  A little bit later, I saw the first restrooms up ahead to the right and I told Dad that I was going to stop.  Then I could pee, and I could stretch my legs while waiting. It seemed like the perfect idea.

WDW Half Marathon Race Map (Courtesy of RunDisney)
That ended up being my biggest race day mistake.  There was a crowd of women waiting for the restrooms.  (Stupid men.  I hate you and your ability to pee in the woods!)  I tried to stay calm and stretch my legs.  I could catch up with Dad in a few minutes.  Then the girl in front of me asked if I'd watch her bag.  I was like, "um, a stall might open up and I can't wait for you to finish."  When it was my turn I just left my bag on the ground outside the port-a-potties.  It didn't move an inch while I used the potty.  By the time I got back on the race course, I'd lost at least 10 minutes there.

Then, I slowly fought my way back across the road.  The port-a-potties had been to the left and I was trying to get back to the right side where the slower people were supposed to be.  (Now I'm going to have a rant for a minute.  Don't say I didn't warn you!)  You don't even want to know how many people made rude remarks about the slower people and those of us who had to take walking breaks.  The entire reason that I signed up to do this to begin with was because it was a 16 minute mile pace.  The Jeff Galloway method of run, walk, run is something that a lot of us were trying to do.  RunDisney has Jeff Galloway as their spokesperson for crying out loud.  So, what exactly did you expect?  I was annoyed enough at the people cutting in and out, but I expected that.  I didn't need to hear the remarks about people being slow and in the way.  I was on the right side of the road like I was told in the official race book.  Just because that's exactly where you want to run doesn't make it my problem.  Read the darn book!!!  Arrrgh!!!  (Rant over.)

From the WDW Official Event Guide (Courtesy of RunDisney)
Anyways... I pushed on through the shin splints and made it to mile 1.  The entire first mile all I could think of was "what the heck was I thinking signing up for this!?!?!"  But I pushed on.  Dad and Jer were up ahead of me and we kept texting each other as we passed landmarks.  Before I knew it, I was turning off the road from Epcot and onto World Drive.  You don't realize how much of a slant there is when you're driving in your car.  Let me just add that it kills to be attempting to run on uneven road.  I ended up saying screw it and going to the top of the slant on the left side so I could be on even ground!  No one was staying to the slower right side or faster left side anyways!

I pushed on with nothing but my thoughts and random text messages from the guys to keep me moving ahead.  Eliot and I basically trained on treadmills.  I'm used to going miles on a treadmill at the gym where I can watch tv or listen to music.  Here on the open road, I kept looking ahead at the other runners.  At least everyone's awesome costumes gave me something to focus on!

At mile 2, I saw Jack Sparrow and his pirate ship.  There was a huge line so I took a picture of the ship and pushed on.  I wasn't really sure where the pacers were.  The race book said people on bicycles would be keeping the pace.  I'd seen a few medical bikes ride by.  There were a ton of people behind me.  Way down at the other end of the road I saw some bright lights.  I thought those must be the pacers.  They started the 16 minute pace when the last runners crossed the start line behind us in corral P.

I pushed ahead and made it to the gate of the Magic Kingdom parking lot!  Yay!  Finally a landmark to know how far I'd gone!  Woo hoo!  I jumped with joy over the speed bump.  I was still going!  My shin splints were gone and I started to change my line of thought to "you can do this Mel.  Just keep pushing forward."  I remember looking over my shoulder at the gate and seeing a lot of people behind me.  Quite a ways back, there were two women walking side by side with Mickey Mouse balloons.  I remember thinking, "aww they must have bought those last night!  That's a fun idea to bring them to the race."

At this point, it was getting pretty hot out.  The sun had come up and the humidity was killer.  (Someone said something about 95-100% humidity.  I believe it!)  I kept drinking water from my Camelbak every 1/4 of a mile or so.  I wanted to stay hydrated.  What I didn't count on, was my trusty Camelbak giving me a rash under my arms.  My legs, feet and bad knee were holding up great, but my underarms were killing me.  I finally slowed down to look at my right arm and I had a nasty chaffing from the bag.  It was about 2 inches long, 1 inch wide and it was completely raw.  I knew that I'd have to stop to get some medial tape or something to prevent more chaffing.

Around mile 3, there was a medical station.  I texted Dad that I was going to stop long enough to get some tape.  At the medical station, they had Vaseline.  The lady had me grab it with my hand and I smeared it all over both my arms.  Then I had Vaseline all over me.  It got on my backpack, my shirt, and I had it on my hands so my iPhone was in my mouth.  I was a hot mess.  

Thankfully the water station was right after it.  No one anywhere had any napkins.  So I declined the water, difficult to do when you have a phone in your mouth anyways, and I headed for the restrooms.  There were hand washing stations that had water, soap and paper towels!  I went to work quickly getting it off my shirt and backpack.  Then I cleaned my hands off.  Between stopping for the Vaseline and then having it wash it off, that cost me another 5-6 minutes. At this point, I was starting to panic. At a 16 minute per mile pace, I lost one whole mile worth of time between having to pee and fixing my arm.

I ran back out to the course and kept going. "Run, walk, run, walk." There were still a ton of people behind me. Those bright lights that I thought were the pacers were still far away. I got to the Richard Petty Driving Experience and there he was!  

Darkwing Duck!!!

Jeremy and I have wanted to get our picture taken with Darkwing Duck ever since we were kids. I remember seeing him in a show at Toontown when we were really little. We used to watch Darkwing Duck every single day after school. We played with Jeremy's toys all the time. We love him. Jeremy had texted ahead of me that Launchpad was there, but no Darkwing. Daddy had texted me that Darkwing Duck was there, but I thought he might have gotten them confused. And there they were, both of them, right in front of me. At that point, there was no line! I ran over and got a picture! Yay!!! But I remember thinking "I better not tell Jeremy until he's done running or he's apt to turn around!" The potential to get his picture with Darkwing Duck was half the reason we convinced Jeremy to even do the race!

I kept going and passed Jack and Sally from the Nightmare Before Christmas. Somewhere around this point, I realized that I'd fallen behind pace. They were waving the orange flags at mile 3. Then I kept going and they had them again at mile 4. I was kind of confused since I hadn't seen any other bicycles other than the medical ones. The bright lights were no where near me. At mile 4, they told us that we had to catch up to the balloons by mile 5 or they'd kick us out.

The Mickey Balloons. The darn Mickey balloons that I thought were happily bouncing in the air along with the two ladies walking. Those were the pacers. Crap.

I don't know where they even passed me. They must have passed me at Darkwing Duck, or maybe when I was washing my hands. This whole part of the race was a blur. I ran until I couldn't anymore and then walked as fast as possible. Then I raced ahead and walked again, and again and again. I saw the balloons up ahead of me, but no matter what I did, I couldn't reach them. I swear that as soon as I started to get closer, they sped ahead just out of my reach.

At the Transportation and Ticket Center I ran down the hill and up the other one. There were cast members with Mickey gloves giving us all high fives. I passed a marching band right as they were finishing a song. They proceeded to cheer me on afterwards. Since my name was on my bib, I even got personal cheers. It made me feel good, but I was so annoyed that I'd missed the pacers and didn't even know it.

By the time the Contemporary Resort was getting closer, I started to feel despair. It was so hot out. I knew my face was probably as red at my Minnie skirt. I don't do well in the heat. My Mom, Nana and I all get" heat-beat" or heatstroke pretty easily. I flew down the hill under the waterway where the DJ cheered us on. Then, the hill back up nearly killed me. The darn Mickey Balloons were at the top of the hill and I was right at the bottom.

Every step closer to the balloons was also a step closer to mile 5. The guys had told me that mile 5 was right near Space Mountain, and I knew what was waiting for me at the other side of that hill. I pushed myself as hard as I could. I must have not looked very good because one of the guys on the bicycles asked me if I was ok. I said "yeah, I'm great. This hill isn't helping though!" I tried my best to catch up to those Mickey Balloons.

In the end, I was probably about the 10th to 15th person behind them. I could see the buses when I reached the top of the hill and the Mickey Balloons were no where to be seen. I could tell that there were a few girls trying to convince the people blocking the race course to let them through, but I knew it was no use. Those Disney Transportation buses were there for us. At least the front of them said "Parade".

I walked on to the bus and took a seat in the back. I tried to feel bad about not finishing, but I couldn't. I must have looked crazy. There I was, sitting in the back smiling like an idiot. I couldn't help myself! I was so proud of myself for even trying to do this.

Other people on the bus were miserable. They were disappointed, frustrated, mad at themselves. The lady next to me might have been crying. I'm not sure. Her husband or boyfriend was trying to comfort her. I think he was trying to race with her and she was upset that she couldn't do it.

I opened my bag and took out one of my granola bars. My hands were trembling because of holding my stupid phone so tightly. But I wanted to make sure that I got more food into me. I ate a bar and drank some water while everyone boarded the bus. Then we rode back to Epcot. I texted all three of the guys to tell them that I was on a bus. (Jeremy and Dad both later told me that my text made them pick up the pace a bit so they wouldn't get behind pace.) Eliot told me he was still proud of me. I also told my Mom that I was on the bus and ok. I knew she was worried about me in the heat.

What happened next somewhat shocked me.

My Mom isn't the most tech savvy person in the world. She's not dumb; she just doesn't have to use technology the way most of the rest of us do. She gets text messages and can read them. But I doubt she's ever typed one to anyone before. (I would know because I help her clean her phone of junk mail texts whenever I see her.) Mom would rather pick up a phone and call someone. However, a few minutes into my bus ride, I got a text message. Not from the guys like I was expecting, but one from my Mom.

"I am very proud of you but glad you knew to stop."

I was really touched that she took the time to send me a text message. This could very well be the first and only text message that she's ever bothered to send. And it was to me because she was worried about how I was feeling after not finishing. She was glad that I was safe and didn't do something stupid to prove a point. I pushed myself as far as I could before it got to the point where I might overheat and have problems. She wanted to remind me that she was proud of me. And I was proud of myself, even if I didn't finish the race. I signed up for it. I actually followed through and tried to do it. I did my best. More smiling like an idiot pursued and I got a few looks from the others on the bus.

A lady came through to get all of our names and bib numbers. That's how I found out that the lady next to me crying was probably upset because her husband wouldn't earn his Goofy medal anymore. The lady taking our names told the man that he wouldn't get his Goofy medal, but that he could still get his marathon medal and the one for today.

The one from today?

What could she possibly mean? Was there another medal he could have earned today? No. Did they have other medals for people who didn't finish? I'd never heard of those. Would we still be getting a Donald medal? Hmm. But we didn't finish? Oh well.

I gave the woman my name and bib number. Before I knew it, we were back to the staging area. This is when I got another surprise. When we pulled up, there were at least 15-20 volunteers who surrounded our bus cheering for all of us. I was touched.  

Then, another surprise. They're handing us medals?!?!?!?!?

There they were. The shiny, bright, golden Donald Half Marathon medals. Before I knew it, one was in my hand.

I got talking to one of the girls on the bus who I thought probably hated me for all of the smiling. She laughed and said that she was probably going to lie and pretend that she finished the race after all. Then her mother in law wouldn't think she was a disappointment. I couldn't help myself; I had to laugh. And that's how I met Emily, my new race friend that day.

Emily and I followed the crowd from the bus over to the refueling station. I grabbed a fruit punch Powerade and a banana. We walked around the staging area for a while before deciding to head over to the finish line. Her family was still in the race as well and we knew that we'd have plenty of time before they arrived. We took the quick route after all!

Emily and I chatted for a while about the race experience and Disney. I told her about our Disney Wedding and she told me she'd been a maid of honor in a Disney Wedding. After a while, she left to find her family members who were cheering them all on.

I hung out as closer as I could get to the finish line. I ended up standing by the VIP tent across from where they handed the medals out for quite a while. Periodically, I got a text from each of the guys telling me what mile marker they were at. I drank my Powerade, and had another granola bar. I felt like a little bit of a farce walking around with my medal, but I didn't really want to take it off to announce that I didn't finish the race either.

I kept myself busy watching all of the finishers. The guy with the tuba finished and even played a short song while doing it. I had to laugh. We'd seen him earlier in the on the walk over to the corrals. He had a full size tuba that he did the entire race with! And he'd decorated the back so that from behind it looked like Big Bird from Sesame Street. I had to chuckle when I saw him go by.

The thing that kept me most amused while waiting was the port-a-potty experiences.  I didn't really want to leave my bag outside the stall when there were so many people nearby.  It probably would have been fine, but I was paranoid.  I put my phone, sunglasses and medal in the bag each time I had to use the bathroom.  Then came the fun precision of hooking the bag on this precariously small hook on the back of the door. But watch out, or you could end up putting the straps of your bag in the urinal.  And since the straps of my bag had the end of my Camelbak water supply, that was a big no-no.  (I later recounted this story to Mom at the hotel and I told her that I earned a darn medal trying to deal with the port-a-potty bag juggling Olympics.)

Finally, I got a text from the guys that they were at mile 10.  Jeremy and Eliot actually texted me within 30 seconds of each other.  Jeremy could see Eliot.  They basically ran the rest of the race together.  I hadn't heard from Dad since mile 7.  I called and texted him, afraid that he'd passed out or something, but finally he texted me back and said he was passing the Pirate ship again.  It was around this point that my Mom called so I talked to her for a bit.

Eliot and Jeremy texted me every mile that they got closer and finally they were at 13!  I moved to the gate so I could get a picture.  I was too far away to see them cross the finish line, but I got pictures after they passed through before they got their medals.

I walked over to meet up with them and make sure that they got some food and hydration. It took Eliot a few minutes to notice my medal.  He was really glad that they gave me one. He said that he pushed himself to finish because he was afraid I'd be really upset that I didn't get one.  He was planning to give me his.  (Aww!!!)

We went back over to the finish line to wait for Dad. The guys ate their food and told me about the rest of the race. I told them about the buses, how I did, the Mickey Balloons, and the pee and medical stops that were my downfall. Finally, I decided it was safe to tell Jeremy about Darkwing Duck. He was so mad! I showed him the picture and told him that I'd send it to him so he'd at least have a picture of Darkwing Duck. (I was even careful not to touch either of them so he could cleanly cut me out of the photo.)

Finally, Dad texted me that he was at the end of the race. At this point, mostly everyone had cleared out of the ChEar Squad section so we walked right over to the actual finish line. We only had to wait a few minutes before we saw him! There Daddy was strolling along to the finish line. I couldn't believe it. Dad hadn't ran at all since September and definitely didn't train for this! But I knew he was determined to finish it. I didn't really think he would. I was so proud of him when he crossed the finish line!

Dad got his medal and stopped at the Self-Medicate station to get something for his shins. Then we all met up and made sure he was hydrated. Dad and Jeremy went to sit on a rock while Eliot and I went back to the staging area. I wanted to get a picture with the backdrop. I didn't realize that there were characters over there! (That's what I should have been doing while waiting for everyone!) Eliot and I got in line for Chip and Dale and got a few cute pictures with our medals.

Then we went over to the Merchandise tent and I was shocked at how much stuff was still left. They had tons of pins, shirts and car vinyls. We didn't want anything else. I just wanted to be nosey. I'm still not sure what they do with all of their extra stuff. The "I Did It" shirts are online, but there was still a lot of other merchandise!

Dad and Jeremy said they were going to the car. Eliot and I slowly made our way across the parking lot and we found the car. (Thankfully, I texted it's location to all of us that morning because I was pretty sure our 4:00 am brains would forget where it was located.)  

We drove back to the hotel and were greeted by my Mom, Nana and Papa. They were so proud of us. At that point, sitting made my muscles tighten back up and we all were incredibly stiff. I remember thinking "so this is why they tell you to keep moving after a race." We showed them all our medals and told them about the experience. Mom got a kick out of my story and admitted that with the heat and humidity, she didn't think I'd make it past 3 miles. She kept telling me that I've got the Mylen family heat curse and that she was really proud of how far I made it.

Daddy was so proud of his medal that he wouldn't take it off. He laid down on the bed with it on and Mom kept joking that he'd choke himself with it in his sleep before he'd take it off. Before we all decided to take naps, we went outside for a quick group photo. Then we all decided that it was nap time and that we'd go into the parks later that night once we had a little bit of time to recover!

The last thing I remember is drifting off and finally getting some sound sleep! °o°

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