It’s hard to believe that my interest in running is now officially more than one year old. I’ve mentioned several times in my posts here at TouringPlans.com that, for me, it all started with cheering for Katie and Ed in the 2010 Walt Disney World Half Marathon. In that post, which I made on my personal blog last year, I stated that I’d had so much fun running around chasing “my runners” that I was going to do it again this year for the 2011 Half Marathon. And I stuck to that promise… with some additions and changes.
The first change in my experience from last year is that now I was committed enough to the event that my wife, Cheryl, and I stayed on property. We booked a room at the Wilderness Lodge Villas using our Disney Vacation Club points. There are certainly other resorts we could have stayed at, however the Lodge is our favorite resort on property, and we jump at any chance to stay there. It’s warm, cozy atmosphere won our hearts long ago.
With Katie and Ed not running in this year’s Half Marathon, and my friend Kelly suffering an injury that prevents her from doing so as she had wanted to – I was in need of runners to cheer for. In the past year I’ve made a lot of new friends, and along with some older ones I put together a slate of runners to cheer for: Megan, Nicole, Lindsay, and Jackie. The big difference here was that two were running in the Half and two in the Full. This meant two days of cheering in a row. I also chose to additionally track, but not specifically set out to see: Len, Deanna, Scopa, Dave, Tim, and Caroline.
As worked out ahead of time, Cheryl and I met up with Lindsay and Jackie on Friday at the AllEars meetup along with JL, Nicole, Betsy, Megan, and others. It was just an easy point for us to meet up and start to coordinate our weekend plans including meals. We all got to congratulate Betsy on her successful 5K earlier in the day. She seemed to have had a real blast with it, and I was a bit jealous as I’d messed up and missed the registration as I’d said earlier. No worries I’m registered for the Royal Family 5K in February.
After some mingling, Lindsay, Jackie, Cheryl and I had a plan to head over to the race expo for some shopping. Now, for those of you who don’t know them, these two ladies are absolutely fabulous. I consider them to be my “cool cousins” – you know the ones you always want to hang with. They’re a couple from Texas, personal trainers, and in a lot of way an inspiration for me. They’ve helped me a few times since I first met them over the summer with questions specifically about my metabolism changes, healthy snacking solutions, etc. I wish they’d just pack up and move closer to me already.
This was actually my second time through the expo, as the day before I bought myself a new pair of sneakers. These aren’t just any sneakers, but rather they’re the most expensive pair of shoes that I’ve ever owned. Buying them was very interesting, the sales people couldn’t make heads or tails of what sort of shoe to put me in. I tried on a few pairs including one that was supposed to correct for pronation, but I simply wasn’t comfortable at all walking around in them. After having me hike up my pants and stand on the floor without shoes I was told that I simply don’t pronate and that I needed a pair of neutral sneakers.
On the way over in to the race expo, we bumped into Chris who was just coming off a shift of volunteering with the marathon staff. He pointed us in the direction of Aurora and James, who were also volunteering along with Amanda – after some chatting and some hugs we spent some times shopping. Try as we may, we were unable to track down small sized 2012 Goofy Challenge Training shirts. Oh well. We went separate ways for dinner – Cheryl and I ate with a group of friends at the Wave.
A slightly early bedtime allowed me to wake up at about 2:15am and be out the door to catch the 3am bus over to Epcot on Saturday morning. Having been through cheering the prior year I had prepared for the worst, but this year was a huge win over last year. Specifically that it was 20 degrees warmer, was not sleeting, and there was no freakish snow in sight. I sort of felt bad being the only person on the bus with a cup of coffee, so I sat toward the back and quietly sipped out of sight listening to some podcasts.
Lindsay, Jackie, and I had planned to meet in the pre-Marathon area. When I finally managed to meet up with them they were also there with Lynne and Ray. The five of us talked and walked around a bit. This year was a bit different for me, I found myself looking around and studying the pre-race rituals of many runners. What they were eating, doing, etc. Before they headed into the corral, we had to properly secure what we were referring to as Lindsay’s “Butt Duffy” on her running belt. I took to calling these “bat belts”, and I know that next year when I do the Half Marathon I want one of these.
After seeing them off so they could head to their corrals, I headed over to Epcot Center Drive for a cheering spot along the first mile of the course. Lindsay and I had planned to stay in contact via Twitter, but that quickly failed when she texted me, “Twitter hates me “ So we quickly adjusted over to texting each other. I positioned myself in about the same place I had the year before and relayed to her where I was. Unfortunately we quickly realized I had missed them. However this is not a big surprise – its a very difficult position for seeing runners you’re 3 highway lanes away plus the median. The prior year I had been fortunate to see Katie and Ed.
Once I knew they’d passed, I headed over to the finishing area. I took a some pictures of the medals as they were being unpacked and set up to be handed out to the runners. I texted a pic to Lindsay as motivation for her and Jackie. Not long after I got to watch the first of the handicapped marathoners finish. Then it was time to board the monorail and make my way to Magic Kingdom. I had been fortunate enough to catch a Tronorail.
This made for a neat moment because just as Lindsay texted me that she and Jackie were stopping for a picture with Tigger (note: they literally stopped for every photo-op except Princess Tiana), I texted for them to look up as I was on the Tronorail overhead – it’s easier to spot pre-dawn as it’s distinct from the other monorails. Being in constant contact with my runners was working out fantastic. I also hadn’t started receiving any of the text or email notifications on runners that I had registered for, and later on, when I finally did, they were about 15-20 minutes behind what Lindsay herself was telling me. Texting was a complete win.
I made my way over to Main Street to meet up with Cheryl and the WDW Radio group. This is about the halfway mark. Lindsay and I worked out a plan that she’d text me right as she entered Magic Kingdom. From there they’d stay to the left along the rope and when they found me they’d step out of the wave of runners as we pulled back the rope some. It worked out great; we took some pictures, hugged, and they dumped some of their excess clothes with Cheryl and I. And, when they were done with their break, they ran off again. We also managed to see Mike Scopa pass by as well.
We made our way back to Epcot along with Lori and some others and then we again stationed ourselves with the WDW Radio group – this time at mile 12. This was another great location, it was just at the outer corner of the first of the Epcot bus terminals. We had plenty of space to spread out and just enjoy cheering, and I got to spend some time just cheering and calling names off bibs trying to really get runners amped for the final stretch of the race. Motivating runners, even ones you don’t know, is an important part of cheering at a marathon.
When Lindsay and Jackie showed up we all once again hugged, and I told them I’d see them at mile 13. This might seem crazy. Though I run, I don’t move nearly as fast as they do, but I had two things in my favor. First, they’d already run 12 miles. Second, I only had to cover about one third of the distance they did in order to get to the same point. So I kissed Cheryl good-bye and took off. It worked out fine. I got to the 13 mile marker in plenty of time to work my way right to the front. This allowed me to see Jackie and Lindsay one last time before they finished.
After the race, I hung out with Jackie and Lindsay a short bit before they headed to get some massages in the Race Retreat tent. We agreed to meet up again later on at the Lunching Pad in Tomorrowland for a Frozen Coke meetup. And when they did, they asked to join me cheering for the Full Marathon on Sunday. They decided they wanted to experience a WDW Marathon as spectators rather than runners. They knew I could take them through it, and I was all for the company. Come back next time to see how it all went.
Cheryl and I finished out the day with dinner at the Whispering Canyon Cafe along with Christa, Shelley, David, Zoe, JL, Betsy, and Tim. It was a lot of fun, and a great finish to a really fun day. Big congrats to Tim for finishing the Half. Other folks we bumped into at dinner who also finished the Half that day were Brett and Stacy. Nothing like getting to watch some friends race around on wooden horses to complete your day.
Here are the finish times for the runners I tracked for the Half Marathon:
- Caroline – Time: 02:32:08 – Pace: 11:36.32
- Scopa – Time: 02:47:09 – Pace: 12:45.05
- Jackie – Time: 03:20:00 – Pace: 15:15.4 (that’s what you get for stopping for everything)
- Lindsay – Time: 03:19:59 – Pace: 15:15.3 (she got to rub that second in Jackie’s face)
- Tim – Time: 03:46:25 – Pace: 17:16.31
What about you? Did you run in the 2011 Half Marathon? Did you cheer? Did you track any runners? Are you planning to run a different Half Marathon this year? What about in 2012 at WDW? Are we Ducks or what?