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You may recall where the story left off, but just in case let me help you out a bit. In 2010 I went to cheer for friends running the Half Marathon. It was a fantastic adventure, and I had a blast. So much so, that not only did I promise to do it again in 2011 – I also started running myself. The event was inspiring on so many levels. This time around my wife, Cheryl, decided to get us a room at the Wilderness Lodge Villas. For the Half Marathon, I spent time cheering for my awesome friends Lindsay and Jackie. And, after finishing they asked to come with me to cheer for the Full Marathon. Who am I to say no?
That night after dinner at Whispering Canyon it was time to get to bed – you have to be up at the same time for the Full Marathon as for the Half. Our friend JL stayed in the room with us on the pull out couch that DVC studio rooms have – she was going to be joining me to cheer in the morning also. Cheryl’s plan was to catch up with us later. I laid out everything I’d need in the morning, primed the coffee maker, etc. I set an alarm for me, another for JL, and then I went to sleep.
Now, when your sleep patterns are as odd as mine you end up with a certain degree of equally odd abilities. Almost super powers if you will. One is the ability to be up, but not be quite awake. So when JL’s alarm went off, I popped out of bed, started the coffee maker, did a few other small things including making sure JL was up, and then I climbed back in bed. JL said to me, “But you’re already awake.” And I responded, “No I’m not.” Seconds later I was completely asleep until my own alarm went off.
As soon as my alarm went off, I was up and moving – this time completely awake. I toasted some bagels for us, and then got ready to head out the door. Once we had eaten and were ready to go, I poured my coffee and we were on our way to the 3am bus once again. It’s important to note that these are special buses for the Marathon only, and as such they were waiting in front of the main entrance to the Lodge where the Magical Express bus picks up and drops off. Once again I was the only one on the bus with a cup of coffee, but this time there were other non-runners going to cheer.
When we got to Epcot the first order of business was that JL needed to use the bathroom. I warned her up front that her only option was the port-a-potties. Strategically placing myself upwind, I waited until she was done. It was at this point Nicole breezed by me, also potty bound. About this time I received a text from Lindsay and told her we’d meet her and Jackie by the Race Retreat in a few. I rounded up NDM#1 and TS#1 (Team Siscaretti) and we headed over.
Nicole was in fantastic spirits before the race. Suddenly I got a text message. I counted, and everyone I was expecting to be with me was there. Odd. So I looked at who it was from and smiled, it was another great friend Shalon. She had woken up early and driven from home as I had in 2010, to come out, run around with us and cheer. It was completely awesome to have four great friends to come out and do this with me.
We spent our pre-race time just talking and hopping around to keep warm – it was a bit colder than it had been the prior morning for the Half Marathon. And then it was time to see Nicole off. She gave me her sweats and some other stuff to hold that she’d want for after the Marathon we all gave her hugs and best wishes, and then waved as she headed off to her coral. It was time for us to get into position ourselves.
We headed over to Epcot Center Drive as I had the prior day, and I immediately noticed a difference. There were much more spectators for the Full Marathon then for the Half. Instead of the fence being packed only 1 or 2 deep, it was as much as 5 or 6 deep in spots. As I had indicated in a prior post, this spot was both for mile 0 and mile 4 viewing. I managed to find a spot where we were fairly close to the fence.
Now in 2010 I got real lucky to spot Katie and Ed at mile 0 thanks to Ed’s bright orange hat. However, I had missed Jackie and Lindsay at the same point the prior day. I was really hoping that Nicole’s pink & leopard look would be distinct enough, when suddenly something fortunate occurred – a white van parked on the median directly across from us. I immediately texted Nicole to stay to the left and just after the van to jump around, wave, and scream. It worked like a champ. We saw her, and I’m pretty sure she saw us. We screamed and cheered it was a ton of fun.
Then we had to wait for her to come back around for mile 4. Unlike the Half where the runners head straight from mile 0 toward World Drive, for the Full the runners head back into Epcot and then back out again, this time on the near side of Epcot Center Drive. By this time the van had moved, but we hadn’t. I texted Nicole to stay left again, and we’d watch for her. In the meantime we cheered for other runners as they passed by – it was a bit too dark to read names off bibs, so we just cheered occasionally making names up.
Slowly we made our way up to the fence as other spectators left after seeing their runners. Suddenly, Nicole came running by and I went to take a picture, but another spectator bumped my arm messing up the shot. The ladies headed off almost immediately to go get warm, however the guy who bumped me apologized and said he got a good shot of Nicole. I gave him my email address and phone number, but sadly never received the picture. Still holding out that I might get it, you never know.
I caught up with everyone else in the merchandise tent, they were buying some hand warmers. You’re supposed to shake these things for about a 15 seconds and then they get warm. They do work, but they take a lot more coaxing than the directions imply. So, about 10 minutes later, and with some help from the event staff everyone had stuffed some of these into their shoes and pockets.
This was followed by a quick stop at the breakfast stand, which ultimately proved to be our undoing. No seriously. Jackie had purchased some blueberry muffins which she was planning to eat on the monorail on the way to the TTC. However, we all needed to make a pit stop, and that was not going to happen at the port-a-potties. Real bathrooms were in order, so we headed over to the ones outside the Epcot gate.
Now no one was at the security station, so we all walked right through and started to make our way to the bathrooms. We were about halfway there when a slightly over-zealous security guard intercepted us. The conversation went something like this (please use the voice of Doctor Doom for Security-man):
Security-man: “Hey kids, where you going?”
Us: “To the bathroom.”
Security-man: “Oh no you’re not.”
Security-man: “You have to get your bags checked.”
Us: “Whuh?!?!?!? But there was no one at Security.”
Security-man: “You still need to get them checked before entering the park.”
Us: “We’re not entering the park. It’s not even opened for another hour. We just want to use the bathrooms.”
Security-man: “You need to go to that guy over there and get your bags checked first,” as he points off in the distance at another guard.
Us: <insert collective sigh here>
So we all trudge over to the other security guard. Well okay most of us. At this point JL, using some amazing ninja stealth skills, waits until Security-man’s back was turned and then made a mad dash for the restroom – followed by Lindsay and Shalon. Jackie, her blueberry muffins, and I however reach the other guard, who proceeds to reach for the muffins thinking they’re for him. Jackie deftly deflected his hands, while I held out my bag:
Hungry-guard: “Whuh?!?!?!?” *tummy-grumble*
Me: “You have to check our bags.”
Hungry-guard: “Whuh?!?!?!?” *tummy-rumble*
Me: Pointing at Security-man, “That guy over there says you’re supposed to check our bags.”
Hungry-guard: “You’re kidding right?”
Jackie: “No sir.”
Hungry-guard: <insert sigh here>*tummy-echo*
Hungry-guard takes two fingers, and proceeds to quickly open and close my bag. He then does the same for Jackie and waves us along. At a complete loss as to where everyone else is, Jackie and I head to the bathrooms unimpeded. Finally, after all getting in our pit stop and warming up a bit, we regroup. After determining that the only truly suspicious thing about us are the blueberry muffins, we board the monorail and head to the TTC.
At this point it’s daybreak, and I kind of realize that we’re a bit behind. The group is cold, and tired, and a little bit cranky – though we’re all having fun. While swapping at the TTC we take in music from the bands stationed here, and spend a couple of minutes eyeing runners as they pass by. It’s a pretty neat location to watch the runners from, and it gives us a bit of a pickup to briefly watch. Then we hopped on the Express Monorail.
We arrive at Magic Kingdom, and head in to hook up with the WDW Radio group on Main Street USA. About this time I get the text for Nicole at the 10 mile marker. She’s real close. Unfortunately, I discovered real quick that the text came too late to be of much use. Nicole texts me that she’s already past the Main Street and on her way to the Castle. I was a bit bummed about this, but two things turned my spirits a bit.
First was that I discovered that StudiosCentral.com blogger Shane had been there on Main Street. And to top that off, he had made this truly awesome sign for Nicole, Len, and Deanna. He and I talked a bit, and he said he and his sign were headed to Hollywood Studios (his favorite park). We formulated a plan. Having not cheered for the Full Marathon before, I really had no idea how long it would take for Nicole to get back to Epcot. So, Shane would help with that. He’d text me as he spotted each runner in the Studios. This really helped a lot. I also texted Nicole to look out for the sign when she got there.
Everyone else was getting warmed up inside the Emporium. However, I waited out on Main Street. I had another really good friend who was running that day, and while I had missed Nicole on Main Street, I wasn’t going to miss her too. To pass the time while waiting I cheered for random runners as they passed by. I got to see Len pass by, as well as some team WDW Radio folks. And then Megan came running with a big smile on her face. She looked to be having fun.
Once Megan passed it was time to head back to Epcot. All outbound traffic was being directed to the Resort Monorail, and it was packed. We ended up on a car that was standing room only. The monorail got detained for a bit inside the Contemporary, and then we noticed something quite odd. Packed in with us were two strollers. However there was only one baby in the entire monorail car. One of the strollers contained only a stuffed Buzz Lightyear, and it was under the control of a clean cut gentleman. We would later come to realize that this was the world famous superhero Stroller-man and his sidekick Buzz. Clearly they were on their way to do battle with Security-man and Hungry-guard (“Curse you kids and your blueberry muffins!” *shakesfist*).
We arrived at the TTC and headed down the ramp to switch to the Epcot Monorail, but something caught our eye. There was this woman who was apparently really into the marathon. She was decked out in a runners ensemble and jogging down the ramp and then up the Epcot ramp with us. We really didn’t think anything of it until we got to Epcot, and we saw that she had on a Marathon bib. Lindsay immediately jumped into action, having apparently gone to ninja school with JL, and began to follow the runner. From some pics, we learned that her name was Annette and got her bib number. We made sure that the Internet knew all about her as she clearly looked to be trying to find a way back into the race.
Heading in to Epcot we decided to ride Spaceship Earth both for the nap factor and to warm up some. Afterward, at the request of JL, we went to The Land and rode Living with the Land. Deciding it was time to pick a spot to wait for our runners, we agreed to head to a location we had seen after exiting Spaceship Earth just outside the exit, across from Guest Relations. This was a fun little spot to hang out and cheer, and we sat with an AllEars.net cheer group. From what I could tell this was about Mile 25.2.
It was here that Cheryl met up with us to watch our friends finish out the Marathon. John and Charles also met up with us. From various points along this small stretch – we had spread out some – we were all there waiting for Nicole to come by, and thanks to Shane I knew she was coming. We spent time shouting and cheering for the runners, congratulating them all as they ran by, encouraging them that their journey was nearing an end. As I said previously, cheering is something the runners really need along the course – it helps to pull them along.
And then, like the bedazzled pink wonder that she always is, Nicole came running by. She was in amazing spirits, and as you can tell from this video (taken by John), even after 25 miles she was all smiles and excitement: Nicole Running
After Nicole passed we all regrouped and waited for Megan to come by. She too was in really good spirits. And then our time cheering was done. Though my friends were all headed to lunch, I was feeling a bit under the weather, so Cheryl and I went back to my room at the Wilderness Lodge and collapsed for a few hours before dinner.
For dinner Cheryl, Betsy, and I went to 1900 Park Fare and had a nice relaxing meal. I like this character meal, but I sort of always feel that the “July 4th” meal approach to the food doesn’t really match the characters presented – the theming is just off. Perhaps a change to something a bit more regal to go along with Cinderella and Prince Charming is in order here.
After dinner, the three of us headed over to Casey’s Corner for a TouringPlans.com post-Marathon meetup hosted by Len. Afterward the group split up between watching Wishes and going to the Hall of Presidents to cheer for Millard Fillmore followed by Country Bear Jamboree.
Allow me to take a moment to congratulate both Megan and Nicole on their accomplishment. You’re both really fantastic friends, and I’m really very proud and honored to know you both. You are both inspirations for me.
I also want to take a moment to congratulate fellow TouringPlans.com team member Dave on completing the Goofy Challenge. From watching his times, I determined that he is clearly part gazelle and part cheetah. Amazing job.
Here are the times for the runners I tracked for the Full Marathon:
- Nicole – Time: 06:19:08 – Pace: 14:27
- Megan – Time: 07:09:27 – Pace: 16:22
- Dave – Time: 03:55:12 – Pace: 8:58 (Wow!)
- Len – Time: 05:31:18 – Pace: 12:38
- Deanna – Time: 05:10:13 – Pace: 11:49
What about you? Did you run in the 2011 Full Marathon? Did you cheer for a runner? Have you run in the past? Do you plan to run in the future? Are you going to try for the Goofy in 2012? Run, run as fast as you can…