2:30am and our alarm was going off! (Gotta love those early morning runDisney wake ups!)
Jason and I both showered quickly and dressed in our race clothes that we had laid out the night before – there was some debate over whether we’d need long sleeves to run in or if we’d be ok with long sleeve throwaways and then running in short sleeves…the current weather report was completely unhelpful:
Forecasted low of 55, but currently 45?? If someone can explain that to me it would be much appreciated.
By 3:30am we were boarding the bus and on our way to the start! (I can’t speak for the other resorts, but at Saratoga Springs, the busses were incredibly well organized this year, there was a line of busses waiting and ready to go!)
At the start we met up with some of our friends from our run club back home on Cape Cod…
…before dropping off our checked bags, making a quick porta-potty stop and then beginning the long trek over to the starting corrals – I can’t tell you how excited I was getting for Jason’s first half marathon at this point!
I should mention it was COLD. We had both opted to keep on long sleeve running shirts under our throwaway shirts since it didn’t seem like it was warming up anytime soon and worst case we could tie them around our waist (**spoiler alert – we never had to worry about tying them around our waist! Brrr!)
Each corral was sent off with fireworks and finally it was our turn!
I think I was grinning ear to ear (through my chattering teeth!) over the excitement of running Jason’s first half marathon with him!
Our plan was that we would walk through water stops to make sure we were fueling and hydrating enough (and avoid a repeat performance of my NYCM under fueling!) and we’d stop for some characters if the lines weren’t too long. It being Jason’s first half marathon and since I was running the full marathon the next day we didn’t have any time goals.
The first few miles went by quickly and soon we were running though the Transportation and Ticket Center on our way towards the Magic Kingdom!
Before entering the Magic Kingdom there’s a steep downhill and then steep uphill to go under the water bridge. Unfortunately something about that steep downhill aggravated Jason’s knee which hasn’t bothered him since it sidelined him from running the Disneyland Half Marathon at the end of August (which was supposed to be his first half marathon).
We stopped and walked for a bit, but we were about to turn into the Magic Kingdom, so I encouraged Jason to try to run down Main Street and take it all in!
At the end of Main Street we turned into Tomorrowland and headed towards Fantasyland where we stopped for our first character photo – the Queen of Hearts! (We had passed on a few earlier with long lines.)
We exited the Magic Kingdom just past mile 6 and were headed towards the Grand Floridian where I was hoping to see my friend Megan spectating! Since I had my phone in my hand (to take pictures!), I saw our 10k split text pop up and moments later my friend Daniel’s came through! I knew he had to be right behind us, so as we jumped in line for a picture with Mary Poppins I kept a lookout for him and his girlfriend Tana.
Sure enough we spotted them and they jumped in for a quick picture with us! (Don’t worry, we didn’t take multiple photos, so them joining us didn’t hold up the line any more!)
And just past Mary Poppins I spotted Megan!
Funny story – Megan and I had plans to go to dinner that night (since we’ve been social media/ blog friends for a couple of years now!), but this moment during the race was actually the first time we met in person!
Jason’s knee pain was coming and going and at times it was pretty bad so we threw in a few extra walk breaks and decided character stops would be a good break – especially when I spotted this one up ahead!
Aladdin was my favorite movie growing up and I just LOVED Genie and Abu so there was no way I was passing this one up – honestly, this picture was worth running 13.1 miles alone!
A few miles later we came to the pirate ship with Captain Jack and Barbossa – we had passed them earlier on in the race, but skipped a photo since the line was pretty long, I was glad they were still out on our way back!
I knew we were headed towards a hill and the green army man (we heard him before we saw him), so I got ready to do my usual mid-race push-ups!
I had really been hoping for a push-up picture with Jason and I together, but unfortunately the green army man didn’t have anyone there with him to take the picture so we ended up just having to take pictures of each other…
…and Jason’s push-ups! (I SO love that he did them too!)
We continued down the highway towards Epcot…
We entered Epcot, looped around and headed under Spaceship Earth, ran past the choir and towards the finish line!
As we crossed the finish line I distinctly remember having a whole jumble of different emotions and thoughts – I couldn’t believe this race we were looking forward to for so long was over…I couldn’t believe I had to run twice this distance tomorrow…I couldn’t wait to get my warmer clothes out of my checked back (my hands were still freezing!)…but most of all I was SO proud of Jason!
I remember exactly what it was like to go from not being a runner at all to working hard to train for my first half marathon. Jason’s training went really well and despite some unexpected knee pain popping up during the race he ran strong the entire way and we had a great time running together – in fact we’re already working on choosing a race to run together this spring! (Taking suggestion if you have any!)