Disney Half Marathon - January 7, 2012

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Ok, I'm going to at least start to tell you about Disney. I know some of you are going to hunt me down if I don't. As some of you know I did the Disney half with Team In Training (TNT). TNT is the largest fund raising group for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). TNT trains people to complete an endurance event while participants raise money for LLS.

Before each event TNT hosts an inspiration dinner. This inspiration dinner was fantastic. We got to hear from the founder of TNT and his daughter. He told us the story of his daughter who got Leukemia when she was 2 years old. He started the run as a local event in 1988 and over time it continued to grow and become TNT. His daughter Georgia, who is now 23, ran the marathon that weekend. It was her first marathon. He said, "impossible is just an opinion".

We also got to hear from the winner of Survivor Africa, Ethan Vaughn. Ethan is a Leukemia/Lymphoma survivor. He was in remission for 20 months but the cancer is back. He ran the Disney half and is very greatly for all the support he gets from LLS. He lost his father to cancer so cancer is nothing new in his family.

Alyyssa is a young girl in my church who was just diagnosed with some form of Leukemia/Lymphoma late this summer I believe. Her family has spent a lot of time and money driving back and forth to the hospital so she can receive treatments. They have spent a lot of nights away from home, family, and friends.

You see, it is for people like this and their families, that I participate with TNT. It is great to go run a race but it is even greater to finish a race and remember why you ran it in the first place. Running 13.1 miles is not easy but it doesn't even begin to compare to the fight that those with cancer are fighting.

The morning started out early at 3:00 AM. I met my team in the lobby for pictures and last minute instructions. Before long we were on the bus heading to the Epcot parking lot where the race would begin. Once we got there it was crazy, insane with people. We had a short wait before they opened the gate to let is go to our corrals for the start. It was about a 15 minute walk just to get from the gate to the corrals. I was lucky enough to get to start in corral B. I think they had A-G or H. I could see the starting line from my corral. Having just one corral in front of me was great. I loved starting where I did.

While we were waiting for the start they had big screens where our MC was keeping us entertained. Of course, they were blasting music so we could wake up and dance to stay warm or whatever. Then between songs they would come on and talk. We got to hear a recorded message from Ty Pennington (Extreme Home Makeover). We also got to hear from the Bacholorette winner from a few seasons ago who got married and is still married today. They were both there and getting ready to run the half marathon.

Just before the race started they brought Donald Duck up on stage as the official starter for the race and for each corral thereafter. When he said go, fireworks were shot from the starting line. It was incredible!

As soon as the A corral was gone we got to move forward for our start. Corral B, which is better than corral A was ready to go. Within a minute or so Donald Duck gave us our countdown to start and we were on our way.

As we went around the first corner onto the road there were people on the other side of the road cheering us on. They lined the road for as far as I could see and the cheered for us non-stop. They were clapping, ringing cow bells, using hand clappers and taking pictures. It was a great way to start the race. I found my pace and rhythm right away and I felt like such an elite athlete being so close to the front. I was enjoying the atmosphere and not thinking about anyone else that was around me.

Somewhere about a mile or so into the race they had a band playing and cheerleaders cheering for us. There were also other spectators who were cheering for us as well. Not long after that the Disney characters started apperaring along the route. I stopped and had my picture taken with several of them along the way. I also took a picture of every mile marker sign. I think it was just before mile 3 that we entered the Magic Kingdom. At the entrance to the Magic Kingdom they were blasting 'It's a Small World After All" on the PA system. I loved it! Somewhere around mile 6 we ran by Cinderella's castle. Talk about incredible! Wow! It was amazing.

After that we entered a long, narrow, BORING, stretch of the race. I really struggled through this part of the course. I even thought to myself at one point that this is just like every other boring race I do. Then finally about mile 10 I found one of my TNT coaches. He asked how I was doing and I told him my knee was hurting but other than that I was fine. He ran with me for probably a half mile or so before he went back. A little further down the road was the other coach and she was trying to take pictures of everyone on the team.

Just before the end of the race we came up an on ramp from the highway and went over a bridge. It was only about 3 miles left at the point and we were approaching Epcot again. There was once again people lining the sides of the course and cheering for us. They were encouraging us that we could do it and that we were almost done. That last 3 miles seemed like an enternity but I finally saw the finish line. After I crossed the finish line there was a group of people cheering for me and taking pictures of me. I thought that was pretty cool but I have no idea who they were.

It took a while but I finally got my finishers photo taken and got through the food line. When I was done I was ready to go again other than the fact that my knee was hurting and I didn't feel good. I didn't feel good until later that afternoon. I am ready to do it again though and may try to do it again next year. I finished with a new personal record (PR) of 3:14:45. I was really happy with the new PR, especially with all the stops to take pictures. I kept an 11-12 minute/mile pace until about mile 6, then I gradually got slower and ended with a 15-6 minute/mile pace.

It was the most fun race I have ever done and almost every mile was magical!

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