While I blogged about the trip itself and did a little recap yesterday, today's post will be specific... All about the half.
I should mention that one of the highlights of the trip was meeting a sparkpeople buddy, SKINNYMISSKASEY and getting to do the races with her. We met up after the 5K and talked for a bit. Unfortunately her phone died during the half so we didn't get to catch up after that. It was good to meet her, even if for a short time. We stayed in contact throughout our trips (via text and facebook) so that was pretty cool too!
I woke up around 3:00 Sunday morning to get ready for the half. Race buses were running from 3:00-4:00 so I wanted to be sure not to miss one. I got up and got ready, ate a small breakfast (a banana and a small Luna bar from the post-race box I got at the 5K the day before), and drank some water. I then went and got in line for the bus. When I saw the line I immediately panicked that I might not make it. Of course they had many buses running and I'm sure they wouldn't just leave anyone because the clock struck four. The line was very long; from the bus stop around the side of the building - and I definitely was not the last one in line. By the time I got ready to board, the line had grow to run all along the back side of the main building. Wow! I think that the majority of people at our hotel were runners and their families.
The traffic freaked me out and I again panicked. There was a major back-up, due to race traffic, but thankfully it moved pretty quickly. The race started at 5:30, but I was not in the first corral and had some extra time. It was quite a walk from bus drop-off to the race start. Honestly isn't it a bit cruel to make people who are about to run 13.1 miles walk so far before they even start? I'm not sure how far the total walk was, but I'd guess around a couple miles. Maybe this is off because it was so early in the morning, but it sure felt like it. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. Anyway... First we had to walk to the area to get into "race village" and once we were in we had to continue walking to the starting line. It seemed like a fair hike to me!
The first corral took off on-time, and then about every ten (?) minutes after another corral went. I was in corral E (estimated my time and that's where I ended up - which was pretty accurate) so I had a little bit of a wait. I started shortly after six. It was definitely congested for a while but I was able to move to the outside and pass people (even if it was on the grass!) as needed. I ran the first few.... somewhere between three and six, I can't remember. Then I noticed that my legs were hurting. Not the muscles, but the insides of my thighs. I was experiencing a burning sensation.
I was experiencing chaffing. OUCH!! That was by far the worst thing about the race. I'd never had this happen before... Probably because I generally wear compression capris that keep things where they should be. On Sunday I was wearing shorts that I thought would be tight enough to stay in place. They were not. They kept riding up, so the friction of my skin on the shorts as well as skin on skin (all that excess thigh skin, and fat, I'm sure, was bouncing around like crazy) contact started to cause chaffing. I didn't bother to put anything, like Body Glide, on my legs because I'd never had this happen. I didn't know to expect it. I also happened to be wearing cotton shorts which hung on to my sweat. They were totally soaked by the time I took them off. Anyway, at that point I started to do more of a walk/run combo.
By mile eight I was really starting to feel it. At this point I ended up walking quite a bit. It was more comfortable for me to walk (less friction?) than to run. I had the physical energy (thanks to Gu, which is so gross, but obviously effective!) to keep going but my thighs hurt so bad I wanted to cry. I also noticed that I was starting to feel like I was getting blisters around that time. The blisters really did not bother me much. I think it was also around mile eight (or maybe ten) that I noticed my hands were super swollen and it freaked me out for a minute. I later looked it up and read that hand swelling is a common thing when running long distances. My poor little fingers were swollen up like sausages!
Around mile ten I'm not sure what happened. The thigh pain was still obviously there but I think I got used to it and it didn't seem quite as bad. I had walked almost two miles straight and thought to myself, "I only have a 5K left to do!" So I started to run. I ran as much as I could from mile ten to twelve, but the thigh pain did take over again and I had to walk a bit more.
I ran the majority of the last mile... I walked for less than a minute two or three times basically just to be able to adjust my shorts to try to protect my skin. Like always, I ran as hard as I could when I saw the finish line. I generally make sure to sprint or just push myself as hard as possible when the finish is near. I'm not sure why... Just my thing I guess. Maybe it's because I always hear Jillian Michaels in my head talking about how you sprint to the finish, you don't slow down. So anyway, I pushed myself over that finish line.
It was done. I completed my first half marathon. I felt pretty awesome crossing that finish line and having that volunteer put my medal around my neck. I knew I looked like a hot mess, but I felt SO good. That red-faced, sweaty look made me feel fantastic.
I knew where my parents were sitting and tried to get their attention, before being ushered past them, but they missed me. They were too busy talking to the couple in front of them. I waved and danced around like a freak trying to get their attention but they missed me in the finish area, but I caught up with them later. I got my water and Powerade (I drank more Powerade than ever just on that day) and then went and stood in line to have my picture taken against the half marathon back drop, then made my way to the post-race snack box area, and straight to the bus waiting line.
The race itself was awesome - although it was crowded (I'd been warned ahead of time), it was so much fun. Most of the other runners were there to have fun too, so that helped time go by. There were several forms of entertainment along the way - bands, characters to pose with, DJs, people holding butterfly flags, mile markers that looked like storybook pages, flags to mark important miles along the way (5K, 10K, 15K, 10 miles too I think...), gospel singers, Cheer Squad (spectators) members at various points, lots of volunteers along the way... The time passed pretty quickly. They had a lot of Powerade/water stations too. I honestly did not even need my hydration belt. I did drink some of my water and promptly lost the top to that bottle. I used my belt more for my phone (to take pictures along the way) and to store my Gu.
I personally did not wait in line for any pictures. I didn't see many of my favorites (Cinderella - really!? She's the top princess!! And Ariel) so I decided it wasn't worth the wait. I did skip Aurora and would have loved a picture with her but the line was pretty long. She's one of my favorite princesses - my 5K costume was Aurora-inspired (and my costume for the half was Cinderella-inspired; my favorite!), but I had been warned about the lines. Not only are they long, but if you wait in them, it's highly possible that you will be swept because you waited so long. I didn't want to be swept. I didn't stop to pose with characters but I did stop here and there to try to get pictures of them. Many of my pictures have random strangers in them, but that's okay!
After the race was an experience in itself...
I felt so awesome for having finished, which was my goal. Because of the thigh pain and having to walk, I ended up being slower than I had anticipated and finished right around three hours. Not bad, and a half hour under the time limit of 3:30, but still about 20 minutes longer than I anticipated. BUT...That's okay. Given the factors of crowding, taking pictures, and chaffed thighs, I'm not too disappointed. Plus that gives me a lot of room to PR in the next one - if there's a next one (although I'm already considering it).
I immediately went to the hotel and showered (super painful on those chaffed areas!!) before returning to Epcot. I put my medal back on and wore it for the rest of the day. I earned it; I was going to show it off. A lot of other runners stayed at Epcot and some were still in their race gear. I don't know how they did it... I was far too wet and stinky to even consider that. All day I felt like I was part of a special group of people. I don't know how many smiles and knowing glances I exchanged with other runners. There were words of congratulations and conversations with strangers. It felt so good to have finished and to have been able to celebrate it all day. It was like I had a bond with about 26,000 strangers who had all been through the same thing. It was definitely a cool feeling.
I'm glad I chose this race for my first half... It was a fun and exciting experience. SO many other runners were encouraging along the way. The downside? The crowd at times, but it really didn't bother me. Had I been running for a PR (which you are encouraged NOT to do, unless you're super fast like the winner) maybe I'd have been more upset. It was definitely not a run to be taken super seriously by most of us.
The winner? Rachel Booth, from Mandeville, Lousiana... For the second year in a row. She also set a record for the race. She finished in 1:17:38. I can do a 10K in about 1:12!! For those of you doing the math, that's less than a five minute mile. She? Is freaking amazing!!!
Post-race physically - OH, SO MUCH PAIN. My thighs not only burned from the chaffing but the muscles hurt for all the running and walking. It hurt to go up stairs, even the few steps on to the bus. It hurt to go down stairs, even those same few. Walking in general was okay, minus the blistered areas on my feet. Getting up and down was a nightmare. Of course I had to pee more that day (all that hydration during and after the race!) than any other day on the trip. I could've used bars around the toilets to get up and down. I was okay when I was up and moving but if I sat too long I got pretty sore. No worries, I dulled my pain with Aleve, and later a cider and black at an English pub, a margarita in Mexico, and in the evening some wine with dinner. I may not have drank my way 'round the world, but I indulged a little!
My legs were sore for a couple days after. I'm sure riding in the car for long stretches of time didn't help matters any. I'm back to normal now. Well, except my blistered areas. Despite knowing all the reasons not to, I popped my blisters. Those areas are pretty tender now. I haven't run yet, but did do some TF last night. I started to run but those spots were too sore. I hope to be able to run on Sunday; that's my plan anyway. I'll do TF today and tomorrow.
Well, I suppose that's a pretty good race re-cap.... I need to go get my TF done, then start cleaning, and get to work on dinner. My cousin is bringing her daughter down (yay babysitting!) and I'm making dinner for them, so I don't have much time to spare.
I only worked two days (they were super crazy, hectic days) but I am definitely happy that it is Friday!
Have a great weekend everyone!!