This blog could also be titled Staying 1 Step Ahead of the Disney Sweepers! 11 Minutes ahead, to be exact. At least, that was the timing being called out at about the halfway point. If I had been in Corral G instead of Corral F, it would have been a very close call. Seeing all the sweeping buses lined up after leaving Angel’s Stadium certainly put an extra zip to my steps.
It was obvious that a good time was being had by most. The heat affected us all, and I think the medics were probably working overtime. There were quite a few costumes although not as many as the 10K. I believe the runners took the half marathon a bit more seriously (and rightfully so). But, it was a Disney race, and the mood was quite supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (defined by google as an informal adjective meaning extraordinarily fine, wonderful).
As with any Disney race, the course winding it’s way through the parks and the opportunities to take pictures with characters are a blast! And running through the Castle is always a highlight! At mile 2, the course paralleled mile 12, and us late starters had the opportunity to see the soon-to-be winner zoom past us. Rallying us on somewhere around mile 8 and 9 was a classic car party with Beach Boy music and old-fashioned horns honking. Sprinting through Angel Stadium not only gives a much needed boost at mile 9.5, but makes you feel like a superstar as you run onto the field with row upon row of scouting troops screaming for you. And seeing your picture flashed on the Jumbotron! – well, it just has to be experienced at least once in a lifetime. Deserving a good chuckle, close to mile 11, was the sign that read “$175 For A Half-Marathon? Smile. Only $37.40 To Go.” And throughout the course, the cheerleaders and dance teams representing local schools provided energy galore. Sometimes the crowds, the characters, the environment are what get you through the miles.
But even with all of the above, sometimes the focus in completing a half marathon needs to be more internal – you and your thoughts and just putting one step in front of the other. Whether it was the worry of finishing in the allotted time, of wondering if the back-to-back races would be too much for this non-athletic body, of knowing that my husband was concerned about the heat (he was absolutely convinced throughout the entire weekend that I wouldn’t hydrate enough and that I would be hospitalized for heatstroke), or perhaps just my mood upon waking on that Sunday morning… for me, this happened to be a more privately-focused race. Because of that, I’m sure there were many amazing events that I overlooked.
However, a few Back-of-the-Pack moments do stand out: the two sisters walking together with matching shirts and sparkly skirts – “A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost.” (Particularly poignant for me because my sister, my Alice in Wonderland, had just texted me that she wished she could be there with me). Or the mature woman with the cute warning on her back – “Caution: Slow Runner. Pass on Left.” But very best of all, after collecting my medals, taking my pictures and walking back towards the hotel, was watching the last few runners coming into the chute towards the finishing line. Those who had used up everything they had over the last 3 hours and 45 minutes to get to mile 13. The one that made a huge impression on me (and I’m really hoping that RunDisney got some video) was an elderly gentleman, supported by his daughter, surrounded by race staff on bicycles, literally stumbling his way the last 10th of a mile, DETERMINED to complete the race at all costs. An inspiration to us all. I’m sure that moment in time will be engraved on his daughter’s heart forever.
We all run for different reasons, with different motivations. Disney races give us the opportunity to play with a sport that can often be taken too seriously. They provide us with the opportunity to try to do something larger than ourselves that we might be intimidated to do in another setting.
2 Races, 2 Days, 19.3 Magical Miles.
And, best of all, I avoided the sweepers!