Monday, January 12, 2009

pre-race report (sorta)

I don't know if I have the energy/stamina/dedication today to write a proper race report, so we'll see...

Tried to get to sleep early on Saturday night -- we were in bed trying to relax by 8:30; setting multiple alarms to go at 2:45, 3:00, and 3:15. All of our clothes had been tried on one last time, race bags and after bags packed, and everything laid out on the other bed. But of course we couldn't sleep. I drifted off around 10, I think; Wil was up until midnight. Then around 12:30 I woke up, and was awake the rest of the night. At least I knew everything was ready.

I tried to relax by imagining the course -- which was informed by a mixture of cartoon map images, race reports from previous runners, and extremely hazy memories of visits to Disney World.

When the first alarm went off we were both already awake, so we got up and ate our bagels, applied tons of Body Glide, got dressed, and generally shuffled around. I had chosen my Disney Running top (bright!!!), my tri shorts, and an Amphipod belt to hold gels and my camera. Wil chose his Nike Human Race top (with the number strategically covered by the WDW bib), compression shorts and running shorts on top of those, and a new belt purchased at expo to hold his iPod and gels. Over these outfits we put on our "disposable clothing" -- warm stuff purchased at our local Goodwill, that Disney will collect, clean, and donate to charities in the Orlando area. (Very cool, Disney.)

All packed, we headed downstairs to one of the waiting buses. Lots of excited folks -- some chatty, some nervously silent. Sat behind a "Sweet 16" runner -- a woman who had run all 15 previous WDW marathons and had therefore earned a special bib and award. (Again, very cool, Disney).

After a short ride to Epcot, we poured into the pre-race area. It was pretty wild to see so many people, sprawled out on the asphalt. We dropped off our bags with our post-race stuff, then headed to the "R" tent to meet some Disney Running folk. I had seen a couple of people on Saturday with shirts but was too shy to talk to any of them... so on Sunday I forced myself to say hello to Robert and Linda, among others. But we were too restless to stand around talking, so we moved to a quiet spot and tried to mellow out a little.

The lines for porta-potties were insane, but we decided to get in one -- and quickly realized that some lines were far shorter than others. On Saturday we overheard some halfers complaining about the lack of porta-potties... let me just say that there were fields of porta-potties. Hundreds of them. I mean, in an event with 22,000 people, even if you had a thousand porta-potties at the start, you would still be sharing them with 22 others. But I digress...

Then we were directed to head to the starting corrals. A volunteer was trying to encourage people to leave the porta-potty city and walk down the brightly lit path by saying "Walk toward the light.... keep walking toward the light."

We headed off on a longish walk (seriously, at least a quarter mile) down a dirt road past what felt like a Disney graveyard -- old shuttle cars, old props, giant snowflakes and other Christmas light forms, the empty booths from the Food and Wine festival, even an old Jungle Cruise boat. Very weird.

Then more walking -- A & B corrals turned off first, then the Cs. D - H just kept walking. All along the way people kept sprinting off to the side to "water the bushes". Then we got to the H corrals. The volunteers started enforcing numbers, checking who went in each corral. We walked past a lot of people, which felt very very strange. How on earth did we end up in D? I mean, I know how we did; we were projecting a 4:58 marathon, and D was the "sub 5" corral. But still. Did I mention just how far forward we were?

Even standing at the back of the folks in the corral we were very close to the stage...and the starting line. We met another Disney Runner, Crystal, and nervously chatted. I kept thinking how unbelievable it all was -- that we were there, in a starting corral, about to run a marathon. They were playing "inspirational" music -- lots of techno, plus some running-related music. Cue the 80s-tasic "the Runner" by Manfred Mann:



Yeah, you laugh now, but at the time it was perfect. And it kept popping into my head along the course. Okay, so it was silly then, too. But.

This went on for a long time. Time was both flying and dragging. People kept climbing over the fences and sprinting off to the bushes. I just tried to stand still and relax, and take everything in. I kept my warm clothes on as long as possible, trying to keep my knees warm. And, of course, we danced.

About 5 minutes before the start, we were asked to move forward. I tried to stay to the back and side of our pack, knowing that the runners in the corrals farther back would be moving forward as well. Then there were some speeches, the national anthem, a visit from Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy, and then, suddenly, we were off.

1 comment:

rstaffel said...

Oh! The suspense! Keep writing! Or, I guess, relax and have a fun day today and then keep writing tomorrow. ;-) XOXOXO