While one of our friends and my dad ran this race as well, we all ran separately. While most of my long runs for this training were on my own, I was looking forward to knowing I could get through all the highs and lows of the marathon by myself, and I'm really proud that I did.
E and my stepmom provided awesome support crew duties for the race, and we all went down Friday night for the Sunday event. It was fun going to the Expo together (though holy crowded) and spending some time relaxing the day before the race.
I'm not very good at doing things like sitting still, relaxing and staying off my feet, which are rather important before a big race, so E was amazing at getting me to stay put. I couldn't ask for a better support crew/coach/running advisor.
Through the miles, I suffered bad stomach cramps (which I never get), though I was lucky enough to be fighting this experience at one of the spectator points. I saw E and he ran with me for a few minutes, and gave me a much needed mental boost.
Once I got my cramps to subside, I dealt with exploding blisters on my toes around mile 16, and an annoying side stitch and nausea in the last few miles of the race. Ah, marathoning. The differences between my reaction to this race and the last one though, were huge - I really learned to run through pain and discomfort, and to push myself, in the last year.
It's funny how all those things seem to not matter when you cross the finish line. This race was a practice in the art of positive thinking for me. I simply didn't let myself have negative thoughts, I kept my eye on the prize and took the race mile by mile.
Things I liked:
- Despite heavy race morning traffic, the process of driving from our hotel to the event and parking was pretty stress-free. Disney provided good directions, lots of signage and kept people moving once they got to the parking lot. Of course, I wasn't the one driving, but I think E would agree.
- The process of picking up our numbers and goodie bags was pretty easy, and the volunteers were all helpful and friendly.
- Disney handled the huge crowds really well. I mean, 20,000+ people ran this race, and the only time I was uncomfortably aware of the number of people there was at the Expo itself, which was hard to enjoy because there were just so many people jostling to look at the same displays.
- The post race areas and medical were set up really well. I was able to find my family quickly, and when I went to get my feet wrapped from my exploding blisters, the medics took me right away.
- I loved that they set off fireworks to start each wave.
Things I wasn't crazy about:
- The course had a LOT of bottlenecks. You'd find a good rhythm, only to have to slow down when the course would funnel everyone onto a sidewalk or narrow walkway, sometimes as slim as two or three abreast.
- The water stations seemed a bit oddly spaced. There were several times I was really wanting water, without a water station in sight. I guess I was spoiled by the Donna, which had more water stations than you could shake a stick at.
- It got pretty warm, and the course was pretty much entirely without shade. While Disney can't help this, I didn't realize that going in, and was wishing for more sunscreen, and sunglasses.
- The walk to the actual race start was long, around a mile, so by the time we parked, walked to the corrals and waited to start, we had been on our feet for two hours. It was in the upper forties, and my feet felt cold and stiff when the starting guns went off.
- I had this sort of idea that I would see and talk to fellow marathoners. I didn't wear my ear buds the whole race because there was so much music on course and I wanted to experience the atmosphere. I was disappointed to see that pretty much everyone else who was solo was firmly in their own world of earbuds and music.
I'll post more pictures later. I still have to gather off various cameras and scrape off various internet sites.