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Walt Disney World Chip & Dale 2-person Marathon Relay

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Post  Stephanie on Sun Jan 15, 2012 1:46 pm

On January 8, 2012 I ran my first half marathon as the second runner for the Walt Disney World Chip & Dale 2 person marathon relay. Reaching this starting line for my first half was a particularly long journey due to a major injury I suffered back in March 2010 so therefore my goals in order of importance were as follows:

  1. Reach the starting line healthy & injury free
  2. Reach the finish line happy and without having pushed myself too hard reigniting the injury
  3. Break 2:20… very reasonable based on my training paces
  4. Break 2:10… not realistic but a girl can dream. Wink

The day started out at 2:30am. Ugggh. I managed to get 4-5 hours of sleep and when I wasn’t sleeping I was very calm, not a usual feeling for me since I regularly have battles with insomnia. I knew this was a good sign. I ate and hubby (Josh) & I zipped out in our rental car to pick up a friend (Rob) who was running the marathon and has been working his butt off in attempts to break 3 hrs. We weren’t staying at a Disney resort (so we didn’t have a shuttle ride to the race) and we made sure we left early enough so we could make it to the parking area at Epcot by 4am. Our plan went seamlessly and we headed to the start area to meet with 2 other friends (Brad & Jen) who were also doing the relay. Once we found them the guys headed to the starting area and Jen & I, who were both doing the 2nd leg of the relay, hopped on a shuttle bus and waited for it to depart at 5am to take us to the relay exchange zone.

At the relay exchange zone they had big screens that allowed us to see the festivities going on at the starting line, our own race announcer, and Chip & Dale were around for pictures. There were ample porta potties and the longest a line got was 4 people deep. Perfect!

All the guys were in Corral A and I was expecting Josh to arrive 1:30 – 1:40 into the race. He has done a half marathon before and his debut race was 1:31, which he did after a month of training Muay Thai in Thailand 2 years ago. He was at his fittest two years ago after this training so I thought he may come in closer to 1:40 than 1:30 but the guy never ceases to amaze me! The announcer started telling our group that the lead runners were only 20 minutes out and I started running numbers in my head and thought I better get my butt in gear; Josh could be here at any time. Sure enough the 12th person to run into the relay exchange zone was Josh (!!!!!) and I hadn’t yet ripped off my warm-up clothes or moved into the corral. I made my way through the crowd throwing my clothes in the air as I went running to the exchange area and next thing I know I am on my way. Josh did his leg in 1:29:16 a new PR!!!!!

So off I went. I merged with the full marathoners & Goofy runners and now had some serious soul searching to do. With Josh coming in at such a quick pace I was joining some pretty fast runners out there that were doing under 7-min/mi. and my pace was nowhere close to that. This was a hard environment to join. The people were SO fast! I don’t even know how many people were passing me. Going into the race I knew this was going to happen with Josh being the first runner on our relay team but until I was in it I had no idea how challenging this would be on my ego and mindset. The mood of the runners was also very serious – these guys meant business! At one point a guy passed me and turned back to look at my bib – from the look on his face I could tell he was wondering “WTH? Where did this slow person come from?” For the first 3 miles I focused on not getting too discouraged and staying as far out of the way of these speedy runners as I possibly could. The last thing I wanted to do was impede anyone’s marathon because there was a relay in with the full. I never once ran the tangents in the early miles so I would ensure I didn’t frustrate these people who had already been out there for 16 miles. I also noticed I was going far too fast in these first 3 miles for my (calculated) ability (McMillan said 10:00min/mi based on a 10k I did in the summer) but I just couldn’t slow down – I was feeling SO good!!!! I decided to go with it even though I knew I may pay for it at the end of my half.

By 5 miles into my half (or 18 miles into the course) the mood of the race changed – there were more relayers running with me now, and I started passing some of the full marathoners who were starting to fade. The crowds also started getting thicker and there was now so much to see on the course. There were volunteers everywhere!!! Music bands, marching bands, brass bands, cheerleaders and runners with their Donald Duck half marathon medals and shirts from the previous day were now cheering us on. I caught myself thinking how wonderful this all felt physically and emotionally and that there would be many, many more halfs in my future! Smile

I continued to check my pace and I wasn’t fading one bit. I had run the numbers before I left for the race - I needed an average pace of 10:41 to come in under 2:20, 10:18 to break 2:15 and 9:55 was needed to break 2:10. I was now at mile 10 and my Garmin was still giving me a pace between 9:32 – 9:35 consistently. I blissfully couldn’t believe my eyes!

From 10 miles onward my quads were burning and I was feeling them like I never have before in training. Usually it’s my hips or calves that get sore. Ultimately I wasn’t worried about my quads as I could tell it wasn’t an injury but I knew I wouldn’t be able to go any faster than what I had already been going. Although Disney could be called a flat course, the overpasses and banks of the roads were wearing on my prairie girl legs (it’s FLAT where I live!!!!!). It was also at this time that I saw the guys from Monsters Inc. I just had to stop for a picture – a nice momentary break for my legs.

Oh and remember me asking about running with my camera before the race? Well, I decided to run with it in a Spi Belt and I never took the thing out once. Figures. And I have a nice welt on my back to show for it. Razz I thought about taking my camera out several times but I was just too in the moment to bother; I didn’t want to interrupt the perfection of the day. That was another thing I experienced in this race – completely living in the moment. I am an analytical person who is always thinking ahead and planning. This is the first time in my life that I can recall where I was 100% IN the moment. This was a runner’s high like I have never experienced before and it lasted for 2 days. Smile

At one point on the course there is an out-and-back stretch where I managed to see Jen. I knew she’d catch me at some point but it would probably take until mile 11 or 12 based on where I saw her. But with my quads starting to be my main focus I eventually completely forgot about her catching me in those last miles. Also, somewhere in these last miles I turned a corner to see a full Gospel choir singing their hearts out. The sight and sound gave me chills as I have always dreamed of travelling to see a Gospel choir from the South. I couldn’t believe what I was experiencing!

Shortly thereafter with a quarter mile to go to the finish, I saw Jen zip past me. I had totally forgotten about her by this point. She signaled for me to go with her. I picked up the pace and we finished the race together, totally unplanned but oh so perfect with an official time of 2:06:49. I still can’t believe it!!!!!! The guys were waiting for us at the finish and after congrats were spread all around, I saw Rob. It turns out he ran 2:58 and was on cloud 9 right there along with me.

This race has impacted me in a way I would never have expected. Thinking back about the race there were so many things I saw, felt or thought of and I can’t even put them in sequential order. For a lot of my memories I can’t tell you what happened first and what came next and it was because I was living in the moment. I wasn’t caught up in what just happened or worrying about what was around the corner, I just was. It has re-motivated me; it has opened my eyes to what it feels like to live in the moment; it has given me a hunger to continue to improve and fuel and focus on my love of running. I am reminded of a quote I read some time ago that has sat on my computer desk on a sticky note ever since – “Never stop believing the starting line could be the beginning of something special” and it sure was!

So all-in-all my first half was a dream come true!!! Josh & I finished the relay ranked 19th out of 416 relay teams - not too shabby for a girl for whom a year ago today could only run 4 repeats of 2 minutes of running with 3 minutes of walking on the treadmill as she rehabbed her shins back to health. I am excited to see how much further I can go with another year ahead of me. All my goals were met and exceeded and I am hooked!!!!

Walt Disney World Chip & Dale 2-person Marathon Relay Monste13

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Last edited by Stephanie on Sun Jan 15, 2012 6:50 pm; edited 3 times in total
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Post  Dave P on Sun Jan 15, 2012 4:52 pm

Loved the report Stephanie! HUGE congrats on everyone exceeding their goals!
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Post  healdgator on Sun Jan 15, 2012 7:48 pm

That is amazing, Stephanie. Congrats! Great race and a great report.
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Post  John Kilpatrick on Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:54 pm

Wow - GREAT race report - makes me fired up to run just reading it. THAT is what it is all about!!! Great job on exceeding your time goals too - you really nailed a great run. Glad you took time to soak it in as well. I'm proud of you! Great job and it will be neat to see whatever is next!

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Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Tue Jan 17, 2012 6:16 pm

Wow, I didn't know there was such an event as the Chip and Dale relay - what fun! Congrats on an excellent run, and I'd say that finish is not too shabby. Love the medal!
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Post  Stephanie on Wed Jan 18, 2012 2:10 pm

@Dave P wrote:Loved the report Stephanie! HUGE congrats on everyone exceeding their goals!
Thanks DaveP! It was a great feeling!!

@healdgator wrote:That is amazing, Stephanie. Congrats! Great race and a great report.
Thanks!!! I still can't believe how perfect the day was!

@John Kilpatrick wrote:Wow - GREAT race report - makes me fired up to run just reading it. THAT is what it is all about!!! Great job on exceeding your time goals too - you really nailed a great run. Glad you took time to soak it in as well. I'm proud of you! Great job and it will be neat to see whatever is next!
Thanks John! I appreciate your support!!

@Michele "1L" Keane wrote:Wow, I didn't know there was such an event as the Chip and Dale relay - what fun! Congrats on an excellent run, and I'd say that finish is not too shabby. Love the medal!
Thanks Michele! This was the 1st year for this event and it sure was a blast! I'm not sure if they will keep it around for next year so I'm glad I got to run it when I did. Happy belated birthday too.
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Post  Julie on Wed Jan 18, 2012 3:37 pm

Congratulations! Great race report and great running. That is awesome to exceed your goals but even more important just to have a great time. I hope this means we're going to help you train for a full marathon soon?
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Post  Stephanie on Thu Jan 19, 2012 10:44 am

@Julie wrote:Congratulations! Great race report and great running. That is awesome to exceed your goals but even more important just to have a great time. I hope this means we're going to help you train for a full marathon soon?
Hahahaha Julie you are a pusher!! Wink After I finished the race I said to my friend a full marathon will be off in the distant future with how my legs felt. I definitely need more miles on them at the longer distances and need to do some strength work... so... this year will be a year of half marathons. But I'll be honest and admit I am already entertaining the idea of doing the full marathon at Disney a year from now. Very Happy
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Post  Julie on Thu Jan 19, 2012 1:32 pm

Very Happy It is totally possible although a time commitment, of course, for the long runs especially. Nothing quite like that feeling of seeing the 26 mile sign and then finishing a marathon.
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Post  ounce on Thu Jan 19, 2012 2:51 pm

Wonderful story, Stephanie, and a satisfying race for you, to boot!

Julie's right, in that a marathon is now on your bucket list. We just might be able to help you with your questions. I think there are some people here that have run 1 or 2. Wink
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Post  Stephanie on Thu Jan 19, 2012 7:13 pm

@Julie wrote:Very Happy It is totally possible although a time commitment, of course, for the long runs especially. Nothing quite like that feeling of seeing the 26 mile sign and then finishing a marathon.
I'm ready for the commitment without a doubt!! Smile

@ounce wrote:Wonderful story, Stephanie, and a satisfying race for you, to boot!

Julie's right, in that a marathon is now on your bucket list. We just might be able to help you with your questions. I think there are some people here that have run 1 or 2. Wink
Oh good... I'm glad I'm in the right spot! Razz I'm sure I will have many questions!
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Post  Alex Kubacki on Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:07 pm

That experience is why many run. Congrats on the race.
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Post  Jack_Scaff on Mon Jan 23, 2012 2:29 pm

What a speedy couple - congrats to you 2.
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