I was really looking forward to this race for many reasons. First of all, since it had been my 1st half marathon last year, I was excited to be able to do it again with experience. Last year was such a blur because I was so nervous (and it was so unseasonably cold). I didn't really get to soak in the atmosphere. And this year I would get to pace Abbey to complete her first half marathon, which has become one of my favorite things to do!
For some reason, though, I simply didn't sleep this weekend. I don't know if it was the excitement, or the pressure I was imposing on myself to get Abbey across the finish line, or what. But Friday night I slept about 3 hours, and Saturday night I clocked a whopping 2 hours. I finally settled in around 11PM and woke up at 1AM and just did not go back to sleep. Around 2:55 AM, I decided to go ahead and get dressed so there would be one less person trying to get ready in our room. The alarms went off at 3AM and Abbey and Jan stumbled out of bed. We all got ready and made our way to the buses. I decided not to press the issue on pictures until we got to the bus line. Last year we had to wait in a long line for a bus, so I was really surprised to see a line of buses waiting for us. Unfortunately, though, it meant I never got pics with the RunDisney transportation sign!
We got to the H tent (where ROTE meets before and after races) and I was glad to see some familiar faces and meet some new folks! We did a couple of pictures, hit the potties, and then went to check our bags, assuming we could get back to the H tent. But they would not let us go back through once we dropped off our bags. I was very disappointed because I wasn't done chatting with everyone at the H tent (and I wanted a group pic), but I thought for sure I'd see folks in Corral C since there were a bunch of us in that corral. But it was crazy crowded - and I didn't remember much of the walk to the corrals from last year. I'm not sure if they were in a different spot this year or if I was just in such a daze last year from being nervous and overwhelmed that I don't remember!! We hit the potties again (thanks Disney for so many of them at the corrals this year!). Jan had earned Corral B, but decided to stay back with us in Corral C so she didn't have to wait alone!
The time in the corrals seemed to fly this year. Again, not sure if it was the lack of nerves, or maybe the non-freezing weather - but before I knew it, it was time to run! Abbey and I were running 5/1 intervals for as long as she could keep it up, so we said goodbye to Jan quickly! She was aiming to beat last year's time, which she did! We didn't see her again until the end. We did see a few ROTE runners, but I missed the chEAR squad. I was pretty focused on Abbey, though, so that might have been it. We did way too much walking in the parks and through resorts on Friday and Saturday, and I know both of us had really tired legs before the race even started. I felt horrible about that, and as her coach I should have known better and guarded our leg strength.
We stuck to our intervals very closely in the first part of the race. We were going a little faster than I had planned, but Abbey said she felt good, and I know that adrenaline really kicks in during races so I wasn't too worried. Abbey isn't big on pictures so we didn't stop much, plus I know she had a couple of finish time goals in mind. But we had worked out a plan for ASI pics coming through the castle, and she was to run ahead of me so I could video and take pictures from behind. At the bottom of the castle, she was supposed to stop so I could take a picture of her in front of the castle. So she's running ahead of me, and she shows no signs of stopping. I hollered out, "ABBEY!" and she stopped short and turned around. I yelled something about pictures, and she gets this evil, possessed look on her face and screams, "NO WAY!" and turns around and starts running off without me! I sort of shrugged my shoulders and ran to catch up! She did apologize later, and it's one of those fun memories that we'll always have of this race! But if looks could have killed, I would have been dead right there in front of the castle!
She ran the entire way through Magic Kingdom without stopping - totally in a groove! But the next part of the course is rough for many people and it took its toll on her. We did a lot more walking, which is fine, but I quickly calculated that her first goal was just not going to be doable. She was aware of that, too, so we started talking about what the next reasonable goal was - and she said she wanted to come in under 3 hours. But she had needed to do a lot of walking between miles 9-11, and we were cutting it close. Abbey is very competitive in nature, though, as I had seen when I paced her through her 10K back in October so she could get a qualifying time for Princess. So I knew she was tough and had a lot of determination in her. I told her that after we reached the top of the last overpass, which is around mile 11.5, we were going to run and we weren't going to stop until we reached the finish. We didn't have to go fast, but if we were going to come in under 3 hours, we needed to keep pushing through to the end.
I basically kept talking for the next 1.5 miles, which is easy for me since I have the ability to completely ramble on about nothing! But I seemed to be channeling my inner Jillian - told Abbey not to "phone it in", stuff like that. She did tell me that if she hadn't been so tired, she probably would have smacked me. So I guess I was doing my job as coach! LOL We were getting close to the end and I kept telling her that the Finish Line was right around the corner. Apparently, I did that a few too many times, because she yelled at me once that she couldn't see it! Oops!
But finally there was the finish line... and we made it with time to spare. 2:53:46 was our official time!! I was so proud of Abbey - I know how hard this was for her to go from not running at ALL to running a half marathon in only 6 months!! We met up with Jan at the H tent (she had barely missed her goal, but still had improved her time from last year by quite a bit!) but we didn't see any ROTErs. Since Abbey and I had to fly home that afternoon, and we wanted to hit up Hollywood Studios, where we had lunch reservations at the 50s Prime Time Cafe, we decided to head back to get cleaned up.
As far as the race itself, I was very disappointed that there weren't more princesses on the course this year. After all, the is the PRINCESS Half Marathon. If they were out there last year in the freezing cold, surely they could be out there this year! And where were Tink and the Fairies? The castle situation was terrible with the photographers, and then there didn't seem to be ANY photographers on the rest of the course - last year I had pics taken on Main Street USA, and then there were some set up over the course on a tower thing, and then running through EPCOT at the end. This year they didn't really seem to be anywhere except the castle and the finish line. I was hugely disappointed in the food/water situation at the end. I tried to grab two bottles of water - one for immediately and one to pour my electrolyte mix into since I don't care for powerade, but the volunteer would only let me have one. He said there was more water by the food. Well, there wasn't. It was only powerade, and I had finished my water bottle already! So I was thirsty, and the food looked terrible (maybe from sitting out in the heat and sun?). Transportation both to and from the resort was much better than last year.
Even with some of the issues I had, I really hope to be able to make this race again next year! I think I could probably do it without needing park tickets (which can double my expenses) since the ROTE rallies aren't in the parks for the most part. And especially if the weather is nice, I could hang out at the pool and go to DtD or take in a Braves Spring Training game and not have to spend so much money for the trip but still get to come and have a blast! I really think I will be able to make it work! I don't think I'll mention that to my husband quite yet, though!