Thursday, March 1, 2012

Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon

I can't believe all the magic was already a whole five days ago. I flew back into Ottawa on Monday night, and it's been hard to get back to a place where a) you have to wear a coat; b) not everyone cheerily smiles at you and/or calls you Princess anymore; c) buildings are no longer colourful idealized cute versions of what they should be, but instead are sad and grey! This was probably hands down one of the funnest trips ever. My sister is one the awesomest people EVER. After deciding to run this marathon with my sister last spring, we had to go big or go home. The end result was 6 days in Disney World, complete with on-site hotel (the Port Orleans Riverside Resort, which I highly recommend) and park-hopper passes.

I'll go through vegan options in Disney World over the course of next week (there were tons!), but for now, let me cut to the chase:
I did it!

Waking up at 3:30am in the morning was so worth it...
... for me to dress in a Snow White costume, tutu included (she was the first princess I dressed up as when when I was little, so I thought I'd do her the honour)...

... and finish this thing with a bang. I sprinted the minute I saw the finish and man was that fun! 

(these race pics are from the official site)

My over-archieving A-type personality was not totally thrilled with my running time. However, the sane person inside my head also tells me that for a first half marathon, I did great! I was able to run it under 2 hours and 30 minutes (not by very much), but still! The biggest thing for me was to listen to my body. When my knee pain from running a lot last year started resurfacing around mile 10, I told myself "okay, stop being so A-type, if you don't walk for a bit, this might affect you for years"... and I actually listened! 

I have to give a five star rating and two thumbs up to the way this run was organized though. The buses ran regularly starting a 4 in the morning. Bag check was super efficient both at the start and end of the race. People (both fellow runners and the cheerers) were so encouraging. There was plenty of water stops and Porta-Potties, and they even had Cliff Bar reps out there with their energy goo stuff about halfway through. 

To give you a break down of how it went down, I was running my 9:50-10 minute mile for the first 5 and was feeling so awesome. When you're surrounded by a whole bunch of people in Disney princess outfits, you feel really pumped to give this your all. They also had Disney characters you could take pictures with or just wave at every couple miles which definitely added to the fun. (The row of Prince Charmings around mile 9 were particularly awesome.)

By the time we reached the Magic Kingdom, there was an unfortunate choke point as the road narrowed and lots of people started stopping in the middle of the course to take pictures, blocking people from being able to maintain their pace. The anal runner inside me was marginally annoyed, but you're in Disney World so there is only so upset you can actually get. I just know I lost a bit of time.

Miles 6.5-9 were getting a little tough. I was more conscious of doing my run-walk method, walking about 1-2 minutes every mile while drinking water. After I went through the castle, my motivation dropped a bit and I started to feel tired so I did have some Cliff Bar energy goo just in case it would do something (I'm not really sure whether it did or not). By mile 9 my knee was threatening to start hurting, I could feel the pain shooting down my leg and decided it was time to start walking a bit... 

By the time it hurt enough, I told myself it was definitely time for me to start walking. Mile 10-12 were probably about half run/half walk. (I am bummed about that because I know that's where I probably lost most of my time, but I'll live.) By the time I saw the mile 13 post, it was take it or leave it so I jogged 'til I turned the bend and saw that glorious finish line. When I sprinted past it (and they called my name!!!!), I couldn't believe it was already over! 

The mental game of running 10 miles or more is really something. I really enjoyed the process as much as I might have wanted to stop or kill something when it started getting painful. There's something so personal and primal about just running, and sweating buckets, and being surrounded by all this energy and cheer that just lights you up! 

Post-race recovery included drinking lots of water and stretching for a good half hour, eating a banana and some of my raw recovery balls, coconut water (seriously, it makes a big difference), taking an epsom salt bath, and just taking it really slow and easy for the rest of the day! I was up and running the next day (well, not literally running, but functioning very well thank you very much.)

My biggest tip was really those magic running socks I mentioned a few weeks back. I mean really, I ran 13 miles and didn't get one blister... MAGIC! I also highly recommend a kick-ass playlist and all the recovery tips I did. So that just about sums it up! I'm a half-marathoner!!!!!

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