Half marathon run plan: Take it slow. Save all your energy for the marathon tomorrow. Do 5:1 jog:walk intervals most of the way, except walk through the water stops and photo ops. Stay ahead of your 3:23 minimum pace chart to beat the 3:30 deadline. Stay ahead of hydration, electrolyte, and energy needs.
Half marathon report: Low temperature 40*F at 8:01AM (wind chill ~28*F), high temperature 54*F at 3:49PM (wind chill ~45*F), average wind 9.8 mph. In other words, it was darned COLD at the start. My roomie Jeanne and I got up at 3AM, headed to the monorail at 4AM, arrived on site in the Epcot parking lots by 4:30AM, then stood around and shivered despite wearing lots of throwaway layers amid the enormous crowds gathered for the start.
We started promptly at 6AM with a fireworks sendoff by Donald, Daisy, and Goofy. My first mile was slowed by the crowds and congestion as well as taking a run to the edge of the woods to pee, and since I warmed up once I began running, I discarded the garbage bag I had worn for warmth. Then I settled into an easy routine of 5 minutes jogging and 1 minute walking. Or so I estimated – I hadn’t counted on it being too dark to see my watch for the first 80 minute of the race! So I just picked landmarks that I guessed were about a half mile away, jogged at a comfortable pace to them, and then walked 50-60 steps. That way I covered 4 miles of concrete highways leading to the Magic Kingdom at a steady 13:40-13:50 pace.
This year was a new course for the half marathon (which I had done once before), now an out-and-back with the Magic Kingdom at mile 5-6. When it was light enough to read my watch I realized I was already a comfortable 7-8 minutes ahead of my pace chart, and I could relax and take my time in the Magic Kingdom, as planned.
Stop for a quick photo with Chip and Dale and then head up Main Street USA toward Cinderella’s castle. It’s one of the most fun routes to run in all the races I’ve done, filled with cheering spectators on one half and a stream of runners on the other. Around the corner toward Tomorrowland – past Mr. and Mrs. Incredible and then a quick photo with Lilo and Stitch. Then looping back through Fantasyland and out the front of Cinderella’s castle, being careful to stay to stay out of the main crowd to the left for the race photographers.
Then we headed out through Adventureland, just missing a photo op with Goofy, but I stopped for the Country Music Jamboree Bears and got a shot with them. Past the waving engineers of the Walt Disney World Railroad and back out through the backstage areas for the return trip down the concrete highways.
I put in another 4 miles at a steady pace, keeping solid 5:1 jog:walk intervals, never pushing myself. I still had a lot of miles to cover. I kept reminding myself to keep it in a very comfortable zone and take many more walk breaks than I really felt that I needed. I also made a point of walking through the water stops, hydrating well, and taking my salt capsules and a swig out of my gel flask regularly on schedule, so that I’d never get close to experiencing a deficit.
The course was quite crowded the entire way and I’d often get blocked by lines of walkers stretching across the roadway. I made a point of stopping instead of burning energy veering around the walking roadblocks, and tried to take it in good humor instead of getting annoyed as I usually would in races.
The final mile of the half marathon course was a fun stretch through Epcot, up to the World Showcase Lagoon, around a Christmas tree and back out. I slowed in this stretch to take quite a few photos since I knew I was comfortably ahead of my cutoff pace.
My finish line pictures don't *usually* include tears running down my face, but they got me twice this weekend, just when I was exhausted. About 1/10 of a mile before the finish line we went through a backstage area where a huge ~40 woman gospel choir was singing their brains out and sounding just fabulous. When I came through at the end of the half marathon they were doing a wonderful version of "America the Beautiful" and for some reason that song (I don't know what it is about purple mountain majesties and fruited plains) got me all choked up. Everybody else around me is just running along and I'm wiping away tears.
Just before the finish line I spotted my friend Linae - I stopped to find out her finishing time. She held up her fingers to convey the time for her massive PR, and I shouted for joy! Then off to my own finish line.
Even though I tried to stay as slow and comfortable as I could throughout the course (though without walking continuously for extensive stretches), I still finished the half marathon well ahead of the deadline, with over 15 minutes to spare. I collected my Donald medal at the finish line, wrapped up in a mylar blanket quickly against the cold breeze, and at the Goofy tent I exchanged my orange Goofy wristband for a blue one for the second day.
Half marathon result:
10 mile chip time: 2:24:15
Finish chip time: 3:14:35
Overall: 9593/13236 (72%)
Gender: 5550/7269 (76%)
Division (women 45-49): 566/789 (71%)