Turns out it was VERY good advice, because the whole thing was crowded and borderline miserable. For 3/4 of the course, we wouldn't have been able to run if we wanted to. We were towards the back amongst the walkers, so MANY WALKERS, and they would be walking in a line shoulder to shoulder across the road so you had no choice but run in the grass. So confession time: we didn't walk the WHOLE thing. Anyway, I should start at the beginning!
After our 2am wake up call, we tried to choke down some semblance of breakfast and headed down to the food court to fill up our water bottles with some Powerade/Water. The bus took us over to Epcot for the staging area. We dropped off my Gear Check bag and went through to the back side of the tent to start to make our way over to the Start Corrals. We got into an area with the tent behind us and all the runners making their way to the start, and two sides lined with PortaPotties, and then we were to funnel into the road that would lead through the Graveyard (for those who haven't done a Disney World race, the Graveyard is a back road in Epcot where they store ride vehicles and trolleys and such that are not in commission any more. Its very scenic) and on to the Starting area. We weren't moving. We were herded into a pen and we were stuck. NOT MOVING. People everywhere, not moving forward, trapped by PortaPotties... Now I don't consider myself claustrophobic, but I do get that anxiety in large crowds, especially if I feel trapped. Laurie and I made our way to the edge of the trapped crowd, along one of the PortaPotty boundaries. I think the only thing that kept me from freaking out was the fact that I knew that, worse case scenario, I could push one of those things over and escape. I would have, too, trust me. We learned later that there was a lack of volunteers to direct runner traffic... A breakdown in communication somewhere, clearly. (On Sunday, they had remedied the problem and it went much smoother.)
After what felt like an eternity, we finally got to our Corral. Good ol' G. We camped out and sat while we waited. Our start time wasn't until 6:15ish. We had time. Finally, it was our turn to be released! Pretty darn close to 6:15. My Garmin was still on Central Time so that kept throwing me off... Anyway, we were off. We started out doing a run interval just till we could find room to do what we needed to do. That room would never come. We waited for it to thin out a bit, but, really it never did. What ended up happening was that we would do intervals when we were able to (which wasn't often) and then we would walk. Walking was a good suggestion, and the crowd made sure it happened. Anyway, we got less than a mile into it and Laurie and I BOTH had to pee. Really? This NEVER happens! I don't think I have ever had to stop during a Half. I guess this adventure was just bound to be filled with 'firsts.' So we had a decision to make, wait in the obscenely long potty line or do as the boys do and go in the bushes. We opted for the bushes. This was a first. I mean, its hardly the first time I have copped a squat in the bushes. I grew up on a farm. I camped in the wilderness of Alaska. However, neither of those scenarios involve hundreds of people running past you at the same time. I almost tripped on the underbrush, but we got it done and carried on. I mean LOTS of people were doing the same thing, so it took the embarrassment right out of the situation.
This Half was the same course for Princess, but I tell you what, the thrill of running down Main Street is still there. I love running through Magic Kingdom and going through the Castle. Cinderella's Castle is very special to me so its always "butterflies in the stomach" inducing excitement for me! The problem with the Half's course is the LONG return trip to Epcot. Its mostly freeway (is that what you would call the roads there? My inclination is to say interstate, but that's not accurate), open, sunny, HOT, humid and involves on-ramps. It was pretty harsh. The crowds pretty much kept us walking in the beginning, and the heat kept us walking in the end. It was a blessing in disguise because we were forced to follow Jeff's advice. Pride would have had us run that Half, and I KNOW if we had run it, Sunday would have been a disaster, but then hindsight is alwys 20/20.
One of the bonuses of walking was that it gave the opportunity to talk to people. Like the guy (maybe in his early 20s), who was also doing Goofy. The longest run he had ever done was 16 miles I believe. I just can't imagine making Goofy your first marathon. I know that it was a LOT of money for me to plunk down for registration, without having run a marathon, but at the time I HAD run 20 miles at least. He didn't train at ALL. I know people do it without training, but...wow. I have to know that I have a chance, I guess.
The Half was kind of ugly for me. The sun/heat throughout the last part was rough. I poured a LOT of water down my back and over my head. Like I said, it ended up being a blessing in disguise. On the flip side of that blessing coin. however, was the already planted seed of fear that my tumble at the Expo planted. Heat is NOT a friend to people with MS. In fact, extremem heat can cause relapses. The very last thing I needed was to have a relapse, especially since I am not currently under the care of a neurologist. (No lectures, please).
When we crossed that Finish Line, we could say we were successful and Mission Accomplished. The first half of the Goofy Challenge was complete. Our distance was 1/3rd of the way completed. We collected my bag from Gear Check and stood in the obscenely long line for our shuttle bus. We were staying at Pop Century, and sharing a bus with Art of Animation. It seemed like everyone was staying at Art!! By the time we got on a bus, it was quite ripe. LOL. I really did feel for the poor bus drivers!!Once we finally got back to the resort I rinsed off (cuz I was tired of smelling myself) and we went down to the pool. One good thing about 80+ degrees was that the pool was very inviting and served at a giant ice bath. We were able to discuss our thoughts on the day and our strategy for Sunday.
I think, looking back, Saturday was a successful race (using that term loosely). We finished. I survived the heat. The stiffness I was experiencing was more of a result of the walking than anything else. Walking uses different muscles and mine are not as developed, I guess. The pool helped loosen that up, and I would have stayed longer if I weren't so concerned about sunburn. I didn't need to try to run a Marathon with a sunburn!
After the pool, we went for supper. We just stayed at the resort and vegged out. I went on a mission for some sunscreen. Yes, I did pay $15 for some Coppertone Baby sunscreen, but considering even WITH it and stick sunscreen reapplied during the Full, I still ended up with a minor burn, it was worth the $15. We turned in early so we would be well rested for Sunday's Full which is where I will pick up from in the next installment.
Until Next Time, Run On & Be Happy.