Those of you who know me know I love me some Disney World. So, when my dad called and asked if I wanted to do the Star Wars Half Marathon down there, I jumped at the chance. As with all of my races lately, I had grand plans to train really hard and fast for the “shorter” stuff. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I also had resigned myself to being in the last corral since I didn’t have a very recent half marathon time to provide (the last half I ran was in 2013). However, the racing Gods must have been on my side because when I picked up my bib, I was in corral A. “@#$% Now I have to actually race . . . Wait, how the hell do you race a half?”
The next day and a half, my parents and I hit up the parks, walking quite a bit, and eating our weight in all of the deliciousness that Disney has to offer. The race was on a Sunday . . . at 5am . . . with a 3:30am last call bus ride. After a 2:30am wake up and some coffee, my dad walked me down to the bus stop. We got dropped off at the EPCOT parking lot where the race would start. The next hour and a half was spent in the port-a-john line and looking at everyone’s costumes. From Princess Leias to Chewbaccas and Darth Vadars, folks were decked out. Finally, it was time to get corraled into our corrals. I started mid-pack in corral A. I honestly had no clue what time I’d run or what kind of shape I was in. I had told my parents to be at the finish line by 6:30am just to be safe but was unsure if I could really run a 1:30. My plan was to start with 7:30s and then just see how I felt . . . but I’m terrible at sticking to plans once the gun goes off.
Fireworks signaled our start at exactly 5:00am. Right away, I could tell middle of the pack was going to be a little too congested so I worked my way up and settled in with a pack of young dudes. They said their goal was 1:30ish so I felt this was a good place to try and stay. As we made our way into EPCOT, I realized I felt really good and increased the pace just a little (granted this was about one mile into the race). I passed a couple of females here and there but never tried to force it. We left EPCOT, ran on the boardwalk at the Boardwalk, and entered Hollywood Studios. Somewhere along the way, I crossed the 5K mark in 20:something. I thought this was a suicide pace for me but still felt really good. We left Hollywood Studios and were on a road for a while. I picked off a few more girls, and someone told me I was 5th female. “Come again?”
Probably 100 yards or so ahead I saw 4th female and about 50 yards ahead of her, 3rd. “Five miles into the race is too soon to make a dumb move so be patient”, I thought. Ten seconds late, “F it”. I picked up the pace just a little as we hit an overpass. “A ‘hill’!” Hell yeah, perfect. I made my way into 4th and, about 3 minutes later, got 3rd — just as we entered Animal Kingdom. As I moved into 3rd, I picked up a cyclist who’d stay with me the rest of the way. I wanted to tell her not to get too comfortable, that I was sure to implode sometime soon, but I kept my mouth shut. As we came out of Animal Kingdom, I spotted 2nd and her cyclist not too far ahead. She looked stronger than 3rd and 4th had, but, again, I threw caution to the wind and made a move just before a water stop. Dumb on my part as I planned to grab water here, but fortunately, I got through quickly. After that, we were on a road again and approaching mile 9. I still felt remarkably decent considering the pace which was much faster than I’d run in a long time. The lead girl was absolutely nowhere in sight, and I was unsure where 3rd was behind me. My plan was to pick it up once I had a 5k left, but my body decided that mile 11 would be better. Then I really started to feel it. So, I caught up to a guy about 20 yards ahead and tried to sick with him. We finally hit mile 12 and entered Wide World of Sports. The next 1.1 miles were the longest ever, but eventually, the finish line was in sight. It was so great to hear my parents cheering as I crossed. 2nd female, 1:26:36, PR of over 15 minutes.
The race was a ton of fun — bands playing Star Wars theme along the way, big screens showing clips from the movies, characters at some of the mile markers. Disney definitely does it right.