The four of us woke up early, early--2:45 AM! That is the earliest that I have ever gotten up, dressed, and stayed up for the day. Crazy! We got on a bus that took us to a drop off point at 3:15 AM. There we joined the other 27,000 runners who were waiting for our 25 minute walk to our starting corrals.
Kelly, Lynn, Me, and Jimmy
waiting for the race to begin
Lynn thought it would be fun to wear a costume in this race, so her sister made us Minnie Mouse skirts. They were so cute! We completed our outfits with matching shirts, tights, shorts, and Minnie Mouse hats. Kelly and Jimmy also matched! They wore their red St. Jude Marathon shirts. Jimmy ran with my small camera, and Kelly carried my phone, so we were prepared to make lots of pictures and communicate with our friends back home.
We finally got to our starting corral about 5:15. Then we waited. And waited. But, the atmosphere was most exciting! There were jumbo trons at the front of every corral broadcasting the festivities from the starting line. Heart-pumping music blared, celebrities were interviewed, and we were introduced to a lady who was running the half marathon with us in Disney, while her husband who was stationed in Iraq would run a half marathon over there, beginning at the same exact time. They had a satellite so that the husband and wife could see and talk to each other before the races began. It was incredible. Meredith Viera, Natalie Morales, and Al Roker all ran the half marathon with us too!
The crowd of runners waiting in our corral
We were just trying to stay warm until we started running.
5:40 came, and the race began! Amid all kinds of fireworks, music, and torches, the wheelchair participants were off!
Next, Corral A (the elite runners and fast runners)---more fireworks! More festivities!
We were surprised to find that each corral had the same festive send off!
Our corral inching towards the starting line
And we're off!
Jimmy took lots of pictures while running.
And here is one that Kelly took of Jimmy.
The race began somewhere around Epcot, and we ran to the Magic Kingdom. All along the way, there were high school bands playing, DJs motivating us with encouraging words and music, and water stops. I was so surprised by the amount of spectators. There were thousands of spectators, cheering us on. The race was so much fun!
Here we are when we first entered the Magic Kingdom.
That's Main Street USA behind us.
Can you see all of the spectators?
There were characters every mile or so. Some we posed with, some we just waved at. We actually stood in line (in the middle of a race!) to have our picture made with Buzz Lightyear. We thought the children would like this.
Here we are running through Cinderella's castle.
And now we are on the other side, and the sun is coming up.
Posing with the bears from the Country Bear Jamboree
On our way out of the Magic Kingdom, we posed in front of this pirate ship.
Lynn and Kelly
Me and Jimmy
After exiting the Magic Kingdom, I am not sure where we went, but on our way back to Epcot (where the race would finish), we ran right by our hotel, Shades of Green. So of course, we had our picture made in front of our hotel sign.
Around mile 9, in front of Shades of Green hotel
Getting closer to the finish.
The only hills in this race were the man-made ones----going up or down exit ramps!
I can't remember much about the end of the race route--I know we ended up in Epcot! As we approached the finish line, the race course was still crowded. The four of us tried to hold hands as we crossed the finish line so we would have a good finish line photo, but someone tall kept slowing down right in front of Lynn. I haven't seen our photos, so I don't know how they turned out.
We finished! Our time was the slowest time for any of us in a half marathon (2 hours, 27 minutes), but we knew it would be a slow, fun race. We intentionally stayed together, stopped for pictures, and took a walk break about every mile or two. We wanted to enjoy the race and not be sore and tired all day after we finished (9 children were anxious to go to Hollywood Studios that day). And most importantly, we wanted Jimmy to be rested up for his Marathon the next morning. Yes, he got up at 2:45 again, and did the whole bus, wait, walk, wait and run all over again, except this time he ran a whole marathon. It's called the Goofy Challenge. He got a medal and cool shirt for the half, a medal and cool shirt for the whole, and third medal and third cool shirt for completing the Goofy Challenge. 27,000 runners did the half, 17,000 did the whole, and 3,000 did the Goofy Challenge.
Running slow with us must have helped Jimmy, because he finished the marathon in 3 hours, 58 minutes. What a super time!
Enjoying snacks after the race
So proud to be finished!
What a fabulous race!
The next morning, as soon as I woke up (around 6:30), I began tracking Jimmy during his marathon. He ran with his iPhone, and I used the Find My iPhone app to locate him all along the way. I kept the race course map and my phone side by side, and I refreshed frequently to check his progress. As he approached the finish line, I refreshed over and over again, and I "saw" him cross the finish line. I cheered him on in the hotel room!
This was a once in a lifetime experience for all of us. Logistically, this race was difficult (far, far from home, EARLY wake up time, child care for our children---my parents and Lynn's mother vacationed with us and kept the children while we ran), so I am pretty sure it will not be a repeat. But I am so glad that we ran the Disney Half Marathon! It was a fantastic race experience!