Saturday, January 19, 2013

Disney - Half Marathon Spectator Spectacular!

Saturday morning, Ronnie, Jess, Tricia and I all got up at 4:15am to head over to the half marathon.  We didn't plan on going to the start of the race, but the magical Disney Transportation made it a requirement to be on the road by 5am.  As it turns out, the bus driver wasn't too happy about our plan to take the last possible bus, and spent the whole drive hemming and hawing over the traffic and how it was a very real possibility that the runners on the bus would miss the start of the race.  

Once at the race, it was a confusing mess of people and queue lines.  Although the race hadn't started yet, there was no way for us to get near the start line.  Instead, we saw a sign pointing to "Spectator viewing" so we obediently marched along.  This mulch path wound through tropical trees (keep in mind, it's pitch dark) and out onto a highway.  It became more and more evident that we were probably marching to our death, which was confirmed when the grass we were walking on alongside the highway was littered with mounds of fire ant hills.  It was a bit of a game of hopscotch trying to dodge fire ants, and as far as we walked, there were no openings along the fence line. 

The race finally started, and when the first runners passed by, we realized a few things.  We were lined up along a highway, but the spectators were all on the wrong side of the highway.  In other words, the runners were running southbound, and we were all lined up on the northbound side, with the median and three lanes of highway separating us from the runners.  It's not exactly conducive to cheering for your friends!  And speaking of cheering for friends, that's apparently something that Disney spectators don't do.  When I tell you it was quiet, I mean... the only exclamation we heard was, "watch out for that fire ant!!".  When we happened to see Scott fly by (he's pretty hard to miss, as he's about a foot taller than anyone else) we all screamed like crazy.  This brought about strangely irritated looks from those around us, like we had just interrupted their church service.  Luckily, focus was quickly diverted from us to a young girl getting eaten by fire ants.  With that, we decided we'd had about enough of this Hitchcock adventure, and made our way back to the safety of asphalt.

Back at the parking lot, we grabbed breakfast at a vendor truck and watched the jumbo screen as the rest of the waves started.  We even managed to see Joe (the total ham) dressed up as Peter Pan doing the moonwalk past the camera.  We all screamed, which again drew strange looks from nearby people as they were trying to sleep in their coffee cups.  Eventually we made it to the finish line and observed the DJ trying to engage the crowd, while the spectators remained silently looking for their family member to finish.  Apparently Disney spectators feel that cheering is reserved for friends and family, not to the general public.  It was the strangest finish of a race I've ever seen, and I was praying tomorrow's marathon finish would be a little more exciting!

Scott finished the race in 1:40, a massive PR.  Way to go, Scott!  Tricia left us to go meet up with Scott, and Jess, Ronnie and I stayed at the finish to cheer on Jaimee.  About 20 minutes later Jaimee came through and we cheered her on, then left our spots to go meet up with her.  We had trouble finding her after the race, and decided to just wait for her outside of the bag check.  By this time Scott and Tricia had met up with us, so we all continued to hang out waiting for Jaimee.  Finally I texted her that we were outside the bag check, and she responded that she was already on the bus heading back to the hotel!  With that, the act of abandoning the herd is now referred to as "pulling a Jaimee".  We got a good laugh out of this for the rest of the weekend!

The joke was really on us though, because once we realized Jaimee was already headed back, Scott and Tricia headed off to meet relatives for brunch while Ronnie, Jess and I looked for our bus.  We mistakenly assumed that the place the bus dropped us off would be the same place the bus picked us up, but that was not the case.  After a very long walk back to where we thought the buses were, we were directed by a volunteer to somewhere else to grab a bus.  Turns out, we had to take the monorail from there, not a bus.  So, we took the monorail, which brought us to the Transportation Center, which told us that they weren't planning on running any more buses to our hotel.  Jess got all "badass Providence" on them, and magically a bus was redirected to our hotel.  By the time we got on our bus, Jaimee had reached the hotel, showered, and was at Magic Kingdom.

Ronnie, Jess and I were pretty excited because our Maine friends Becca, Mert, and Vicki were coming in that night.  All of us wanted to lay pretty low on Saturday so we could be as fresh as possible for the next day's marathon, so we spent a few hours near the pool and mostly in the shade.  I should also mention that all of us had a three-pronged approach to race day preparation: hydrate, carbo load, hydrate.  When we weren't eating, we were drinking.  And when we weren't drinking, we were peeing.  The entire vacation centered around public restrooms, and locating them became somewhat of a sporting event for us.  With the forecast calling for temperatures in the 80's for the marathon, we wanted to be as hydrated as possible going into it!  Sometimes I think it would have just been more efficient to pour water straight into the toilet.

We met up with Jaimee and the four of us had our final pre-marathon dinner at Wolfgang Puck at 4pm.  This sounds early,  but since the alarm was going off at 2:30am the next morning, we felt that we should have as long as possible to digest.  I had a four cheese macaroni which was a little too heavy for my liking, so I ended up leaving a lot of the cheese behind.  My final vote for the best sit-down meal at Disney remains Planet Hollywood!  Once we got back to the hotel we finally met up with our friends from Maine, and we spent the next few hours catching up with them before we all crashed for the night.  They were so excited to be there at the marathon, brought a super fancy camera with them, and even some clever hand made signs!

I mean really, has anyone ever made a sign like this for YOU?  This sign was so appropriate given the fact that I'd say 60-75% of our conversations any given day revolved around poop.  I gotta go, I can't go, I gotta go again, oh man that one stunk, does anyone have air freshener?, don't go in there for a while - (hehe)!  

So around 9pm, we all tucked in, in beds, on floors, in neighbor's rooms, etc., and tried to get some sleep before the dreaded alarm went off at 2:30am!

Next up - Marathon Day!

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