On the Friday prior to the race I woke up at my normal time and went to work for a 3 mile run. I ran it at about a 10 minute per mile pace and tried to enjoy it. It was actually a difficult run even though it was so short. That didn’t do a lot for my confidence. After the run I came home and finished getting ready for the flight to Orlando.
We didn’t have any issues with the flight and we arrived on-time in Orlando. Our first stop was the expo to see my sister and to pick up race information. By the time we got there it was about 4pm and I was hungry. Instead of going into the expo we ate at a restaurant at the Wide World of Sports complex. I, of course, ate a pasta dinner as I had done nearly every night for the week. At the expo I picked up my goodie bag but I didn’t feel like looking around. We met up with my sister and then headed to her house. Donna was nice enough to let Mary and I stay at her place for the weekend. Disney put her up in a hotel room so it worked out very well for us. I think I was alseep before 9pm again.
On Saturday morning Mary and I just bummed around Donna’s house. I watched TV and started getting nervous about the
race. On Friday I was worried because it felt like I had an infection on my large toe on my right foot. It had hurt enough that I had to walk oddly on it. On Saturday however the pain was gone! My cold was gone, my shins were in decent shape, and my toe didn’t hurt. With all of the stupid stuff out of the way I was free to simply worry about the race in general…and I did. I had a head splitting headache the entire day. Even taking Tylenol didn’t make it go away. I’m pretty sure it was all induced by stress.
Saturday was a calm day. Donna got us tickets to an all-start high school football game. We went to that but didn’t stay very long because it was very hot outside. It was nearly 85 and humid. After the game we stopped for dinner at an Olive Garden. I had spaghetti with meat sauce. For my next race I’ll probably just get plain pasta. The garlic in the sauce and on the breadsticks made me thirsty.
Although Donna offered her home to us for our entire stay I decided to get a room at a Disney resort for the night before the race. I didn’t want to worry about traffic and closed roads on the way to the race. Disney provides transportation to the race from all of their resorts. Essentially I chose to pay 108$ for a bus ride to the marathon! When we checked in at the Caribbean Beach Resort we asked for late checkout. Unfortunately they could not accommodate our request and so we decided to put all of our belongings into the car while I ran the race and pick up the car after I showered at Donna’s house.
The cold was a blessing in disguise. To help overcome it I was going to sleep near 8pm each night. Even though I was nervous I was able to fall asleep relatively early. I think I fell asleep by 9:30. Around midnight I was awakened by another guest who decided that the best place for a late night phone conversation was just outside of our door. I learned that she was in town for the Bob Seger concert. I couldn’t sleep because of her so I forced the air conditioner to turn on. That was loud enough that I couldn’t hear her and could sleep again.
Sunday, Race Day!
At 2:30am the alarm on the cell phone went off. A few seconds later the alarm clock in the hotel went off. I prepared by showering, eating, and brushing my teeth. Mary and I packed our bags and headed out. We were out of there shortly after 3am. We stowed our luggage and hopped on the bus for our 108$ bus ride. It was a very nice bus that had televisions and reading lights.
We arrived at Epcot and made our way via a short walk to the runners area. Donna bought me access to the VIP runners tent so I went there to try to relax before the race. The VIP tent was pretty nice. It was large. It had quite a few tables with where you could eat breakfast at. They had bagels, coffee, tea, and a number of other items. There was also plenty of room to relax on the carpeted floor as well. The carpet was an outdoor carpet but it was certainly nicer than the pavement I would have been faced with outside the tent.
Mary and I ended up talking with two elite runners. They had gotten on the wrong bus and thus were at the wrong place. Elite runners have a special starting area but came to the VIP tent as a second best alternative. One of the runners had been running for only 4 years and has complete a marathon in under 2:30. That is incredible! He was nice to talk to. He felt that my goal of completing the race between 4 hours and 4:30 was a realistic goal considering the approximately 30 miles per week I put in for training. When he achieved his personal best he was running more than 100 miles per week! He recommended to me, for future races, to bring my own gel packs and to consume one approximately every 5 miles. I think I’ll take his advice on this for any future events.
One of the best features of the VIP tent was the reserved toilets. We had almost no line and so I took advantage of them 2 times prior to leaving for the start. It wouldn’t be the last time I’d go before the race. It’s amazing what nerves and being fully hydrated can do to your bladder.
Finally, at about 5am it was announced that runners should make their way to their corrals. After a bathroom break I hugged my parents, Donna, and Mary one last time and started my walk to the start. I was a little bit cold during the walk because I had removed my shirt. It was nearly 70 outside and rather humid. Still, I was cold because I wasn’t running and because of nerves. When I arrived at my corral there was still a lot of time before the race so I stretched and relieved myself in the trees once or twice.
Eventually I had to just stand and wait in the corral. I was incredibly nervous and my stomach wanted to reverse itself. I tried not to think about that as I waited for the start. …And then, after some fireworks and some amazing flames the race began…