We entered back-stage where the parade floats are typically stored. We bypassed that and went straight for one of the rougher parts of the course…affectionately called “Cone Alley” by runners. Seriously, there has to be something like 10,000 cones to mark the course! It was around this time that the group started spreading out a little. One member of our group was starting to get a throbbing pain in a shoulder and had increased the pace a bit to help block out the pain. Still, we were within 20 feet of each other for the most part. One thing that we did start doing, though, was implement verbal cues instead of visual ones…”Start” when our run interval was beginning and “Stop!” or “Walk” at the end. Mile 6 was in the books…it was slower because of the bathroom break (18:01), but it also gave the heart rate a chance to come back down a little, especially after the sprint up Main Street.
Cone Alley is always an odd part of the course…it’s eerily quiet, probably because one of the most exciting portions (MK) was behind us, and the next theme park was more than 6 miles away. I was feeling good…getting onto Cone Alley without injury was something that I had yet been able to do, so I was thrilled! At mile 6.2, we saw another Team AllEars contingency (including Deb Wills) waiting for Linda to finish her 10K. We gave/received high-5s and hugs and continued onward. We had a nice musical interlude at the mile 7 marker (14:53 pace with a 152 HR). Well…it started out as a nice musical interlude. They had Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline playing at concert-level volume, so we could hear it from about a half-mile away. Of course, the entire armada of runners was doing the “bom bom bom” during the refrain, as well as singing the “SO GOOD! SO GOOD! SO GOOD!” at the appropriate places in the song. Once the song was over, it repeated. Okay…we sang it all again, though not with as much enthusiasm as before.
By the 4th time we had heard the song, we were completely sick of it. Instead of “Bom Bom Bom”, I was singing “TURN IT OFF!” in my head, and “shoot me! kill me! please now!” where the “so goods” were supposed to be.
We (mercifully) got past the speakers with our eardrums more or less intact, and we started getting quiet again. Ellie threw in her earbuds and started jamming to her U2 playlist as she ran, occasionally belting out some of the lyrics. I took the opportunity to enjoy the scenery by the golf courses and Shades of Green. Mile 8 was at a 15:17 pace, and the HR was 151. The sun was starting to make its presence known, however, and we were nearing another downhill/uphill portion of the course in order to make it onto the Speedway. I had heard horror stories about how steep this was and that the best course of action to handle this was to walk it. EVERYONE was doing this, but it didn’t really help the fact that we were going up what felt like a 70-degree incline. We all were cussing this stretch.
Of course, they would just have to place a MarathonFoto guy right at the top of that hill.
This pic was taken about 2 seconds after Ellie screamed, “I HATE THE SPEEDWAY!!!!” We were all busting up at that one. As we made a left hairpin turn to get onto the speedway, we all realized that this was going to be a LOOONNNG trek around the track. MJ was having issues with her Galloway interval timer, and she was about to drop-kick until she found the setting that was causing the problem. We crossed mile 9 on the track…15:21 on the pace, and the HR kept inching up, with it now averaging 153. When we finally were able to hop off the track, we cut across a median and made it to Bear Island Road. While there wasn’t much in terms of characters or theme parks, it was a shaded area, which made for a little cooler feel for the run. While on this stretch, Teammage Rob Wilhelm caught up with us and ran with the group for a few minutes. It was great to see Rob as I hadn’t had the chance to talk to him yet over Marathon Weekend. Laura Gilbreath also caught back up with us and ran with us for a few minutes:
Mile 10 gave us another split pace check from RunDisney. Our pace was 15:41, but that included that long bathroom break in MK, so we weren’t too worried about the time…not TOO worried. Amanda Tinney was still about 3 minutes ahead of us, and the Nerd Herd was ahead by several minutes. The road curved right and left a few times, and what I initially thought was a nice cool portion eventually turned into a long, LOOOONG stretch with no end in sight. Mile 11 (14:40 at 156) came and went.
Then came the water treatment plant for Walt Disney World.
That’s all I have to say about that.
Actually, it wasn’t too terribly bad, considering some of the stories from last year’s marathon. Still, our group was beginning to spread out again, and this time the range was increasing to 50-75 feet. Ellie’s legs were starting to hurt a little (the Goofy Challenge is definitely NOT an easy task), while others were bearing down more and blocking out pain by increasing the pace. The “START” and “STOP” commands were becoming more important now. A well-timed banana stop gave us a little bit of energy to power on.
When we got to Western Way, we caught up with Jazlyn Zombo Doolittle, who was running in full firefighter gear. We talked to Jazz a bit on her cause (she’s a cancer survivor, a firefighter/EMT, and the wife of an active duty soldier) and introduced ourselves and what Team AllEars stood for. She was struggling a bit under all the equipment, but was continuing on, and I saw that she did indeed complete the Dopey Challenge, all of it wearing the suit. For more information on her fundraising, please visit http://www.active.com/donate/Code3ForACureFound/jazzzombodoolittle .
After crossing Western Way, we could tell we were nearing Animal Kingdom with the buildings that we passed by. We popped through the security gate, and animals were everywhere! There were cast members all about with animals on display (I took special note of the vulture…wondered if he would remember me when he circled around my carcass in a couple of hours). Several characters were out there, too, as they had the jeep from the AK opening show out there with most of the Fab 5 waving and posing for pictures. Just before entering AK was the mile 12 marker (15:06 and 159). The group was really spreading out, and a decision had to be made. Ellie was starting to worry about the sweepers and she told me to just go…she didn’t want me to be swept on my first attempt at 26.2. I looked at her and said point-blank that this was my first marathon and I was going to PR the flippin’ thing regardless of my time…we were staying together. Besides, I was guessing that the sweepers were still a good 45-60 minutes behind us. Darrell also agreed that he was sticking with us no matter what. The rest of our group slowed to a longer walk for us to catch up, and, after discussing it for a few seconds, we all agreed to split into 2 groups (with emphasis from the group in the back that we were completely fine with it). Evelyn could tell Ellie was hurting a little bit, and I told her before they headed off that I would keep watch over her. Soon after, Evelyn, Steve, and MJ were a good 100 yards ahead of us and continuing on.
As Darrell, Ellie, and I continued on, I realized that I was so caught up in all that was going on around me that I wasn’t even close to fueling the way I had trained. I started eating energy beans as though I had forgotten to do so for the past 2.5 hours!
We entered AK, and, as expected, a second wind came across most of us with the excitement of a new park. Within minutes, we were at Expedition Everest, where was saw some members of the Nerd Herd waiting for fellow teammates to get off of the attraction. For the briefest of moments, I contemplated asking if anyone else wanted to ride it. Then, common sense kicked in (I still have over a half-mary to go!!), and we continued on past the mountain…though the screams from the ride made me nearly turn back.
(Still feeling good!!! Ellie was jamming to U2)
Running through AK was fun…as a family, we have been taking shorter trips, and we haven’t been in that particular park for 3+ years. Unfortunately, our trek in the park was short-lived, as we were back off-stage behind Dinoland. Soon after, we hit the Mile 13 marker (15:37, HR 156). It was about this time that we decided to bump up the interval to :30/1:00, as the sun was starting to really make itself known, and there was no real shade around. Having already received tons of halfway split texts from other runners, I took notice that Amanda Tinney hadn’t crossed yet, though we were about to cross it ourselves. We received our split texts, and, about 50 seconds later, Amanda's came in. I immediately started looking around and behind me in case she was struggling with her legs, but I couldn’t find her. I found out later on her blog post that her family met her in the AK parking lot (Read her marathon recap HERE) Our halfway splits: 3:25:10, pace 15:39.
Halfway through the race distance-wise, but about 25% through the marathon.
Part IV can be viewed HERE.
Part IV can be viewed HERE.