DadJovi has run his butt off these past several months. During the dog days of summer, he would rarely miss a day of running. Even on mornings when he didn’t quite make it before work, he would (insanely) come home at lunch and run. We’re talking 90+ degree days. Lunatic.
When we got to the week before his second straight Disney marathon, he was ready to run. Unlike last year, he wasn’t trying to push himself to beat a specific time. He just wanted to go out and enjoy the race, without the pressure of trying to, oh, maybe qualify for Boston. After last year’s debacle, all he wanted was a nice, solid run.
We spent Saturday getting ready for the race. He laid all of his race morning stuff out and I got E’s bag of entertainment and snacks ready for the morning. Since DadJovi was feeling a bit antsy, he suggested we go bowling before his third meal in a row of spaghetti and turkey bolognese.
This was not one of his better ideas.
During frame 7, he did something to his knee. One minute he was throwing strikes, the next he was limping around the bowling alley. And freaking out.
By the time we got home, he was in a lot of pain. So we started icing and elevating it. It hurt behind his knee, and Dr. Google informed us it was probably a hamstring injury. From bowling. The night before a marathon. Awesome.
He started popping the Aleve (which may or may not have been inspired by a certain hot rocker’s endorsement of the product) and we kept our fingers crossed that it would feel better in the morning.
Just a few short hours later, DadJovi was up at 3 a.m. and hobbling even worse than the night before. After he got dressed, he even ran up and down our street to see if it felt any better when he started running. It didn’t. He started contemplating not running the marathon at all. He wasn’t worried about injuring it more; he was worried that he’d be walking/hobbling for the entire 26.2 miles, and that’s just not what he trained to do.
But, he decided to give it a go and his cousin, who was also running the race, picked him up a little before 4 and they headed for Disney. I tried to go back to asleep for a little bit, but I was too worried about him. Eventually I slept for maybe 20 minutes, and then got up and started getting ready to go. By 5:15, E. and I were out the door and went to pick up DadJovi’s cousin (it was her husband who was also running the marathon — his first!).
Our plan was to catch them around mile 8 as they approached the Transportation and Ticket Center (outside Magic Kingdom), then walk to the Polynesian Resort to see them at mile 12. Last year, I tried to get to Animal Kingdom and I was thwarted at every turn due to road closures for the runners. I was pleasantly surprised that World Drive, the Magic Kingdom exit, was wide open and we were able to pull right into the Magic Kingdom parking lot.
We found our spots near the tunnel entrance just as the first two runners came by. This was less than 30 minutes after the race started. Did I mention we were at mile 8? Ridiculous.
It was a pretty good spot.
The spot, though, had two major flaws. One, just like Michelle, I got to hear a recording repeat “Caution runners. Road narrows and speed bumps ahead” over and over and over again. Seriously. That same phrase, with no pauses. Continuously, for more than two hours.
Second, there was no way to get across to the other side without taking a bus. Know what was on the other side? The monorail to Epcot and the path to Polynesian. Look how close those people are. So close, yet so far. But we’ll get to that.
So, we were in place by 6 a.m. and about 15 minutes later, I got my first text alert about DadJovi’s progress. It was my first confirmation that he was actually running the race! And it was good news. The text said: 5M in 0:38:51, Pace: 7:46. Est: 3:23:37. ETA: 9:00:27.
That meant he should be reaching us soon. So while I had my eyes focused on every runner, E. was focusing on something else — Angry Birds. Our cousin was kind enough to bring her iPad and introduced E. to the world of Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja. Please, nobody tell her that it’s possible for her to play those games on our phones, too. She’s an addict.
And I kept laughing because my cousin kept talking to her husband — as he was running!
Finally, I thought I saw someone familiar heading our way.
In my mind, I thought he’d run up to us and perhaps give E. and I a hug for being there to support him. And we would encourage him, tell him how proud we were and give him a lift for the next leg. Yeah, that was a sweet dream.
Instead, from about the point you see him until he reached the fence, he kept saying over and over again, “Did you bring any more Aleve with you? I need pain pills!”
No, no I didn’t. I’ve never seen him so disappointed in me. Oops!
So much for mid-race reunions. Before I could share any words of encouragement and inspiration, he was gone again.
And then the waiting game began again. I thought about splitting from my cousin then, but frankly, it was way more fun hanging together than it would have been alone. And besides, I didn’t have the heart to split up E. and her new BFF, the iPad. I mean she got up without complaining at 5 a.m. So we stayed and waited for A. to come by.
After tracking every gray shirt that approached, I finally spotted him heading our way.
And I at least witnessed the reunion I was envisioning.
He looked great and seemed to be having a lot of fun. By this point, I had already received DadJovi’s 10 mile update (Pace: 7:52, Est: 3:26:15), so we realized there was no way we could make it to Polynesian before him. Instead, we decided to start making our way to the finish at Epcot.
We had to walk up the path toward the Transportation and Ticket Center, hop on a bus that drove us to the other side of the same plaza. I really wished we could have just hopped a fence and crossed the overpass but they had guards stationed everywhere. I know why we had to do it (because there were, you know, THOUSANDS of runners separating us from the other side), but it still was a pain. Next time, I would have used the time we spent waiting for our runners to get to the other side. You live, you learn.
Thankfully, the monorail ride to Epcot was pretty painfree and it gave us a view from the sky of the first few miles of the race and then the last few miles in Epcot. Amazingly, we saw the leaders again — this time as they approached the finish line. We saw them as they ran through Epcot, which is the last mile of the race.
We were at the finish area by 8, so I knew we had a least an hour (and probably more like 90 minutes) until we could expect to see DadJovi. We checked out the merchandise, got some hot chocolate and yes, played more Angry Birds.
I had received my last update on DadJovi’s progress at the half-way point (mile 13), but that had been more than an hour before. I was starting to worry that he had to pull out or something. I really wish he’d run with a phone, too!
Just as I was starting to really panic about him finishing (and having flashbacks to last year’s call from McDonald’s), I finally got another alert: 20M in 2:49:40, Pace: 8:29, Est: 3:42:25. ETA: 9:19:08.
He was getting close! I texted his time to Michelle and told her to keep an eye out for him at Mile 23. And apparently they found each other, despite the fact that they’ve never met.
Of course my blogmate and my soulmate would have no troubles finding each other — it’s like they already know each other already!
After I saw her tweet , I knew he was getting close. We found a spot along the fence at the last curve before the finish line grandstands. I even took a couple test shots because I wanted to practice cheering, holding E. and taking a picture at the same time.
Congrats random runner!
I’m telling you, I watched every runner. I was like a hawk. I knew his projected time and I watched. And watched. And watched. I kept telling E., “He’s going to be here any minute.” Every time I leaned in front of the woman to my left, I apologized and said I knew my husband was going to be here any moment. And I watched. And waited. 9:19 came and went. So did 9:25. Then 9:30. What had happened between Mile 23 and the finish? Did he go down? Was he suddenly walking?
And then I got a text: Finish in 4:00:00. Pace: 9:09. At 9:36:43
WHAT? I MISSED HIM?!?!?!
How was that even possible? You see my vantage point. He had to run right by me.
I was thrilled for him, but defeated that we’d missed him. Hours and hours of waiting, and we somehow missed his big moment. Such a bummer.
Thankfully, before the race, we had made plans to meet in the reunion area.
About 15 minutes later, we found him.
E. was so excited to finally see her Daddy. And her Daddy was so excited to finally sit and ice his knee.
He told us that he stopped at every medic’s tent along the race. At the first couple, he would just grab a glob of muscle rub and rub it in as he was walking/running away. But then he started stopping and letting them work on his knee for a bit. When he tried to calculate it, he estimates he lost about 30 to 40 minutes taking these stops. But they were so worth it because they definitely helped him finish the race, something that had seemed impossible a few hours before.
We were so proud of him.
And when we checked his chip time later, it turns out he did even better than the text reported. He finished in 3:59:57, finishing 1,964 out of 13,478 racers! That’s pretty awesome, huh?
After the race, we said good-bye to our cousin, who was still waiting for her husband to finish. He wasn’t doing too great. At about mile 12, his knee also started really bothering him. He had minorly injured it on Christmas and it was causing him a lot of problems. He was having to walk a lot more than he was running, so we all knew it was going to be a long wait. She told us to go on because we had crazy plans — our now annual post-marathon trip to Epcot!
This time, though, it almost didn’t happen. As we approached the front gates, E. put her ticket and went through the turnstyle. When it was DadJovi’s turn, he put in his pass and they stopped him — our passes were expired. How had we not realized that our seasonal passes had expired the last week of December?
So, with his stinking, sweaty race clothes still on his back, we headed to the ticket kiosks to renew our passes. Sadly, this is not a quick process. And it’s something we both need to be present for since we were getting Florida resident passes. I seriously didn’t think DadJovi was going to make it through this process. Since the finish line only had porta-potties, he’d decided to hold out to change/clean up in the more “real” bathrooms in Epcot. As we stood there waiting for our tickets to get renewed, I think he was suddenly regretting this decision.
Finally, we were cleared to head inside.
After DadJovi got changed and cleaned up (by the way, those packets of disposable, pre-moistened washclothes are awesome!), it was time to see some old friends.
And we found our cousin as we was nearing the finish line!
I don’t know how you marathoners do it. How do you dig deep to finish? Even under the best body conditions, I can’t imagine it. Throw in a mid-race injury, and I have no clue where that willpower to finish comes from. Amazing.
We kept walking around because after doing the same thing last year, DadJovi really believed it helped him with his recovery. But I could tell he was fading. So we headed toward Mexico and one of our favorite rides lately, The Three Caballeros boat ride. Even though others areas of the park were crowded, this ride was empty. That meant plenty of room for DadJovi to stretch out and ejoy the break from his feet.
We were slowly making our way toward Italy, where we had lunch reservations at 12:45. During our trip around the world, we even bumped into a few familiar faces.
When Snow White noticed E’s shirt, she asked her who her favorite Star Wars character is (way to break out of the Disney world, Snow! My girl really thought that was cool!). When E. said Chewy, Snow White and the photographer started laughing. Then Snow White really challenged her — she asked E. if she could make a Wookie noise. Can my girl make a Wookie noise? Please. It’s like her primary language these days.
This was her reward for her performance.
E. then did exactly what she does every time I kiss her cheek — she tried to wipe it away. Joke’s on her.
Snow White’s lipstick is no joke. It took a lot of scrubbing to get its smeared remnants off E’s cheeks.
Finally, it was time for lunch and our first trip to Via Napoli, which is known for its giant wood-burning pizza ovens.
For lunch, I ordered the personal funghi pizza, featuring three kinds of mushrooms, and DadJovi ordered a margherita pizza with sliced cured ham on top.
The pizzas were very good, although I don’t think they were $30 good. Via Napoli is definitely pricy, which is part of the reason we haven’t been before. We really enjoyed the meal (including some great calamari to start) but I doubt we’ll be rushing back anytime soon.
After lunch, we used our Fast Passes for Test Track (E’s favorite ride) and Soarin’. I’ve begged out of Soarin’ for years, knowing that it would make me sick. But DadJovi pulled the marathon card to make me ride it, and surprisingly, it didn’t make me sick at all! Where’s my medal for completing a seemingly insurmountable task? Guess I’ll have to borrow DadJovi’s from time to time.
It was finally time for the long haul back to our car at Magic Kingdom. Some of us didn’t even make it that far.
I think DadJovi was actually really jealous of her.
So now the question remains — will he do another? As soon as the race was over, one of the first things he said to me was, “This is my last marathon. I’m done.” And it was his third, so he’s been through the post-race range of emotions before. But by the end of the day, he was already flip-flopping, even casually dropping a “If I do it again next year, we should eat at xx.”
Sadly, it hasn’t inspired me to run one myself. But I think I could now be a professional marathon cheerleader. I’m getting this system down pat!
Do races inspire you to compete? Would you have still raced if you injured yourself just before an event? And what can I do instead of marathons that will earn me a medal? I know, I know — beauty pageants are an obvious start.