In the afterglow of Ragnar Washington DC, my friend and van-mate Dave had me convinced to run my first full marathon this spring. We tentatively chose a race, we made tentative plans, we tentatively started looking at training schedules, the whole nine. And then, back in January, he realized that a nagging injury and the time suck involved was going to make it all but impossible to get trained up, and he backed out. It took me about two seconds to make the obvious choice about what to do next.
The space on my calendar meant I got to do the Star Wars First Order Challenge at Walt Disney World again!
I ran the Dark Side Challenge last year and loved it, even if it was quite warm and humid, and even if I didn’t even sniff PRs. You don’t try to PR runDisney races, you know? And I’m such a Star Wars nerd that I was feeling bad about NOT doing it even as I was planning (tentatively!) my first full marathon. I’ll likely get that full marathon under my belt one day, but that day was not to be in 2018.
I will again split this up into two parts – here I’ll talk about the expo and the 10k, and in the next part I’ll talk about the half marathon. Because I described things in some detail last year, I’ll probably skip over some of it this time – if it feels like something is missing, you can always read last year’s report here.
So I took Friday off of work to handle the expo again this year. I just prefer to not have to worry about being rushed or feel the pressure of timing at all. The expo is held at the ESPN Wild World of Sports complex, and just like last year, by the time they opened things up the line was quite long and I’m glad I got there early enough to be second in line. If there is a chance I’m going to be waiting in an extended line anyway, I’d rather do it that way.
I wasn’t planning on running the Celebration Half Marathon again this year. For the last several months now, running has felt like a slog – I enjoy having run, but I do not enjoy running. I’ve struggled to drag myself out of the house to run in the morning in a way that I don’t struggle to do my other workouts. After a while, it begins to dawn that it might be time for a break, and so you stop signing up for races and you prepare for a break.
And then plans change.
Race afterglow is dangerous. After September’s Ragnar, the whole team was feeling that afterglow. We had just run 200-ish miles, and I guess we weren’t thinking clearly. We just spent a night in a proper bed (as opposed to a van seat), and had eaten barbecue and drunk beer the night before. Now, at breakfast, we were feeling good, and the conversation naturally turned to upcoming races. One of the teammates (I think it was Dottie – I blame Dottie) mentioned that the Celebration Half Marathon was a good race, and she planned to make it her “A” race this year and try for a PR. Then I mentioned that I had run the race last year and really liked it – good organization, good after-party, flat course (which was particularly appealing after the hills everybody had just hated). And then somebody said, “Hey, why don’t we all plan to come down and run that race?” And Dottie and I said our houses would be available to stay at and it is all a bit hazy but we left with an agreement (I thought) to get signed up for that race if at all possible and run it in January based probably out of my house.
Dottie was already signed up, and I came home and signed up immediately. I laid out my race plan and I started to run. Because I’m so familiar with the course, and because I can walk to the start line, much of the race stress that I feel before big races just doesn’t exist – I can relax into this one. But as we got closer to race day, it became clearer and clearer that I was the only one that had signed up after the Ragnar. Everybody bailed when the race afterglow faded. But the good news was that we were still going to get a visit from our friends – they were going to be here to cheer, even if they didn’t run.