Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Whine & Drown Half

Okay ... fasten your seatbelts.

The drive down went better than expected - very light traffic and NO construction!

First stop - the Expo at WWOS. More organized than the ones in the past, but not as many runners could have been a factor in that. Even with fewer runners, it was still very crowded and having to maneuver in a wheelchair makes it even worse. Some people are very good about letting you through - others seem to have their eyes stuffed up a dark hole and are oblivious to anyone else.

Packet pickup - no problem; transportation booth - no problem (but they gave me some bad information - more about that later); pick up shirt - no problem  ... and some Pixie Dust! I run for a young boy who cannot run, and the people behind the counter must have heard me mentioning it to a friend of mine picking up his shirt, also. I was asked what size the boy wore ... and I got my shirt AS WELL AS one for him! After checking out some of the other Expo Booths, I returned to the Information Booth where two assistants came out with me to my car to pick up my racing chair. They were storing it overnight, and would have it staged for me in the start area to save a LOT of transportation issues the next night.

This trip I was staying at Shades of Green, which was a first for me. A short drive, and I was there.

The Valet service there is exceptional. Got my Wheelchair unloaded and me on my way in no time at all. Check-in was a breeze. They explained things even better than Disney Resort CM's!

I was in the Magnolia Wing ... and all the decorations reflected that. Baskets of Magnolia Blossoms, etc. Unfortunately, it was a long roll to the elevator to my room.

Saturday was going to be a long day.

There was a Team AllEars Alumni meet up that I debated over, and decided to attend. It was being held at Boardwalk Bakery, I needed to be parked in the handicapped parking at EPCOT after the race that night, so I drove to EPCOT. First up - exchange my renewal certificate for my new AP. WTFort! there were several HUNDRED people in the Will Call lines! The regular lines to purchase tickets were backed up almost to the bag check area! Guest Relations outside EPCOT had a 2 HOUR wait time ... all this at 10:30 in the morning! Once I made it through that nightmare, It was off to Boardwalk ...

After the meet, I headed back to EPCOT, and spent most of the afternoon riding a few rides and grazing at the Food & Wine Kiosks.

After that, I slowly cruised around people watching until it was time to head out to the car to get my racing gear.

After changing shirts and dropping my pants in the parking lot ( I DID have my racing pants on under the shorts I wore, so no flashing involved :rofl2: ), I headed back toward EPCOT. The people there, directed me toward the regular bus stop area - which confirmed the BAD information I received the day before at the transportation booth! There was a small group of us there, and no luck spotting a race transportation person or vehicle.  We made our way back past EPCOT and ALL the way past the Race Finish area before there were any buses in sight! That added a couple of miles ...

Once at the transportation area, they quickly arranged my wheelchair van to pick me up, take me to WWOS, and drop me off at the wrong location a LONG way from where I needed to be. Once at the actual pre-race area, I needed to get to the Information booth to swap to my racing chair ... by rolling across a sandy, grassy field! Finally I made it there, and my racing chair was waiting.

We got staged for the Start; we are just a few minutes out; it starts misting rain!

By the time we started, the rain was picking up a little.

By the time we got to AK, there were puddles forming, the rain was really starting to come down ... and I was having to REALLY watch out for the faster runners. Wet brakes and face fulls of spray do NOT make for a safe way to move at higher speeds in a racing chair. The weather was starting to take it's toll on my shoulder, also. The Marine Corps Marathon two weeks previously had put a LOT of stress on it due to some outrageous hills, and it hadn't had time to really get over that, yet. Near the end of the loop through AK (around the 5 mile point), I stopped at one of the Medical Tents to get a large helping of BioFreeze rubbed into my upper arm and shoulder. That helped, but I knew it was just covering up the problem and I would pay for it later.

The trip from AK to DHS was a nightmare of puddles and even harder rain. I had a bike escorting me, and I told him to just ease along and clear my path and I would follow his lights ... because I couldn't see very far in front of me even with an excellent light. The Studios - major puddles; Osborne lights that were just glaring glows of color through the downpour ... and one hill runDisney had assigned a helper to - because it was so slick NONE of the racing chairs could get enough traction to climb it.

The walkway from DHS to Boardwalk - it's narrow. Did I mention poor braking; poor vision ... and some runners that didn't seem to understand that. One runner literally stepped in front of me and slowed down. Luckily another runner snatched her out of the way, because I was skidding toward her. The Boardwalk itself ... have you ever been on the Boardwalk when it was wet? Greased Goose Fat is sticky compared to it. When it's still raining, it's even worse. NO ONE ran there - it was walk carefully ... or else!

Into EPCOT next to The Land; across by SSE and out backstage to a CM Parking lot ... and the finish.

I had people that met me at the finish; helped me to my wheelchair; helped me transfer back to the wheelchair; and then pushed me around to collect the swag and take me and the racing chair out to my car. They got everything loaded and me on my way ... because I was NOT going to stay for the party by that time. I was really beginning to feel the effects of the weather, etc on my shoulder ... and another part of my wet body that had been sitting on a wet cushion for 13.1 miles+ was NOT happy either.

Back to SoG - and the Valet (24 hours service at SoG) was waiting for me right up front. Got me and my wheelchair unloaded and I headed to my room and a warm soak in the tub!

It didn't take long to fall asleep once I made it out of the tub.

No one can control the weather ... especially in Florida. It was unusual weather for the run, but stuff happens. It lessened the Disney run experience - few characters; little music; a lot less energy and enthusiasm than normal; the volunteers were troopers - they maintained a positive attitude and cheered people on in spite of being drenched, themselves. runDisney did all they could given the bad weather, but it was really beyond anything they could have planned for. At the time, a lot of people were disappointed, but now most of us are joking about it.

Keep swimming, keep swimming; t-shirts with funny comments about surviving; I've started calling it the Whine and Drown Half Marathon; ... Runners are so easily amused (and forgetful, I guess).