Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Running Into the New Year
What better way to start the new year than running a marathon? Well, running wasn't exactly the first thing on my mind when I flew to Orlando on January 8th, one week before my 32nd birthday. This was my first trip back to the states since we moved to Curacao last July. I was definitely more excited to see "the gang" than I was to pound out 26.2 miles, especially since my training was minimal in the Caribbean heat. However, I was ready to take on the first challenge of 2009.
On Thursday night, we watched the Gators beat the Sooners for another national championship. Dad, Jess, Selena, Grace, Tessa and I were in the company of Sheri and Robin (both UF grads) at the local Ale House. They were fired up! On Friday, Christie, Kim and Stephanie joined the party at the pool and Casey stopped by on his way back from the big game in Miami. Who else popped in unannounced for a big surprise?
My friends Deanne and Bonnie!!! Friday night, we enjoyed dinner and mostly dessert at the Rainforest Cafe - party of 12! Casey had his hands full with Grace and Tessa vying for his attention. On Saturday morning, Sheri and Robin completed their first half-marathon. We enjoyed the race expo at the Wide World of Sports and more relaxation during the day. Saturday evening, we all met up with Marti's gang and Cherri for a wonderful dinner at the House of Blues and the carb-loading began. Our alarms were set for 3 a.m. on race morning. We got dressed and caught the shuttle to the starting line along with the other 25,000 runners. Somehow, in all the chaos I bumped into my friend Tammie and our running club became the "Sassy Six."
The Disney marathon has got to be one of the most exciting marathons. The course begins and ends at Epcot running through all of the parks. The entire cast is bright-eyed and in costume cheering you on. My favorite is Animal Kingdom where some of the animals are brought out to greet you. You can stop and take pictures at each mile marker sign or have your picture taken with your favorite Disney character. Your name is on your race # so the fans call you by name and encourage you on. A couple of stretches of highway are anything but boring when you are entertained by high school bands, cheerleaders, DJs, and others (who have to be on a caffeine high) dressed up, singing and dancing.
Hours later..........we finished with everyone still standing and in need of the trainers with the ice bags.......or maybe that was just me! We earned our big Mickey medals and limped on back to the hotel.
Sunday evening provided me with the comforts of home as my girls sat around the pool, catching up, reminiscing and playing SkipBo. Old friends reunited, new friendships formed, many laughs shared, pictures taken and memories made........and it was the first time in almost a year since I had put on jeans and a sweatshirt! Ah........the simple things in life!
Oh, and I did say that this would be my 5th and final marathon................then I returned to Curacao and learned that the island hosts a half-marathon and marathon here in December.