Walt Disney World Marathon

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Orlando, Florida
United States
32F / 0C

Total Time = 5:56:17
Overall Rank = 7928/14000
Age Group = 40-44
Age Group Rank = 603/

Pre-race routine:

Got up and ate a bagel. Put on lots of layers because it was FREEZING...yes, literally FREEZING in Orlando, Florida. Caught the bus to Epcot at 3:00 a.m. where we had to walk pretty far to the spectator area, and checked our bags. Walked half a mile to our corral and stood for over an hour in the freezing cold waiting for the start. It was unseasonably cold (about 30 degrees) at the start. We had had to purchase gloves, a hat, and tyvek sheddable shells at the expo the night before because we'd brought only warm weather running gear!

Event warmup:

When we entered our corral there was a big screen set up playing music videos and shots from last year's marathon. The sound system was great. We could hear all of the announcements clearly. Jeff Galoway and John Bingham gave us all some wonderful words of advice before we took off. Someone sang the Star Spangled Banner and then Mickey Mouse bid us a safe and fun run. Fireworks went off and we were...well, not really "off". We stood there for quite some time waiting for our corral to be opened so we could stumble on frozen feet into the darkness. The race started at 6:00 a.m. behind Epcot.



The Course:
The course begins behind Epcot with two separate start lines. Runners are corralled according to proposed finish time. We were in corral E two corrals behind the elites.

The course takes you first into Epcot through Futureworld and into the World Showcase. Imagine running through England, France, China, Japan, Norway, Morocco...it was incredible. The park wasn't open yet, so employees lined the course cheering us on. Music played loudly through most areas of the course.

We exited Epcot around mile four and ran backroads four six miles to the Magic Kingdom. While that seems like a long stretch, all along the route at nearly every mile was either a sound system, high school band, cheerleaders, gospel choir, or cheer section of some type. We were NEVER at a loss for course support. At about mile five or so we met up with the other corrals. I called out "Hey corrals A, B, and C!" and another lady said "Hi corrals D, E, F, and G!" We fell in next to each other and talked. She was doing Goofy, the combination of a half marathon and full marathon that weekend (I'm so jealous). I told her I had decided against it because I just ran a marathon on Thanksgiving weekend. Well she'd just run an ULTRA on Thanksgiving weekend! She told me all about it and really made me drool for that kind of challenge. Maybe in 2007...We talked for a few miles until she moved off to watch for her husband in the crowd. I rejoined Roy and we continued on together talking and commenting on the sights. We saw what appeared to be wild turkeys at one point, bunnies, and even an eagle!

When we entered the Magic Kingdom at mile ten the park had just opened and guests were lined up three or four rows thick along Main Street. It was AWESOME! As we ran people called out our names (which were on our bibs). I ran down Mainstreet and read the signs as I passed and suddenly I saw one that said "DWLZ", I looked up and there was Kathy and Gin! I screamed and ran towards them! What a wonderfully welcome sight! We had had our carbo load dinner with them the night before, and I can't tell you how TOUCHED I was that they'd come out to cheer us on on such a cold wintery morning!

We ran through the Magic Kingdom through Tomorrowland and into Fantasyland and through the castle. I wanted a picture of Roy running through the castle so I ran on ahead and caught him just as he emerged. What a glorious sight to see SO many enthusiastic runners coming through Cinderella's Castle! As we made our way out of the Magic Kingdom and back onto the roads we were still cheered on by throngs of people.

After about a mile we were back onto the backroads headed to Animal Kingdom. I kept telling Roy that mile 13 was the magic mile. At that point you know you're going to do it because you're halfway done and the hard part is over. Your miles are getting "smaller" (as in 14 down, 12 to go instead of 12 down, 14 to go) and while your body is getting more tired, mentally you feel like you're getting there. Right after mile 18 we saw Tigger and Pooh off on the side of the road and ran over there to get out pictures taken. (There were characters throughout the route.) I turned around to talk to Roy and his face was PURPLE! We still don't know why, but for some reason he found himself unable to catch his breath. I led him away to the side of the route because this has happened before and we know how to get through it. We were both afraid if a medic saw it, they'd make him stop. I held his face in my hands and talked him through the panic that goes with it until he was able to breathe again. Who knew he'd have such a voilent reaction to Tigger! We made sure to avoid Tiggers for the rest of the route!

Frighteningly, that happened four more times on the route. Fortunately each time I was able to help him work through it. He has no idea why it happens. Nothing seems to cause it. It seems to be a combination panic/asthma thing. He suffered with asthma as a child, but hasn't had it since then. He was determined, at that point, that he was GOING to finish so like a trooper he just kept on going!

Between miles 13 and 16 we got to pass such lovely sights as waste treatment, recycling, and garbage facilities! Good times! Fortunately it wasn't too awfully bad. There were still characters and cast members to cheer us on, music at every mile, and lots of diversions. Oh yeah the smell of raw sewage on a crisp Floridian morning is the stuff of dreams! At least it makes you run FASTER!

As we rounded a corner on mile 16 it was so cool. CMs from Animal Kingdom greeted us with some of their charges. One girl held a goat by a tether. Another had a beautiful owl. Around the next turn was a gospel choir and the next had the cast of The Lion King Show with some of the puppets and floats. In the distance we could hear the calling of gibbons and soon there they were. I joked that marathons have entirely too few monkeys, but Disney is always one to please! We ran past flamingos and dinosaurs, and a group of cast members playing music on their brooms and sweeper thingies. I yelled out "Oh yeah! Play those brooms baby! Play those brooms!" and they laughed and beat them harder. Animal Kingdom is just beautiful in the morning, so it was a real treat to run through all the beauty...even if much of it is manmade. Another long stretch of "behind the magic" took us from Animal Kingdom to MGM Studios.

One of the neat things they had at the mile markers, which were all HUGE and had Disney characters, were loudspeakers. About every five miles there was a professional marathoner giving advice for the upcoming miles. It was neat to hear someone remind us to hydrate or relax our shoulders and feel free to stop and stretch. We hit mile 17, which to me is another "magic mile". After mile 17 you only have single digits left, so it's time to really let it go and just have some fun.

We were making great time at that point, considering we had stopped for pictures and panic attacks. We were doing a run/walk combination (run 1 mile, walk 1 minute) that was keeping our legs fresh, and were playing cat and mouse with the 5:30 pace group. I thought for sure we'd come in about 5:15-5:20, which for Roy's first marathon and considering the fun on the course, was GREAT! Unfortunately about mile 18 I hit my stride, and the Powerade hit Roy's digestive system. Let's just say God Bless the person who invented the porta potty. I was feeling awesome and was ready to run in the last 8 miles without stopping. Roy's stomach had other ideas. Poor guy... I spent a lot of time waiting outside porta potties and he spent a lot of time praying to the toilet paper gods. (Hey with 14,000 people on the course, TP becomes quite the commodity after awhile.)

About mile 22.5 we hit MGM studios. They LITERALLY rolled out the red carpet for us! We ran into the park across a wide red carpet with movie music serenading us. We knew we were getting close because we'd seen the mile 23 marker on Friday afternoon. Poor Roy, though, with only a 5k to go his body was telling him stop! He didn't stop. He didn't even take Jafar's offer of a limo ride to the end (although I did get a great picture of the temptation). We did a lot more walking than running for that mile...but we never stopped! We found ourselves finally back at Epcot right at mile 25. I was ready to just book it in, but not Roy so we did a lot of walking. It was KILLING me I tell you. KILLLING ME! I wanted to run so badly. I really have never felt so good at that point in a marathon. But we were in this together, so we grasped hands and waved at the spectators. At that point 5:15 and 5:30 were well out of our reach, but the finish line was coming!

As we were almost to mile 26 Roy felt like he could run it in the rest of the way. We turned the corner right near mile 26and there was Linae, cheering us on. (Linae is from the Penguin Athlete's mailing list. We'd had dinner with her and some other PAs on Friday night.) She was QUITE the welcome sight! We made our way once again around the world and out of Epcot. There it was...Roy said "I think finish is my favorite word!" and I laughed. We grabbed hands and ran in together. As we crossed the finish line after 5:56:17, we raised our hands in victory together. I can't WAIT to see that picture!

I am so proud of Roy. He did his first marathon and it really was NOT his idea. But he didn't complain despite the issues on the course. In fact, he didn't complain once. He just plain did it and had as much fun as he could. I know I had a complete BLAST the entire time (except when Roy was having breathing issues...that scared me a little).

I had a lot of concerns and anxiety the weekend leading into the race. I had run the Seattle Marathon in November, only five weeks prior. A friend of mine chided me and told me I had no idea how hard marathoning was on my body and I shouldn't do the Disneyworld. I'd let that give me doubts when I really shouldn't have. Fortunately Nancy and Wrayjean assured me that yes, I certainly COULD do it and have a great time if I was just smart leading up to it. While I still "ran" every day up until the race, I did a lot of runs that were much more like brisk walks. I nursed my ankle and it turned out that it didn't bother me at all on the route. In fact, nothing really bothered me once my toes thawed. The entire race my body felt incredible.

Roy, too, had a great time despite the problems with his stomach. On our 20 mile training run he slipped going downhill and badly bruised his tailbone. His doctor told him not to run the Seattle half...but he did and was in a lot of pain afterwards. He also told him definitely not to run the full, but he did and his back twinged, but wasn't bad at all! Sadly Roy announced his retirement from marathon running at the end of the race...about the same time I announced that I wanted to set a goal of running a race in every state before I turn 60. His response?

"Life is all about making experiences, and if that's what you want to do, I support it!" He is the best man ever.

What would you do differently?:

Slap the chocolate out of Roy's hand at mile 18 when he thought that might be a good idea. I'd definitely go back and do the Goofy Challenge. In fact, I plan to sometime in the next five years.

Post race Warm down:

We walked and stretched and cheered in runners after us. Roy officially announced his retirement. We ate bananas and muffins and went to buy our "I Did It" shirts from concession. Sadly they were OUT of those shirts! We had not bought them at the Expo because we didn't want to jinx ourselves by buying shirts that said "I did it!" before we did it! I am very very sad that I do not have an "I did it" shirt because dammit, I DID IT!

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Roy, but that's okay. He's my honey and this race was all about him.

Event comments:

This was the best organized race I've ever been to! It was INCREDIBLE!! If someone was to do only one marathon in their life, this would be the one to do. The entertainment was top notch, the course was fast, the water stations were incredibly well stocked and organized. My only complaint, we need something with a little protein available after the race. Bananas, oranges (best ever, in fact), and Hostess are nice but just not quite enough "oomph". That's okay, though. VERY minor complaint!

05:56:17 | 26.199 miles | 13m 36s min/mile
Age Group: 608/
Overall: 7928/14000
Performance: Good
Most miles we were running about 10:30-11:30, but Roy had some "issues" that caused us to lose a considerable amount of time on other miles. We also stopped and took advantage of photo ops throughout the course. We were in it to finish vertically, not make a particular time.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

Photos from the Marathon