The night before the marathon, I could not sleep. I was excited, nervous, and scared. I was scared to repeat my prior performance in the 2011 WDW Marathon where I had stopped running altogether at Mile 15 because of blisters on my feet, and I walked the rest of the way. I had such a bad attitude about that race and felt so disappointed in myself despite accomplishing something so great.
I hadn’t trained hard enough for this marathon. I had gotten up to 17 miles in mid-November, and even then, I had to take lots of breaks. But the morning of the marathon, I decided I was going to toe the start line with a positive attitude and just have fun. I arranged all of my marathon necessities and climbed into my bunk bed (we were staying in one of the cabins at Fort Wildnerness).
Two o’clock couldn’t come fast enough. I tossed and turned all night. Luckily, I had some friends who indulged me in a few games of Words with Friends. Everyone got up at 2 and changed into our gear. Anne Marie was nice enough to braid my hair!
We were out the door around 3:15am and caught the bus to Epcot.
As soon as we arrived at Epcot, we immediately made our way to the corrals and waited there patiently until it was our turn to move up to the starting line.
Anne Marie and I made a promise to stick together for the race, and so we did. We agreed on 2/1 run/walk intervals (run for 2 minutes, walk for 1). The first few miles went by very quickly and before we knew it, we were at the Magic Kingdom toll plaza.
We held a steady, slow pace of approximately 13:10/mile for the first 5 miles. By that time, we were entering Magic Kingdom and getting ready to run through Cinderella Castle!
My pace dropped to close to 14-15 minutes for Miles 6-9 as we headed out of Magic Kingdom, dealt with a single-lane road by the Grand Floridian and ran our way around the Richard Petty Raceway (a new addition to this year’s course). I wasn’t a fan of the race track because it was long, boring, and I’m just not a fan of Nascar/races/anything related to racing cars. When we were running around the track, my legs were aching and dying for some Bio Freeze. I had never used Bio Freeze until this race, but I had heard enough amazing things about it. I believe “circus in your pants” was the quote which inspired me to stick my hands full of Bio Freeze right down my pants at the med tent around the 10th mile marker. Within seconds, I could feel the tingly, iceberg sensation and was good for a few more miles.
Miles 10, 11, and 12 are pretty boring as they are spent on a back road to Animal Kingdom, and my pace had slowed to around 16 minute miles because I had scaled back to 1/1 intervals. The heat was getting to me, and my shoulders were aching. I was feeling pretty fatigued altogether. But it was nice to get a little pick-me-up by running around Animal Kingdom, despite the narrow and winding walkways.
I believe the half-marathon mark was somewhere just outside of Animal Kingdom, and it was around this time that I could no longer consistently keep up with Anne Marie and our intervals, so she went ahead and ran her own race. To be honest, I needed to do the rest of the marathon on my own and my own pace without any pressure. It was such a relief to have her by my side for the first 13-14 miles because the time went by so fast, but it was time for me to finish this on my own. And by that time, I had less than a half marathon to go, and I was feeling pretty good despite everything.
Miles 15-17 were at about a 16 minute/mile pace, and it was all on Osceola Parkway going from Animal Kingdom to the Wide World of Sports.
I spent a little too much time at a medical tent along the way because they were running out of Bio Freeze, and it took all of us some time to squeeze as much out of the bottle as we could. Miles 18 and 19 were spent in the Wide World of Sports complex, and we got to “run the bases” on the baseball field where the Atlanta Braves hold their spring training.
Once we were out of Wide World of Sports, it was time for the Mile 20 Spectacular, a surprise Run Disney had been promoting for months. It was a display of large, moving puppets, an archway displaying all 20 of the WDW Marathon medals, and Mickey, Goofy, and Donald were up on a podium.
After this, I knew I only had about 6.5 miles left, which was completely do-able. It was going to be a short-ish run to and around the Hollywood Studios, a run to the Yacht and Beach Club, and a run around the countries. I was trying to calculate my pace to see if I could PR, but unfortunately, my brain was in “marathon mode”, and I was completely incapable of doing math. But what I could figure was that I could come pretty close to breaking my past marathon time. I was walking some, but I ran when I could and even when I thought I couldn’t.
My pace ranged from 16-18 minute miles for the last 6.5 miles. I was honestly giving everything I could and still having fun. Jackie (MomJovi) snagged this picture of me and Mr. Incredible as I was running past France.
I was surprisingly all smiles and absolutely drenched in sweat.
Before I knew it, I was rounding Mexico and heading towards Spaceship Earth and eventually towards the finish line!
I finished in 6:54:57. Just 94 seconds slower than my 2011 time.
(I forgot to stop my Garmin at the finish line and didn’t realize it for a few minutes)
My medal was hung around my neck as I held back a variety of emotions. My first thought was “this wasn’t a fluke! I’ve done TWO now!” Then the tears came. I was so dang proud of myself, and I had FUN!
I gathered up 2 bananas, the silly lunchbox they keep insisting on giving us, and my favorite post-race treat, a real Coke.
I grabbed a seat near the big TV screen so I could watch a few more friends cross the finish line, and then I caught up with everyone else.
The three of us had all finished and were feeling pretty good despite just finishing a full marathon. We took all of our obligatory photos and caught the bus back to Fort Wilderness, where we made our way to the hot tub as soon as we could when we got back.
That evening, we checked out the “after party” at Downtown Disney. It was pretty much more photo opportunities, some live music, undiscounted marathon merchandise, and some of the restaurants offered food discounts.
Time to reflect…
My 2011 WDW Marathon race was just plain awful. I didn’t have fun. I battled blisters on my feet, and I walked the last 11 or so miles (even though I probably could have tried to run a little bit). I honestly felt like I had given up. Although my time was 94 seconds slower than that awful race, I had fun this time. I felt like I really accomplished something. I gave it everything I had, and I was still able to do some running intervals even at the very end.
I said last time that I would never run a marathon at that weight again. I was disgusted by my pictures. To be honest, I’m the same weight now as I was then. I look at the photos from this race, and I’m not going to lie. I see the fat rolls and the extra weight on my entire body. But do you know what else I see? I see a confident, strong, and happy athlete.
I’ve now run two full marathons, and I’m so damn proud of myself. I’ve gone from the sophomore on the high school cross country team who always brought up the rear and was almost denied a varsity letter because I was so slow to a two-time marathoner. Fifteen-year-old me would be amazed and so proud if she knew I’d still be running at 31.
Completing this marathon has really inspired me to lose the weight and really get more involved with yoga. And I’d also like to give bootcamp or Crossfit a try. I know I definitely want to sign up for next year’s WDW Marathon, and maybe I’ll sign up to run Goofy (1/2 marathon on Saturday and the full marathon on Sunday)!
Did you run the WDW Marathon? What did you think? What’s your favorite race you’ve ever done? Which race do you really want to do in the future?