Tag Archives: marathon

Race #17: Walt Disney World Marathon

I spent the Saturday night before the marathon wondering what I had gotten myself into.  I was exhausted from lack of sleep and the bottom of my feet were hurting pretty badly.  An ice bath offered temporary relief, but they were still very sore.

We woke up around 3:30am, planning to catch the monorail a little after 4:00am since we had been there so early the morning before.  I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a banana for breakfast, and tried to go easier on the water.

We made it to the start line much quicker marathon morning.  We also ran into one character along the way, Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother.  She was a riot, chatting with people as they walked by and pretending to sprinkle everyone with fairy dust.  I needed it!

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I had to make another stop at the port-o-potties before the race.  I hate port-o-potties, but I knew it would be awhile before we’d make it to the Magic Kingdom for a real bathroom.  We made our way to Corral G again.  This time we sat down, waiting for our corral to finally move.  We wanted to stay off our feet as long as possible.

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It was around 6:15 before we started again.  We noticed that the entertainers were using some of the same material they had the day before 🙂  When we were walking to Corral G, we heard one of the entertainers getting into it with a runner.  He didn’t recognize her costume.  I thought she was an Angry Bird.  Apparently she was Perry the Platypus.  Who?  She seemed upset that he didn’t know who she was and said something like, “You work for Disney.”  He responded that he actually does not work for Disney, was just there for the race 🙂  Poor guy.

Soon we were off!  The race still felt congested, but not as bad as the half marathon had.  We started with 6/4 intervals this time, hoping it would leave us more time for pictures.  We wanted to stop for as many characters as we could, but did not want to feel rushed in making up time to keep a 16 minute pace.

For the most part, we were going to skip the characters we had gotten pictures with the day before, but our Nightmare Before Christmas picture from the half was very blurry, so we decided to stop again.  I ended up buying a picture package, so it wasn’t necessary, but fun to have even more pictures.

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The sun was coming up when we stopped.

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We had another bathroom break early on.  Although I had gone around 5am when we were getting to our corral, I had to go again by the time we started the race at 6:15am.  I was going to try to wait until we made it to Magic Kingdom, but gave up before then when we saw short lines and a lot of port-o-potties.

  • Mile 1:  13:35
  • Mile 2:  12:09
  • Mile 3:  14:39
  • Mile 4:  15:35
  • Mile 5:  11:45

The sixth mile took us down Main Street in Magic Kingdom again.  So much fun.  We went through Fantasyland before the castle and stopped for a picture with Alice and the Mad Hatter.

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I was wearing my No Meat Athlete shirt, which has a carrot on the front and says “Runs on Plants” in the back.  I got a lot of love for my shirt during the race, with several other runners telling me they run on plants too.  One guy told me he loved my shirt, even though he eats meat (and hoped I didn’t hate him for it).

When Alice saw my shirt, she said, “Oh look!  She likes carrots.”  The Mad Hatter said, “She must be a rabbit… the white rabbit!  That’s why everyone is chasing her!”

We also stopped for a couple of princess photos we had missed the day before.  I loved the background of the New Fantasyland for these.

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Next up was the castle!  The line for pictures with a royal Minnie and Mickey were very long, so we decided to pass that one up, and ran through the castle.

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The picture with the castle in the background is one of my favorite professional photos from the race.

We were sad that Jessie from Toy Story was not in Frontierland when we went through.  I wonder if she was just on a break.  We made another bathroom stop while we had access to real bathrooms.

We did stop for a picture with Cinderella and the Prince just outside of the Magic Kingdom.  It was a very long line, but it was another one we had missed in our previous Disney races.

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This was probably our longest wait for a picture during the race, but I think it was worth it.

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There was a bit of a boring stretch between the Magic Kingdom and the Speedway.  The only character we stopped for on this stretch was Mary Poppins.

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There was a steep dip down and up to get into the Speedway, but it was fun to have a change of scenery.  There were plenty of spectators here, and a number of cars, including some famous characters.

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The speedway took us through mile nine, and it was around this time that Maggie developed a pain in her foot.  I asked her if she wanted to stop at the medical station as we were leaving the Speedway, but she said it was fine when she walked, so we kept going.  And then both wished we had stopped.  The bottom of my feet were already in a lot of pain, and I had heard there was Tylenol at the medical stations.  We decided to stop at the next station we saw.

  • Mile 6:  20:52
  • Mile 7:  15:34
  • Mile 8:  12:51
  • Mile 9:  12:26

The next three miles or so were a boring stretch.  They did a good job with entertainment and characters along this stretch.  This is also where you smell the stinky waste/compost area.  It was good motivation to run a little extra!

At the scene with all the villains they were playing Bad to the Bone!

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  • Mile 10:  15:41
  • Mile 11:  13:24
  • Mile 12:  13:06

It was somewhere along this stretch that we found another medical station.  Unfortunately, they were out of Tylenol, but Maggie put some Biofreeze on her feet and said it helped.  I wished I had done the same!

I love that they have animals outside of Animal Kingdom.  We missed the donkey this year!

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We stopped for a few characters in Animal Kingdom, but we did not ride Mount Everest like we had planned.  I still think it would be fun some day, but I was worried if I sat down, I would have a difficult time getting up again.

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The stretch between Animal Kingdom and the ESPN Wide World of Sports was another long one.  I’m sure there was entertainment, but we did not stop for anymore character pictures.

We did find another medical station that had Tylenol, and I tried Biofreeze on my feet.  It stung a little bit, but the pain/numbness from the burning feeling was welcome relief from the pain I had been feeling.  If I didn’t have to take my socks and shoes off, I would have re-applied it at every medical station after that.

  • Mile 13:  17:29
  • Mile 14:  13:02
  • Mile 15:  13:46
  • Mile 16:  12:13
  • Mile 17:  17:06
  • Mile 18:  12:59
  • Mile 19:  18:36

There was another bathroom stop around mile 19, thanks to another real bathroom in the WWOS.  Aside from the bottom of my feet, I thought I was feeling a lot better at this point than I did last year.  My legs were not super sore, and I was tired but still had some energy in me.  One of the things I did differently this year was take both water and Powerade at every drink station.  I think it helped.

Running through the WWOS was nice for a change of scenery, but not too exciting.  They did have some good music going.  During the 20th mile we ran through a baseball park.  It was cool, but I was hoping that was not the big “surprise” at mile 20.

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The big surprise was a few large Disney puppets and a stage with Donald, Mickey and Goofy.  It was fun, but with all the suspense of a big surprise, I was expecting something more.  We were doing well on time, so we stopped for a few pictures.

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My Garmin was about a full mile behind at this point, so where it says Mile 21 was actually Mile 20 on the course.  I don’t remember exactly when it happened, but at some point after mile 20, we switched to 5/5 intervals.  We kept up pretty strong as we came up on Hollywood Studios.

  • Mile 20:  12:59
  • Mile 21:   19:33
  • Mile 22:  12:39
  • Mile 23:  13:10

Hollywood Studios was fun, but too fast.  I enjoyed the energy that the crowds gave me, but was starting to feel the distance.

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I still looked pretty happy, though!  It’s impossible not to feel happy running through the parks.

It was after we left Hollywood Studios that I hit my wall.  I’m convinced it was more mental than physical, but I had a feeling that I just couldn’t keep going.  I felt a wave of dizziness when we stopped for a walk break outside of Hollywood Studios, and it scared me a little.  I wanted to walk more.  I told Maggie I thought I needed to walk more, but she wanted to keep pushing on.  I didn’t want to run the last three miles on my own, so I agreed to keep pushing.  Not long after that, we switched to 2.5/2.5 intervals and walked any hills.  I think that helped me, mentally, and the dizziness eventually passed.

I almost cried during this mile.  My feet hurt, I was mentally done, but I didn’t want to stop and give up.  The crowds were great and supportive along here, which helped me not to quit and just walk.

  • Mile 24:  13:19
  • Mile 25:  13:01
  • Mile 26:  12:28

What my Garmin said was Mile 27 was actually Mile 26 through Epcot.  It was a complete blur.  I don’t remember seeing any characters, but I think I heard there were one or two.  We stopped in Morocco for one last bathroom break before the finish line.  I could have waited, but we had a hard time finding bathrooms after the half, and we didn’t want to wait that long.  Besides, we weren’t running for time, so it was better to make sure we finished the final mile in comfort.

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I’m impressed that I still look pretty happy.  I do not remember giving thumbs up or smiling, but I look so much better in this picture than I did in my Epcot pictures last year. The crowds and volunteers were seriously awesome.  At one point while we were running in Epcot, a spectator gave me a high-five and said we looked great.  Other people commented that they liked our energy.  At this point, there were not many other people running at all.  I think I remember bubbles being blown in Epcot, but I could be imagining that.

We kept up our intervals, and before I knew it, we were leaving Epcot, passing the choir and the finish line was in sight!  It was such an overwhelming moment.  Just before the finish line, I saw Mickey and Minnie were giving high-fives so I ducked over to the left to get my high-fives.

  • Mile 27:  13:39
  • Mile 27.0 – 27.29: 10:01 pace
  • Total:  6:30:38 (14:19 pace)

We were now two-time marathoners and Goofy Challenge finishers!

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It was one of the best feelings ever.  Maggie and I hugged and celebrated.  I could not believe that in two short years we went from running a 5k to our first marathon and now the Goofy Challenge.  I was, and am, so proud of both of us.

We got our Mickey medals and headed to the ice station before picking up our Goofy medals.

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I had ice taped to both of my knees.  Maggie had two bags too, but hadn’t taped hers.  Apparently they ran out of ice right after us, so Maggie gave one of her bags to another guy who needed ice.  I could not believe they ran out!  There were so many people still behind us.

We went to pick up our Goofy medals.  There were volunteers who were telling people they could not pass until they saw water bottles open and everyone drinking.  It’s so smart to have that reminder.  We went straight to the Goofy tent and got our medals!

Pat met us at the family tents.  It’s amazing how quickly you forget the pain and the tough parts, all I could think about was how much fun the race was, and the fact that we finished!

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We were feeling tough 🙂

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This time we found our way to the resort buses, which felt much closer than the monorail.  We also saw the bathrooms we had missed the day before!  A quick shower, another hour-long nap, and we were back out to Epcot for a celebration dinner at Via Napoli in Italy.

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The Goofy Challenge was an amazing experience.  I don’t know if I would do it again, but it was definitely worth the long training runs, the early morning start times and any pain I felt along the way.  We wanted a relaxed, fun run, and that is exactly what we had.

Race #7: Walt Disney World Marathon

It was a difficult, but amazing experience.  I am officially a marathoner!  This recap will be a long one.

The Disney Marathon came at the end of a wonderful nine day vacation at Disney.  We spent seven days (starting on New Year’s Eve) touring the four Disney parks and Universal Studios, and then took one day of rest before the day of the marathon.  It was a lot of fun, but seven long days of walking may not have been the best idea before a marathon 🙂  I also developed a cold on day two of our vacation, which had not gone away by marathon day.

After getting up at 3:00am, we were planning to take a cab to Epcot at 3:30, but the cab didn’t show up until 3:45.  At that point, a few other people at our hotel were sharing a van that was only charging $5/person, so we went with them!  We were staying at the Hilton in Downtown Disney.  Although it came with Disney resort benefits such as extra magic hours and buses to Disney, they did not offer a shuttle to the parks on marathon morning.

Our van dropped us off right at the start line… where there were no other people.  The starting corrals were a bit of a walk.  It was also pretty cold that early in the morning.  We had bought some warmer clothes at a thrift store (I even found a Disney sweatshirt!), which we planned to ditch right before the start of the race.  After a quick breakfast (banana and peanut & butter jelly sandwich) and bathroom break, Maggie and I made our way to corral D.  It was at this pont that I discovered that my Garmin would not turn on 😦  Worst timing possible.  But Maggie’s was working, so I was still able to get our splits!

It took so long to walk to the corrals that we didn’t have to wait too long for the start of the race once we got there.  I loved the fireworks that went off before each corral.  It wasn’t long before we were off!  The first few miles were pretty congested and a little boring.  It was dark out, and we were running around Epcot.  Running through Epcot was fun, but it was a quick run by Spaceship Earth and through a few countries of the World Showcase, and then we were on our way to more highway running.  We stopped for a bathroom break during the 5th mile – I drank a whole liter of water right before the race!

  • Mile 1:  11:34
  • Mile 2:  10:57
  • Mile 3:  11:02
  • Mile 4:  11:45
  • Mile 5:  14:54

As with the long training runs, we were sticking to a run 6/walk 4 minutes interval.  It was hard to walk early in the race, but I knew that there were a lot of miles ahead.  There were more boring highway miles until we entered the Magic Kingdom around mile 10.  They had some music and characters along the way, but none that we felt like stopping for.  Before entering the MK, we ran past the Grand Floridian hotel, where we had eaten bunch the day before.  That really put the distance in perspective!

  • Mile 6:  11:48
  • Mile 7:  11:44
  • Mile 8:  11:31
  • Mile 9:  11:51
  • Mile 10:  12:15

I think Magic Kingdom was my favorite park to run through.  I loved all the crowds and the energy.  It definitely helped me to pick up the pace!  I didn’t want to stop much while we were running through the park.  It was really exciting to be coming up on Cinderella’s Castle.

We made our first stop for a character picture in Magic Kingdom – with Jessie from Toy Story.  They were very efficient with the picture taking, so the lines went pretty quickly.  Most characters had several helpers who would take your camera as you waited in line, quickly snap a picture, and then off you went.

Even with our stop, our MK miles were a little bit quicker:

  • Mile 11:  10:49
  • Mile 12:   11:50

The stretch from Magic Kingdom to Animal Kingdom was another long one.  After we hit the half-marathon point, I was finally starting to feel the distance.  There seemed to be a good number of characters on this strip, though, so we stopped a few times.  I think the Johnny Depp pirate was my favorite 🙂

Maggie wore a green skirt and top in honor of Tinkerbell, so we had to stop with the Peter Pan characters.  Sad that Tinkerbell was missing though!

John Smith said something to me like, “So good to see you.”  Some of the characters were playing their parts!

  • Mile 13:  11:58
  • Mile 14:  12:11
  • Mile 15:  13:19

My biggest complaint about this stretch was when we went by the Disney compost and/or wastewater treatment plant.  The smell was overwhelming and absolutely disgusting – about as bad as the port-o-potties.  I thought I would be sick!  I felt really bad for the volunteers who were handing out water as we went by.  I could not have stood that smell for more than a few minutes, and we kept running to try to get past it.  The animals at Animal Kingdom smelled better.

As we came up on Animal Kingdom, they had a few of the animals from the petting zoo out for us to pet and take pictures with.  I thought that was cute!  We had visited these animals at the petting zoo earlier in our trip, but it was fun to see them along the race course.

It felt like we were in Animal Kingdom for awhile, which was great!  We waited for this park for our next bathroom break, since we knew we could pull off for an actual bathroom (with soap).  When we passed Expedition Everest, a couple of women in front of us actually pulled off the course to go for a ride!  I guess that’s the nice thing about such a relaxed race 🙂  I was tempted to follow them!  We stopped for a few pictures at Animal Kingdom too.

 

  • Mile 16:  12:04
  • Mile 17:  15:58 (2nd bathroom break)
  • Mile 18:  11:58
  • Mile 19:  11:54

The distance between Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios went by in a blur.  It felt like they had more frequent water and fuel stops, and there were more characters and things to look at.

I think the race really got tough for me around miles 18-19, but I probably didn’t hit the “wall” until miles 21-22.  I was SO excited to see mile 20, since everything after that would represent a personal distance record.  Someone told me before the race that the race wouldn’t start until the last 10k, and they were right.  Somewhere between miles 19-20 I think we switched to running 3 minutes/walking 2 minutes.  I was actually starting to feel a little out of breath.

Hollywood Studios was a really good distraction.  There were more crowds of people, which always gives me a little more energy.  I don’t remember where this was taken, but we stopped for our last character picture with the Beast.

After Hollywood Studios, we ran through a boardwalk area, and we were quickly back at Epcot, running through the World Showcase again!  At this point I think I was just running as much as I possibly could, and taking walk breaks as needed (which means:  up all and any hills).  The last 1.2 miles were the worst.  I kept trying to remind myself to run happy and keep smiling, but I was experiencing more pain than I ever expected to feel.

When we got to mile 26, we took a short walk break, hoping we could push it through the final stretch with all the crowds.  But then a woman yelled out to us:  “Don’t stop now.  See that corner up there?  You just need to get around that and you will see the finish line.  Run!”  So we did 🙂

  • Mile 20:  11:51
  • Mile 21:  12:52
  • Mile 22:  12:38
  • Mile 23:  13:57
  • Mile 24:  12:55
  • Mile 25:  12:00
  • Mile 26:  12:53
  • Mile 26 – 26.76:  11:11 (7:49 sprint at the end)
  • Total:  5:29:02  (12:18 pace) – OFFICIAL TIME 5:28:36

And then, we were marathoners!  We were quickly given our medals and water and pushed through to the food.  I started to feel a little dizzy, but made our way to meet up with Pat at the family tents.

To be honest, I felt pretty awful at the end of the race.  I was hurting all over and just felt exhausted.  I was proud of the accomplishment, but I was thinking, never again.  Well that feeling wore off pretty quickly!  I’m not sure if I have another marathon in my future, but I wouldn’t rule it out.  I ran this one with a knee injury, a cold, and after a week-long vacation.  I also counted about 11 stops for photo opportunities, and 2 bathroom stops.  There is a part of me that would like to see what I am capable of.  But I still feel really great about finishing a marathon.  Someone at work told me that running a marathon is like earning a degree – once you have it, no one can ever take it away from you.

We finally made it back to our hotel, and after a shower and two-hour nap, I was good to go.  We walked to downtown Disney (just across the street from our hotel) for dinner at Earl of Sandwich and a special treat – a Ghiradelli cookie/ice cream sundae.  A quick dip in the hot tub felt amazing.  We left Orlando early the next morning (another 3:30am wake-up), and I wore my marathon shirt to the airport.  It’s still hard to believe I completed my first marathon!