Walt Disney World Half to Full Marathon : Part 2
In my previous post, I shared my experiences prior to the marathon race day. So let’s take a further look on what happened on the race course..
First of all, I went to Florida for nice weather, not 30 degrees that feels like it’s in the 20s with the wind chills. Thank goodness I packed appropriately for a variety of weather. This is probably my biggest tip for those traveling to races. Jen and I left our hotel (we stayed near Disney Springs) around 3:15am. This may sound crazy to those of you that haven’t run any RunDisney events, but trust me, you want to get there early. We ended up waiting in the car for a half an hour because it was so cold, once we got to Epcot. I had my bagel with peanut butter, which is my go to pre-race food. We quickly put on our white feathered tutus, and ponchos (help with wind resistance) and headed to the pre-race party going on. There were tons of lines to have you photo taken with characters, there was a DJ playing Taylor Swift music, and people dancing. Yes, I was dancing in my Daisy Duck running costume… Don’t judge. Disney makes it a fun environment!
Unfortunately, Jen was just purely frozen the whole time before the race, and my hands couldn’t stay warm even when putting them inside my shirt. By the time we had to walk to the corrals and wait an hour for the marathon to start, both of us were shivering. Then the shivering was making me feel a bit queasy. With all these things occurring before the race, I believe it was a GOOD distraction for what we were about to face. We were in Corral K, so we didn’t have too long for our corral’s fireworks to go off as a signal to start running.
Jen and I had a very specific plan for our nutrition needs for the race, all thanks to the great advice from Jeff Galloway at the expo. Throughout the marathon, we were to drink 2-4oz of water and eat an energy gel or pretzels every 2 miles. I stayed with this plan during the entire race and I think it helped me in the long run (lol get it?) We also knew for this Disney race, we could not do character stops, and if there were any stops it would be to use the restroom. This stipulation was all due to the time constraint.
The first 3 miles, Jen and I ran a comfortable pace. We were running out of Epcot on our way to the Magic Kingdom at the start of the race, so not much scenery yet. I didn’t have my headphones in for this race, so I heard so many words of encouragement to each other, DJs music, and the high school marching bands music!
From miles 3-13, we did a run walk interval of 2 minutes run, 30 seconds walk. We walked the water stations every time. Even though it was cold outside and we weren’t thirsty per say, we knew the importance of staying hydrated. At around mile 5 or 6, we were in the Magic Kingdom running on Main Street towards the castle. I don’t think that view ever gets old. It is my absolute favorite part about running Disney races. By mile 13, we were in the Animal Kingdom being greeted by goats and sheep with the Marathon race bibs on (I kid you, not). Jen and I went to the restroom after mile 13 to kind of take a break for a moment, and plan our next run walk interval tactic. From mile 3-13, I would say Jen was very nervous of us seeing the balloon ladies (the race sweepers). I was hoping we were more ahead of them than we realized.
From miles 13-16, Jen and I ran run walk intervals of 2-1, then Jen wanted to dial it down to 1-1. She was starting to want to quit at this point, I believe, even though she did not explicitly tell me that. I just knew she was not having a good time. Somewhere in between those miles, we met up with a pacing group going for a marathon at the 6 hour mark. We ran with them for two miles, and I thought it was fun with a big group of people. Jen needed to slow down, so we started doing our own thing. She knew that she would burn out at that pace, so I’m glad she said something. I had no plan finishing the marathon without her.
Miles 16-20 marked our time at the ESPN Wide World of Sports where we ran on a cushioned track and a baseball field. People say this was the most boring part of the race, but I didn’t mind it. Some of that may be because those miles, I had to stay positive and fun for Jen. She needed all the encouragement she could get. Once I saw the Mile 20 marker, I was getting extremely excited- we could finish this thing. Throughout the race though, I would say I was super happy compared to Jen. I was singing, laughing, and complementing other runners costumes. Don’t get me wrong, Jen was a good sport. Like we both have never run a full marathon before and we weren’t trained.
Miles 20-23, we were at Hollywood Studios, entering the back way of the park near Tower of Terror. At this point, the theme parks are open to the public so we have a huge crowd viewing and cheering all of us runners on.
From miles 23-26.2, Jen could no longer run, so we walked through Epcot. I heard all these kids yell ‘there’s Donald Duck’, which I think helped for motivation! A little girl even put out her hand for me to give her a high five. After what seemed like forever, we approached the mile 26 marker. Jen and I start tearing up, and we planned to run to the finish line. Running to the finish line was the most euphoric moment I have ever run. I got to high five Mickey Mouse as I crossed it too! How many people get to say that? Lol. Probably many!
Overall, I LOVED the marathon! I’m convinced with some positive thoughts and planning, that is what helped Jen and I succeed. I’m so glad I got to run my first full marathon with such a good friend. Update: We both felt fine the next day after the race…so no injuries! I wouldn’t recommend others running a marathon without proper training. It’s pretty stupid, but I’m glad I saw an opportunity and I went big. Carpe diem, friends. Carpe diem.
This is a story of making lemonade, when life throws you lemons. If the half marathon was never cancelled, I wouldn’t even try to run a marathon until 2018!