Thursday, January 23, 2014

Race Recap: Walt Disney World Marathon

Don't miss my recaps of the expo5K10K and half!  All below photo's are from my iPhone.  I plan on doing a post with the professional photo's so I am not posting all I took (you're welcome!).  Once they finish identifying all the professional photo's, I'll share those!

Walt Disney World Marathon
January 12, 2014

Marathon: #10

I am apologizing in advance on this one. It's going to be a long post as I want to try and remember as much of it as I can.  It's been almost 2 weeks and I am still in disbelief on how well it went!

The morning started with the alarm going off at 2:45am.  Pam and I knew it would take us longer then other mornings, but we still should have gotten up earlier as we did leave later then expected for the buses.  I had laid everything out the night before, but there was still a lot of double checking going on to make sure I didn't forget anything.

As I said, we got on the buses a little later then we planned on and then we just sat in traffic.  This was the worst of the 3 days with traffic.  What took maybe 15ish minutes the other days, took close to 45 minutes.  At least the bus was comfortable and warm!

It has stormed overnight so the humidity of the previous day had broken and it was a cool morning.  A little chilly in fact and all my throwaway clothing came in handy.  But, perfect weather for running a marathon.

Upon arriving at Epcot, we went through security and headed to baggage.  Since the bus was delayed, we didn't have any time to kill.  I did some final organizing (double checking all gu's, filling my handheld, etc).  I did decide to run with the handheld water bottle I purchased at the expo and it was a good call.  I need to remember that being able to control my own hydration is important.

By this point, we needed to start heading to the corrals.  I checked my bag and used the restroom one last time.  I was feeling surprisingly calm at this point.  There were still some panic in my mind, but nothing too bad.

I got to the corral right as they were getting ready to start the first one.  I ditched my sweatpants and sweatshirt when they did the send off for Corral D and was done/ready as we starting moving towards the start line.  I ended kept the gloves until about 5 mile.  I liked having minimal waiting time for the marathon - helped prevent me from getting inside my head.  They got the fireworks for our corral right this time and off we went.

My plan was to run comfortable and make sure I didn't go out too fast.  The first 8ish miles are the same as the half, so I knew what to expect.  I took the first couple of miles easy and before I knew it, we were passing the race track and making our way to the Contemporary.  It was about this point that the 4:15 pace group caught up to me.

As I said, I had a secret goal of 4:15 for the marathon.  I debated trying to stay with the pace group, but in the end I decided it was better for me to run my own race and let me dictate the pace.  It was definitely the right call for me.  We ended Main Street and I did stop for a photo at the end with the castle behind me.

I love the blurry runners behind me!
I also stopped for a photo with Winnie the Pooh in Fantasyland, but skipped Mickey and Minnie by the castle.  Their line was so long and I have photo's with them from other races already.  I ran through the castle and down the ramp (stopping quickly for a professional photo at the bottom in front of the castle) and headed into Liberty Square.

We headed out of the park around Splash Mountain and I ended up stopping for a photo with Flynn and Rapunzel.  The line wasn't as short as I wouldn't have liked, but it wasn't long either.  Plus, Joey (my niece) loves Tangled and I feel like you never see them out.  And the photo on my phone turned out awesome.

Sorry Flynn, gotta run!
From there we headed back out past the Grand Floridian and towards the race track.  This is when the course got new to me.  There was steep down incline heading into the race track and let me just say, thank god it wasn't raining because that would be dangerous.  They had the race track filled with classic cars which provided some nice distraction.

After the race track we headed towards Animal Kingdom via some backroads.  I was really trying to take it 1 mile and 1 park at a time, without going too hard.  I did stop for a couple of photo's along the way to Animal Kingdom - the evil Queen, the dogs (Dug, Pluto and Bolt) and Captain Hook and Smee.  I was getting annoying constantly taking my phone out so most are with the photographers.

We headed into Animal Kingdom and I was feeling pretty good.  I stopped quickly for a photo with Rafiki and King Louie (from the Jungle Book).  I skipped Safari Donald and Minnie as they had crazy lines.  As we headed out of Animal Kingdom, we passed the 13.1 marker.

I couldn't believe the race was halfway done - and how good I was feeling.  I'd been making sure to take my Gu's on time (first after 60 minutes, then every 45 minutes) and stay hydrated.  Having my handheld really helped with this as I wasn't relying on the water stops for hydration (and could take my gu's when I wanted to).  My half time was 2:15, which would have me finishing in 4:30 (which still would have been really good).  But I was feeling really strong so I decided to see if I could pick it up a little to 9:45's.

We were now heading to ESPN World Wide of Sports, which I knew meant we had some highway time.  I stopped for a photo with the Grave Diggers as there was no one waiting.  I was trying not to look too much at my watch, but I was feeling good and my paces were averaging around 9:15 (so much for trying to do 9:45's).  I kept telling myself to slow down and not use up all my energy, but I have to admit, the 9:15 didn't feel hard.  It felt easy.  Since I was gaining speed, I started passing people (which I did from 16 to the end of the race - let me tell you, that feels awesome!).

We headed into WWOS around 17 and although it was narrow, it never felt too crowded (for me at least).  There was a lot of zip zagging (the course, not me running around people), which while annoying, I would much rather have vs. more highway time.

My pace was continuing to hold strong.  We left WWOS right around 20 and I realized that even if I ran 10 minute miles, I would finished in 4:20.  Since I was already running sub 10 minute miles and feeling good, my 4:15 goal might be possible.  I wanted to stay steady and not pick it up too early.

But at mile 21, my legs just did it themselves.  My 9:15's turned into sub 9's.  And the miles felt solid.  I didn't feel like I was running on empty, I felt like I had plenty in the tank.  I knew Abby would be cheering somewhere in/near Hollywood Studios, so I was keeping my eye out for her.

We entered Hollywood Studio's through the Backlot Tour and onto Streets of America.  We took a left after the Streets of America and headed towards the Hat and down the main stretch of Hollywood Studios.  Right after we left Hollywood Studio's, I saw Abby in front and she had made some friends and they were all cheering for me.  It gave me such a boost and was so helpful for those last couple of miles!

Photo courtesy of Abby
After leaving Abby, I knew I had the energy left to push it (those cheers really helped).  We headed onto the walkway to Epcot and I just kept pushing it.  I knew the 4:15 was in sight and I wanted to know I had given it my all.  Thankfully the path wasn't too crowded and there was room for me to pass people.

We headed passed Yacht and Beach Club and towards Epcot.  There is a teeny hill right before you hit Friendship Gate which, while not big, was painful at mile 24.5.  So mean course designers, so mean.

It was on this stretch (I can't remember where exactly) that I caught up with the 4:15 pace group and blew right past them.  It made me happy to know I made the right decision to run my own race.

Right before we headed backstage of Epcot, Dopey was there!  I debated not stopping because I didn't want to break momentum, but there was no line so I was able to stop quickly take the photo and get going, losing only like 30 seconds (at the most). We entered Epcot right next to the UK and headed towards France and the rest of the World Showcase.  Fortunately, it wasn't crowded so I was able to keep the pace going.

After leaving World Showcase, we headed towards Spaceship Earth and out of Epcot.  We passed the Gospel choir again and I just kept pushing.  I knew I would be sub 4:15 and just wanted to cross the finish line at this point.

As the finish line approached, I started to get emotional.  So much time and effort had been spent training for this and now it was all coming to an end.  I gave Mickey a high five right before the finish line and then raised my arms as I crossed it.  And... promptly burst into tears.  Happy tears, I promise (which is what I told the med people when they swarmed the crying girl).

I had done it.  4 days, 4 races, 48.6 miles.  And I had met my time goal which I wasn't sure was possible.  I couldn't stop the tears (which is why in all photo's from afterwards I am still wearing my sunglasses).  I collected my heatsheet and marathon medal (my first Mickey Marathon medal!) and made my way through the chute.  I got a Gatorade and water (which the nice volunteers opened for me because my arms literally couldn't do it) and headed towards the Dopey medals.

When the volunteers put the Goofy and Dopey medals around my neck, it just felt amazing (and more tears came).  I had set a goal (both in race distance and time) and reached them both.  It was definitely a special day.  I stopped for my official photo's and the food box before picking up my bag and heading for more photo's with all the characters they had at the finish line.  I had packed my other 3 medals so I could take photo's with all of them.

Super happy Dopey finisher
I was tracking Kasey and knew when she would be finishing (her first in 4:48, so proud!) and decided to stick around after my photo's to see her.  She felt (and looked) great after finishing.  She worked really hard and I was so glad it went well for her!  We hung out and celebrated with some beers before heading back to the hotel.

Post race hydration is important
Overall, I had a great marathon and liked the course a lot.  It was pretty flat with minimal hills but was definitely crowded at points.  I am not sure when/if I'll ever be back for the full again, but I'll definitely be back for the half again in 2015!  My time was just what I had hoped for.  This is my 2nd fastest marathon to date, even with all the miles leading up to it.  I think with fresh legs, I'll be able to go even faster, so now I am really excited to actually race a marathon.

I'll be doing a full post on my thoughts on Dopey, so I'll save those for them.

I had signed myself up for tracking (since I like to see the splits) and I got a laugh reading them afterwards and watching the finish time drop.  Here they are:

5M - 51:37, 10:20 pace, estimated finish: 4:30:55
10M - 1:44:25, 10:27 pace, estimated finish: 4:33:44
Half - 2:15:50, 10:22 pace, estimated finish: 4:31:39
20M - 3:20:16, 10:01 pace, estimated finish 4:22:32
Actual finish: 4:13:21, 9:40 pace

In case you didn't do the math, I ran some major negative splits.  My first half half was 2:15:50 and my second was 1:57:31.  Not a bad second half!

Garmin splits:

Official: 26.2 mi, 4:13:21, 9:40 pace
Garmin: 26.57 mi, 4:13:20, 9:32 pace

All 6 medals!


  1. Love it!! I totally got chills reading this. I didn't realize you stopped for characters AND you shattered your goal AFTER 3 previous days of races. That's some serious stuff to be proud of!! Congrats again, ma'am!

    1. Thank you! I know - I still can't believe it!