Wow. Where to start with this recap? So much to say and so many varying emotions.
Leading up to the race, I was nervous. So many things could go wrong. But my training was solid, so I knew that I had done everything I could to get myself to the finish.
And then the heat hit. Many of my friends said this was the worst marathon they had ever run.
But before we get there, let’s talk about the other highlights.
Race expo! Disney does this so well. The organization was great (though it was crowded). Race corrals were lettered A-H and I was in G. I knew that I had a qualifying time to get me into F, possibly even into E (my qualifier from my half had me 2 minutes over the limit for E). I am a proponent of starting where you belong, but I was also worried about the heat, so I wanted to move up. Mainly, I wanted to move into F, where my sister was, so she wouldn’t have to move back. Unfortunately, they had no F stickers, so I couldn’t move. Bummer, but oh well.
Then on to shopping! I hit up the runDisney merch and bought a marathon sweatshirt, a magnet, some pins, and the running Vinylmation. Yes, Disney pretty much has all of my money at this point. And I am not complaining. I checked out some other booths at the expo and got a new chest strap to use with my Garmin. Then we headed out.
On Saturday morning, I got up at 3:15 even though I wasn’t running. No, I was headed out to cheer. And it was worth it! A large group of us cheered on friends around mile 4 and then again at mile 7. Of course, we cheered for strangers too. Many of us were running the next morning, and we were starting to worry after watching runners. The lead runners looked AMAZING! The next batch of runners looked rough. The people who were taking it easy and having a good time looked quite a bit better. But this was only at mile 7. Barely past halfway for their race, and only a bit over a quarter of the way done for our race. Yikes. So we started to get nervous.
Chatting with my friends, it sounded like everyone else had managed to get bumped up at the expo (I found out later that this wasn’t true, and the miscommunication has caused more stress than the marathon itself). That wasn’t good. So I decided to make a mad dash back to the expo to try again. This time it worked. I got moved up to E, giving me a bit of extra padding. In the heat, I thought I might truly need it. My friends told me they and others had been moved up to D. I didn’t have that sort of qualifying time, but thought that I might be able to catch them all if I was having a great race. What was I thinking?
Race morning, I wasn’t nervous. I worry about things like getting sick and waking up on time. Once I’m up on race morning though, I’m just ready to go. The weather was warm. I wore a long sleeved t-shirt over my running shirt, but probably didn’t need it. We were staying at the Contemporary (actually at Bay Lake Tower), which meant we could take the monorail to the race. That was awesome. Highly recommended.
My plan was to try to run as much as possible before the sun came up, and then just see what happened. I was running with my sister, who was doing Goofy that weekend (she ran the half and the full) and Colleen joined us as well. We got started and saw a lot of friends out on the course.
Our first four miles were a little slow, but pretty much on pace. There was a lot of bouncing around getting past runners. Disney is a crowded race for those of us not in the front of the pack. But you don’t run Disney for PRs.
I remember struggling a bit around mile 8, then picked it back up. Miles 12 and 13 were slow, and then the wheels fell off around mile 16. By this point, the sun was up and it was hot. I was struggling and Caitlin did something to her foot. She thought it might be broken, based on the pain and the popping sound she heard. That meant slowing down quite a bit. Probably all for the best in the heat.
I’m very proud of her for struggling through the race in pain. I kept checking on her, making sure it was just her foot and not overheating or dehydration. But we were doing well. At one point, the three of us grabbed a bag of ice and passed it around to cool off. It was amazing.
I am one of those who tends to not remember much of a course. We tease Janice for not remembering the Sorcerer’s Hat at Hollywood Studios… but I can’t say I remember it either. I know we had to pass it, but… yeah. That said, I enjoyed the course. I liked running through the different parks. It was awesome to see the animals out on the course at Animal Kingdom, and I tried to tempt some monkeys with bananas to see if they would finish the race for me. (Also, I never thought bananas would taste so delicious while running.) Opinions seem to vary, but I also liked running along the Speedway. The cars were so much fun to watch.
We lost Colleen around mile 23 or so, when she put on her headphones, put her head down, and powered out to the end of the race.
A Facebook group I’m in had a snack and challenge tent setup at mile 24. They did the Three Little Pigs challenge – eat 3 pieces of bacon and get a medal. I did not sign up for this challenge and still don’t regret that. The medal is AMAZING, but bacon at 24 would have been the end of me. We did get some Coke with ice at that point, however, and it was the best Coke I have ever had.
Our worst miles were the last two, but by that point, we knew we were going to finish. So many people had complete emotional breakdowns when they entered Epcot to the crowds. I was doing okay, but I was mostly concerned about getting Caitlin to the finish and to her Goofy medal. I had realized a few miles back that we would be about five minutes over the 7 hour limit, and I hoped that wouldn’t be an issue for Goofy.
Cait decided she wanted to finish strong so we ran and ran to the finish. And we became marathoners. And she is officially Goofy.
I love the medal. I can’t stop spinning it.
People have asked me if I’m planning to do another one. At first, I wasn’t sure, but after hearing many people say that this was the worst marathon they have ever run due to the heat and humidity, I think that I might have another one in me. And hey, I should be able to beat my finishing time too.
Thanks for all your support during my training. It was stressful and scary, but I’m so glad I did it.