Friday, January 14, 2011

Disney Marathon Recap

Before the race
This day started when the alarm went off at 2:50am.  My plan was to leave the house by 3:30am so I could beat some of the traffic.  This race draws 17,000 runners and the roads entering Disney get pretty packed the closer it gets to 5:00am, the time runners are supposed to be in their corrals. This morning felt like the movie Ground Hog Day as I had done all of this the day before when I went to watch my daughter run the half marathon. Both my sleeping and eating schedules were all wacky.  Fortunately I was so tired from getting up early Saturday morning that I actually fell asleep by 9:30pm Saturday night.  That gave me about five and half hours sleep.  My plan was to eat a Clif Bar for breakfast because this is what I typically ate pre-running during training, but I was eating breakfast at 3:00am and not running until almost 6am.  So I decided to eat a PBandJ at home and took a Clif Bar with me for later.

I had packed all my gear in a bag the night before so I didn't have to worry about forgetting something.  I brought a trash bag, 2 Clif bars, one for before and one for after the race, iPod, headphones, iFitness belt with phone, toilet paper (just in case) and 2 bags of Honey Stingers, my Garmin and heart rate monitor, Clif Shot pace bracelet, sunglasses, an old track suit to keep me warm, a towel to cover the car seat and a pullover for afterwards.  We also packed a cooler with G2, chocolate milk and water.  I wanted to be prepared.

The traffic delayed our arrival by 20 minutes, but we got there in plenty of time.  The temperature was a brisk 40 degrees and I decided to wait in the warm car for a little while before heading out.  I started making my way to the corral, via the bathroom around 4:40am.  The walk to the corrals took about 20 minutes and was wall to wall people.  I got to Corral D about 5:20am, 10 min till start time. Before I knew it they were singing the national anthem, setting off fireworks, and the first wave was off.  I spent such a short time waiting that I never ate the Clif Bar and didn't use the trash bag. My wave was scheduled to start at 5:47am.

I had set a goal of about 4.5 hours for this race.  I did not know if this was possible or not, but I wanted to keep my eye on the Clif Shot 4:30 pace group, in the wave in front of me.  The start was crowded and cold, so I kept my warmup jacket on. You could feel the warmth from the fire shoots above the start.  I needed to run about a 10 min mile to meet my goal. I ran the first mile in 10:36.  I knew I needed to pick it up, but I was just trying to find a comfortable pace for me.  I felt good from the start and ran the next 4 miles at about a 9:50 pace.  At this point I was starting to warm up although we kept running through pockets of cold air.  

The race begins outside of Epcot and we run the first few miles on a large 4 lane road.  It is so dark, that you can't see much ahead of you. As I run, I keep looking for an open space to occupy.  My husband and daughter were on the sidelines at mile 4, but I didn't even see them.  My next chance to see them would be mile 8 by the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC).  The running felt good and I was staying pretty steady with my pace.  During miles 5-9 I was running about a 9:20. I took my gloves and jacket off around mile 7, but didn't feel like I could just throw it down anywhere.  Most people dropped their extra layers earlier on and it is all collected and donated.  I didn't feel right about randomly dropping a jacket, that someone would have to pick up, so I tied it around my waist and decided I would give it to my family when I saw them.  
Mile 8.2 
As I approached the TTC dawn was breaking and I was glad about that.   I stayed to the right side and began looking for familiar faces.  I ran by the spot I had occupied the day before as a spectator and when I didn't see them, figured they didn't make it in time.  There was one section of spectators left and as I came through the underpass, I saw them with smiles and signs.   What a great feeling that was!  I handed them my jacket and off I went, telling them I would see them at mile 12.   

I had been worried about  having to go the bathroom during the race to the point that I probably convinced myself I needed to go.  When I came upon a set of bathrooms just before mile 10 with no lines, I decided to go and get it over with.  From that point on, it wasn't an issue.   We headed into the Magic Kingdom from here, a great section to run as Main Street is filled with spectators and lots to see, including a run through the castle.
Magic Kingdom
Leaving the Magic Kingdom we run past the Grand Floridian Hotel and head toward the Polynesian and  another chance to see our family and friends who have braved the cold and early morning hours to cheer us on.  Out of the 26.2 miles there were about 4 places along the route my family could see me run by.
Mile 12
Mile 12 was the last viewing spot until the finish line. I had decided to put my name on my shirt using duct tape so people in the crowd could cheer me on too.  I am glad I did that.  Volunteers at the water stations and people in the crowd offered personalized words of encouragement that helped me to keep going.

From here we were headed down back roads to Animal Kingdom.  The first half of the marathon was over before I knew it.  With a time of 2:07:48 I was in good shape to make my goal.  This was the fastest half I have run to date!

Miles 13-18 weren't bad although I was starting to feel a little discomfort in my legs. It was during this section of the race that I realized I would regret not taking advantage of all this race had to offer in addition to conquering 26.2 miles so I decided to stop for some photos along the way as long as the line wasn't long.  (The competitive side of me was not willing to throw all caution to the wind for the sake of fun.)
Peter Pan Crew on the road to Animal Kingdom

King Louie and Balloo in Animal Kingdom
Mile 17
Miles 19-22 were some of the hardest miles. At this point we have left Animal Kingdom and are running down a long boring highway to Hollywood Studios.  Not much to see and we have to keep running over overpasses which seem steeper than they are.  At this point, my legs are getting tired and I know I have a ways to go.  I definitely slowed down during this section and reminded myself I would be done sooner if I just kept running.  I started to walk longer through the water stations.  Finally we got to the next park and there was more to see.

Russell from Up, Hollywood Studios

Phineas and Ferb, Hollywood Studios

Safari Mickey
By mile 24 we were out of Hollywood Studios and only 2.2 miles from the finish.   My thighs are aching. Every lift of my leg is an effort.  I am still running slowly and the miles feel long.  I am relieved to see the shoot and head toward to finish.  There is a big cheering crowd and I do my best to speed up and have a strong finish.
I give both Mickey and Goofy a high five as I cross the finish  line.  When I see my time, I am pleasantly surprised 4:32:30!  We are handed a mylar sheet and given our medal which is heavier than I thought it would it be.  Walking feels weird and my muscles are tight, especially behind my knees.  I grab a can of Coke and enjoy the hell out of it.
 Marathon Girl 
I meet up with my family and experience a flood of emotions.  They have lived this race with me for 20 weeks.  I could not have dedicated all that time for training without their support.  They believed in me even when I didn't believe in myself and their encouragement kept me going.  Three of my friends from work came to see me too. Having them all here for me meant a lot!

This was one of the hardest things I have done, but I am glad I took on the challenge!

5 mile 49:23 pace 9:52  
10 mile 1:37:06 pace 9:42  
Half marathon 2:07:48 pace 9:44  
20 mile 3:22:05 pace 10:06 
Finish 4:32:30 pace 10:23


  1. You did awesome! You look so strong and happy in all the running photos. I love the photos with the characters fun. I can't believe you were able to take photo stops AND finish with such a great time! Sounds like a fantastic first marathon. So proud of you!

  2. love love love your pictures and that you truly took time to enjoy race that was meant for fun by getting the pictures. I am still not sure I could do this race though, the whole 2:30 AM thing and then I've heard a lot of the actual course kinda stinks

    seriously how did you get such an amazing picture and looking so happy!!

  3. AWESOME! You did such a great job, plus all of your pictures are wonderful! :)

  4. I am so jealous of all the pictures - AND you got a rocking time! What you thinking of doing for your next race?

  5. That was such a great report! My poor mom is sitting by me and I kept interrupting her to share parts with her. And the photos! Your pictures are so good!! I'm so jealous you can run with a smile, eyes open, great form ... and only one chin!

    Congratulations!!I'm always in awe of those that can finish such a long race. Great job!

  6. wow, congrats!! Great finish time!! I didn't realize the race started so early, it must have been so cool to run as the sun came up. you look fab in all the photos, congrats again!!!

  7. Thank you for stopping by my blog! Congratulations on your awesome run!!!

  8. Congratulations!! :) What an awesome pace too! And the pictures, don't even need saying, but they're fabulous. :)

  9. Way to go Mom! thats awesome! --This is Patrick your son BTW

  10. Wow, that is amazing! You did an awesome job, congrats!!!


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