With the Walt Disney World Glass Slipper Challenge just around the corner, I reckon it’s time for me to get my derriere in action and get my race report for the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon up and running, right?
As you may recall, at this point in the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, I had already run two races: Friday I’d gotten up bright and early and ran the Minnie 10K, and then Saturday I’d gotten up bright and early and ran the Donald Half Marathon. Sunday arrived and I got up… you got it… bright and early to run Mickey’s Big Race. The full Marathon. A race covering 26.2 miles through 4 theme parks (and the Wide World of Sports).
I packed up my now traditional 7 baggies of ENERGYbits for fuel and got dressed. I chose to wear my Minnie inspired Sparkle Skirt for this race since it’s my comfiest skirt, went with my grey tank and my white Zoot compression sleeves. I opted to wear my hydration belt just in case the stretch between the Wide World of Sports and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which Greg described as “Death Valley”, got to me. I also slipped on some toe caps, slugged back a dose of Immodium (had some mid and post race digestive issues during the Space Coast Marathon which I didn’t care to repeat), packed extra Tylenol and slipped an Uncrustable in my shorts pocket.
Running the Marathon would be me, Greg and Rachael with Kathryn providing ChEAR support along the way – she had purchased the Platinum ChEAR Package so she was rolling in style and livin’ LARGE!
We scarfed down a light breakfast and hit the bricks, aiming to be at the bus line for around 4AM
I was momentarily concerned when I saw the traffic that waited for us when we finally hit the road. It was much worse than it had been either of the other two mornings we’d made this trek. Who knew that Marathon day was such a big deal? Oh right, everybody.
Still, we made it in plenty of time and ducked into the Race Retreat. Rachael noticed people getting space blankets over by the stretching area of the Race Retreat tent, so she went and grabbed a couple of blankets so we could stay warm on the way to the start. Unfortunately when Greg went over to the line, they had just run out, so he was left to shiver his way to the corrals.
Speaking of the corrals, it was time to start the 20 minute walk over. We held back until they basically did a last call. No need to shiver any longer than we had to, especially since we were in the later corrals. We were a little bummed, because we’d met Joe from the Marathon Show the day before at the Expo, and had a fun chat that turned into an interview with him (listen to the Marathon Show Podcast), and he had told us to keep an eye out on the stage around 5AM, but we missed him. Next time, Joe!
Since Greg was running the Dopey Challenge, he was strangely a corral behind us. Instead of falling back a corral to start with him, Rachael and I stuck to our L corral and Greg went to his M, and we agreed to meet on the course. Greg would have no trouble catching up to us.
We flashed our bibs to get into our corral and walked past 3 girls trying to negotiate their way into the L corral with their “O” bibs while the patient volunteer explained that, yes their corral was far away, but they’d just have to walk over there and get into it.
Once we were in our corral, Rachael and I talked strategy. I asked if Rachael had any goals for this race. Personally I had no expectations aside from hoping it went better than Space Coast. We’d both been recovering since Space Coast – Rachael’s lungs were much better now, and my knee and ankle were vastly improved. But still, light on training.
Rachael suggested that we try running 14:00 or 14:30. This made me smile. So optimistic. We’d finished the Space Coast at just over 16:00, so 14:00 would be an astounding improvement. I said that since Greg and I had run the half the day before without using a run/walk alert, but rather just ran and walked when we felt like it, that I would like to do the same for the Marathon. I could have set my Garmin 220 to 2/1 intervals, but frankly if we gave them up part way through, having it vibrate every two minutes and again every one minute on my wrist would be a) annoying and b) a brutal reminder of what we weren’t doing. So, we agreed to improvise.
We moved up, ever closer to the start – Rachael and I held back towards the rear of the corral. Partly because we wanted to let Greg catch up, but also because we would be doing run/walk intervals and we didn’t want to get in the way. See how nice we are? We knew we’d be at the slow end of our corral so we started towards the back.
As we moved up, we saw and waved to Greg who was standing right at the roped front of his corral, waiting to be walked across the street to fall in behind us. Hiiiiiii!!
The start is always so exciting. Thankfully it was not as muggy as the day before, and so the fireworks smoke didn’t linger as low to the ground. We chugged along and I marvelled at how much clearer the course was, It was far easier to run in the L corral than it had been the day before during the half marathon from the M corral. My legs felt surprisingly fresh considering the number of miles they’d already travelled over the last couple of days. We worked our way around some groups and fell into a rhythm and before we knew it we hit Mile One.
I was taking a photo of the mile marker when I heard a booming “ON YOUR RIGHT, EXCUSE ME”, and there was Greg. He had sprinted and caught up to us a lot sooner than we’d expected!
I opted to not take photos of every mile marker until we hit Mile 14, since I thought they’d all be the same as the Half Marathon up to that point. Turns out, probably not true, but it saved me some fumbling.
Rachael had one photo she knew she wanted for sure – the Pirates. She’d missed it last year during the half, so she was due. Greg and I waited, and I kept a close eye on my watch. Space Coast was still in my head, falling back from one pacing group to another, and I didn’t want us to fall behind in time. Sweeping was not an option.
We set off and once again faced one of my favourite sights, but I didn’t want to stop for a photo, so we kept moving forward by moving backwards towards the toll plaza:
Before we knew it, we were inside the Magic Kingdom. We made a quick pit stop at a real bathroom, hustled our way to the castle. I was delighted, because again, the congestion was so much better than it had been the day before that we could actually run through the castle. No Walking Dead shuffle, an actual honest-to-goodness run. Oh joy!
We looked for Kathryn, who had been waiting in the specially designated “ChEAR Zone” right in front of the castle, and stopped for a quick hello:
We kept on our way, and said we’d see her again in 7 miles or so – she would meet us out front of the Animal Kingdom with Pretzels and bagels with peanut butter.
As we made our way out of the Magic Kingdom and towards the Palm and Magnolia golf courses, I started to get excited. Soon everything would change! I’d done the half marathon course so many times, I was really looking forward to the new scenery. But first:
We didn’t have room to bring our golf clubs on this trip, but that didn’t stop Greg from trying to live the dream:
Soon, we were making a left turn into the unknown. Down a steep ramp, and up a steep hill, and then, nothing but open space and super cool cars!
Not too much later, we hit Mile 10. This was significant, since we lost Rachael just past Mile 9 of the half marathon last year.
We passed by a pretty Reedy Creek Waste Water treatment area. Disney cheerfully reminded us with signs along the way of the positive ecological effects of the garbage treatment that was taking place all around us, but I honestly could not quote any of those facts back to you because I couldn’t read the signs thanks to my eyes watering from the smell.
Somehow I was so distracted that I entirely missed the banana stop here. Luckily, Greg shared his banana with me. Thanks, babe!
Next up, we approached the back entrance to the Animal Kingdom, and a photo opportunity that I will stop for next time: The Dogs!
We were really excited about the Animal Kingdom. You know what’s at the Animal Kingdom? Expedition Everest, that’s what!
But first we saw these little darlings:
They were adorable! The pig had a bib on! I loved him!
We also saw the elusive Jiminy Cricket.
Greg needed a bio-break, so he hoofed it on ahead. Meanwhile, a runner in front of me saw a friend on the side of the course and suddenly flung his arms out almost hitting me in the face then swerving directly in front of me cutting me off. I threw up my hands to stop his elbow from hitting me and ducked around him cursing loudly. Not the most lady-like, but then either was he. Greg caught up with us and told us that the men’s room he went to was full of women – he said he left saying “Come ON, ladies!” – so he needed to find another restroom.
Rachael and I pushed on towards Everest, I was almost taken out by a guest’s backpack as they used the crosswalk. It’s a jungle out there!
We made it to Everest and a Coach was waving people into the ride via the single rider lane. We waited for Greg, and by the time he joined us the regular stand by line was empty, but we had to hustle because we saw an ominous sight coming our way.
A tour group!
Hurry! Get in line!
We walked right on the ride. Our train was full of runners, and we hooted and hollered our way up and down the mountain, barely avoiding a dangerous Yeti along the way. Expedition Everest is always fun, but this was easily the most fun it’s ever been! When the train stopped, we leaped out and with the adrenaline surge rushing through our veins, we ran towards the exit to where Kathryn was waiting with our bagels and pretzels. Lunch time!
We were grateful for the snacks and the adrenaline surge, because things got a bit less exciting after the Animal Kingdom. It’s a long stretch of highway between that park and the Wide World of Sports, so we were grateful for the Haunted Mansion grave-diggers and regular folks cheering along the way. We climbed what Greg refers to as McDonald’s Mountain (the overpass by the McDonald’s) and kept chugging. I was still holding up well – my legs felt great, my ankle felt great, my knee felt great. I was thrilled!
Suddenly, around Mile 18 I felt an uncomfortable gurgle in the ol’ tum-tum so I stopped at the next portopotty, and slowed to a walk for a little bit, but thankfully it was a quick recovery (I’m not sure whether to blame or thank Immodium for this) and before long we were looking down the barrel of The Wide World of Sports. There was a lot to like about this – first of which were the cold cloths they were handing out as we entered the complex. Oh, so good.
More good things: running on the track, more bananas and running the outfield! If you’ve run the Disneyland Half Marathon, then this probably won’t top running the outfield in Angel’s Field, but it’s still pretty cool to see yourself up on the big screen. Plus, you’re not running on pavement. That feels nice.
As we were heading out of the Wide World of Sports, Greg mentioned that he was starting to feel a little light-headed so we slowed down a bit and he doused his head with water at the next water stop.
As we exited the Wide World of Sports, we saw that the road leading into the complex was empty of runners. There were clean-up trucks with tables and barriers rolling around. We saw buses of the sweeper variety. Rachael was momentarily disheartened, but I ran some quick numbers. My math was fuzzy because I was run-drunk, but I was pretty sure we were still within our specific corral’s 16 minute per mile pace time-frame (likely ahead, even), not counting corrals M – P. Despite the scary emptiness of the road, we still had a solid 20 minute buffer behind us.
But I also knew I was run-drunk and not entirely sure of my math, so I personally wasn’t going to be fully confident until we made it onto the Disney Hollywood Studios grounds.
Fortunately, it was right around the corner! And also right around the corner, sweet, sweet mini chocolate bars. I took 3 and a bag of gummies. We were powered along to this fellow.
Shortly after Ralphie-boy we knew we would find the 23 mile point. Some people missed it, and it’s understandable why:
The chocolate was such a welcome treat and a nice burst of energy that Greg started sprinting. He was BACK! He took off like a shot down the Streets of America. I, on the other hand, was waiting for my burst. I felt tired for the first time all day and felt like I was moving in slow motion. Somehow we caught up with Greg before we got to…
After this, we started down a path I didn’t even know existed. The walkway between Disney Hollywood Studios and the Epcot Area Resorts. The whole way was lined with cheering guests, some handing out treats and others just offering support in their own way:
Once again we saw Peggy Sue – bless her heart for being out there in that hot sun, so late into the race. It really cheered me up to see her. While Greg and I had found our second wind, Rachael had started to flag. We waited for her before we we entered Epcot and I gave her what, in retrospect, may have been a terrifying ‘pep talk”.
“Less than two miles to go. We’re almost there, but you’ve got to dig deep. We can finish with a sub-seven if we keep pushing. You’ve got to DIG DEEP! FINISH STRONG!”
I felt like I was floating along, but Rachael was struggling. By the time we got to China, she was trying to tell us to go on ahead if I wanted to finish under seven hours. She didn’t think she could make it. Greg and I said absolutely not – she looked wobbly, so we forced some gummies into her, made her drink some water and kept her moving (don’t worry, we took it easy).
For the second day in a row, I heard the happiest sound in the world…
We were so close to the finish, we all took off. I practically danced down the finishing chute, hearing Rudy Novotny call out our names – my heart soared! We were doing it! We were finishing our Marathon. I was Goofy! Greg was Dopey! We all were multiple-marathoners!
We crossed the finish line and I clicked off my Garmin and noticed the time. We did it in under 7 hours according to my Garmin. Unofficially. I checked my Twitter feed for the official results, and discovered that we’d really managed it. Barely. 6:59:52. Hey, I’ll take it.
We collected our various hardware and made our way to the Race Retreat for some well-deserved breakfast and you’d better believe I ate the hell out of some bacon.
We caught the last bus heading back to the Wilderness Lodge, and I lined up the weekend’s spoils:
I’ll tell you what, the ice cold water was incredible. Shrieking-giggle inducing, but incredible. I couldn’t remember my feet ever being so happy as when I dunked them in the cold water before I added the ice.
Have I fallen in love with the Marathon distance yet? Not entirely. But I’m not mad at it anymore. I didn’t cry after finishing this time around, but I’m still not entirely satisfied. I won’t be satisfied until I get to run a marathon properly trained and at my pace. I still want to see what I can really do.
Goofy Challenge 2015, anyone?
Here’s the video compilation from my camera:
Did you run the Walt Disney World Marathon this year? Do you want to run it in 2015?
I am an actor/writer/director based in Chicago, IL.