I did it again, y’all! I finished the 2017 WDW Marathon! I have written this blog several times now because I just couldn’t figure out how I wanted to do my recap and then WordPress mysteriously ate it! The first time I’ve ever had that happen. It was almost as if something out there didn’t want me posting this recap…hmmm. I can’t let that happen, the recap will happen! The WDW marathon is my big race of the year and so many different things went through my mind during the marathon that I wanted my recap to include it all. It may be long but it has a few tidbits that may help if you are thinking about running the WDW Marathon.
When I did the 2016 WDW Marathon it wasn’t the marathon I had in my mind. I finished and I rode a roller coaster during a marathon, now how many people can say that but, it was not the marathon I had in my mind that I wanted to complete. I had decided in 2018 I would try the marathon again. I liked the course and it would be an anniversary year for the marathon. My husband though bought me an entry to the 2017 WDW marathon as an anniversary present, so I started training for the marathon I had envisioned the first time I signed up. This time I was able to stay mostly injury free. No stress fractures holding me back this time, just some with plantar fasciitis after unknowingly ripping a hole in the side of my shoe. I put in 100+ mile months and long miles on the weekends. I was as ready as I was going to get come marathon weekend.
I was in corral L, this is something that frustrated me. I was in “J” the previous year with a much slower proof of time. I decided I would go to runner relations to see if there was any moving up a corral or two. I had helped a friend move up from P the previous year, so I knew it could be done. Anyways, the worst they could say was no, right? Well, that’s what they said. Due to changes in the corrals, I was in the right place. They couldn’t tell me how those with much slower proof of times or those who hadn’t submitted one were in that corral other than they shouldn’t have been. I decided to take the attitude of, it is, what it is and I would make the best of it. Plus anyways the next morning I was going to get Mickey Waffles and go to the Magic Kingdom. I was going to have a good time!
While packing I had checked the weather and knew the weather may turn cold and packed a couple extra things but I didn’t realize that Florida would decide to go full winter during marathon weekend. Early Saturday morning a front came through bringing thunderstorms that canceled the WDW Half Marathon. After the storms left we were left with winds that reminded us that it was January. Marathoners everywhere were looking for cold weather gear on Saturday, including myself. I forgot my hat at home and I hate having cold ears. Luckily, I was able to find a plain black hat at Epcot. I was ready as I was going to get.
My alarms went off before I knew it and I was dressed and off to the bus. When the wind wasn’t blowing it was tolerable out but that wind was nothing for all of my layers. There were warmers set up all around the staging area but none of them were turned on. That was just mean, Disney! It didn’t stop people from gathering around them though, the more people gathered the warmer we were. Time eventually came for me to leave, take off my hoodie and hand it over to gear check and go to my corral. My plan was to try to start at the beginning of my corral. I figured I may have a better chance if I could get out in front of my corral. I was soon back out in the cold surrounded by those wearing trash bags and mylar blankets to stay warm.
In the corrals, I went over in my head my plan (really anything to get my mind off the bitter cold). Start at the head of the corral and get in front if I can. Watch my speed in the beginning. Limit weaving as much as I could and since I had park tickets I was skipping Everest this year. After seeing that there were pacers in the corral, I told myself I could just stay with the pacers. It was a simple plan, a plan I wasn’t sure was going to happen the longer I waited. The cold chilled me to my bones and made them ache and I was getting stiff. I was also shaking uncontrollably and it had me curious how much extra energy I may be using and if I need to make any modifications for that. Most of all, all I could think is we need to start moving soon or I will be going 0.0miles.
The time finally came to go and Mickey sent us on our way, we were off.
The first few miles were pretty easy I was ahead of the 5:45 pacers and feeling good. The crowding wasn’t too bad. I was taking my jacket off by mile 2. There were garbage bags all over the place as others were warming up too.
Mile 5 was probably one of my favorites because it’s when you get to go through the Magic Kingdom. There is something special about running down Main Street and through the castle.
As I left the Magic Kingdom my pace slowed as the course was narrow but I thought I was ok. I was still ahead of the 5:45 pacer team or so I thought. I heard their yells and next thing I knew they were pushing their way through the crowd. Yeah, just ignore the rest of us and push your way through. As a pacer, I know how it’s important to stay on pace but the way these pacers and their pace group were running was pretty inconsiderate. What was I going to do though? I figured I might be able to catch back up to them when things thinned out a little but then I had to go to the bathroom at mile 7. Those bathroom breaks can really be time killers. Oh to be a guy, they would just stand at the woodline and go.
Onto Animal Kingdom I went after my bathroom break. For some reason, this part of the marathon was a bit of a blur for me. There were a few characters out on the way as well as a stop that can be best explained as a graveyard of past rides. One thing that I won’t forget about this stretch of the course was the smell. It wasn’t the pleasant smell that scents the air of Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom.This smell was enough that it almost made me lose the protein bar I had eaten for breakfast. We were going by the waste-water treatment facility. I must have blocked this from my 2016 marathon memories. I really did not remember the smell being so bad and it was much warmer in 2016! Before I knew it we were grabbing bananas and making our way into Animal Kingdom and approaching the halfway point, mile 13.1 and I had to go pee, again. I ended up making 2 bathroom breaks in Animal Kingdom. My first stop, the line just wasn’t moving so I ended up going slightly off course by Yak and Yeti. I thought about going on Expedition Everest as I came up on it but reminded myself that as awesome as it is to ride a roller coaster in the middle of the marathon that I needed to finish so I could go to the parks and ride all the rides I had wanted. Around Dinoland USA I went and out to the parking lot. Less than halfway left to go!.
It soon became time for more highway miles on our way to ESPN Wide World of Sports. ESPN is not a favorite of many that run the WDW Marathon. Sure you get to run around the track and the baseball stadium, there are more bananas too but, it is another place where the course narrows and well, it just seems like it goes on forever. For me, it meant another bathroom break as I entered ESPN and then swollen hands at mile 21 as I was leaving.
Leaving ESPN meant another highway mile, a Florida “hill” where the toy soldier was “encouraging” everyone up the hill and around the corner was Hollywood Studios. Due to park construction, the route changed a little this year. We were handed chocolate as we entered the studios. I had the choice of full-size Crispy M&M’s or Dove Chocolate Squares. At 23 miles those chocolate squares were the perfect snack! Entering the park we were by the Tower of Terror and many jumped on over to ride it but I just kept going. Our time in Hollywood Studios really wasn’t that long because we rounded the corner and headed out of the park towards the safety of mile 24 and the Boardwalk area.
According to many the last hard sweep of the marathon is mile 24 at the entrance of boardwalk. It’s been said that some of have been swept on golf carts and what not after this point but I have never talked to anyone that has actually been swept after this point. Mile 24 is where everyone gives that big ole sigh of relief and relaxes a bit.I know I did. I knew with all my bathroom breaks I wasn’t going to make my goal time. I knew I was going to finish without worry that I was going to get swept. I decided if I saw characters in Epcot I would stop and I may stop and get that margarita I wanted last year too. I stopped when I saw a couple Team RWB Daytona ladies and talked to them.
At mile 25 we finally entered into Epcot. I was welcomed at the last water point by a volunteer accidentally pouring a cup of cold water on me. It was cold but it was all good, I was almost done and already in my happy place. As I ventured around the countries at Epcot I didn’t see a single character stop and I decided against the overpriced margarita. I was ready to finish. I saw the gospel choir and knew it was almost all over.
I finished strong and running, with a high five to Mickey right before I finished.
Looking back, despite my many bathroom breaks, I felt good during my entire run. There was never a moment of this sucks, I want to quit or anything like that. I wasn’t hurting or in pain. For this, I have to thank my training. I did a couple 20-mile runs during training and that worked perfectly for me. You can’t complete a marathon on pixie dust and expect to feel good.
Going into the marathon I wasn’t solid on my nutrition it all worked out and I went against the #1 race day rule, I tried new things. I have been able to tolerate bananas this past year so I ate one plus I took candy from strangers. Those on the sidelines cheering that bring treats are lifesavers! The Starburst Jelly Beans that the RWB girls gave me were my favorite. The strangers cheering people on are amazing!
Finally, running is mental and breaking down the course was incredibly helpful for me! I broke up the course in sections such as start to Magic Kingdom. Breaking it up made the course a bit easier to tackle.
In the end, the race was still not what I had envisioned but i’ve decided i’m ok with that. Plus anyways, i’ll be back again in 2018.
I’m already signed up. See you then!