I ran the Disney World Marathon on Sunday, January 8th. My first official marathon.
Click on the photos for bigger versions. See all of my marathon photos here.
The morning started out so early that it was actually late. A 3:20AM wake-up call got me up from a restless night of little sleep. I tossed my clothes on, brushed my teeth, and read through the motivational quotes that my friend Tina gave me for inspiration. I shoved a muffin and granola bar in my mouth and headed down to the hotel lobby for my 3:45 cab to Epcot and the marathon starting line.
The Starting Line:
Getting between the drop off point and the starting line meant a 20 minute walk. Tina walked with me and the 20,000 other runners all the way to the corrals even though she wasn’t supposed to. The morning was chilly, but not uncomfortably cold. I wore a light jacket to the start then handed it off to Tina before she left me for the spectator area.
I was more than pissed that my kickass music playlist was a no-go since my iPod decided to stop functioning just days before the marathon. I had no music to pump me up for the run and would only have myself and my thoughts for the next 26 miles. I was a concerned that I would run out of thoughts. :/
Waiting in my corral, my stomach was upset. A little bit from nervousness, but mostly from the cabbage I ate at an Irish Pub the night before. I know what you’re thinking Who the hell eats cabbage the night before a marathon?!? I have no words to explain my lack of foresight that evening.
I hit up the porta-potties at the start line just as the elite runners were about to take off. The extra toilet paper that I put in my fanny pack was genius! I patted myself on the back for at least that foresight.
The race started at 5:30 but, since I was in corral E, I didn’t start until 5:45. Mickey Mouse counted us down, there were fireworks, and then the runners took off.
Miles 1-9 –Excitement:
Mile 1 and 2 came and went before we hit Epcot centre. We ran through some of the World Showcase (I remember Mexico and Norway, but can’t remember if we ran through others) and then right out of the park.
Tina was waiting for me at mile 4 with noise-makers, cheering, and words of encouragement. She was waiting for me again at mile 9 and it was always so inspiring to have her cheering me on.
In spite of already having taken 2 bathroom breaks, I was keeping about a 10 minute mile pace. I was feeling really good at this point and getting excited to come up on the Magic Kingdom at Mile 10.
Mile 10 –Running through Magic Kingdom:
I would rate this one of the top experiences in my life; even higher than crossing the finish line. There were so many spectators lining Main Street USA making so much noise that you couldn’t help but be motivated by all the energy that was pumping through that place. I probably could have flown through Magic Kingdom on all that energy, but I stopped for photo-ops.
The anticipation builds as you are about to enter Cinderella’s castle too, which is the pinnacle of marathon running awesomeness.
And then out you come, feeling like a princess, with a whole bunch of snap-happy photographers there to take your picture.
Miles 11-13 –Coming off the high:
I was still in high spirits (although my stomach was not so I stopped again to use the porta-potty) after coming out of the Magic Kingdom in the part of the race. We ran past the Grand Floridian and the golf resort, both of which made for good scenery.
I spotted Tina again just before the 13 mile mark though the spectators were bit far from the route barrier so I didn’t get a chance to stop and talk to her at this point which was disappointing because I knew that I wouldn’t see her until the finish line and I wasn’t even halfway done.
Mile 14-16 –Three miles from Hell:
I run the back roads of Essex County so I’m intimately familiar with boring stretches of road, and yet getting through these 3 dull miles between Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom was tough. They call this an area “rarely seen by the public” but that’s just because it’s so awful. Hey Disney, let’s stop kidding ourselves and call it what it is: the worst part of the marathon course. You’re halfway through and there is nothing to look at, hardly any spectators, and very little incentive to keep running. At one point we even had to run past a garbage dump which smelled like ass and made me wonder out loud, “Are you fucking kidding me right now?!” to everyone around but no one in particular.
I had to make my fourth annoying bathroom stop to relieve my stomach ache and I stopped at the medical station to pump some biofreeze onto my right knee which was beginning to bother me at this point. At the medical stations they also had vaseline available. I considered reapplying some since I knew most of it had been wiped away during all my bathroom breaks, but I thought people would start to wonder when they saw me sticking my hand down my pants in public, so I refrained. In the end, the chaffing wasn’t so bad.
The highlight of this stretch was my photo-op with Pocahontas, Meeko, and John Smith from my favourite Disney movie. After that I gave a little fist pump and ran off at a quicker pace.
Mile 17-21 –Animal Kingdom:
I was relieved to see an ass on the side of the road. And falcons. It meant we were entering Animal Kingdom and most of the remaining miles would be through the theme parks. Animal Kingdom was open to the public by the time we ran through so there were lots of people around cheering on the runners. It wasn’t nearly as energetic as Magic Kingdom though where the spectators were lining the streets just to see the runners come through. I’ve never been to Animal Kingdom before but it was cool to run through the jungle trees, see the Tree of Life, and Mount Everest.
As we were leaving the park I stopped to get a photo with Minnie and then Mickey. That was my most exciting celebrity sighting.
Miles 19 to 21 were on a stretch of highway between Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios where I started to add lots of walking intervals among my slower running, decreasing my pace to about 12 minute miles. At mile 20.5 there were some entertainers lining the road and asking people where they were from. I shouted “Canada!” into the mic and the guy says, “Canada? Um, okay?” which made me confused. Was that the wrong answer?
Mile 22-24 –Hollywood Studios:
My left shin was really starting to hurt and the biofreeze did nothing for my knee. I kept my walking intervals but just being in the park motivated me to run a little more than I had been on the highways.
I felt that there was a lot more to experience in Hollywood Studios compared to Animal Kingdom. There were more spectators and there were more sights to see, like the tower of terror, a costume design studio, and the iconic sorcerer’s hat. The spectators there had a lot of energy, maybe because we were so close to the finish. Everyone was shouting, “Only 3 miles to go!” but 3 miles feels like a long time when you’ve already run 23.
I grabbed some candy and chocolate at mile 23. I pocketed the chocolate for later because the richness didn’t sound appetizing, but I pounded back the candy.
At mile 24 I stopped for my fifth and last bathroom break in an actual public bathroom which felt positively luxurious in comparison to the stinky porta-potties I was getting used to. I tried to force myself to run as much as possible for the last 2.2 miles.
Mile 25-26 –The Boardwalk and Epcot:
Because you don’t need a theme park ticket to check out the boardwalk, it was lined with lots of spectators there just for the race. The energy was really building at this point with just a mile left to go and so many people cheering on the runners, it felt pretty good to be almost done despite the pain I was feeling.
We ran through the World Showcase in Epcot again which was much better during the day when you can really experience it. No one was stopping for pictures at this point because the race was almost done. I stopped for a quick picture with the Beast in France, my favourite Disney leading man, and Mushu from Mulan in China.
Before I knew it I was rounding the corner toward the finish line.
The energy from the crowd here was intense! I figured Tina was somewhere out in the stands so I was just waving at everyone like a celebrity on the red carpet and hoping that I she would see me. (I ended up finding her just passed the finish line)
I was so happy with my race that I crossed the finish with a huge smile on my face.
Marathon By the Numbers:
Final Time: 5:14:50
Goal Time: 5:15ish or whatever
Training Miles Run: 347.5
Bathroom Breaks: 5
Food Eaten on Course: 2 dates, 1 banana, 2 Clif Shots, 1 pack of candies
Cups of Powerade Consumed: 30+
Body Parts in Pain: 4: lower back, right knee, left shin, right foot
Disney Characters I Took Pictures With: 26 (See all of my marathon photos here.)