Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Disney Marathon Weekend Part Two: Full Marathon Day

I had a lot of different emotions coming into the marathon. I felt untrained, unprepared, and really not ready. Frankly, part of me was dreading it. I just wasn't in the right mental space to run 26.2 miles.. then I found out that the weather was going to be insanely hot... and I looked forward to it even less, if that is possible. ...but everybody else in my group was really excited about it.

Everybody set individual obnoxious cell phone alarms for 3 am, so there was no question that we would wake up. I actually slept pretty well, considering that it was the night before a huge race. I was pretty worn out from the night before the half (Friday night). I think that, by the time the first obnoxious alarm went off, I had slept 6 or 7 hours, which is VERY good for the night before a race.

I woke up and realized that half of my face was still swollen from the night before. (I've been having some hives lately.. some kind of an allergic reaction or something. It happened for a little while when I was a kid, too.) I was definitely not excited about a swollen upper lip, but hoped for the best. We got dressed, went to the bus... and Kath realized that she forgot her camera. Sad face, especially since we planned to run separately. After some discussion, I decided to give Kath my camera and run with my mom. We had never run together for more than a few miles before, but we have a similar pace. I also had overheard someone running with her dad during the half and it made me feel thankful to share the experience with  my mom. (insert sappy "I miss my dad, but I'm glad that my mom is still here" music...)

So we rode the bus to EPCOT and began the long walk to the corrals. (It's such a long long walk. That's one thing that Chicago did better, in my opinion. The corral situation was much easier, but probably also easier for running bandits... hence them running out of medals.) We ended up splitting up, because Jen was a corral ahead of the rest of us (that speed demon!). We said our goodbyes, wished her good luck on her very first full marathon (!!), then my mom, Kath and I went to corral E to get ready for the race. We chatted for a while, I excitedly murmured about Joey Fatone running the Goofy Challenge (they were interviewing him). I really felt a personal connection with him... it was his first half AND his first full. That makes him crazier than me. It made me think back to my first Goofy Challenge and how I had no idea what I was getting into. With this one being my third, I was feeling a like I knew what to expect, but not super pumped about it. I knew that it was going to be really emotional, but I wasn't ready to really face that.

 Eventually, the fireworks went off and there went corral A. I started to feel a little bit more excited about the race, but not where I really wished that I could be. I was excited about the idea of running with my mom, because we hadn't done it before. My mom and I have gotten a lot closer since we both started running and have lost all of the weight that we have lost. It is really special to share running with her. (and my best friend! If Kath didn't come along to my races and train with me, I don't know WHAT I would do. It would be a lot more lonely.) I just couldn't really wrap my mind around the 26.2 miles that were looming ahead. I was nervous that the course had changed for the 20th anniversary, because I didn't really have a map in my head of exactly where we were going. I just knew that I was glad that we weren't going to do the EPCOT loop that had been done previously. It does sort of suck to run a 5k and then end up back at the start line, knowing that you still have more than 20 miles to run. haha. Anyways.. eventually, it was Corral E's turn to start and we took off. Kath stayed with my mom and me for close to a mile before she went off to run her first full marathon. My mom and I stayed at a steady pace and talked a little bit before we got to the Magic Kingdom. We planned to stop in the park for pictures (and a clean bathroom stop!), so we knew we would lose time that we would have to make up for.

One of the parts that I always dread during a Run Disney event is the giant hill in front of the Contemporary. It came at mile 4 (ish) during the half, and this time, during the full, too. As always, the hill was very challenging. It's a steep hill down, followed by a just as steep hill straight back up. My mom and I walked the up hill part... It takes much less energy to walk sometimes.. and it isn't too much of a different pace! At that point, we were passed by a coworker of my mom's, who said hello and went on his way. (I love how much of a community running is!) We ran into the Magic Kingdom and down Main Street. It is always really exhilarating to see all of the spectators lined up along Main Street, cheering for their runners. It always sort of makes me tear up. It was neat to get to run down Main Street with my mom. Last year at the half, we happened to meet up there and get a cute picture, but during this race we were together on purpose!

After we ran down Main Street, we stopped for a picture with Buzz Lightyear! Then we used the park's bathrooms, which is ALWAYS a good idea. When you can avoid the port-a-potty, you always should. (At least, that is my philosophy.) We ran through Tomorrowland and into Fantasyland.. Then we ran through the castle and into Liberty Square and Frontierland. That's always a fun part for me, because I keep my eyes out for coworkers. This time, just like on Saturday, I stopped at the Market and waved to some of my fellow stockers.. then we went on our way. My mom and I had lost some time, but knew that we would make it up on the dreaded Bear Island Road. (I had been dreading Bear Island Road the most out of the whole race. I almost lost all of my motivation on Bear Island Road last year and nearly walked the entire thing!)

After Magic Kingdom, we ran back toward the Transportation and Ticket Center, where the next part of the course was to run on the Speedway. I had never even seen the Speedway, so I knew that it was going to be a surprise for me. This part was one of the new portions of the course that they had changed this year, for the 20th anniversary of the race. It actually ended up being pretty neat. There was a crazy downhill/uphill to get onto the speedway, which was ROUGH, but there were a lot of old cars sitting out. It reminded me of going to the Muddy River Run with my uncle when I was a kid. We also stopped for a picture with Mater from Cars. Otherwise, it was a little crazy how slanted the road was, some parts were a little more hilly than others. It was a good change, though. I'd definitely do that again rather than the "to EPCOT and back to the start line" beginning that we had done in the past.

After the Speedway was Bear Island Road. I told my mom that I had really struggled there last year and she had too. I was glad that it came earlier in the course this time, because I felt like I still had some energy to power through the road. At first, it was okay and we ran at a pretty good pace, cutting some legitimate time that we had lost during the Magic Kingdom. We chatted and stayed together. Eventually, we got to the sanitation plant, which was pretty terrible. It smelled worst than it had in years past and I literally had to run on the side of the road gagging. I was pretty sure that I was going to throw up... Somehow, I didn't and was able to keep going. (Then I made the mistake of waiting in the LONGEST bathroom line of all time and we lost ALL of the time that we had just made up. Plus some.)

Animal Kingdom was good. It's always really short though. I wish that there was another mile in the park, because it goes by so quickly. (Next year, I'm thinking about hopping on Expedition Everest during the marathon. That would be a hell of a story to tell!) When we got to the parking lot after Animal Kingdom (mile 14ish), I sped up a little bit, then slowed down. I really wanted to stay with my mom and help her stay motivated. She was doing her best, but really struggling with the heat. She was having some pain in her jaw that was bothering her and was drained. She told me to go ahead a couple times and joked about getting on the next bus, but ended up feeling a little better and we kept going. When we got to mile 16, we were running on one side of the street and lots of people ahead of us (at mile 21!) were running back on the opposite side of the street. All of a sudden, Kath came bounding across the grassy median to give hugs and say hello. I was very excited to see that she seemed to be feeling so awesome at that point.

My mom and I ended up splitting up right before mile 17. She had decided to walk for a while and I really wanted to just get moving. It was right before ESPN, which is pretty significant, because it was the part I was looking forward to the second least (only after Bear Island Road!). I knew that it was going to be a part that I was going to be in my head a LOT. The last time that I ran out there was during the Tower of Terror 10 miler, which was a really significant race for me personally and really signified a pretty big shift in my life. I expected to be hit with memories and I really was. There is something about running that can really get to me. I almost never run with music, so I am always stuck in my head thinking about things, memories, ideas, when I'm out there. All of the feelings that I had been feeling for the past several months hit me right then... like I expected. It was an extremely emotional three miles through the Wide World of Sports.. and I needed it. My life has been through so many changes in the past year that were awesome and awful. I thought about every moment during those three miles.

After the Wide World of Sports, I still had an okay pace. I pushed it up the last overpass toward Hollywood Studios, knowing that I was close and trying not to think about or be concerned for my mom. Running through Hollywood Studios was almost like a relief for me. I knew that I was almost there and I felt VERY strong and very confident. From that was the Boardwalk, then World Showcase at EPCOT... (I do love watching people buy beer and snacks during the final stretch of the  marathon.) Before I knew it, I had crossed the finish line! I was hot and emotional. I felt like my body had just been through one of the most difficult things it had ever been through... and that was accurate. It was the most emotional race of my life, topped by it being the day after a half.. and the heat was insane.

I turned on my phone as I walked toward the snack station and got a text from my mom saying that she had been picked up by the bus and was waiting for me. I almost lost it right then. Somehow, I walked to the Goofy Tent, got my medal, and then started crying. When I met up with my mom, I started sobbing. It was the most out of control I have been in a long time. I didn't even know how to put words to what I was feeling in that moment. It was nuts. Eventually, I calmed down and we got on the bus back to the hotel, showered, and got ready for the parks for the evening.

I felt more calm as time went on. I expected for it to be emotional, but all of it with the heat and with feeling sad that I left my mom and she didn't get to finish just combined for a really awful few moments.

...but I'll probably be back for more next year.

Miles run: 53.75/1000
Miles biked: 0
Meters swum: 0


  1. Great post! You had said it was emotional but I don't think I realized how emotional it really was for you. I'm so glad you finished for a third time! I was nervous with the heat and how worn out you were at mile one. I'm glad I got to experience this with you even though we didn't actually run together! I'm proud of you and I'm glad we got to see each other before you got to ESPN, that was really neat! Cute photo with the Goofinator!!!!

  2. This sounds like a really emotional day - eeeeep. Even after your third time around, I guess it's immportant to recognize how much running/racing/marathons/whateverdistance can take a toll on you, and especially emotionally. I'm expecting to be a hot mess in two weeks.

    You amaze me with your perseverance and you should be SO proud. Way to go lady, as always! :)