It’s almost time for the 2013 Walt Disney World Marathon and I felt like looking back on last year’s race. Best of luck to everyone running this weekend!
This race was the cap on a nice vacation. We rented a large house in Orlando with several relatives. My cousin Steve was also doing the marathon and his wife Kristi did the half the previous day. We had a fun family day walking around the Magic Kingdom the day before the marathon, and I was amazed that Kristi was up for it. She and several other park goers were sporting their 15th anniversary Donald medals. We left around sundown and had Carrabba’s for dinner.
The house was about 30 minutes from the park, so we set the alarms for 3. The race started at 5:35! I made some black tea and had a banana and some peanut butter before leaving the house. Steve was living in Orlando at the time and he took care of the driving, which was nice.
I had read several race reports on marathonguide.com, so I had a pretty good idea what to expect come race day. One wild card was the weather. Some years the race had been hot and others the starting temperatures were sub-freezing. Fortunately, weather reports promised a 50 degree start.
Cars were streaming into the park, but I don’t think we were held up too long. I ate a Luna bar before leaving the car. There were large televisions and music in the parking lot. Racers needed to walk about a half mile to get to the starting corrals. Several port-o-potties are set up in between the two. There were some lines, but we got to use the facilities in a reasonable time. I took my Chocolate Cherry Clif shot about 15 minutes before the start. Steve and I were in different corrals, so we said goodbye. I made my way to the Corral B and positioned myself in the middle.
I tossed all my warm clothes except for my gloves a few minutes before the start. The A Corral people were started with fireworks and cheers from Disney characters. We moved up and were started with the same fanfare a few minutes later.
My only real goal for this race was to finish under 4 hours. I had trained for a 3:45 pace, but I didn’t think I was quite there yet. Since this was my first marathon, I also had no idea what I would feel like when I hit 20+ miles (I had done a couple 20s in training). Would I smash into “The Wall”? I had talked to a couple people who had run marathons and felt great at the half, were even ahead of their half PRs, and then slogged to the finish.My plan was to run with the 4-hour group for a little while, then pull ahead if I felt good.
There were several people in front of me, so my first mile was slow. I don’t think this was a bad thing because it kept me in check. I had brought my MP3 player with me. I never raced with music, but I thought it might be nice for the marathon. The songs in the first couple hours of my playlist were smooth and flowing and they got more up-tempo and aggressive toward the end.
Most of this course is very flat (overpasses are the main exception), which was nice for pacing. The majority of the race was not in the parks, but on connecting roads. Disney is great about putting characters and other diversions along the way. Many of the male runners took advantage of the non-park portions to turn their backs to the road and relieve themselves. Many, many, many male runners. I had run 100+ races, but this was new to me!
After my first mile, I was hitting sub-9s with regularity (a 4 hour marathon is a 9:09 pace) and was feeling good. I tossed the gloves around mile 3. I saw the 4 hour pacer around mile 8. I ran with them for about half a mile, but felt I was holding myself back too much and decided to pass. The sun was starting to rise as I approached Cinderella’s castle. It was an incredible sight and I actually got a little misty-eyed.
In the reports I read, some people had complained about a sewage-y smell near the Animal Kindgom, and yes, it was there, but it wasn’t too bad. There were some fun little signs with Donald Duck trivia around this area. Did you know that Donald has been in more cartoons than any other Disney character?
I saw my husband around mile 19. I waved at him and then he saw me and snapped a picture. The course then hit an out-and-back stretch that some people had complained was boring, but I didn’t mind. Next was a bit of a hill, but the Toy Story green army men were there cheering us on. When I passed mile 20, I kept thinking about how each step I took was the farthest I had ever run.
The Hollywood Studios portion came after that. I had never visited it or even looked at pictures, and I really enjoyed seeing it. It was kind of Old Hollywood. The final section headed back toward Epcot. When I hit 23 miles, I was feeling good and tried to pick up my pace (hey, I know how to run a 5K!) and I got slightly faster. There were some little rollers in the Epcot area, but there were a lot of spectators and cool buildings to look at. Disney put our names on our bibs, and I got some personal cheers.
There was a gospel choir (mile 26?) toward the end, which was really uplifting. I was still feeling pretty strong and overwhelmed that I was almost done with a marathon. I was also going to break 4 hours easily. I saw Minnie near the finish line and gave her a hi-five before I crossed. Kudos to the folks in those costumes – they were jumping and waving enthusiastically. The characters took turns manning the finish line.
When I approached the finish, I felt like I could have kept running for a few more miles, but I was certainly glad to stop. Of course, once I did it was all over. Let the limping begin! It had also gotten warm by this time. I had avoided most of it, but it got to cousin Steve who finished about an hour later.
When I got back to the house to take and showered, I felt a searing pain on my back. I had forgotten to put Body Glide under my hydration belt and was seriously chafed. It seems like I always forget one place…
Now for the rest of the day: eat, sleep, repeat.
Race data: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/151593853