I had been waiting for the WDW Marathon for two months with great anticipation. After the sweep at MCM in October, I was determined to get my revenge and prove to myself that I could still run 26.2 and FINISH (and maybe have a little fun in there, too).
I set my alarm for 1 AM and planned on leaving my hotel around 1:30 since I had to commute in from US 192. It was about a ten-minute drive to EPCOT, so I wasn’t too concerned about hitting traffic. Leading up to this, I had established a terrible habit of falling asleep around 2AM and waking up at noon. Fear of sleeping through the marathon was high on the “Things to Be Anxious” list.
I must have not heard my alarm go off, or something…I woke up on my own at 1:46 AM.
Seriously?! What the hell, alarm clock.
I bolted out of bed, and in ten minutes was dressed and heading out the door. (It’s surprising how fast I can get moving when I’m looking forward to something.) On my way to the staging area, my stomach burst with butterflies, and this was amplified as I saw the fleet of charter buses coming from EPCOT and heading to their respective resorts. This is it, I thought to myself. No going back now.
I arrived at EPCOT at 2:16 AM, and parked behind the K-9 Unit. It was a perfect spot; I got to see the pups and be cozy in my car all at the same time.
I chilled out as runners started trickling through the security lines. Contrary to the previous day when the half marathon had taken place (and reading everyone’s complaints about slow security), the process seemed to be a lot less hectic. I guess runDisney figured out what to do to make the sequence of events more smooth, and it was working.
Around 3:45, I made my way through security and dropped off my post-race stuff. Then I started looking for people. I had never been so social during a race weekend. I had made it a point to meet (or meet up with) as many people as possible IRL, and it was turning out to be a record weekend for that…
Patrick and I took off for the corrals around 4:45 and after meandering through the herd, bid each other farewell and “Have a great race!” at the grassy median. I went to the right towards corral L and found a spot to veg and listen to the DJ/race personalities during pre-race. I thought their humor was en pointe and lively, moreso than the other races I’ve taken part in. Well done!
*insert pre-race ceremonies and stuff here*
*Fireworks go boom*
As we were progressing through the corral launches, the humidity was becoming obnoxious. I had Underarmour underneath my shirt (to go along with my “Minnie” outfit), and I was either going to be okay with it on (since I tend to run cold no matter what I do), or I was going to die. Once Corral L started the race, I didn’t make it to the first mile marker before I was ducking behind one of the maintenance trucks and removing it.
I’m glad it’s going to charity. I had that piece since my senior year of high school for track season (back in ’05). I totally got my money’s worth out of it!
It took a few miles to get into a groove of some sort. My Armpocket was giving me major issues (sliding all over the place) and I wasn’t feeling the music I was playing. I had debated about running with music at all, and I should have left my iPod in the car. I enjoyed interacting with the other athletes around me and we were tossing jokes back and forth as we headed into Magic Kingdom. No tunes needed; there were plenty on the course!
MK: Magical as always heading to the castle. I had heard that it was an absolute bottleneck the previous day for the half, and was surprised and pleased that runDisney had decided to divert the runners BOTH ways coming out of the castle. This may have been the smartest idea runDisney has ever come up with.
Miles 7-11: The first 9 miles or so reflects the exact same course as PHM, so I knew a huge stretch of epic boredom and clusterfuckiness was about to come. When you come out of the backstage area of MK, the course narrows to half of the road at this point, and is NOT. FUN. AT. ALL. You’re tripping over people, everything stinks (literally), and getting trapped behind slower people coupled with the thoughts of, “We’re not even halfway yet. Grrrrr….” is enough to make anyone go crazy.
This time, though, I was closing in on my Team Shenanigans friends, estimating I was around a mile or so behind them. I kept communicating with Chris (@DopeyRunr) via Twitter, and eventually caught up with them at Captain Jack and Barbossa!
(Photo courtesy of Chris!)
(Photo courtesy of Ian!)
Goal: Get fast enough to run with their group. Even just being around them for five minutes gave me the best boost of energy!
AK: I was toying with riding Expedition Everest at AK at mile 12, but I was scared about being swept at this point (#BackOfTheFieldProblems). Props to everyone who did ride it though. It looked like a ton of fun!! (Once again…goal is to get faster to enjoy the rides with enough of a time cushion to be comfortable with doing so.)
Coming out of AK, I met a new friend on the course, Autumn! She was completing Dopey, and she and I stayed with each other up until the Yacht Club/Boardwalk area. I am SO fortunate to have run with her. She and a couple of other runners were keeping tabs on where the Balloon Ladies were and they estimated they were about 20 minutes behind us at any given point. This made me feel comfortable, yet still anxious.
Miles 14-18: …just like 7-11; long, pointless, pretty blah. Autumn and I chatted a lot and fartleked the course. Heading into Wide World of Sports, I was so ready for it all to be done.
I wasn’t a fan of the WWOS portion (even though I heard my name over the loudspeaker, “Christina Campbell, how are you feeling?!” and I threw my arms up and cheered). It seemed like it would never end. I did appreciate the plethora of stands tunes and college fight songs being blasted over the speakers as it reminded me of my marching band days of yesteryear. But again… wasn’t a fan of this portion of the course.
Coming out of WWOS, it was the Mile 20.5 Spectacular with Laura (@ChickenHatCheerer) of Team Shenanigans! She had a ton of food with her, yet I wasn’t feeling up to eating at all…but she convinced me to have oranges. Best decision ever.
At this point, the section of road (mile 17) that ran parallel to Miles 20 and 21 had been shut down. The next leg of the race was Hollywood Studios, and I knew there was a sweeper bus in there somewhere. I hustled on up the hill and made it backstage for Miles 22 and 23….and got chocolate. Sweet, sweet Dove chocolate. 😀
I was getting close to finishing this race. I saw the Mile 23 marker and got so excited that there was only 3.2 to go! I even passed the cutest bulldog heading to the Boardwalk and got to give him lots of pets. (Dude, if you see course puppies, pet them. Instant mood booster!) More and more cheers rang out: “You’re so close!” “You’re such a badass!” If runDisney can be really known for something positive, it’s that course support from volunteers and fans is extraordinary.
I saw a firstie that was starting to struggle and really hit her wall around Mile 24. I fell back for a moment and made sure she was okay. She was getting really emotional about everything hurting and “I’m going to finish my first marathon!” excitement. I took her hand and said, “Then we’ll finish this!” We ran hand in hand past the Swan and Dolphin (where she worked) and around the back part of the Boardwalk until she stopped for a picture with the Fairy Godmother. I truly hoped that she finished with a huge smile on her face.
The last portion of the race was through EPCOT and the World Showcase. I knew many runners would be heading to get food and beverages, and the throng of spectators kept growing. Last part of the race. Finish strong and don’t slow down (much)! Around Italy, I started picking up the pace, the energy of the crowd driving me those last 1.2 miles. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a cell phone sticking out from the crowd. Someone’s trying to take a picture of me? Well, okay! I slowed down, and saw it was Patrick! I dashed over and gave him a hug.
“Hi! You finished!” I exclaimed.
“Hi! Go finish!” he told me.
“I was so afraid that you got swept!” (Because #AchillesProblems.)
“I’m fine! Go finish!”
(Photo courtesy of Patrick!)
I smiled and turned back to the course, constanty moving forward even though a major blister decided to form on the ball of my right foot less than a mile away from the finish line. (Really, foot? You decide to act up NOW?) There was no stopping, though, as I passed the gospel choir and down the last straightaway across the finish line in 7:11:59.
I have my redemption.
I have my revenge.
I’m a two-time marathoner.
I can run 26.2.
- I need to get faster. Period. Being stuck in the middle to back of the field and having to dodge slower runners who insist on not adhering to race etiquette of not walking 3+ abreast across the road, or not communicating their run/walk intervals, is grinding the hell out of my gears. It seems like a lot of my friends are in the upper corrals, and trust me, I really long to be up there racing with them. Just for once, I would like to have a race where I can test my limits of athleticism and really RUN. Having to walk at a 15:30+ pace isn’t much fun anymore, and now that I’m going to be starting on my fourth year of running, I think it’s about time to kick it up a notch or five before GSC.
- Phone Stuff: My phone was only charged around 80% when I left my car. (I didn’t plug it in overnight and had to use the little USB port on my dashboard. It doesn’t charge as fast as one may think!) Airplane mode is your friend during a race! Between social media-ing and taking pictures, I finished the race with about 10% left.
- The Dreaded Armpocket: The biggest blunder I had in this race was my Armpocket. I’ve had it for two years and the velcro is starting to loosen. I also can’t keep my phone, iPod, and EnergyBits stashed neatly in there; everything becomes a mess. It also got saturated with sweat over the course of those hours, and it wasn’t fun having it strapped and sliding on my arm. My left arm was pretty sore afterwards. I’m highly considering not running with it for GSC, especially since it made me so cranky this time.
- Oh, the Humidity: The weather for the entire weekend was eccentric. The 10K was a Splash and Dash v.2, the half marathon was Fog City, and the marathon was Running Through Soup. It got breezy after the halfway point, but it provided little comfort. Even the elite runners were posting how much they were hurting and how conservative they ran their races. I felt like the course provided extra water stops, or maybe it was the fact I was running a Disney marathon and not just the PHM where I know where all the water stops are. Nonetheless, I really hope that the weather for GSC isn’t going to be terrible…
- I’m the Anti-Runner With Food: Many runners are ravenous when they finish a race. I am the exact opposite. I’m surprised that I ate as much as I did on the course (oranges, pretzels, chocolate, almonds, one out of the two banana stops). But some of the stuff I had I couldn’t bring myself to swallow and simply spat out (most of the almonds, gummy bears). Even at the Polynesian later that night, I merely picked at my food. I posed this question on Twitter a few years ago, but does anyone else have the anti-hungries while in training or post-race?
To everyone who made this race fantastic, THANK YOU. I was a jumble of emotions and jitters and overthinking on my way down to Florida, and it continued throughout the weekend until the race started. I fought some serious “I want to be anti-social and stay in my room.” feelings, but I’m glad I shoved those aside and hung out with people. You all did a stellar job quelling those fears for me, and I’m eternally grateful. I may not have had a PR, but I damn well PRed in FUN (just like Team Shenanigans suggested that I do!); I have never had so much fun during a racecation! This newfound confidence is already getting me excited for GSC weekend, where I get to do all of the traveling and running again.
List of People To Give Thanks (And Many Hugs) To:
-Team Shenanigans (Chris, Ian, Brittany, Ryan, Kristin, Laura, Jess and Mike, and everyone else!)
-Patrick (“We found Nemo!”)
-Amelia and Katherine (so happy to have met you in person finally!)
-@IShouldRun and @DisRunnerK (more happiness to meet the two of you on race morning!)
-Ken and Rowena (#kenthumbsup for days!)
-WeRunSocial crew at their meetup (Justin and Devin (#MakinLemonadeOutta), BamaGirlRUNS, Dani, Meg, Sarah, and everyone else!)
(Photo courtesy of WeRunSocial!)
-Every single one of you for your support and encouragement!
Congratulations to everyone, and good luck to those traveling to Disneyland for Star Wars: Light Side weekend!
Five more weeks ’til Glass Slipper/Princess Weekend! Until next time…
See you at the finish line!