2017 WDW Marathon Recap

…four hours later…

2AM calls and I lay in bed, thinking, “Man, I had I just gone to sleep, and now it’s time for part two!” My body felt okay after the 13.1 accomplished just mere hours prior, but I knew it was gonna be hurting at some point along the marathon course.

Additionally, it was going to cold. Legit Florida freezy ice cold. With the cold front that was sweeping the nation that weekend, Orlando was spared from the wintry mixes of precipitation, but not from the biting winds. The air temperature was roughly 35-ish degrees…with NNW winds at 15mph. Real feel = -2983726 degrees (to me, anyway). The temp would get up into the 40s later on in the day, but the wind wasn’t going to cease. As I brewed my pre-race coffee and dressed in layers, I thought about the WDW Marathon in 2016, where the air temps were comfortable with lots of cloud cover, but the humidity was outrageous. I hoped for the same cloud cover for the 2017 race.

I departed around 3AM and headed to EPCOT. Rooming over in Old Town, I had about a 10, 15 minute drive over. There were a couple more cars out than last year, but I still arrived with a ton of time to spare. I kept my car idling with the heat on, organizing my new neoprene Fitletic pouch, listening to Hamilton, and sipping on warm Nuun water. (It’s not as gross as you may think. In fact, warm Nuun water is really tasty!)

Chillin with A.Ham.

I departed my toasty car (and the Hamiltunes) around 3:50 AM and made my way through the “no bag check” security line (although I did pause for a moment to open up my belt, which I was told that I was good to go). This was the first runDisney race I’ve ever taken part in where I didn’t check a gEAR bag. All I really needed was my ID, keys, phone, money, and race fuel.

I had a strategy with my race fuel. Having used Honey Stinger gels on course for the Everglades Half, I developed a preference to them over the Clif/GU gels (which are thicker and slosh around in my stomach). I had three with me, plus a new item: Run Gum! I was going to take a gel every 10K, and the Run Gum at halfway. I prepped my first gel in my sports bra to warm up (to be taken just before the corral was launched), and lined up everything else in order of consumption.

I made a beeline for the TS reunion signs, the meetup spot for Team Shenanigans—and of course, sold my kidney for some more coffee (which was warm-ish…stupid cold weather).

We all started gathering and huddling to stay warm. Silly me totally didn’t bring a blanket or extra sweats or anything, but Kristen saved the day by offering me one of her Mylar space blankies. Thanks, Kristen!!! ❤

Team Shenanigans in the house!

Once the time to depart came, we started the 20 minute corral walk. Jess, myself. and her runner buddy, James, walked together to the starting area. We bid each other farewell, and I jumped into corral J, eager to get warm. I meandered into the middle of the corral, and ducked down behind some taller runners. I made a couple of new friends and we talked about running, the weather, congratulating those that bumped from the half to the full, cheering on the firsties, and how much we wanted to be in Mickey/Donald/Goofy’s costumes at the moment.

Before long, the anthem was sung and the fireworks began to launch. It was go time!

I had about half an hour until J was launched, so I continued hunkering down and wrapping the Mylar around me. I did let people know that if they were going to run with their blankets, to open them up when they passed a timing mat, or the frequency waves would not register their time. The runDisney announcers were encouraging us to actually get rid of the blankets, and I ditched mine as our corral was pulling up to the line. I also downed my first gel (which was deliciously warm!) and got ready to go.

The second we started, the wind kicked up. I was SO glad that I was wearing gloves (although I KNEW I should have worn a hat, too). The first few miles were honestly fantastic. I ran into Doug, Brittany, Caryn, and Susanna of Team Shenanigans and we entered Magic Kingdom together.

During Mile 4, I ran past the same portapotties that squashed my sub-3 dreams during Princess Half 2016. I laughed internally, as I was feeling awesome on the insides, and kept on going towards Contemporary and Space Mountain.

My first five miles were absolutely incredible. I was holding a 12:24-ish pace and was estimated to finish in…wait for it…5:24:00.

A 5:24 marathon? That’s an hour and a half PR! Whaaaaaat.

Soon we were running down Main Street in Magic Kingdom and stopped over to some of the team members who offered us caramels and M&Ms and treats of all sorts. I could feel the bathroom calling, so I took off again through Tomorrowland and up through New Fantasyland.

I approached the bathrooms and saw that the line for the women’s room was, as always, out the door. I overheard a woman asking her friend behind me, “Is it okay to use the men’s restroom?”

Yep, it sure is!” I replied instantly, reflecting on Princess Half 2015 when I did just that. (When ya gotta go, you gotta go!) I beelined for the entrance and called in, “Lady coming through! Gotta pee!” I rushed over to the first available stall and did my business, and got out of there.

The rest of MK was decent: through the castle, into Liberty Square and Adventureland, and finally backstage.

Up until the first 10K mark, I was doing great. My pace was en pointe and I wasn’t too winded or overheated. I downed my second gel and started into Cone Alley, which instantly zapped my mental state. I stuck to the right hand side and walked the length of it, my time significantly decreasing by five minutes per mile. (Going from 11, 12-minute miles to 17…15..16…yeeeeeah. -_____-)

At mile eight, right by the Grand Floridian, I was hit with a huge burst of sun. Lovely. And there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Also lovely.

After a few highway miles, the second park appeared around mile 13.1: Animal Kingdom!

I took my Run Gum at this point and felt some more pep in my step…and the drop in my stomach of looking at my Garmin and seeing it just about to die even though I had fully charged it the night before. Gaaaaaaaah. (I only have splits up until Mile 15 before I had it save the run as is.)

I ran into fellow Shenanigators Rebekah and Raymond (and even Ian in passing!) and we proceeded to head to Expedition Everest. We had about a 45 minute advantage over the balloon ladies, so why not ride a roller coaster in the middle of a marathon?!

That tacked on about ten minutes to my run time, but it was so worth it. We wound our way out of AK and past the sewage/water treatment/stinky place, where I had to make another pit stop. (Trying to put your running tights back on after peeing in the cold is such a drag!)

I halted my Garmin at mile 15, and continued along the “scenic” route towards Wide World of Sports (which included Cone Alley #2). The sun was out in full force, but I didn’t think too much of it because of the wind. Heh…if I only knew what I’d be waking up to the following morning in terms of sunburn…

I was mentally all over the place in the second half of the run. I kept up with a Galloway pace group (I think maybe the 5:45 group). I texted Chris on occasion, mentioning, “I am seriously questioning my life choices right now.” My knees were aching and my left hamstring felt weird, so I took it easy (i.e. dawdling). I couldn’t Biofreeze anything because I couldn’t pull up my tights past my calves to get to my knees.

However, I was more upset about the fact that I seemingly let a huge PR slip from my fingers. I mean, I was freakin’ ELATED over the fact that if I simply kept up my pace after the first 10K and not wimped out like I typically do, I could have had a hell of a performance. But nope. It’s better to finish the race alive and in once piece. Plus, I had a margarita to earn in Mexico later on!

I met back up with Jess and James around Mile 16-ish, and Mile 18 led us to Wide World of Sports…the literal hell of the WDW Marathon.

As far as I know, nobody is a huge fan of these three miles. It’s just down and around, up and about through the track and practice fields and baseball diamond. At least the 20M mark was here…10K left to go!!

I also saw Jackie of Team Shenanigans entering the diamond just as I was leaving it. I swear, we are everywhere!! It was also nice that the volunteers kept mentioning that the rest of the team was ahead of me. That was a comforting feeling, knowing they had my back like that.

I exited WWOS and headed down the highway (and up the Green Army Men overpass) towards Hollywood Studios.

I was getting so relieved that there were only a few more miles to go. I started down the path towards the Boardwalk, enjoying the sights and scenery (I am partially biased towards this area…it’s too beautiful!).

I kept updating the team on my whereabouts and how much closer I was getting to Mexico. I rounded the corner behind World Showcase/United Kingdom to throngs of supporters and heroic music blasting on the speakers overhead. Almost done!!

I met up with Team Margarita outside of the cantina and got my beverage. I proceeded to sip and savor the limey deliciousness as I crossed the finish line of my third marathon in 7:30:23, and finished my first ever Goofy Challenge!

Christina’s Post-Marathon Thoughts:

  1. Be prepared for ANY type weather. Look at the long-range forecast for the area you’re going to run, and bring appropriate clothing. This will save you a trip to the local store and a decent chunk of money. I guess a lot of runners were stocking up on cold weather goods at the expo. While that’s great and all…that adds up rather quickly. Also, running in the cold is going to zap your energy faster. Stay warm, and hydrated! You may not feel thirsty, but you’re still exerting energy in the form of exercise.
  2. If you want to run faster, you have to train faster. I can attribute those first five or six miles of amazingness to speed work and strength training in the gym. Now that I know what that speed feels like, I can be more prepared for future races and build up my stamina.
  3. Sunscreen for days. I brought a ton of it with me, and barely used it. I really should have layered it on, even though it was cold and windy.
  4. Get plenty of rest the night before. Four hours of sleep going into a marathon will suffice…sort of. Aim for seven or eight hours for optimal performance. I would have been at EPCOT sooner to do my WDW Half had it not been for the lines to get into WWOS and the traffic getting out. I ended up two hours behind schedule and got home way later than I wanted to.
  5. Check your shoes. This is a big one, especially for those of us that accomplish this lifestyle on a budget. I have never been properly fitted for running shoes (gait analysis, the whole nine yards), and I’ve been operating out of the same pair of shoes for the last year (which, by now, are weeeeelllllll worn in). I feel incredibly guilty shelling out for new shoes, especially since I made my very first pair last about three years with no issues whatsoever. I now have a peroneal tendon strain in my left foot that I’m currently nursing, and I honestly blame my ill-fitting shoes. With that said, make sure your equipment is in good repair before utilizing it for any race.
  6. If you are considering the Goofy or Dopey multi-day challenges, start preparing as early as you can. 39.3 and 48.6 miles on your legs are no joke, and the multiple days of waking up early can wreak havoc on you mentally and physically. Take it easy in the parks, refuel as needed, and make sure you’re resting and stretching! Don’t underestimate the mileage.

    Thanks for following along! There will be more pictures of cool Disney and Universal things to come. Next adventure: Glass Slipper Challenge 2017!