I did it!!! I finished the 2013 Walt Disney World Marathon!!! So many things have happened that I know this entry won’t capture it all. But this is also for my record, so that I can come back and read and go over my race in my head. The journey began with every emotion from fear to excitement. I knew I had the training done, but still, 26.2 miles is a long way to go. Two other folks that I knew from work were also at this race. One was even staying in the same resort as I did. That was nice.
At the Expo, I got a chance to get expert advice from Jeff Galloway, who told me to back down on my run/walk/run ratio because it was going to be quite hot. I am so glad I did!! I think that was the key to my success.
I did not spend much time at all in the parks prior to the race. I did not want to bochi myself. I wanted to preserve as much energy as I could. I did do the Pasta In The Park party Friday night at EPCOT. Most likely will not do that again unless I am with a group of friends. I also spent a little time there finding some Hidden Mickey’s. I went back to the Expo on Sat to sign up for the Dumbo Double Dare in Disneyland so I can get the Coast To Coast medal. But mostly just hung out at the resort looking for Hidden Mickey’s.
THE MARATHON ITSELF….
I met Stacy in the lobby at our resort at 0315. We took the bus transportation together, dropped our bags off, took a picture with Santa, and then started our walk to the start corrals. We stayed together until we had to separate at the corral line up. I have to say that the entire weekend, Disney had the transportation down to a science! Buses to the expo ran without issue. Buses to the parking lot at EPCOT ran without issue. The entire transpiration system at Disney is very impressive to say the least! But back to the race…
I was in the very last corral. This was my first marathon, so in the back I went. I did not actually get to the start line until almost one hour after the race began! That meant that by the time I was in the race, about another hour and some change, the first of the elite racers would be done with the entire 26.2!! But we eased our way up, and off we went!
I began the 30/30 walk/run ratio, and before I knew what was going on, mile one was in the books. Along the way from EPCOT to Magic Kingdom there was a chance to get your picture taken with Captain Jack Sparrow and his ship. I totally stopped. I also stopped in the roadway to take a picture of the entrance gate to the Magic Kingdom. Not too many people get to run that road, so I took advantage of that.
After the entrance gates, we weaved around the roads along the side where the Contemporary Resort is. We ran under the bridge there, and I got a picture of that. We came around the side of MK right to the right of Main Street. This is some of the stuff you see on the Backstage Magic Tour, so it was cool to see it again. Running down Main Street to the castle with everyone cheering you on is something I will never forget. I got a bit emotional, but mostly just happy. There was so much energy from the crowds and cast members it was infectious and made you want to run faster!
After Main Street, we ran through the new Fantasyland. It is almost completed. We then ran through the backside of the castle! Up above were two gents dressed in royal garb blowing trumpets! There was also a photographer there, so I hammed it up a bit in the hopes of getting some good shots. I even took a picture of all three of them up there! Running through the castle was awesome. Only us runners. NO crowds. At the bottom you could turn to the left and get your picture taken with the castle in the background! I totally did that.
After the castle I think we went out Frontierland. I don’t fully recall our path, but we ended up going out the entrance that is also a train crossing. They had the train parked there, blowing its whistle, and a conductor and engineer waving us on. For those who don’t know the history of those trains: http://land.allears.net/blogs/jackspence/2010/05/disney_steam_trains_part_three.html ……I had to stop and take that picture!
Then it was out along the paths and roadways where nothing big was along the sides for our entertainment. But after a bit, we go to the Raceway. There were a whole bunch of restored cars along the raceway with their owners in tow. There were a lot that I don’t remember, but did see a Dodge Shelby, Corvettes old and new, old Chevy pick up trucks, and even Mater!! We left the Speedway for the first of long runs of nothing to do. Although there was a very cool accordion band playing for us!!
We did get to run through the Disney Waste Management plants. Great on a bus for the Backstage Magic Tour, not so much running through it! Disney has its own composing section, as well as a high tech water reclamation plant. Very cool to me. After that, we came to Animal Kingdom. I had done the 2012 Everest Challenge, so this was almost the same route. I did slow to thank the African drummers who were out to cheer us on! That was very cool to capture some of that energy from the drumming, because after AK, this was the first hardest part of the entire run for me.
Leaving AK we had to make our way to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. I knew going up to mile 17 would be rough, but I had no idea how rough. I maintained my 30/30 ratio and never gave up, but could sense I was slowing due to the heat. ESPN Complex is actually very huge. We did get to run the ballpark, which is spring training home to the Atlanta Braves.
Coming out of ESPN into mile 20 was the promised Disney special “event” for us. They lined a street with ginormous human-aided puppets, and Mickey and Minnie at the end!
I got a bit of an energy boost from that, but then mile 20-24 was probably the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. At about mile 21 they had entertainment and cameras displaying us run around the corner. They even had one guy asking runners where they were from and announcing it over the PA system. That was very cool, too. Did very little for me at that point, though, because I could see the long road a head, and knew I was in for a rough next few miles to the finish.
I was incredibly hot outside by this time. I kept hearing that the “balloon ladies” were behind me, and getting closer. They were the ladies keeping a solid 16-minute mile, and if they caught you, you could be swept and picked up off the course. NO ONE wants to get swept. So I pushed and pushed, keeping my 30/30 ratio. I also heard folks saying that as long as you get to mile 24, you won’t get swept! So that was my goal. I also ran into a Team Z teammate from when I trained with Team Z in 2008 for triathlons! She and I kept “running” into each other, but more on that later.
The only problem now is that I kept getting one mile off at every mile marker. Not sure if it was the heat, or the fact that I just kept forgetting the last marker, or a combination of both, but I felt my heart sink when I thought I was at mile 23 and was only at 22. DANGIT!! Really??? I had to keep pushing to get to 24. This was a long road with those balloon ladies gaining!!
We FINALLY rounded the corner off the last major road and came into Hollywood Studios. I kept thinking one more mile to 24 and I’m good!! I honestly do not remember much of running through HS. I really don’t. I cannot even remember actually seeing mile marker 24 or 25. I just wanted to keep in front of the balloon ladies. I did snap a picture of the back side of Tower of Terror. And I remember running by the big Sorcerer Mickey hat, and out into the parking lot, but I really did not have any goal in mind but make it to mile 24. Then I kept hearing if we make it to the Boardwalk we won’t get swept. That was right up a head!!
So somehow I willed my body to get me to the Boardwalk. It was here that I noticed my hands were swelling up big time. I had to somehow get my rings off; otherwise I feared they’d have to be cut off. I pulled and pulled until they came off. I was so glad I got them off! But my limbs were swollen, I had a blister on my right baby toe, it was hot, but I was going to finish!
There is a bridge along the Boardwalk there where you can see the Spaceship Earth ball of EPCOT, but that is still just about 2 miles away, or so it felt. Remember – I don’t even recall seeing the signs for 24 or 25. Along the sidewalk to the Boardwalk, the balloon ladies did catch me. They kept telling us that we were OK and will not get swept up!! I made it!! Well, almost. Have to get to the finish line!
Once the balloon ladies passed me, I could no longer maintain my 30/30 pace. Right before I got into the back side of EPCOT’s World Showcase, I ran into my former Zmember. She and I walked together the rest of the race to mile 26. We both talked about how hot it was, how much we have trained, how she has signed up for a FULL Ironman in Florida in November, and just a bunch of other stuff. She really kept me moving along and was so nice to have someone to talk to, which kept my mind off the pain!
As we left the opposite exit from World Showcase into the parking lot, there was the sign for mile 26! We both stopped to take pictures. Everyone kept saying the finish line was right around the corner. But how many times had we heard that and the “corner” was really more like a mile away?? She parted from me after her picture to finish her race. I did get to the corner and the finish line was literally right there! No one was lying about it this time!!
The race workers were looking up runner’s bib numbers and announcing some names as we crossed the finish line. Right before I stopped to take a picture of the finish line sign, they called out my name!!! I threw my hands up in the air and yelled loud when I heard that!!! What a way to end your goal AND to hear your name announced for all to hear!! I got super emotional after I crossed the finish line, and jumped for joy on the other side.
Then it hit me. I just ran/walked 26.2 miles and achieved a goal I had set for myself almost 2 years prior in a quest to overcome self-induced perceptions about my asthma. This time I showed the asthma what I CAN DO. Asthma will no longer control what I do. If I can do a marathon, I can do anything I set my mind and heart to do!!
I immediately called Mark, but got his voice mail. I was sobbing when I told him I did it, and thanked him through my tears for letting me do this race. I sent him and Bailey all my love and had to hang up so I could get out of there. It would be another 10 minutes or so before the adrenaline and emotion calmed down. I got my small goody bag and put in my water bottle, Powerade bottle, 4 bananas and the snack pack. I could walk still, being carried on adrenaline. But when I stopped to get my checked bag, that is when what I can only refer to as rigor mortis set in!
I drank my recovery drink – P90X Recovery Drink – changed into my Locals, went potty, and limped my way to the bus back to AK Lodge. I drank copious amounts of water and Powerade. I got back to my room and soaked in a cold tub until I got the shivers. Then took a hot shower and changed. I had absolutely no energy to go back to EPCOT to meet up with my WDW Radio Running group. I stayed at the resort and had a nice dinner, a few ciders, and went back to my room to read and was asleep by 8.
This was an amazing accomplishment for me, and for overcoming fears about my asthma. My new doctor really hooked me up! I will wear my medal when I go see her again this month on the 25th! I did stop by the Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Clinic (my physical therapists) to show them what they helped me do. Sarah and Christine – I am a marathoner. I AM RUN.