Prior to the marathon, my kids were both getting sick. My daughter had a fever on Monday so I took her to the doctor Tuesday. She had a sinus infection so steroids and antibiotics began. Then Tuesday night when my son was in bed he threw up at midnight. I started to panic. I was afraid that a stomach bug was going to run through the house and we’d all be sick and I wouldn’t be able to run and they’d have to stay home. The next morning he had a fever so I took him to the doctor. Sinus infection – antibiotics and steroids for him too. We were considering changing the flight to Friday but waited to see how the kids were. I continued to pack in secret because we hadn’t told the kids yet. Thursday morning, the kids had 99 temps but were in better spirits. So by 11 am we decided to tell them we were going to Disney and everyone perked up, ate ice pops for breakfast and we loaded up the car and went to the airport. The kids travelled great and we arrived to our hotel around 8 pm and they were in bed by 9:15 and we did not long after, too.
The next day we took the kids to Magic Kingdom. They were feeling a little better each day, but still coughing. I was very anxious about the race. On the bus to the magic kingdom I started to cry when I saw the stations on the side of the road and the porta potties lined up in different areas of the parks and back roads. It hit me hard that my dream was about to come true in a few days. I was so nervous that it was very hard for me to eat and settle my stomach. I barely ate and slept the entire week back in CT because I was worried about the kids and their coughing was keeping us up. So I was worried that I wouldn’t have a good run cause I was tired and not feeding my body the way I should be. We got back to our hotel in the afternoon and took the kids to the pool for a few hours. They wore themselves out and crashed early Friday night. We also went to sleep early.
We took the kids to Epcot Saturday and that morning I felt a bit more relaxed. I didn’t want to walk around the parks too much because I wanted to rest my legs. So in the afternoon we went to the pools again, and I was able to find Mandy and Kenn and they gave me some pointers on where to meet them for the bus and what to do that morning. So I planned to getting up at 2 and getting on the bus at 2:45. We took the kids to the quiet pool after dinner so they could play some more, then we went back to the room and were in bed by 9:30.
I woke up before my phone alarm went off at 1:30 am. My son was coughing so I laid with him to settle him down. I got back in bed and decided to just get up and turn off my alarm and Kevin’s alarm and start getting ready. I got ready in the bathroom and found a card from my family near my things I put aside. I quietly made some hot water for my oatmeal and got dressed, gathered up my things, mixed up the oatmeal and walked through the dark parking lot to the bus stop. I arrived at 2:45, got on the bus and sat in the first seat. I waited there about 5 minutes, then saw Many and Kenn get on the bus as well.
We drove over to Epcot which took about 10 minutes. We were dropped off in a parking lot at Epcot and Kenn and Mandy and I walked to the starting area for the race. It was dark out and the temperature was about 65 degrees. I didn’t need a jacket or anything. Mandy took a picture for me in front of a background along with an official Disney photo.
Then I dropped off my bags in the bag check tent and we start in front of a fence in a staging area to wait with hundreds of portapotties. We were there from 3:15 till about 4:15 where we were then released to walk 20 minutes to the corrals. At that time when I was sitting on the ground talking to Mandy and Kenn I felt completely calm. I didn’t even feel like I was going to run a marathon that day.
At the Corral we again sat for a while and watched the flood of people making the walk from the staging area to Corrals A-E. They continued to walk right up until the start. There was some music and entertainment and then finally the first corral was set off to start the race with fireworks. That was exciting, but I still wasn’t feeling the usual rushing heartbeat or panic in my stomach. I was grateful that I was feeling so calm. Corral B was set off to start with fireworks, then C, and then it was out turn. We slowly inched forward between starts and I saw people running off to the woods to take a pit stop before the race started. That was pretty funny. There were a lot of people doing that. As we were walking I noticed a woman with fluffy grey hair wearing a Woodbridge Running Store shirt and I asked her if she was from CT and she said yes. I asked her if she did the Branford Road Race and she said she does it every year. It’s funny that I recognized someone from races back home all the way in Disney World!
It was our turn to start and the fireworks went off and we began moving foward. Mandy and I agreed to do a 90 second run/30 second walk interval. We stated it right from the beginning and that was a great plan. We used a raised arm signal to notify peopel that we were stopping so we didn’t get trampled. We exited the back of Epcot and headed toward the road to the Magic Kingdom. At mile 1 we saw the pirate ship and a long line of people taking pictures. I was feeling good and liked the pace we had. At mile 2 we were approaching the gates to the magic kingdom. That was exciting. We proceeded through the parking lot and the TTC and went to the underpass towards the contemporary. That was a highlight for me. I always looked forward to that part.
We rounded a corner towards the Magic Kingdom where we entered through a backstage area to Main Street where there was a crowd there cheering us through the main street. Mandy and I jumped off the route to the bathrooms next to the ice cream store and then jumped back into the race. I had a Gu at that point. We ran towards the castle, through Future World, through Fantasy Land and back through the back of the castle. Mandy told me I can get a picture in front of the castle quickly if I veer to the left after we exit the castle. So we jumped in line and got our pictures. From there we ran through Frontierland. Mandy and I had a good pace and that’s when we were talking about her husband and his heart surgery. It’s amazing that back in March he had heart surgery and he and Mandy both were runny Goofy that weekend. Talk about inspiration!
We exited Frontierland and crossed the railroad tracks where the train was sitting there and blowing its whistle to us. We went backstage where there was Aurora and some princes taking pictures with one of the parade floats. We left that area and ran up one lane of the road heading towards the Floridian. It was congested in this area so we couldn’t go as fast. We ran past the Floridian and the wedding chapel on our way to the race track. At mile 8 – 9 We ran into the race track down a steep tunnel and came out into the infield. It was pretty seeing the sun come up and the mist along the grass. Miles 10 – 11 were pretty uneventful. It was a back road, but a shadier back road along side the waste treatment plant. I was starting to speed up a little bit and Mandy was noticing it. saw the 5:30 pace group around mile 11 and didn’t want to see them get too far ahead of me so I told Mandy that around mile 11-12 I may pull ahead to keep up with them. I had to stop to take a rock out of my shoe at mile 10 and then decided to pull ahead at 11.5 miles. I felt bad leaving her, but I was feeling real strong and wanted to stay with the 5:30 group.
Running into Animal kingdom I felt the best I did through the entire race. I was definitely on a runner’s high. I was texting my family and friends how “effing great!” this event was and I felt like I was sailing through the crowds there. I got a picture of the tree of life on the way through. When we left the animal kingdom we went through a congested sidewalk area through the parking lot past the front gates and out the back of the Animal Kingdom parking lot. Mile 14 is where it was getting hot. I started to listen to my music at this point and my headphones were crackling so I had an issue where I wasn’t getting into a rythm because I had audio issues.
We ran down Osceola Parkway for 2.75 miles towards ESPN Wide World of Sports. This was my least favorite part of the race. The Osceola parkway was an open road with no shade. It was mostly downhill, but the area where you enter ESPN is a spot where you also see people leaving ESPN and heading towards Hollywood Studios. I had no idea that we were running almost 4 miles inside WWS. That was also an area that wasn’t all that exciting to me. I ran through the stadium at 10:00 a.m. so I knew I was 4 hours into the race and had about an hour to 90 minutes left if I could keep my pace. My family arrived at the Boardwalk and I knew they were waiting for me at the bridge so I really wanted to get to them. I also wanted to get to the 20 mile mark. I did so and continued up some more highway towards Hollywood Studios, onto an onramp for a highway and then entered the backside of Hollywood Studios near Lights Motors Action. This is where I began to struggle.
On the way to the Studios, the 5:30 pace group came up from behind me. I had no idea I was ahead of them for that long. They came up to mee around mile 22. I wanted to continue to stay with them, but they were slipping away from me. The tops of my feet were what hurt me the most from my feel swelling around my shoelaces. I pushed on through Hollywood Studios with more walk breaks and left the studios to make the walkway towads the Boardwalk. I passed the 24 mile marker and knew I didn’t have much more to go, but those last 2.2 miles felt like 10. I called Kevin to find out exactly where they were. I crossed the bridge at the Boardwalk but didn’t see them so I called him frantically upset and walking backwards cause I thought I missed them and I wanted to see them. They were at the bridge near Epcot. So I pushed on towards the Beach Club and to the Epcot bridge. It was such a joy to see them standing there waiting for me. At that point I got emotional and kissed them all and made my way into Epcot.
I have to say that I wasn’t feeling elated running through Epcot. It was HARD. I couldn’t keep my 90/30 pace and knew the 5:30 group was ahead of me but I wasn’t too far behind them. I wanted a 5:30 or better finish, but it was 85 degrees and humid, not what I trained in. I knew I was going to finish sometime after 5:30, estimated 5:45. As I ran past the ball towards the backstage to the parking lot I was still walking more, but wanted to cross that line. I crossed the line, raised my arms and was elated that I finished. I felt a little lightheaded and had some emotions, and really wanted to get my hands on the medal. I wished I had my family there to see me cross the line.
After crossing the line I took a finisher’s photograph at a booth, then went to the medical area to have my knees wrapped with ice. I took 2 tylenol there and drank my water and sat while talking to Kevin on the phone. He took the kids on Spaceship earth and I walked slowly to pick up my bag, check out some merchandise then walked towards the gates of Epcot. We were given a box of food so I snacked on my banana and drank my water then I met the family outside of Spaceship earth and then we headed back to the hotel.
I felt real good during the day. I kept moving, had my ice bath and shower, hung out at the pool with my family and Shannon’s family for the afternoon and slept great that night. The next day we flew home and I didn’t feel very sore at all. My training did me well and my recovery was also successful.
I am in love with Disney races. I WILL do another Disney marathon! I did register for the Dumbo Double Dare and am saving every penny I can now to get myself out there to get my coast to coast medal. I am excited to have met Mandy and Kenn. It’s great to have friends to look forward to seeing again at future races. Mandy was right, I am hooked. I plan on running the WDW marathon in 2014 again and I am also planning on running the Goofy in 2015 for the Goofy anniversary. I have been listening to podcasts about training for the goofy and have been reading blogs about it and have captured some good information on what to do with the half marathon to keep my body fresh for the marathon the day after. I can’t get enough RunDisney informaiton and love the Team RunDisney group. They have been an awesome resource for me for my first marathon and learning where to go, what to bring, what to do and their encouragement during tough times has been so helpful. I hope that what I learn from them and these events can also help new runners getting into the Disney race community.