The big day had finally come: my first marathon. Everybody compares running a marathon to pregnancy- the anticipation and planning had finally commenced to a big finale. Even with months of training beneath my belt, I couldn’t help but have pre-race jitters the night before. I questioned everything from my training to my outfit and then finally decided to give up and try to get some rest instead of stressing.
When my alarm went off at dark o’thirty, I jumped up and started getting ready. Of course, in true mother runner fashion, my toddler decided it was time to wake up as well. Luckily, my Mom took care of him as I set off to monorail by 3am (bonus for bringing family along). At this point, I was just going through the actions like any other Run Disney race day. It hadn’t fully hit me yet that this was a full marathon… 6.2 miles longer than my longest run yet.
I met up with my BRF’s, Kierstn and Jennifer, in Race Retreat and waited until we had to make our way to the corrals. If you’re ever nervous about a Run Disney race, I highly recommend Race Retreat. It’s relaxing and you can snack without sitting on the ground. Kierstn and I were anxious to run and Jennifer was filling us in on Run Disney weekend updates. She was our expert Dopey runner (all hail Dopey runners).
After the gun went off for my corral, I started strong with my 3:1 run/walk ratio with Kierstn by my side. She’s so easy to run with because she takes my mind off of the task at hand. I wasn’t thinking about the miles ahead, I just enjoyed my time running with her to the Magic Kingdom. We admired the the characters but didn’t stop yet. I was nervous about my time for the new distance and wanted to focus on keeping a steady pace.
Let me just warn my fellow lady runners…during miles 1-3, numerous male runners will use every tree and/or bush to do their business. It’s unfair since we have to wait for a potty, but I noticed it a lot more during this race than any other Run Disney race I had run. You’ve been warned.
Running through the Magic Kingdom park is always so much fun. I love that the Christmas decor is still up for WDW Marathon weekend. The crowd support is amazing and the castle glows that early in the morning. I stopped at Gaston’s Tavern to use a real restroom and started my first intake of fuel. I packed gummy bears and teddy bears in my Sparkle Skirt.
I got this epic photo in front of the Magic Kingdom train too. I saw Ariel, Luminere and Alice for photo stops, but the lines were long. I opted for quick photo opportunities, like selfies.
My husband and uncle were waiting for me at the Grand Floridian. I stopped for a quick kiss and photo with them. My supportive husband even brought me a granola bar and banana. It was so nice to see family on the course. That’s a luxury I don’t always get at local races.
Heading into Animal Kingdom was the petting zoo. Oddly, I was really looking forward to this. Nobody really stopped for photos with the animals…except me. I FaceTimed my son at this point and pet the snake. I even met a turtle wearing a marathon bib too! It was slightly embarrassing how excited I was about this.
Animal Kingdom was just opening for the day and Expedition Everest had no line. This was one of those “only at Disney” race opportunitites that I HAD to do. It was Ah-MAZING. I came of that ride feeling pumped and ready to keep going.
At this point, Kierstn and I had split up but I felt strong. In fact, I even thought I was experiencing the ellusive RUNNER’S HIGH! I felt unstoppable.
Then came ESPN Wide World of Sports. I had been warned by my friend, Becky, that this was a tough part of the course. All of the sudden, I felt the miles on my legs and didn’t feel so hot anymore. I didn’t hit “the wall”, but WWOS played mental games with me. My Garmin watch had died, so I was running 3:1 intervals with my iPhone stopwatch, which sucked. Then, on top of that, the few miles in WWOS feel slow with twists and turns. At this point, it dawned on me I was running a full marathon.
I didn’t get a thrill from the baseball diamonds or running around the track. There was a wet sponge station, but I just found it annoying to avoid stepping on one. I started to loose track of my intervals and the negative mindset was starting to set in. I just kept telling myself, “just make it out of Hollywood Studios” (the final sweeping point).
I made it out of Hollywood Studios, which was a huge relief. But I still had this negative mindset and was walking more than I care to admit. I even shed a few tears. My friend and running mentor, Robin, kept checking in with me throughout the race from home (another amazing Dopey runner). Her words of encouragement came at the exact moment I needed them. She gave me the little confidence boost I needed to power through and finish.
Originally, I was going to do another “only at Disney” race thing and buy a margarita. But I had no desire to stop for anything. I saw Spaceship Earth and just focused on finishing.
And my finish…
I turned the corner and saw my husband cheering my on and the finish line! All of the pain in feet seemed to disappear and I ran to the finish with a smile. It was an unbelievably awesome experience to finish my first marathon. My husband immediately asked me if I’d do it again and I said, “YES! Goofy”. That’s right, I’ll add to it on the next go around!
I finally had a few moments to collect my thoughts on the monorail back to the hotel…
I immediately did a web search to find out how many Americans finish a full marathon, so I could bask in the glory (FYI, .05% finish). Then I officially decided that giving birth is harder than running a marathon because giving birth is just the beginning (I couldn’t wait to finally compare the two of those). I also started to feel some aches that I ignored during the race and the patina of salt on my skin was disgusting.
BUT I WAS A MARATHONER! And that made me smile.