Once upon a time in April 2015, I decided that I maybe wanted to run at Disney World again. After talking to my dad, my running partner, we decided to go for the Full Marathon. 3 Years prior, we ran the Walt Disney World half marathon so it was time to up our game. This blog post will highlight our Marathon Experience!
It was 3 AM when my alarm went off, I jumped out of bed and put on my costume! My Dad and I headed straight for the monorail to take us to Epcot. We brought with us cereal (corn flakes) and water.
I surprised my Dad for christmas with our costumes. I was Ariel and he was King Triton (minus the beard). Here is a picture of our costumes:
My Dad’s costume consisted of a custom made dry-fit shirt that says King Triton on the front and on the back it says “Ariel needs Constant Supervision”, and blue colored running shorts from Dick’s Sporting Goods. My costume consisted of an Ariel inspired running tank top (ETSY), and Ariel inspired running tutu (ETSY), an Ariel flower (ETSY) in my hair, green and teal printed running pants from Dick’s Sporting Goods. Oh and let me not forget about my Happy Birthday Pin!
So once we got to Epcot, we went straight through the security check point and on to bag check. After checking our bag, we headed out to our corral, corral L. We waited in the corral for about 45 min before the start of the race. There were corrals for letters A-P. The anticipation was crazy at this point! I just wanted to get out there on the course. Around 6:10 Am it was time for my corral to leave! Below is a video, taken by myself, of the start of Corral L:
The first mile was tough. The humidity was at 100% and it was about 74 degrees out, much hotter than my latest training runs. So, automatically my pace was slower than usual. By mile 5 was drenched and ready to finally be arriving at the Magic Kingdom. My other family members were waiting on Main Street to watch us. We arrived to MK around 7AM. At this point, the sun was up, and lines for the characters were very long! We ran straight past Ariel because her line was really long! When running through the Castle, they had Anna, Elsa, and Kristoff on the top of the castle waving down and cheering us on. Elsa even wished me a Happy Birthday. Oh and it was snowing courtesy of Queen Elsa! This was definitley a race highlight!
After MK it was off to Animal Kingdom. This stretch was a tough and boring one. There were a lot of spectators outside of the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian but that was it until we got to AK. There was very little entertainment on course, I remember much more during the half marathon we ran 3 years ago. This could have to do with the fact that it is a longer course and everything is just more spread out or maybe it was too hot for some characters, I’m not sure. But anyway, eventually we were at mile 12 and making our way into Animal Kingdom. They had various animals out like goats, snakes, and vultures but at this point I was in full survivor mode so my main focus was putting one foot in front of the other. We ran past the Elephant housing and it stunk! But right after that, we were finally inside the park. At the same time, the sun came out of the clouds and it was HOT! At this point, I had a significant slow down and walked quite a bit. On our way out of Animal Kingdom, there were a ton of cheering spectators with great signs! I really appreciated all of these spectators because they really gave me a boost.
Finally we hit the half way point and were on our way to The Wide World of Sports. Now this part of the marathon was the most difficult, from mile 13 to mile 20. Around mile 17 we headed inside WWOS. This was not a very exciting part. The place felt deserted and the course became a very winding path. Eventually I was on my way out of WWOS and hit mile 20. At this point, the people leaving WWOS were on one side of the road and people entering WWOS were on the other side of the road, about 4 miles in between. This is when I saw them on the other side of the roade about 4 miles behind me, the notorious balloon ladies! I felt really bad for the people behind them but they were determined and kept moving even though sweeper bikes were right on their tails.
Finally it was mile 23 and we were inside Hollywood Studios. This is when my spirits finally picked up and I was finally able to just enjoy all the energy from the spectators. At this point, the parks were open so in addition to spectators, park guests were also cheering us on. From this point on, there wasn’t one spot where there weren’t cheering spectators! I am particularly thankful for the people around the boardwalk giving out pretzels and animal crackers because I really needed that extra boost. Also the people giving out candy THANK YOU!
Finally it was mile 25 and we were in Epcot, France to be specific. Now upon entering the World Showcase, they had all the torches lit and were playing some epic music! I really felt like I was in the olympics or something. My spirits were up, my adrenaline was pumping and I was almost done! About 12 minutes later, I heard the gospel singers and saw the mile 26 marker. I was done. We turned the corner and there was the finish line. Just a few short steps until I was done. I located my family in the stands and they were cheering like crazy people so then I started cheering like crazy and a few seconds later, I was across the finish line!
Before I knew it, I had that coveted Mickey Medal and was waddling to the bus back to the Polynesian (the monorail was too far away).
In the end, that race kicked my butt. I finished in about 6 hours and 40 minutes, a whole hour after my goal time. I attribute this to the heat that I am not accustomed to. In the end, 26 miles is 26 miles no matter where you are. 26,000 people crossed the starting line but only about 19,000 crossed the finish line. Running a marathon is not impossible, I saw people of all shapes, sizes and ages on the course and a majority finished before I did. If you put in the work, then you will be successful. This time last year I could barely run a mile, I just finished running 26 miles, so anyone can do anything. I am so blessed to be able to have run my first marathon at Disney World.
I finished, but that would not have been possible without the support of my family, especially my dad who pushed me the whole way. He made sure every week that I got my training runs in and pushed me to keep up during long runs. I would also like to thank all the spectators, some came to watch family members and cheered on everyone else as well, and some who came just to cheer everyone on. Lastly, I would like to thank all the volunteers. Without all the volunteers, there would be no water or food stations, no one to hand out the medals, and the race would not have been possible so THANK YOU!
Coming soon: The Marathon aftermath!