Warning: this post is probably filled with more details than you want. I have a lot to say about (spoiler alert) FINISHING MY FIRST MARATHON! Yep, I finished. But I’ll start from the beginning.
We got down to Disney on Friday around noonish and headed straight over to Epcot to spend the day. We rode a few of the good rides and then walked around all the countries. We stopped for dinner in Canada and then decided to call it a night. Everyone was pretty tired from the drive.
Saturday my dad and the hubs played golf while the madre and I went to the RunDisney Expo to pick up my race number and grab all my race goodies.
Then we met up with the boys and went to dinner at Rainforest Cafe. I carbed up with my favorite pre-race meal, pasta and red sauce.
The hubs enjoyed a nice Carona-Rita in my honor.
Fun fact: I love Disney. Naturally, I wanted to do all of my favorite things while I was there. There was a lot of walking the two days before the race which made my feet pretty sore. I soaked them in epsom salt on Friday night and foam rolled a lot and wore my compression socks. But I think all the walking had an effect on how I felt on race day. Everyone did their best to make sure I was sitting as much as possible. Side note – how cute are my parents?!
I went to bed nice and early on Saturday. I had to be on the resort bus by 4:00 am to make it to the race on time. I woke up around 3:15 am, had half a bagel (that I bought the night before at the hotel) and drank a glass of water. I brought the other half of the bagel and my Honey Stinger waffle with me. I knew I would need to eat again before I started running.
I got to the race right at 4:00 am and found a place to sit down and people watch. There were plenty of amazing costumes and lots to take in so I was pretty entertained. I decided to start walking over to the start line at 4:30 – it was a 1/2 mile walk. I found my corral (L) and took a seat. The race got started right at 5:30 am and I started getting butterflies. To calm my nerves I put on some Lady Antebellum on my iPhone and just focused on the songs and tried to settle down. As we got closer to the start line I switched over to my race playlist and started getting excited. At 6:14 am, the gun sounded and my corral was off!
The fireworks at the start of each group were fun. Disney does a great job of making each race a big deal for all the runners. So, we were off…and walking.
I was able to see the total number of race participants yesterday – just shy of 20,000. I was in corral “L” out of “P.” That means there were 11 other groups that started in front of me, and I was in one of the last corrals. I was not able to submit a proof of time for this race because I hadn’t run a half marathon within the date range that was required.
Here’s the deal – the great thing about Disney races is that they are pure entertainment – a big event full of lots of fun for Disney lovers. That means it attracts a lot of people who are there for the spectacle, to stop for pictures with each character, at each mile marker, in front of each park. Runners, walkers, run/walk-ers, everyone wants to participate. Being in the back, I’d say 90% of my corral was either planning on walking the whole race or were doing some kind of run/walk interval. That was probably true for 50% of the groups that started in front of me. Some parts of the course were so narrow and/or so packed full of people that I was walking. My mom snapped this picture of me when I passed them at mile 7.7 (pink hat, blue shoes).
We were packed in one lane on the road. And this was almost 8 miles in. You guys – I literally couldn’t move. There was no weaving in-and-out of people to get to an opening. There were people everywhere. And many of them were walking or keeping a slower pace than I wanted to maintain. At certain parts of the race it was so crowded that we were all just walking – I walked through Cinderella’s castle because so many people stopped to take pictures and no one could get around them.
Meanwhile – my parents and the hubs went to breakfast with the characters after they saw me at mile 8. They were killing time before meeting me at the finish. Rude.
By this point, I knew that there wasn’t enough time left in the race for me to pick up my pace enough to make my goal time – I would had to have held 9:15-ish minute miles to make up for the time I’d lost. I was averaging anywhere from 10:30 miles to 12:00 miles through mile 10. That wasn’t going to happen. At mile 10 it opened up a little bit but there were still certain points that were too crowded to hold pace. It was frustrating and discouraging. But there was nothing I could do. I just couldn’t.
I decided to just accept it and didn’t look at my watch anymore after mile 10. So I got to pay more attention to the course which was fun. Animal Kingdom had snakes, sheep, a donkey, a pig, and a hawk welcoming us into the park which was really neat. The castle at the Magic Kingdom was still covered in Christmas lights. The disco tunnel through Hollywood Studios was awesome. And finishing running through the countries in Epcot was probably my favorite part. All in all, it was an enjoyable race.
So yea, I finished the darn thing. My official time was 4:54:51. Out of 19,838 total finishers, I finished 4,945th. I finished 1,787th out of 10,315 women. My average mile was around 11:22. I’ll take it. I felt strong in my training, my body felt good throughout the race and I was able to run the entire time without having to stop and rest – except at water stations. My takeaways are 1) don’t do a Disney race if you’re looking to reach a certain goal time and aren’t able to show any proof of time, 2) Disney really knows how to put on a running event, and 3) I have the most amazing and supportive friends and family on the planet.
After the race, I took a nap. Then we all headed to the Boardwalk to ESPN Zone for my favorite things – beer, burgers, and football. Perfect ending.
I plan on taking this week off entirely. My body is pretty darn sore and I just want to let it rest before I start working out again. I need to reset my brain and it will be nice to sleep in and not have to think about training or the gym or anything. The reality is…I’ll probably be itching to get in the gym by Thursday or Friday. Maybe not, maybe so. But I need a break. I’m so so so happy that I was able to make this thing happen, 26 miles in my 26th year. I’ve worked so long for this and I did it. I freaking did it. Hallelujah.