Thursday, January 16, 2014

Disney World Marathon

I've been trying to find time to post this recap, guess a two hour flight home is the best! 

After not being able to sleep at all the night before, the 2:30am wake up call Sunday morning seemed like I had just closed my eyes. As I started getting ready, I was starting to feel some nerves. Luckily, my tweeps were up too and we were getting each other ready for the task at hand, 26.2 magical miles. 

Flat Steff was ready, but was real life Steff? Guess we were going to find out. 

I caught the first bus leaving the resort, just like the day before. There were significantly less people on this bus. I looked to the second row, and I saw a figment costume. I was pretty sure one of my tweeps sent out a picture she was wearing a figment costume. I reluctantly asked if her name was Brandi. To my surprise it was! I wasn't going to be alone!! 

We chatted the whole bus ride to Epcot and stayed together up until the start. We met up with the rest of our tweeps from the morning before and talked about the half. It was a really nice distraction from the task at hand. 

We all spent about a half hour together until it was time to head to the start line. Brandi and I traveled together to the corrals. It was really nice to have someone to talk to. 

I started the full in corral F, the 4:00-4:30 finishing group. There were far less people in this corral than the morning before. It was a bit cooler than the day before, so me and my trash bag found a spot to stretch and take in the atmosphere. 

I found a happy place and stayed there until the national anthem. Then, it was time to focus. It only took about 15 minutes for my corral to start. 3-2-1 FIREWORKS! We were off. 

The amount of people standing on the side of the highway cheering at 5:45 in the morning was amazing. It was dark and cool but they were out cheering us on. Amazing. 

The first eight miles or so were the exact same as the day before, including the characters. There was a giant pirate ship about mile two and you could see the entrance to Magic Kingdom in the distance. The only thing I couldn't find was a porta potty, so I followed the men and had to pee in the woods. Oh well.

After the glow of the pirate ship there was about a half mile of pitch black before we got to the MK entrance gates. Thankfully, runners wear gear that have reflectors! I'm averaging about a 10:03 pace at this point, feeling very good. 

Right before you enter MK, about mile 5, there was another HUGE crowd of people. Signs everywhere and people cheering as the sun was starting to poke out.  I could not have imagined what was to come on Main Street USA in the park. 

We entered the park and I took my headphones out to take in the atmosphere. It was the loudest roar I have ever heard. The street was wall-to-wall people. Runners stopping for pictures in front of the castle, people getting hugs from random strangers, it was truly incredible. 

Rounded through the park before we ran through the castle again. Today, I actually got to RUN through the castle. Just like that, which seemed like five minutes, we were out of the park and already six miles through the journey. 

One of my tweeps from the half, Lauren, tweeted out that she would be watching us from outside the Grand Floridian, around mile 7, and to look for her. Since I knew I wasn't seeing anyone I knew the rest of the way, I was going to spot her. 

Moving along the road, I see the entrance to the GF and I see Lauren!! I screamed, she screamed, we hugged! She told me up looked great and to keep going. I loved it! It was a really awesome moment. 

It wasn't too long after that I realized that I skipped the six mile water stop and there wasn't another one until mile 8. Crap. I already messed up my hydration/eating plan. Oh well, I'll get back on track. 

Mile nine was ran on the Disney World Speedway. Lined around the track were really fast cars and people sitting there cheering us on. Not gonna lie, it was pretty awesome running on the speedway!

There was so much going on through the first nine miles that you would think it would continue, that wasn't the case at all. Miles 10-12 were completely desolate. We ran towards Animal Kingdom on some back roads. Thank goodness I brought my music. I did have my best splits though this stretch, two 9:50 miles. 

Once we got to mile 12 we were greeted by a whole bunch of animals welcoming us to the park. Once again there were characters and cheer sections. There was also my personal favorite, a real bathroom!!! Trust me, I wasn't alone. 

We ran by Everest and around the big tree. We didn't spend more than a mile in most of the parks. I took my food break, by food I mean peanut butter crackers, at the 13.1 mile marker. I hit the spilt at 2:15. Still was feeling really good. 

There was one unforeseen issue that started showing up. As the sun really started to rise, it got cooler, and more windy. My quads started to tighten, bad. I saw a medical tent around mile 14 and took full advantage of some free Biofreeze. 

Back on the highway we went. There we encountered some of the nicest people. They were handing out candy and salty foods to help us on. I took some twizzlers and pretzels and continued down the highway. 

We entered Wide World of Sports around mile 17. We had a three mile loop around the complex. This had to have been the worst part of the entire race. There was nothing to really look at. No one cheering and to make matters worse, they made us take a lap around a track right before mile 18!!! How mean!! 

I'm fighting back the cramping as we left the complex around mile 20. I know I'm slowing down and I'm not going to get a new PR, but I'm gonna finish strong. I was about a mile and a half away from my last planned energy gel stop and decided I was going to take a walk break. I felt very defeated, but I still managed a good six miles running on these awful cramping quads. Luckily when I started walking I found another medical tent and covered my legs in Biofreeze. 

Final energy gel stop was about a mile from Hollywood Studios. I remember reading there was a food stop in the park. A candy stop! We entered the park on the backside of the Backlot Tour. I got my fruit snacks and took a water cup and continued through the park. We ran past the giant Sorcerer's Hat and down Hollywood Blvd. 

The park wasn't open yet so our journey to the Boardwalk actually went by the people waiting in line to get in to the park. Really cool. It was also really neat to see how close HS and Boardwalk are to each other. 

We traveled along the lake on our way to the Worlds Showcase in a Epcot. There were so many people out cheering us on. Only two miles left!! I could not wait to be finished. As we crossed in to Epcot, I saw Dopey and thought of all those crazy people doing four races in four days. These two were going to kill me! 

As I crossed into the Showcase I looked to my left and saw the giant ball. I needed to make it there to be done, but how big is this place!?! The first country I got to was France. I saw Belle, from Beauty and the Beast, and ran over to give her a sweaty hug. 

I remember seeing the large temple of Mexico and realizing I was almost there! It really was ending!! Epcot was opened by this time and the general crowds of people were cheering us on to the finish line. I heard the choir singing again and knew the end was near. 

The crowds waiting for us were outstanding. The PA announcer was announcing everyone who was finishing. I saw Mickey Mouse right by the finish line. I made sure I have him a high-five and crossed that finish line. 

26.2 magical miles completed in 4:49. 39.3 miles finished in two day. 

Was it the PR I wanted, nope. Just about 20 minutes slower actually. It didn't even matter. I pushed my body farther than I thought I could. I met some AMAZING people along the way who accomplished some pretty awesome things! Congrats to my tweeps who completed the race weekend! I am so happy to have met you all and to have been inspired by all of you!! 

1 comment:

  1. The sounds like an amazing race. I LOVE Disney and should really make the effort to run this. I don't know about running a half one day and a full the next though. You have some endurance! Congratulations and enjoy those medals!