I arrived to Orlando on Wednesday afternoon and explored all the parks in the days leading up to the marathon (which was on a Sunday). Kathleen, my mom, my Aunt Dorie, and I had so much fun at all of the different parks and our days were jam packed! My favorite thing was probably going to Harry Potter at Universal Studios, but I also loved Epcot and going on the Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios (I almost wimped out but I’m happy I didn’t!). Here are some of the pictures from our vacation:
Even though the whole Disney and Universal Studios experience was so much fun, I knew the main reason why we came to Disney was for marathon weekend! So, on Sunday morning when I awoke to my alarm clock at 2:30AM, I knew the day I had preparing for for months was finally here. I was filled with nerves and excitement, but mostly just sleepy haha. I have to say, the worst part about the Disney races is definitely the early, early wake up times!
Kathleen and I got ready in the room, and then headed down to the hotel lobby to catch the bus to Epcot. I had brought along a few different tanks to wear, and decided on my pink Saucony one at the last minute. I also wore shorts, because I was extremely lucky that Sunday was the best weather of any of the races by far and being in a tank and shorts was quite comfortable!
The bus ride to Epcot wasn’t too long, but once we got there we had to go through security which I was a bit surprised by, but also understood since we would be going through the parks and any time you enter the park on a normal day you have to go through security. Then we found a port-a-potty (there were plenty so no wait!) and then just hung around for awhile. Our friend Brandon was also running the marathon (and ran with Kathleen during the race) showed up a little after we arrived, and we chatted for a bit before heading off to the corals.
We probably had to walk at least a mile to get to the corral. I was in corral G and Kathleen was in J, so about halfway there we had to split up. I wished Kathleen the best of luck in her first marathon, and then headed my way to corral G! I also stopped at a port-a-potty that was on the way so I could go one last time before the start.
As always, it felt like forever before the race even started! There was some hosts that provided some entertainment, but still I just wanted to start! Finally, after what seemed like forever, Mickey and some of the other characters came out and I knew the race was about to start! They talked for awhile, and then announced the start of the race (after a minor mishap with Mickey telling them to go too soon!) for the first wave which was the wheelchair athletes. There were a bunch of fireworks, as there were after ever corral took off. (I need to know how much Disney spends each year on fireworks. It must be insane.)
There was about a 5 minute wait between the start of each corral, so it wasn’t too long before mine took off (I think around 6AM). The start of my corral was crowded as usual, but the thing that bugged me the most was how dark it was! I have never started a race this early, so I wasn’t used to running in the dark.
To be honest, I can’t remember that much about where we were each mile of the race. I do remember how cool it was running into the Magic Kingdom. It was lit up beautifully and it was the first park that we ran into. As we were running through the Kingdom, the Frozen girls – Elsa and Anna- were waving to us which I thought was pretty cool! I also loved that as we entered the Magic Kingdom the public bathrooms were open, so I took advantage of that! haha.
There were a lot of different characters you could stop and take a picture with during the race. I decided not to do this. I thought it would be annoying to take my phone in and out of my Armpocket, and honestly I knew I would have to stop and walk later. While I didn’t really care about my time, I didn’t want to stop until I had to. For me, it was just enjoyable to see them along the course and wonder which ones would come next. I loved that before we entered the Animal Kingdom, there were farm animals out there (with animal handlers) that you could pet. That was probably the only one I kind of wish I would have stopped for!
I started to get pretty tired around mile 12. I think this was when I decided to start walking through every water station I came to. This worked for several miles, probably until about mile 20. By that point, I just stopped to walk whenever I felt like it. It was weird because with this marathon (as opposed to my first) I was sore, but it wasn’t that bad and it wasn’t the reason why I was stopping to walk. This time, I was just tired. I think this is because of the early wakeup time, but probably more because all of the walking and long days at the parks I had in the days leading up to the marathon. If I could do it over, I probably would have wanted to stay in the days after the marathon so I wouldn’t have such tired legs for the race! But, oh well!
Once I got to mile 24, I knew I only had a little over 2 miles left so I told myself to just run and not stop to walk. I didn’t care how slow I ran, I just wanted to get it over with! It was nice because at that point there was a very light rain (almost a misting) and it felt SO good!
The last couple miles were at Epcot, and since I had been there the day before, I knew how long it would take me to get past the giant golfball (haha) and to the parking lot of Epcot where the finish line was. It seemed like forever to get past all of the countries in Epcot, but I kept pushing myself and finally I made it to the parking line and to the finish line! I was so happy to get marathon #2 over with, but I was also SOOOO exhausted! I spotted my mom and Aunt Dorie in the crowd and got to talk with them for a bit. I had to hurry to get out of there though, because I had to quickly catch the bus back to the resort, take a shower, and then take the bus to the airport to catch my flight back home. It was hard to move quickly, but somehow I did it! The worst part was I didn’t get to see Kathleen finish, and I am really mad that my flight was so early and I had to rush to leave. Once I got back to the hotel I got a text for her that she finished, and I was so proud of her and all she accomplished during the weekend!
My finish time was 4:42:36, 10 seconds better than my first (and only other) marathon! I actually felt a lot better during this marathon, so I was a bit surprised it wasn’t better than just 10 seconds, but with the marathon my main goal is (and will always be) to finish so I am just very happy that happened!
Will this be my last marathon? Leading up to this marathon, I said this would be it. Heck, at mile 20 of this race I said out loud “I am never running a marathon again!”. But now, I’m not sure this is the case. While the marathon is definitely not my favorite distance and I want to focus primarily on half marathons, I really doubt this will be my last. The training is brutal and the race isn’t that fun, but I really do enjoy the challenge of it and proving to myself that I can do it. And I have (so far – knock on wood) bounced back really quickly after this marathon, so that definitely makes me feel better about it and considering doing another one sometime.
This trip was so much fun and I was so happy to share this time with Kathleen, my mom, and my Aunt Dorie. I don’t get to see them all that often, so I really had a great time with all of them. Kathleen was amazing doing all 4 races and I really am so happy for her for finishing this challenge. She has worked so hard and I am so impressed by her. It was also great having my mom there for the week. My mom hadn’t seen me race since my first race ever in 2013, so I was so happy to see her at the finish line (even though I was kind of in a daze because I was exhausted haha). I was also very happy that we finally got to Harry Potter in Universal Studios – we have wanted to go FOREVER! I was also so happy to be reunited with my best friend from college – Alek. He works at Disney and I was thrilled I got to see him for two days when we were there. I haven’t seen him in 5 years, but it was like no time had passed!
This was my first Disney race experience, but hopefully not my last. Running through the parks was amazing, the race support was outstanding, and I love my cute medal. I hope to one day do the Tinkerbell Half Marathon at Disneyland and the Princess Half Marathon back at Disney World. Since the price for the whole experience is quite high, I probably won’t be going back anytime soon, but those are definitely towards the top of my race wish list! I also would encourage anyone who is thinking about doing a Disney race to do it! It will be an experience you will never forget!