Sunday January 13th – full marathon day
I had a Pokemon card with me that my son had given me as a present a few months back that I brought along with me on the half the day before and I had realized that I didn’t bring anything for my daughter that I could take along. So we had found these little tokens that Disney calls “pieces of magic” that you can pick up for 6 for $10 (or something like that) and I put those in my little camera bag to take with me. I had one for my daughter that was in the shape of Tinkerbell and had the caption on the back of “believe”. The one for my son was a little envelope that said “thinking of you”. And the one for my wife was a little Cinderella carriage that said “happily ever after”. Strong words and good sentiments to take with me to help give strength when it is needed so I made sure I had these packed and ready to go with me in my gear.
Woke up before my alarm again – up and moving by about 2:20am. Had a shower and got dressed and my brother and I headed out for the buses. Probably got on the bus around 3:15am or so with a quick and easy ride to the drop off.
I had decided due to the amount of running around people I had to do the day before I was going to make sure I got into the staging area past the bag drop area early so that I could be near the start of my cue. My brother had decided that in order to cut some of the heat issues he figured he would have he was going to take advantage of the Race Retreat and join the others Runners World Challenge folks in corral B. He figured the earlier he started the less direct sunlight he was going to have to endure. So we separated relatively early and went to work through our own plans.
I got near the gate to the corrals pretty early and amazingly Disney opened up the gate at around 4:10 – at least 20-25 minutes earlier than Saturday – I’m guessing they realized their mistake and were making sure not to repeat it (whoohoo!). You could hear the relief in the voices of some of the runners when they saw gate opening earlier. This all made for a nice leisurely walk to the corrals.
Once at the corral there was still an hour until the official start and probably 1.5 hours before I would get to start so I took the cue from several others and had a seat to rest my legs. I had brought a thermal blanket with me so I wrapped myself in it to cut the slightly cool breeze and sat there munching on a few snacks I had brought and sipped at a Powerade.
A 5 hour marathon pace bunny lined up near me in the same corral so I knew who to watch for after I got going if I wanted to shoot for 5 hours. I came down trained to shoot for 4:30 but kind of expecting that not to happen but with 4:45 being possible. With the heat I figured I would be more realistic and shoot for 5 hours instead so seeing the 5 hour pace bunny was good.
Prior to the official start many luminaries were quickly brought out to talk about the race and the universal message was “take it easy and hydrate” – words to live by today with temps expected to be around 28C and real high humidity (say a “feels like” temp of around 33-35C when I was set to finish – majorly different from the -15C / -25C with the windchill that I had on my last outdoor training run).
I started off pretty solid as things got going but was still holding things back since I knew I would need energy in reserve for later.
I was pleasantly surprised that the bottle necks from the previous day seemed to have cleared – running was pretty smooth with only the normal expected dodging that you would see in any race. I only spent a bit of time out on the grass passing and then only on some tighter choke points.
Even in Magic Kingdom things went much smoother even with the tighter confines – one guy did start to walk right at the entrance to Cinderella’s Castle right in front of me but his running partner gave him a tug on the shoulder to nudge him along at least until they were in a less confined space. Awesome team work there.
After Magic Kingdom the Richard Petty area was fun – most people knew the course changes for the anniversary run and weren’t surprised to see the change but I think almost everyone was surprised at the sudden steep ramp down and then back up to enter the track. I heard a collective “ooohhhh” as people got close enough to see the ramp.
Running on the race track was fun as was seeing the vintage, classic cars and the some of the modern super cars you wouldn’t normally get to see. Yay Aston Martin – gorgeous car!
The change in the course was also a welcome addition to add some more flavor on the run between Magic and Animal Kingdoms. The addition of the run past the solid waste station could be considered added flavor as well but was not quite as welcome. That being said I like seeing behind the curtain and getting a view of the logistics of Disney World is one of the reasons I do this race.
Animal Kingdom was good to run through a little earlier in the course when I had more energy to enjoy it – some folks might have been disappointed they couldn’t get on Expedition Everest part way through their race though.
But for those of you who were concerned about the course changes – don’t be! THE RUN PAST THE SEWER TREATMENT PLANT IS STILL THERE!!
The 5 hour pace bunny caught me just before Animal Kingdom and lost me around mile 15. At around mile 14/15 I had to do a bit of gut check – up to that point I was on track to hit 5 hours but I could feel the energy falling off as the temperature kept rising. Up until then I had only been doing a bit of walking at water stops but at this point I decided I needed to trigger run/walk cycles to maintain my energy. I wasn’t falling apart yet but could feel things slipping. So I fired up a run/walk cycle app on my Android media player and set it for 5 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking. I followed that pattern for the rest of the race – a couple places I had to partially skip a run cycle to match up with a water stop or just to take an extra breather but in a few others I skipped the walk cycle. This definitely kept me push through the heat even if it meant I had to toss out the 5 hour hopes.
ESPN Wide World of Sports Center – this was an interesting addition – breaking up those there and back again miles out on the highway near the end is a very welcome addition without a doubt. I think some might not have liked all the short stretches and multiple turns which would have made it harder to maintain a faster pace but as I was already into a run-walk (5 min – 1 min) cycle I enjoyed how the miles slipped by in this area. Plus the shaded areas were nice.
The scenery is definitely more distracting there than along the highway stretches so it helped keep the mind occupied as did the constantly changing venues. The running track was a favorite for me and I did enjoy running through the stadium as well. I had a few minor complaints on the stadium run though – one being the little stones that got in my shoes while running through it (around mile 19 bending over to take stones out of the shoes was not a pleasant experience) and number two was the video camera putting everyone up on the jumbo-tron (you didn’t know it was there until it was too late to see yourself on the big screen – it would have been nice to have some warning so I could have seen it) – minor complaints really.
The Mile 20 spectacular was pretty cool with the big puppets / marionettes of the various Disney characters but it seemed a bit of a letdown after how the ESPN section felt. Maybe the ESPN section was supposed to be part of the whole Mile 20 spectacular too and the puppets were just the end of it? Not sure. Either way back to the highway after that.
The previous times I have done the Disney World Marathon and the Goofy I have ended up walking by now and these few miles before entering Hollywood Studios always seemed awful but they felt pretty good this time.
Hollywood Studios – I have done 1 Disney World Marathon and 2 Goofys before and this was the first time I actually still had energy to keep running when I hit the park so I skipped a walking cycle or 2 at this stage to enjoy that victory.
After Hollywood Studios the run out to the path to the Boardwalk and the boardwalk along by the Yacht and Beach Clubs was great. The area by the Yacht and the Beach is one my favorites at Disney World and I really enjoyed the run through there.
Met my wife (according to plan) up by the bridge that leads to the Boardwalk from Epcot and stopped to chat for a minute before continuing on into Epcot. She walked into Epcot from there as well and I saw her again by the England Pavilion and again (after my trip around the lagoon) near the fountain. From there it was it was just a short run to 26 miles and then that extra 0.2 to go. I had a walk cycle come up just past the 26 mile point and was going to skip it but figured a short walk would make the final run happen with much more energy. It felt good to finish in the end but I also felt good in general which is a nice change.
So my time? 5:25:54 – much slower than I wanted but 45 minutes faster than last year and a full hour faster than my first Goofy. So a solid time all things considered – it this case Disney had everything laid out to let me have a good race and maybe get that time I was looking for – unfortunately I got spanked by the heat.
Again on this race Disney had more than enough water and Powerade along the course and after the race was done (no Coke again dammit) – they also had some health officials making sure people were drinking something as soon as they got off the course.
I have to give credit to all the volunteers out there – it was bad enough running in that heat but just standing out there for hours on end would have been a rough go. Thanks to any volunteers who might someday read this!
Grabbed my bling and wandered out to the family meet up area and caught up with my wife – just in time for my back to spasm again. Yay! Obviously held myself too rigid for most of the race again – this is definitely something I will need to work on further.
Because of the spasm and not really knowing where my brother was on the course I decided to skip the plan of heading back along the course to try to cheer him on and instead we got on a bus and headed to the hotel.
So after a quick warm shower I had a good cold one (although it wouldn’t get too cold) to help reduce any swelling and took a couple Tylenol. My wife had gone to get us a couple bagels as a quick snack and after those were done and I had put a few things in the sink to soak for while we lay down for a nap.
After the nap we got dressed and hunted down some Advil to help further reduce any swelling (my travel bottle ran out so we grabbed another). We talked to my brother to see how things had finished up for him – I had caught up with him on the Richard Petty race track and he had settled into a walk/run cycle that was working for him and his injury and he was able to push out the race in a solid time all things considered – fantastic job dude!!
My wife and I went for a bit of a walk around the Boardwalk and once my brother caught up to us we headed into the Yacht Club for a celebratory supper of meat at the Yachtsman Steakhouse. Great food, good service, good beer. Awesome.
After a leisurely 2 hour supper and chat we headed back to the hotel and my brother decided to do his own thing while my wife and I headed into Epcot, wandered around, did Spaceship Earth and then headed off to the monorails to Magic Kingdom.
We did a few hours in Magic Kingdom – we did the new Under the Sea ride, wandered around the new Fantasyland before wandering over to do Small World, the Tiki Room, and Pirates of the Caribbean. At this point they were closing down the Magic Kingdom and we headed out to the buses to go back to the hotel.
Amazingly my legs felt fantastic – better than after the half – I was awake, had energy and was ready to move. Apparently I was training properly!
I crashed pretty hard at around 12:30 and got a good 8 hour sleep. We check out of the hotel in the morning but our flight isn’t until the evening with a Magical Express pickup in the late afternoon.