Thursday, January 22, 2015
2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Recap
We've recapped the 5k, the 10k, and the Half. The time has finally come to recap the 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon (and hold on tight, because this is a long one, folks). Our costumes for this race were Rapunzel and Flynn Rider (aka Eugene).
Originally, I was going to wear a costume for this looong race and my hubby, Handsome Jack, was not. However, as time wore on he warmed up to the idea of a simple costume for the 26.2.
Isn't he adorable as Flynn? *swoons*
Okay, back to the race. Our alarms were set for 3:30 am. Yep. We got up and got dressed a little slower this time. I think the four previous days of wake up calls between 3:30-4:00 were catching up to us. We ate in our room before heading down to the lobby of the ALL STAR SPORTS resort to catch the bus.
While in the lobby we ran into my SIL and her hubby. They were catching the Magical Express back to the airport. Their vacation was over. It was sad to say goodbye because having my SIL there for the Half was a ton of fun.
The weather was much better for the Marathon. It was chilly but not jacket weather. We wrapped ourselves in heat shields and trash bags to stay warm while we waited for the start.
during the long wait before we were released to the corrals I need to use the bathroom. I went FOUR more times before the start of the race. FOUR! Every time we passed a bank of porta potties I had to run over and get in line. I think it was nerves. It was intense.
We finally made it to the corrals and waited for our chance to move up. We weren't in the last corral but we were close. In 2014 I read a lot of drama about runDisney's corral placements for the Dopey. This year I think there was significantly less drama. AND it seemed that the corrals were well managed (meaning I started and finished near a lot of people from my corral. We were the same pace. Unlike in 2013 when people lied about their time to get into high seated corrals only to finish back with me. LOL).
There were three minutes between corrals. Eventually our group got to move up and we passed porta potties. I panicked. Like a true panic attack style panic. The urge to pee was so strong that I jumped the fence (corrals are created using waist high fencing) and ran over to the potties. This is while our corral was moving. There was no guarantee we would find them again and we really didn't want to start off in the slower, last corral.
I peed (for the fourth and final time before the race) and ran back to find our corral. This stressed out Handsome Jack to no end. our pre race time was not as laid back as it should have been. And instead of focusing on the race we were focusing on my need to pee. It was a mess.
Eventually, we saw the tell tale fireworks of our corral. The race had begun.
We trotted along using our same strategy (1:1). Our legs felt great and considering we had a 5k, 10k, and 13.1 under our belt we felt like the 1:1 strategy was paying off.
The beginning of the Marathon course is identical to the course we ran the day before. Here's a pic of the course map.
The best part about the Marathon is that you get to run through all four Disney parks. But it's not all sunshine and rainbows. Even so, let's focus on the sunshine and rainbows part - the Magic Kingdom.
Shortly before the 5k mark we were running under the gate to the MK. I really really love this part of the race. After crossing under the gate we snaked toward the Contemporary and through a service area before entering the park.
It's hard to describe the incredible rush you feel running down Main Street USA lined with spectators and volunteers cheering you on. The roar of the crowd alone can get your blood pumping. But then you see the Castle in the distance and then you get really excited. It's hard to rein in that excitement and keep a steady pace but we tried our best.
Here we stopped for some pics near Cindy's Castle.
I've been to a few Disney races and knew that if we were going to see Rapunzel on the course it was probably going to be in Fantasy Land (because Disney characters cannot just appear all over the park. They are only staged in parks that make sense with their story: Belle in France, Mulan in China, Rapunzel in Fantasy Land, etc). But as we tore though Fantast Land we didn't see her. I figured she must be on break and my heart sank a little bit as we continued to Frontier Land.
We stopped for a on-course potty break (the bathrooms in Frontier Land are open and under utilized. Rarely a long wait). From there we crossed the train tracks and headed out of the park. I was definitely feeling pretty sad but I understood that even princesses need to take a break. Ah well.
When we made the turn to go through the park gates into a back lot area I saw her. There. Beside a massive castle float. Rapunzel and Flynn!! We had to stop for pictures. And even though the line was about 10mins long it was soooo worth it!
Riding the high of that awesome picture stop we ran a bit faster. We were now back in a pack of mostly walkers and slow joggers (which, for the most part was fine with us. Except the walkers made it very difficult to navigate the narrow passages throughout the course. Remember, when walking a course you should never be wider than two people shoulder to shoulder. If you end up walking at the same pace as a group of strangers fall back to single file, slow down, or speed up to ensure there is space enough for runners to pass.)
We made our way towards the DAK where we were greeted by some of their animal guests. My favorite (sorry no pic) was a giant tortoise who was wearing a race bib and slowly but surely marching toward the finish. Another racer yelled "look everyone, we're faster than the turtle." We all laughed. And the DAK handler said about the turtle "She tries to finish every year and doesn't quite make it." Ahhh. So cute.
The run through the DAK park was a little uneventful - mostly because there were barriers up as parts of the park were under construction.
We passed Expedition Everest and people with race bibs were getting off the ride. I'd read that racers will peel off course and grab a ride on the roller coaster before rejoining the race....but I'm slow. I start in a slower pack and by the time us slow-runners make it to DAK the park is open. That means runners would have to wait in line with regular park goers to catch a ride on the Expedition Everest.
Still, I met a few people who did it and were so happy they did. They said the ride was the best part of the course! Who knew?!?!
After DAK we take a trip around the Speedway. This is Handsome Jack's LEAST favorite part of the course because the hill down and up to get into the Speedway is ridiculously steep and narrow. It's a tough part of the course to be sure.
We made our way out of the dreaded speedway just in time to feel the first drops of rain. Yes. RAIN! A soft misty rain. Not a full on down pour. It was a bummer and we hoped that it wouldn't make things more humid as we kept on.
I'm sorry there aren't lot of pics during this phase. For the most part it's a pretty typical road course except for the AMAZING entertainment. My favorite are the Marching Bands. I guess because I was a bando when I was a kid, but the bands always keep me pumped. And the character stops are fun too.
My favorite stop is the Disney Villains which ALWAYs have a long line. Here's a pic I nabbed from the sidelines.
We turned toward the ESPN Wide World of Sports Center (where the Expo had been held) and my heart sank. I hate this part of the course. I mean, I hate it with the fire of a million suns. In 2013 this is the section where we unraveled. Sure, it was due to being sick with the flu and the unseasonably warm weather, but still. I hate it.
At mile 17 you are running down the right side of the road toward ESPN and on your left is mile 21 heading away from ESPN. It's a bit soul crushing to be looking at a spot and know there are 5 miles between you and it. *sigh*
The course through ESPN is very loopy/curvy. You twist your way between soccer field and baseball fields and around an actual track (kill me) before running through the Braves Spring Training field (where you are filmed and shown on the big screen. Tons of spectators fill the stadium to cheer you on). Still, I hated it. Urgh. I think it just brought back a lot of bad memories from our 2013 race.
We passed another bathroom and I doubled back to use it. The line was longer here and I had to wait. Still, it was worth it. There wouldn't be another bathroom for a while (porta potties, yes. Bathroom, no).
We grabbed a banana at a fuel stop and kept on trucking.
One of my favorite characters spotted along the course at this point was the main guy from Big Hero 6. I haven't seen that movie yet but a runner explained that the robot (who appeared on course as a giant, inflatable, balloon) is a health care robot. All around him were messages asking runners if we were under distress (apparently a common line from the movie). The scene made me giggle and I am determined to see this movie!!! Such a cute premise.
Anyway, by the time we finally got back around to mile 21 we saw it. THE END of the runners. We were truly near the back of the pack. Which we knew to be no big deal. However, a runner around us began freaking out. And if I remember correctly, back in 2013 they were freaking out as well.
This is when the negativity really started to come through. Runners began discussing the sweepers and how not to get swept. I understand the fear. No one wants to be swept off the course. And if you are reading this thinking you would never do a WDW Marathon for fear of the sweepers let me tell you - The sweepers pick up people who voluntarily ask to be swept or who are injured and cannot continue. They do not pick up people who are trying to finish the race and are near the pack. All that negativity and worry was bringing us down so we sped up a bit in hopes of leaving those folks behind.
We turned toward Hollywood Studios. Which is just killer. You run up a hill and back down. And in 2013 the sun as baking us alive during this stretch. We actually saw people passing out on this part of the course in 2013. Now, it was raining. Full on raining at this time and a lot cooler than in 2013.
I was excited because my friend Cherylanne was waiting for us inside DHS. Knowing that she was there (near mile 23-24 I think) was a huge motivator. And DHS is a pretty cool section of the course if you love PIXAR movies. A lot of PIXAR characters are out (we saw the Incredible (love em) and Sully and Mike from Monsters Inc (also totally love). We stopped for pics with Cheryl's Dopey (he even has running shoes on - so cute) before heading into Epcot.
The trip through Epcot was a bit unreal. We were feeling good. Not great but good. And my knee had finally stopped hurting (it had started hurting pretty early on, unfortunately).
I saw Danielle Nardi, from one of my favorite running blogs: Live Run Grow, at mile 25. She had already finished and was cheering on runners. How awesome is that?
My favorite part of the finish is the gospel choir just under the ball before you turn to see the end. When we past them they were taking a break (probably a much needed rest for their voices) and recorded music was playing. A little bit of a bummer but it happens.
We made our way to the finish feeling really pretty good. It was a slow race but we ran our fastest, most consistent splits. It was amazing to be done with Dopey!!!
We iced our legs and headed on to collect our Goofy and Dopey medals. Check out this haul!
We were DONE!! We made our way back around to enter Epcot in order to meet up with Cherylanne for some much needed FOOD (real food, not the sugary blocks we had been munching on all race - ugh). While we were slowly making our way over we saw something truly wonderful.
We saw the end of the Marathon. The very last three people who crossed. And when they crossed Mickey was there and ran with them across the finish line. They shot off confetti (just like they would for the first finisher). It brought tears to my eyes to see how they celebrated the very last finishers of the race. It was amazing. Congrats to them and to anyone who ever finishes a Marathon. It's something to be proud of.
Want more on the WDW Marathon? Check out these great posts:
2015 Walt Disney World Marathon by Live Run Grow
Chunking the 26.2 Live Run Grow
Goofy recap at Live Run Grow
Goofy training at We Run Disney