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2013 Walt Disney World Marathon Race Recap – Part 1

So I left of in the days leading up to the marathon recovering from a cold and nervous as hell about this race.  Oh…did I fail to mention that?  Yeah, I was NERVOUS!

01 Marathon Tattoo

My alarm went off at the oh so lovely hour of 2:30 am and even though I only had 5 1/2 hours of sleep, I popped right up.  I didn’t sleep very well and I think I was running purely on adrenaline.  I stuck with my nutrition plan and made an english muffin with almond butter and a cup of green tea.  I also downed one last cup of Emergen-C and took some immune system booster vitamins.

I was happy I took the time the night before to lay out all of my clothes and the supplies that I would need to get ready.  It made getting ready much less stressful.  I taped up my legs and hip flexor with KT Tape, slathered on a ton of Body Glide (TMI?) and got dressed.  I made sure my fuel belts were stocked and recheck the bag of supplies I was having B bring me later in the race.  I was as ready as I was going to be…let’s do this!

Amanda & I ready to race!

My partner in crime Amanda & I ready to race!

I met up with a bunch of other media folks in the lobby of the hotel and we hitched a ride over to the Epcot parking lot.  We were given the unique opportunity to catch a glimpse of the starting line before any of the runners arrived.  It was so cool to see the event staff getting set up and ready for those 25,000 runners to arrive.  I’m a logistics geek…what can I say?  We were also able to watch many of the pre-race interviews (sadly I didn’t get to interview Joey Fatone :( ) and see the wheelchair racers get set up.

An empty starting line...

An empty starting line…

The Road Ahead...

The road ahead…

OMG what am I about to do?!?!?!

OMG what am I about to do?!?!?!

Marathon Joe interviewing Bob Hitchcock of runDisney

Marathon Joe interviewing Bob Hitchcock of runDisney

I found Joey Fatone again!

Joey Fatone going for Goofy!

The runners started piling into the corrals and what was a ghost town one second was FULL the next.  This meant it was time to get going.  We were brought back to the starting corrals and patiently waited for the race to start.

Runners at the start line!

Runners at the start line!

In the corrals...ready to race!

In the corrals…ready to race!

Before I knew it, the National Anthem was being sung and the 20th Walt Disney World Marathon was minutes away from starting.  The most moving thing I saw during the day happened during the National Anthem.  Just behind me a man stoically raised an American flag and quietly stood there as the Anthem was being sung.  I have no idea if he was a war veteran or just a very patriotic citizen, but it was an amazing show of patriotism.  I was wondering what he did with the flag after the Anthem.  Did he run the entire marathon with it?!

10 National Anthem

Before I knew it Mickey began the countdown, the fireworks went off and the marathon was underway.  Please forgive the foul language in the following video…I couldn’t contain myself!

Mickey, Donald & Goofy counting us down!

Mickey, Donald & Goofy counting us down!

Before I got sick, my goal time to finish the race was 6 hours.  I knew that this might not be a possibility now, plus I knew the weather was going to slow me down a bit.  The forecast had been saying it was going to be in the low 80s with high humidity, which are less than ideal running conditions.  I decided to go at my steady 3 minute run/ 1 minute walk pace for as long as I could and then just go with the flow.  My goal on that day became to just finish.

The first 5 miles went by incredibly fast.  I kept a steady 13 minute per mile pace and I was feeling really good!  Call me crazy, but I actually enjoy that first stretch of World Drive after the first mile of the race.  It’s flat and a great place to really get your stride.  Oh and you have this great sight straight ahead, which always makes me run faster!  (I apologize in advance for any blurry photos and video…I was movin’!!)

Going through the Magic Kingdom toll booths just before mile 3.

Going through the Magic Kingdom toll booths just before mile 3.

I was so excited to see Jack & Sally near the TTC, but the line had at least 20 people and I didn’t want to waste that much time.  I decided that I wasn’t going to stop for character photos if the lines were long (most lines were very long!) because I knew I was going to need all of the time I could get on the back end.

Jack & Sally!

Jack & Sally!

The 5 mile marker was just outside of the Magic Kingdom and I crossed that at 1:07.  I was feeling awesome and was so excited to get into the park!  This was my favorite part of the Princess Half Marathon.  When you enter Main Street USA and see all of those people cheering from you, you can’t help but get a little emotional.  It’s quite amazing…

Entering the Magic Kingdom

Entering the Magic Kingdom

I was so excited to see the WDW Radio crew right ahead of me cheering like crazy!  My friend Suzannah saw me and called out my name…it is so amazing to see a familiar face, so thank you Suzannah for that!

WDW Radio Cheer Squad!

WDW Radio Cheer Squad!

As I turned that corner to see Cinderella’s Castle, I couldn’t help but smile.  They had kept the holiday lights on the castle just for the races…what a beautiful sight!  Further down Main Street, I also saw my friends Jillian and Kelly.  Jillian just ran her first half marathon the day before (congrats girl!) and it was so great to see her out there cheering all of us on :)

Running down Main Street USA!

Running down Main Street USA!

Look at that castle :)

Look at that castle :)

The course winds through a lot of the Magic Kingdom.  From the hub you head right through Tomorrowland and through New Fantasyland where there are a TON of character meet and greets!  Of course the best part of the Magic Kingdom is running through Cinderella’s Castle.  And what better way to do it than to be greeted by trumpeters!!

I just ran through the castle!!

I just ran through the castle!!

From there we wound through Liberty Square where I saw this guy with the best costume of the day…full on Snow White!

Yes, that's a dude

Yes, that’s a dude

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but the best thing about Disney races are the real bathrooms!  When you go through any of the parks, all of the bathrooms are open so make sure to make a pit stop here instead of at one of the Portalets.  My favorite restroom in the Magic Kingdom is the one between Frontierland and Adventureland.  It’s very large so you have less of a change of waiting in line.

The next few miles were fairly uneventful as we left the Magic Kingdom and headed toward the Walt Disney World Speedway.  The course did get very congested here as we were down to just one lane, so I had to stop and walk more frequently than I would’ve liked.  People were actually going on the other side of the cones, which was very dangerous because of oncoming traffic.  Don’t do this during a race…

The Speedway was a new element to the marathon for this year and was just after mile 8.  To get into the Speedway, there is a very steep downhill and uphill that proved to be a bit difficult for some runners.  But when we entered the track, we were greeting to the beautiful sight of the sun rising.

The sun rising above the WDW Speedway

The sun rising above the WDW Speedway

I’m not a big car person, so I didn’t think I would enjoy the Speedway all that much, but it was actually one of my favorite parts of the entire course!  It was a completely different experience from anywhere else I have run before.  All along the track vintage  and race cars were lined up and their owners were out there cheering…it was really cool!  As you could expect, various stars from the movie Cars made an appearance here as well!

Walt Disney World Speedway

Walt Disney World Speedway

Runners along the race track

Runners along the race track

Mile 9 came at the end of the race track and I knew we were now in for a long boring 3 miles up to Animal Kingdom.  The course goes up Bear Island Road which is pretty secluded (were we still on WDW property?!), but runDisney did a good job of placing various photo stops and entertainment along the way.  Santa’s reindeer and the toy soldiers were even out…they must be on their post Christmas vacation.  We also ran past the water treatment facility, which was just a gorgeous sight ;)

At this point in the day, the sun was starting to peak over the trees and the heat was creeping up.  We made the approach into Animal Kingdom and to my surprise there were a ton of animals out!  Now I’m a big animal lover and I have a small obsession with goats.  So of course I bee-lined for one of the goats and asked the handler to take my picture with him….he looked at me kind of funny due to my excitement and how I hugged the goat, but whatever…

GOAT!

GOAT!
I look totally crazy here

I immediately regretted this because now my hands smelled like goats.  Kind of gross when you want to wipe the sweat off of your face.  As soon as we entered the park, I stopped at the bathroom just outside Expedition Everest to wash my hands and splash some water on my face.

I made it to Everest!

I made it to Everest!

I had seen in prior marathons that runners have stopped to ride Expedition Everest during the race and I so wanted to do this!  This is one of my favorite attractions and where else can you ride a roller coaster during a marathon?!?  I was sad to see that the attraction wasn’t running yet so I had to just keep going :(  I know that is was open later in the day because I say ride photos.  But looking back, it’s probably a good thing that I didn’t ride because I’m not sure I could have gotten up afterwards!

Good Morning Animal Kingdom!

Good Morning Animal Kingdom!

As we exited Animal Kingdom, we reached mile 13.  I had reached the halfway point in the race in 3:08 and was really happy with that time.  It was a little over my original goal of 3 hours for the half and I was still feeling good at this point.  No major pain, no chafing, still had energy…yeah!  Oh how things were about to change…

Stay tuned for Part 2 of my Walt Disney World Marathon recap!! 

 

Disclosure: I was invited to attend the entire weekend as media.  My hotel expenses, meals and park admission were provided by Disney.  As always, all opinions are 100% my own and I am 100% obsessed with runDisney events.

 

The Days Leading Up to the 20th Walt Disney World Marathon

When registration for the 20th Anniversary Walt Disney World Marathon opened in June 2012, I couldn’t help but register. I had only run my first half marathon 4 months prior, but I knew I wouldn’t want to miss out on this opportunity.  Immediately after registering, I felt a sense of dread…what did I get myself into?!

Fast forward to the week of the race.  I was finally getting excited for the big day.  My nerves were starting to calm and I was just looking forward to running those 26.2 miles through my favorite place in the world.  I knew I wasn’t properly trained (I didn’t get those really long runs in), but I had faith that my CrossFit training would carry me through and I knew I was strong enough to make it across the finish line even if it was going to take longer than I wanted.  One thing I couldn’t predict was illness.  I had feared this would happen so I had been taking extra vitamins and Emergen-C for a few days, but I guess my body had other plans.

thermometer-cartoonWednesday morning I woke up not feeling so hot and it progressively got worse throughout the day.  By the time I got home from work, I was completely stuffed up and was feeling really out of it.  B brought home dinner and we got packed for our early morning flight.  I decided to take my temperature because this foggy feeling felt more than just a cold.  100.2, seriously?!?!  My normal body temperature is in the 97 degree range (which must be why I’m always cold!), so this was a doozy of a fever.  And this is when the terror set in…

Do I have this crazy flu that’s going around?  How could I, I got the flu shot?  Would I be able to fly in the morning?  Should call the doctor to get emergency antibiotics?  The race…how am I going to run the marathon?!  I have to do it after all this hard work!  People are counting on me to finish this race.  My Mom is coming down.  NOOOOOO!

I downed another Emergen-C, took some Tylenol and NyQuil, and squirted a healthy dose of nasal spray (which was to become my best friend in the next few days), then hit the hay at 9:00 pm so I could get a good 8 hours of sleep.

Thursday, January 10th
My 5:00 am alarm went off way too soon and I still wasn’t feeling great.  My temperature was down to 99.5, which wasn’t great but I was happy that it at least broke 100.  I loaded up with more vitamins and we headed to the airport.  My apologies to anyone that was sitting near me on the flight who I annoyed with my snoring or was grossed out by my sneezing.  I really hope I didn’t get anyone sick!!

When we arrived in Orlando, we headed straight to Whole Foods so I could get some pre-race snacks and lunch.  I went with a cup of soup and some OJ that really hit the spot.  After lunch, we headed down to the World and checked into our room at the Yacht Club.  I was so thankful that the room was ready because all I wanted to do was lay down.  So in lieu of going to the Expo, I took a nap.  Because I was so congested, the nap only lasted about 10 minutes but the relaxation time helped.  So did that next dose of nasal spray :)

HOME!

HOME!

That night we headed to the Boardwalk for dinner at Flying Fish Cafe.  I had my favorite Potato-wrapped Red Snapper, which didn’t disappoint, and an Earl Grey Tea to finish the meal.  That was some of the best tea I’ve ever had!  Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy the meal as much as usual and just wanted to get back to bed.

One of my favorite views...the Boardwalk at night.

One of my favorite views…the Boardwalk at night.

Potato-wrapped Red Snapper

Potato-wrapped Red Snapper…YUM!

I love having my own tea pot!

I love having my own tea pot!

We headed back to the hotel where we said a quick hello to my Mom and her hubs R since they had just gotten in.  I was so happy she was there for this weekend.  I was just hoping I would be able to spend time with her.   Off to bed for my early wake up call…again.

Friday, January 11th
I was up super early for the runDisney meetup at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (read the full recap here).  Thankfully my fever had broke when I woke up and I was back down to 97.9…woohoo!  While I didn’t participate in the run portion of the meetup to preserve what little health I had, I still had a great time.  I mean how can you not when you get to meet Joey Fatone :)

Photo Courtesy of runDisney

Photo Courtesy of runDisney

After the meet up, it was time for another nap before heading to lunch at Olivia’s Cafe at Old Key West with some friends.  I had never been there and had heard mixed reviews, so I was interested to try it.  Not my favorite place on property, but the tomato basil soup of the day was pretty good.  I ordered the seafood cobb salad for my main meal and it was just ok, nothing like the Hollywood Brown Derby’s cobb salad.  The rest of the table was pretty disappointed with their meals, so I don’t think we’ll be returning anytime soon.

Olivia's Cafe Cobb Salad

Olivia’s Cafe Cobb Salad

After lunch we headed over to the Health & Fitness Expo so I could pick up my race bib.  Whoa…it was CROWDED!  Waiting until Friday afternoon was probably not the best idea and looking back I should have sucked it up the day before and gone.  Packet pickup went fairly quickly, but unfortunately almost all of the Marathon merchandise in the Field House was gone by the time we got there.  I bought a few things, but kept my fingers crossed that the merch booth on the Expo floor would have more items.

Welcome to the Expo!

Welcome to the Expo!

Marathon Bib Pick Up...OMG!

Marathon Bib Pick Up…OMG!

New runDisney Vinylmation with 20th Anniversary Marathon Medal!

New runDisney Vinylmation with 20th Anniversary Marathon Medal!

Here’s where the craziness started…look at the line to get into the expo!!

Yes, this is wrapping around the entire field!

Yes, this is wrapping around the entire field!

I usually like to spend some time visiting the vendors, but I just couldn’t deal with the crowds.  I headed straight to the back to pick up my shirt and into the runDisney merch booth.  I was so happy to find the pint glass and pin I was looking for!  I bought them and made a beeline out of the building.  I still wasn’t feeling myself and the crowds were not helping.  I hardly took any pictures at the expo…so not like me!!

We headed back to the hotel and met my Mom and R for an early dinner at Yachtsman Steakhouse.  Full review coming soon, but let’s just say that these short ribs were seriously good!

Yachtsman Short Ribs

Yachtsman Short Ribs

Now I’m going to confess here that I decided to have a martini with dinner.  Yes, probably not the best thing to do 2 days before a marathon when you are sick, but I figured that it can’t get any worse and hell, the vodka would probably kill whatever was in my system, right?  If anything, it calmed me down a bit since I had been stressing more and more as the race approached.

We jumped in the car to end the night at the Top of the World Lounge so my Mom could see Wishes from there.  She hadn’t been to WDW in over 10 years and I wanted to make her trip as special as I could.  Totally worth the trip to the Contemporary :)

Wishes...it never gets old

Wishes…it never gets old

I had planned on getting up the next morning to go watch the start of the half marathon and cheer on my fellow runners, but I decided that my health needed to come first.  So when we got back to the hotel, I took 2 NyQuil and went into a coma for the night.  Now I don’t recommend mixing alcohol and NyQuil, but I needed a good night’s rest…and that’s what I got!

Saturday, January 12th
After 10 hours of sleep, I woke up feeling better than I had in days!  I still wasn’t at 100%, but I was getting back to my usual self.  I guess my combo of vitamins, hydration and medication were working!  We were up in time to catch the tail end of the half marathon, so B and I walked over to Epcot to see some of the runners in their last mile to the finish.  It was so exciting to watch them!

half marathon_2 half marathon_1

We headed over to the Boardwalk to meet up with my Mom, R, and our friends Marc, Kris, Amanda and her family for breakfast at Kouzzina (read my full review of this awesome breakfast here).  Amanda and Marc had just finished the half marathon as part of the Goofy Race and a Half Challenge, so they needed a serious refuel.  Much of the talk was about the heat and we were all getting nervous for what was in store for the marathon the next day.

After breakfast, we jumped on the boat and headed over to Epcot with Mom and R for an afternoon of park touring.  It was a gorgeous afternoon and we got most of the Future World attractions in.  It was also a great way to warm up my legs for the race.

Mom & R waiting for the boat to Epcot :)

Mom & R waiting for the boat to Epcot :)

We're on a boat!

We’re on a boat!

Around 3:30 pm we were getting a little hungry, so we decided on lunch at San Angel Inn which is becoming my new favorite lunch spot.  Those enchiladas really hit the spot!  It’s hard to find things in WDW that are gluten free that you can use to carb load before a race…corn tortillas are a good option!  After lunch we headed over to Test Track (we had FastPasses) to check out the new refurbishment.  Let’s just say, I was underwhelmed…

Mom & I getting our Mexican on :)

Mom & I getting our Mexican on :)

Test Track...look at Mom's hair!

Test Track…look at Mom’s hair!

My legs were starting to get tired and I knew I had to get my things ready for the race the next day.  B and I headed back to the room so I could get situated and rest a bit.  I went through my race checklist and laid everything out for the next morning.  I feel so much better when I’m organized!

All set and ready to run a marathon!

All set and ready to run a marathon!

We relaxed for a bit before I fell asleep around 9:00 pm.  That 2:30 am alarm was going to come way too soon…

And that’s where I’ll leave you today…stay tuned for my full race recap!!

Have you ever run while sick?  What do you typically do before a big race?