Posts Tagged by finish line

Handing Out Medals at the Walt Disney World Marathon

Volunteers are what make a race actually run.  Disney’s VoluntEARs take it to a whole different level!  They get up even earlier (hard to believe!) than the runners and are often time on their feet for much longer.  I’ve you’ve read this blog for a while, you know that I LOVE the VoluntEARs and owe many of my race finishes to them.  The positivity, enthusiasm and encouragement mean so much to all of us runners.  This year, Amy VoluntEARed during the Walt Disney World Marathon and had the coveted job of giving out medals.  Here is her behind the scenes story…super cool!

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There they are. At the end of the course. Those big, beautiful, shiny medals. You earned one! But, did you ever wonder how they get there? Well, I like to say that it’s a pinch of Disney Magic and a handful of Volunteer Magic! Here’s what we VoluntEARS do before you are even awake!

Before you can go volunteer at the Marathon, you have to pick up your credentials at the Expo. You check in with a volunteer, sign waivers and are given your credentials, a bag, a lanyard and a letter that you exchange for a free park ticket at the end of your shift.

On the night of our shift, we arrived at Blizzard Beach around 1:45 am for a 2:00 am shift. After parking, we threw on a bunch of layers (it was COLD!), got our bags checked by Security and headed in to the tent.

Amy Weber_ (1)

First, you check in at the computer, where your badge is scanned. Then, you are given a windbreaker. After that, you are given a large Ziploc bag and are able to choose your snacks. I chose Lay’s, Oreos, cheese crackers, Nutri-Grain bar, an Uncrustable and a bottle of water.

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Once we finished these tasks, we went out the back and put on our jackets and took a moment to rearrange our bags.

Amy Weber_ (2)

If you need a pottie, there are ones here for you to use.

Amy Weber_ (5)

Next, we found our bus – our credentials said we needed Bus #1 – 7. We ended up on Bus #2, a nice charter bus. When the bus was full, we began our journey to the Finish Line. Our bus actually crossed over the overpass under which the corrals are located, and followed the route (backwards) that runners use to get to the corrals.

We were dropped off behind Gear Check at the pre-run staging area and disembarked. We were led to a large tent that had hot chocolate and coffee! Since I couldn’t feel my feet, the hot chocolate was a very welcome perk (one that not all volunteers get!)

Amy Weber_ (9)

All the Medal volunteers met near the Simba Flag (as instructed on our badges). Our Team Leader, Patrick, had us gather round so that he could introduce himself. He had his “Senior VP of Illuminations” – some guy with a light stick – walk us to the Medal Area at the finish line.

Amy Weber_ (8)

While we were walking, Patrick grabbed my Hubby, dubbed him “Senior VP of Accounting”, and asked him to do a headcount when we got to the Medals Area (right next to the Med Tent). I could tell already that this Team Leader was gonna be a good one.

Once at the Medals Area, “Senior VP of Accounting” turned in his head count and we gathered around again. Patrick had a bullhorn, which was so great – some team leaders are very quiet! A runDisney staff member (I’m gonna call him Tom since I never got his name) stopped by and explained the RIGHT way to unbox medals. (We did medals at Tower of Terror, and it was CRAZY-HORRIBLE how people did them).

Each box had 3 bundles of 25 medals zip-tied together. We were supposed to take out one bundle, find the center (where all the lanyards were connected), then, standing over a trash can, take all the plastic wrappers off of the medals. Once the plastic was off, we would walk over to the medal stand and place the entire bundle onto a peg without removing the zip-tie. If you did it right, the medals would all be pointing the same way and look show-ready. If you did it wrong, the medals would be a mess and you’d have to go back and straighten out the entire pile. Most people did it right, so there wasn’t a lot of fixing to do.

After they were hung, the “Senior VP of Scissors” – me – came around and cut off the zip-ties. I actually just handed out scissors to anyone who asked for a pair, so half the group hung while the other half cut. We started hanging around 2:45 and we were totally done by 3:45. We had a really bad-ass group of voluntEARs this time! Oh, a little math on those medal racks – 12 medal racks. 6 rows per rack. 10 pegs per row. 25 medals per peg. EIGHTEEN THOUSAND medals were hung up. In an hour.

Amy Weber_ (10)

After breaking down the empty boxes that we’d used, we were given a 15-minute break. A small group of people were sent to the Bonus Tent to hang up Goofy and Dopey medals. I used the break to hit the pottie behind the Med Tent and discovered something I never knew about Disney’s potties – there is a coat hook on the door! Way up at the top, there is a little metal hook – who knew?

Amy Weber_ (11)

Anyway, when I was done, I went back to the Medals area, where everyone was standing around, drinking coffee or snacking. At this point, there was LITERALLY nothing to do. Tom came back and said that he was genuinely shocked at how quickly we put everything up. We all kind of just stood around and chit-chatted. The DJ at the pre-race area was pumping out music. People were really starting to fill up the Race Retreat (the smell of bacon was infuriatingly delicious!)

Lots of the other volunteers were huddled at the fence between Medals and the Med Tent – some of them even curled up on the cold pavement and fell asleep.

Amy Weber_ (13)

Some of the volunteers spent extra time perfecting how the medals were hung – especially the front of the rack, the part the runners see when they come in. I ‘borrowed’ the relative warmth of the med tent to add a layer – adding a fleece quarter-zip brought me up to FIVE layers. I was still cold. Luckily, when I had unrolled the fleece top, the hand warmers and gloves that I tucked in to the fleece fell out – I’d completely forgotten about them! It helped a little, but not a whole lot.

At 5:30ish, you could hear the announcers at the start line start to announce corrals. The energy was high and it was great to hear all the corrals go off.

The Kiddo and I (like many other voluntEARs) borrowed wheelchairs from the med tent to sit in, and soon she was zooming around having wheelchair races with some other voluntEARs.

Tom, Patrick, Hubby and I were gathered around, trying to keep track of which corral had just left when Tom showed me something really cool regarding the fireworks they shoot off at each ‘start’. Most runners (even I) never look behind them, but there is a large firework that goes off BEHIND the final corral, as well as the fireworks that shoot off at and near the start line. You can see in the photo how much space there is between the front and the back!

Amy Weber_ (12)

After the final corral (P) had taken off, I made my prediction (I do this at every race) that the first finisher would come in around 2:20.

Now the DJ is playing at the Finish Line, trying to ramp up the handful of people that had already made their way to the bleachers. I had to give him credit – he did the DJ Thing of turning down the music and getting the crowd to sing, but no one in the crowd was warm enough to sing back (at least, that’s how it seemed from our end). It was like “I throw my hands up in the air sometimes, singing….. “ It was kind of funny.

This cool horse-trailer pulled up soon after that, and we joked that the finisher would ride out on a horse, but a while later the top opened and a Jumbo-Tron popped out! Oh, man I need one of those for my backyard!

Amy Weber_ (16)

When we heard that the wheelchair racers were about 5 miles away, 12 of us were lined up in a V-formation, each with a few medals. Our shift was almost over, but we would be able to give out a few at least.

Amy Weber_ (15)

I was able to give a medal to the 2nd place Wheelchair finisher, David, bib# 20001. The Kiddo gave a medal to one of the Wheelchair finishers, but further down the chute, he actually gave it back to one of the other voluntEARs because he’d already been given one closer to the finish line.

The first runner, Fredison Costa, finished in 2:18:06 – I was REALLY close with my guess! The second and third place finishers came in within 5 minutes of the winner, so it was a pretty close race.

Sadly, at this point, it was time for a shift change, so we passed our medals off to the new voluntEARs, gathered our bags and got in line for Patrick to sign off on our badges. If your Team Leader doesn’t sign off on your badge (which is proof that you worked), you don’t get a ticket back at the voluntEAR tent.

Amy Weber_ (17)

We hiked back to the bus and collapsed – we were so tired! It took a while for the bus to get out of the area, due to lots of other buses coming IN to the area. We drove out past the Center for Living Well Family Pharmacy and what looked to be a Cast Member entrance to Epcot.

Back at the Volunteer Tent, we checked in again with our badge and traded in our letter (that we got on Saturday at the Expo) for a FREE One Day, One Park pass. For the first time, it has blockout dates – we’ll be unable to use it from Christmas Day to New Year’s Eve.

After leaving, we were headed towards WaWa for some breakfast, and we encountered the runners on Osceola Parkway! We all rolled down our windows and stuck our hands out and waved and cheered them all on! It was great to see all these guys still looking strong with almost 10 more miles to go!

Once we finished at WaWa, we went BACK to OP just so we could cheer on runners some more, at least until we had to exit at Western Way and go home.

I hope you guys enjoyed a Day in the Life of a VoluntEAR! We’ve been doing it now for more than a year and I LOVE doing it – I look forward to doing many more!

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Amy Weber began running in 2012 after deciding to make a lot of changes in her life. She’s done 4 half marathons, four 10ks, one 15k and too many 5ks to count! Upcoming races include Celebration ½ Marathon, Gasparilla Weekend and the Gate River Run. She’s married and has one daughter and works for the government, so running is her Me Time. You can find lots of race reports and Disney stuff on her blog TheLazyLady.Blogspot.com!

2013 Dumbo Double Dare Recap Part II – Disneyland Half Marathon

050-DLHalf-Medals-Header

For the 3rd day in a row, I was up before the sun.  Oh the things we do to run at Disney.  I ran through the same morning routine as the morning before for the Disneyland 10K, jumped on the bus and walked through Downtown Disney in the dark to the start line.  It’s oddly peacefully at that hour…

001 DLHalf-Downtown-Disney

I happened to look to my right as I was walking towards the Disneyland Hotel and saw a very empty starting line…oh the calm before the storm.

002 DLHalf-Empty-Start

I met up with Amanda at what was becoming our “usual spot” at the Sorcerer’s Hat. We were both a bit tired, but excited to take on the 2nd have of the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge despite the warm temps.  You know it’s hot out when she shows up to run in a tank top…

003 DLHalf-Amanda-Sarah

We met up with Ashley who we ran with the day before and all headed to the corrals.  We had such a blast during the 10K that we all wanted to run together again!  Even though we were all tired we were determined to have a “PR IN FUN” for this race, which became our motto along the way.  The road to the corrals was a bit different this morning as these long chutes were put up leading to different corral areas.  It kind of felt like a cow being led to slaughter…odd.

003 DLHalf-Walk-to-Corral

But thankfully we made it to the other side unscathed and headed into our corral with time to spare.  Look we even ran into our friend James!

004 DLHalf-CorralD

005 DLHalf-Corral

An interesting thing about Disneyland races vs. Disney World races are the lack of fireworks.  In the World, each corral goes off with their own fireworks which adds to the excitement.  But in Disneyland, they can’t do that because we are technically in a residential area and there are noise restrictions.  Booooo.  But I was excited to see some super quiet fireworks during the National Anthem.  How do they get them so quiet???

And before we knew it, we were walking towards the start line.  There is a lot less waiting around in Disneyland and I like that!  It was great to see some spectators already out and cheering on the runners.  Seriously, how cute is this dog in the Tinker Bell costume?!?

006 DLHalf-Spectators

It was our turn to be counted down and we were off…well, slowly…

The course had the same start as the 10K, but we turned a block earlier this time down W Katella Aveneue where we got a glimpse of the sun just beginning to rise.

007 DLHalf-Katella

Before I knew it we were about to enter Disneyland just after mile 1.  This is also where the mile 12 marker which we came across at around the 41 minute mark. Here is where we saw an amazing site….the lead wheelchair competitor came zooming through.  Unbelievable!  I got the chills seeing this and couldn’t get my camera out fast enough.  It just goes to show that you can do anything with determination and drive.  On days where I’m doubting myself, you better believe I will be referring back to that moment.

Unlike the 10K, the half marathon enters the park in Paradise Pier and loops around into Carsland, so you get a completely different perspective from the morning before.

008 DLHalf-Fun-Wheel

009 DLHalf-Carsland

I of course stopped for a bathroom break while I had the real facilities available and told Amanda and Ashley I would catch up. Little did I know they were speed demons that morning!  I was able to catch up with them right on Main Street USA, but I had to run WAY faster than my usual half marathon pace to get there.  But I’m glad I did so we could take our picture in front of the castle!

010 DLHalf-Sarah-Castle

011 DLHalf-Ashley-Castle

I also met up with my favorite green army men in Toontown where I promptly dropped and gave them 20…nah, more like 2 🙂 Definitely my favorite photo op!

012 DLHalf-Pushups

And before we even reached mile 4, we were out of the parks.  It was kind of a bummer that there was such a short time spent in the parks, especially since the majority of the 10K was spent in there.  We headed out onto the streets of Anaheim and we greeted by an enthusiastic group of cheerleaders…the first of many!  These girls were awesome.

The sun had just come over the horizon and we spent what seemed like eternity running directly into it.  This made me realize that I really need to invest in a pair of sport sunglasses!  Even though it was bright…it sure was gorgeous.

013 DLHalf-Anaheim

014 DLHalf-Anaheim

With the sun comes the heat and we were starting to feel it.  We found any shade we could on the course and wove across the road to try and stay cool.  Thankfully it wasn’t as oppressive as the day before, but with more than half the race to go I knew I had to try and stay cool where I could.

The entertainment on this race was much different from the other Disney races because there weren’t any characters outside of the parks.  Instead there were TONS of local entertainment!  This was pretty cool…check out these amazing dancers!

And Micheal Jackson was there…actually he was running and dancing at the same time!

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And an awesome group of signs and spectators…

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017 DLHalf-SIgns

018 DLHalf-Signs

019 DLHalf-Signs

020 DLHalf-Signs

Somewhere around mile 6, RAD reader Hanna came up and said hi and we talked for a bit as we ran.  We also ran into Colin (@ParadisePeer) who went flying past us in an awesome Dumbo costume!    I seriously LOVE chatting with you guys on the course…it’s probably the next best thing after cats!

Next came the classic cars!  This was SUPER cool and was just like the cars on the WDW Speedway during the WDW Marathon, but better!  There had to be at least 300 cars along the course all with their owners cheering us on. They must have had to get there at by 5am at the latest to be set and ready for the runners…so RAD!

021 DLHalf-Cars

022 DLHalf-Cars

One of my favorite spectators!

023 DLHalf-Cars

024 DLHalf-Cars

025 DLHalf-Cars

Apparently the wake up call was too early for this woman, but at least she had the Disney spirit!

028 DLHalf-Cars

After the cars, we came upon the Honda Center where the Anaheim Mighty Ducks play.  Being a huge hockey fan (Go Rangers!), this was an unexpected surprise.  Plus there’s that whole Disney angle to the team 🙂

026 DLHalf-Ashley-Civic-Center 027 DLHalf-Mighty-Ducks

The course turned down the Santa Ana Trail, which was actually a dirt trail that created quite the dust storm with all the runners. Some volunteers were even sporting bandanas around they face to not breathe in all the dust.  Not fun while trying to run.

029 DLHalf-Trail

I’m assuming the trail used to run along the Santa Ana River that now seemed to be completely dried up.  Nonetheless, it was quite beautiful despite the dust.

030 DLHalf-TrailWe were coming up on mile 9 and off in the distance we could see Angel Stadium.  I had heard that this was one of the highlights of the race and it also meant we were in the home stretch.  What I didn’t expect was the crowd…wow.

031 DLHalf-Trail

032 DLHalf-Angel

In the parking lot there was a HUGE gathering of Boy Scouts.  I can’t even begin to tell you how cool it was to see all those kids out there screaming and jumping for us.

033 DLHalf-Angel

And there was this lady…wha??

034 DLHalf-AngelThen we entered the stadium and the stands were FULL of spectators, once again putting the trip around the Champion Stadium at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to shame.  Not only were the spectators amazing but the stadium was beautiful and we got to see ourselves on the Jumbotron!

035 DLHalf-Angel

036 DLHalf-Angel

037 DLHalf-Angel

Back on the road, we were making our way back to the Disneyland Resort.  I have to say that this stretch of the course was pretty boring, but we were met with more cheerleaders and even a color guard team to liven things up a bit.

038 DLHalf-Cheerleaders

039 DLHalf-Color-Guard

I was feeling pretty good considering that I had run the day before and it was unusually hot out.  My legs felt fine and I had a ton of energy.  The only issue I was really dealing with was chafing from the excessive amount of sweating that was going on.  TMI?  The girls and I were keeping our spirits up by reminding ourselves that we were having a PR IN FUN and actually managed to keep laughing through these long 2+ miles.

041 DLHalf-Mile12

As we got back to the parks right at mile 12, I witnessed a wonderful family reunion where a runner was beyond excited to see her parents and grandparents.  There were hugs all around and they were clearly so proud.  This made me smile from ear to ear 🙂

040 DLHalf-Reunion

The road to the finish line took us through a backstage area of Disney California Adventure where we were able to see some of the disabled ride vehicles…I always love that stuff.  Who knew those rafts were so deep??

042 DLHalf-Raft

043 DLHalf-Backstage

Seeing the Paradise Pier Hotel was an incredibly welcoming sight.  We were almost there…just under a mile to go and I was about to complete my first back to back race challenge!  As I’m writing this, I still find it a bit unbelievable that I even attempted this, let alone finished it.

044 DLHalf-Paradise-Pier

And then I saw this guy…dressed as Darth Goofy!  Kudos on the costume but DAMN he must have been HOT!  He had gloves on and all…insane.

045 DLHalf-Darth-Goofy

We turned the corner towards the Disneyland Hotel and there was another HUGE crowd there to greet us.  The home stretch is so exciting…you can’t help but pick up the pace and really give it your all for that last half mile or so.

046 DLHalf-Spectators

047 DLHalf-Mile13

I found my own personal cheerleader Cindy (read all about her awesomeness in my 10K recap!) and of course had to get another photo…

048 DLHalf-Cindy-Sarah

And there she was…the finish line!  I grabbed Amanda’s hand and we finished together like we have every race we’ve run together since my first half marathon a year and a half ago.  So emotional and I wouldn’t want to do experience all of this with anyone else.

049 DLHalf-Finish-Line

Again, not our fastest race by any means (3:25:31), but we did manage to get that PR IN FUN!  Running with friends is so different that running for time.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again, this is what makes Disney races so special and I will NEVER be ashamed to be a slow runner here.  We crossed that finish line and we crossed it with a smile on our faces 🙂

B was in the family reunion area waiting for me and I couldn’t wait to see him.  It’s always great to see his smiling face after my races.  Amanda had to leave to catch her flight so I gave her a sweaty hug and headed to the photo area to get a few pics.  I had B bring all my medals so I could do this…

053 DLHalf-Medals

052 DLHalf-Medals

WEAR ALL THE MEDALS!!  While I was waiting to take my photo, I ran into a woman who I met on the plane out there…crazy!  She had run Goofy earlier in the year and was also waiting to take her photo with all of her medals!

051 DLHalf-Medals

And the fun didn’t stop there…  After a shower and a quick nap, B and I headed to Downtown Disney for lunch at Uva.  Ever since my first half marathon when I had Fish & Chips as my post race meal, that is something I now crave after most races. Unfortunately it was really hot, so it wasn’t as enjoyable as I would’ve liked, but a nice cold beer definitely helped 🙂

DLHalf-Uva-Beer

DLHalf-Uva-Fish-Chips

After lunch, we jumped on the Monorail and headed into Disneyland.  I LOVE that you can take the monorail from Downtown Disney into Tomorrowland and the ride is so fun how it winds through the trees and above all the attractions!  What would be nicer is if it had air conditioning, but like many things in Disneyland it doesn’t. HOT!!!

DLHalf-Monorail

I was hoping to get in some of my must do attractions like the Matterhorn and Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin, but the combination of long lines and heat prevented that from happening.  But I DID have more fun with my medals!! 🙂

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055 DLHalf-10K-Medal

056 DLHalf-Dumbo-Medal

The day (and the trip) ended with an incredible dinner at the Chef’s Counter at Napa Rose.  Expect a full review of this meal soon!

DLHalf-Napa-Rose

What a crazy few days.  The Inaugural Dumbo Double Dare Challenge was a lot of fun and something I would definitely do again.  However, traveling out to California is VERY expensive and I don’t think it is something I will be able to do every year unfortunately.  Living on the East Coast it is much easier (and economical) for me to go to WDW even multiple times per year.

I also prefer the races in WDW. Maybe it’s because I’m more familiar with the roads there and I know exactly where I am at all times.  Or maybe it’s because they feel more “Disney” to me.  Running through Anaheim was nice, but I could do that in any local race.  There wasn’t much about it (except for the 2 miles through the parks) that made it feel like a Disney race.  I love seeing characters throughout the whole course and it’s definitely something I missed here.  I’m not sure what my future for Disneyland races holds, but I do know I would love to go back…just maybe not next year.

Do you want to run a race in Disneyland?  Have you done so already?  What is your favorite part?

Registration Now Open for the 2013 Wine & Dine Half Marathon

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The 2013 Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon is now open for registration!  This event is the ultimate Runners Night Out and probably my favorite runDisney event!  I mean can you really go wrong when you get to run through 3 parks and end at the Food & Wine Festival?!  This is the 4th year this race is being held and every year it gets better…can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2013.

This nighttime race begins at 10:00 pm on November 9th at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.  The course takes runners through Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and finishes at Epcot.  It’s the only Disney Half Marathon to take you through 3 parks!

029 W&D MedalThe price tag for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon is a bit higher than other Disney races, but it includes a lot of extras.  You get the usual amazing Disney entertainment on the course, a tech shirt, and race medal, but also included is admission to the Finish Line Party at Epcot and a $10 gift card!  The Finish Line Party has turned into a great event for runners and their supporters.  runDisney quickly learned from their mistakes after the first year was very over crowded, and opened up Future World for the party.  Now select attractions including Soarin’, Test Track, Mission: SPACE, and Maelstrom are open from 10:30 pm – 4:00 am for those attending the party.  Another added bonus is that all of the Food & Wine Festival kiosks are open during the party, which is great for a post-race snack and use for that $10 gift card!

Also taking place that weekend is Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5k and Kids Races.  The 5K takes place at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on November 9th as well, but this event is in the morning.  The Kids Races will be held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex that same afternoon.  Talk about a busy racing day!

Pricing for the events are as follows:

Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon

  • $175 by June 18, 2013
  • $190 between June 19 and August 13, 2013
  • $205 on or after August 14, 2013

Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K

  • $50 per participant

runDisney Kids’ Races

  • $15 per Kid’s Dash participant
  • $30 per 1-Mile Run participant

Finish Line Party

  • $74 by August 13, 2013
  • $84 between August 14 and October 29, 2013
  • $94 on or after October 30, 2013

Packet pick-up will be required at the Health & Fitness Expo held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex beginning November 8, 2013.  Visit the runDisney event page for more information on all of the events taking place that weekend and click here to register for any (or all!) of the events.

To get you excited for the race, check out these fun photos from the 2012 Wine & Dine Half Marathon!

You can also check out some of my recaps as well…

This is such a fun race and I can’t say enough good things about it.  Hope to see you there in November!!!

2013 Walt Disney World Marathon Race Recap – Part 2

Part 1 of my Walt Disney World Marathon recap left off just outside of Animal Kingdom.  I was halfway through the race and still feeling really good.  My friend Katherine (KO) found me just as we were leaving the parking lot at Mile 14.  It was really great to see her and have someone to talk to.  My iPod decided to die right when I turned it on, so I had been running with no music and no one to talk to this whole time.

We made our way onto Osceola Parkway and began the trek to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex (WWOS).  I had run Osceola during the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler and the Wine & Dine Half Marathon so I knew I was in for a long haul.  What I didn’t expect (since those 2 races are run at night) is how bad the sun was going to be during this stretch.  It was almost 9:00 am and the sun was at full blast over the trees and there was barely any shade.  We continued on with the 3/1 run/walk pace for a while, but I found that I needed to walk for longer periods of time.  Osceola also has a ton of overpasses which means hills…not fun!

Traffic on World Drive from Osceola Parkway

Traffic on World Drive from Osceola Parkway

B and my mom were meeting me on Osceola right before we made the turn into WWOS and I couldn’t wait to see them!  Just knowing they were there was making it easier to push through the heat.  B took some fun photos while he was waiting…those cups are quite the sight!

Mile 17 Water Stop...cups, cups and more cups!

Mile 17 Water Stop…cups, cups and more cups!

Seriously awesome costume That hat must have been hot!

Seriously awesome costume
That hat must have been hot!

Oh...here I am!

Oh…here I am!

I immediately dove into the bag I packed and grabbed more body glide to lube up under my sports bra (TMI again??).  I was trying to avoid chafing at all costs…I have no shame and did that right on Osceola Parkway in front of thousands of my friends.  I also switched out my sweaty headband, gave B my dead iPod, restocked my Gu, filled my water bottles and grabbed some crackers.

Diving into my bag of goodies

Diving into my bag of goodies

Look it's Katherine...in the cutest Aurora costume I might add!

Look it’s Katherine…in the cutest Aurora costume!

B said I was looking good at that point…totally the opposite to what I was starting to feel.  I really wanted to just jump in the car with them and go grab a beer, but no…KO and I took off into WWOS.  As we entered the complex there were sponges…ooohhh sponges!  VoluntEARS were handing out sponges soaked in water that were the most amazing things EVER!  I have to admit that when I first saw there were sponges on the course, I was a little grossed out by them but I was totally wrong…the cold water was perfect in that heat.  I just wish I would’ve kept it for later in the race.  Fail!

I won’t go into much detail about WWOS because the whole 3 miles spent in there was my demise.  I really didn’t enjoy this part of the course.  There was barely any shade, it was hot, humid and most of all it was boring.  Around mile 18, my legs started getting sore and I was mentally starting to break down.  This was the farthest I’d ever run (we won’t get into my lack of training here…that’s for another day) and the heat was beating me down.  At least this guy was here to cheer me up a bit…

32 Sign

We ran through Champion Stadium and on to the mile 20 spectacular we heard so much about.  I’m not sure what I was expecting but I felt like the spectacular wasn’t all that spectacular.  Yes, the giant sized puppets were very cool, but I was more blown away by them when they were out during Wine & Dine when they were all lit up.

Mile 20 Spectacular

Mile 20 Spectacular

34 Mile 20 Puppets

Giant Tigger!

Don’t get me wrong, it was great to see Goofy, Mickey and Donald waving and greeting all of us and the 20 mile banner was pretty cool.  I just think that between the heat and the oncoming exhausting I was looking forward to a SPECTACULAR and I just got a small party.

Look who made an appearance!

Look who made an appearance!

Mile 20

Mile 20

Ok, all that was left was a 10K…I could totally do that.  It was a mental battle from here on out.  Yes, my quads were screaming and I was starting to feel some blisters forming on my feet, but I could push through that.  My goal was to just get through the next 2.5 miles to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and I knew that I could easily get through the rest.

These 2.5 miles sucked.  You know that wall you always hear about…well I hit it here.  I had nothing left in me.  There were buses set up at mile 21 for people to get on who couldn’t go any further and I seriously considered hopping on, but I sucked it up and kept trucking.  I had people counting on me to finish…I was counting on me to finish!!  I need to thank my friend Cindy who was virtually cheering me on for the entire race…her encouragement really helped here!!  How awesome is she?!?!

Thanks Cindy xoxo

Thanks Cindy xoxo

I was glad to see my favorite green army men on the on ramp to World Drive…they always make me laugh.  Some runners were doing push ups with them which was awesome…I would’ve loved to partake and show off my hard work from CrossFit but I just didn’t have it in me.  My friends Jenn & Danielle did though…bad ass ladies, bad ass!

Yes sir!

Yes sir!

Our friend Carrie caught up to us here and it was so great to see her!  She was struggling as well, so we all tried to motivate each other to get through this last stretch of HOT highway!  At the mile 22 water stop, I really slowed down to refuel.  I don’t normally drink Powerade, but I knew with this heat that I had to make it a priority.  From the beginning of the race I was taking a Powerade and a water at every stop and mixing them together.  Early on I also took a salt packet at the recommendation of my CrossFit coach (thanks Jay!) and I think the combination of all of that really kept me hydrated through the race.  I just had to force myself to keep drinking.  Carrie & KO were a ways ahead of me and I motioned for them to keep going….I didn’t want to hold them back and I really needed to get my head back in the game.

Finally, my favorite hotel was in sight, the Hollywood Tower Hotel 🙂  This meant we were entering the Studios, this meant we were in the home stretch!

The Studios!

The Studios!

Just as we entered, there was a food station with chocolate!  Normally I would’ve loved this, but I just couldn’t bare the thought of eating that in the heat.  I would’ve loved an ice pop or something!  We weren’t in the Studios for long, but it was just what I needed.  Running down Hollywood Boulevard was amazing!  The park was open to guests and they were cheering us on!  We hadn’t had a good cheering squad since Champion Stadium and the energy here was perfect.

Running down Hollywood Boulevard

Running down Hollywood Boulevard

As I was leaving the Studios, I got a text from B checking in on me.  People were coming across the finish line severely dehydrated and he wanted to make sure I kept drinking.

Awesome hubs :)

Awesome hubs 🙂

Apparently, I wanted to die because that’s the second person I told.  Ha!  Well something happened after this text…I got some sort of second wind!  I popped my last Gu and headed down the the pathway to the Boardwalk.  At the mile 24 water stop, the volunteers were giving “Dasani showers” by just pouring the bottle over our heads.  BEST!  This must have rejuvenated me because I picked up my speed and started really running again!

2.2 to go!!

2.2 to go!!

Love this guy!

Love this guy!

I was shocked to see Carrie and KO again as we passed the Beach Club…someone really lit a fire under my ass!  I think they were just as shocked to see me too.  KO decided to start running with me and Carrie just encouraged us to go on.  We passed the last water stop and finally, we were in Epcot.  This was it…I was almost there!

Entering World Showcase

Entering World Showcase

We had run into our friend Todd just before Epcot, who is part of the WDW Radio Running Team and he said the whole group was right in the UK cheering.  And man were they cheering…that was awesome!  My friends Jillian and Kelly were also there…I’m sure I looked to be in a very different state from when they saw me earlier in the Magic Kingdom.  I almost ran over and grabbed Jillian’s beer, but I had to focus on this last mile.  I was very close to the 7 hour mark and was determined to finish under that.

World Showcase was horrible.  If you’ve ever walked around there on a warm day, you know it can be like the Bataan Death March.  Now try doing that after running 25 miles…WORST!  It felt like it was going on forever and ever and ever.  But finally, we made it to Future World and I knew what was in store…my favorite gospel choir!

A beautiful sight!

A beautiful sight!

As I rounded the corner towards the Epcot parking lot for those last .2 miles, I was in shock.  The amount of people who were there cheering was insanely overwhelming.  It was nothing like I had ever seen before.  It literally stopped me in my tracks and I became overwhelmed with emotion.

Look at all those people!!

Look at all those people!!

Even MORE people!

Even MORE people!

And there she was…the finish line.  I had made it all 26.2 miles.

The Finish Line!!

The Finish Line!!

I crossed strong with tears in my eyes.  I couldn’t believe I actually just did that and to be honest, I still find it hard to believe.  Running a marathon never seemed like a possibility to me.  I’m an ex-smoker, I have ulcerative colitis, I’m clearly overweight…people like me don’t run marathons.  Well guess what…I DID!!

26.2 DONE...BOOM!

26.2 DONE…BOOM!

I staggered over to the medal area to find my friend Aurora who was giving out medals.  She actually found me first and put that beauty around my neck.  She gave me a huge hug and I just started balling.  Aurora had given me my first half marathon medal at Princess less than a year before and now she was giving me my first marathon medal.  Couldn’t be anymore perfect than that.

I grabbed my food, a Powerade, 2 waters and set off to find my family.  People were dropping like flies all around me from dehydration and the heat.  They had a health official right after the water making everyone who passed her open up a bottle and take a drink or she wouldn’t let them pass.  It was a little scary so I just kept on drinking to be safe.

I found my Mom first and she gave me a huge hug.  I can’t say enough how important it was to me that she was there supporting me…it really made what I just did worth while to see the smile on her face.  And then there is B…sigh.  I can’t write this without tearing up because he has been the most amazingly supportive husband through this whole journey.  He listens to all my craziness about running and travels with me to these races.  He listens to me complain when my legs are sore and pours ice in my recovery bath even when I protest.  He’s my #1 cheerleader.  Oh and the best part, he had a beer waiting for me after the marathon 🙂

Post race beer...hellz yeah!

Post race beer…hellz yeah!

Thoroughly enjoying my beer...I look exhausted!

Thoroughly enjoying my beer…I look exhausted!

The family reunion area was hectic, but I did manage to run into Andy from Attractions Magazine.  We had been talking a lot before the race since it was a first marathon for both of us, so it was great to see him!

50 Post Race_2

Hey Andy!

We got on the bus back to the hotel and all I wanted to do was get in an ice bath and a shower!  My official time was 6:55:13, almost an hour longer than I had hoped.  But with all the challenges I faced (being sick, heat, humidity, etc…) I am just happy that I finished!  I’m not sure I will ever do this again.  The distance was just too long for me, but we’ll see.  All I know is,  I can officially say that I’m a marathoner and that’s pretty awesome 🙂

MARATHONER!

MARATHONER!

 

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?