We’ve been following Hannah’s journey to marathon redemption in her Mission to Marathon series for a year now. She has shared the realities of training and given up some great tips! Well it all led up to WDW Marathon Weekend and when Hannah DID complete her first marathon, but not without some difficulties. This is a wonderfully honest recap and I’m so proud to feature it here.
Things NOT to do when preparing for a marathon:
- Don’t train (like…at all)
- Don’t hydrate/fuel in the days leading up to the race
- Don’t hydrate/fuel properly the morning of the race
- Don’t stretch or strength train to manage a prior injury
- Be super anxious and stressed not just for the race, but also about other aspects of your life
Yup…don’t do those things. But guess what, you can do all of them and still finish.
I’m not in any way advising you to do those things. And, I’m not suggesting it is a smart move to run a marathon after you’ve done them, but it is possible.
But back to what you want to hear about — The RACE!
Running at Disney is like nothing else. It is a completely different experience from other races you will run in. There is entertainment and support from volunteers and spectators that far exceeds any other race. Fair warning that I do not have many pictures. Well, none from the race itself. I will try to throw a few in and at the end you can click the link to watch my video (unedited raw footage and probably not that thrilling to most people, but you can see me fake a smile while in pain and head from the finish line to the med tent…but more on that later!).
Miles 1-5: Just full of anticipation. I feel like Magic Kingdom gets further and further away with every race, but it’s really just that it seems like the early part of the race, but it is five miles in so it its quite a bit of time before you actually get there.
Miles 5-6: Oh man, that anticipation kills you from mile five to entering the Kingdom. You’re SO close! And then you get your reward, you get to run down Main Street!!! This part of the course is PACKED with spectators and they are awesome! Hang a right and head through Tomorrowland then through Fantasyland before heading through the Castle. Yup! Disney lets you run through it.
The hubs and I got separated (bathroom break) so I waited on the backside of the castle until he caught up so we could run through together. Oh, and thanks to Anna and Elsa for a the little Disney magic of sprinkling snow! You finish up by running through Liberty Square and Frontierland before heading back outside the park. I was feeling pretty good at this point. Starting to think 10k is my distance, haha.
Miles 6-8.5ish: This is a bit of a boring stretch, but it’s not that long and you’re still on a high from all the fun at Magic Kingdom.
Mile 8.5-9: Running the Track! This is truly a cool experience and the only race you get to run here! Here is where I was really wishing I’d kept up with training. Not because I was hurting, but because I knew I needed energy to get me through the entire race so I had to stay focused through here rather than enjoying myself. I come from a car/racing family so this is a big thrill for me and I couldn’t even pay attention to the cars.
Miles 9-12ish: Another boring stretch. I was starting to feel a little bit of the fatigue at this point. We had been doing 5/1 run/walk ratio and cut it down to about 4/1 at this point.
Miles 12-13: I love running through Animal Kingdom. Just be careful of your footing because the park is a bit rougher than the others! We got to see Monkeys jumping around and the park is already open by this point so people are out and cheering on all the runners. We debated riding Expedition Everest but decided if we sat down in the cars we couldn’t get back out at this point, haha.
Mile 13.1: This was such a great point for me! Halfway done and also where the hubs and I parted ways last year. It was so nice to pound through this point and keep going, TOGETHER!
Miles 13-17: Last year I hobbled through until 16.5ish after the hubs went on his way. This is a long stretch on the dreaded Osceola Parkway. It started drizzling and then raining while we were running here. This was probably the beginning of my downfall. I don’t do well with weather changes under normal circumstance and rain just makes me cold. The bigger problem came after the rain stopped and then it got muggy hot. Ick! Oh, also, they switched up one of the fuel stops and instead of Clif Shots they had Clif Bars. I wish I had looked at the course map and known this. I would’ve scarfed down one of my own gels before the water stop. Instead I tried to choke down a dry, gritty Clif bar (sorry…but that’s what they taste like after 14ish miles). I only got about a third down before pitching it.
Miles 17-20: When you really look at it, you are in ESPN for quite a long time! Its a nice change of pace because you get to run off the track, but its also a windy route so its a bit confusing and turns you around. It started drizzling again through here. Also, my LEAST favorite part of the course. I HATE running through the baseball stadium. At this point in the race (or at any point) you don’t want grit and dirt kicking up into the backs of your shoes. You gotta slllooooooowwwww down to avoid this and it stinks. The crowds through there are a great, but I gotta be honest that they could cut this out and I wouldn’t care a bit.
Miles 20-22: This is where I really started to sink. I think everything just started hitting me at once. The Achilles in my right foot and my left IT band/knee were killing me so I was doing a bit of a shuffle. The hubs kept trying to get me to run, but it wasn’t happening.
Miles 22-23: Hollywood Studios! Woot woot! A little boost of energy to run through the park, but only after a pit stop for me to sit down and breath. I know sitting is bad, but I was light headed and afraid I’d pass out. The chocolate candy (holla at ya Hershey’s!) helped, but not enough. But the run through the park, past the hat and out the entrance was great!
Miles 23-25: What? We’re this far into the race? Really?! Running through the Boardwalk was really neat, but that lightheadedness and the slat boards of the boardwalk were just making me dizzy. Hubs said there were a lot more spectators out by this part of the race last year, but it was pretty sparse when we came through. Still fun and a great part of the race!
Miles 25-26: The LONGEST trip you will ever take around World Showcase! BTW…anyone else on the slower than slow track of this marathon, did you see John Stamos at Mexico? Hubs says “That guy looked like John Stamos” and I said, “I’m pretty sure it was” and then we kept moving. He had a sort of entourage and came running out to cheer someone on, so we’re thinking it was actually him? Anyone confirm?? On the bridge between World Showcase and Future World I took my 3-4 sit break to catch my breath. At this point I realized I wasn’t sweating, but there was no way I wasn’t finishing!
Miles 26-26.2: Hubs tried to get me to run the WHOLE .2 miles but it wasn’t happening. We did hold hands and run across the finish line! Yay!! Such vindication after last year. It felt awesome!
Post race: But immediately after the finish line I veered right towards an RN from the medical tent and a wheelchair. She, of course, got us our medals before wheeling me to the tent itself where they checked my vitals, gave me fluids and a heated blanket. We were there for about a half hour while I got my body back under control. They didn’t officially say what it was, but we are thinking heat exhaustion from my symptoms. After about 10 mins of being there I started getting really confused and was shaking and crying…but they gave me the heated blanket at that point and some powerade and after another 10 mins I was feeling much better.
I am so very grateful to have my wonderful husband who puts up with me and all my craziness. He was the reason I crossed the finish line and helped calm me down in the medical tent. He was so encouraging and uplifting. I was afraid I was disappointing him, but he was just so proud of me pushing through. And, I am so proud of him for finishing his second marathon (without training)!
We hopped a bus back to our resort, grabbed some food and rested in our room for a bit (with compression socks on…get some if you don’t have them). We were planning to head to Downtown Disney in the evening, but it was chilly and rainy, and my left knee was killing me. We ended up just doing a walk up dinner at Maya Grill at our Resort, Coronado Springs. I highly recommend this restaurant, especially if you are staying at Coronado. The food was delicious! We only ate about half our meals so we took them back and enjoyed the remainder for breakfast the next day (cold Tex-Mex is pretty good)!
So you CAN do everything wrong and still finish a marathon, but you will hurt like you’ve never hurt before, might end up in the medical tent, and will be so mad at yourself that you won’t enjoy the race.
That’s my recap!
Marathon Finisher Hannah
Congrats Hannah on finishing your first marathon and for being so honest about your experience. I know first hand that it is an incredibly difficult experience.
Here is Hannah’s raw footage from the Marathon and I think it perfectly shows the ups and downs of the race. It’s not all smiles and running…and that’s ok 🙂
Hannah is an attorney from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She started running in 2011 while preparing for the Bar Exam as a means of helping her focus on her studying. Hannah completed her first half marathon in October 2011 at the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco. In 2013 she completed 13 running events including 5 half marathons, 2 10ks, 3 5ks and 3 fun races (2 color runs and a zombie run). She enjoys setting goals and crossing things off of her “bucket list.” Follow Hannah at www.workorrun.com, where she blogs about her everyday goals and challenges.