WDW Marathon - My 4th Go Around!

Walt Disney World Marathon

Ah, the Walt Disney World Marathon, this race holds a special place in my heart. It was my first marathon ever in 2011 and I’ve run it every year since so 2014 marked my 4th time running the marathon! I just love running this event and will continue to run it as long as I can.

On this morning, I woke up feeling rested (I actually slept straight through for 6 hours!) and as I got ready, looked back at my nice, warm bed and thought “I could just go back to sleep”… haha. I have never had this thought before a marathon before but the 4 days in a row exhaustion mixed with my cold made my bed look so tempting.

Since I hadn’t come this far just to give up now, that wasn’t an option. I got dressed, ate breakfast, and was out the door just before 4 since I was moving a little slow.

Traffic was about the same as at the half so I was parked and in the pre-race area by 4:45. I had made plans to meet up with 2 friends this morning and I saw them both (huzzah!) which made passing the time before the race a bit easier.

Waiting in G I was so ready to tackle this. My legs felt good, my cold was subsiding a bit, and the weather was perfect! This is the first marathon where I wasn’t focused on the number 26.2 but rather felt excited I only had 26.2 to go on my journey to 48.6! It’s crazy how perspective can do that to you.

Moment of silence for Boston, National Anthem, fireworks, and we’re off!

The goal of this race was to start slow and create “check points” for myself. Usually I set up these mental check points every 5 miles but this time I kept my race jitters under control for the first 10. I started off at a very easy pace. Stopped for a pic with the pirates at mile 2 (aka just past half way through the 48.6 miles!) and just took it easy.

Around mile 4 the soreness in my legs had shaken out so I felt pretty good, but still kept it slow. I’m not going to peter out before this race is done. I wanted to finish strong.

Through the toll plaza, past the Contemporary, and then into MK! I guess Elsa had come in overnight because the castle was covered in snow and ice!

The characters in MK were Buzz, the White Rabbit, Royal Mickey and Minnie, and maybe Woody again. I didn’t really want to wait for any of them so I just kept going.

Made it through MK and still felt good. Around mile 7 I started to test my legs and turned it up a bit, still felt good.

Got to mile 9/10 and my legs were still feeling strong, my breathing was under control, and I felt like I could “race” a bit more. I did stop for a few characters on the way to Animal Kingdom though!

Passed the water treatment plant and into Animal Kingdom we go. They changed the course slightly through AK, nothing major but we got some better views of Everest which was nice. We exited out the back of Dinoland and then it was off to Wide World of Sports. Around this point I was really running. I started to feel some fatigue in my legs, but it didn’t feel any worse than the tired that I normally feel in a marathon so I wasn’t worried.

We made it to WWOS and I believe they changed to course slightly because I feel like I wasn’t making as many sharp turns this time. Maybe it was all in my head though because I was feeling good. The highlights of this area were running through the stadium, because that’s just fun, and running on the track, because it’s a really nice relief on the legs after 19 miles of pounding on asphalt and concrete.

Out of WWOS and back out onto the road onwards to Hollywood Studios! I will say it’s strange running into and out of the WWOS because the incoming runners pass the outgoing runners. As an incoming runner you are envious of the runners who are 3 miles ahead of you and as an outgoing runner you are amazed by all the people running behind you and wish them luck. It’s a really weird experience. If you’ve done and out and back course before, you know what I’m talking about.

Anyways, onward to the Studios! The run to the studios is flat, with one ramp where we get some Green Army man encouragement. Into the studios we go, through the costume shop, pick up some yummies at the “candy” stop on the course and it’s through the park, down Hollywood Blvd before exiting and making our way through the Beach Club area to Epcot. 

This is it folks. We have like 3 miles left! Around mile 22 I started listening to the Frozen sound track on repeat. Between “For the First Time in Forever”, “Summer”, and “Let It Go” I was a running/singing/emphatically lip syncing machine. This race will forever be the Frozen race for me.

Specifically these lines in “Let It Go” struck a chord as I was running.

“And the fears that once controlled me, can't get to me at all/ It's time to see what I can do/ to test the limits and break through / No right, no wrong, no rules for me /I am free!”

I was at the point was about to conquer my cold, my running, waking up early, dealing with the time difference, and I was going to finish this. I tested my limits and was about to win, to break through. Only a 5k left. This race and those medals are mine!

So to anyone who was running around me and heard me singing or saw me “sassy” running (aka lots of shoulder movements), I hope you enjoyed the show and chuckled at the crazy lady running in front of you.

So back to the race, we were now on the pathway that connects the Studios to the Boardwalk area and it got a little crowded. I was feeling jazzed and wanted to just run and race to the finish but kept not being able to pass people. Oh well, there are other races to get upset over that.

I always love running this part of the course because there is so much support. You are guaranteed to have someone call your name because they can actually read your bib and they can see the pain/determination on your face. It’s the best. There is no other race that I’ve run that has a more exciting final 3-4 miles.

Around the Beach Club and into Epcot, we are almost there folks! As we were entering Epcot and guess who was there to greet us!

Around the countries where there were lots of characters but no one really stopping for pictures. Really we only have a mile?! Who is going to drag that out? I would’ve stopped for Anna and Else but unfortunately they weren’t out. Sad.

I was feeling good and started to really race in, I wanted this so bad. Somewhere around 25.5 my legs started to turn to jello but they were still running and I was too jazzed to slow down. Through Future World, past the Hallelujah chorus, out to the parking lot with tons of people cheering and there it is, the finish line. I was there. I had finished this crazy and stressful 48.6 mile journey. I was Dopey!

I ran in, started hyperventilating a bit (this always happens to me when I start getting emotional when I’m breathing heavy from running) and got my marathon medal. I grabbed my water and Powerade and made the walk to get that Dopey medal. I had major marathon brain at this point, but the group of ladies who gave me my medals were the best! They were so excited for me even though I was having trouble showing any sort of emotion at this point. I did tear up when I received my Dopey medal. It was the best moment. I did it. I finished it. It was done. I was Dopey!

I got my picture taken and then just went and stood for a bit before going through bag check. I was sore and tired. My legs were tired. My body was tired. I was tired but I did it. After taking a minute I grabbed my bag and went out to the reunion area where I finally sat down. I mustered my strength for a few pictures with my 6, count them 6 medals, and then it was time to head home.

I’ll do a more thorough recap of Dopey as a whole in another post, but I can say this. I have never, ever been more proud of a race accomplishment. It was tough, but I got through it and I came out victorious! I usually feel a little silly wearing a medal, but this one I never want to take off. Gosh darn, I worked my fanny off for that medal!

So in summary for the marathon…

Pros:

  • Great course! Except for some narrow moments, all 4 parks and WWOS is really fun to run through!
  • Lots of characters, or at least the same amount as last year.
  • Great volunteers!
  • Great medal!

Cons:

  • No Anna or Elsa on the course – I really wanted a pic with them!
  • Narrow during the “cone alley” portions
  • Still a little windy through WWOS but much better than the year before