Let's continue the "better late than never" series and finish up reviewing the 2017 WDW Marathon Weekend!
So after a delicious dinner and getting a good sleep on Saturday, this was my first WDW Marathon since 2012 that I was going into a WDW Marathon not completed tired!
I woke up around 3:15, threw on my clothes, and went down to the food court at Pop Century to grab some coffee. Nothing can keep me from my pre-race coffee. It's really nice that before the half and the full marathon (not the 5k and 10k though) they open the food courts early so you can grab a bite and some coffee before getting on the bus.
I then went back to the room and finished getting ready before meeting Jenny. We were getting on a bus around 4:15 and were to the start area with plenty of time. Bag check was a breeze too!
It was a chilly... no straight up cold morning for this race (I think it was just over 40F at the start... in Florida). I had a tank top, a long sleeve, a jacket, and leggings and I was still chilly. You never realize how much heat you gain from standing at the center of a group of people until it's a cold race morning.
I was so excited that Jenny was running her first marathon. While I was nervous about running a marathon while still feeling under the weather, I knew it wasn't even close to the nerves she was probably feeling. I was so excited for her but we parted ways to run our own races on this Sunday morning!
So we parted ways and went to our corrals. While I don't loooove waiting in a corral, Disney always makes it extra special. The runDisney crew, the characters and an always wonderful singing of the National Anthem leave me so ready to pound the pavement.
The time had come to start this 26.2 mile journey. I had solid training up to that point but I since I wasn't feeling well, my main goal was to finish and have some fun. I wanted to set a new personal course record but wasn't sure if this was my year. I was going for it but not going to give up the experience.
I started off feeling pretty good. It was really cold. Even as we approached the Magic Kingdom (mile 5) I had unzipped the top of my sweatshirt but was still running pretty comfortably and running solid splits, around the Contemporary I finally ditched it. Then as always happens, the Magic Kingdom slowed me down. Between crowds and characters there's just so much to see and do!
Once through the Magic Kingdom it was the long slog to the Animal Kingdom. But along the way I stopped for a few of the sights!
During this section it was really feeling like a marathon. The miles were feeling like a slog and my cold was starting to really play on me mentally. The cold, which normally helps, was still pretty bitter and my legs weren't feeling fully warm. I just kept reminding myself that I'm running at WDW, it's always enough to make me take a deep breath and try to take in the run.
We got to Animal Kingdom and were greeted by some animals and then it was into the park. I love running through Animal Kingdom - it's also a great spot to take a bathroom break. Another perk of running at Disney is getting to use the bathrooms in the park, REAL BATHROOMS! It's the little things guys.
We ran through Animal Kingdom and stopped for the Festival of the Lion King performers. This was turning into the race where I stopped for all the characters I usually skip race.
Now it was time to head to Wide World of Sports. To the people that come and cheer on this pretty boring section - thank you - you guys are rock stars. Every year, these are the rock stars. The section in ESPN use to be my least favorite but as the years have gone on, it's warmed on me. The stadium is fun, the people who come cheer here are great, and when you exit and there is a stream of people still entering ESPN I'm just so excited for them. Granted also a little relieved that I'm 4ish miles ahead of them, but also just so excited to see all these other runners that are on the same journey that I'm on!
Once you leave ESPN you know it's almost over. At this point my hips were feeling pretty tight due to my slowing pace and tightening hips due to the cold. At this point in the race I realized it probably wasn't going to warm up before I finished and I probably should have worn the thicker leggings that I had packed.
I really love the end of the WDW Marathon, you make the run to Disney Hollywood Studios and then around the Crescent Lake area with all the amazing people out cheering and then into Epcot. I can't beat it.
As I entered DHS I realized my goal of setting a new course PR was getting close. I wasn't feeling great but if I could push it a little and keep moving forward I could just get it.
As I rounded World Showcase I was completely focused on trying to move just a little faster. My legs were tired, my brain was tired, and I was just ready to be done. It was at this point I realized how much of a blessing the cancellation of the half marathon was to me. I was really feeling it and well I know I would've been completely worn down if I was one day 4 of running and no sleep.
I rounded those final corners in Future World (hello gospel choir!) and then out to the parking lot. I saw my dad and boyfriend in the crowd but couldn't stop, I was so close to a new course PR. A cross the finish line with moments to spare.
I had captured a new personal course record, 3:48:01, beating my old time by a mere 20 seconds but you know what? I'll take it!
I grabbed my 4 medals (Half, Full, Goofy, and Dopey) and grabbed my water, Powerade, and food box and was on my way. Did I mention it was cold? We grabbed some pics, I sat for a little bit and we got on the bus.
I got back to the hotel, poured myself a beer (pro-tip buy your post race beverage the day before) and hopped in the shower to warm-up. When I got out I chilled for a bit and then my attention turned back to Jenny. She was out there, her tracking showed her slowing but generally carrying a solid pace. I had a decision to make, continue to stay here or to go out there and try to catch her as she exited DHS. We decided to get moving and go cheer her on! I wanted to give her all the support I could because I wasn't sure how she was feeling.
We boogied to the Pop Buses and got on the DHS bus. We were going to be cutting it close. We got there and her Strava tracking was frozen so we waited, waited and finally... there she was! She was looking so strong and I was such a happy momma bear!
We then needed to do some hotel hopping to get back to the finish line. The line to Epcot was REALLY long so we hopped on an Art of Animation bus, we then transferred to the race bus and we were back at Epcot in no time. If it wasn't for the bag check, we would've seen her finish but I was able to shout to her right as she got her marathon medal. I WAS SO THRILLED FOR HER! Her victory made my race day better and I am still so proud of her.
So once again I walk away from the Dopey Challenge completely exhausted but completely invigorated! The WDW Marathon Weekend is still my favorite and I can't wait to take on Dopey Challenge #5 in less than 6 months!