Gooood Morning marathon runners!
It's 2:45 am and my alarm went off, followed by the second alarm and a wake-up phone call. It was slightly warm still today but definitely still cold, similar temps to last year's marathon. Today I wore a RawThreads tank, a long-sleeve tee, a fun Colorado tank top, a pair of opaque women's tights, and running tights with thin wool socks, a visor, a half-BUFF, and gloves. I threw on a heat-sheet and a throwaway sweatshirt (that I got from a thift store) for pre-race warmth.
Final day and ready to go!
I was on a bus by 3:30 and at the start area around 4. Everyone reluctantly got off the bus, I was ready to not be waking up at 3 am to go stand in the cold. I had brought a check bag today with some warm clothes for after but bag check was a breeze and I was with my running Ohana by about 4:20.
Amelia, Nathan and I were up in A again so we made our way up. We were just focused on staying warm and getting psyched for the race. I was feeling pretty darn good, other than the cold and the obvious miles I had put on my legs, I felt the best I had going into the marathon during a Dopey Challenge. I was excited to see what I could do out there.
The National Anthem was sung, the final countdown started, and then we were off...
The beginning miles we just settled into a pace. Nathan hung back a bit and before the Magic Kingdom Amelia peeled off for a bathroom stop but I was feeling pretty good. Cold but good.
We got to enter Magic Kingdom again through the front of the park and run under the train station and up Main St. At this point my stomach was starting to turn, oh no, I was not looking forward to tummy troubles for the next 20 miles. I decided to run through the Magic Kingdom, stopping for pics of course, and use the porta-potties just outside the park. I didn't feel like dealing with my Garmin freaking out if I went into a real bathroom.
Once through the Magic Kingdom and I made a bathroom stop and then I was back to cruising. The tummy troubles passed and I was back at it. My legs were feeling good and I just needed to ride the edge between running too fast and blowing up and running too conservatively. I just tried to keep a measured pace and just kept riding that edge. At this point I knew I wasn't going to run a BQ pace but I could run a course PR so I just kept that as my new goal. Of course I needed some fun too, it's Disney of course, so character stops were in order. We passed the waste treatment plant and the winds were really moving the amazing smells of such a plant towards the course. I felt bad because one water stop was right in the path of the smell and those volunteers were just standing in it. Bless their souls!
Right around the small out and back area my slight achilles tendinitis started flaring up, oh no, would this be my down fall? I tried to run more conscientiously and as we went through Animal Kingdom the pain got a little worse and moved to my foot. Darn you uneven and themed pathways of Animal Kingdom!
I just tried to run gingerly and again try not to blow up. Once I was back on flat pavement I just needed to get through this and figure out if the pain in my foot would get worse or better. I just kept running, adjusting my gait a bit, running softer, and... it did indeed clear up! Still a little pain in my achilles but not too much that I couldn't keep running and I was just really feeling this run. It was turning into a great day.
We ran the road from Animal Kingdom to Wide World of Sports and, yep, this is the worse part of the course. The Wide World of Sports while winding you still pass so much and see so much. This road stretch is very boring.
We then enter Wide World of Sports and ran all over this place. You run 3 miles within the complex running around the track, through the baseball stadium, and through the sports fields. It's not the most interesting but this section has grown over me the years since it was introduced.
We exited Wide World of Sports and, at this point with 10k to go, I was feeling good. I could feel the previous 20 miles on my legs, but I could tell I still had some oomph left. I kept doing the mental math and if I kept pushing I could potentially run a sub-3:45 marathon which would be clutch but I had to keep pushing. Luckily I was feeling good and after the the boring section from Wide World of Sports to Disney Hollywood Studios I knew I could ride that Disney high all the way to the finish line. Luckily during some of the boring parts they had set up some "dad jokes" on yard signs which entertained me a lot. I REALLY love terrible/punny jokes like that.
I entered Hollywood Studios feeling great. Like so great. Like look at this pic and all that runner high on my face...
I was really close to getting too emotional (which means I hyperventilate) and losing it but I knew I needed to stay focused, that sub-3:45 was so close! I ran around the Boardwalk and the Beach Club passing people and just enjoying the run. We entered Epcot and they were playing awesome music (Zero to Hero, I've Got a Dream, and Almost There) and I took my victory lap around World Showcase. I was feeling good, doing some singing, some run dancing and just taking in that final mile. I came around that final bend with the hallelujah choir and then down the finisher chute. I was on cloud nine and ready to capture that sub-3:45 that I earned over those 26.2 miles.
Finish line, come to me!
I crossed in an official time of 3:44:34, hell yes! I crushed my previous course PR by 3 minutes. Man, I love running at sea level. I love running at Disney. I love running!
I crossed the finish line feeling tired but great. Grabbed my medal, my heat blanket, my water, and then... my EARS! They gave all the marathon finishers these awesome 25th Anniversary marathon ears. This made me beyond ecstatic (even though ear hats don't fit on my head)!
I then went and collected my Dopey medal #5 and my Goofy Challenge medal. I was one happy runner!
My legs were definitely feeling like they had run a marathon but man, I was on cloud nine. I grabbed my check bag quickly and threw on a jacket since I was feeling pretty chilly and then slowly walked over to the character area. Doesn't hurt to check the Dopey line before I get on the bus and luckily it wasn't that long. I made sure to change out the standard Dopey medal ribbon for the perfect one while I waited and pulled out the rest of the medals from my check bag and got myself ready. For THE picture!
I also saw Amelia in line and she crushed it in a 3:40 and change. Amazing!
This weekend was one of my best and most successful Dopey Challenges to date and going into the weekend I was on the fence about running the challenge again, maybe "just" doing Goofy or not running this weekend at all, but after all the fun I had I can't imagine not coming back again and again. This race weekend always fills up my excitement for running and is just the best way to kick off the year. From where I stand right now I will keep running the Dopey Challenge until I can't. It's just too much fun and all the running, all the friends, and all the Disney is the perfect way to fill up my soul.
Until next year runDisney friends!
I'd love to hear your favorite memory from the WDW Marathon or the WDW Marathon Weekend. Leave a comment below!