The full marathon, all four Walt Disney World parks, the most magical of marathons and the middle and last thirds of the Walt Disney World Goofy Challenge. And with 2013 marking the 20th running of the Walt Disney World Marathon, things were extra special! There was even a new course to enjoy!
After the half marathon the day before, I made sure to keep things easy on my body. I ate plenty of carbs, drank plenty of water, and made it a short day in Epcot. Though, we decided to make an unplanned trip back to the race expo. With my wife’s issues with her foot we thought maybe giving some KT Tape a shot might help. Since they were taping people up for free, we figured even if she didn’t wear it for the race, she could wear it for the rest of the day. I even decided to get my arches taped as well since they can be problematic for me from time to time. I also wanted to get a new shirt to wear for the race. Normally, I’m a very big stickler for the nothing new on race day rule, but with the temperature breaking 80 with 100% humidity again, I wanted a cooler (and lighter colored) shirt than I had brought with me to wear. I was hoping to grab a 2013 Goofy Challenge technical shirt, but they were all out of my size so I opted for “just” a marathon one. I made sure to give it a once over to check for any possible problem spots for chaffing, but everything looked good!
With marathon day starting at 2:15 am, just like half marathon day, it was important to get into bed early and get plenty of rest. I didn’t mess around with this and made sure to be in bed before 8pm again. When the alarm went off, I was ready to hop out of bed and get started with the pre-race routine. I looked over at my wife and asked her how her foot was doing, to which I received the surprising response of her saying it felt totally fine. Go figure. We quickly got ready and out the door to the bus for the ride over.
Since we caught a bus surprisingly quickly, we had plenty of time at the starting area to hit the bathroom and find our spot in the starting corral. With my wife still not sure about how her foot would hold up, she didn’t want to set any particular goals other than taking it easy. We decided to line up closer to the front of the corral, but not start with any pace groups.
And just like the day before, after a few blasts of fireworks, we were off!
Just like with the half marathon, I knew it was important to take liquids at every stop so we made sure to take _at least_ Powerade every time.
As we made our way into Magic Kingdom for my second run down Main Street, USA in as many days, we were both feeling pretty good. We were past the narrow spot where my wife got pushed last year and the crowd felt like it had thinned out a little more than in past years. As usual, Main Street was full of energy! Great early race boost!
As we made our way through Magic Kingdom, we planned to move to the right side of the course to make sure we could get some good photos coming out of the castle. Our plan worked perfectly, there were a ton of photographers on our side ready to snap us!
By the time the were on our way out of Magic Kingdom, my wife’s GI issues were starting to cause her some problems so we stopped at the next bank of porta-potties real quick. Luckily, there were about fourteen of them so there was no wait and we were off again in about three minutes.
Now it was time for the long trek to Animal Kingdom, but this year the trek was broken up. This section is usually around ten miles down back roads which can feel a bit grueling during a marathon…even with all of the entertainment on the side of the road. However, new to the course this year was a lap around the Richard Petty Driving Experience race track. Going into the race, I was a little worried about this since race tracks tend to be highly banked in the turns, but the course stayed along the inside where things were still flat. While the track wasn’t overly exciting, it was a nice way to break things up between the two Kingdoms. Unfortunately, my wife was still having GI issues and needed to make another pit stop (see what I did there?). This time, there was a short wait, but we were off again in around three minutes.
Around this point of the race I was actually starting to feel a bit fatigued and I wasn’t too happy about it one bit! We were only at mile nine! I started to question running under two hours the day before, but there wasn’t much I could do about that at this point. I was hydrated and everything, but my legs were feeling a little more tired than I wanted them to. Even though I’m a much stronger runner than I was a year ago when I did Goofy, I ran the half seventeen minutes faster and, with us on target for a 4:30 finish for the full, I was going to finish the marathon 28 minutes faster than the year before. There was really no reason to be surprised, I guess.
After another three uneventful miles, we were approaching Animal Kingdom. This year, the race gets to the park about four miles earlier so it was a slight tease, but running through the parks is the best part of the Disney World Marathon so it was a welcome sight! Of course, the parks always fly by and, just like that, we were back out onto the roads between the parks in what felt like no time. As we made our way away from Animal Kingdom, the wife and I reminisced about the horrible blister she had pop on this section of the course last year. But none of that this year, she was feeling pretty good and my legs were doing okay. I was feeling about the same as I was four or five miles back so I took that as a positive.
At this point, we were getting ready for the last change to the course, a big lap around ESPN Wide World of Sports and the special 20th mile surprise spectacular. Interestingly, we weren’t even at the 17th mile marker when we passed the sign at the entrance to Wide World of Sports. I wondered how they were going to fit so much course back there, but I quickly found out. There was a lot of looping back and around. Eventually, we made our way onto the baseball field for a lap around the outside of the field with a big crowd cheering in the stands. Lots of energy in here, but my wife was again having problems with her GI so we stopped right after we exited the field for her to take care of things again. While she was in the porta-potty, I did some quick math to realize we were still on pace for a sub-4:30 finish if we kept the pace we had been running. My legs were feeling up to it and she was doing okay so we kept on with our pace.
As we made our way out of Wide World of Sports, we passed through the 20th mile surprise which was, frankly, a bit underwhelming after all the hype that was made about it before the race, but with just 10k left to go, we were locked into the run and focusing on the last leg of the race.
Shortly after the 21st mile marker, my wife made a comment about a girl we passed by saying that she looked a lot like our Twitter friend Krissy Murphy. I wasn’t paying attention, but her suspicion was quickly confirmed as Krissy ran to catch up to us and say hi! We ran together for a minute and then she dropped back to continue with her easy picture-taking pace. I couldn’t help but think how fitting it was to finally meet her on the Walt Disney World Marathon course since Disney and running are the things we tweet back and forth about all the time. In fact, just a year before as we were getting ready for (and tweeting about) Goofy was when the Twitter friendship began!
With just four miles to go, we were in the home stretch and we knew it. My wife tends to be quite the finisher and started to pick things up a bit. Despite the fact that I was feeling more fatigued than I was last year, I was still up for a faster pace to the finish so we went for it. I let her pace us the rest of the way as we entered into Hollywood Studios. She powered through the course passing everyone in front of her and I just did my best not to lose her through some of the narrower parts where I had trouble finding the space to actually get around people.
We exited Hollywood Studios and made our way down along the river towards the boardwalk. As we ran down the boardwalk, we started to approach the 4:30 pacer and I encouraged the wife to blow by him and leave him in the dust behind us. With a sub-4:30 finish guaranteed at this point, we focused on getting to the finish. We left the boardwalk and entered the World Showcase in United Kingdom pavilion to a wall of energy. The countries ticked by quickly and, before we knew it, we were blowing by Spaceship Earth and on our way out of Epcot with the finish just a few hundred feet ahead of us.
We crossed over the finish line with our hands held for a solid 4:27:06 finish, less than a minute away from my wife’s marathon PR! If not for all of the bathroom stops, she would have crushed her PR. I estimate that she lost just under ten minutes because of them. But even aside from that, she wasn’t running at 100% effort. Taking both of those into account, I think she could be close to four hours without much more additional training.
All of the Powerade, water, energy gels, and candy along the course put together with a good night’s sleep really made a difference. I was feeling really good. I was feeling pretty hydrated and my legs felt much better than I expected them to after they started to fatigue so early on.
While I was a bit sore, I couldn’t help but notice how much better I felt than I had after every other marathon I’ve ever run…and even a couple half marathons as well. I was impressed with myself and it really shows how far I’ve come in a year. Even though our time was _way_ slower than my PR (by more than an hour), I still completed the Goofy Challenge almost 50 minutes faster than I had the year before!