I have to start by saying this was an amazing experience. It was also an exhausting one on so many levels. I mentioned how I hated getting up early in the morning in previous posts. OMG! This was just beyond crazy. We got up around 2:30 AM each morning so we could wait for the bus at 3:30 AM, get through security, drop off our bags and walk to the corral by 5:30 AM. Of course since I was in corral I we didn’t get to actually start running until about 6 AM. I thought more about the Dopey and why I would or would not want to do it. I know now that I would NOT want to do it. It isn’t the miles that bother me, it is getting up that freakin’ early in the morning four flippin’ days in a row! Two days in a row was bad enough for me. I just can’t imagine four days in a row that early in the morning.
Now I mentioned security and walking to the corrals. The two different days were just that. . . different. The first day we walked out front of our resort and BOOM! There was a bus right there. We did not have to wait. We just walked on and off we went to the race. Now it was full enough that we couldn’t sit together, but no biggie. I don’t think we had any really meaningful conversation with either of the people sitting with us. The traffic was fine. We had a short walk to the security line. The first day all we brought were some trash bags to keep a little warm. It was in the lower sixties most of the time we were there. Since it was still dark, I thought it would be kind of cool. It wasn’t too bad, but we did use the trash bags. Anyway, Hubby had on a belt to carry is water and for a short time there we thought we were just going to walk right on in without delay. Then they said if you had on any kind of sport belt you had to go through the bag check security line. I went with him so we didn’t get split up and have a hard time finding each other later. The line wasn’t too bad. As a matter of fact it was probably faster than the bag check lines at the theme parks.
We got into the parking lot the first morning and saw all the tents for checking your drop bags. We tried to find our Facebook group for the group photo, but I couldn’t remember the meet-up time. Come to find out we were actually early. We heard the announcer mention that the walk to the corrals was actually about a half a mile. So he said we needed to get started. I don’t think it was even 4 AM yet when we headed to the corrals. The exit to walk to the corrals was real confusing. It was in a corner surrounded by porta potties. I was kind of confused as to if I was walking with the people to the start or to the porta-pottie. The walk didn’t seem that bad after the porta-pottie. At one point they wanted A through H go one way and I through P to go the other way. Hubby was in corral H, but he decided to stay with me. You can go with someone in a slower corral. He went with me and it seemed like we walked a ways toward the opposite direction of where the corral was located. We kind of think they should have cut it off at J maybe. We got there early enough that we were at the front of our corral. We waited an hour until the first set of runners went and then of course another half hour until they let our corral go.
The second day for the full marathon was kind of the same motions only really different in terms of waiting and the number of people. We woke up a little later but not much. We were only fifteen minutes late compared to the previous day to get to the front of the resort, but still there was a big line and a lot more buses. I have to give it to Disney. We didn’t have to wait too long, but the line we were in did wrap around the building. I have to say that when we drove off I wondered why there was such a traffic jam for all the other lanes to the right of us. Then our bus driver got to the end of the intersection and took a right turn past the off ramp. It was kind of like we cut in line. The off ramp was going the same direction and that was the road we were supposed to take. There were even other busses on the ramp. I’m torn between thinking our driver is a genius because we got there pretty quick or a jerk because we cut the line in front of all those other people. We got to the parking lot and the walk to the security line was a bit more crowded but it didn’t seem to take us any longer than last time. We went through the bag inspection line again, but this time we decided to bring a drop bag with us since we knew we had to go through the line anyway. It was a little chilly after the half marathon and a dry long sleeve shirt would have been nice. So we learned our lesson.
We didn’t wait long to walk to our corral, somehow though instead of being fifteen minutes late we were half an hour later than the previous day. We dropped off our bags and walked to the corral. This time we went the other direction even though we were corral I. It did seem a little quicker. We were toward the back of our corral this time. We didn’t really need the trash bags for warmth this time. The humidity was crazy. We did use them to sit on since the pavement was wet.
I was pumped and excited for the half marathon the first day. My energy dwindled a little waiting for the start since we were there so early. I kept up my energy a bit better the second day even though I was tired from all the happened the previous day. Hubby was just tired and grumpy the first day, but I think he was better the second day. The first day I felt like we had it. I just knew we could do it. The second day was even more of a reality for me. It had me quite emotional at times imagining myself crossing the finish line and getting my medals. We brought our Donald medals the second day, but we left them in our drop bag. We thought we would get a picture with all of them at the end. We did but the “official” photo was before you got your drop bag. We got the photo with all the medals in another post earlier with our phone.
When we started off for the half marathon, it was hard to believe that we would hit five miles before ever getting into the Magic Kingdom. I also wondered what roads we would run to get there since they make everybody use the monorail or a boat to get there. We had not used the bus from our resort to get there yet, but I figured that there were roads for deliveries and employees at least. Of course there were roads to the park and they were lined with people cheering.
We had puppet type characters like Sebastian at the beginning of the half marathon. We also had marching bands playing music for us. Some of the band was off on the side offering high fives to the runners. I have to admit that I’m a bit of a high five “slut.” I just can’t miss an opportunity to give a high five. Ask my sister-in-law and brother-in-law about that. It’s a little inside joke (Happy New Year!).
I had seen websites and posts about stopping and getting pictures with the characters. I was so nervous during both races I didn’t really stop to do that except a handful of times. A lot of time we would do a selfie with the character and other people behind us and just take off again. The mile marker signs were cute too. I stopped and took a few pictures of those. I think my phone started to get some condensation on it because it wasn’t just the pictures that were blurry, my side was blurry as well. I finally wiped the phone down on whatever small dry surface I had. It was hard to find a dry surface on me for the full marathon. The humidity was so bad that I think I was sweating before we reached the first mile marker.
I was impressed with the fact that the characters were either different or at least placed in different spots between the half marathon and the full marathon. Of course the mile markers were the same up to mile thirteen. I mean I didn’t see them spending extra money to make something so small like that different. So the different characters made it nice and “new” the second day.
Before our trip Hubby decided to get us some Garmins. They did not come in in time so he contacted a buddy that works at Garmin and got some loaners. I thought I put alarms on our Garmins to notify us to do a walk break, but I didn’t do it right. So we kind of winged it the first race. I was curious at first when I saw people raise their hands during the race. Then I quickly realized they were alerting people around them that they were about to slow down and walk. Genius! Why don’t runners do that at ALL races? It’s so simple. I mean usually you try to keep to the right, but with that many people sometimes it is hard to get over in time for the need to do a walk break. So raising your arm to alert people is nice. There was one guy during the full marathon that had a shirt on that said, “Walk to the right.” You could tell it was hand written with a marker. Like I said for the half marathon we winged it, but I noticed quite a few people doing the run/walk approach. For the full marathon I got our alerts on our Garmins working. We tried to do a six minute run and one minute walk. I put ours to vibrate because I thought all the loud alarms were a little annoying. Boy was I right. Every few seconds it seemed someone’s alarm was going off during the marathon to alert them to walk. There was a lot of high pitched beeping going on during the race.
I wanted to do a three hour half marathon, but I guess not really knowing when to walk, we did it just a little faster than I expected. Hubby wanted to kind of stay together. I would accidentally pass him at a water stop even though I got something as well. You see I walk a bit faster than him. The funny thing was that when he passed me running I would spot him and even think I was making eye contact, but for some reason he would miss me. I would have to say something or touch him to get his attention. We actually ended up finishing at the same time. A couple in front of us crossed holding hands. Hubby nodded at them and jokingly asked if I wanted to do that. I smiled at him and jokingly said only if he wanted to. We didn’t, but I think he was a lot more hyped up about the whole thing after we finished the half marathon.
We got our medals for the half and took pictures separate and together. We also got a nice little box with snacks in it. There was no chocolate milk though. We were looking for it, but they had Poweraid and water. We took both of those. I knew I needed to stretch so we “camped” kind of near the snack tent with some other people. I stretched while Hubby ate. Then one of the employees shooed us away along with a few other runners.
The other thing I was impressed with during the full marathon was how many aid stations they had. The same ones from the half marathon were there up to at least before mile nine. I love how they had GU or bananas at a lot of the aid stations, but those were not until after you were passed Animal Kingdom and at the thirteen mile marker. During the half they had GU earlier at mile nine, I think, and there were no bananas during the half. That is probably because they felt you only need the one GU station for the half and you have so much further to go for the full marathon.
The half I did it all like I’ve done several other half marathons. I just ran. I think it was around mile eleven or twelve during the full marathon that I remembered that some people dedicated miles to family or loved ones. I decided to start and see how I did. It was actually kind of fun and kept me moving along. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it is like saying mile twelve is to my husband for doing the run with me even though he didn’t have to. Mile thirteen is to my daughter for being a smart, beautiful light in my life. Mile fourteen is to my son for being my smart and funny little man. I’m not going to go into to all of them, but that is how it goes. It was really motivating at times. For instance I dedicated a mile to a friend of mine, Elaine, for being an inspiration to my running and just the way I look at life in general. If I started to slow down too much I would tell myself that I couldn’t wuss out on Elaine’s mile. It really kept me going.
Now the half in case you haven’t been or looked it up, starts at Epcot going up and around Magic Kingdom and back to Epcot. You do not go around the World Showcase in Epcot during the half, but you do go in a little ways and around Spaceship Earth. The full marathon takes you through all four parks and ESPN Wide World of Sports. Animal Kingdom was the second park after the Magic Kingdom for the full marathon. I was a little excited about making it to Animal Kingdom. I knew it was half way over and getting off the road and into another park was nice. Hubby and I stuck together a little better during the first part of the full marathon because of the run/walk breaks. I followed the breaks but he didn’t really follow them like I did. When he started to walk he wouldn’t run again until I caught up with him. So basically I would run up, touch his shoulder, and he would start up running again. It kind of made me think of a wind-up toy. It was as if I just wound up a key on him and pushed a button.
We were wearing some Kansas City shirts from other races we did. We bumped into some Kansas City people during the full marathon. They recognized the races on our shirts. They were with Team in Training. They chatted with us a bit here and there. It was funny losing and then bumping into the same people during the run/walk breaks. I ended up losing Hubby at Animal Kingdom.
First Hubby’s music stopped. I did not have music because I thought we would have enough entertainment on the run. I mean the costumes alone were awesome. We didn’t do costumes. I just didn’t have time or the motivation. Anyway I passed him, but I soon stopped because I wanted a picture in front of the Tree of Life. While I was waiting for him to get a picture that was focused, I could feel my thighs screaming. We had heard some people say that when you go through Animal Kingdom that you have an opportunity to ride the Everest ride. I felt like if I stopped or sat down for too long I wouldn’t be able to finish in time. So I told Hubby ahead of time that I was going to skip it. When I passed the ride and saw that it was only a five minute wait, I almost did it, but I just knew I wouldn’t finish. Finishing was the thing I wanted to do most. So I only have the tiniest bit of regret not doing it. I also knew Hubby was NOT going to pass. Sure enough I got a phone call. He told me he was in line and would catch up to me. He said he would call after he got off the ride and see where I was.
I had hit one or two walk breaks when I thought he should be calling me. So I called him. I was worried the ride broke down or his legs cramped up or something else bad. He was fine. He was about a half mile behind me. He ended up a half mile behind me for a while. After Animal Kingdom we started down one road and right next to it was all these people running on the other road going the other way. At first I thought that we were just making a quick loop and coming back, but boy was I wrong. We went into ESPN Wide World of Sports instead. We did a loop around a race track and then another loop around a soccer field. We were running here there and everywhere. It felt like we were in there forever. By the time we came out and started to run the other direction I couldn’t help think how far those other people on the other side had to go.
I passed a guy with one of those airup boots. I figure he must of gotten it at one of the medical tents. There just didn’t seem anyway that he was ahead of me that whole time with that thing on his leg. We finally entered Hollywood Studios. It was so uplifting to see the people and characters. It was kind of cool seeing parts of the parks you normally wouldn’t see. Although it was a little scary going through this dark tunnel that had lights and music. It felt like what I thought a rave might be like if I ever went to one. I was a little afraid I was going to trip in the dark and fall. When we got out and eventually went down the main street I saw this cute little girl dressed as Cinderella. She had her hand up to give a high five. You know I did.
We were already at mile twenty something at that point. I say that because I was ready to stop running and have the race be done. Hubby was about mile behind me, I think. We talked on the phone and he said he stopped to use the bathroom. I guess I didn’t realize how close Epcot was to Hollywood Studios or that Disney Springs was in between the two. We have never been to Disney Springs, formerly Downtown Disney. I guess I can say we still haven’t really. We didn’t get a chance to explore it other than the race. It was nice though. I saw a lady filling up little dixie cups with beer. She hollered as I ran by, “Free beer!” I stopped and slammed one. I thought about asking her if she was a hasher, but I thought I might get “hung up by the lip,” and I just wanted to finish. I just wanted to stop running.
Now for the half marathon my Garmin said we did 13.32 instead of 13.1 miles. The half marathon I started my Garmin only a little early. Remember we were at the front of our corral for that run. So I know the mileage was off only by a little though. So I didn’t start my Garmin until AFTER I crossed the starting line for the full marathon. I noticed along the way that the mileage was only about a quarter mile off here and there. I think it was mile sixteen though that was actually spot on with my Garmin. After that is got back to being off a quarter of a mile or worse. By the time we got to Epcot I was getting a little disheartened because I knew we were way over a true marathon. Now I missed riding Everest but was kind of tempted to stop and get a beer or margarita because unlike the half, we got to do the World Showcase in Epcot during the full marathon. Like I keep saying, at that point I just wanted to finish. When I finally finished my Garmin said we did 26.67 miles.
I had envisioned crossing the finish line for the full marathon several times during the race. Each time was a little different, but one thing they all had in common was me crying. I would actually tear up a bit thinking about the finish. It was something I had been training and looking forward to for so long. When I did in fact finally finish, I was just so happy, but at the same time I was worried about my Hubby. I saw the guy with the boot again, but I passed him and at least finished before he did. I stalled a bit at the end to see if Hubby could catch up to me. I know I wasn’t supposed to, but I did also need to stretch a little. A nice volunteer told me I looked pretty good for finishing a marathon. She made me feel real good since I had not just finished a marathon but I finished a Goofy Challenge! Another volunteer finally asked me and another gentleman to leave. The guy decided to argue with them while I just walked down a bit more. I got to the point where they take your picture and they had special sections for Dopey or Goofy Challengers. A nice volunteer there told me I could wait for my Hubby just off to the side. I think he was only about fifteen or twenty minutes behind me, but it seem to feel like forever. I think if we had indeed finished together I would have cried.
Now I know I said I would never do another marathon again and I still stand by that. I mean after the half marathon point, I just want it to be done. That is why I have no problems with half marathons. I just think marathons really suck. Now with that being said, the Disney marathon was leaps and bounds better than my first marathon at Maryville. Of course I realize I am comparing apples to oranges. Comparing a small town marathon to a big one with lots more money to have nice aid stations and everything makes a HUGE difference. The thing is that I do have a nagging voice in the back of my head that wonders how fast I could do a marathon that was somewhere in the middle between Disney and Maryville. Maryville was my first, it was hot, windy and miserable and it took me six hours. Disney was wonderful but I had a lot of picture stops AND I ran a half marathon the day before it. I still finished it in six hours. So I think I could do a lot better. Then I come to my senses and remember that I do not want to do another marathon again EVER.
When we were at the expo we saw some things we just weren’t ready to commit to yet. One of the things was a commemorative frame. They said they would have a booth at the end of the race as well. When we were done Hubby said it was too big of an accomplishment not to get one. That also made me feel good. It was like all the training and trying to motivate him to get excited finally paid off. He said at one point that everything changed when he decided that all he wanted to do was finish instead of making some great time. I was trying to tell him that all along, but I guess he had to discover it for himself. Anyway, I can’t wait until they mail us the frame. We got the pictures ready to put in it.
Speaking of pictures, I wished we only had to deal with just one photo company. Instead we had to purchase a Memory Maker with Disney for our theme park photos and then we had to deal with MarathonFoto for the race pictures. I had trouble with both companies. MarathonFoto was the worst. At least with Disney’s Memory Maker I was able to get my issue resolved with one call to customer service. I think with MarathonFoto I did one or two emails and three phone calls. It was crazy. I’m sure there is some business reason why Disney hires MarathonFoto, but it would just be so much more convenient if it was included in your Memory Maker.
It has been an interesting journey to get here. I hope I can keep my running up like I have the last two years. I think I can if I don’t lose sight of what makes me happy. Running makes me happy if I do it right. By that I mean if we sign up for fun races or running groups. I also like some of my runs where the kids get to enjoy nature. Right now we are doing the Sweet 16 Series again, Rock the Parkway, and we are considering the Avengers Half Marathon in Disneyland. We just might get a Coast to Coast medal!