Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Disney World Marathon trip

Almost a year ago, I hatched a plan to head to Walt Disney World for the full marathon.  At the time, this was the first full I had signed up for and had no idea what I was getting into.  Money committed to the full and the 10k races, I was ready.  Joe and I had originally talked about making this a trip with Logan, but later in the year after Joe looked  at the calendar and it was time to register for the races, we realized that there were a couple of big vacations right near each other so I would make this a solo trip.

This trip has been in the planning stages for almost that whole year. Registration for the races - check; Roommates - check; lodging at Shades of Green - check; dining reservations - check. And, flights -check.  Whew.  That was the easy part.  Now it was just time for me to train after the Portland marathon.

My training continuation did not go as well as planned.  Illness, being overloaded with school, cooking, groceries, the awesome toddler and suddenly a new puppy proved to do my well being in and I ended up with (what I now think was) pneumonia or bronchitis based on the duration and coughing.

I had low expectations headed into this trip for the marathon.  I wasn't going to push the 10k, but had resigned myself to a slower time than Portland because of the lack of training.  I never got any runs over 19 miles in, I had to completely stop running when I should have been peaking in training and my crosstraining, an integral part to the three day a week running plan I chose, never panned out.

10k day came and it was humid. Wow. I was soaked after such a short run...this didn't bode well if the weather held. Fortunately, the forecast showed highs in the low 70s on the day of the full. I was optimistic going into the weekend. My roommates and I did some hard core touring on Thursday and Friday. Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios....

We did the Pasta in the Park party on the night before the half marathon race in Epcot, which was a great chance to relax, meet the characters with fairly reasonable lines and have great seating for Illuminations.  The day before the full was a slacker day. In hindsight, it might have been good to go to Typhoon Lagoon and chill there. But, I went to Downtown Disney, saw Frozen, got some souvenirs for Joe and Logan and called it a day.

One of the hardest parts of the Disney races is the start time and time zone change for us West Coast people. All the races except the 5k start at 5:30, which means a wake up time around 3:30 and out the door by 4:00. We had direct bus transportation from Shades, which paid huge dividends in saving time and sanity race morning.  So, try waking up at 12:30 am and then starting a race at 2:30am...that's essentially what we had to do for...ugh. It messes up fueling, sleeping, hydrating...just all of those logistics that you get used to when doing more local events.

Marathon morning came and I have to say, I was cautiously optimistic from the start. The weather was great, low humidity...I finally had a good night of sleep...and things just seemed ok. One of the big mistakes that I had made in the Portland marathon was going out too fast. Way too fast. You look at the splits that Paula and I did and they were ridiculous...and I paid dearly, which is evident in how much I slowed down. This time, I just ran at a comfortable pace, which turned out to be about 10:30 (ish) minute miles. I stayed within 45 seconds of that for the duration of the race. Including two pee breaks, photos, walking through each of the 21 water stops, one banana stop, and one candy stop.

Way back in H corral...

The start for the G awesome that each one got their own fireworks.

Whee!  Almost time!

Entering the Magic Kingdom was still probably a good 2-3 miles until we stepped into the park.

Dawn in front of Cinderella's Castle.  Amazing.

What a wonderful sight!

And, success!  4:51 and change.

I cannot say enough awesome stuff about how Disney conducts these big races. The course entertainment is amazing. Characters, short films, awesome music (sweet Caroline around mile 7 during a long stretch of nothingness), animals from the Animal Kingdom petting zoo mout for photos with race numbers, fabulous enthusiastic volunteers, guests, Cheering sections and cast members. And how can you beat running through all four parks...

I was able to relax and enjoy the run...even after my shuffle died on me around mile 16 or so.  I did not think that the crowds on the course were bad at all and, depending on where you are placed and if you are willing to forgo all the cool things to do while in the race (characters, photos, riding roller coasters mid-race), this is definitely a PR course. Especially with the amazingly perfect weather we had.  The toughest part was the last bit in Epcot. We ran 'around the world' and then out a back exit by spaceship earth...and there was the glorious finish line. What a wonderful sight with Mickey and Minnie there at the finish line greeting us! I got a high five from the Mouse himself as I ran though the finish line...

And, shockingly, I felt pretty good still. Tired, but nowhere near the utter exhaustion after Portland. I didn't have to stop and sit down to go back to the buses..I did get some ice for general icing of my legs, but nothing too specific.

My final time was only about 2 minutes slower than Portland. And with all the stops, too! I was pleased...

Celebrations were in order for all of us that night. I took my medal proudly into the parks (which EVERYONE does for several days after the races), took photos, enjoyed some rides and relaxed. It was awesome.  I think one of the things that I expected least was the camaraderie from other runners and the cast members after the run. When touring the parks, I had multiple cast members congratulate me very enthusiastically and authentically.  They wanted to hold the marathon medal, asked me about my race and were super appreciative of the runners coming to race.  Wow...that kind of blew me away...their enthusiasm during the race, at crazy hours of the morning, cheering for thousands of runners for hours was amazing.  And other runners would congratulate each other, ask how races went, etc. it was super cool.

Taking my medal around the parks the night of the marathon.  Epcot was up first with a great dinner at Rose and Crown.

Then Magic Kingdom for some extra magic hours! And more medal wearing.

Do you know how happy I was?  I'm still stoked about how well the race went...

More later on the actual touring part of the world. I had some great company for this trip and we had a lot of fun with the rides, characters, meals and laughs.


  1. Wow - this totally blew me away Jenna! A 10k AND a marathon in one trip? Seriously, an inspiration to us all ;) Good job and what a fun memory. I haven't been to WDW yet but from the pictures it looks even more spectacular than DL..

    1. Awww...thanks B. :-) But, the marathon was just a 10k also...only with a 20 mile warmup. ;-)

      I love's a little less overwhelming than WDW. The character lines are shorter, low season is much less busy...but, I'll be doing a post soon with all the pros / cons of WDW vs. DL. The last time I went to WDW, I was not nearly the DL person that I am now.