Even upon arrival in Orlando, I was still shaking in my running shoes. What was I thinking? Why was I doing this? What was I trying to prove? I had the bright idea of running the Walt Disney World Marathon a year and a half ago. I had to defer last year because of an IT Band injury, one that was still following me around. That was my biggest fear. I hadn’t had a pain-free long training run yet, so I knew this marathon wasn’t going to be pain-free.
I arrived on Friday, got to attend a really cool social media event (recap on that coming), and headed to the expo Friday afternoon. It wasn’t too crazy. There was still plenty of merchandise (I think they restock), and I love taking these pictures at the expo. It helped me get excited instead of freaking out so much.
I was proud of myself for really staying out of the parks. It was hard. Very hard. But I went to Disney’s Hollywood Studios to watch Star Wars Fireworks and Epcot for dinner the night before the big race. Saturday morning we chEARed on the Half Marathon runners, which was a lot of fun! More on my controversial sign later.
I was staying at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort with my BRFs, the DisBroads, and it was nice to have that support in our room. Most of them had run the marathon last year, but DisBroad April and I were firsties! We set the alarm at 3 a.m. (gah!) and made it to the bus around 3:30-ish. Luckily a bus had pulled up right behind another one, but we made it with plenty of time to spare to meet up with our friends, snap a few pics, and use the port-a-potty. Hint: Don’t just get in line for the first port-a-potty you see. There are walls of them in the race area. We saw lines of about 20 people deep, kept looking around and found ones with 2 or 3 people in line.
You know I love a good costume. But even I wasn’t playing around here. Patty and I needed simple and some inspiration. So we decided to channel one of my favorite movies – McFarland, USA. If you haven’t seen it, watch it. We both wanted to be Danny Diaz. He was the heart of the team, and that’s what we were that day. The heart. We knew we weren’t going to be the fastest, but doggone it, we were going to give it our all. I can’t tell you how much I loved hearing people yell, “That’s not Danny Diaz!” My favorite line from the movie. Man it put a smile on my face when I didn’t feel like I had a smile left.
The fireworks went off for each corral, and we were off! I always appreciate that each corral gets its own celebration at a runDisney event. I was running with my friend, Shannon. I think she was worried about me. She was an old pro at this marathon thing (Um, hey she ran a marathon tied to people. Yes, tied to people..by choice). The rest of the group split up to do their own things. We were getting our heads in the game now.
Pretty uneventful as far as injury is concerned. I felt slight twinges of pain, but no big deal. There was some crowding issues at the beginning. A gross period story I won’t disgust you with (but ladies they do have supplies at the med tent). I made it to mile 6, so I could use real bathrooms inside the Magic Kingdom. Running down Main Street and through Cinderella Castle is always amazing! The crowd cheering you on really energizes you. As much as it pained me not to stop for character photos, I didn’t want to risk knee pain from stopping. There’s Sebastian and Ariel! Gah, Lumiere!! I waved and kept on running at our nice slow pace.
The pain came. I was ticked. I was just mad that every method I tried to keep it at bay wasn’t working. I had done so much chiropractic care with the Graston technique (which did help some), taped my legs, purposely went at a slower pace the first half to try not to fatigue my legs, biofreezed at every stop…and well here it came. I could still do a run/walk and keep moving, but I was getting discouraged. I knew my friends were waiting just outside Animal Kingdom, so I just kept telling myself to make it there for food, more biofreeze, and support. I thought about stopping for Expedition Everest just for the experience since they had opened it a little earlier than park opening, but I didn’t want to risk it messing up my stomach. I’m not a real roller coaster fan.
So just outside Animal Kingdom is a little past the halfway point. You guys, friends are everything. First, Shannon and I saw Bonnie. Bonnie rocks. She carried various items for like 9 people in her bags and cooler. Dudes, seriously. Extra pair of running shoes and socks, drinks, snacks, sandwiches, biofreeze, bandaids, vaseline, body glide..everything we requested, she carried for us. I had a Coke and ate half of my Earl of Sandwich from the day before. It was amazing. I needed some real food.
So we chat a bit, I cry a bit. And we keep running. Well just around the corner, I see my Moms Panel friends and hear Uno, Dos, Tres..McFarland! I think some tears came then, too. And you couldn’t miss them with their giant Steve Harvey head (yeah, that was them). I laughed at the ugly photo they had blown up of me for my sign. Gave hugs. Grabbed some grapes and pretzels (which were the best pretzels I’ve ever had in my life, thank you very much. I even crossed the finish line with them).
Having people cheer for you means so much to a runner. I can’t explain how much this helps a runner’s mental state, well runners like me. It gave me the lift I needed at a time I needed it. Ok, 13 more to go. No problem, just do what I did..again.
Seriously, I don’t even remember much about these miles except I hated them. The pain was getting worse. We entered hell, otherwise known as ESPN Wide World of Sports. I think I basically walked ESPN. I was in so much pain, I couldn’t will myself to run. I decided to take a picture, stopped for a real bathroom break, and basically just had to decide to keep moving. I was trying to reset my intervals. I started with a 3:00 run/ :30 walk and wanted to do 1:30 run/ :30 walk. My Garmin wasn’t cooperating, I accidentally reset it, so I was lost on overall time.
Luckily Shannon would give me updates. Oh bless her. She was trying to keep me upbeat and positive. But I was in a mood. Every mile is magic, yeah right! Lies, all lies. I muttered a few frickety fracks here and there… I finally had to turn to her and say, “I don’t need your motivational anythings. I know we’ll finish.” I felt awful, but at that point. I was OVER IT. I hated running, I hated marathons. I was never running again. I hated everything.
I was able to do a little running and just decided to wing it based on pain factor. I would run until I couldn’t and then walk. The back roads were boring and also mentally draining. But I appreciated every character, every band member, every volunteer, every spectator. They kept me going. I decided to have some fun and stop for some photos.
By the time we reached the Fairy Godmother, I was in a jovial mood. I knew the end was in sight. We were about to go through Disney’s Hollywood Studios, around the BoardWalk, around World Showcase in Epcot and be done.
We saw Bonnie again by Disney’s Beach Club, gave her a hug, grabbed some Twizzlers, and kept trucking. I just wanted to be done.
I’m not sure what came over me that last little bit, but I wanted to be done. World Showcase was a blur. I just started running and running. I don’t know if adrenaline came over me, but that last mile and a half were our fastest miles – by a lot. We saw the Moms Panelists again in Epcot, I gave them an air hug, and just kept running. I was on a roll, and I didn’t want to stop. I crossed that finish line with all the emotions in the world. I had done it! I finished! A marathon!! Me? A marathoner!
Man, that was hard. Really, really hard. But I want to do it again. I need a redemption run. Walt Disney World Marathon is great for people like me, because there is entertainment galore, water stops galore, crowd support galore, and some real bathrooms along the way. I didn’t need to carry water with me, but I had Tailwind in my bottle which served me well. Bless Shannon for sticking with me. I told her to leave me many times, but she didn’t. She’s stubborn like that. Good friends serve you well in this whole running business.
Running a marathon is like having a baby. You forget about all the pain, and are crazy enough to want to do it again. I guess that’s why I have 5 children 😉 It taught me a lot about myself. You have so much time for your thoughts out there on the course. Good thoughts, negative thoughts, and everything in between. I don’t care if you run, walk, run/walk, or crawl. Doing that for 26 miles is amazing. You are a rock star. Plain and simple. And so am I. I’m pretty proud of myself.
It wasn’t the race I had imagined or hoped for, but I don’t care. Looking back at some of my pictures, I’m glad I stopped for some, even the quick ones, because I’m glad I remembered to have fun. Every race teaches you something. I pushed through whatever I had to push through, and I finished. I did it! I DID IT!! And you can do it, too.