And now . . . for the rest of the marathon story (part 1 yesterday!)
I was worried that my motivation would flag when I got through the Magic Kingdom, because that section is definitely the highlight and is at the very beginning of the race (miles 5-7 ish) but I carried on with my intervals without much flagging. I had mentally divided things up into chunks: Magic Kingdom (yay!), Animal Kingdom (to Everest or not to Everest?), ESPN Wide World of Sports (survive the suck) and EPCOT (finished!!). That grouping really helped me to avoid getting overwhelmed by the sheer number of miles I think.
Before I knew it, we were nearing Animal Kingdom. There’s an unfortunate and smelly section where you pass the sewage treatment plant that is no fun, but otherwise I really enjoyed the Animal Kingdom section. Ultimately, I decided not to stop for Everest because I didn’t want to lose the good momentum I had. I was very aware that I was running the first half faster than I’d intended and wanted to keep moving before I crashed.
Again, this was a section I’d run before, back in the Jingle Jungle 5K (so fun!!) so I had great memories to keep me grinning through the miles. This is also where I hit the halfway point and sent my mom and Darrell a selfie to show how well I was faring so far:
This spot was strategically chosen because I was pretty sure Oliver wouldn’t recognize this as Disney World if my mom showed him. She did and he told her that his mom was SuperMom. Cue tears again. That kid is so much of the reason I run.
When we left Animal Kingdom, I knew the real work was starting. Thankfully, on the way out of the Animal Kingdom there was a huge group of spectators cheering us on (Thanks Patty!) and that gave me a huge boost. I was officially beyond half marathon territory now and had the dreaded ESPN Wide World of Sports ahead of me. I have nothing against WWoS, but have read so many race recaps of how awful that section was and how many people had their races fall apart there that I was dreading it.
I stopped for my one and only character stop of the race to get myself psyched up for the last 13.1 miles:
I didn’t consciously decide not to stop for characters during the course. I wasn’t worried about time or anything. It was just that I hadn’t seen anyone I felt the need to stop for before this. Standing in line, when I knew still had hours and miles to go, had little appeal. I would have stopped for Darkwing Duck, who I’ve heard was present in years past, and had to stop for these guys from my favorite ride. I’m REALLY glad I had them use my camera in addition to the PhotoPass camera, because the PhotoPass pic loaded in my account is not me for this particular photo.
After this, it was up and going again. I definitely lost some momentum with that stop, but it was worth it. The miles between Animal Kingdom and WWoS (14-17 ish) were boring street miles, with lots of construction. When we got to mile 17 and started to head into WWoS, several people around me cheered that we were down to single digits left. Woo hoo! Thank goodness for that boost, because WWoS was pretty boring otherwise.
I think the bad rap WWoS gets is partially because a) miles 17-20 are tough no matter how you look at it: You’ve been going for ages, you aren’t close enough to the finish to really celebrate and a lot of people physically hit the wall at this point and b) we spent THREE miles here, running around sidewalks, the track and the baseball field. That’s more time than we spend in any other park, which definitely feels disproportionate. I’m happy to say that other than getting tired of sidewalks, I did well through this section physically and mentally. I never felt “the wall” – I’d stayed regular with my water at every stop and mix of Gu, Sport Beans and waffle like I’d used in training. I skipped bananas and the other treats offered on the sidelines because I hadn’t practiced with those. I was definitely tired of Gu by mile 20, but it held me in good stead through the miles.
As we came out of WWoS and I realized that I was past the dreaded mile 20 (the peak of my training) and “feeling good”, I found myself in tears again at the realization that I was actually about to finish a marathon. I say feeling good in relative terms: my feet hurt, I was tired and I was slowing, but I was still running. At that point, I determined that I was not going to walk it in once I was past sweeping. I could keep running this thing (barring the hills of course – I definitely let myself walk those!).
We left WWoS and headed into Hollywood Studios for the briefest visit, past the Tower of Terror and down Sunset Boulevard, before we hit the sidewalk to EPCOT and safety. I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t too crowded at this point like it had been at Wine and Dine. There was still plenty of people running, so things moved fairly smoothly. We rounded the Boardwalk and before I knew it, we were in EPCOT and the home stretch.
We entered EPCOT in England and rounded the whole of the World Showcase. I swear that ball was never getting any closer. Thank you to the random woman (tears again!) who cheered us on by saying “You made it! You’re in EPCOT!” just as I was believing that Spaceship Earth was a mirage and I was never going to get there. Somewhere around here, I missed the mile 25 marker and as I knew my Garmin was very off in mileage, I had no idea how much further I had to go through this section. This last bit was definitely the toughest mentally, but I was able to convince myself that if I kept going, I’d be finished sooner. Also, I had no $$ for a margarita so there was less temptation to stop.
Once that stupid white ball finally started moving closer, it was over in the blink of an eye. There was the gospel choir and the finish line and I’m high fiving Donald and holy cow I’m a marathoner!
Point of pride: RUNNING at the end of 26.92 miles, thank you very much. I still haven’t looked to see my official time. It’s around the 6:30-6:40 range, based on the Garmin. I really don’t care. I finished a marathon! I was hugely disappointed in that moment with how long I had to wait to get that medal. I know logistically they need to NOT be right at the finish, but I wanted mine as soon as I crossed that line. I’m not the only one, right?
I’m still processing what I think of all of this and the question I’ve gotten most, will I do it again? I might do it again. I’m sure I could do it faster – I’m currently the slowest I’ve been in my running life. I don’t feel the need to right now though. Just knowing that I can run 26.2 miles is enough. If there’s ever a temptation again, I’ll consider it at that point. Who knows – when they open the remodeled Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom, I may be back. 🙂
For now, I’m basking in the glory of what my body can do when asked. We really are amazing creatures. Thanks to all of you for your support through this journey. You were part of the happy tears at mile 20 (and the threatening tears right now – holy cow was I unprepared for how emotional marathons are!).
Anybody else find themselves tearing up in big races? I expected tears at the finish (which didn’t actually happen) but not all of the emotion along the way.