It’s taken me a while to wrap my mind around the marathon experience and what I want to say about it, other than a step by step recap. We’ll start with the step by step (two parts, because it ended up huge!) but I can’t promise I won’t have more to say later. This is the kind of thing that sticks in your mind for a while, I suspect.
Like I said last week, this race felt like a huge win in terms of mental effort and my training. I ran the pace I expected (had been training around 15 minute miles for long runs, ran 14:40 in the marathon) and kept up my mental effort the whole race. My goals, prior to race morning were simple: Finish the marathon. I didn’t have any other goals in terms of time, intervals, etc. I’d told Darrell about my expected finish time, so he’d know when to be at the finish line, but also told him that it could very well be longer.
On race morning, I woke up before the alarm but pleased that I had gotten a very good night of sleep before that. I got out of the room quickly and quietly, without forgetting anything (win #1 of the morning!) other than my rain poncho. It wasn’t raining but that poncho would have been nice for wind protection. I rode the monorail from the Polynesian to Epcot, which was running as early as 3 am. The only downside to the monorail is that you’re dropped off quite a ways from the check in area. Otherwise, it’s great not to wait and stress about a bus – definitely quick and easy. We got dropped off at the entrance to Epcot and walked quite a bit to the bag check, which helped warm things up and settle my nerves a bit. I didn’t have any gear with me, thanks to having Darrell at the finish, so I headed back around to Race Retreat for breakfast and to stay warm for the hour or so before the race. Time seemed to fly by and before we knew it was time to start!
I’ve talked about Race Retreat before (here) and will say that again, I felt like it was worth it for my needs at the time. Staying warm, sitting and getting my brain right and of course, character photos. 🙂 It wasn’t long before we were heading out to the corrals. Thanks to lovely random runner who gave me her spare poncho to block the wind while we were in the port-a-potty line!
Just FYI for anyone new to Disney races – I had over 6,000 steps by the time I got to my corral, with all of the walking from the monorail to the race retreat tent to the corrals. Be prepared for LOTS of extra walking before the race.
My first clue that this was going to be a particularly emotional day for me came with Mickey’s kick-off for the first group of runners. He referenced all of the athletes out there to run and I had a “Holy cow, I’m an athlete” moment. Tears in the corral are normal for your first marathon, right?
When they started the corral, I had this moment of certainty that “I’ve got this.” It was amazing and absolute and got me started in the best possible mood.
I was in corral I, based on my half marathon time and based on far faster paces than I’d been running in marathon training. I was worried that I would head out too fast with all of those faster people, but am so proud of myself for sticking to my plan to run my own race. Yes, those first few miles were faster than they should have been, but I stuck to my intervals rather than running more than I’d trained for.
It was so reassuring to be running essentially the same path that I’d taken in the Princess Half Marathon in my first half marathon years ago. Places of prior success can be so powerful mentally. When I ran through the Magic Kingdom gates,I was reminded of Princess and how great I felt at the end of that race. I was also reminded of the upcoming Magic Kingdom and how great it felt to run through that park. I was thrilled to see that the Christmas decorations were still up when we got to Main Street. Christmas in the Magic Kingdom is definitely one of my happy places!
One nice thing about this race overall is that I never felt as crowded as it was at the Princess Half Marathon. That was particularly appreciated on Main Street – it made it easier to step aside and get the obligatory castle selfie. Like Princess, we ran through Main Street and turned off to Tomorrowland. I was tempted to stop at Buzz Lightyear for old times’ sake, but I wasn’t in the mood for character stops. I was just enjoying the experience of running through the park. I was glad that the crowd was moving smoothly and that we were able to run through the castle too:
I can’t explain why it is so much fun to run through the Magic Kingdom, but I found myself skipping walk intervals through this section and running with a goofy grin the whole time. Definitely the right way to start a marathon!!
I paused in the Magic Kingdom for a real bathroom: Frontierland, no waiting! Then we were out the back, past the train, and on the street again. While I didn’t stop for characters in the Magic Kingdom, I did enjoy seeing my old friend Buzz and seeing Swami Donald out in the park. At the Hall of Presidents, Sam Eagle (Muppets) was poking his head of the top to yell at us which was a lovely little touch!
There were also parade floats out to see and on the back roads, old ride cars like the 20,000 leagues under the sea boats and the skyway cars. I felt really bad for the poor “grooms” out by the wedding pavilion on those back roads. No one was stopping for a pic with them. 😦
More to come tomorrow with the post-Magic Kingdom miles!
Did anybody else notice Sam up in the Hall of Presidents? Such a fun touch. I got as much enjoyment out of seeing the characters as I would have taken pics with them along the way. Who would your must-stop character be?
PS: Clearly this isn’t winter running gear and advice so be sure to go check out the rest of the Tuesdays on the Run link up for more info on surviving winter runs. My one word of advice: LAYERS. Thanks as always to Patty, Erika and Marcia for hosting!