Thursday, January 26, 2017

Walt Disney World Marathon 2017 Recap

Wow. I don't even know where to begin with this. The WDW Marathon was my 3rd marathon, and honestly, the other two were pretty disastrous. The first was also the WDW Marathon in 2013 as part of Goofy and the heat, sun and humidity were absolutely horrible. 

Spoiler alert: This marathon was pretty great, despite the weather. Or maybe because of it. 

The following is my recap that consists mostly of pictures because who really wants to read about my splits, right?

As most people know, the Half Marathon was cancelled on Saturday due to thunderstorms. The temperatures dropped quite a bit by Saturday afternoon, and even though there was no rain in the forecast, I definitely was concerned about having warm enough clothes for the start. 

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I brought one fleece as a throw away, but then ended up checking it because I knew I would be want it the finish line for an extra layer. In the end, I "borrowed" an extra blanket from our room and it was the best decision ever.

I was a bit behind schedule when I left the room. Since I was worried about being out in the cold for too long like I had for the 10K, I ended up walking out the door around 4:20 rather than my original plan of leaving at 4:00.



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I ended up in a wee panic when I was the only one on the bus at 4:30. But I was in corral J, so I still wasn't too concerned. Finally, more people arrived but it took quite awhile for the bus to actually leave. And then, of course, it took awhile for us to arrive at the Epcot parking lot because of traffic. 

There really wasn't a whole lot of time once we got there to get bags checked and make the super long walk to the corrals, but the bonus of sitting on the heated bus as long as possible was awesome. I wasn't standing around long enough to be get too stiff.

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The race started before I was actually in my corral. Despite my initial panic, I still ended up waiting for a bit for corral J to start. I wore that blanket until approximately 15 feet before crossing the start line. It was that cold.



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And finally we were off. It remained really cold for the first hour while we waited for the sun to come out. I really hadn't trained enough long distances, but I had definitely run very consistently for the previous two months. That being said, I knew better than to run at a pace anywhere close to what I had been training at because I knew I'd pay for it around mile 13.

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So I ended up keeping myself at a pace about a minute and a half slower than what I'm currently used to. It was a lot harder than I would have thought to keep slowing myself down, but it was a smart move in the end.

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I won't give you the specific play by play, since I pretty much don't remember everything. But at least I took a decent amount of pictures this time. The last time I ran, the WDW Marathon, I barely took any.

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The first few miles of the marathon went by pretty quickly. Around mile five, the course enters the Magic Kingdom.

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The crowds at MK are awesome. Running back stage and then coming out onto Main Street USA is so cool. The crowds are great.

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I love running through the castle, even though it can get a little bit packed. I must have started in a corral far enough ahead of the last corral that this wasn't really an issue for me during this race. 

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You can see by the layers on the girl in front on me, that it was pretty chilly out.

I have to take a moment to bitch about this, though. Why the F do people think it's okay to jump in front of you and then stop so that they can get a good picture, but completely don't give a shit if it messes up yours? I mean, this happened at just about every major picture area in the first two parks. I'm assuming it happened less toward the end of the race because people were just too exhausted.

I give you Exhibit A. These women ran in front of me and came to a complete stop, three across, completing messing up everyone else's picture. Total dick move. And unfortunately, it's becoming the norm at Disney races.

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Arg, just looking at it again pisses me off. This could have been a good picture for me but these three darted across the path to stand in front of everyone, not caring about tripping anybody or ruining anyone  else's shot. This happens every time I run through the castle. No joke. Okay, moving on...

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This thing was pretty cool. We ran past it when we were back stage. I was told later that it's from one of the parades and that I must see it, but sadly, I missed the parade. Hopefully, I'll see it next year!

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After MK, you run for quite awhile along back roads, the golf course, etc. They changed the route from the last time I ran this marathon, so the stretch from Magic Kingdom to Animal Kingdom is a bit tiresome. 

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I loved this shirt. In fact, I may or may not have had some shirt envy. I didn't take many pictures the last time I ran the WDW Marathon, so I was determined to have more this year. 

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I took a picture of this volunteer just to show how bundled up everyone was. Hello? This is FLORIDA. Every race I have done at WDW has been overly hot. But cold is better than hot, or so I told myself as I froze my ass off.

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I wish I had gotten this girl's name. She was on the bus with me and we walked to the bag check together. This was her very first race longer than a 5K. And I thought I was crazy running a half marathon for my first race!! We leap frogged each other multiple times and chatted on course. The last time I saw her was after mile 13 because I congratulated her for completing her first half, but I'm not sure exactly which mile it was at. I believe maybe after Animal Kingdom. Anyway, it was a cool experience and like I said, I wish I had gotten her name or that I had run into her at the finish to see how she did. So if anyone knows her, send her to my blog!

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I always take a picture at mile 10 during half marathons, so I've continued that tradition during full marathons....well, the whopping 3 marathons that I have run so far. 

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I didn't really plan to stop at many character stops because I had no desire to be on my feet longer than necessary, so waiting in long lines for characters seems crazy to me on any race longer than a 10K...unless the line is super short. Then I'll pop in line. I don't even know who these characters are, but no one was waiting. And I was getting photo pass, so why not take advantage?

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I took this picture because it seemed much more like a velociraptor enclosure than a rhino one. And if there was ever going to be a real Jurassic Park, you know is would be owned by Disney. Just sayin'.

Finally, we were heading into Animal Kingdom. 

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I take the worst selfies. Oy. How do people take good selfies? I swear it's an art.

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I considered riding Everest, just to add to the experience, but I think this was only around mile 13ish and I was worried about getting moving again if I rode a ride. Not to mention, Everest can make me feel quite queasy and I just wasn't willing to risk it. Maybe one day!

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After Animal Kingdom, we ran through the parking lot and of course, I needed a picture of this unicorn sign.

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The back side of the new Avatar land was also visible from the parking lot. Why is this park not open, yet?! I feel like it should have been opened some time last year. Crossing my fingers that maybe it will be open for next year's marathon.

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I have to say that the first half of this marathon is somewhat boring aside from the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. I struggled a bit at this point and mentally beat myself up for not getting in enough long runs. There's really a whole lotta nothing for long stretches now that the Speedway is gone. 

My muscles felt fine and I wasn't tired, but my feet hurt and strangely, so did my ankles, which is not something that usually happens. 

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So I started taking pictures of random shit to distract myself from my feet and ankles hurting. This is the line of traffic to get into the parks during marathon weekend. I bet these people were pissed!

This part of the course is brutal. For anyone reading this post to get information about this race, just know that it does improve! It just feels like miles of nothing. I think this stretch is mile 14 through mile 18 and includes an area at mile 16 or so where you can see across the highway where the runners are at about mile 21. Which was a sweep point when I got to mile 21.

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And then suddenly, I got a second wind. I went from starting to feel horribly miserable, to being able to keep running along. Once you get to ESPN Sports Compex, there's much more to see and from there the other parks come quickly. I didn't take as many pictures here but I always take a mile 20 picture.

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Once I saw mile 20, I got excited. I had exactly two hours to finish to get a PR, which meant I could truly mosey along and still get a PR.

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The parking lot we ran into next was awesome. There were people that had parked their cars and were handing out treats of all kinds including shots of bourbon, which I thought was funny, but I was definitely not going to risk it. 

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After 20 miles of sugary GU and Power Aid, these women were a welcome sight. In fact, I think I literally blurted out, "I love you!" to them as she scooped out some pickle chips for me. Mmmmm. Salt.

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I was feeling really pretty good at this point, which was about mile 21. I was bummed for the people across the road, though, that were getting on the sweep bus around mile 16. I originally tried to get a close up of the front of the bus with a scrolling marquee that read, Parade Bus, which I can't decide whether or not I think that's annoying or funny. I don't know that I would find it funny were I to be riding it...

It occurred to me while I was snapping a picture, that maybe there was someone sitting on that bus, in tears, watching me take pictures. So I decided to move along.

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And then, finally, I was entering Hollywood Studios, and I must have been grinning like an idiot. I was almost done, I was going to PR, I was finally having an enjoyable marathon after a horrible first two, and I knew -and this is really important - that there was candy ahead!!! Yahooooo! 

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This tasted so delicious after 21 miles. Hollywood Studios is fun to run through because the parks are open at that point and the crowds are incredible. Running through the park and then out onto the path that leads to the back of the Boardwalk is full of people with funny signs and snacks.

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I was on cloud nine. I had passed mile 24 and I knew I had friends waiting for me by Italy in Epcot. 

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And they had champagne waiting for me. This moment is seriously my favorite race memory of all time. How cool are these girls!? 

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Huge thank you to Sarah, Abby and Pam. You guys totally made my day!


And then I had a champagne glass for the rest of my running pictures, which was awesome.

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So, all in all, I have to say WDW Marathon 2017 was amazing. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't entirely hearts and flowers, but the second half was so much better than the first half and having friends on the course and handing you champagne was incredible. 

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In fact, I felt so good afterward, that I pretty much decided I would be doing the full in 2018. I made my way back into Epcot immediately afterward to meet back up with Abby, Sarah and Pam so I could snarf food. And when I say "immediately", I mean it took more than an hour with going through security to get back into Epcot, trying to make my way back to World Showcase while the marathon was still going and the fact that my muscles were starting to stiffen up.

I actually caught the very end of the race, which I passed at Germany in Epcot on my way to America to eat, probably an hour after I crossed the finish line. They still had almost a mile to go and looked pretty beat up. 

I packed a full change of clothes so we ate and then spent pretty much the rest of the day drinking at a new bar on the Boardwalk called, Abracadabar, which was cute, but really should have more food on their menu for post marathon snarfing. 

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I ended up with a 20 minute PR for the full, following the 20 second PR I got during the 10K. WDW Marathon Weekend 2017 was quite a success! Who wants to run it with me next year? 







































3 comments:

  1. Congratulations! I'd like to do the full at WDW. I hate that the timing on the WDW races always seems to be a week or so off of the school vacation calendar. It's just close enough to the breaks that justifying the extra time off seems really awkward. I'm waiting for Universal to start having races on their properties!

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  2. Congrats on a race well run! I would be upset too if I never got a good race picture through the castle!

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