Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend & Race Recap

On January 8th I ran my third marathon at Walt Disney World.  It was a wonderful experience and another day with friends and family that I will never forget.  It was also my Dad and cousin’s 1st Marathon so it was great to have company out there!  Here is my recap of the weekend and race:

Expo

On Thursday morning after a night in Fort Lauderdale we headed to Orlando.  We hit the road early – 7:30am so we could be at Disney between 10-10:30.  Our first stop was the Expo at Disney’s Wide World of Sports.

My mom and sister ran in the Family 5k on Friday morning along with my Aunt, Uncle and cousin.

Laura picking up her first race bib!

My Mom and Laura with their bibs!

My Dad picking up his first Marathon number!

Me, Dad, and Heather with our Marathon Bibs!

Disney Family Fiesta 5K featuring the Three Caballeros

Mom, Laura, Aunt Marie, Uncle Sonny and my cousins Sarah participated in the Family 5k on Friday morning.  The run started at Epcot and looped through the park and finished at the Marathon finish line.  My Dad and I went with them to cheer them on.  It was another early morning, out the door at 4:30am.  The race had 3 waves to start and the winner finished before the 3rd wave started.  It was kind of funny to see that happen.  Overall, they had a blast running or “wogging” as my Aunt Marie called it.  (Please direct all questions about “wogging” to her and my sister)

Pre-Race

Starting Line

Headed for the finish line! (Aunt Marie in the red jacket and black capris - check out that "wogging" form!)

5k Done!

Marathon Day – Pre-Race

  • Up at 2:45am – just gross.  (I am not a morning person and my nerves were pretty in check for this marathon so I would have preferred to sleep in.)
  • Got ready for the marathon – my Dad and I basically woke up my mom and sister so my sister was throwing in comments like “Don’t forget your GU”.  I found that quite funny because she’s never run a long distance race but she knows these things because my Dad and I constantly talk about them.
  • We met my cousin Heather in the lobby of our hotel at 3:30am – she was really excited and ready to get running.  I was still half asleep and my dad was really nervous.  We made an interesting trio.
  • Note:  On the ride to Epcot I was getting texts from my West Coast friend who hadn’t even gone to be yet – that’s how early it was!
  • 4am – we arrived at the Epcot Parking lot via a Disney Shuttle.  They were super organized and efficient – it was an easy journey over to runners area.
  • We had a quick breakfast picnic on the ground and organized our gear for bag check, after a bathroom stop and picture we were off to the starting corrals.

Dad, me and Heather ready to head to bag check and the start line!

Start Area:

  • The walk to the starting area is quite long and it was really congested.  It took us about 30 minutes to get into our corrals.
  • My dad and I were in corral C and Heather was in corral E so we said our good-bye’s and good luck’s and “see you at the finish line”.  We timed it well because we only had about 15 minutes to wait for the first corral to go.
  • My Dad and I were off at 5:43am – Heather was about 10 minutes behind us.
  • The characters yell the countdown for each corral, it’s funny to hear Mickey’s high pitch voice telling you to go!
  • Overall, the start was super organized and painless – I wouldn’t expect anything less from RunDisney.

Race

  • Miles 0-2 were a bit slow, we had to work through the congestion.  It was fun because you run up a circular on-ramp to a highway and you can see all the people running ahead and behind you.  It always amazes me how many people are out there with you!
  • Mile 2.5 – my Mom, Sister, Aunt & Uncle and Heather’s friend Anette were at the Monorail station to cheer us on!  It was exciting to see them and look for their signs.
  • The next few miles were through Epcot and then out to the behind the scenes area.  I love running through the parks.

Running in the dark...

  • After that we headed down to a long road that was going to take us into Magic Kingdom, it could have been boring but Disney had all kinds of things going including a Hot Air Balloon – that was really neat and pretty!
  • GU at Mile 6 for my Dad and I.
  • Mile 9 – We were on the lookout for our fans again – they were watching from the Ticket and Transportation center – we found them easily because of Heather’s awesome blue sign.  Good to see the family again!
  • Mile 10 – we headed into Magic Kingdom.  This was my favorite part of the run, there is something about running down “Main Street USA” with the Castle in front of you that is really fun.
  • We ran through Tomorrowland into Fantasyland.  They had a ton of characters – the highlight was Cinderella and Prince Charming in front of the castle.  Prince Charming was quite charming.  🙂

Dad and I in front of the castle!

  • We headed through Liberty Square and then into Frontier land where Woody was standing.  I wish I had gotten a picture with him!
  • We headed through the back area of the park and then out on main roads again.  Their were signs with fun facts to read and music playing.  Disney always has something going on.
  • We did a GU on the way out at Mile 11.5ish.
  • My mom and sister were at just about the halfway point somewhere around Mile 13.
  • Unfortunately my Dad’s IT Band started flaring up at Mile 10 so he was hurting.  It was hard to see, I’ve been there and it’s the worst when that happens on race day.  He kept stopping to stretch it out because that was helping.
  • Mile 13-16ish was a bit long.  We were on back roads and made a nice little tour around the Disney water treatment area.  It smelled lovely.  (joking)

Dad & I with Peter Pan and Wendy!

  • Gu at Mile 16.
  • We then headed through Animal Kingdom.  My Dad and I made the decision to split up once we were out of the park.  He was hurting and wanted to take it slow.  I felt horrible leaving him but I know he felt horrible holding me back.  It was a tough decision.

Running in front of "Mount Everest"

  • I was very much looking forward to seeing my cousin Sarah and her daughter Lily at Mile 17.5.  (Remember this post from Boston)  That kept me pushing forward.

Mile 17.5 just before I went off on our own!

  • We found Lily and Sarah easily but Lily wasn’t so happy this time around.  She had dropped one of her 3 binkies and it tumbled onto the race course and got kicked to the other side.  I made a daring rescue to get her binky because I thought it would cheer Lily it up.  It didn’t so I didn’t get a hug this time around.  My dad and I took a picture, said our good-byes and I was off on my own

    Lily's 3rd Birthday was the same day as the marathon - we had a little party the night before!

  • It was hard to leave my Dad, I got upset and almost went back but knew I needed to just focus on my race.  I pushed really hard miles 18-21 clocking 8:30 miles.  It felt good to get my speed up and push myself.  I have never clocked 8:30’s in a marathon.
  • Mile 22 – Gu and my quads started to hurt so I stretched quickly.
  • Around Mile 22 we entered Hollywood Studios.  I enjoyed running through Hollywood  Studios because the park was open and their were a ton of spectators!

    In front of the Hollywood Studios Mickey Hat

  • My cousins Derek & Celeste were just outside the park at Mile 23.5.  It was great to see them and stop and chat for a min.  I stretched my quads out and moved on.  I know I could beat a 4:15 if I pushed so I didn’t stop for long.
  • At that point a giant blister on my left pinky toe popped.  It was so PAINFUL.  I just kept running but was definitely limping at that point.
  • The last few miles were along the Boardwalk area in front of the Yacht and Beach club.  I really don’t remember much about this part of the run at all.  I just kept telling myself to push though the pain and to keep my pace which was about a 9 min mile at that point.
  • Mile 25-26 was through the countries in Epcot.  It was hard, I felt like it took forever to get through them.  I finally got to Spaceship Earth (the globe) and knew that it was just a short bit to the finish.  I started scanning the crowds and saw my Aunt & Uncle and Annette.  I needed the cheers, it was great to see them.  Shortly after I saw my mom and sister – so great to see them as well!

Crossing the finish line!

I crossed the finish line at 4:14:10.  No Personal Record (PR) but I was close.  I was really proud of my performance, I definitely hit the wall later on – Mile 23/24ish and I felt so much stronger then in past marathons.  Instead of running 10/10:30 min miles at the end I was running 9 min miles.  I got my medal, mylar blanket, water and took my picture and headed for the food and bag check.  I got my standard banana and bagel.  Once I had my bag I sat down to wait for my Dad.  I checked my email for the race alerts, and knew he wasn’t too far behind me.  I then texted my running friend and said “I’m in so much pain, but I want to do another marathon.”  That was the truth.  I had so much fun and I’m ready to do another one.  I would say I’m officially addicted to 26.2.

My Dad finished at 4 hours 36 min.  Incredible for his first marathon at 56.  I’m really proud of him and Heather who finished with a huge smile on her face.  She was in really good shape at mile 26 – I was so impressed!  I was not in that kind of condition at my first marathon – I was in horrible pain.  I could tell how proud she was of herself and I knew what an accomplishment it was for them both.  It’s so fun (and painful) to conquer 26.2 miles.

Marathon Medal #3

Halle Family - All done! (Ignore my squinty eyes)

3 Marathoners in the family now! Who's next?

Me and the parents!

Post Race

Lunch, cake and champagne to celebrate the new Marathoners!

Congrats Dad & Heather!

My cousins and I headed to Epcot to celebrate with a “drink around the world” evening.  We had dinner in “Germany” and then headed over to “Jelly Rolls” at the Boardwalk Hotel for some good old singing and dancing.  (I actually watched the dancing along with Heather because it hurt too much to move.)

Derek's totally jealous...

Check out our bling!

Big thanks to our spectators – Mom, Laura, Aunt Marie, Uncle Sonny, Anette, Sarah, Lily, Derek and Celeste.  I know you had to get up REALLY early and it meant so much to have you there.  Here is a big Virtual Hug for sacrificing your sleep and standing on your feet for hours to cheer us on.

Overall, the Walt Disney World marathon was a wonderful experience.   I had a great week with my family and really enjoyed the run.  My only regret was that I didn’t do the Goofy Challenge (Half Marathon Saturday and Marathon Sunday) but I”m sure I’ll be back at some point and that’s my next challenge!

To finally wrap this up I’m going to use a quote my sister put on her sign for the Marathon:

It’s kind of fun to do the impossible

– Walt Disney

Thanks for reading my super long post!

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