It still feels a little surreal that I actually finished my first marathon. It’s a really long way to go. Especially around mile 21 or 22, when there are STILL at least four miles to go. And your legs are screaming, your mind is shot, you’re hungry … and in my case, the resort we were staying at was only about half a mile away. With a soft bed and cool shower. It’s probably a good thing I wasn’t carrying my room key. But it did cross my mind to just go back and call my husband and parents from a phone in the lobby.
Port Orleans, French Quarter Resort at Walt Disney World. Clean, and most importantly, no bedbugs!
We flew in to Orlando on a Thursday and took Disney’s Magical Express bus to the resort. After two flights and a bus ride, I nearly puked in the bushes outside the resort before we’d even checked in. I don’t travel well.
Mickey Mouse is everywhere, including the towels when we first got to the room.
See? EVERYWHERE. Oh, and the shampoo smells like cupcakes.
I’m a sucker for towel animals.
Craig didn’t trust the penguin.
Friday was packet pick-up day, and of course the craziest day at the expo since I’d guess most runners flew in on Thursday. My parents met us in Orlando to cheer us on, and I think they were a little shocked at how busy it was. But if Disney is good at anything, they’re good at herding people and keeping lines moving, so in reality, it didn’t take very long to get packets and buy some marathon swag. It might be the only time I sport Mickey Mouse on my shirt. (Secret: I don’t actually like Disney, and think the whole princess culture is terrible for little kids, but sometimes you need to put that aside for a giant marathon … right?)
My dad is ready to chEAR.
After packet pick-up we went to Universal Studios to go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Yes, I’ve been there before. But my parents hadn’t, so it was a good excuse to go back.
The tapper on the end is a special brew just for WWofHP.
We didn’t know that until after we’d ordered, so it wasn’t sampled.
Gotta love having a beer at the Hog’s Head. Here’s something a friend told me that’s a great tip: Ask for the castle tour at the main ride (the one in Hogwarts castle).
I have yet to meet someone who didn’t get sick on the ride, so if you don’t want to do that, you can still see everything inside the castle, and at your own pace, since you aren’t shuffling forward in a long line for the ride.
Zonko’s Joke Shop.
Can’t resist a photo booth. This is one of my favorite strips we’ve taken.
On Saturday, Craig realized he’d forgotten shorts, so we found a Nike Outlet store to buy some new ones for him to run in. Luckily, that was the only thing missing. The rest of the day was spent relaxing, eating a pasta dinner and attempting to go to bed really early.
Ready to run.
The alarm went off at 2 a.m. on Sunday morning. We had to get on a bus to Epcot and the start of the race at 3, make sure our gear bag was checked by 4:30 and be in our corral by 5 in order to start running sometime after 5:30. Even that early in the morning it was warm and humid. Yikes. The atmosphere was really excited and high energy in the starting area, however. Including some poor DJ who I’ve decided either a. Was a lifer at the Disney Marathon or b. Was some overnight DJ at a local station that was SUPER excited to have such a large, trapped audience. Either way, his energy level was incredible for the hour.
The very start of the race, letting the first corral go.
Wheelchair racers went first at 5:30, then each corral was released about seven minutes apart, Mickey counting down each time and fireworks going off. Luckily, Craig and I were in the first and second corral of runners, so we had those few extra minutes of running in before the sun came out.
Creepy giant Mickey hands!
When the sun did come out, it got HOT. We hadn’t trained in weather warmer than probably 60 degrees. By the end of the race, it was probably more than 80 and humid. (Humidity doesn’t exist in Seattle, for which I am ever so grateful every time I return to a place with thick air.)
Traffic jam … we all gotta get photos, right?
The course had lots of people, lots of characters to take photos with and lots of entertainment. I’m glad I picked this for a first-time marathon—there was nearly always something to look at, and you were never running alone. My favorite? Running through the Magic Kingdom. It was still dark out, and the castle was completely lit up with white lights. We ran right down Main Street … and then took some turns that I don’t really remember before running through the castle. Where royal trumpeters were playing the Rocky theme song on their long trumpets. Ha!
The other bit that sticks in my memory was coming around a corner at mile 12 in the Animal Kingdom. I turned the corner … and there was a goat. Well, multiple goats, and some sheep, a donkey, some owls, some kind of bird that requires a leather glove and a snake. The animal handlers were lined up along the course with their animals, and you could stop and take photos. Very cool. I wish I would have gotten some video of the donkey, because he was not having it.
Finally, the golf ball. The end is near.
Hitting mile 13 was nice—halfway done! Mile 17 was great—only single digits left! Mile 20 was a relief—only a 10k left! And mile 26 I think had the gospel choir singing. Because at that point we were back in Epcot with both sides of the course lined with people cheering (whoops, chEARing) for the last two-tenths of a mile. I gave Mickey a high-five when I crossed the finish line.
Coolest medal ever. It has moving parts.
In the end, I ended up walking quite a bit of the course. It started because it was warm and I didn’t feel like heat stroke, but then my injuries flared and refused to let me run much. But I finished, which was my goal. And received a giant medal that I wore the rest of the day.
RunDisney organizers did a good job, and there were so many volunteers along the race chEARing everyone on, handing out gallons of lemon-lime Powerade (which I might never drink again) and water one little cup at a time. It would be interesting to learn how much they actually went through.
Downtown Disney had amazing candied apples.
That night we hobbled to Downtown Disney for some dinner and a photo in front of their giant marathon medal poster.
Walking through the graveyard prior to the Haunted Mansion ride.
Tried the panoramic feature on my iPhone. Craig was moving and looks deformed. Fitting for a haunted graveyard?
He was not happy I made him go on It’s a Small World.
Beware, these two videos will plant the song in your head for hours.
It’s a Small World is at times offensive, terrifying, hilarious and annoying. In other words, amazing.
The next day we hobbled around Disney World, riding the Haunted Mansion ride, It’s a Small World the Stich Experience (maybe that’s the name?) and Pirates of the Caribbean at the Magic Kingdom, then going to the Animal Kingdom for their safari ride.
Dino-land at Animal Kingdom. Craig’s going for a ride.
Road closed due to elephants!
Tuesday we hobbled to the airport and flew home, where we aren’t exactly hobbling anymore, but I think still operating on Florida time.
I returned to work with celebratory vegan cupcakes, handmade by my friend.
If you want to do an over-the-top, fun, well-organized marathon, Disney is a good choice (though, admittedly, an expensive one).
This isn’t my video, but I thought it gave a good roundup of the entire marathon, if you’re interested.