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Walt Disney World Marathon - RunMarathon

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Orlando, Florida
United States
Total Time = 5h 32m 59s
Overall Rank = 7883/12964
Age Group = F35-39
Age Group Rank = 650/1226
Pre-race routine:

My quest for the Mickey Medal began four years ago when my husband, Jonathan (jowisc), and I ran the Disney 1/2 Marathon. This was when the half and the full were still on the same day. When we finished the race (which was a blast!) I was soooo jealous of everyone walking around with their Mickey medals that I wouldn't even wear my Donald one from the half. I decided that day that I HAD to have the Mickey medal. I struggled with running injuries for much of the next two years and it wasn't until 2006 that I decided I was ready for another I signed up for Disney 2007. I was running well and feeling great until six weeks before the marathon when I suddenly couldn't walk due to pain in my hip. Diagnosis: severe femoral stress fracture. Crutches for six weeks. Running out of the question. Marathon dreams crushed. Jowisc and I took our vacation to Disney anyway after he was also diagnosed with a stress fracture, taking him out of Goofy's. The morning of the January 2007 race we stood behind Boardwalk (where we were staying) and cheered on the marathoners. I cried. I wanted to be out there SO bad. The next day we signed up for the 2008 Disney marathon. 2008 was going to be my year...I would get that Mickey medal. Now, I couldn't even start running again until March and my comeback was very, very slow. Since I was focused on going long for a half-ironman, I was never able to build up my speed. But that was okay. I just wanted the Mickey medal. In August I started working with a great coach and was really starting to see some advances in my running again. I had a fantastic 1/2 marathon race in Philadelphia in November and all was looking good on the road to the marathon. Until early December on a 16-mile run when I started to get shifting pain in my right quad/IT band. Oh, those familiar aches and pains associated with a stress fracture. A trip to the ortho and a bone scan revealed a very early stress reaction, meaning that I had to greatly scale back my mileage to let the bone heal. The marathon was still possible, but any time goals would have to be put aside. Getting to the start line was now the main goal. My coach did an awesome job helping me manage through the injury and we turned to a 3:1 run/walk plan to get me through the distance. I did a 19-miler two weeks prior to the race, which finally gave me confidence that I was finally going to get a chance to run the Disney marathon. As we flew into Orlando the Thursday night before the race I could hardly contain my excitement. The night before the race I was like a little kid on Christmas Eve....way too excited to sleep. Ever seen that Disney ad..."I'm too excited to sleep!"? That was me. I was also way too excited to eat, which would come back to haunt me later. Jowisc and I got up around 2:45am and headed to the Disney bus around 3:30am. I had a half of a Hammer bar on the bus ride to the start and sipped on some water. We paid for the "Runners Retreat" tent, so we got to take some pre-race pics with Minnie, Mickey and Donald. It was so much fun! This was going to be the race of my dreams! Or not...
Event warmup:

Waiting in line for the porta-johns THREE times! And the half-mile or so walk to the start corrals. I was in Corral C and jowisc was in Corral A, so at least we got to walk most of the way together. And then when I got close to my corral, I waited in line for the porta-john AGAIN! By this time it was about three minutes until race start so I hopped into my corral and was ready to GO!!
  • 5h 32m 59s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 12m 43s  min/mile

So, my race plan was to Gallo-walk the entire marathon at 3:1, which during training allowed me to maintain a 9:30-9:45 pace during the run. I thought with this plan I could possibly come in around 5 hrs and maybe even break 5 if I was feeling good. The only problem with 3:1 was that it didn't allow me to get into a good rhythm at the start, so I decided to run the first 15 minutes and then switch to 3:1. The gun went off and it took me a good 6 or 7 minutes to cross the start line. And then suddenly, I was running. I was RUNNING the Disney Marathon! Yahoo! I felt pretty good and the HR was decent, although it was super humid out (and this Chicago girl does NOT do well in humidity). By the end of my 15 minutes of running, the HR started to push high-170s and I was a little concerned. I thought the walk breaks would help it come down, so I started my 3:1. By this time we're coming into EPCOT for the first time and I couldn't wait to run around World Showcase! But now I am starting to feel a little nauseous...and tired (like I could lay down and go to sleep)...and the legs are feeling weak. I look up as we pass the Mile 3 marker and think "23 more to go." 23 more to go?! How the heck am I going to go 23 feeling like this?! At this point, I was feeling so horrible that I actually thought about pulling off the course. I thought better to stop now while I'm still close to EPCOT then to get stuck out in the middle of nowhere. But wait...the Mickey medal! Maybe if I add an extra walk break to get my HR down a little more, that will help. So I walked. And I walked some more. I poured so much water on myself that my socks and shoes were soaked through by Mile 4 and I was getting blisters. Miles 4-16 are mostly a blur. Trying to stick to my 3:1, but adding in extra walk breaks as needed. Dumping lots of water on myself. Taking in gels a little earlier than intended and drinking more at the aid stations than expected. We ran through Magic Kingdom, but I don't remember much of it. I was still in a panic trying to figure out how I was going to make it to the end in the condition I was in. Sure, I could walk at a decent pace. But it was taking FOREVER that way! I wanted to RUN!! Perhaps my lowest moment of the day was as soon as we came out of Magic Kingdom. It went from lots of cheering and excitment to dead quiet. I mean, you could have heard a pin drop. The lady next to me said, "wow, this is like a death march. and we're not even at the halfway point yet!" Not even at the halfway point yet! This is going to be a looooong day. Finally we hit Mile 16 and it gives me a little boost of energy because only 10 miles to go. There was a big Team in Training contingent there and one of the coaches ran up next to one of the runners next to me. She said she wasn't doing well and he told her to switch to a 5 run/5 walk. I overheard and decided to try it myself. It would still allow (read: force) me to run, but the 5 minute walk would allow my HR more time to settle. I started this and it worked like a charm! Before I knew it, we had hit Animal Kingdom and I actually had a spring in my step. The parks were open by this time and there were so many spectators. I was talking to people and thanking them. It was so much fun. After AK there is about a four-mile stretch of wide open Disney highway. By this time, the sun had decided to come out. It was supposed to rain on Sunday morning, but the sun decided to come out?! Just my luck. I was thankful for my last-minute decision to bring my sunglasses AND to put on sunscreen! I plodded along doing my 5:5, keeping about a 10:30 pace on the run. Not too bad. Again, much of this is a blur. Before I knew it, we were making the turn to go into MGM via backstage. The lady running next to me at this point was absolutely giddy. She said, "I love getting to go backstage!" She made me laugh. I actually got goosebumps as we made our way into MGM. They had old Hollywood music playing and tons of cast members our to greet us. We went through the candy stop at Mile 23. I was soooo looking forward to this before the race, but at that point the thought of candy made my stomach churn. I did, however, have to grab a CLIF shot because I had run out of the Hammer gels I brought with me (due to being on the course a really, really, really long time!). Running down main street in MGM I literally could not wipe the smile off my face. Lots of villain characters out. Cruella Deville said to me, "You look great Jennifer. And that's a good thing, because you only have 20 miles to go!" (this at mile 24!). As we came out of MGM and headed around to Boardwalk there were a lot of people walking. I actually felt great during my 5-minute run segments because I was passing so many people! As we ran past Boardwalk, I thought about last year when I stood there crying because I wanted to be running. And now I was doing it. I was going to make it. I knew that jowisc was going to be waiting for me right by the Yacht Club and I couldn't wait to find out if he had gotten his BQ. I had a really good feeling and ran as "fast" as I could to get to him. I just kept thinking, "I'm coming! I'm coming!" As soon as I saw him, I yelled "did you do it?" He said, "I did okay." That was it. All the emotions of the day....the nausea...the walking...the blisters...the loneliness of 5 hrs by all caught up with me and I started crying. Then I yelled, "I'm doing SO BAD." The guy standing next to him said, "you're at mile 25 of a're doing GREAT!" At this point jowisc jumped in and walked with me for a while. I told him I was never doing another marathon. Yeah, right. :) He told me to walk it out the last mile. I told him I wanted to run. And off I went. I ran much of the last mile around World Showcase. So. Many. Countries. It seemed neverending. Running out the front of EPCOT was amazing. Spectators were lined up five deep. At Mile 26 there was a gospel choir singing "Alleluia!" and everyone was screaming and pumping their fists. Then right around the corner you hit backstage and everyone started walking. Including me. Only .2 to go....less than a lap at the track. But that seems really far, my head told me. I walked for about 30 seconds and then decided to make a push for the end. Then I saw Chip and Dale and gave them the biggest high fives ever and before I knew it, I was across the finish line. I got my Mickey medal. :)
What would you do differently?:

Eat before the race!!! This is a MUST. I have to start practicing my nutrition when training. Even if it means getting up a couple of hours before my runs and then going back to bed. I really think this was the fatal error that ruined much of the race for me.
Post race
Warm down:

Walked all the way back to the Runners Retreat to meet up with jowisc. Stopped by medical on the way to pick up some ice so I could cool myself down. I was so overheated. Oh, and I was also dehydrated. I felt like I was drinking enough but didn't stop to go to the bathroom once in 5 1/2 hours. Not good.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Stress reaction caused me to layoff the running; definitely not enough miles to perform well in this marathon. I probably wouldn't have done it if I didn't want that medal so dang bad! Also, poor nutritional choices (not enough to eat or drink). However, I was happy with my ability to stick with it and change up the plan as I went. I definitely had a better/more enjoyable second half of the race, so I did a pretty good job keeping myself in the game. There was no way I thought I'd finish at Mile 3.

Event comments:

This is an awesome race. I would recommend it to anyone. However, I think it's a better "fun" race than competitive race. Next time (and yes, there will be a next time), I think I'd like to run it with jowisc so that we can enjoy it together. As always, everything Disney does is first rate.

Last updated: 2008-01-05 12:00 AM
05:32:59 | 26.2 miles | 12m 43s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/1226
Overall: 0/12964
Performance: Below average
I didn't keep lap and HR data because this was supposed to be fun. :)
Course: From EPCOT to Magic Kingdom to Animal Kingdom to MGM around Boardwalk/Yacht & Beach Club and back to EPCOT. With lots and lots of Disney highway and access roads in between.
Keeping cool Below average Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Ok
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2008-01-18 1:01 PM

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Oak Park, IL
Subject: Walt Disney World Marathon

2008-01-18 1:41 PM
in reply to: #1164302

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Extreme Veteran
Olathe, KS
Subject: RE: Walt Disney World Marathon
Wow, what a great race report - you really hit all the emotions out there, huh? The extreme highs as well as the lows. But yes, you made it! You got your Mickey Medal! And I saw plenty of them Sunday at Epcot and at the airport - they are nice!

Congratulations on reaching one of your goals - you did great! So are you up for Goofy's Challenge 2009?
2008-01-18 2:14 PM
in reply to: #1164302

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Southwest Chicago 'burbs
Bronze member
Subject: RE: Walt Disney World Marathon

Okay - I'm tearing up here. 

SO GLAD that you got the vaunted M<sup>3</sup>!!!  You knew you were in for a tough race right from the beginning, but you figured things out, kept pushing forward and got it done.

Makes me want to book my trip for 2009...

2008-01-18 2:51 PM
in reply to: #1164302

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Oak Park, Il
Subject: RE: Walt Disney World Marathon
Wow that was a lot but you did it and your medal is perfect and you wear it well. You are my rock star!
2008-01-18 7:18 PM
in reply to: #1164302

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Wellington, North Island
Subject: RE: Walt Disney World Marathon
Great race report Jen. You made me feel like I was there with you for parts of it. I'm sorry it didn't go as well as you had hoped, but the fact that you stuck it out says a lot about your character. You're a strong person and a strong athlete. You should be proud of yourself.
2008-01-18 8:24 PM
in reply to: #1164302

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Liberty Township, Ohio
Subject: RE: Walt Disney World Marathon
Wow, what a great story! Congratulations on a great marathon finish! You really earned that Mickey medal.

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