So part 2 brings us up to the Half Marathon.. after 2 early mornings we came to the business end of the weekend. The big races!
Half Marathon (AKA: All right, this is wearing thin & it’s foggy) – So this one I was going solo, which meant trying to not disrupt all the sleepers in the room. This getting up early thing was wearing thin but I was happy that it wasn’t raining. I had organised to dress in a Peter Pan theme with some friends so I connected with my pal Robyn (Tinker bell) at the hotel (she was in the same block as me) and we caught the bus from the spot outside the rooms (why didn’t we do this the first 2 days??) – it was so much easier this way.
Once we met up with our Peter Pan, Patrick we took pics and then made our way to the half staging area. Now I wasn’t prepared for the massive trek that was before me, but one thing is certain – there were heaps of portaloos along the way! (TIP: Use these ones – don’t wait until the race is underway).
I was in corral J for the Half and Full, it seemed to be somewhere in the middle of the corrals, and after about a half hour after corral A started we were on our way! There is one thing I will say – at WDW they have a huge firework sendoff for every corral (they don’t do this at Disneyland due to the location of residents) so when you’re running away from the start line it feels like the Hunger Games with the bangs of fireworks.
I didn’t use my headphones or music for this one. It’s officially the longest I have gone without it and perhaps it’s what made the run feel a little longer than it should have.
This course takes us away from EPCOT, heading up to Magic Kingdom but through the TTC area, through the park and then back down through EPCOT and onwards to the finish. Here’s the kicker though – when you pass the entry point for Magic Kingdom you are actually no where near the park. There’s still a couple of kilometres to go.
Prior to this I made a stop at the Wreck it Ralph character point. It was a bit of a wait. I believe that my km was about 16mins – a total of 7 mins over what is considered the “minimum” km. While the lines aren’t cool, what is cool is that this is WDW running, there’s character spots and entertainment along the roadway. My main rule was if they are characters that I love and you don’t see on a day to day then stop. I was here to run but also have as much fun as I could!!
One thing that was crazy was the crowds – I felt that I was running on the grass for a big portion of this race. So much that post-run I called it the “WDW Ultra Trail Half Marathon”. On top of that there was a fog that was sitting really low and didn’t lift until well after the race – Florida clearly has the weirdest weather!!!
As we made our way into Magic Kingdom all I was waiting for was that Ah-hah moment where you hit Main Street and see the castle. And it was an incredible moment. The castle, in the fog, looked AMAZING and ethereal and was certainly worth the 10K up to the park.
Now running through Magic Kingdom is pretty cool. I love the Fantasyland area – it’s been really well themed and there’s chances for pics everywhere. What I didn’t like was the stop and slow walk at the entrance to the castle through to the bottom. And then two people stopped in front of me to take a selfie going through. Seriously. Sigh, why can’t we all just be aware of those around us and take pictures when it’s safe to do so – not just stopping when you want. I can’t tell you how glad I was to be out of there and back on my way down to EPCOT.
Those back paths are actually quite small when you think about it, and they definitely didn’t fit the amount of people running through. As soon as we got onto major roads the crowd did spread out, allowing for some breathing room. I knew that I had spent a lot of time waiting for characters and also from the stoppage under the castle so I hot-footed it back to the finish line. I made up the time completely, and then decided that I had so much time up my sleeve that I decided to walk a couple of kms to rest my legs. I ended up with a 3:10 Half time, with a photo stop with Scrooge McDuck just prior to the finish.
I was done, and when I’ve previously done runDisney events the half meant the end of the weekend. But not this time…..1 more race to go!!!
THE BIG ONE (AKA: The Marathon) – So as I mentioned in my previous post, this was my first Marathon. After some worries on Saturday about it, I woke up on Sunday just ready to run. Just turn me to the direction and tell me to run!
My legs felt amazing. I had been doing all the right things, rolling and Epsom Salt baths; and had planned on tackling this marathon with a 1:30run/30walk ratio.
Once again, it was a crazy walk to the corrals, and they were each let off by way of fireworks. But this had a different feel to it. It was the grand-daddy of all runDisney races and there was a mix of those who were serious, those who were celebrating and those who were about to conquer something that they’d never thought of. During the race I came across so many people with such inspiring stories – those who had survived cancer or other illness/disability, those who had completed masters degrees and those who had lost huge amounts of weight. No matter what everyone was celebrating the achievement of being in this race.
The first part of the race follows the same part as the half marathon, but rather going back through to EPCOT, it follows down to Animal Kingdom, WWoS, Hollywood Studios and finally EPCOT. My plan was to make it to Animal Kingdom, ride Everest and then stop for pics in the second half. That went down the drain as I saw awesome characters starting with Lilo and Stitch in Tomorrowland!! I was mindful of my pace time, I didn’t want to risk any sweeping or going over 16 minutes a mile – I had done 3 days and it wasn’t going to end badly on this one!!!
I absolutely LOVED this race, and couldn’t think of a better first marathon. I didn’t seem to have any issues, did everything that I wanted to and managed to chat to a lot of people (primarily at the end of the race when everyone really is in celebration mode). I was overjoyed to see my family at seperate parts of the course – they were as excited as I was to see that I was going to do it!!! One thing that worked amazing (since we’re internationals) was the runner tracking over WDW Wifi. My family were able to do what they wanted in the morning and still monitor where I would be finishing to make it to the finish line.
I was overcome with so much emotion at the end – I cried while smiling, I told every person I passed that it was my first marathon and I kissed my medal. It is the most incredible feeling, and the most amazing thing that I have done. While I said that this marathon was a one and done, I’m actually looking forward to running another one.
But Dopey, that’s a definite one and done.
In all the post-race celebration I forgot that I had completed the Dopey Challenge. It’s an incredible feat for anyone to go the distance over 4 days and I was able to power through it because I followed my training to a T. So if there’s one tip I give to anyone that’s trust in your training, because if you get that down pat you’ll be set!!!
Missed part 1 of the WDW Weekend Recap? You can click here to read!