When I got out of bed at some ridiculously early hour on Sunday morning I felt well rested and not the least bit stiff or sore. I think I had done the best I could to try to recover well between my two races. Traffic was pretty busy on the way to the race but we made it to EPCOT in good time. I was nervous about how long and slow our walk from bag check to the corrals had been the day before so Kelly and I said goodbye to our husbands and crossed through bag check soon after arriving. It was still a slow walk but it only took us about half an hour to make it to the corrals today. We then sat down in the back of our corral and waited for our friend Jen who got caught up in traffic. Luckily she made it before race start and we were in place for the national anthem and fireworks.
Kelly and I had clear plans for today. We were both here to run our own races. Kelly knew I wanted to run and execute a better race than my first Goofy Challenge back in 2008. Jen was interested in running together but she was really clear that if I needed to split off on my own at any time there would be no hard feelings. Why not run together? We stuck with our 5:1 intervals that we ran the day before. I wanted to make sure that we didn’t start too fast so I continuously checked my watch. Initially I was thinking I’d keep our pace around 12:30/mi to keep it reigned in, however it turned out that our easy pace was closer to 13:00/miles. I figured this had a lot to do with the heat and humidity that we were not used to. I really wanted to make sure the first 10K felt really easy so I just went with it. Perhaps this would be a good time to mention that we were experiencing record high heat and humidity that day?I had to pee since well before the start of the race but the lines for the porta-potties were crazy. At one point I commented that we were in a really dark part of the course so we could just duck in the bushes. Jen wasn’t so keen so we ran on to the Transportation and Ticket Center. Just as we got in line for the ladies we saw a bunch of other women run into the men’s. It turns out there was a secret hidden women’s bathroom in there with a ton of stalls. That was a good find! As we waited in line the lady behind me told me that there are fire ants in the bushes around Disney World so you are best off to avoid them! Later in the race I spotted a few girls with numerous red welts on the back of their thighs so beware!
After crossing the mile 5 timing mat we made our way into Magic Kingdom. I spotted my husband but neither he nor my dad were able to make it to the front of the spectating crowd to snap a photo as I went by. Once again I just tried to soak up the amazingness that is running through the Magic Kingdom.Jen and I lucked out on a castle shot today though!Just in case we stopped in front for a photo op regardless.After exiting Magic Kingdom we were feeling great and picked up the pace a bit. Before I knew it we were running into the Richard Petty Speedway. This was a new part of the course this year. I was amazed at the size of the track and the sheer number of runners going around it. There were some fancy cars and their owners lined up around the track, cheering us on.
After we exited the track it was back on the roads past the sewage plant towards Animal Kingdom. It was definitely hot out here. I was sipping nuun on every walk break, filling up my bottle with water from about every other aid station and adding an extra nuun tab in.
Just after mile 12 we entered Animal Kingdom. There were adorable animals and birds on the side of the road to greet us and plenty of characters to spot inside. I was excited to be running through the park but also looking forward to seeing my husband just outside of it.We hit the halfway point in 2:49:58, a 12:58/mi pace. As we ran past all of the spectators lining the pathway outside Animal Kingdom I spotted my husband, dad and Kelly’s husband. Again they weren’t able to get up close and I passed by them so quickly. I did try to give them a big smile though!
We were now on the highway heading towards Wide World of Sports. This is typically the toughest part of the course for me. Boring, straight highway, full on sun and a few overpasses thrown in to make things a bit tough. I warned Jen that this may be a difficult part of the course for me. I felt pretty great as we ran on though. Even though fatigue was starting to set in our pace barely wavered. Well, and then we hit WWOS around mile 17. We turned into WWOS (the other big change to the marathon course this year) and volunteers were handing out sponges. I’ve never used them in a race before but I grabbed two and tucked one under each shoulder of my tri top. It felt so good!!
I had hoped that running around WWOS would provide a big mental boost at a tough point mileage-wise. I thought there might be a bunch of characters out or spectators cheering but it was pretty quiet as we twisted and turned through the narrow pathways around the complex. I knew we had a long 2.5 miles to go through here and it mentally started to get to me. Jen was having a tough time too and we took a couple of extra long walk breaks through here.
One boost was running through the ballpark soon after the mile 19 marker. There were people cheering, including my friend Anne from back when I used to be active on the W.I.S.H. boards. Anne is a superstar cheerleader and she always remembers me and cheers loudly. Thanks Anne!And if nothing else I can always pull out a big smile for the race photographers!Next up the mile 20 spectacular awaited us! I didn’t have my camera, so no pictures to share, but there were large puppets of Disney characters lining the road. Mickey, Donald and Goofy were also off to the side for pictures! Jen wanted to snap a photo of them, and I slowed to a walk, expecting her to catch up within seconds. After a minute and a half there was still no sign of Jen. I assumed that maybe she decided to drop back and I had to continue on.
I had a moment of panic where I thought I had only one gel left to take at mile 20 but luckily I found one last gel stuffed way down in my waist pack to take later. Phew! I was running low on nuun tabs at this point since I had been drinking so much in the heat. I started grabbing Powerade from the aid stations to help supplement.
About a mile after I lost Jen I heard my name being called and there she was! I was really happy to see her and for us to be back running together again. Jen commented that there were a lot of people wearing orange and that it was tougher to find me again than she thought! We were now trudging on toward Hollywood Studios. By now we changed up our intervals to running 4:1s. We kept running although we had slowed down a touch. The important thing was that we kept running.
In Hollywood Studios we passed the candy station where volunteers were handing out mini Hershey chocolate bars. I grabbed a few to save for later. Running down Hollywood Boulevard was so much fun!We exited just before mile 24. I knew that my husband would be one mile away and I just repeated it over and over in my head. Just keep running toward your husband! Just before we entered the park Amanda blew past me. She tried to encourage me to keep up and cruise to the finish with her but it was a little too fast for me at that point! All of a sudden, we were in EPCOT!I spotted my dad and my husband was just coming out of the UK pub with beers in hand. I knew that one of those beers was for me to grab a sip if I wanted one but I also knew that was a bad idea. I smiled at him and shook my head to say no thanks. It was now time to run around World Showcase…just over one mile to the finish. I spotted my dad at the exit to World Showcase just as we would turn to run towards Spaceship Earth and out of the park.I took my last walk break, then it was time to bring it home as Jen ran past the gospel choir and out of the park. Big smile and a wave for the camera man!I was so happy running towards the finish line. This was the race I hoped to have – a well executed race. I kept running when at times my brain said it would be easier to walk. Apart from the couple of miles where we took a longer walk break all of our splits were pretty darn consistent. I didn’t let the heat and humidity get to me which was something I was definitely not used to. There was no time goal, but I was pretty darn ecstatic seeing that we could come in just under 5:45. I spied Donald Duck cheering us on at the finish line and I gave him a high five as I ran past.Best finish line photo ever. Look at the air Donald is getting!All done in 5:44:25 – a 13:08/mi pace. We did slow down over the last 10K according to our splits, but overall not too bad!
I teared up after crossing the finish line and I teetered on the edge between crying and hyperventilating. Getting those two medals placed around my neck was the most amazing feeling. All the hard work training for the Goofy had paid off and I had almost exactly the race I hoped for. While going in to the day I hadn’t planned on running with Jen I was really happy that it worked out that way. We were there for each other and the company was great. For Jen’s first marathon she did awesome!
My husband was waiting for me on the other side of the bag check and we hung out waiting for our friends and family to finish and come through bag check. I managed to sneak in a picture with Pluto while I waited!Finally, the entire group together with our medals.Up next, my thoughts on the Disney Marathon weekend.