Walt Disney World Marathon

On Sunday, January 13th, we ran our fourth marathon. It was our second marathon at Walt Disney World.

This wasn’t just any WDW Marathon, though — this was the twentieth anniversary of the race. And, as luck would have it, it was also the hottest year on record. Never have I been more glad to be from Texas, y’all, as all around us Canadians were succumbing to the heat and slowing their pace to… well, to OUR pace. Go, Team Tortoise!

Because there was a rush towards the corrals on the day of the half marathon, we resolved to get to the staging area earlier on marathon day, arriving on one of the first buses. This put us right up front with some elite athletes who we had absolutely no chance of seeing on the actual course since their corral started thirty minutes before ours and because they were running the whole thing twice as fast as we were. I really enjoyed hearing them talk to one another, comparing stories, and wagering on what the heat would do to their times. They could have run through Houston in August and still been faster than us, seeing as how their PRs were all below three hours. Amazing, y’all.

By the time we got to the corrals and were sent off with fireworks, I knew we were in for a weird race day when we hit every port-a-potty stop in the first two miles. Really? It wasn’t that Wes had to go that bad — it was that the lines were so horrific that it was a gamble whether to go or wait. He’d wait in a line for three minutes then leave without going, only to do the same thing another half mile down the road. Meanwhile, I had thrown off my warm up clothes and was shivering on the sidelines waiting. Hottest race in WDW history, and I was still cold, y’all, even as the Canadians were already dousing themselves with water. Sigh.

Once we got started running at a normal pace, we discovered that we were actually sore from the day before. Huh. Still, though, we felt good. At mile four, we found ourselves right behind the moderator for the Facebook group that has kept us up to date on all Disney races we’ve done so far. His encouragement and support has been so helpful to us, and we were so excited to finally meet him as we were running into the Magic Kingdom parking lots. So fun!

It was still dark when we entered the park, and seeing everything lit up was gorgeous, of course. I picked this point in the race to eat the granola bar I had been carrying in my back pocket, and would you believe that seven miles up against my butt had melted all the chocolate chips? It had! I had an ooey gooey mess on my hands as we ran past the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian and onto the Speedway track, where we ran a lap to get us up to ten miles. By that point, I finally had it all licked off my hands and washed down with some Powerade, and I? I was feeling AWESOME. Melted granola bars will do that for me.

Unfortunately, Wes hadn’t gotten the memo on the medicinal powers of melted chocolate. As we got to thirteen miles, his body reminded him that we had run the day before and that we were at a marathon distance for the weekend. He valiantly told me to go on ahead without him and that we’d meet at the finish line. But I didn’t for fear that all those women who were fawning over him earlier would find him out there on the course and try to take him from me. (And he was hurting enough at this point that he would have gone with them if they had just given him a stick of Icy Hot.)

Around mile fourteen, we took some ibuprofen, which helped Wes a lot and which, frankly, made me feel like I could fly. Which I didn’t do because I was going to finish this race with him, even as we ran through the Animal Kingdom and down towards ESPN’s Wide World of Sports. We became Galloway runners at mile fifteen, alternating with walking and running, right through “the wall” at mile twenty, where the chocolate wore off and I decided that I wasn’t feeling so great either. Ha! My feet began to lodge a complaint with my brain, and because they were carrying on so much, my ankles and knees overheard them and joined in the chorus. Then, my butt found out that there was a mutiny on hand, and… well, before I knew it, even my elbows were shrieking. At this point, doing a marathon and a half seemed like a dumb idea indeed, but we were so close to the finish line that we didn’t even slow our pace.

And in case you’re wondering, here’s what I looked like at mile 22 of this marathon…

Worn out but super excited that there were only four miles to go! WOOOO! (And you can see how hot it was if I was sweating like that. The Canadians were probably all passed out at this point.)

After a run through Hollywood Studios and Epcot, we gave Mickey a giant hug at the finish line… then hobbled on to get our medals. 39.3 miles is a lot of miles, y’all. I’m not sure that the recovery pain was any worse than it is after a regular marathon, but it was still there.

Here’s looking forward to many, many more marathons, Disney and otherwise!

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