Sunday, January 13, 2013

Walt Disney World Marathon Race Report

Felt surprisingly good on Sunday morning -- even if 3 a.m. came too early! Another bagel and cheese, then on the bus. This morning everything went much more smoothly - no crush in the holding pen, and very short lines for the porta potties. They also had volunteers handing out water - which they *might* have had on Saturday, but the crush was such that we couldn't see any.

Also, this time they had entertainment on the walk to the corrals -- a DJ playing music, plus a miked-up Fairy Godmother chatting with runners and posing for pictures. It also seemed like there were even more porta potties on the offramp? Anyway, very smooth.

nice big corral markers!
The same running VIPs were briefly interviewed, along with Joey Fatone, who was running the Goofy in the place of his injured wife -- for his first marathon. He seemed happy after the half; not sure how things went for him in the full.

Corral C seemed weirdly crowded -- but then again, this time we had settled down at the back of the corral rather than partway in. We recognized a few people from the day before -- also noticing some costume changes.... which reminds me that I had changed "costumes" as well: for the full I wore a blue running skirt, orange "run happy" EZ T (with the sleeves cut off -- too hot!), and a black vest made from an old tech tee. Oh, and Wil and I both wore a pair of mini Goofy ears on top of our regular running hats. Not quite as cute as the Daisy costume, but still cute. It was nice, toward the end of the race when there were more spectators, to hear "looking good, Goofies!"

C is for Completely Awesome
Race Face!
Again, it seemed like we didn't spend all that much time in the corral. I guess that's the 5:30 start, rather than 6:00. But I was still antsy and just wanted to start running!!!

When it was our turn to start, we slowly moved to the line... and I realized I had forgotten to start my watch. Oops. Luckliy I managed to connect to a satellite pretty quickly and only "missed" the first tenth of a mile or so. We had decided to go out at our usual 4:1 intervals, stopping at every water stop to hydrate, and then reassessing things at the halfway point. I felt really relaxed and good, and ran comfortably next to Wil.

The new course was a little odd. My favorite part of the previous course was running into Epcot in the dark, sweeping past Spaceship Earth and seeing the lights in the pavement. But now it seemed we just followed the standard highway route to the Ticket and Transportation Center, meaning there wasn't much to see. It also meant that we reached the Magic Kingdom really early in the race, rather than a third of the way through. Still, I had the same happy rush when I noticed the castle and Space Mountain for the first time, and was positively giddy when we turned on to Main Street. We took another castle pic before turning off into Tomorrowland. Because we were running, we were surrounded by far fewer people -- we *might* have even managed to be caught in one ot "those pics" -- or maybe not. But I didn't feel like I was trapped behind anyone as we came out of the castle.

Castle Pic, Day 2
Then the quick spin through Frontierland, across the train tracks, and backstage -- where they had a few characters standing on a parade float. Then, sigh, back to the bland roads. But this year there was a little treat -- we ran over to the Richard Petty racetrack, down and then up a very narrow and steep tunnel that runs under the track, and then onto the track. Dozens of vintage cars were lined up around the track, with their proud owners sitting next to them. It was pretty cool to see all the cars. Of course, the most popular cars were Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater... It was surprising to see how big the racetrack was -- I think it was a mile around the oval. Much smaller than Indy, of course, but still pretty big. It was a neat way to burn up some miles.

We left the track at road level -- much easier! -- and then crossed a grassy median, which made Wil say, "trail run!" which made me laugh. We then ran on some backroad for a few miles. I thought that maybe we would be able to skip the wastewater plant... Nope. But it really didn't smell this year. The had actually made little signs that were posted near the plant about the amount of water processed, the number of miles of Disney highways, and other facilities info.

Somewhere along this stretch we passed Mary Poppins and Bert, but I didn't need to stop. We also passed the accordion players -- whom I LOvE -- and I think a collection of villains. Not really sure. And then I saw the sheep and knew we were close to Animal Kingdom.

Now, in previous years this was cause fort great celebration -- it meant we were at mile 19 or something like that, and well on our way. This year, however, we hadn't even hit the halfway point. This was slightly depressing. But I always like the African drumming and dancing, and it still meant we were checking off another park.

As we left the park, we crossed the half-way point. Wil and I stopped for a moment -- half marathon # 36 complete! -- but then kept on going.

I had had this idea that we could walk the second half of the race. After all, it was crazy hot and I was starting to feel tired. And did I mention that I haven't run a step over 14 miles since, oh, the NYC Marathon in 2010?!? But we had made decent time, still felt okay, and decided to keep running for a while longer.

After leaving the backstage area we ran across the entrance to the park -- just starting to collect visitors, and also featuring lots of spectators. Nice little energy boost there! We passed the Jammin Jungle Parade floats and puppets, and all too quickly returned to the highway.

A few nice surprises awaited -- a group of gravediggers staggered menacingly along in a Haunted Mansion graveyard scene, for example -- but it was mainly just boring highway for a couple of miles. The day was getting hotter and hotter -- but plenty of water stops meant we kept pretty hydrated.

Finally we got to the turnoff for Wide World of Sports. I had been dreading this a little -- it seemed like we would be twisting and turning through too many narrow paths. But in the end it was nice -- and a nice way to "explore" the area. We ran past soccer fields and baseball diamonds, on to and around a very nice running track (which made everyone go "ahhhh" because it was lovely and cushiony), past fields marked for sports I didn't recognize, past another field with a huge Mickey Mouse hot air balloon -- proper balloon, with a basket and everything -- and finally onto the main baseball diamond where the Atlanta Braves play spring training. We ran down the first-base line, past home plate and out along third, then out to the warning track where we ran most of the way around. I'm pretty sure we were on the jumbotron at some point, but it was so bright and so hot that we just kept running and didn't see.

A few more twists and turns and we were on our way out of the park. At the last corner, we could see the special 20th anniversary section -- a bunch of giant puppets (probably from some parade?) lined up along the road, a stage with Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy where one could run up and have pictures taken. We also ran under a big archway decorated with images of all the race medals -- very nice.

After the archway, we met up with the people just heading in to the WWoS. It was pretty astounding to see how many people were behind us -- but then again, we had been running at a decent pace. Oh, and the best part of the WWoS loop? On our way in we heard an announcer say "less than 6 miles left" -- yep, we burned up three miles in there! Nice.

We passed the SportsCenter guys when we got back to Osceola Parkway, and then quickly turned off toward Hollywood Studios. This was where I hurt my knee during the first marathon, so I took it pretty easy. The green army men from Toy Story were on the ramp, exhorting people to keep running -- telling people that they had better be running or power walking up that ramp or they would be required to drop and give him 20. It was hot, hot, hot at this point. I had been dumping water over my head and neck at every stop -- my shirt was soaked, but I'm not sure if it was water or sweat. (Ew.) But we kept going and eventually made it to the backstage entrance to the park.

Somewhere along here -- ah, before the Studios -- I heard the unmistakeable sound of the start of "Sweet Caroline". I started singing... but no one else did. Not even the "bomp bomp bomp"s. Weird. I think it was just too hot and people were saving energy. Here's what's funny. At the end of the song, it just started up again. Yes, that's right, it was a "Sweet Caroline" station. Funny, that.

THEN into the Studios, where they had several of the funny improv actors -- Hollywood Boulevard denizens, I guess -- chatting with each other and runners. It added a nice touch that I don't remember seeing before. Another highlight -- chocolate! I thought it wouldn't be very nice in the heat, but oh boy does a Krackle mini candy bar taste nice!

We ran into the costume shop, where I was surprised to see people working. I spotted a shelf holding a dozen or so Donald Duck hats -- very cute. We passed several characters from Pixar films in the backlot -- and possibly even a glimpse of Phineas and Ferb? I think regular guests were in the park at this point, but not many -- so I didn't have any collisions.

As we came around a corner near the giant Sorcerer's Hat, a "Run Disney" photographer grabbed us for closeups -- I think he liked the little Goofy ears -- but so far we haven't spotted the picture anywhere. :)

Then out of the park, past lines of tired and grumpy guests. (Which makes me laugh to think about -- I bet we looked pretty tired and grumpy ourselves!!) We ran along the path next to the river, then up onto the bridge by the Swan and Dolphin. I always think that Epcot is right there -- but first you have to run around the Boardwalk.

I think if I could stay anywhere, I'd stay at one of the Boardwalk resorts. They just seem cool -- and I like the entertainment district that's right there. Maybe someday!

The boardwalk is, um, boarded with narrow wooden planks in a chevron pattern. Something about the wood and the lines (and the heat and the sun) made us feel woozy, so we had to drop to a walk. While we had always known we would finish the races by hook or by crook... and had realized that we were going to finish well around mile 20.... we were actually, weirdly, on a big PR pace up till then. Oh well. Doesn't make sense to try and PR in that heat!

After the Boardwalk area, we arrived backstage at Epcot. I love, love, love popping out into the World Showcase right by the United Kingdom. A large crowd stood at the turn, cheering... many of them holding pints of beer. Why does no one ever offer us drinks? Then up the tiny hill to the bridge to France ("it's literally all downhill from here!) and the rest of the way around the circle. It was still early enough in the day that there weren't too many other guests and we didn't crash into anyone as we ran toward Spaceship Earth.

I love the end of races when you see people really digging deep -- if they have been walking, they try to run a few steps; if they have slowed, they try to pick up a little speed. It's my favorite part -- and not just because I know I'm almost done as well!

We passed the gospel choir, I got my usual wave of endorphins which made me feel weepy, and we entered the home stretch. We held hands and ran across the line. Perfect!

Random race memories: car-themed music playing as we ran around the racetrack; the soccer players standing at the edge of their field at Wide World of Sports, clapping for what must have been hours; the two men in sparkly-silver shorts and matching tuxedo shirts who we ran with near the Magic Kingdom parking gates, lost for a few hours, and then caught up with just before the finish line; the woman running in a full-length Belle ballgown; the "course liar" around mile 20, saying things like "there's free beer and barbecue at the finish!" and "you're almost there" and "you smell great!".

We picked up our marathon medal, were given our Goofy medal (how did they know we completed yesterday?!?), and our drinks, bananas, and snackbox. Nice. Oh, and today they gave us "Great and Powerful Oz" lunchbags, which made it really easy to carry the stuff.
ah, yes, "PROOF" what we finished!
It was really hot, we were really spent, so we didn't linger at the finish and just headed for the buses. A huge family pushed in front of us, meaning we had to wait for a third bus -- and while we were in line, a runner just keeled over. Fainted. It was a little scary, but a couple of medical folk on bikes arrived really quickly and helped cool him down. Afterward we thought that perhaps the same might have happened to us if we hadn't slowed down on the Boardwalk.

We went back to the hotel and walked immediately to the pool. We stripped off our tech, our race belts, our hats, and our shoes and socks and jumped in the water. So cold, so nice!

While we had a surprisingly easy time of it (no soreness after the races, no real struggles), and it was fun to be part of the Goofy again, I'm not sure that we need to rush back and do it again soon. Of course, 2015 will be the 10th anniversary of the Goofy... and 2018 will be the 25th anniversary of the marathon...

Next up: Tinker Bell Half Marathon!


  1. Awesome race report! Congratz on completing Goofy!

  2. Wow that sounded like a long run! Congratulations!!!

    2015 you say? ....