And with that, I did the Disney Marathon on Sunday. As a lot of you know, I love the Disney Marathon weekend and this past weekend was probably one of my best. I will have multiple posts up about the weekend, but I figured I would start off with my race report since that is what I always want to read first.
Sunday morning I woke up at 1am, an hour before my alarm was supposed to go off. I could not sleep. I wasn't really nervous but more so anxious. The days leading up to the race were restless as I attended other events so I was exhausted. My feet were tired from all the walking and I wasn't in the mood to do a marathon.
I am a superstitious person and believe that if one thing goes wrong, then everything is going to go wrong. And last week, nothing was going my way so things weren't looking so good. I forgot my iPod cord at home so there was no charging my iPod or adding a new playlist. (This led to Christmas music during the marathon, ugh.) The weather forecast was way warmer than I had hoped. (My race strategy was altered because of this which you will read about later.) My Garmin was frozen when I woke up and draining the battery. I spent 10 minutes getting it reset so that I could get to the starting line with enough power for the race. And to top it off, as I was about to get on the bus, I realized I didn't have my number. I sprinted back to my tent to get my number and missed my bus. I was a nervous wreck after this as nothing right was happening. I was tempted to go back to bed because I didn't think this would be my day. (How wrong was I?!)
I made it to the staging area at around 3:45am. I had quite a wait for the 5:30 start so I headed to the bathroom and then sat as close as I could to the entrance to the walk to the corals. They let us start walking to the start line at 4:15 so I hurried down and sat again. The A coral wasn't too crowded. I hopped the fence and went to the bathroom in the grass one last time and then sat with a few ladies to chat and try and calm my negative thoughts.
With 10 minutes to go I took off my throw away sweatshirt and got ready to run. I was wearing just a sports bra with shorts and was comfortable standing there. Not a good sign for a cool race. I lined up next to the 3:15 pace group with plans of letting them pass me and running my own race.
The race started with amazing fireworks as always and the first mile was a lot of weaving and trying to get on pace. The worst part of running Disney is also one of the best parts. It is DARK at the start. This is great to keep us cool, but difficult for following your Garmin. I took to running strong, consistent and letting the 3:15 pace group slowly drift away. I figured this would allow me to be around the correct pace of somewhere in the 7:30's which is what I was hoping for, at least until it got hot.
Miles 1-5: 7:39, 7:22, 7:28, 7:16, 7:15
I had no goal time in mind when going into this race. I knew what I was capable of but I also knew that was on a perfect day. Today was going to be hot so my strategy was to take it hard until the sun came up and hope that I didn't go too hard. I saw my husband and kids at around mile 4 which gave me a small boost.
I was not a fan of the course changes this year. The new course meant arriving in Magic Kingdom at mile 4.5 I didn't like this as I am used to being further into the race and getting the Main Street boost of energy. How could you not run fast when you see this:
(this was not taken during the marathon but on the Wednesday before during our visit to Magic Kingdom)
Exiting Magic Kingdom was sad as I knew I had a lot of miles ahead of me. Luckily, I knew Eric and the kids were outside Polynesian so I had one more set of smiles before the hard part started.
Just after the Polynesian we made it to the Racetrack which was right around mile 8. This was yet another new part of the race that I was NOT a fan of. You went down a steep tunnel and then had to go up a steep incline to get onto the track. It wasn't terrible, but I wasn't a fan. And the racetrack was LONG! Yes, I knew it was going to be a mile long, but it was boring. Running around a circle staring at cars. Maybe if they would have had more characters besides Lightning McQueen and Mater it may have been better, but I didn't like this change. This was right around my first hour into the race and my stomach started hurting so I took a salt stick. I will review these later on my blog, but I think I finally found the cure to my nutrition problems at hot races. Within 5 minutes my stomach felt fine and I continued to keep pace.
Miles 6-10: 7:22, 7:31, 7:35, 7:30, 7:32
After the racetrack we started our run toward Animal Kingdom. This is usually a low point for a lot of people, but I don't mind it. This is where I always start to evaluate my race and how I feel. Unfortunately it was 3 miles earlier than I was used to but I still had my quiet time to think. I knew I was running faster than I had planned but I knew the sun was about to come up and things would get harder. I decided I would just keep pushing hard for as long as I could and trust that my legs could handle whatever I threw at them.
We entered Animal Kingdom around the half point. My half split was 1:39:27. This was WAY faster than I had planned on going. This is my second fastest half I had ever run and it was in the middle of a marathon. But I felt good. My quads started to burn at this point as well, but I tried to push that out of my head. This is also when I started passing people. It felt pretty good as I had a lot of comments from grumpy men telling me that I was breathing too heavy and needed to slow down. I have asthma and I was trained to run that fast....Just because I am passing you doesn't mean I don't belong there.
The end of Animal Kingdom meant the beginning of the sun coming up. As soon as I hit the highway at around mile 14.5 I could feel the heat radiating. I still was able to keep pace and pass people who were already being affected by the heat.
Miles 11-15: 7:30, 7:29, 7:33, 7:28, 7:29
Miles 16 on were HARD! I was getting hot and while I was in single digits I had a lot to go. We were on our way to Disney's Wide World of Sports and we were watching the leaders heading back at around mile 21. It was tough and I felt like I was slowing down.
Wide World of Sports was a new part of the Disney course and I was a fan but I wasn't. I loved having new things to see especially all the baseball players, soccer players, and track athletes that were out there watching. Running on the track felt amazing on my feet as it was bouncy and I was able to pick up my pace a bit. Running through the baseball stadium was so neat. The part I hated about Wide World of Sports were all the turns. We were winding around and around. At mile 19 of a marathon you just want to run and zone out. But we were turning. There was also a long stretch of boring rode that zapped your energy because we were just so hot and there was no shade. By the time I entered the stadium, I looked like I was going to bonk. I didn't feel like I wanted to walk but I am sure I looked like it.
Miles 16-20: 7:39, 7:32, 7:29, 7:36, 7:57
The mile 20 spectacular that was promised was just ok. There were huge puppets in the air and Mickey on stage. You ran under a banner and it was cool. But again, you are at mile 20, hot, and I think most people were hoping for more.
I was finally heading back down the highway toward Hollywood Studios and I heard my coworker Chris screaming for me. What a boost it was to see her out there. She was running the Goofy Challenge and it was great to have one more person cheering for me.
I usually LOVE the entrance to Hollywood Studios. I usually am full of energy as I am almost done. Well on Sunday, I was happy to be there but I was also all business. I knew I wasn't making it to the finish line without concentrating and not letting any negative thoughts tell me to walk. I knew my pace was slowing but I also knew a pretty PR was in the works if I kept moving.
Miles 21-25 were not fun at all. They hurt. I was hot. I was tired. I wanted to be done. I will spare you from seeing my pictures from this point, but I look awful. If you are curious they are on Marathon Foto's website. Here is the link to my pictures.
Somehow, I was still passing people as people were walking and really slowing down. I was a little disappointed in my slow down, but I wasn't alone out there. Coming into Epcot was a huge relief. I knew I was a mile from the finish line and seeing what that clock would read. (I was running each mile by mile so had no idea what my overall time was going to be.)
I made it around the countries of Epcot and headed to the exit. I didn't even notice the mile 26 choir as I was all business for getting to that finish line. I rounded the corner, saw the finish line, and started celebrating. I made it!
Miles 21-26.2: 7:51, 7:57, 8:07, 7:55, 8:12, 8:12, 7:44 (for the last .73 miles, Garmin was off by 1/2 a mile.)
I crossed the finish line with an official time of 3:24:00. I was 303rd overall out of 20,000 runners who finished. I was 29th female out of 10,000+ and 7th in my age group. My official average pace was 7:47, and my Garmin's was 7:37 with the added distance.
I crossed that finish line smiling and still standing. I executed a smart race and had an almost 9 minute PR to prove it.