A few months ago, I signed up to do something I never thought I would ever be able to do.
I began a training plan, starting out small and gradually working my way up to 20+ mile long runs. As the weeks passed, my mentality went from ‘there’s no way I can run a marathon’ to ‘I just might finish this darn thing.’ And few days ago, I did just that.
I became a marathoner.
The expo was huge, which was to be expected. There was tons of merch but not enough free swag. We took some silly pictures by the huge Disney advertisements.
If you don’t get what this next picture is a reference to, just go watch this video. We’re nuts.
Fast forward to Sunday morning. 3:30am. MH and I are wide awake because we have to be on a bus within the next 30 minutes! We have no problem catching a bus and we’re on our way. My stomach was in knots the whole time. I tried to eat a bagel with peanut butter but only ended up eating half of it.
Part of me couldn’t believe it was actually marathon morning and the other half couldn’t believe I was actually going to propel my body across 26.2 miles without the aid of a motor vehicle, boat, moped, segue, scooter, etc. Just me, my legs and my BFF.
It wasn’t too terribly chilly that early in the morning and we had no problems finding where we were supposed to be. Once we got into the corrals, though, it seemed like we had to wait an eternity for the race to start! By the time 5:30am rolled around, MH and I were both starving. We debated whether to take a gel but decided against it. Best idea? Probably not.
Good thing we had such excellent supporters! We saw our parents at mile 4, mile 9, mile 12.5 and the finish. While it was nice to see them early on, it would have been even nicer to see them later down the course!
Mile 4 and still feeling strong.
The water stations were amazing at this race. Literally amazing. They were every mile or so and there were cups and cups and cups and cups. I stuck to water because I didn’t train with Powerade, the only other option. The volunteers were so cheerful and helpful, too!
MH and I stopped for our first character — Scrooge McDuck!
The miles were still flying by at this point. Around mile 9, we finally made it into Magic Kingdom’s parking lot and literally ran by our family.
Posed for a quick picture.
A few more minutes of running and we were in Magic Kingdom! We turned a corner and suddenly we were on Main Street, the castle straight ahead. This was what we had been waiting for, training for. The castle.. it was so pretty.
And just like that.. it was gone. Luckily there were more characters to see! The Mad Hatter was crazy and exclaimed “Double Minnies!!!” as we ran up to him. So ridiculous.
We spotted Jessie and Woody a few steps away, but Woody went away as soon as we got on line! The lines to see the characters weren’t bad at all and we sailed right through.
Hey there train people!
Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.. the medicine go downnnnn. The street sweepers were kind of cute. And they had accents.. how authentic!
Pooh! So adorable!
Mile 12.5. Almost halfway there.
At this point, my stomach was bothering me a bit. My legs felt okay and my feet were getting a bit tired, but I still felt like I could continue. MH and I had stopped at a couple med stations for biofreeze and we were feeling alright. I tried to eat a little bit of a granola bar as we greeted our supporters, kissed babies and tried to accurately convey what we were feeling:
My beautiful mom! I probably have granola crumbs falling out of my mouth.
We pressed on and ran into some more characters. These a little more evil…
And apparently I try to get with Peter Pan? Where is my arm going? I think I was losing it a little at this point. We were walking more and I could feel a blister developing on my left foot.
Pocahontas and John Smith.
Always let your conscience be your guide…
I was soo happy to finally arrive at Animal Kingdom. The stretch between Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom is a long one and it got a little boring. Disney did a good job providing volunteers, characters and random fact/joke signs along the way. We got welcomed into Animal Kingdom a mile or two before we actually arrived though.. not cool!
MH and I had never been to Animal Kingdom so it was cool just to experience the park. AK was open at this point so it was cool to see people milling about the park. Since our names were huge and plastered across our shirts, people were constantly yelling out ‘Go Emily!’ and ‘Go Mary Helen!’ It was really encouraging.
We also finally saw the two stars of the race.. Minnie and Mickey!
They also had a bunch of animals that runners could pet/look at. We touched a snake and looked at owls, a pig, a llama and a few others.
Hollywood Studios was where I really started struggling. We were now walking way more than planned, due to stomach issues and overall tiredness. The walking led to a huge blister on my foot that burst during a short running spurt. Pretty, I know. It made running super painful. If you feel so inclined, you can scroll back up and look at my stance in some of the character pictures. It’s weird.
I was so glad I was doing this with MH, who was a sport and walked along with my slow butt. I would have given up a long time ago if it weren’t for her! We plodded along Hollywood Studios, wrapped around the Yacht and Beach Club and headed back into Epcot, around the countries. This part of the run was by far the prettiest.
We heard the gospel choir which only meant one thing.. we were at 26 miles and only 0.2 more to go!
I had never been so happy to see a finish line in my life!
Our official time is something like 7 hours and 5 minutes, but honestly I didn’t care. Our number one goal was to finish, and finish we did. We got our medals, gathered any food in sight, sat down and told our parents to come to us because we weren’t moving any more.
I was absolutely spent. Done. Drained. I could not have walked at that pace any longer and there was no way in hell I was running anywhere. Sitting was the best option. For a few minutes, at least. I inhaled a bagel at record speed and drank a ton of Powerade.
We. Did. It.
Mama gathered her baby at the finish, who was in awe of our shiny new bling. We did this for you, Lil D.
After the race, we slowly made our way over to Epcot, where we proceeded to enjoy the rest of the day. I’m very glad I continued moving after the race, but at a much slower pace.
Post-race beers were had by the finishers!
Overall, I absolutely loved this race and highly recommend it for anyone looking for a fun, low pressure first marathon. Disney is so well organized and I thoroughly enjoyed everything along the course. Running through each park is truly a unique experience and I already want to do it again!
A big thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to everyone who donated in honor of Damian for SLOS and the RSH Foundation. You have no idea how much this means to both of us and what an impact you have had. Thank you to our parents, who supported us along the way, and a big thank you from me to MH. There is not a snowball’s chance in hell I could have done this without you. Thank you. Just. For everything.
Goofy Challenge next year, anyone?