WDW Marathon Weekend 2014 has come and went. I prepared all year for this week….training, fundraising and reflecting…I haven’t even been home for more than 48 hours and I still can’t figure out how to take it all in. I know that as the days and weeks pass, as I start to sift through all the professional photos taken by MarathonFoto, after I look at our Disney Photopass pictures…..after I watch more race video recaps and read fellow bloggers’ recaps,…it may start to sink in how big this weekend was….
….until then, I wanted to share some highlights from the final day of Marathon Weekend—the full marathon. 26.2 miles, which took us through all four Disney theme parks! The first three race distances (5km, 10km and half marathon) went as planned…I went out for them slow and stuck with the game plan. I ran my half marathon 50 minutes slower than my October personal best, in order to conserve my energy and have some juice left for the full. I had it in my mind I could PR the full. So when my 2:45 AM alarm went off for the fourth day in a row, I rolled myself out of bed and started pepping myself up. I needed to be on the ball for this race today, as this was the big one!
I timed arriving at the race start well, so all I had to do was head straight to the corrals. I got to corral B at about 40 minutes before the official start. The weather was ridiculously better than the previous day—a cool breeze and hardly any humidity. I knew I had to go for my personal best.
After the official start, my corral was next to the start line. When we were set loose, I flew out of the gate and was going for broke. My first four miles were solid, but a little too fast. I was caught up in it all, but I didn’t let it stop me. I didn’t want to slow down.
My eyes swelled as I ran down Main Street USA…not to the same extent as the day prior, when tears streamed down my face…but I was still getting all worked up. I didn’t even pull my phone out to take photos, because I was on a mission to beat my 3 hours and 56 minute time. I took a short 5 second stop for a photo with Buzz Lightyear and in front of the castle (literally, 5 seconds tops each) and Marathon Foto captured these.
This is where my mind started playing tricks on me.
It was still dark out and we had left Magic Kingdom. I knew the area from the day before, but I started to slow my pace and question if I really should be pushing it like I was. For a solid mile or two I kept going back and forth if I should slow down and just take photos and not go for the PR. Then, my stomach started acting up. I mean, imagine that….it’s the fourth day of four early races, and I’m eating and drinking vacation food, me also shoving sugar and electrolytes in my system….I took a two minute bathroom and banana stop—now I didn’t know if getting the PR would be possible.
I saw fellow Dopey Challenge “Team Wang” runners before this stop, Dan Tinney and Jason Perez. They were cruising! The brief time I s a w and chatted with them motivated me to keep pushing forward—-I had trained so hard all year for this, i just couldn’t slow down.
Animal Kingdom Park went fast and soon enough we were back on the highway heading to Wide World of Sports. The morning sun rising got me nervous that the heat would kick in, so I didn’t want to slow down and get caught in the heat. I pushed through to WWOS and just kept trying to smile the whole way. On the highway back from WWOS, I had reached mile 20. The first 20 take talent, the last 6 take heart. That’s the mantra I had going through my head.
I knew that once I got up the hill by the green army man, it would be all recognizable paths to the finish. I got into the Studios, and was grateful for the fruit snack stop. I then started talking to a girl who looked about my age, doing her first ever marathon. You could tell she was starting to struggle and may have wanted to slow. She didn’t have a Garmin or GPS watch and wasn’t sure if she could break 4 hours. I knew that even though she started in corral C, she was on pace to break it. We both were, and by the last 5 km I was still set to break my 3:56.
We wound down to the Boardwalk, past Yacht & Beach and into EPCOT. Dopey was standing near the World Showcase gate welcoming us in (I managed to get a photo with the bugger later as we walked back to our resort,) and I knew I had to keep on pushing.
I spotted my mom and husband in the stands as I ran in, and the emotions were released. I finished with an official time of 3:50:52. And I felt awesome. I can’t even put it into words how I felt! Even with this being the fourth race in a row, I still had energy-the adrenaline was flowing! I went and picked up my marathon finisher medal, got my wristbands verified for the Goofy and Dopey medals, and then met up win my husband and mom at the family reunion area.
“I am so proud of you.” This is in fact what both my husband and my mom said to me. And I know my dad said it to me too. He was with me this race, and he pushed me to achieve something I didn’t know would be possible at the end of four days of races. This was truly the most amazing race experience I have been part of thus far in my life. TO INFINITY & BEYOND!!