I Survived my First Marathon! Walt Disney World Marathon Recap

I’m alive!!  I finished my first marathon and it wasn’t horrible!  That’s pretty exciting stuff in my opinion.  Let’s go over every mile in extreme detail…JUST KIDDING let’s not do that.  Instead let’s take a walk down memory lane and go through the highs and lows that is running a marathon.

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First up is the expo.  I knew going in I had some issues to deal with.  My proof of time was lost in cyber-space giving me coral M (finish time of 6:30) and not at all where I needed to be.  Luckily I was able to get my coral changed because I had proof of my submission (thanks Mom).  REMEMBER TO SAVE YOUR SUBMISSION just in case this ever happens to you.  RunDisney will ONLY change the coral if you can prove you did in fact submit your time.  This means taking a screenshot of the submission form and saving that just in case.  I will be doing that for ever race in the future because this was stress I just didn’t need.  I was able to get my coral changed to G.  Yeah that’s 6 corals ahead of where I was and 30 minutes less of waiting around in said coral.  This also meant that I was able to get a castle pic with the ice lights on before the sun came up which was a huge priority for me.  Yeah I’m weird but it was a main draw for running this race.  Thank God it came out ok!

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Other than the bib change we went through the expo pretty quickly.  I was disappointed that SparkleSkirts wasn’t there I had planned on getting a skirt and wearing it for the race 😦  Oh well se la vie!  After the expo we headed over to Epcot for dinner then early to bed since we drove from Houston to Orlando.  Joe needed a good nights sleep 🙂

Next day is Saturday, in case you didn’t know the half marathon was canceled due to lightning and the storm was pretty intense.  It was sad but luckily it was not a race I was running!  It rained a little bit more that day while we were at Magic Kingdom but I don’t mind since it keeps the crowds low.  After lunch at Be Our Guest we headed back to Epcot for dinner at Via Napoli.  Its pretty much tradition at this point for me to have pizza before a race and Via Napoli is THE BEST pizza in Orlando.  Pizza did not disappoint, then we headed back to the room for early  bed time for early wake-up call.  Unfortunately I slept like crap but that was a little expected before my first marathon.

3:15am alarm, out the door by 3:45am with an english muffin with almond butter and a banana in hand.  Also my trusty water bottle with a Nuun tab and it was off to a FREEZING start line.  I thought 30 degrees would be fine with what I was wearing but I totally forgot about the windchill which made it more like 20 degrees.  Yup it was cold, my body was shaking uncontrollably by the start but we will get into those lingering issues in a moment.  I was coral G and just like that we were off.  I think it was about 20 minutes from first wave to us.

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The first couple of miles were uneventful running to Magic Kingdom.  I was running a pretty solid 11 minute mile pace and was freezing which does help me run faster.  I was so cold I didn’t do any run/walk intervals until mile 8.  I knew if I started walking my body temp would drop again.  Which was proven when I stopped at mile 3 for the bathroom.  My one and only bathroom stop people!  It took me another 4 miles to warm up again from that.  Anyway, into Magic Kingdom the sun started to come up so I picked up the pace a smidge just to make sure I got my castle picture and I told myself I could take it easy after that because that was my magic shot of the whole race.

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After the castle it was pretty  boring again, very few characters out (I think due to the weather) and not much to see until mile 7.7 I ran past the Polynesian and Joe was out cheering me on!  Energy boost success!  Around this time I was getting concerned that I hadn’t seen any food stops.  I had checked the map the night before and saw quite a few so I didn’t bring as many gels as I needed because of this.  Mistake #1 people.  I even knew this was a bad idea but I did it anyway.  I took a gel at mile 10 but knew I only had 1 left so I had to start planning.  I knew Joe would be at mile 20 with 3 more gels if I needed them and I had 1 one me at the moment.  So that meant I couldn’t take that other gel until mile 16 to keep them spaced out.  I also realized that my hands had no circulation.  They were freezing and swollen and concerned me.  I ran with my hands up quite a bit to try and get the blood flowing, during walk breaks I had my hands in my arm-pits (super classy I know) but it was an issue the whole run.

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Around mile 12 there was a food stop but it was bananas.  Now I have never trained on real food only gels so as much as I wanted that boost of energy there was no way I was going to mess with my fueling routine.  I sadly ran past the food and on to Animal Kingdom.  Around this time was also when I started to have serious tightness and pain in my bladder area again.  I have no idea what this pain is or why its happening but I stretched it a few times with no help at all.  I think ultimately this is what caused me to be so slow at the end because it was just so hard to get past the constant never ending pain.

 

Through Animal Kingdom in a flash with again hardly any characters and no run past the tree of life (with a photographer) luckily I snapped my own pic on the way in (my goal was to get a picture with each park icon).  Out of Animal Kingdom and on to ESPN Wide World of Sports.  Around this time I knew Brittany and Patrick would be finishing breakfast and looking for a place to find me.  Unbeknownst to me my live tracking was not working (Garmin watch capability) 😦  So I missed them at mile 15.5 by about 20 minutes.  Boo!!  Headed into ESPN I knew everyone hated this stretch and said it was the most boring part of the run.  I was prepared, I knew it was going to be boring and I was at peace with that.  Around mile 20 before we headed into the complex there was THANK GOD gel.  I took one and saved it to take at mile 22 (I had just taken the last one I had at mile 16).  There was one other gel station but I cant remember where it was…mile 22 I think, there was another banana one as well but I have no idea where that was because I wasn’t going to eat one.

Right when you got into the complex Mickey and Minnie were there and I veered off to get a pic…then they walked off for some cheese.  Yup, nope, not waiting an extra 10 minutes and off I went.  I actually really enjoyed the run through ESPN.  It was very similar to running through the Woodlands with my running group.  All the trees and meandering I found this part very peaceful.  Don’t get me wrong I was struggling but peaceful none the less.  True to his word Joe was waiting for me at mile 20 and I was so happy to see him.  From this point on this is the farthest I have ever run and many runners say this is when they hit their wall.  I asked him to be here so I could get an energy boost.  He did just that and folks..the emotions started to hit me.  Seeing Joe, knowing how far I had run, knowing how difficult my body was being up to this point…but I choked it down and kept running.

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Only a 10k to go and that’s a no-brainer for me!  That was my mantra until mile 23, then it was only a 5k to go!!  5k’s I do every run!  At this point we were making our way into Hollywood Studios and I stopped for Oswald because I have never met him before and why not.  Luckily I stopped and checked my phone because I saw Brittany and Patrick were here!!  You guys, so many emotions hit me here.  Seeing them so excited for me, up so early to come support me and cheering me on.  It took a lot not to burst into tears…marathon emotions are real!!  I stopped for a minute to get the best hug from Brittany, encouraging words from both her and Patrick then back to running.  That boosted me until mile 25.5 where I had to go back to longer walk intervals.  Until I saw mile 26 then it was no more walking you run your ass through that finish line like the winner you are.

 

And that’s just what I did, smile on my face the whole way I ran through that finish line (almost stopped for Donald and sad I didn’t).  I heard Joe cheering my name, tried my best not to let the emotions take me down, got my medal, got my finisher picture then met my amazing husband and friends for all the post marathon hugs.  After the race we headed back to the hotel so I could take a shower, eat, change and then head to Magic Kingdom.  It was really rough walking around that day because my feet were so tired but it was probably the best thing for me.  I had issues all day with the cold which ultimately had us call it an early night and not see the fireworks 😦

The next day I was still pretty stiff but I was able to walk around pretty well the only issue was my knees and that was expected.  Today was also heading to a cruise ship after a fun morning at Magic Kingdom so I wasn’t too worried about stiff knees 🙂

Here are my main thoughts on the marathon:

  • Always bring all your fuel, don’t count on the course even if it says there will be fuel
  • People support is essential.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t hit the dreaded wall because I had support throughout the course that helped me through
  • Run your race, don’t let the people passing you get in your head.  This took me a long time to learn but thank God I did before marathon day.
  • Drink water even if you don’t think you are thirsty.  I had water at every stop except mile 1.
  • Run/Walk intervals help break up the time so you don’t look at your watch and think “oh my gosh 2 hours to go” now its “only 3 more minutes until a walk break”.  Much more manageable mentally for me.
  • I would run another marathon, definitely not more than 1 a year but I would definitely do another one.  Chicago, New York I’m looking at you.
  • You have to be strong mentally for this kind of thing.  Its not easy to run for more than 3 hours and that’s where those training runs come in.
  • My main thought during the race to keep me going was “if you stop its just going to take you that much longer to finish”.  My mile 20, all I wanted to do was be done so that helped a lot.  I never stopped…well not counting pictures I mean like prolonged gotta stop because I want to die kind of stop.  I did walk more than I planned but that’s still better than a straight up stop.
  • I’m firing my running coach**

**This deserves its own bullet point.  Its no secret I’ve been disenfranchised with my running coach as of late but this race weekend was the straw that broke the camels back.  Not only did my coach not text/communicate with me AT ALL prior to the race, she didn’t provide any guidance, pace goals, finish times, NOTHING prior to the marathon.  In fact I haven’t actually heard from her (outside of her posting workouts) for over a month.  Not only did she forget I was training for a marathon, she forgot where it was, forgot to wish me luck and forgot to tell me how fast I should be running it.  I tried to ignore it but at mile 8 when I was in pain and frustrated I decided her and I are done.  I paid through March but I don’t want someone who clearly doesn’t want to be my coach, as my coach.  I’m not saying I need to be babied or anything but seeing as she knew this was my first marathon and she has done multiple, as a coach, I feel the least she could have done was given some kind of strategy.  There are quite a few other issues I’ve had with her but this was it, this pushed me over the edge and I decided right there during the marathon that she is done.  I wont continue to pay for an individualized service that I’m not receiving. **Ok sorry, I had to get that out there because really it was the only big glaring negative of the whole experience.

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Physically the most concerning aspect of the marathon was the cold/circulation issues I had.  My hands didn’t get back to normal until I took a hot shower and my body until the week we got back from the cruise was having issues with getting super cold.  I know this is due to the hour I spent in the cold and that’s all on me for not having some kind of throw-away jacket.  I wont make that mistake again but it was a hard lesson to learn.

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All in all, look I’m not going to say it was easy.  Heck no it wasn’t easy and it hurt and I struggled from time to time but at the end of the day I’m happy I ran a marathon.  I’m happy I have awesome friends who came out for support and I’m happy I have a husband who will get up at 3:15am with me to cheer me on.  I’m grateful for everyone that sent me well-wishes leading up to the race and I’m proud to say I’ve done a marathon.  If you are on the fence about tackling the beast that is marathon training, I say go for it!  It was scary but I think it was worth it.  I just wish I could wear my medal everywhere and hear congratulations all the time like they do at Disney 🙂

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CHIME IN!!!  How was your first marathon?  What’s holding you back from registering for you first?  Do you run/walk?

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9 Comments Add yours

  1. YAY Rachael! I love that you were able to keep moving forward and deal with the various issues (cold, fuel) as they came up and didn’t let them completely derail your plan. Love your ice castle photo! Beautiful!

    Also I love this post because I am running this race next year and am so super excited!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you!! Im so excited to hear all about your WDW marathon next year it really was worth it

      Like

  2. Fantastic post, Rachael! I loved hearing about your time during the Marathon. I agree, it was such a cold morning. I was having trouble getting my gels out of my flip belt at the beginning of the race. Go for Chicago or New York! Those are my bucket list races now too. Once again, congratulations. 🙂 oh, and for sure fire that coach. That is terrible!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!! I think new York first, give me an excuse to see cursed child on Broadway 🙂 oh man cold hands don’t want to move!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Reca says:

    Awesome job! And the lessons shared can benefit all of us.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Awesome post! And what a dream to run a marathon at WDW! I loved all your pictures and can’t believe you were still walking around afterwards. I just did my first ever marathon yesterday (LA Marathon)…it was an incredible experience. I haven’t moved much all day…my legs are still recovering. So I spent time instead just writing a blog post on my marathon experience. I don’t know if I’ll run another marathon (this was on my bucket list and I just crossed it off), but now that I see your experience, I am very tempted! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Congrats on your first marathon!!! I’ve heard great things about the la marathon I bet it was an awesome experience!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks! Yes it absolutely was…I looked through 200 photos and picked out the relevant ones for my latest post. Had to write it while it was still fresh on my mind! 🙂 But what an incredible journey…so it’s inspiring to read your experience as well!

        Liked by 1 person

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