In case you missed them, check out my recaps for the Meet Up and Warm Up Event, the Health and Fitness Expo and what I did the Day Before My First Full Marathon. This post is really long and full of pictures but I wanted to write everything that I remember, felt and experienced during my first marathon.
Before I went to bed on Saturday night, I made sure to lay out my race outfit. I didn’t want to be stumbling around the dark hotel room on Sunday morning. I also wanted to make sure I had everything I would need for the race.
On Sunday morning, my alarm started buzzing at 2:45. Despite the early morning wake up call, it didn’t take very much effort for me to get moving. My nerves didn’t really let me get a good night’s sleep. I quickly started getting ready for the race. I also ate a bowl of oatmeal before heading out the door.
I don’t look nervous at all in this picture, do I?
By 3:30 am, I was on the monorail headed to Epcot. I love staying at the monorail resorts because it allows me to bypass the traffic headed towards the parking lots. I tried not to think about what I was about to do and to just enjoy the experience and energy of the other runners. I wasn’t feeling very confident in my training efforts so I knew I would need this energy to help me finish the race. I was also really worried about the weather.
My first glimpse of the finish line! I wouldn’t see it again for almost 8 hours!
When I arrived at Epcot, I followed crowd toward the staging area. I found Justine near the bag check tent. She was running for first runDisney race and her second full marathon. We chatted for a little bit as we walked the mile or so to the starting corrals. When we got to Corral D, it was time to part ways. She went to get settled into Corral D and I made my way down to Corral E.
I was in my corral with plenty of time to spare. I spent some time stretching my legs and trying to keep my nerves settled. I was at the starting line of my first marathon and nothing was going to stop me from crossing that finish line! A few minutes before the race started, I found Genna and her Team in Training group at the front of Corral E. They were near the 5 hour pacer. I knew I wouldn’t be able to hit that time but it was nice to see a familiar face at the starting line.
At 5:30 am, the wheelchair racers started. Five minutes later, the fireworks went off and Corral A started the 20th Anniversary Race of the Walt Disney World Marathon. It took another 30 minutes for my corral to start and my nerves were almost unbearable. Finally, we were at the starting line and then the fireworks went off!
Miles 1 – 4:
- Mile 1: 12:28
- Mile 2: 12:42
- Mile 3: 13:59
- Mile 4: 13:22
The first four miles of the course took runners from Epcot to the Magic Kingdom by way of the Transportation and Ticket Center and right past the Contemporary Resort. The course started on Epcot Center Drive before turning onto World Drive. As I started the race, my race strategy was to have as much fun as possible and to follow my run-walk-run plan (3:1) until I couldn’t anymore.
Jack Sparrow’s Pirate Ship
After the start of my corral, I was feeling awesome and I decided to run through my first walk break as i kept up with Genna and her friends. My second walk break came at the same time I hit the first water stop. I grabbed a water, finished my walk and started running again. By the time I was at the Mile 2 Marker (just before the Magic Kingdom parking entrance), I was drenched with sweat and the humidity was hanging in the air.
Once I got past the entrance, the course continued through the parking lots and past the Walt Disney World Speedway. I could hear the other runners as they ran through this part of the course. I was actually a little jealous of them because they were already at Mile 9 and I was only at Mile 3. I continued running along and felt really good with my run-walk-run intervals.
As I ran through the Transportation and Ticket Center, the energy of the spectators was amazing. I ate my first Clif Shot and kept running. I still felt really good and very confident. The sun hadn’t quite risen yet so the only weather issue was the humidity.
Miles 5 and 6: Magic Kingdom Park
- Mile 5: 12:41
- Mile 6: 14:00
After the Transportation and Ticket Center, the course continued back onto World Drive towards the Contemporary and the Magic Kingdom. This two mile stretch of the course is one of my favorites because I love the Magic Kingdom and I know I will see my boyfriend.
Making the turn towards the Contemporary really brightened my mood and I almost forgot about the humidity in the air. I knew that I was going to be hitting the first of six special areas on the course. I am not really a huge fan of under the water bridge but the guy dancing with the giant Mickey hands made me smile. Several of the resort guests we awake and cheering as we ran past. I knew he wouldn’t be waiting for me here but I still searched the crowds for my boyfriend.
Once we were past the Contemporary, the course took a few twists and turns before entering the Magic Kingdom. As I came through a side entrance and started down Main Street USA, the same emotional feelings I had during last year’s half marathon. I ran through Tomorrowland, Fantasyland and right past the New Fantasyland before going through Cinderella’s Castle.
When I came though the Castle, I stopped for a picture (a must!) and hoped back on the course. Then I spotted him. My spirits lifted and I knew that no matter what I would be ok. His confidence in me gave me a boost as I continued running through Frontierland. My run-walk-run intervals were still feeling good so I stuck to my race strategy.
Miles 7 – 11:
- Mile 7: 13:23
- Mile 8: 13:15
- Mile 9: 14:05 –> Walt Disney World Speedway
- Mile 10: 13:56
- Mile 11: 14:14
At this point in the race, the sun was really starting to shine. For the most part, my pace was right where I wanted it to be so that I could finish strong and still hopefully hit one of my time goals. I was starting to get a little worried about the heat and humidity though.
Lilo from Lilo and Stitch near the Golf Course
The course left the Magic Kingdom and headed out to Floridian Way. At this point, I started looking for Mary. She mentioned that she was volunteering at the Mile 6.5 Cheer Zone and I wanted to say hi. She ended up being right near the Reedy Creek Fire Station so I was able to stop her easily. I am sure that I looked like a total mess as I ran by screaming her name. Oops!
I continued following my run-walk-run intervals as I passed the golf courses and the Grand Floridian Resort. At this point, the course turned left and started towards the Walt Disney World Speedway. Entering the Speedway was a lot trickier than I expected. There was a really nasty decline and incline as we entered through the tunnel.
Once we got past the tunnel, it was like a dream come true for any muscle car enthusiast. Last year, these cars were located outside of the Speedway so it was really cool to see them in their element. Since I consider myself to be a novice car person, I really enjoyed running across the starting line of the track.
By the way, the Speedway was a whole lot longer than I expected it to be! While I was in the Speedway, I realized just how much the sun was going to be my enemy today. The heat was starting to get unbearable and the humidity was not letting up.
Disney Villains: Gaston from Beauty and the Beast, The Evil Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Maleficent for Sleeping Beauty, and Jafar from Aladdin
Wendell and Liver Lips McGrowl from the Country Bear Jamboree
After the Speedway, the course went out onto Bear Island Road. This part of the course is unique to say the least. It was also sort of lonely out there. Despite the heat, I was able to continue with my run-walk-run intervals but it was getting harder to keep running for 3 minutes. Around Mile 11, I spotted Mindy from Road Runner Girl (I recognized her costume) but she was on the phone so it was only a brief hello and wave.
Miles 12 – 14: Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- Mile 12: 15:46
- Mile 13: 14:13
- Mile 14: 16:15
Bear Island Road is unique because it is normally a service road that is used by Disney employees. I know this because Disney would never allow the public to see their energy and environmental services plant (it isn’t very pretty to look at).
At Mile 11.5 or so, I came across the first food stop. I immediately started looking for Michelle because she had mentioned that she would be volunteering at the Mile 11 Food Stop. I found her (and her cute baby bump) and probably startled her in the process. Just like when I saw Mary, I can only imagine how much of a hot mess I looked like. I was really struggling with the heat and really enjoyed that banana.
Just as the course entered the Animal Kingdom, I saw the Mile 12 Marker and Mindy again! I continued running and she caught up with me. We started chatting and decided to run together for a little while. It was so nice to have someone to run with because I was starting to struggle mentally with how much more running I still had to go.
As Mindy and I continued along, we saw a bunch of animals from the park along the route. The sheep had Mickey’s head sheared into his coat. We exited the animal area and found ourselves running towards Expedition Everest. It was open and there wasn’t a wait. We really did think about hoping on just for kicks but decided against. Neither one of us was sure if we would be able to stand up afterwards.
Me with Rafiki from The Lion King
Mindy and I
Daisy Duck, Me and Minnie Mouse
When we got outside of the Animal Kingdom, we saw the Mile 14 Marker. We were more than halfway through the race. I was thrilled, scared and downright sore but I really wanted that Mickey medal so I wasn’t about to give up. Thankfully, Mindy was ok with running my intervals so I knew I would have a running buddy for a few more miles.
Pluto, Me and Mickey Mouse
Stay tuned for Part 2 of Walt Disney World Marathon Race Recap!