In case you missed my previous recaps, be sure check out my recap of the Health and Fitness Expo, Disney Family Fun Run 5k, the inaugural Walt Disney World 10k, the Walt Disney World Half Marathon, and the first part of the Walt Disney World Marathon!
As we left the Animal Kingdom, I couldn’t help but think about how I felt at this point during last year’s marathon. The weather was really starting to bother me and I could see my time goal slipping farther away from me every second. This year I had the complete opposite feeling. Despite the sun being high in the sky, the weather was actually quite comfortable. My pace was consistent and I was well on my way to a massive PR.
- Mile 14 – 14:53 min/mile pace
- Mile 15 – 14:05 min/mile pace
- Mile 16 – 14:19 min/mile pace
- Mile 17 – 13:45 min/mile pace
Tricia and I left the Animal Kingdom and started making our way along the Osceola Parkway. This section of the course can be brutal. You are past the halfway point and have realized that you still have a half marathon left to go. It can be mentally tough to keep going and pushing. For me, the biggest thing is that there is no shade to protect you from the sun. Up until we reached this part of the course, I was dreading it. I was truly afraid of hitting the wall and not being able to finish the race strong.
As we continued running, I watched the miles tick by. We were still holding strong to our 1/1 intervals and weren’t showing any signs of stopping. To my utter amazement, we were passing people on s steady basis. When I spotted the Mile 16 Marker, I just knew that I was going to hit the wall at any moment. I hit the wall at mile 16 last year without running 22.4 miles and 3 races the days before.
We turned down Victory Way and spotted the Mile 17 Marker. The wall still hadn’t arrived and I felt absolutely amazing considering that I was at mile 17 of a full marathon. Tricia and I were laughing, chatting and having a great time. Plus, we had realized that we were three quarters of the way finished with the Dopey Challenge! (This actually happened at Mile 14.05 but it took me a little longer to do the math this time …)
- Mile 18 – 13:56 min/mile pace
- Mile 19 – 17:14 min/mile pace (<— potty break!)
- Mile 20 – 13:42 min/mile pace
After we passed the Mile 17 Marker, we found ourselves in the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The volunteers at the water stop were passing out wash cloths soaking in water. We weren’t really warm so we grabbed one to share. We took turns wiping the sweat from our faces and arms. Can I just say awesome and refreshing it felt to wipe the sweat build up off of me?!?
Since we had been drinking quite a bit of water, I suggested that we make a pit stop at one of the bathrooms in the complex. Real bathrooms trump port-a-potties all day long! During our bathroom break, I sent Pete another text message to let him know where we were. He had to go into work for a few hours and I wanted to keep him updated. I also received a text message form my sister letting me know that she was inside Champion Stadium waiting to see me run past! I was not expecting my family to drive over to Orlando to see me run the marathon today.
After our (not-so-quick) bathroom stop, we found ourselves running about the track. Then we spotted the Mile 18 Marker. Only 8.2 miles left to go! (By the way, I realized that my watch was totally off with all of our side tracking …) We continued snaking our way through the ESPN Complex. Right before we entered the stadium, we saw the Mile 19 Marker. Those medals were getting closer and closer! I spotted my sister in the stadium and waved. She told me that my parents were outside in the parking lot. Tricia and I around the warning track and finally started making our way out of the Complex.
As we left the ESPN Complex, I spotted my parents and waved hello. I am pretty sure that they knew how awesome I was feeling by the goofy smile on my face. We turned back on Victory Way and spotted the Mile 20 Marker. We only had a 10K left to go! I checked our official pace again and was thrilled. Despite our bathroom spot, I was on pace for 35 minute PR! I couldn’t believe that this was happening.
- Mile 21 – 13:31 min/mile pace
- Mile 22 – 14:21 min/mile pace
- Mile 23 – 13:41 min/mile pace
As we continued along Victory Way, the course started to get a little congested again so we dodged and weaved our way through the runners. Our intervals were working for us and we really wanted to keep up with them. We turned back onto Osceola Parkway and started making our way towards Hollywood Studios.
We passed the Mile 21 Marker and realized that the course was clearing out going in the opposite direction. I was more than a little relieved that we had a 5 mile buffer. We turned onto the ramp going to World Drive and heard Sarge yelling at runners “to get up that hill”. By the way, that hill totally sucks after running 21+ miles so we decided to take an extra walk break.
When we finally got back onto World Drive, I spotted the Mile 22 Marker and instantly started thinking about the chocolate waiting for me in Hollywood Studios. Last year, the pickings were a little slim and the chocolate was almost melted from the heat. The weather was so much better this year that I knew that wouldn’t be a problem. At some point, I noticed that it was becoming harder for me to keep running. My feet were starting to feel sore. Thankfully, Tricia kept me honest.
We turned onto Buena Vista Drive and then made a right turn into the backstage area of Hollywood Studios. We passed the back side of the Tower of Terror and continued towards the Backlot Tour area. We found the volunteers passing out the delicious chocolate and loaded up! I am sure that I said this last year BUT that was the most delicious chocolate in the world! (I think that has everything to do with the fact that I had just run 23 miles …)
- Mile 24 – 14:05 min/mile pace
- Mile 25 – 13:43 min/mile pace
- Mile 26 – 14:04 min/mile pace
As we left the Backlot Tour and spotted the Mile 23 Marker, we knew we were in the final leg of this journey. We were still feeling pretty good with all things considered. We ran through the Osborne Family Lights and past Star Tours on our loop through the park. Before we knew it, we were running past Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat and leaving Hollywood Studios. The crowds inside the park really helped us keep moving forward.
We left the park and ran along the path towards Disney’s Boardwalk. As we got closer to the resort area, we started seeing people with their medals. Seeing those shiny things around their necks spurred us forward. It also started a discussion about people who are already showered and clean with the medals. We were a little jealous. I was starting to struggle a little bit but I tried not to let it show. As we ran past the Mile 24 Marker, I told myself that I still had 2.2 solid miles left in me.
We ran past Disney’s Boardwalk, the Swan and Dolphin before getting to the Yacht and Beach Clubs. There is a nasty little pedestrian bridge that my timer thankfully let us walk up. As we continued through the International Gateway, I spotted Dopey with a really long line of runners waiting to get a photo. We were so close to the finish that we decided not to stop. We turned into a backstage area of Epcot and spotted the Mile 25 Marker. A little more than a mile left to go!
When we entered Epcot, my feet really started to bother me and I knew that I had at least one blister on each foot. Tricia and I decided to take a few extra walk breaks around the World Showcase. As we ran through Future World, we started our intervals again. We left Epcot through another backstage area and heard the voices of the Gospel Choir. Mile 26 was just ahead of us. We took one final walk break before running across the finish line.
We had done it! We had finished the inaugural Dopey Challenge. I had a brand new PR time. Plus, I had knocked 34:29 minutes off of my previous marathon time. We slowly hobbled our way through the finisher’s area collecting our marathon medal, space blankets, and snack boxes. My dad spotted me as I was hobbling my way around. The smile on my face and the tears in my eyes told him just how happy I was. I yelled that I had a 35 minute PR and he yelled back that he knew.
As I collected my Goofy medal and my Dopey medal, the reality of what I had accomplished starting to sink in. Tricia and I grabbed our finisher’s photo and headed over to the gear bag tents. (Note to self: Having a last name that begins with W means a really long walk to get your gear bag …) With bags in hand, we congratulated each other one last time before saying goodbye.
My mom and sister were waiting for me by the medal engraver’s tent. While I waited for my marathon medal to be engraved, I changed into my flip flops and started eating the stuff in my snack box. Then we drove back to the hotel where I showered and we had a post race lunch. I spent the rest of the day on a total runner’s high!
Walt Disney World Marathon by the numbers
- Official Finish Time – 6:17:57 minutes
- Average Pace – 14:25 min/mile pace
- 5 Mile Split Time – 1:10:17 (14:04 pace)
- 10 Mile Split Time – 2:20:23 (14:03 pace)
- Halfway Split Time – 3:06:48 (14:15 pace)
- 20 Mile Split Time – 4:47:44 (14:24 pace)
- Total Weekend Miles – 48.65 miles
- Total Time Running – 12:20:28
- Division Place – 1186 out of 1656
- Gender Place – 6680 out of 9707
- Overall Place – 14481 out of 19225
Check out my other Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend posts: