Well, I thought I was all set but here’s where I forgot to pack a few things. First, my costume was at my parents’ house so my mother packed it for me and forget the feather hair piece I made. Strike 1. As I was getting ready I debated just not wearing the thing at all, I convinced myself that without the feathers I was just ridiculous… Then I thought about how much fun it would be to run in a petticoat and consoled myself by getting a pair of what I’ve come to call the “trampy” Minnie ears to wear instead.
I signed myself up for runner tracking so my sister would know when I passed the Beach Club (a significant reason why I picked that hotel aside from, you know, I LOVE it) so they could come out and watch and then we were to meet at Spaceship Earth about 20 minutes after I finished. So I didn’t take my phone. I headed out the door around 7:00pm, got down to the bus stop shortly thereafter, and met some very nice women who were all running together and were amazed I would run alone… I started feeling very alone at this point. I hadn’t really thought about it as strange that I was solo, but there did appear to be a number of people running in/as part of a group of some kind, whether with friends or a charity group.
Anyways, the line for the bus started growing but I managed to get myself on the bus that came 20 minutes later and headed over Wide World of Sports. WWOS was, a year or two ago, an even unlikelier Disney landmark for me to visit than Splash Mountain. No one was more amazed than I was that I was there. But since it was dark, I actually have no idea what this place looks like aside from a parking lot and a large empty field.
Differences from Disneyland: Definitely a lot more people/activities going on outside the corrals with the DJ than I remember at Disneyland. I mean, people were walking around, dancing, etc. and they weren’t letting anyone into the corrals til 9pm. I went over to the information booth because at the expo they repeatedly told my sister that I don’t get a wristband for my coast to coast medal and I knew this was not true. They said you sign a book at the end to get it and I said, “No, you get a wristband. Having all these people stop to sign a book at the end is just stupid and poorly planned.” But she was unable to get a wristband for the medal. Guess what? When I went to the info booth, I GOT A WRISTBAND FOR MY COAST TO COAST MEDAL. Listen people, lesson 4: If something doesn’t sound right to you, keep asking and asserting yourself in a polite and courteous manner.
Armed with my wristband and camera, I walked over to take a picture with Mickey and Minnie, otherwise known as the line that never moved. No really, I waited 45 minutes and it never went anywhere so I walked over to go into my new corral–C! I moved up one from Disneyland and am hoping to do the same for the marathon so I have as much buffer and clear running as possible.
To pass the time, I wandered, I chatted, I took group pictures for people, let people take pictures of my costume, etc. and I was in the front line of my corral dancing along to the music and wondering why these DJs never let more than 1 minute of a song play… Oh, and I did the macarena for the first time since the mid 90s. That’s right, they played the macarena and the electric slide. Flashback! It was around this point that I tried to take a picture and realized I had forgotten something important: The memory card. So there is one picture from my run and nothing else. I was mentally chastising myself and then just decided it was God telling me to run for it and forget taking pictures and who am I to fight with God?
Around 9:55pm they sent off the (only?) wheelchair runner with fireworks and then each corral got fireworks! (Big difference from DL, I remember a WDW person being very disappointed by the lack of fireworks…) I was in the front row of corral C and as we walked I looked and I have to tell you something: I know the pictures show Mickey at the starting line but I have yet to actually see the mouse by the time I get up there. I don’t know if he’s just on his break or what…
Anyway, we were off with the instructions to catch up to B from the announcers. The road of WWOS was wide enough that we all more or less ran freely (though that could be different for people further back in the corral). It was quiet… and dark. For the most part I found this true of the areas outside the actual parks except for the stage with a band between WWOS and Animal Kingdom, the random guys with the birds on sticks, some Fantasia characters, some floats from spectromagic, and Sarge who was near Hollywood Studios.
I have to say, this was something I liked better in Disneyland: the people who came out to cheer with signs. The characters are great, don’t get me wrong, but they don’t cheer… they don’t typically have funny signs… So the randomly placed people on the side of the closed road were GREAT and you definitely got more of this when you got out of Hollywood Studios.
If you’re running the marathon (the only other race that goes through Animal Kingdom) be prepared like Scar said because those are some tight, narrow pathways and you can’t pass there. Instead of entering from a backstage area like you do in Magic Kingdom, MGM, and EPCOT, you have to go through the front of the park which means practice your bobbing, dodging and weaving or accept that you’re going to have to walk. You’re going to have to walk so just accept it. Oh, and they put the Powerade first at water stops so if you don’t want powerade keep moving to the back tables.
Worst fake out moment of the race: seeing the Hollywood Studios sign that you pass on the bus… and then spending the next 2-3 miles wondering “Where the $#%^ is Hollywood Studios?!”
We entered Hollywood Studios behind Rock n Rollercoaster, traveled back to Toy Story Mania, through the Backlot Tour, followed by the Osbourne family lights (GORGEOUS) and then headed out the front. Here we saw people again on the narrow pathway to EPCOT.
Now, I kept trying to figure out what my timing was… but by mile 5 I had completely lost my ability to do math. At mile 7 I thought I had only 4 more miles to go, I forgot how many minutes were in an hour… So I just ran. I passed my sister and father at the Beach Club (her camera froze and I yelled “I’m not doing it over!”) A lot of people were quite surprised and kept yelling at me, “Mile 10 and she’s still smiling!” It was just liked I’d practiced! *smile and run smile and run*
I won’t lie to you though… I was starting to fail around mile 12. I was tired, I was going on 4 hours of sleep… but then I kept thinking “eye of the tiger! eye of the tiger!” and I remembered from Spirit of the Marathon that Deena Kastor started swinging her arms more… so … why not? I raced for that finish line…
…but first I had to find it. You turn around Spaceship Earth, come out of EPCOT, and then there are all these laser lights and fog and you run toward the light thinking that’s the finish… but you have to turn a corner to get to the finish! I was secretly hoping to do it in 2:20 but I thought this was simply impossible. I ran across the finish with my arms in the air in triumph…
….my Garmin said 2:20:42.