Marathon Weekend Part 4: The Marathon

I would say marathon day started at the crack of dawn but since I was almost to the Magic Kingdom before the sun showed up that would be entirely inaccurate.

At 2:45 my phone alarm went off playing the Muppet Show theme song. At 2:50 I received my wake up call and for the life of me cannot remember who it was that called. Somebody. My sister was peeved at the alarms since she had hoped to sleep in but alas, it was not meant to be. I didn’t turn on the lights because I didn’t want to disturb so I more or less wandered in the dark and hoped everything was where it was supposed to be and that it would come with me. I leaned over at some point and lost my sunglasses, which I didn’t realize until I was on the bus. Oh well, it wasn’t bad without them–I’m not blinded, I can still see, so generally speaking we’re all good.

it's marathon time! And too early for me to take a picture!

it’s marathon time! Shoes would probably help.

After giving myself the thumbs up in the mirror and realizing I was without shoes or socks and rectifying that little problem, I headed out. I always envisioned that early in the morning at the resorts there would just be streams of runners coming out of their rooms and heading to the buses… I saw two other people. We joked about how we couldn’t believe this would be the best we looked all day, and listened to the DJ and watched the spotlights that were at the start area.

The noise was making it real. Like painfully, obviously, nausea-inducing real.

There wasn’t really a line for the bus, there were 4 lined up and the first was only 1/2 full so I got right on which was good because otherwise I ran the risk of freaking out and just heading back to the room to hide.

A non-eventful 5 minute bus ride was more or less silent. Fatigue? Sleepiness? General fear? I don’t know why it was so quiet, only that it was. We arrived shortly at EPCOT and got off…

EPCOT parking lot

EPCOT parking lot

Wandering around the lot, I followed everyone else to the Mickey ears shaped arch… The sign said “abandon all hope, ye who enter here” so I thought I had the right entrance for the marathon…

I could've sworn it said that...

I could’ve sworn it said that…

So after passing through the gates of hell, I mean the ear gate that lead to the waiting area for the corrals, I took a little look around. There was the DJ I had heard earlier, a bunch of people standing around… A merchandise tent where you could buy the marathon signs because this was presumably something you might want to hang in your home? A make-your-own-shirt stand from Champion, ESPN food truck… And that was about it. Nothing too dazzling and I couldn’t find characters for pictures so I found the pacebook running club for their pre-marathon group photo and joined in.

Right by there I saw Dennis Marsiko, the guy who’s always on runDisney videos. I saw him at the expo and yelled out, “It’s the runDisney guy!” and got no love back. Needless to say I was not interviewed or featured in any runDisney promotional videos. Whatevs. He looked like an angry, unpleasant man anyway.

It's him!

It’s him!

Afterward, I walked with Tracy to the corrals. She told me about her previous marathon in 2008 and walking with her definitely helped ease my mind while we walked through what appeared to be the Disney graveyard for old ride vehicles.

I never thought I would say that I saw so many men urinating in public in, of all places, Disney but there they were along the woods walking into the brush… First of all, who knows what the hell is living in those woods. if the bugs don’t get you the snakes will. Second, I really think a lot of people do this just so they can have an excuse to pee outdoors and think it’s socially acceptable. I don’t see the thrill, but then I can’t use a public bathroom when the gap between the door and the stall is too big. And by too big I mean it exists.

So at some point during this long walk I lost track of Tracy because I stopped to take photos…

Thank you!

Thank you!

This seemed a nice touch and left me with a warm fuzzy feeling.

It is, isn't it?

It is, isn’t it?

But this one seemed more topically relevant and appropriate. And finally, I saw the sign I’d been looking for…

D for determined or so the announcers always say.

D for determined or so the announcers always say.

Corral D! The feelings of nausea were building back up. I wasn’t in the front of the corral but for me that was just fine. I was “cool with it” as the kids would say. I listened to the announcers mindless banter, an interview with Joey Fatone… Who was unprepared and running with someone else’s bib so basically setting a very bad example for all the other runners…  And that, Joey, is why everyone remembers JT and not JF. Justin would’ve trained and probably qualified for Boston. He moonwalks on water.

Eventually at some point the race actually started. Fireworks, announcing, yadda yadda yadda…

race starting!

race starting!

The witty banter did leave me with one little tidbit from Burt Yasso, editor of Runners’ World the world’s most repetitive and contradictory magazine currently in publication: for first time marathoners, you’re guaranteed a PR. In my usual fashion, I decided to set the bar as low as possible! I gave up thinking of making a time and instead decided there would be picture stops. Plenty of them.

Right across the starting line people started walking… Their intervals said walk, so they walked and this certainly created a great deal of friction between them and the people who wanted to run.  There was a tense back and forth between a guy who wanted to just run and a run/walker which helped take my mind off the fact that I was less than a mile into a marathon and still had like 26 miles left.

They yelled "yo ho!" I yelled "Pass!"

They yelled “yo, ho!” I yelled, “yo, pirate!”

The first photo op was the pirate ship with Jack Sparrow and some other pirate dude. I stopped to take a picture to send to my sister… I not only stopped for my own photos but became everyone else’s photographer as well.

IMG_1265I got my picture and took pictures for about 5 other people. None of whom offered to take mine. Nice, guys. I finally bartered with one guy to take mine before I took his, then headed off along my way. I regretted stopping though because afterward I had sand in my shoes. The weather wasn’t too bad… It was a little humid, but the lack of sun was greatly appreciated.

What's the cost for a runner?

What’s the cost for a runner?

I remember always pulling up to this in a car or on the bus and being so excited. Running through it was no exception. I just kept telling myself I wanted to get as far as possible before the sun came up. The worst part of the course in terms of congestion was heading past the contemporary. Only one side of the road was open and it was just impossible to pass people or get around them or do anything. It was really kind of annoying.

Fast forward to the Magic Kingdom…

There it is!

There it is!

I wish I could say I teared up… But I never seem to tear up mid race. Oh well. You best believe anyone who wanted a high five got one. Some people got double high fives so more like a high ten.

IMG_1273

Castle time.

This was it–what I had set out to do. I waited through taking 5 group photos and 4 individual ones to get my own taken. And you know what I thought when I got home and saw it? “God, I have such flabby, fat arms!” Yup. Oh well, can’t win them all.

Heading out of the Magic Kingdom I traveled to the Polynesian to meet up with my sister who was waiting for me and very disappointed to find out that Captain Cook’s didn’t serve the special Polynesian juice for breakfast. (This was the first thing she told me when I was done and the primary reason she came to watch me at the Polynesian.) I really appreciated her coming out so early, it meant a lot to me, and I told her I’d see her at Animal Kingdom next.

That stretch of road was pretty boring except for the tourists with the RV offering to make everyone beanie weanies and this… the photo op I was hunting for…

Five in one spot!

Five in one spot!

I wanted the big group picture! Just before I got in Jafar showed up so I got more villains for my wait! Awesome! It was really a Princess and the Frog run–I got a picture with Tiana and Naveen in Liberty Square and now Dr. Facilier who is one of my favorites… I appreciate a good top hat.

Animal kingdom came and went… I saw my sister outside by the parking lot and told her the next time I saw her I’d be done! The sun was up and it was getting hot so I pulled out my sponge! That’s right, I brought my own sponge and starting just outside Animal Kingdom I filled it up with the extra water in my cup at the water stations.

By the time we got out on the highway to go to Wide World of Sports I loved my sponge. I wish I had a picture of my sponge. It was my fondest memory of the marathon. I’m not going to lie: the highway f%$@ing sucked. I hated it. I hated everything about it and the only thing I hated more than the highway was the Wide Word of Sports. If Disney got rid of the Wide World of Sports I could live with that. It was all narrow sidewalks, turns, turns and more turns. I got stuck behind the 5:30 pace group and just followed them out. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. I followed the fairy wings of a pacebook runner and actually ended up seeing Tracy again on the highway! It was nice to see someone familiar.

Mile 20. What the f$#% was that supposed to be? Spectacular? That was supposed to be spectacular? I don’t even have a picture of it it was so freaking unspectacular. They put up shrubbery so as you entered WWOS you couldn’t see what was at mile 20 and they did that because they knew mile 20 sucked. Whatever, fine, in for a penny in for a pound, whatever that means.

Back onto the hellish highway I continued to follow the 5:30 pace group ’til I lost them at the water station just before Hollywood Studios. I got stuck behind people who weren’t moving and so I (sadly) lost them. My sister saw me from her bus going into EPCOT while I went into the back of Hollywood Studios. I kept pressing forward… got my chocolate which seemed like a good idea til I ate it and then not such a good idea. All throughout the race I had my trusty sponge by my side and volunteers just poured water on my head (which made all that work into making my hair look good seem just plain stupid). By the Writers’ Stop cafe I finally parted ways with my trusty sponge and the one I picked up and held on to at mile 17 because I was ready to finish and get a move on.

IMG_1278I picked up the pace when I was back in front of park guests and waved to people who were just annoyed that I was blocking their path to Toy Story Mania. As I went down Hollywood Boulevard I waved to everyone, I cheered for them cheering me, and high fived all the little kids telling them they’d do this too someday when they were older and dumber.

IMG_1279

Leaving Hollywood Studios, I could taste the sweet taste of finish. Actually I was probably tasting the residual chocolate in my mouth but whatever. Arriving at the Boardwalk I just kept texting my sister BW, YC, BC… Starting at the BoardWalk there were people out cheering us on to the finish. One woman told me I looked great, I thanked for being such a great liar and continued on my way. Then I saw it… The geodesic sphere in the distance and I’ve never been happier to see that damn giant golf ball in my entire life. This was it–I was really going to finish!

Into the World Showcase… The time had come. If I stopped for a walk break now I was never going to start back up again. Outside Japan I saw Tracy again and she was walking… I think I told her some obnoxious thing like “now’s not the time for walking! You’re almost done!” And god bless her she resisted giving me the finger in the middle of the happiest place on earth where dreams come true and men just pee everywhere.

and I continued on to Future World where I again made a point of cheering on the cheerers and high fiving the children like some kind of marathoning politician. It’s all for the kids! I saw the gospel choir and resisted the urge to high five all of them as well. I was a high fiving machine!

And then… it was all over. I crossed the finish line by giving a little jump and that was it. Just like that my first marathon came to a close.

the medals

the medals

the ice!

Am I really done yet?!

My sister met me after I exited. RunDisney had actually thought this through and gave out small, reusable shopping bags we could put all our food and drinks in and we walked together to get the bus. Only we walked in the wrong direction so we had to walk back the way we came. My sister congratulated me and then immediately wanted to know what we were going to do about our 2:20 reservation at Le Cellier. I didn’t know what time it was or who I was or why my legs kept shaking when I stood still so my mom called to try and cancel the reservation, telling them I’d keep it but if I throw up in their restaurant it’s not going to be pretty. They cancelled it and waived the fee.

IMG_1285I was happy to be done. We finally boarded the bus back to the hotel and I shared with my sister some of my gummy snacks. I had done it–completed my first marathon in 5 hours and 50 minutes with plenty of stops for photos and characters along the way and I didn’t feel like death when all was said and done. I even finished without ever consuming artificial, craptastic running “fuel” in the form of a liquid, goo or gel. Just me and my water in 80 degree temperatures on that hot, hellish highway.

Congratulations!

Congratulations!

Back at the room I saw these signs waiting for me. In the span of less than 12 hours, my mother had transitioned from thinking of me as the world’s biggest idiot for wanting to do this to “I’m just so proud of you!” I went back to the room and changed into my bathing suit while my sister went and got us chicken fingers. We spent the afternoon by the pool eating lunch and then went back to the room to shower and change for a 5:50pm reservation at Tokyo Dining and a short trip to the Magic Kingdom.

I did it!

I did it!

I was still walking and already planning marathon #2.

These fireworks were just for me.

These fireworks were just for me.

And yes I realize how bright my calf sleeves are.

And yes I realize how bright my calf sleeves are.

I did my ride on Big Thunder Mountain and then like that the trip was over. We headed back to the hotel to pack up and get ready to leave early in the morning. I flew back into Reagan and was home 20 minutes later. The first marathon was over and while I’ve decided to wait until 2015 for Goofy, that doesn’t mean that WDW is completely out for next year…

…and did I mention my sister wanted to do the Wine and Dine 1/2 marathon?

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4 thoughts on “Marathon Weekend Part 4: The Marathon

  1. I agree that the 20-mile surprise was overhyped. Had they not even mentioned it in their promotional videos, I would have run through it and thought “this is cool” — the majority of marathons do nothing at mile 20. Some have a timing mat, others have a blow-up arch, so as to say “now you are entering the great unknown.” But to have characters, music and a special banner with all 20 medals was pretty cool.

    But was it “spectacular”? Not really. Anyway, congratulations on becoming a marathoner 🙂 It’s an honor you can wear for life, and I’m glad to see that it’s not going to be just a one-time thing. I’m jealous that Jafar showed up for your picture — I only got four villains in my picture. Alas …

    • Thank you! The villains group picture was the one I really, really wanted especially since Rapunzel and Flynn weren’t out in Fantasyland…
      When you have fireworks at the start, you kind of expect something big for a spectacular but it ended up being like the finale to Seinfeld. I did overhear a funny conversation between people behind me:
      “Sooo, are we almost at mile 20 yet?”
      “THIS is mile 20.”
      “Oh. Seriously?”
      The real spectacular was finally getting out of Wide World of Sports!

  2. Thanks for posting a detailed review of your marathon weekend. I’m a former fat girl who took up running a year and half ago and is now signed up for the Dopey Challenge (and maybe slightly terrified!) I like your honesty and humor. And Yeah – that Villians picture rules!

    • The way I run (“you look like an injured clydesdale”) I can’t take myself too seriously…. 🙂 Are you incredibly excited for the Dopey challenge?! ‘Cause I sure am…

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