Yeah so, it took me a while to get this out there.. I learned that blogging about a marathon is well.. in itself a marathon. BUT I’ve included lots and lots of pictures for you to feast your Disney loving eyes on 🙂 so without further ado.. my marathon recap!
The start of the marathon was in the 60’s with pretty high humidity. There were signs posted at the expo and the start telling people to take it easy, because the hot/humid weather can be a real danger to runners. Course.. me being injured.. I knew that wouldn’t apply for me lol.
Dawn and I started out at a good clip.. running 4:1’s (4 min jog, 1 min walk) at about an 11 min pace. Slow, yes.. but I knew what I was up against. The pain held off for a few intervals.. but then slowly started to creep in around mile 2. It was managable though.. and every time I started to walk, it went away.
Miles 3- 6 took us through Magic Kingdom. Right before mile 4, I found Mike at the Ticket Transportation Center. I gave him a quick hug and told him that it was hurting.. but managable. He didn’t tell me at the time.. but he got really worried when I told him that. But.. I plodded on.
Miles 7 & 8 took us past the Polynesian Resort.. you could see hot air balloons in the distance beyond the golf course!
After mile 9, we exited the Speedway and hit the Highway.. wasn’t a whole lot to look at on this stretch. My knee, however, was staring to feel worse. The pain was still managable.. but I was really woried at this point. By mile 12, the inevitable.
It hurt.. a lot. I started hobbling forward in a panic. Dawn said she would walk with me for a little, but then she would have to move on. Of course I understood this, and really was greatfull she had put up with my slowness this long. Right before mile 13, she gave me a little hug.. reassured me that I would finish, and took off into the crowd. All I could think about with every step I took was “I can’t believe I have to walk more than half of this race! What am I going to do!?”
Mile 13 found us in Animal Kingdom Park. It was kinda cool because the park was open, so the spectators were the park guests. At this point I was still feeling pain in my knee.. and I was in a miserable mental state. People were chearing along the route.. calling out the runners by name (my name was on my shirt) but I felt just absolutely hopeless. I didn’t even have the heart to yell back GO TEAM when it was cheered at me. I saw my coach Lauren close to mile 13.. and I just about lost it. I started having a panic attack, tears in my eyes.. how am I going to walk 13 miles!!!??? I was beside myself. Lauren said she would hang out with me for a while, and she tried to get me to jog a little. But every time I started, I would get a sharp cramping pain in my knee and I had to stop. I felt (and probably looked) so pathetic as everyone else raced forward around me. I lost Lauren right around mile 14.. and the last thing I remember telling her was “not finishing is not an option. As I looked up at that mile 14 sign, I told myself.. YOU WILL DO THIS. I promised myself that unless I could physically not take another step.. I would finish. I wanted that metal… I wanted for me, and I wanted it for Grandma. I knew she was with me, and I knew I couldn’t let her see me being weak.. I had to show her what I was made of.
Miles 15 and 16 were a struggle. It was humid.. it was hot.. it was taking me 18 minutes to finish a mile. These were done on the highway, and it seemed like it just went on forever. There was no shade or shelter. I had to remember to drink and take my gels… because I wasnt exerting myself as usual, I forgot I even need it. But I stopped at every water station along the way.. and even at a banana when I found myself at a food table. I was feeling really down about the whole situation.. and mile 16 is my usual wall. It’s such a long distance.. and yet, you still have 10 (YES! 10!!) miles left to go! On top of that, my hamstring started hurting.. I think I was over-striding in an attempt to make up for lost speed while walking. All the photos of me at this point are pretty lifeless.. I just couldn’t find it in me to smile knowing I was so far behind. I talked to a few people here and there, but I really felt down.
Between miles 16 and 17, I met a very nice TNT coach. He started walking with me and asking me how I was doing. (Obviously, I probably looked as bad as I felt.) But he talked me through it. He told me, this would be my hardest stretch. That we were going into the sun. Mile 17 started at the ESPN Sports complex.. and there were three whole miles in that leg. On the opposite side of the highway, I could see all the runners that were making their way back out. The coach told me that coming back out was mile 20.. and after that, only 6 more miles to go.. and the sun would be at my back and I’d be ok. He said to just hold on for the next few miles.. and then it would get easier… well, “less hard.” Then he said goodbye and sent me on my way, saying maybe I’ll catch up with you on the other side. Sadly, I don’t remember his name or what chapter he was from.. but this man got me through. I had hope and I knew that if I could just get to mile 20, I could definately do the rest.
So, I walked my way into the ESPN Sports complex. I was feeling more upbeat about the whole thing.. I knew I was going to do it. I was watching the runners coming out of the complex in case I might see Dawn coming out.. no such luck. I was starting to wonder how far back I had fallen. The crowd around me had dwindled down.. most everyone was slow jogging or walking at this point. I knew you had to maintain a 16 mi/mile pace.. and I knew I had 8 hours to finish.. but really, I had no Idea where I was in the pack. I knew I had to be back there.. but I figured I’d still have plenty of time.
I met another nice coach in the ESPN complex.. somewhere around mile 18. She asked how I was feeling, I told her about my leg. She gave me some encouragement, told me I had plenty of time to finish. and then gave me chocolate. Chocolate always makes it better. As I was nearing mile 19 I saw some spectators lined up. I had missed seeing Mike at the Polynesian back at mile 8.. and never saw him at Animal Kingdom, So I scanned the crowd in case he was there. Then I saw him! He flagged me down excitedly and I just shook my head, trying to tell him that I couln’d run anymore. When I took a few jogging strides over to him, I noticed.. no pain..! He gave me the biggest hug! and I fell apart. Tears in my eyes, I blurted out “I’m so sorry! I’m sorry! I’m so slow! I can’t run anymore! It hurts so bad!! But I’m gonna finish! I’m gonna do it!!” He just hugged me tight and told me how proud he was of me for continuing like this. A few moments later, I left, feeling so light and full of hope.. that I really could finish. I made it to mile 19!
I noticed that I could jog again! I took it slow.. and stopped to walk after about 2 mins. I didn’t want to ruin my new-found second wind in my knee. We headed into the baseball stadium, and I decided to walk until I got through that.
Mile 20 was the Mile 20 Spectacular! Some Awesome puppets and a HUGE mile 20 archway.. to celebrate 20 years of the Disney Marathon!
I picked up the pace a little… knowing that I probably only about 3 miles from the back of the pack. I jogged a little, but by this time, all the other muscles in my legs were tired! It was definately more of a shuffle to keep me moving forward. I walked on the ramps to the highway though… was a little nervous that the decline would bring the knee pain back.
Once we exited the park, we had a lovely little scenic tour behind the Swan and Dolphin resort and made our way to Disney’s boardwalk. I have never been to that side of Disney before.. and despite the fact that my legs and feet felt like they were going to fall off, it was actually quite pleasent. At this time, I was back with the stragglers (not unlike myself lol) It was interesting.. I would walk a while and see a person/people.. then I would jog and pass them.. then I would walk again and they would pass me. So you were always kinda around the same people. Then I started to wonder, where these people came from? What did they do? How did they get here? and Why are they back here like me? Are they injured? Are they tired? Inexpirenced? Didn’t train well? You think of a lot of things in a marathon.. you have a lot of time on your hands lol. But it was always nice to catch up to someone you “know” even if you really didn’t know them at all.
(The guy with the sign (really hard to see in this picture) was my favorite- his sign said “Someday you will fail. Today is NOT that day” Just the boost I needed!)
FINALLY… the boardwalk started turinging into a recognizable pathway.. and before I knew it, I was entering into the back of EPCOT!!!! Mile 25 was a sight for sore eyes (and legs.. and knees.. and feet.) I started tearing up.. I knew I was almost done!!!
Now.. If you have ever been to Epcot, then you know the World Showcase. So when I entered via France, I thought WHOO! only a zip around the world and I’m DONE!! Not so easy… that trip around the world is a mile long.. just remember that on your next trip to disney. I had to stop and walk a couple times.. but by China, I ran into a Teammate! She was having lunch in China and saw me run by! She came over and jogged with me a little and I told her all about my adventure.. I told her I was walking so that I could run the finish. She was so excited for me! Before I knew it, I was coming up on the Epcot ball… and mile 26!!
Then I saw it- the finish line! I heard it- the spectators! I was running! I was doing it! And I even managed to high-five Goofy as I crossed, with a laughable time of 6 hours and 56 minutes! But I was there! I defeated my deamons and I defeated my odds, and I was late, but I was THERE! I got my medal, and I knew my Grandmother helped me to get there. I found Mike by the finisher’s chute.. and he gave me the biggest hug! He helped me hobble to a chair where I collapsed and felt like I was going to die lol.
It was hot.. humid.. hard.. painful, but amazing. And I’m so glad I was lucky enough for my body to hold out on me until the end. Now, I can say.. I’ve run a marathon! (Well, sort of!) I can’t say I’d never run another one.. but I will say that I’ve got two more races (March and April) and then I’m taking a break. My knee stil kinda hurts. I have seen a doctor and nothing came up on Xray or MRI… so who knows what the real problem is. Currently, I’m training with a giant leg brace on, and doing 4:1 splits (4 min jogging, 1 min walking.) My next two races are only Half marathons (yes, ONLY lol) so I just have to get through them.