Day 5: WDW Marathon!!

When you hear “Florida” what do you think of? I think of heat, humidity, palm trees, Miami by Will Smith and Dexter. 

After the lightning and rain storm yesterday, cold weather came in fast and I’m still in shock! It was close to zero degrees Celsius and the wind chill was crazy. I knew it had seriously cooled off so I added a thermal layer on top of my throwaway shirt and brought a garbage bag for a wind breaker but I was not even close to adequately prepared (and neither were 75% of the other eighteen thousand runners.) Who knew freezing in Florida was a thing.

Serious Tip: ANYTHING can happen on race day. I thought I understood this but was proven wrong. For real, to have been comfortable this morning from exiting my Uber (3:45 am) to actually starting the race from corral H (6 am), I would have needed an additional throwaway toque, gloves, jacket or thick blanket and sweats or jammie pants. It was FREEZING. It was colder than the Historic Half in Vancouver on November 28th! Mind: blown. On a positive note, the gear-bag check was super fast and easy, which was my first task after arriving to Epcot for the fourth and final race. Huge compliments to runDisney on the organization. I don’t think it was necessary for me to go quite as early as they suggest, but personally the idea of being late is too stressful for me.

To avoid freezing, after a quick pic with Dopey himself I joined in at the pump-up stage where the DJ was directing a massive Macarena HAHAHA! I also hid in a couple Porto Potties for a few minutes here and there to escape the wind. Then I joined the crowds huddled by some patio heat lamps that weren’t even on (LOL) and met a dude from Edmonton who’s teeth were chattering as much as mine. It was honestly brutal.

It was a long wait til corral walk-out and when it was time to head out I was grateful to be moving and jogged pretty much on the spot, shuffling along with the massive crowd for the 15 minutes it took to get there. Thankfully the race started efficiently (sent of by Mickey with fireworks for each corral!) at 5:30 and I was across the start mat by 6.

I didn’t ditch my outer layer for at least the first 6km which is unheard of for me as I am a notorious over-heater. A headwind that felt below zero wasn’t helping anyone warm up and unfortunately this headwind was a factor in other parts of the race, not just the beginning. I did eventually warm up of course, tossing my second layer as we entered Magic Kingdom. Your bib number needs to be showing to get race pics and I was warm by this time but still thankful I wore my arm warmers. At around 8km when I saw this I cried (not my pic, but this is what the castle looks like at this time of year.)

castle

The castle was so pretty I really did actually cry. It’s hard to explain the emotions in your body during a huge run like this but it’s REALLY overwhelming. For example, in the corral there was a woman running her very first marathon and when our starting fireworks went off she started happy-crying and hugging me and we had met 30 seconds prior. Or during my first marathon, BMO Vancouver, I started crying in the first 500 meters running down Cambie Street just realizing that I trained for this and was going to accomplish something huge.

The sun was just barely up and Magic Kingdom was lit up with frosty lights from the holiday season and the most beautiful thing of the entire weekend FOR SURE. This was the first place with massive spectator crowds and it was so overwhelming. People who go out to marathons to cheer should be recognized because it is one of the most inspiring parts of running one!

At all different sections of the course there were characters, gospel choirs, varsity teams cheering and marching bands and cheerleaders, stilt performers, acrobats on trampolines and thousands of spectators. The course starts at Epcot, goes through Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, ESPN Sports Complex, Hollywood Studios and ends back at Epcot.

I am so impressed with the number and quality of aid stations. There were 19 in total I believe and all had Powerade and water, and some also had bananas, Clif shot gels and even candy!! I think I ate a total of 2 bananas and a package of M&Ms during my run which was extremely helpful. As well as my own gels and Honey Stinger Gummies, I tried the raspberry Clif Shot and it was like getting Lucky Charms as a kid when you have Shreddies parents. YUM. I’ll be buying a case of those.

There were also certain stations where the volunteers were handing out little popsicle sticks with blobs of Vaseline and for this I am extremely grateful because my inner arms were chafing like a b!+*# and it was getting hard to ignore. Again, anything can happen on race day. I don’t usually use Body Glide on my inner arms. Suprise.

Towards the last quarter of the race we ran through ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and through a stadium with a big screen showing all the runners and there were lots of people in the stands cheering and supporting. This was around the infamous 32km (20 mile) mark of any marathon. I was struggling at this point and the spectators are one of the biggest things that helped me keep going.

As was the case in the last full marathon I ran in October (Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon) the last 10km were very difficult for me. I took lots of 15-30 second walk breaks and told myself that running slow is faster than walking, and that I could break 4:10 if I pushed. Turns out if I had done a better job running the tangents I definitely could have made that goal. Dammit. At the finish line my Garmin clocked 42.76km, so I ran an extra half-kilometer due to the twisting of the course and the weaving around runners at a slower pace than mine. Regardless, I am overjoyed with a time of 4:11:27 and 103/1523 runners in the Women’s 30-34 division, and in the top 12% of all 17,729 runners! Wooooo!!!

photopass_visiting_wdwrundisney_395935114156

It does not get old haha, my throat closed up after crossing the finish line and I started to ugly-cry a bit while feeling pretty much the happiest and most proud feelings that exist. Volunteers presented us with the Mickey marathon medals right away and after the sports drinks and water section the Goofy and Dopey Challengers got to receive the 1/2 marathon medal from the cancelled race on Saturday (yahoo for every person who ran their own unofficial half!) and the Goofy and Dopey medals! Because I am a nerd I brought the 5km and 10km medals in my gear bag so I had all six with me!! Gear pickup was even easier than check-in and I think knowing this now I might have even checked a bag for the 10km race on Friday. Impressive.

A note about your gear bag, pack more than you think you might need. I was pretty good with my long-sleeve technical Dopey shirt, a thick new Gryffindor sweatshirt (LOL,) my favourite Oiselle toque and the space blankets they hand out, but the way the body cools down after running for that amount of time, I could have used a parka and snowboard pants considering the Florida temperature that I didn’t know existed.

I didn’t allow myself to get distracted and forget about recovery, and chugged a sports drink and a water and ate a protein bar and a banana. I stretched in the reunion area, and then again at home and warmed up thoroughly and put on a super warm outfit. All day long I made sure to hydrate and snack, and on the plane (omg. Do not fly home the day of the marathon. Why do I always do this??) I got up to stretch my legs as many times as possible without being an A-hole to the guy sitting in the aisle seat.

Over 24 hours after getting up on marathon morning I got to the the Fairmont YVR at 2am after a delayed flight from SEA-TAC to Vancouver and had the most glorious birthday sleep in a king bed. GLORIOUS.

To wrap it all up, Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend is INCREDIBLE! True, a lot of the running isn’t right in a magical park, but it isn’t possible to map out courses of that length all within the parks because they aren’t big enough!The courses are mostly flat with just a few small hills going up overpasses or over bridges in the parks. The energy of all the events is unexplainable and the expo, official race gear, organization, volunteers, aid stations, cast-members, medals and finish-line support is absolutely amazing and all very well organized. The time change was a bigger issue for me than expected. I slept a lot after each race and I didn’t do nearly as many activities as I thought I might while visiting the Orlando area, but I came here to do my favourite thing which is RUN and I got everything out of this trip that I wanted, and more. If you are planning a runDisney event in Orlando, let me know!

OH, and my friend Lindsay always wants to know what the post-race meal consists of, so let me tell you, the lobster eggs benny at SoCo in Orlando was possibly the best thing I’ve ever eaten.

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Day 3: WDW 10km! (caution, this post contains very bad news)

I couldn’t sleep again! But the nap after race #1 must have been enough because I was functioning fine. Instead of rolling around I got up at 2:30 and started getting the Donald Duck disguise put together and had the standard peanut butter and banana toast race-day breakfast.

My Uber experience was perfect today. We followed the runDisney directions and I ended up in the drop-off/taxi/bus lot where I should have yesterday, and then I walked a couple hundred metres to join the mass crowds from the event transportation from resort hotels and walk to the starting area. Easy. After that simplicity, I now fully recommend my accommodations to others travelling here for a runDisney event!

Almost immediately after entering corral B, I met up with my new friend Dave from yesterday! Unplanned too! We decided to meet in the Reunion Area afterwards and he would give me a lift back to my place since his Marriot hotel was close! I am telling you this because despite what you may think, travelling to a racing event alone is not lonely. Everyone’s here for the same reasons and the majority are happy, excited and into meeting new people, especially the other solo runners. Tons of people come here on a family vacation but just the mom or dad takes part in the running events, or one person is running who travelled with their non-runner spouse, etc. It’s like when you are in the single line for the chairlift at the ski hill, you just don’t actually have to yell out at a bunch of strangers that you’re alone haha.

The 10km had a different vibe than the 5km. It is timed, for one, and not considered a fun-run event. I LOVED IT! But to be honest with you, the first half of the race is not in a Disney park, it’s around it.

10km

I thoroughly enjoyed this race! Even the road running was fun, with so many people and the good energy, almost felt like half-regular racing event, half-Disney event. There were still characters on this part of the course which was awesome. There were a few short, gradual uphills and downhills, and it was kind of a nice warmup to be feeling really good once we entered Epcot around the 5km mark. The second half we ran throughout Epcot, the scenic World Showcase and Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts. There were way more spectators than yesterday and I loved running on the boardwalk. This place is unreal! Personally, I was feeling amazing and loving the “GO DONALD!!!!” and “I LOVE YOU, DONALD!!!” that I was getting from the spectators and cast-members! Note, I plan to buy my race pics and that’s why I am posting this proof. There are mixed viewpoints on if this is okay or not, so had to let you know.

At some point during this race I officially picked one of my multiple weekend strategy options which was:

  1. Easy 5km, stop for photos if I want, enjoy my first Disney run
  2. Run well and smart, not a race-pace that I’d aim for if I were running only a 10km this weekend, but a good solid effort
  3. Take the half-marathon at an easy and comfortable pace, saving my body for the finale on Sunday (BIRTHDAY MARATHON!!!)
  4. Do my absolute very best effort based on the condition of my energy and physical body.

I did very well for myself and was feeling great after crossing the finish line, but made sure to chug one of the Powerades given out right after the medals (omg look)

and drinking a ton of water and eating a banana immediately. I found Dave easily, who also had a good run he said, and then as soon as he dropped me off at home I ate a Clif Builder protein bar from the race snack box, another banana, more water and the elixir of life: CHOCOLATE MILK. No room for laziness in recovery on a weekend like this! I did a full-body stretch, showered and cleaned up a bit to keep my body moving a little more, and then got into bed for a 4 hour sleep.
I didn’t take many pics today, and I don’t have a ton to report that was different from yesterday, but one thing I didn’t mention was how much discussion was going on about the potential rain and lightening forecasted for tomorrow. All the talk was not creating a good vibe in the corral so I ignored and enjoyed my Prince Rupert rain-tolerant mindset. But now I have to tell you the worst thing ever.

Yes you read that correctly. All races tomorrow are cancelled. Not even lying. Heartbroken. I’m more than a little upset right now. There is lots of talk happening on Twitter about meet-ups being organized by angry Goofy Challenge and Dopey Challenge participants to run the half-marathon distance at some point tomorrow on their own accord. I haven’t decided exactly what my plan is, but Ches from The KOR Project and I have decided to run 21.1 km at some point tomorrow. It will be at a very easy recovery pace. I can’t accept my Goofy and Dopey medals, and rock the race challenge shirts (which are actually nice, I am VERY picky and rarely like race shirts) unless I run a half-marathon distance tomorrow. So I’ll keep you posted on what happens. There is loud thunder crashing and a downpour happening as I’m typing this so I get it, Disney is doing their job with respect to safety, I just wish they would have waited to make a more last-minute decision in the case that this storm has passed by the early morning hours…GAHHHH!!! Talk to you soon!

 

 

Day 1: getting to Orlando & the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo

LOL I invented a new challenge for WDW Marathon Weekend where you run even more than the Dopey Challenge. I was basically sprinting across Seattle airport to make my connecting flight to MCO because the de-icing of the plane in Vancouver delayed flight #1 today. And of course when the flight attendants ask other people to stay seated until the passengers with less than 60 minutes to connect are off the plane, EVERYONE stands up and starts wrestling around with uneccesarily large carry-ons. And I was in row 30. Seriously people. 

So ya. My challenge, you run 1km frantically on day 1 before even getting to Disney. Minus the almost-heart-attack situation, I made it to Orlando on the correct flight, even a bit early. It was my first time flying with Alaskan Airlines and I got a really good first impression and will fly with them again. The couple sitting next to me said they always fly Alaska when it’s an option. Noted ✔ (look at their cute carry-on)

Arriving at MCO I got to the carousel and saw lots of mad people. Turns out a baggage belt broke at SEA-TAC and tons of bags got left behind. Including mine HAHAHA good thing I pretended this would happen when writing my packing post and my carry-on is golden! Checked bag should be delivered tomorrow and it was so awesome to have no reason to freak out. Be super smart about that carry-on!!!

Got picked up by my friend Ches from The Kor Project (THANK YOU SO MUCH) and we went straight to ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex for package pickup (about 35km from the airport to the expo.) AHHHHHHH wooo

It wasn’t as busy as I expected and getting bibs and shirts was really easy. I was given two 1/2 marathon race shirts by accident so I got seven race shirts! It’s a good one too since it’s the 20th anniversary of the half-marathon this year. I got excited and picked up a Minnie-themed tank top at one booth and a Minnie skirt 😉 from Kelly and the ladies at the Sparkle Athletic booth (which Alaskan Airlines will be reimbursing, lol) for tomorrow since my costumey running accessories are in the checked bag. This is a really good expo, and the official Disney gear is awesome. There aren’t costume types of  things like ears though so if you’re looking for that kind of thing you’ll need to go elsewhere before or after.I was hoping for some last minute mouse ears but no luck. Lesson learned. 

My accomodation is perfect so far!! The AirBnB hosts have it stocked with snacks, a case of water, K-cups and even peanut butter and bananas after asking me what my favourites were! I’ll see how it goes with Uber in the super early morning before telling you to stay here when you come down for a runDisney event, but it’s just 10km to Epcot which is the same distance as some of the actual Disney resorts. And like a fifth of the price.

Not the smoothest day, I’d recommend allowing more travel time on the way here to avoid stress, especially since it takes all day long to travel from Vancouver with the time change. But it worked out and there’s nothing I’m missing for the 5km race at 6am! GOODNIGHT ❤