Before The Race
One a.m., wakeup time. I was advised by friends, specially Raul, to leave by 2 a.m. to save myself an hour plus of traffic IN Disney grounds. After some coffee and Nutella toast, I find myself with nothing to do until two a.m. when my dear wife has agreed to drive me to Epcot. Not peeved, I decided to call Raul and telling him that I was awake but did not. The 40 minute drive to Epcot was uneventful and the tip paid off; I was able to rest, with the kids and wife, in the car until 3:30 a.m. Having the family, half asleep, drop me off kept anxiety away. Leaving car, I decide to leave jacket and just take some toast with me. The temperature had risen enough and this would save me dropping off anything or dropping off jacket mid-race.
Walking past the taxi drop-off, I meet the first of what definitely is, the heroes of the race, the volunteers. This nice lady kindly pointed out that I was walking past the last flushing toilet until end of race (she was right). It was early, dark and cold and she, together with husband and son, were cheery and helpful and kind; way to go!
The walk to my corral, the last corral, is a 15 + minute walk from last-flushing-toilet. Having nothing to check-in, I decided to hang out a while and take the scene in. First timer here! Why is a D.J. blasting off at dawn trying to pump up a crowd that seems intent of moving the least amount possible? There is a D.J. on huge platform, a few photo ops with Disney Marathon props and about 103 porta-pottys lined up. Without fail, there is a line in half of them. I just nibble my toast while some people dance, some sleep some jog around a bit.
Four thirty a.m., I start walking to corral. The instructions state runners not at their corral at five a.m. will not race. I am not risking it. It takes me 15 minutes to get to corral P. More specifically, the last corral, corral number 17. I try checking out how many people are in front.
Without much to do, I find a nice clearing and it down like most other runners around. There is lots of people in costume; the ones you expect: go Mr. Incredible! The ones you did not see coming: go Shamu! Some poor soul close by was smoking, definitely I am not the only one freaking out a bit.
About The Race
At five a.m. on the dot, we hear fireworks and the corral goes wild, some people stand up to cheer, some turned on their watches. Signaling sending off the first corral, the feeling faded away pretty quickly for corral 17. Corrals left every 4 minutes or so, by the time the third fireworks go off, most of us sit down…
But we’re getting closer…
A few minutes before six, we are lined up at the starting line listening to Mickey work the crowd.
After a few words, he wishes us well and we are off! Sixteen weeks of training and a knee acting up for this!
Every happens too fast. Its a complete blur of run-time smashed together and mixed with all-things Disney including behind the scene areas, lots of characters and almost 20k people out with you. Some unexpected sights, los of runners are making lines to get pictures with Disney characters! What about your times?
I think I see a pirate ship.
…on the way to Magic Kingdom.
The most magical place on earth!
This has got to be the best organized race I have ever done. Not that I have done that many but, there seemed to be a surplus of everything along the course. More water than I could imagine, more aid stations that I could count, more volunteers and cheering crowds that I’ve ever seen before. Way to go. This is more than a ‘race’. Take it from a first time marathoner, this is quite the experience.
And onto the racetrack we go! Wait, we’re going the wrong way!
Past mile nine my mental knee pain comes up so I decide to practice my finish instead of weaving around 20k people. Volunteer forgot I was in the shot… At least my flashy fany pack shows in all its splendor.
Slowing down to the fastest jog possible w/out knee pain, I carry on. This is a big 26 mile long street party.
Here you can see a bit of pain.
My knee pain went away after exiting the racetrack. I shall blame the silly banking on the track.
So many photo ops, so many volunteers, so many people just casually taking pictures. Crazy.
I decide to take a few myself… See? no more pain.
One of the many crazy things I see, runners getting into rides at Animal Kingdom. Had I not been so worried about ‘the race’ I would’ve joined them. They seemed to be having lots of fun.
Neat moment, I catch up with the 5:30 pace group. They left 5 or 6 corrals ahead of me!
Another neat thing to see for me was the run walk teams. Ever so often, I would see someone a bit ahead of me raise their left arm immediately followed by another 20 people raising their left hands in unison behind them. These group would then ‘walk to the right’ in their routine. They seemed to be pissing of, at least, one pair that we passed but… the run/walk team was passing them so enough said.
And this is the last race picture I got… I had never ‘run the bases’ before
Never having run this long, I know understand how mental this is. Ashamed to admit that I was having a ball until mile 26 where I was convinced running was silly. Had I been in a half, I bet I would’ve felt the same way at mile 12. Next time I do this, and I am doing this again, I will train for 27 miles!
After The Race
Yay! Aside from being a bit sore and high on running. I was able to hang out a bit and even have lunch with my family on a Disney’s Port Orleans Resort.
I am certain that the hardest part of running my first marathon was the lonely long runs over the weekend. A 20 miler alone at dark is lots more work than a marathon in a group!
I am impressed with the number of people doing both the goofy and dopey challenge! Bucket list worthy. Need to round up peers that will go into dopey with me!
Finally, I am proud that I ran without headphones! Not a dull moment.
About Corral Assignment
Without a previous race time submitted, I was placed in the last corral. For this race, that meant the 17th corral. The race started at five thirty a.m. and my wave was off after six a.m. I wanted to do a 10 min/mile pace but the pace team for that left in corral G i think, 9 corrals before me. With waves starting every four minutes. I never saw my pace team!
After a few miles of weaving I realized that it would be impossible to weave for the length of the race. Too many people everywhere. No regrets, this made event more fun than race.
What Would I Do Differently
I would have practiced better nutrition leading up to the race. Maybe a week before the race, I think it would’ve made a difference If I had paid more attention to food eaten. Odd feeling.
Next race, I shall submit time from previous race. Had I bothered to do so, I would’ve gotten better corral assignment. I am partial to this, last corral was fun.
Listen to Raul and take a camera. So many opportunities missed. I even saw a perfect Mr Incredible! A phone camera, mine at east, is not enough.
If I can run 26, I bet I could’ve done Dopey. Aside from money, this seems like a slam dunk.
Wear a plastic trash bag or old sweater even if its not going to be ‘that’ cold.
Go into a ride at Animal Kingdom! Those runners were having more fun than I was.
Things That Didn’t Matter, After All
I did not do race I planned. Realizing I would never see ‘my’ pace team allowed me to just enjoy the scenery and company of hundreds of people around me. I do not think I would’ve been able to take it all in and enjoyed as much had I spent the race looking at watch.
That is it, thanks for reading!