Sunday, January 15, 2012

Race Recap - 2012 Walt Disney World Marathon

I am so happy I chose this for my first marathon race. It has been on my list for a while and it was an amazing experience. It is a really friendly race and a great one for a first marathon. I may have been a little slow, but I really had a great time. 

Like other Disney races, the marathon starts very early. To make it easier to get to the start and to turn it into a mini-vacation, we stayed at a Walt Disney World for a few nights, including the night before the marathon. 

Before the race.
It was early :)

I got up about 3:30 a.m. and was out of the hotel by 4 a.m. There was a little bit or traffic on the way to Epcot, but it was not that bad. I went through the bag check at about 4:45 a.m. It was a bit of a walk to the corrals, and I got to my spot about 15 minutes before the beginning of the race. I would have been there sooner, but the lines for the porta potties were a little long. It was chilly standing in the corral, but much more comfortable than it was for the Richmond half. 

The race officially started at 5:30 with the national anthem and fireworks. Each wave of runners got fireworks and I would love it if all races started with fireworks. It is much more exciting than just a gun or person. Since I was in the last wave, I started just before 6 a.m. The first few miles were a little chilly, but I have run in much worse weather and I knew once the sun came up, I would be fine. During the first 3.5 miles, you wind around Epcot and then through the park for the first time. It was great to get into a park right away. I also got to pass my husband, who is my biggest cheerleader, twice in these first few miles. 

I got a little worried when by mile 4 I was beginning to feel hungry. I had eaten a mini-bagel with peanut butter and a granola bar at the hotel, as well as a few cliff blocks before the race. On training runs, this worked well, but didn’t hold me over this time. I took a cliff shot and some water and that helped. Once you come out of Epcot, you are on the highway for a few miles; then you hit the Transportation and Ticket Center, pass the Contemporary Resort and are into the Magic Kingdom. You are only in the Park for a mile or two, but this is my favorite part of the race. I also saw my husband both coming and going from the Ticket and Transportation Center. 

The first 14 miles went quickly. Going through the parks is exciting and Disney does a great job of having fun things on the course to take your mind off the distance. For me, the hardest part of the race was from mile 14 through mile 17. Here you pass through a lot of backstage areas and past a water treatment plant. Additionally, at mile 16 I started to feel a little tired and my knee was getting a little sore. 

Miles 17 and 18 take you through Animal Kingdom and needed the distraction at this point. I was running slower than I had at the start, but still feeling good overall. At mile 19, I was struggling and let myself walk the mile, but picked up running again at mile 20. Just past mile 22, you enter Disney’s Hollywood Studios and you begin to feel like you are getting close to the finish. I don’t know if it was the course or the adrenaline, but this was the most exciting part of the race. You have crowds and support from the time you enter Studios until the finish line. 

Just before mile 25, I saw my husband again and he brought the signs my amazing nieces and nephew made for me. It was really what I needed to get through to the finish of the race. I was getting really tired at this point. The only bad thing about this part of the race is that at about mile 25.25, you pass a stand selling funnel cakes and the smell just taunts you. I was starving by this point and I found it a little mean. 

Finishing. It took me
so long to get here.
The race was well organized, the people were incredibly friendly, the weather was spectacular and I don’t think I could have picked a better race for my first marathon. Disney races may cost a little more than others, but you can tell where the money goes and the races are well worth the price. The course was crowded in spots, but that is to be expected with about 21,000 people running. There were tons of characters and other entertainment on the course and it helped the miles go by.