For the second day in a row my alarm woke me up at 3:00 am. SERIOUSLY! This was supposed to be a vacation, oh wait this was a racecation! And today it was Sunday and I was running double the distance that I ran the previous day. By the end of this day I will have completed 39.3 miles and not only be the proud owner of a 20th anniversary marathon medal, but also a Goofy Medal. Because, let’s face it any sane person who signs up to run 39.3 miles in a two day period is down right Goofy!
Perhaps my blurry eyed look indicates that I was running as the wrong character, but I was ready to go! I must admit that there was not as much spring in my step this morning. Though I was still able to get ready in a hurry I was nervous. I thought that I might cry, as I wondered what did I get myself into. I took a few deep breathes and kept telling myself that I was ready for this day. After making sure my mouse ears were in place, taking a few pictures, and grabbing my banana I was out the door. I was again meeting my friend outside the race retreat tent so we already had a plan in place.
My friend and I had time to say our hellos, goodbyes, and good lucks to our PBRC friends. Before I knew it we were headed to our corrals to get ready for the national anthem and wait for our for the gun or in Disney style… FIREWORKS to go off! And like that in a blink of any eye I was running my first full marathon!
My friend and I decided early on that we wanted to go our own pace so we said our goodbyes and good lucks and started running. By mile 3 I hit a wall…Kind of crazy considering I still had 23.2 miles to go. I mean who hits a wall that early in a race? In my head I knew that I could make it to Animal Kingdom, that was the half way point, but beyond that all bets were off. Being that this was a new challenge I was simply psyching myself out. By the time that I reached The Magic Kingdom and saw the beautiful icicles on the castle I knew that I had made to make a CHOICE… GO BIG OR GO HOME!
Once I came to that realization I simply just kept running! Sometimes when you are in the thick of it, is difficult to remember that half of running is mental and you need to find the confidence you need to succeed.
Once I made the CHOICE the rest of the morning was a running blur. I didn’t stop for any character pictures or that many photo opportunities. I don’t recommend it but, I even ran through quite a few water stations. It was unseasonably hot and humid, not a very good choice, but that’s I how completed my first full marathon. I just kept pushing on. Next time I must remember to take my Camelbak as this will allow me to keep going. Throughout my training and early in the race I kept repeating the famous Walt Disney quote, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” With this mantra running around my brain I was ecstatic when I saw all the signs with quotes. Despite the sheer determination and focus I decided that a mini break was in order and I stopped for a picture.
Beyond my family and friends who were along the course to cheer me on and thanks to good old AT&T they kept me connected. Every time I felt a jolt from my Spibelt I knew that I was getting a supportive text message from my loved ones. You know who you are and this truly helped me keep going. Thank you.
My least favorite part of the course, besides running past the water treatment plant, which oddly did not smell that horrible, was running around ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex. Being who I am I did not like the narrow entrance into the area and it also did not make me feel comfortable that there was a scrimmage game going on. Mind you the game was for our entertainment value.
Before I knew I was out of ESPN zone and I knew that the 20th mile spectacular was right around corner and I was getting really excited. As I approached the 20th mile spectacular I knew that I had this! I was capable of accomplishing what only hours earlier I thought was the impossible. It was all happening, I was on my way. In the distance I was able to see the really cool puppets that they use for the pre-show in World of Color in California Adventure. There was also a stage with the classic Disney characters and a banner with the 20th Anniversary logo and medal that was soon to be proudly around my neck. Being that this was my first Disney marathon every mile marker and character celebrations were spectacular in my eyes. Previous Disney marathoners were expecting something new and unique and I heard they were disappointed, in my eyes it was truly amazing.
After passing the 20th mile mark I knew that I was in the home stretch. Hollywood Studios was the 3rd to last park that I would be running through. I had already received a text from my mom letting me know where I should look for her, with her cow bells and clappers. Mind you she was standing on the corner of Hollywood and Vine. Being so in the moment it took a few seconds to realize that she meant in Hollywood Studios.
Mentally in my head I knew the break down of the remaining few miles, Hollywood Studios, the Boardwalk, then EPCOT, and then the finish line. The course map has been taped to refrigerator since it became available over the summer, so I had it pretty well memorized. Hollywood Studios not only provided enough distractions, but they also provided candy! Which I tossed to my mom as I ran past her not even stopping for a picture. If it was not for the very kind lady warning me to stop and tie my shoe I would not have taken this adorable picture right outside the studios. Thank you again for being concerned for my safety, I think that a few miles earlier I simply tucked it into my shoe.
After I made sure my shoe was securely tied I knew that I needed to motor if I really wanted to GO BIG OR GO HOME! I had less than 35 minutes before I hit the six hour mark. I was determined to make it in under 6 hours. All that was remaining at this point was the pathway that lead people to the Boardwalk, the Beach and Yacht Club and finally the last few miles in EPCOT.
Heading into EPCOT for me was when I felt the most confident. This was where all the months of hard work and training really went into effect. This was IT. I was so close to being a first time marathoner. I started around World Showcase and with the adrenaline pounding in my veins I just kept pushing. Running over the last bridge connecting London to Paris my legs barely noticed how steep the bridge really was. My heart was thumping and I was focused on finishing strong. I absolutely loved running through the countries and being cheered on by the spectators. As I approached the Mexico Pavilion and saw Spaceship Earth I knew that it was only a matter of minutes before I reached the 26th mile marker. As I approached Spaceship Earth I was getting chocked up as I recall the story my parents have shared with me that being I decided that EPCOT was the perfect place to take my first steps as a one year old. Now 29 years later I feel like I have gone from walking to soaring!
I think that the sheer energy of the gospel choir and the roaring crowd could have carried me to the finish line. This was when I realized that this was my moment, I wanted to remember everything, to soak it all in. With sweat on my brow and achievement in my heart, I crossed the finis line at 5 hours and 55 minutes. It’s hard to believe that I ever doubted myself or my dreams, but to reiterate the wisdom of Walt Disney, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” As they put both my first full marathon and Goofy medal around my neck I was asking race officials how I can sign up for next year. Thank you Goofy for this amazing once in a lifetime experience and I can’t wait for 2014!
QOTD: Are you a marathoner? How do you push yourself to reach your goals? What mental mind games to you play?