I left off part one of the Disney marathon with us leaving the speedway and heading into the more low key part of the race where we were running on back roads and by the water treatment plant (which luckily didn’t smell terrible like in 2011!) We kept an eye out for characters and were able to stop and get a few good photos on this long stretch. The first up is one of my favorite photos from the race. Its villain time!
They were a hoot, I loved the smoke, and can you see scar chilling up in the background? We soldiered on and found well, a soldier! Along with some other Christmas friends. Although I must say, the weather wasn’t feeling very Christmas-y in the 70’s.
Ahead of our winter time friends, we found a couple of pirates, aaarrrgghhh!
Just around the riverbend….eeerrr…water treatment facility, we found Pocahontas, John Smith and Meeko! I love that little guy.
After we bid them farewell, there were tables full of bananas for us, yes! My one (very small) complaint was the banana table was IMMEDIATELY followed by a water stop. I was trying to choke down my food so that I could drink some water, it would have been better to have the water stop a tad bit further down so I could have time to eat. But again, very very VERY small complaint in an otherwise awesome race! I wasn’t sure how my body would react to eating a banana mid run, but I did fine, and think it really helped give me a boost.
We kept going and were soon greeted with some animal friends as we came into Animal Kingdom. We had to stop and take a photo with this guy. I think he liked me way more than Bobby.
They had birds, a sheep, and even a SNAKE, gross! I decided to pass on a photo with that one. It was nice to be in Animal Kingdom and have another park to run though. I told Bobby to watch his footing because the ground in there was a bit uneven. Bobby had to make yet another bathroom stop (number 3 so far for him, seriously!?!?) So I decided to stop and stretch while I waited. He had told me to keep going, but it was so crowded in the park I was afraid I would lose him. We were back to running before I knew it, and we passed Everest right as they were opening it, and there were some runners there waiting to ride. Too funny!
We were back out onto the road all too soon, and knew we had another bit of a stretch before getting to the Wide World of Sports. Luckily, we found a little entertainment along the way.
We started passing signs with great quotes on them, and they really gave me a boost. This one is a favorite, and I knew it was on the Mickey Marathon medal, so I had to stop and get a picture.
We also ran into these guys, this may be my favorite photo of the race.
Bobby didn’t realize the ground was still wet so his back was all dirty after, oops. Up ahead, we could see people heading back towards us, then turning to their right going onto a different road. I was confused, because I knew we still had to go to Wide World of Sports, so I thought maybe I was just turned around. There had to be a turn around up ahead soon. Then I noticed a medical tent on the other side of the road, and we had just passed one, so I thought well….we have to go far enough down to justify another medical tent. Little did I know we had many miles to go before we would be those people running back the other way! We turned right, and then right again into the Wide World of Sports complex.
We stopped for a walk break, and all of the sudden a guy comes up beside us and starts talking to us, saying he has been pacing with us a long time and been behind us for awhile. We made small talk, I asked where he was from, etc. then told him by the way, my name is Heather. He told me his name was Ed, then suddenly said….”I think you are my travel agent!” GET OUT! What are the odds? We hadn’t talked to anyone else on the course except our friends that passed us on the speedway! Come to find out his girlfriend reads my blog, and I booked his trip in February to come back and run Princess! I just couldn’t get over it, it was so, so incredibly random! So, shout out to Ed (hi there!)
We soon hit a track, and it was SO NICE to run on a different surface, my feet instantly felt better and I wished we could run the rest of the race on a track. We wound around the complex some more, stopped for ANOTHER bathroom break, and headed into the baseball stadium. I was excited for this part, because running through Angel Stadium was my favorite part of the Disneyland half marathon, and I was hoping there would be just as many fans and it would be loud and fun.
Well, it was cool to run around the inside of the stadium, however there were few fans inside, most not even cheering, so I think I inflated that one way too much in my head.
Soon we were back out of the stadium, and heading around another baseball field. I found it was odd that the players out on the field were staring at something behind home plate. We made our way around, and finally realized what was going on. There was a girl on the ground in the middle of the course with a bag of ice on her head, Disney workers running around, people around her etc. Someone hit a foul ball back over behind the fence and it hit her on the head! I felt so bad for her, this far into the race. What are the odds??!? I hope she is ok and got to finish.
Up ahead we saw an inflated Mickey balloon that we had seen in the distance coming into the complex, and knew we were getting close to the mile 20 surprise. For a minute I was thinking “is that it?” But we weren’t quite to twenty yet. I think Mickey was tired and needed a nap.
We made a couple more turns and I got really excited, knowing we had to be close to mile twenty. At least it kept my mind off of running! Finally, we could see up ahead, some really cool looking puppets, a neat banner with all 20 medals on it, and a stage with some Disney characters. Neat! It was really cool, but to be honest I think Disney made such a big deal out of the secret surprise that people were expecting something crazy. If they would have been more low key about it, I would have thought it was a really neat addition, that’s the only way i can think to explain it.
Of course we had to stand in line for a picture with Minnie, Mickey, and Pluto…even though it was super long. Bobby sat on the curb as we waited and some lady in a very concerned voice asked if he was ok and I started laughing, lots of things I could have said in response.
Three people before it was our turn, the characters left nnnoooo! However we did get Goofy which was neat since we were running Goofy’s Challenge.
I told Bobby to take a picture of me under the arch/banner, and he kind of failed.
Um…you can’t even see the arch. I think he was getting delirious.
Luckily, we finally made it back to “the turn” where we thought we “couldn’t be that far from” and were now heading in the other direction with runners coming towards us. I felt bad for them, still several miles back, not knowing they were nowhere near the turn around, the same way I had felt just a few miles ago.
We got off the exit ramp, and I knew we were not that far from Hollywood Studios. We stopped at every med tent for Biofreeze and sometimes Tylenol, and Bobby took another bathroom stop (number 5, oh yes. I have no idea how he was able to go with the amount I was sweating I only had to twice!)
We went up a ramp and up in the distance I could see people turning right into Hollywood Studios. We were in the home stretch and I knew we would make it. We had the distraction of running in Hollywood Studios, the Boardwalk, then EPCOT, and then the finish line! I was starting to get excited. I also knew we were about to get candy! I grabbed two pieces of chocolate as we went by.
This is where Bobby started to struggle with his legs and feet. I could tell he was hurting so I kept turning around yelling for him to come on, and that we only had a few miles to go, you know, like a short training run. I felt badly for him because I felt so good, like I could have just sprinted those last few miles to the end. Sure my body was aching and wanted to stop, but otherwise I felt fine. I looked at my Garmin for one of the first times all day, and saw it was possible to break six hours if we pushed. We decided not to stop for more characters (the lines were super long anyway) and see what we could do.
We wound our way through the studios, me in front and Bobby a few yards behind. I had to keep turning around and giving him “the look” to get him to keep going. I knew he had it in him, and that we were SO CLOSE. I started having flashbacks to 2011, this is the same mile marker where Bobby started having Hamstring trouble and we had to basically walk the last 3-4 miles of the race. I started praying that God would help the pain to go away so we could finish strong.
Notice Bobby behind me, poor thing.
As we started heading out of the Studios, I started thinking about the first time I was here during a race. It was 2009, and I was here with Karen watching our friends run the marathon. Back then, I knew nothing about marathons or running really in general, and thought these folks were nuts. However, after watching the determination in their faces, and all of the strangers cheering them on, I knew it was something I wanted to do…something I HAD to do. Karen and I vowed to come back and run the half the next year, and we did! Followed by the full the next, and here I was….four years from that day, running Goofy’s Challenge. This girl. I couldn’t believe it. As we got closer and closer to “inspiration curve” as I now call it, I started to get a little chocked up. I was really doing it. Something I honestly never thought I could accomplish, and I was doing it with a smile on my face. I was doing ok, and then all of the sudden Bobby breaks the silence and says “here’s your inspiration curve honey, this is where you stood, and you are DOING IT! You’re here, and you are really doing this!” That’s all it took, I couldn’t hold it in anymore, and I cried a few happy tears.
Inspiration curve, where I stood to watch the 2009 Disney Marathon, right outside the gates of the Studios.
I gathered myself together, and we headed onto the path to the Boardwalk.
Jen had been texting me, and I knew she would be waiting for us outside the Beach Club. She let me know exactly where they were, and it was the boost I needed to get me from Hollywood Studios to the other side of the Boardwalk. We got close to where she was and I was looking and looking and finally saw her and her son and parents! They had all come out to cheer us on, so so sweet. (Next two photos taken by Jen)
I was SO excited to see her, and gave her a big sweaty hug and thanked her for coming out. She told us to keep going we were so close, and I blew kisses to their family and we took off again. It was great to have our own cheerleaders out on the course, especially so close to the end.
Right after seeing them, we were heading into EPCOT. This was IT, we were so close, and could still make it under six hours. We started around the World Showcase, and I enjoyed watching everyone as we went by. Honestly, this part was kind of a blur to me, I was so focused on running strong and getting to the end, I really don’t remember a whole lot.
When we passed the Mexico Pavilion and Spaceship Earth was in sight, I told Bobby we were doing it, we were almost there, and how awesome he was doing to run through the pain.
There were some amazing spectators/cheerleaders those last few tenths that really lifted my spirits.
I had a HUGE smile on my face as we came to the gospel choir. I wanted to remember everything, soak it all in. With the crowd roaring around us, we went around a turn, and I looked up and saw that beautiful finish line.
That home stretch went in slow motion. The crowd was on their feet, the music was blaring, I was about to get my Goofy medal. Was this real? Surly not the girl when ran the 100 meter dash in high school. Surely not the girl who dreaded the timed mile in P.E. class. 39.3 miles in two days? Oh yes, it was real, and I couldn’t be more proud.
I grabbed Bobby’s hand, my partner in crime, who has stood by me, trained with me, and completed this journey with me, and we crossed that glorious finish line together.
Not only did we finish in an upright position which was my only goal, but we broke six hours running a 5:58, (including tons of character stops mind you!) but we also have a shiny new PR to go with our medals.
I couldn’t believe we did it, and I couldn’t believe it was over. It was time to get my medals. God is so good. We were under trained, slightly injured, and He still brought us through. I am so thankful.
We high fived some friends at the finish, and that beautiful marathon medal was put around my neck. It truly is so gorgeous, my absolute favorite and will be hard to beat. We grabbed our water, banana, etc. and there was a lady yelling that we had to have our drink open by time we got to her and start drinking. I couldn’t get mine open so she had to do it for me! We then high tailed it straight to the Goofy tent, it was time for another moment I had been waiting a long time for. We were both given our medals and were told congratulations by the wonderful volunteers. Now, it was time to celebrate!
We had left our bags in the media tent so we had to climb over a barricade (even though we were told not to, sorry!) to get over there. We took some photos
ate some breakfast (Bobby claimed it was the best omelet ever, but I think we were just starving!)
and celebrated with some mimosas in the VIP tent.
We sat outside the tent on some stools and watched the other runners come in. I absolutely loved this part. Watching the emotion on their faces as runner after runner streamed in, most smiling, some crying. It was amazing.
After a couple of hours it was time to head back to the hotel, we had lingered long enough, but didn’t want this special experience to really be over. Here are some final thoughts on the race:
Organization: Great as always. Plenty of bathrooms, volunteers, signs, barricades, busses, etc. It’s great not having to worry about the little details!
Expo: Fabulous when I went on Thursday, however I know most merchandise was gone by Friday evening, someone didn’t order enough. Oops.
Aid Stations: Awesome! The volunteers were all so friendly, and there were plenty of them! I felt very hydrated, and loved the Clif shot and banana (and candy!) stations. Well done.
On Course entertainment: I love all the characters, they were a fun distraction, I just wish the lines weren’t as long! The more people that get added onto the course, the longer the lines are going to get. Also loved running through the parks and was so happy to see the icicle lights were still on the castle. Amazing. Mile 20 surprise was cute but a little underwhelming considering all the hype.
Medals: amazing. Truly amazing. I am obsessed with the marathon medal. I know I said I wouldn’t do goofy again, but I can’t imagine how cool the next goofy anniversary medal will look!
Weather: Obviously not in Disney’s control, I mean, it was JANUARY after all. The high for the day was around 81 I think, but honestly I didn’t think it was that bad. It was probably in the mid 70’s when we finished. I remember it being very humid when we started, but once the sun came up the humidity went down. True it was warm and I am sure it affected everyone’s times, (and we sweated a lot!) But I was never of the mindset that it was so miserable I wasn’t going to make it. I took water and Powerade at EVERY aid station, wore sunglasses and sunscreen, and dumped water on my head a couple of times. I have run much hotter races before, and I think Disney did a great job of handling it for those who didn’t know what they were getting into. The had heat advisories everywhere, the sponges at mile 18 were nice, as were the folks at the water stops dumping water on peoples heads. The med tents had sunscreen, and well there isn’t really much else you can do! They did well with the weather cards we were dealt. I was very pleased with how much energy I felt I had at the end despite the weather, and know between heat and character stops, I could have run a lot faster, it’s a great confidence booster!
Overall: runDisney, you did it again. I don’t know how you keep outdoing yourself, but it’s happened. I loved everything about marathon weekend, there was so much hype, fun, and electricity. I know it takes an army to plan and run this thing, and I am so grateful. I applaud you for a job well done, and I can’t wait to see what you have up your sleeve next. Thanks for putting on such an amazing event, where truly every mile is magic.
QOTD: Ok, who wants to run a runDisney race now? Does this recap convince you? Tell me yes please!