Disney Marathon Race Report (Read 458 times)

Mile Collector

Abs of Flabs

    continued from half marathon report 3:30 AM. "Oh $&@#!" I exclaimed to myself as I jumped out of bed. I had completely slept through my alarm clock. Instead of having a full hour to get ready, I now have half an hour. I went through my race day eating rituals, and delayed everything else that can be done when I get to the athletes' village. Although the marathon started at 6:00 AM, Disney wanted all runners to report to the village by 4:00. They stated explicitly that the last bus leaves at 4:00 and I left the hotel at 3:57. Just as I got out to the street, I saw the 4 o'clock bus leaving. I was confident that they'll send more buses because there couldn't be enough room for all the runners. When I got to the bus stop, the benches were empty except for one. There was only one other runner there, and the marathon bus coordinator. I asked the coordinator if there will be more buses and he assured me that there will be. I asked him what time will the actual last bus leave. He just smiled at me. He said that Disney wanted to ensure that all runners arrive early, which was why they told everyone a tiny little lie. The coordinator was right. Another bus arrived and I was relieved, despite my outward confidence. After about a half a mile walk, my friends and I arrived at the village, which was a parking lot in Epcot Center. There were runners everywhere in their various stages of race preparations. We sat around for a short while before joining the constant stream of people heading to the corrals, which were probably a mile away. We found our way to the corrals. Unlike the half marathon, the corrals were well defined, although each still holds thousands of runners. The officials checked your bib numbers at the entrance to ensure you were at the right place. Just like all the other races, we stood around for a long while as the talking heads yapped away on the jumbo-tron until someone started singing the national anthem. The Goofy runners noted all the similarities from the half marathon the day before. They played the same welcoming skit from Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy. The same singer sang the anthem, and got the same words wrong. The fireworks were a little more elaborate than the day before, but it still came across as obligatory. We were downwind from a row of portable toilets and their pungent odor enveloped the corrals. The race began after all the ceremonies. Honestly, I was a little worried about how the race will play out. My quads were a little tired because I went for a run the day before, about 13.1 miles. My biggest concern was sciatica. I don't know if it will surface again. If it did, I don't know if I would be able to finish. The first 4 miles were a loop back to the starting area. My legs were a little unhappy, but they stopped complaining after I warmed up several miles later. The temperature was noticeably cooler than the day before. I wouldn't say it was chilly because it wasn't, but it was just cool enough to be somewhat comfortable. The race route snaked through much of the Disney property. Most of it was on the highways leading to the parks. Every mile or so, there were entertainments from high school bands and cheering squads. Runners with cameras stopped to have their photos taken with Disney characters. I wished I had brought a camera along. At around mile 6, my left foot developed a blister. I stopped several times to adjust my sock hoping that it will alleviate the pain. No such luck. I smeared some Vaseline I got from one of the aid stations onto the offending toe and that helped a little, probably more psychological than anything else. Even thought the time we spent running through the parks was brief, it was also simply delightful. The spectators were out with their signs and cow bells. The sights and sounds made every step precious. The distractions were much appreciated. Magic Kingdom was definitely the best of the four, probably because we all get to run through the Cinderella Castle. The only way to describe that experience is magical. I had to stop again at mile 11 because I developed another blister on the same foot. There was a medical tent at mile 13 and I dropped in to get something to tape it up. As I commented to the medic, I'll soon be running farther than any other 24 hour period. My body has held up better than all my expectations. I was prepared for the severe sciatic nerve pains; the locking up of my leg muscles; hip problems and everything else that I've experienced in the last several months. Instead, everything continued to work. My legs weren't happy, but they weren't objecting strongly either. Maybe it was the magic of the race day that kept the pains away. As I crossed the half marathon mark, I knew I was going to make it. Since I had no time goals, I slowed down, sometimes down to a walk. It was better to complete this marathon healthy but slow than to risk further injuries. As we neared the Animal Kingdom, there was a strong stench in the air. At first I thought it was the animals, but it turned out to be Disney's recycling center. The Animal Kingdom wasn't built the last time I was at Disney. When I got to it, I became disoriented. I had no idea where I was as we wind through the tree lined paths within the park. I followed the runners in front as we passed the Dino park, the Nemo exhibit, and Everest. By the way Everest was pretty fun, although I got a little nauseous from all the lateral movements. We ran along the perimeter of the park until we left Animal Kingdom proper. It was back to highway running. Somewhere around mile 18, I passed a woman pushing a guy in a wheel chair. It wasn't the racing wheel chairs that we see in the wheel chair division. Rather, it was a regular one, the ones you would find in hospitals. The guy in the chair was pushing, although it was the woman that was doing most of the work. She asked if anyone would help her push so I volunteered. She moved aside such that she was pushing on the left and I was pushing on the right. In all my previous marathons, I barely had enough energy to cross the finish line, and here I am pushing a wheel chair down the road. I knew nothing about this person in the wheel chair. From the back, he looked like someone in his 50s. He was on the heavy side, and didn't have the typical runner's body. He also used his right foot to help propel the wheel chair while his left foot rested on the pedal. At the next water stop, the woman stopped for a drink as I continued forward. I thought she would catch up afterwards but she never did. Up ahead was an overpass and I was beginning to get tired. By now, I probably pushed for 3/4 of a mile. Another runner slowed down and offered to help me push. After a while, I had to slow down as he continued to push on. When he got about 10 yards in front of me, he too was relieved by two other runners. I over heard one of them said that they saw the wheel chair person on the news, and were sorry to hear about his accident. I guess he broke his ankle a week or two before the marathon, but like all runners, he was too stubborn to quit. You gotta love runners. I was told that all will be quiet until mile 22. When we make the right hand turn into MGM. There will be so much to see that I will forget about everything else. Shortly after mile 22, we turned into the backstage of MGM. There weren't anyone else other than volunteers and Disney characters along the road. The most memorable characters were Darth Vader and two of his troopers. We ran through the costumes tunnel that turned out to be part of the behind the scenes tour. Shortly after the tunnel, we were finally greeted by spectators and park visitors. We ran through the streets of New York City, then straight out of MGM's front gates. By this point, we have about 3 miles left. I knew that the race ends in Epcot, but didn't know where it was. One thing I knew was it can't be all that far away. After running for about a mile, we entered Epcot. We ran through the countries portion of the park. There was a steady stream of runners circling the lake in a counter-clockwise direction. The announcer kept the spectators entertained by citing various trivia. According to him, there were about 7,000 people that were running in both events. Only 3,000 of them will be official recognized with the Goofy Challenge medal in the end. Some of my friends cheered me on at various locations in the last several miles. Some even had a sign made just for me. Although I didn't tell them at the time, their presence made a big difference. I can't quite remember what happened during the last mile. I did remember deliberately slowing down so I won't push myself over the edge and cramping up. When I saw the finish banner, I picked up my pace and made a sprint to the finish. It felt good to go all out at the end, beating a handful of runners to the line with a finish time of 4:30:18. At last, I have that fabled Mickey medal around my neck and it was beautiful. There weren't too much post race food. There were the usual bottled water and sports drink. There were orange slices and banana halves. The oranges never tasted so good. My reward turned out to be a can of Coke. Life is good. to be continued...