Read Part 1: The Half Marathon HERE.
Believe it or not, Sunday was even colder than Saturday, although at least it was dry. I knew I would need additional layers, so I ended up wearing yoga pants on the bottom (Recovery Socks underneath for extra warmth) and the Marathon and Goofy race shirts on top along with a jacket that wasn’t designed for running. It didn’t exactly allow for ease of motion, but it kept me mostly comfortable while running. Once again the Bondi Band kept my ears covered.
After being stuck out in the cold for so long the previous morning and having learned that it wasn’t necessary to arrive quite so early, we slept in a little longer and caught a later bus on Sunday morning. This time we arrived at about 4:00AM, so we didn’t have to struggle to keep warm for quite so long. We kept our warm layers on as long as possible before heading through bag check toward the starting area.
Fortunately I had another throw-away sweater and some extra aluminum blankets.
Once again we snuggled together to protect ourselves from the elements as much as possible while we waited for the fireworks and the word “GO!” We were in the first wave for the marathon, so we started at 5:40AM.
Similar to Saturday, we had no goals except to finish the race (preferably upright and smiling) and have fun. We intended to keep the pace comfortable, walk/stop when we needed to and not worry about anything except counting down the miles. The four of us had tentatively planned to stick together for the start with the guys eventually backing off to walk the majority of the first half, then running the second half (both were recovering from injuries and had not trained to run a marathon). Their plan later changed to running while in each theme park and walking in between. In the end, they ran the entire way with us!
The marathon course would take us through all four theme parks and along long stretches of highway in between.
Once again we took to the streets in the dark. This time we started by running around and through part of Epcot, including half way around World Showcase. It’s difficult to see, but this is the “globe” lit up in the lagoon:
We found the course much more crowded than the day before and often had no choice but to settle in with the people around us. We did pass when we had the opportunity, mostly to get ourselves a little space, and we were constantly looking over our shoulders to make sure we have everyone. Ueli? Check! Patricia? Check! Mark? Check! Marlene? Check! It was pretty funny.
After touring Epcot, we had several miles of highway taking us toward Magic Kingdom. We recognized a lot of the scenery and I was grateful that it was the first part of the full marathon that duplicated the half marathon so that we had some new scenery to look forward to in the later miles.
We held a steady (although slow) pace, with the exception of frequent stops for washroom breaks and photo ops, and walking a few steps through most water stations. We were all feeling great as the miles ticked by and the guys were hanging on just fine with no intention of stopping.
Pretty soon we arrived back at the Magic Kingdom and approached the Cinderella Castle once again, this time in daylight.
We paused for a photo before making our way through Tomorrow Land.
Buzz Lightyear greeted us around the next corner.
We made our way all around Magic Kingdom before exiting toward the MK resort area. We bumped into a couple of characters along this stretch:
There were many more spectators out as the morning went on. The parks weren’t yet open, but crowds lined the entrances and exits to greet us and Disney employees were cheering like crazy inside the parks. The support really was incredible and we received a ton of extra attention due to our Goofy bibs (identified by their number “5” shape [5th anniversary]). People would often yell “Goofy runners coming through!” and everyone cheered. We felt like rockstars!
We passed the half way point in about 2:32, signifying that we were two-thirds of the way through the Goofy Challenge!
Shortly thereafter we hit the first banana station, where the volunteers were shouting “Frozen bananas!”
The freezing had become somewhat of an issue at the water stations, a thin layer of ice having formed over the water in each cup and Powerade being handed out as “Powerade Slushies!” It was actually quite dangerous as spilled water had turned into a skating rink on the pavement. We had to step very carefully. How crazy to find ice on the course at the Disney Marathon – in Florida!
We had started making our way toward Animal Kingdom when we spotted this guy shaking his bootie in the middle of the road. And YES, I gave it a tap as we ran by. How could I resist?
Running through Animal Kingdom, for me, was a definite highlight of the route.
Next was another long stretch of highway heading to Hollywood Studios. We had been stopping much less throughout the second half of the marathon (our bladders were finally under control!) and many of our splits were much faster than the first half. I think we were all surprised by how strong we felt and I kept wondering to myself when I was going to hit the wall. It didn’t happen! I knew my training was paying off as the miles continued to tick by and I felt great through 18, 19, 20, 21.
I’m holding my bib in the above pic because I had just ditched my jacket (it only took 3:45 to warm up…) and hadn’t yet re-attached my bib to my shirt.
Just after mile 20, hubs requested a walk break… which lasted all of ten seconds before he said something along the lines of, “Screw this, let’s run.” So we kept on going!
We finally made it to Hollywood Studios at about mile 22, and the next two miles would take us in and around the park.
We hit the chocolate (and raisin) station on the way in. I wasn’t in the mood to bite into anything, but I did fill my pockets for later.
After leaving Hollywood Studios we ran through the Boardwalk area, which was just gorgeous on this sunny (but cold) day.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but we (well, I) had picked up the pace quite a bit for the final few miles. As it turns out, the last 5K were our fastest of the entire weekend and the fastest I have ever finished any marathon. I remember hearing Patricia saying that I had “turned on the turbo.” We were ready to finish this thing!
From the boardwalk we ran straight into Epcot for the big finish. I had been looking out for a certain someone who I’d expected to find around this point. Sure enough, I spotted Redhead and Spike with their awesome balloons and sign. If you haven’t already, make sure you read Redhead’s Spectating Report!
All we had to do now was round a few bends, make our way down the finishing chute and collect the bling! The crowds were intense and the adrenaline rush was like nothing I have experienced before. I couldn’t stop thinking (and maybe saying aloud?) “We’re going to do this!”
And we sure did! We stuck together and I was able to grab hubby’s hand before crossing the line.
If you are not prone to motion sickness, check out this video of this last 1:15 of the race from my very bumpy and excited perspective. 🙂
We received our marathon medals and immediately made our way over to the Goofy tent to collect the real bling. Here we are, Goofy Challengers!
This one was taken back at the hotel, featuring all 3 medals.
Start to finish, this was by far one of the best experiences of my life.
Thanks for reading and congrats to all of my fellow Disney runners!
Recovery has been exceptional. We spent Sunday afternoon/evening and all day Monday walking around the parks, which turned out to be the best thing for sore and tired legs. By Tuesday, I could hardly believe I had run 39.3 miles on the weekend. I’ve been out to run three times (5K/3mi Wednesday, 8K/5mi Thursday and 16K/9mi Sunday) and everything seems to be functioning just fine. It’s safe to say I have never felt so good after finishing a marathon.