Monday, January 11, 2010

Disney Marathon

The day finally arrived - January 10th - time for the Disney marathon. We booked a room at Port Orleans, which is only a half mile from the starting line. Disney provides transportation, but you must be on the bus by 4AM. Walking to the start sounded much better to us. The alarm went off at 4AM, we ate breakfast, and were out the door by 5. The temperature was somewhere around 26 degrees, hence all of the clothing. I'm wearing 4 shirts, two pairs of gloves, shorts under the pants, and a hat. We had planned to slowly shed the clothing as the race went on, but as you'll see, it never really did warm up.
Most people had to wait an hour or two at the starting line, but we only had to wait about 20 minutes. We wrapped ourselves in old flannel sheets, which we eventually discarded around mile 2.

This is how far back we were from the start line. It took us 13 minutes to get from our spot to the start. 24,000 runners were registered, and almost 17,000 finished.

Our first park was EPCOT, but it was still too dark to take any decent pictures. From there, we ran down a long highway toward Magic Kingdom. The EPCOT ball you see is actually a hot air balloon. I wonder if they were warm.
Next stop, Magic Kingdom! It was very exciting to run on to Main Street. Many, many spectators were there cheering us on. The runners are on the right, spectators on the left.
The whole time, it was just a mass of runners.
I snapped this picture as we were approaching the castle. He looks awfully happy, doesn't he? That's because we're only at about mile 8 at this point.
We asked a Disney Cast Member to take a picture of us in front of the castle. This marathon certainly reminded us how much we miss our Disney passes.
From Main Street, we wound through Tomorrowland toward the castle.
As we approached the castle tunnel, we were serenaded by these trumpeters. Disney sure knows how to do it right! Then we ran through the castle and out into Adventureland.
After a LONG run, we finally made it to Animal Kingdom. Here's me in front of the tree of life, looking a little more ragged. By now we're starting to feel it.

Chris posed in front of Everest.

Now begins the worst part of the race - from about mile 17-20, we were on a highway, with nothing much to see. The wind was howling, and I was feeling it. Chris kept pushing me to keep on going. At mile 20, we unexpectedly saw some spectators we knew, which picked me up and kept me going.
Finally, we made it to Hollywood Studios. This is where Chris was really struggling. There were characters all over the marathon route, but this is the only time we stopped to pose. It helps that there was no line.

Ah, the best part of the marathon - as we entered the Studios, they had CHOCOLATE!! Hershey's miniature, to be exact. And they let us grab the ones we wanted. Opening them in gloves was a bit of a challenge, but it was still too cold to take them off. I had 4 Special Darks, and was ready to go. Chris said this was the only time he was excited to see chocolate! We now have only 3 miles to go.

We ran through the backstage tour building. At least it provided some shelter from the wind.

We emerged from the tunnel at New York Avenue. Were we running the New York City marathon?? Were we delusional?? Almost there.

From the Studios, we ran through Disney's Boardwalk and the EPCOT countries. It is a mile and a half around the countries, probably the longest mile of our lives. But all of a sudden, we left EPCOT and the finish line was in sight, with a ton of cheering people! We crossed the line at 5:23:26. Yes, that's 5 1/2 HOURS. The winner made it in 2:22 minutes! Amazing. I was proud just to finish. Not many people can say they've run a marathon. I checked my scores, and saw that I am in the 50th percentile for my age bracket, which, at least for the next few days, is 35-39. Come Saturday, I'll graduate to the next one.

I have never been so cold as I was at the end of the race. We were wet, and it was about 40 degrees and windy. We got these great blankets to wrap around ourselves, but they kept trying to fly away. Finally a helpful worker showed us how to tie them so they would stay on. We grabbed our food, and walked as quickly as we could to the buses that take us back to the hotel.
Here is Chris, showing off his medal. We did it! We stayed together the whole race. I am definitely a slower runner than he is, but neither of us could have done it alone.
Was it fun? I don't know that fun is quite the word to describe running a marathon. Will we do it again someday? I don't know that, either. Maybe it's like childbirth, where you don't remember the pain after awhile. The hardest part of this whole thing was fitting in the time to train. It was quite an experience, however, and I'm glad that my first marathon was Disney. And now I can always say that I did a marathon the week I was about to turn 40.

1 comment:

Thomas F. Yezerski said...

This is a great story. I can only imagine how hard it is to set out on your first marathon on the doorstep of 40. You guys are awesome, and it's so romantic that you ran it together.