It wasn’t easy. I never thought it would be, but it’s possible that I underestimated how hard it would be. I’ll walk (not run) you though my whole experience!
We went to bed early the night before. Like, 8pm early. The races start at 5:30am to minimize the impact on the parks, so we had to be on the monorail by 4am, meaning we set our alarms for 3am. I spent some time before bed packing up my gEAR bag, which was checked during the race, and laying out every piece of my outfit so I wouldn’t forget a thing. I woke up feeling surprisingly well rested and excited!
It was warm and humid when we arrived at the start area. I was able to move through bag check, take a quick potty break, and wish everyone good luck as we went to our different start corrals. I barely needed my “throwaway clothes,” which actually get collected and donated after the start, and I stripped down well before my corral started. I also met up with a pacing group, setting my sights on 4:45 as my final time. Everyone was really friendly and encouraging, but that’s what I expected from Disney runners!
Each corral (it’s a wave start, grouped by estimated final time) was started by ACTUAL MICKEY MOUSE (OMG!) and FIREWORKS! It was thrilling to watch the first few waves and then finally take off. I felt pretty good, but very sweaty, for the first few miles, but unfortunately had to ditch my pace group for a potty break around mile 3. After that I was on my own, but there’s so much entertainment throughout the course I wasn’t worried. Anna and Elsa waved as we ran through Cinderella’s castle, my friend’s mom and cousin popped up at a few different spots to cheer us on, and there were at least half a dozen marching bands to pep us up as we went by!
I had hoped that by mile 5 or 6, I would have settled into a comfortable pace, but I never did. It could have been the humidity, at times it felt like I could have swam the race faster! But I did my best to stay hydrated, slowing down to drink water or Powerade at all the stations, and I also carried gels, which are basically gooey food you eat while running. I never got hungry or thirsty, so I think I at least did that part right!
I think I felt the worst during miles 22-24. Mentally, I was doing fine; I never doubted whether I would finish the race. Physically it was a battle. I played games with myself, allowing 1 minute walking breaks every half mile or so, but forcing myself to still run even though my legs felt so sore and heavy. Thankfully, the last few miles go through Hollywood Studios, along the Boardwalk, and then through Epcot, which meant tons of spectators cheering us on! By the time I ran under the big Epcot ball, I was home free, and as we exited the park at the 26 mile mark, there was even a gospel choir! Let me tell you, there is nothing better to motivate you through those last .2 miles!
As I ran towards the finish line, teary-eyed but smiling, I high-fived Minnie Mouse! I was so proud of myself for finishing and proud of Team Lemon for all the money we raised. I took a few final snapchats — I had been posting the whole race, which many friends following along from home really enjoyed — as I received my medal and had my knees wrapped in ice. Here’s what my face looked like at every mile, as well as a few bonus pics.
I don’t know if I’ll run another marathon. I didn’t finish under 5 hours, my official time was 5:20, which is faster than all those people who have never run a marathon (ha!) so I might just live with that. At least I can say I’ve done it once!
Overall, running the marathon was a great experience. Disney World is a fun place to run a marathon, Mickey Mouse is a wonderful host, and then throw in running for Team Lemon, with your best friends, in honor of the sweetest little girl, Summer? Well, yea. All the pain I went through is nothing compared to how Summer powers through her treatments, and I hope that the $90,000+ that Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation raised during WDW Marathon Weekend will help many strong little kiddos just like her. Go Team!
Prone to distractions. I spend my time making playlists for every mood and researching new beauty/fashion trends, if I’m not too busy working. Usually found wearing blinged out headphones and bright lipstick, chair dancing and singing too loud. I take my LIAM with a side of Niall.