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WDW Marathon Weekend 2014

I know, this is a long overdue report. What can I say? I've been trying to pour all my words into a certain long document that I need to write, and this has got lost in the meantime. Here now though! Warning, this might get a little long...

Walt Disney World don't just do a marathon in January. They make it an entire 4 days of events. It all starts with the Pluto family 5k on the Thursday, then there's the brand shiny new Minnie 10k on the Friday, the Donald half on the Saturday and the Mickey full on the Sunday. They even do certain "Challenges" - the Goofy Challenge is the long-standing half and full double, and this year for the first time they had an official Dopey Challenge - all four races. (There has been an unofficial Dopey challenge previously, before the 10k was introduced, but this year it went official.) I don't think that if you're in good enough shape to do a half and a full that adding a 5k and 10k beforehand will hurt that much if you run them easy, which is not to belittle their efforts at all. Y'see, all four of the adult races start at 5:30am. This means being in corral by 5 at the very latest, which basically means 3am wake up calls four days in a row. 

Bearing that in mind, we weren't doing the Dopey. However, our involvment in the weekend did start with the 10k in a supporting role. Pat lives near my parents in Kissimmee and has done so much in various ways to help when we go over there (thanks Pat!). She was running the inaugural Minnie 10k as her first ever 10k. We saw her just before the finish, and my ever-trusty photographer (thanks Clarkie!) snapped her in her Belle shirt! 


Pat only started running a couple of years ago, and although she claims she only walks she did 10k in 1:34. That is shifting for a walker. She was a little disappointed to not break 90 minutes but for a first ever attempt that's pretty close. 

Saturday was the first of our 3am wake up calls, with Clarkie doing the Donald half. Clearly since she was running I had to take the photographs - so they are rubbish and there aren't many! Still, I did take one halfway decent one of the fireworks at the start.


That was 5:30am. I was wearing jeans, tshirt and a thin jumper and I was plenty warm enough standing still. It was 100% humidity and 21C. It was so far removed from anything we'd been training in. By the time she finished (which I was too busy cheering for and didn't get a picture of) poor Clarkie looked like she'd run through a shower. The time is a long way off what she was hoping for and had run in training at 2:43:43, but that time really doesn't tell the whole story. 

Next day was my turn, and if it had been the same conditions I would have been stuffed. My training times had me finishing in about 4:05. I was hopeful of 4:30, but really desperately wanted sub-5. Fortunately there had been thunderstorms overnight, so for me it was still 100% humidity but only 17C when I started. Unfortunately, I screwed up right from the start. I struggled to get some food in at that time of the morning, but managed. The problem was the water. I was hydrated, but felt thirsty, but didn't want to queue for the loos. I drank a bit more on the way to the corral, decided I couldn't possibly need the loo again, and headed straight into my corral. Big mistake. I still had plenty of time at that point and really should have just drunk a bit more and queued. By the time my corral started, I was seriously considering heading for the bushes!

Still, we got underway, and I started out very comfortably. Too comfortably, actually. I got to 0.8 miles (first drinks station), checked my watch and saw 11:32 for the first mile. I haven't run a mile that slowly in... oh... I don't even know how long. So I picked the pace up a little. Got to three miles and the first toilets and had to stop. So it ended up taking slightly over 33 minutes for the first three miles. At that point I decided to let my hopes of a properly fast time go and just enjoy as much of it as I could, so when I saw Clarkie at 4 miles (ish), I was able to tell her not to worry - I know sitting in the stands and watching the splits be less than you'd hoped is hell! 

So I relaxed into it as best I could. My splits were 5m 55:38, 10m in 1:45:54, 13.1 in 2:19:40, 20m 3:41:17. That half speed is way down on my training runs. Over 20 minutes down. 10 miles I can normally comfortably do in around 1:30 or slightly under even as part of a much longer run. And that 5 mile split is just crazy, given that I'd done a 40 minute 5 mile just before Christmas. Still, I kept going. And I kept drinking at all the stations. At 12 miles I had a banana and that gave me a stitch for the next mile so I stopped taking the food - although I had my bags of raisins (my preferred race fuel!) and kept munching them. I sort of got to 19 miles before I really noticed, but after that it got hard. All I wanted to do was put my head down somewhere and nap! Even the bins were looking like potential rest stops. I started drinking the Powerade as well as the water to try and wake up.

By 24 miles I was sloshing, but my body was still after more liquid. It was the strangest feeling. I kept trying to fool my body by taking the water in my mouth and spitting it back out, but no good. By now I knew my sub-5 was pretty much gone, let alone any of my other goals. 

Somewhere around 24.5 miles I heard someone shout Ellie. It woke me up - I only had Eleanor on my bib and the writing hadn't really been big enough for people to read. It was Pat! And my parents! That gave me a bit of a lift, and I managed to break back into a run again. I managed to run the uphills (ha! small rises I wouldn't even notice normally) into Epcot, but had to have a little walk around the back. Then ran again from the United Kingdom past 25 the miles and into France, past Japan, US and Germany before I had to have a bit of a walk past Norway. The official photos show I managed to run past Mexico. (Um. See this map for this bit to make sense.) I walked a bit more towards the fountain, but ran under the ball past the gospel choir out back. Another little walk before finally running the finish. 


My personal race photographer struck again. The sunglasses are hiding a few tears - the thought of finishing at all was pretty emotional! I finished in 5:05:08. So I only narrowly missed out on my sub-5 goal, took 1 hour 5 minutes off my last effort at this particular race, and managed a 53 minute personal best at the marathon distance, and was disappointed.  

After three and a bit weeks of letting it sink in, I am not so disappointed. I am not a morning person so the 3am wake up calls two days in a row probably had an effect, let alone the difference in conditions. I am a significantly stronger running thanks to the training I did than I ever expected to be - nearly strong enough to do a marathon, and I've already run three. I stayed well from the start of October to the end of January, which is a first. And I have some very pretty bling and a rather nice race shirt to show for it. 

Medals in Epcot

I use Fetcheveryone to log all of my running, and Fetch allows you to see who else has entered the same races as you. Only six of us Fetchies entered the WDW marathon, and so far only five have entered a time. I am currently the fastest finisher, in spite of having the worst pb prior to the race. This suggests to me that it really wasn't good conditions for Brits! So, I guess if I really want to see what I'm capable of, I need to enter a UK marathon. I swore that one would be my last. Immediately after the race, I wanted to do another. Right now? I'm not sure. The itch is still there, but the training is not so much fun. I'll wait a bit and see.

(Oh, and Clarkie has more photos of the entire thing here!)

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Reader Comments (1)

How about Sydney with aunties Lin and Denise?

We remain hugely impressed.

February 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

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