Thursday, February 9, 2017

Walt Disney World Marathon Part 4: Completing 26.2

Welcome to my race recap! Read Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here.

My friend's knee started bothering her during the first half and we split up around mile 15 as she needed to walk for a bit. We kept in touch during the race through Snapchat and phone calls!

At some point later on in the race, nutrition was available...PowerGels and bananas. I didn't have a super rigid fueling strategy. Just grabbed something here and there beginning at about mile 5 to prevent hitting a wall. (I also brought some mini LaraBars and Gatorade Prime Energy Chews that had worked for me in training.) It was amazing how many volunteers were helping out at these stations. Truly, so much work and organization goes into these events and it really shows.

The route took us through Magic Kingdom first, then Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot. Of course, in between we were running on main roads, staff roads, and other various hidden areas. There was a long stretch through ESPN Wide World of Sports which thankfully I had read about and tried to be mentally prepared for. It was just as tough as I expected, approximately miles 17-20. Definitely the longest 3 miles of the race, boring stretches without much going on. Those few miles are the only time I needed my music!

The second half of the marathon got progressively more difficult mentally. Training had prepared me for the tough moments when you really just have to grit your teeth and push through. I was thankful this course was super flat. The two or three inclines were laughable compared to what I'm used to in my neighborhood and it seemed at times like I was the only one still running while everyone else took walking breaks.

Passing mile marker 20 was a surreal moment since, from that mile on, I was going farther than I had ever run before in training. Somehow my legs just kept moving! Stopping or walking never really occurred to me, but during that last hour it was amazing how many different body parts took turns hurting.

Finally, it was mile 23. Then 24. Then 25. For the final mile, we ran around the countries in Epcot. As inspirational music swelled and crowds of people cheered, I got a little choked up as I thought, wow, this is really happening... I'm finishing a marathon, like am I a superhero or something?? 

During the final miles, spectator support is absolutely invaluable. In the middle of the really rough moments when you're asking yourself if it's worth it or trying to ignore your hip pain or wondering exactly how big that blister is.....someone will yell out "You got this!" or "Great pace!" or "Looking good!" And you'll throw your shoulders back, smile to show your gratitude, and give those people something to watch!

I lost count of how many times I heard my name as people specifically encouraged runners by reading off our racing bibs. Those cheers meant more than I can express.

At mile 26 I heard the gospel choir. I threw my hands up in the air and sang along for a minute until I got beyond them and spotted the finish line. WHOA. Donald Duck was standing at the finish line (various characters trade off during the race) and I ran over the line feeling LIKE A BOSS.

I finished with a time of 5:15:45. I will admit to being a little disappointed with that, especially since I completed my last half marathon with a time of 2:02:57. However, I came to terms with the fact that this was going to be a slower race because of the crowds and craziness. This just means that it will be easy to beat if/when I run my next marathon!

Stay tuned! I'll do one more wrap-up post soon.

And only 8 months later...here it is, Part 5!

7 comments:

Mark Allman said...

I am proud that you were able to run all the way through. That is awesome. I liked that you sang with the choir as you passed by. You should be so proud of yourself. I have read that only .5 percent of the US population has ever ran a marathon so you are in pretty select company!

Lizzie said...

Wow! Great joy! I think I'm going to add this marathon to my list.

Laura said...

Thanks Lizzie and Mark! (And definitely do it Lizzie! Not for a pr...but it's super fun!)

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