|26.2 miles- something I never thought Id take on, let alone complete|
I warmed up once again, headed to my corral and sat down. I starting talking to this really nice woman whose husband had done goofy, and she did the marathon every year. She shared some tips and tricks of the course and we sent each other good vibes as our corral made it's way to the starting line.
It rained the night before, and it was WARM. At 530 in the morning, it was 70 degrees. My feelings towards running in the heat already lean towards pure hatred, but add the humidity in and I was worried I would choke on the thickness in the air.
|13.1 down, 26.2 to go!|
The fireworks went off and it was time to go. Since my current half PR was at 2:44 (Now 2:37!), I really wanted to finish the Marathon in less than 6 hours- something I considered totally doable in cooler weather. By the first half mile, I was sweating profusely and already grabbing water from my fuel belt. I slowed my pace and tried to let go of any kind of time goal. My goal was just to finish pain free. I aimed for a run/walk interval of 1min 30sec/1 min for the first 14 miles, 1/1 intervals the next 10 miles, and 30/30sec the remaining 2.2 miles. I could do this!
Miles 1-5 were the same as the day before, and we entered Magic Kingdom once again. Some time around mile marker 5 I met a guy named Michael. He was wearing a 'Bay to Breakers' tech shirt, which is a very popular (and naked) race in San Francisco. I did it one year with one of my best friends, and saw enough naked men and women to last me the rest of my life. Since I recognized the event on his shirt, I decided to say hi.
I asked him when he ran it, and he told me he had ran Bay to Breakers 3 times! He was also doing the Dopey challenge, and admitted to me he hadn't trained much- he was feeling sore and tired. I told him the intervals I was doing, and he decided to run/walk with me for awhile. It was so nice to have someone to talk to, I was used to having that, since my super awesome brother trained with me even though he didn't do the challenge (Thanks Joey!).
|Michael and I running through the castle|
Around mile 12, we saw these cute furry babies right outside of Animal Kingdom, and Michael decided he wanted to wait in line to take pictures. Since it was the Goofy Challenge, I had decided not to stop for pictures for the sake of my legs (and he was far more hardcore than me doing Dopey AND stopping for pictures), so we wished each other luck and I continued on. I was anxious to be over half way done, so I admired the animals from afar. They had snakes, ferrets, donkeys, goats- so cute!
|They had race bibs too! so cute!|
Between mile 12 and 13, we were in Animal Kingdom. Since the park is open, they let runners ride Expedition Everest. Im not going to lie, I wanted to do this sooooooo badly, but I was afraid if I stopped and sat down I wouldnt get back up, and mentally I knew I needed to keep going until I was passed the halfway mark (another downside to never having done a full marathon before this race- dang those nerves!). If I ever do the Dopey Challenge or this marathon again, I will definitely ride it next time!
|Photo Credit: Run Disney|
|ESPN!!! So Close to Mile 20!|
Mile 17-20 was inside ESPN park and that was fun! You get to run through where the Atlanta Braves hold spring training. Being the huge baseball fan that I am, I really enjoyed this. When I passed the Mile 20 marker, I felt another sigh of relief leave my body- I had only a 10k to go, I felt great, and I called my mom to let her know how good I was feeling- I was tired, but I was going to finish. The weather was much cooler than it was first thing that morning, I was pacing myself slowly but appropriately, and was expecting a 6:30 finish. With all the training I had done, I had not yet felt any kind of 'wall', and was confident that I wasnt going to.
Then mile 21 happened. During a run interval, I felt a strange twinge on the left side of my knee. I was concerned, and tried to do some stretching during the next walking interval. When it was time to run again, I felt fine- I had taped the area around my left knee that morning due to IT Band issues, and didnt think much of it.
At mile 22, I went into a run interval and knew something was wrong- the left side of my leg by my knee had had enough- it wasnt going to let me run anymore. I moved to the right of the course and tried to stretch it out against a tree, but every time I went to run again it hurt, and I felt my body was sending me warnings that if I continued to try to run, pretty soon I wouldnt be able to walk either.
Devastated, I called my Dad to let him know I wasnt going to finish in 6:30. The tears welled up, and I fought them down until this really nice woman, Joy, walking next to me asked me if I was alright. I shook my head and said no, started to cry, and sobbed my life story- how I had lost 80 Ibs, I had trained incredibly hard for this race, it had been an ultimate fitness goal of mine for two years, and after all of that my body wouldnt let me finish this race running. She was doing the Goofy Challenge too and had decided to walk the rest of the race, and so she walked with me.
Miles 22-26 were so incredibly long. Between 23-24 you are in Hollywood Studios, but because I had officially hit 'the wall', I dont remember much of that park. I was tired, my feet really hurt, and mentally I was spent. Once you hit mile 23 though they pretty much let you finish since you are no longer holding up traffic, so any fears of being swept were gone once we hit that. After Hollywood studios you hit the boardwalk, and you go by a lot of the park hotels and it's where you enter Epcot- I would have to say miles 24-25.5 took FOREVER. Joy and I talked which helped so much- it kept me going and took my mind off of how tired I was. At this point, everyone around me was pretty much walking too- Most of us had been on our feet for 6+ hours at this point, so I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, determined to finish.
We entered into Epcot, and after a few minutes I saw 'Mile 26' sign. I had 2/10 of a mile to go, and I would complete this challenge.
When we turned the corner and saw the finish line, Joy asked me if I could run. I probably couldnt, but I was going to try. I
|Crossing the finish line of the Marathon|
I found my dad and Uncle in the family meet up area and gave my Dad a huge hug. I dont think Ive ever been more proud of myself than in that moment, and it was so nice to have someone waiting for me at the finish line.
|Exhaustion+Exhilaration all in one photo.|
As soon as we got back to the house, I showered, and then we went to Epcot to eat our way through the worlds (SOOO GOOD!). My knee felt fine the rest of the day, for which I was grateful.
Overall, it was such an incredible experience, and one of the hardest, yet most rewarding things Ive ever done. If I ever see Michael or Joy again, I will have to tell them how much they meant to me during the race- they helped it go by quickly, and kept me going when at one point I didnt think I could.
Will I do another Marathon? As a matter of fact I will! Im currently planning to run the CIM in Sacramento in December :). I'd really like to see how I do when I havent done a half marathon the day before.
I've definitely retired my Goofy Challenge shoes- it was fun, but even with training, you still have to spend most of your vacation resting and race prepping. Who knows, maybe I'll do even do Dopey once, if I could do a sub 4:30 marathon haha!
Only time will tell, but for now, I'm just going to enjoy one marathon at a time!