I was supposed to wake up at 2:45 am to run the Disney Marathon on Sunday, January 8, 2012.
Too bad I didn’t wake up. Why? Because I never went to sleep. That’s right. I slept 0 minutes. My mom and Cynthia are both
crazy the type of people that fall asleep with the TV on. I, on the other hand, fall asleep in complete silence and darkness. But this being Disney World, I figured it would be no big deal and someone would set the sleep timer and I would just fall asleep after they did. Unfortunately, that didn’t pan out. They both fell asleep right away but I didn’t know it, so an hour later, I got the TV turned off, but by that point I was too stressed out about getting so little sleep before a race that I didn’t fall asleep at all. Not a good start.
We took a quick TNT team picture at 330, which I do not have. Then we boarded Disney’s Magical Express to be dropped off in the general vicinity of the race. I say general vicinity of the race because you are actually dropped off over a mile from the start line. Runners have to be in their corrals by 5 am for the race start at 5:30. We got there really early, so we had lots of time to sit around, be cold, and be tired.
I was going to run the marathon with Robin and Chuck. They were both doing the Goofy Challenge and had run the half marathon the day before, so we all wanted to have fun, not stress out, take pictures with the characters and just enjoy the experience. We anticipated finishing in about 5 hours. The race started with great fanfare and fireworks. Since we were in corral F, we started something like 25 minutes after the official race start. In fact, we saw the leaders running on the road next to us, somewhere around mile 4, as we were starting. We were feeling good and headed out with me as the official pacer since I pretty much always run the same speed.
The first few miles of the race ran along some Disney roads and through the “countries” section of Epcot, and I started getting sick at mile 3. Literally, almost threw up. I couldn’t believe it. That’s never happened that early before. Fortunately, my mom was waiting at mile 4 to take my jacket and I knew she would have saltines. She is lifesaver because without those saltines, I would have been sick the entire race. Mom, you rule. She was a little panicked trying to open them really fast and I laughed because we weren’t worried about time. Good practice for future races though, Mom. 🙂
We were planning to walk/run, so we instituted that policy beginning around mile 6. Robin was having some trouble with her asthma and her legs were obviously sore from running the half the day before, so we just kind of hung out. We started taking pictures at around mile 8.5 since Chuck had mentioned that he had wanted to take pictures with some of the classic cars on the course during the half marathon but didn’t want to stop.
We were poised to see my mom again at around mile 9, which is right as you are about to go into Magic Kingdom. She was being such a great cheerleader and I saw her long before she saw me because she was busy giving people high fives and yelling GO TEAM! Adorable. One of the best things about Disney was how amazing and enthusiastic the crowds were. People everywhere were yelling GO TEAM or GO PURPLE and it was awesome.
Running through Magic Kingdom made me feel like a kid again. I hadn’t really been tremendously excited about this race because I was worried about the crowds, waking up so early, etc. When we ran into Magic Kingdom, we ran down Main Street looking straight at Cinderella’s castle. There was a big crowd and lots of characters and I about died.
After that, we went straight into Tomorrowland. Fact: as a kid, my absolutely FAVORITE RIDE at Disney World was the Carousel of Progress. It’s not even an actual ride. It’s a rotating room where the characters tell you stories about different periods in American history. I was that kid. I told Chuck and Robin this and they laughed almost nervously as if they were now disturbed to be in my presence. Meh. We then literally ran through Cinderella’s castle. I mean, come on. Amazing. They had warned me that there are a million photographers when you run through the castle, so I was prepared. One of them, however, was laying down with his head and camera sticking out of the bushes taking pictures of people. I didn’t see him and I jumped about three feet in the air, shrieked, and nearly kicked him in the head.
I almost teared up running past Frontierland and through the rest of Magic Kingdom. I just have such great memories there with my family and it was honestly like being a little kid again. That was the point in the race where I realized how truly lucky I was to be running it, and I knew that no matter what time we finished in, I was glad I was there. Around mile 12, shortly after we left Magic Kingdom, Robin started to really be in pain and our walk breaks became more frequent. I couldn’t have cared less because I was so happy to be there.
My mom was waiting for us at Mile 12.5, and that would be the last time we would see her til the finish because she wasn’t able to go to any of the other spots since you had to buy tickets to the parks for that. I could tell she was having a really good time and it was so exciting to be able to see her every few miles!
While waiting in line to take the photo with the golfing Mickey and Minnie, the best/most awkward thing ever happened. The whole race up until this point, we had been running in the same general vicinity as a woman wearing a Tebow shirt. Obviously, we could not let her beat us. She decided to take a picture with the characters and was right in front of us in line. I immediately knew what I had to do.
Her back was to us, so I knew I needed to Tebow. Robin’s phone camera wasn’t working so I had to do it about four times. On the final attempt, we got it, and as I am mid-Tebow, she turned around. Chuck started coughing in the world’s most obvious and thinly veiled attempt to get her attention, especially since he was hysterically laughing at the same time.
As the woman turns around, I slowly get up so as not to act like I’m doing anything wrong. I played it totally cool; Chuck and Robin were very impressed. The lady mumbled something that I didn’t really hear, and I was like “Oh my gosh, we’ve been running behind you and just HAD to take a picture with your shirt! We just looooooovvveeee Timmy Tebow!” This seemed to satisfy her and I immediately looked on the ground and tried to think of dead puppies so I would stop hysterically laughing. Best part of the race.
After the great Tebowing incident of 2012, we continued on in the general direction of Animal Kingdom, where I’ve only been once. Here’s a random picture of me running. To be honest, the pictures from Disney are some of my best race pictures ever. I think I was just in such a good mood, so I look so happy in all of them. It also didn’t hurt that I wasn’t exerting myself too much.
Right before we got to Animal Kingdom, I saw my friend Amanda, who I run with in Charleston, on the course with her uncle! She had done the Goofy Challenge as well, so I stopped and chatted with her for a bit. Around this time, we found Tom from the Greenville chapter of TNT. He was really struggling and told us he was thinking about quitting the race. We were at Mile 16 and at this point were walking for longer periods of time since Robin’s pain was getting worse. Tom stayed with us for the rest of the race, with Chuck staying with him about 50 feet behind Robin and I. As we entered Animal Kingdom, handlers were standing outside with various animals. Mostly birds. Not ok. However, there was a possum, a sheep, and two miniature donkeys. I’d rather take a picture with possum than air rats any day.
I had only been to Animal Kingdom once when it first opened, so it was great to see it all again. It’s decorated a little bit like Busch Gardens, so it has a foreign/Safari feel to it. Amazingly, Mickey changed out of his golf outfit and met us there.
Animal Kingdom was nicely shaded, which was great because we were somewhere around Mile 17 at this point and it was starting to get hot. I was glad I had given my mom my jacket and just opted for the singlet.
It was a long, lonely road to MGM Studios, which was the next park. Robin was in so much pain that we were barely running at all, and when we did, the stride was really difficult for me and Chuck, so sometimes we would sprint to the top of the hills/overpasses and then wait at the top. We amused ourselves by Tebowing while stretching. Seriously, we laughed so hard we almost fell over. I don’t love Tim Tebow, but I love what he has done in terms of providing me with material to entertain myself with.
The last few miles were a definite struggle as Robin’s foot, which previously had a stress fracture, started to hurt, so we were reduced to a walk for pretty much the rest of the way. Not to worry, we obviously ran whenever we saw photographers, like all good marathoners are apt to do. There was a strange character set up with undertakers somewhere around here. Rather than wait in the long line to take pictures with the creepy characters, I just laid my ass down on the grass in front of a tombstone.
While running through MGM studios, we were able to see the underground/backstage areas where the costumes are made and props are put together, which was really cool. That’s the type of stuff you don’t get to see every day, you know? Around mile 16, when I realized that we were not going to finish the race in 5 hours, I called my mom to tell her that I was fine but that we were going to walk/run the rest of the way and it might take longer than expected. I left her a message and apparently she missed the part where I said “I’m fine” because she began frantically texting Robin somewhere around mile 23 thinking I had had a heatstroke. I called her again and confirmed that I was perfectly happy and healthy but sticking with the gang for the rest of the race. My poor mom sat outside for a very long time waiting for us. You’re the best!
The final miles of the race ran through Epcot again, this time during the daylight. We got to see the countries buildings again. Robin was determined to run the last 0.2 miles of the race, and my mom had asked me to call her when we got to mile 26 so she could be ready to look for us. People kept telling us “26 is just around the corner!” I think we heard that around 3 corners, and Robin was getting mad, haha! We finally saw it and I called my mom.
We finally crossed the finish line, all together, in what can only be described as a blaze of glory. Yes, it took us 6 hours and 40 seconds. Yes, my body hurt a lot more than it normally would after a marathon. But I had the best time I’ve ever had in my whole life over those 6 hours. I enjoyed every single minute of it.
There’s something to be said for just going out and running a race for the sheer joy of it and not worrying about your time at all. I don’t consider this my slowest marathon time because I ran it this slowly by choice. I wouldn’t have cared if it took us 7 hours to finish it. I had never planned on running for time, so being out there longer just meant I got to have more fun. Chuck, Robin and I are friends for life now and have a bond that can only be created by repetitive Tebowing. In fact, we like it so much that we took two medals pictures.
The photographer honored our request to Tebow.
All in all, it was one of my favorite races ever. I don’t know if I will ever do it again just because of how insanely early you have to wake up, but I would recommend this race to anyone. In other news, my roommate broke 5 hours, so yay Cynthia! She even wore pants. Nick ran an incredible 3:37 after running the half the day before, shattering his PR by 16 minutes. We all can’t wait to see how he does in Myrtle Beach!
A huge thanks must go out to my amazing mother. This was the first full marathon she has ever seen me do, and I scared her to death but she still had fun. She always says I make fun of her in my blog, and mostly I do, but Mom, you are the best. Thanks for coming. I love you.
T-Rex Mom will be joining me, Kristen, Nick, and possibly Chuck and Robin at Callaway Gardens, which is my next marathon. I don’t see how it could possibly top Disney, but with the way my races have been going lately, anything is possible!