If you can dream it, you can do it – even 26.2 miles. (Part 1)

“If you can dream it…you can do it!”  So says the WDW Marathon medal from this year.  Before I even start, one pet peeve out of the way: that quote is not from Walt Disney, it’s from Tom Fitzgerald, an Imagineer who coined the phrase for Horizons at Epcot.  Just to be clear.  (It’s a silly pet peeve of mine, but there it is.)

Prior to this marathon, I’ve run several races at Walt Disney World.  My first was the Wine & Dine Half Marathon in 2013.  I had barely trained and had no idea what I was doing, and somehow made it to the finish line (I have no idea how).  “It’s one and done,” I had declared multiple times, and so it was until Disney announced the Dark Side races.  For some reason, that set off a bit of an obsession.  Since then, I’ve run 2 Disney 5ks (both the Dark Side 5ks), 4 10ks (two Dark Side 10ks, one WDW Marathon Weekend 10k, and one non-Disney 10k), 5 half marathons (2 Dark Side half marathons, 2 Wine and Dine half marathons, and 1 Princess half marathon), and finally one marathon (this year’s WDW Marathon Weekend).  I had said for years that I would never do a full, and then peer pressure won out and I did one!

A couple things before we get into the recap: training is so important for this marathon!  I was unfortunate enough to get plantar fasciitis after my 20 mile run and had to put off training for a few weeks.  That definitely threw me off my game by quite a bit, but I’m glad I had any training.  People told me a marathon feels like more than two half marathons, and I couldn’t agree more.  Also, as my friend Christianna advised: take some Immodium beforehand, and take some Tylenol around mile 10/11.  I was very glad to have heeded that advice. 😀

And now, a roundup!

Geoff and I checked into Pop Century Friday after work.  We managed to get one of the newly refurbished rooms and I.  LOVED.  It.  I’ll save my Pop Century gushing for another post, but it was fantastic!

On Saturday, we had breakfast at Art of Animation (just a quick walk over a bridge from Pop Century) and then headed to the expo.

At the entrance to one of the expo buildings!

There was a board to write your names on in honor of the 25th anniversary of the marathon.

I added our names, of course!

I got to meet Jeff Galloway! I’ve used his method in all but my first half marathon, and it’s been so useful to me. I stink at running flat out, so intervals have gotten me through two 5ks, four 10ks, five half marathons, and now a full marathon!

Geoff checking out the upcoming medals – I liked seeing all the icons for the different race weekends!

Carmela took this photo of us with our medal banner.

We checked out some of the booths – there were the usual ones (we got our traditional GoGo squeeZ applesauce) and some new ones (a potato booth!).  Raw Threads also had an awesome sale going on, and when we ran into our friends Carmela & Matt, Carmela was sweet enough to get me a Merida running top (one of my favorite princesses!) in honor of my first marathon.

After we grabbed our bibs, the four of us went to lunch at Mara, the quickservice restaurant at Animal Kingdom Lodge.  Normally I’m a fan of their chicken flatbread (drool) but they had a runner’s lunch of pasta/meatballs/bread, so I figured it was better to go with that.  I did it reluctantly, though…that flatbread… 😉

Once lunch was done, we headed back to Pop Century to rest up, eat dinner, and get to bed early.  Next thing we knew…it was 2:50 am and we were blearily getting up.

I tried to make wonky faces out of our breakfast packs the night before in an attempt to bring us cheer that early in the morning. Didn’t work. Food was good though!

My outfit! I’ve worn this Stormtrooper top to every half marathon (except my very first), so I figured it would be a good luck charm for my first full.

This was us waiting in the corral. It was SO COLD. While we were waiting it was in the upper 30s, and then once the race started it was in the low 40s. We brought along tossable clothing – Disney washes & donates any clothing that people toss to the side! Also: we wore our mylar blankets but tossed them over the side of the course BEFORE starting. Those suckers mess with the starting chips.

Waiting in the corrals was so difficult this time around.  It was so cold!  I know I’m a wimp because I live in Florida but still.  The wind didn’t help either!  The corrals were pretty uneventuful, especially since we were in H – well, I was in H, and Geoff was kind enough to drop back from F to run with me.  The only excitement we had was watching a guy clamber over our barricade and hop the fence as corral D was taking off, and run off with them.  Which isn’t cool – I get it, being in the last corral can stink, and you’re super close to the balloon ladies, but train to the dang 15mm recommended pace (16mm is the minimum, but 15mm allows you more time for bathroom breaks etc).  We ended up running with a pace group, which allowed our slower pace towards the end to be no problem at all – but more on that later.  Mainly, don’t cheat.  It’s not cool (and it wasn’t the only cheating we saw!).

So, the marathon has A-H corrals.  And each corral has multiple waves.  They did a really neat thing this year – since it’s the 25th anniversary, they did 25 waves and had a Disney film song play at the start of each wave from that respective year (followed by other songs from that year).  It was neat seeing which Disney films came out in the corresponding year.

Once it was our turn, we lined up right in front of the start line (eek!) and Mickey was the one to send us off.  Each wave also got fireworks.

And we were off!  The first part of our course was a few miles of just plain highway.  We were on our way from outside-of-Epcot to Magic Kingdom, through the Magic Kingdom tollbooths, through the Magic Kingdom parking lot and Transportation & Ticket Center, past the Contemporary, and into Magic Kingdom.  Once inside Magic Kingdom, we went through the main entrance, up Main Street USA, right into Tomorrowland, through Tomorrowland into New Fantasyland (past the Circus, Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast areas).  Then we went past the carousel, through Cinderella Castle, and made a right into Liberty Square.  Once in Liberty Square, we made a left to go through Liberty Square and Frontierland, made a right towards Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, then looped around and exited via backstage by Splash Mountain (where the Festival of Fantasy comes onstage).  We got to see some neat backstage stuff there too!  Here’s some photos of the Epcot-to-Magic Kingdom portion of the race:

Entering through the Magic Kingdom tollbooth!

I didn’t get a photo with every mile marker, but I had to get one with Cinderella for my Mom (it’s her favorite princess).

The Magic Kingdom fire chief (I think?) and townsfolk were out greeting runners!

I’ve seen Cinderella Castle during a race before (during my Princess half marathon in 2017) but it’s still amazing to round the bend and just have cheering crowds and the castle there.

Wonderfully flattering selfie in front of the castle! 😉

Heading through Tomorrowland, and getting a great view of Astro Orbiter.

Running through Fantasyland! You’ll quickly become accustomed to my usual ‘smile and wave’ running pose. 😀

Geoff & I exiting Cinderella’s castle! The last time I went through it at the Princess half, it was SO crowded. This time it wasn’t as bad and I got a decent castle shot!

My husband, who manages to look dashing even when running.

And yet another castle shot!

Passing into the backstage area by Splash Mountain! They had one of their steam trains there, and it would occasionally blow its horn.

Last photo of the post – backstage there was a photo opp with the Maleficent dragon float from Festival of Fantasy!

Alright, I’m ending this post here – next post will probably deal with the rest of the race, but I figured I’d split it into two to avoid having a horrifically long post (it’s already quite long).  At this point in the race we were having fun and keeping up with the pace group!  Magic Kingdom was a total hit.

January 8, 2018