2018 Goofy Challenge Part 2 – Walt Disney World Marathon Race Recap

On Saturday January 6th, I ran my first marathon of 2018 and my 3rd marathon overall! This was the second part of the Goofy Challenge (13.1 + 26.2) and I was so excited to see what I could do over 26.2 miles after having a pretty strong training cycle. I was slightly nervous because my legs definitely weren’t feeling “fresh,” and I had been sick just the week before.

Saturday, Post 13.1: After the half marathon on Saturday, I took a short nap before my mom and I headed over to Disney Springs. We had a delicious lunch at the Rainforest Cafe, which is a regular spot for us during our visits. I had great parmesean chicken + pasta to keep my levels up for the next day. After a couple of hours of shopping around, I was starting to feel tired and very nervous for the day ahead. At this point I had put over 20 miles on my legs that day. We headed back to the hotel for a similar routine as the night before. Dinner in the food court (chicken, rice, and brussels sprouts), a warm bath, feet on the wall, and putting out my gear had me ready for bed!

Sunday, pre-race: Because I spent so much time just standing around on Saturday, I didn’t get up quite as early. Thankfully I slept much better and I slept until around 2:45. Unlike my first two marathons, I felt very calm as I got myself ready and out the door. After grabbing some cereal at the food court (it was perfect the morning before) I was onto the bus and on my way to Epcot once more. This morning was warmer than the previous but because I was dressed in less clothing for the race it felt much colder. I sat in the starter’s village for probably a good 45 minutes before making “the trek.” I stayed pretty warm in my sweatpants, fleece blanket and mylar blanket but I was wishing I had my bathrobe from Saturday!

Getting to the corrals felt much longer this day. I happily chatted up some other  marathon runners to help feel less alone in the sea of people! I started to share my 5:00 goal out loud, and that started to scare me. I ended up sitting in front of the porta-johns for a while so I didn’t have to get in and out of my corral. TMI but I couldn’t just do the deed, ugh! Thankfully I packed an immodium (#runnersprobs). I entered my corral (D) just before 5:00 and was still towards the front. Unlike Saturday, I didn’t stand to see the pre-race show. I sat to save my legs and try to stretch a bit. At 5:30 the race started, I began to de-layer and of course, had to go to the bathroom. Yesterday there were no lines at the porta johns at .8 miles. I was sure I could make it that far!

They released more “mini-waves” in the corrals during the marathon, 25 starts for 25 years. I actually loved that they played music from each year. For the 3rd corral they played Mmmbop! Around 5:20, my corral was off!

Miles 1-5: Let’s just say it now – every single porta john area had lines bigger than the corrals. WTF People?! But honestly, that sucked. I was still working for that 5:00 time, so I told myself to hold it until I could get to one without lines). Nevertheless, these miles were the exact same as they were the day before. I was calmed when my mom said that she made it to the Magic Kingdom and set into a good rhythm. I was running 60:30 intervals at a very even, easy pace. My watch was almost right on with the mile markers. (12:01, 11:43, :47, :48, :42)

Miles 6-10: Once again, the Mile 5 marker was right at the Magic Kingdom entrance! I slowed to call my mom to make sure that I saw her, and I was so happy when I did! I also turned off my interval timer to enjoy the Magic Kingdom. After stopping to see my mom, my #1 goal was to find a bathroom! The first two in the park had bad lines, but thank heavens, I finally found some with no line. Sweet relief! I felt so much better after. I made my way through the castle again and found my mom once more! I was on cloud 9. After mile 6 we were out of the park and back onto the roads to head toward Animal Kingdom. It seemed much more crowded than the day before and I had a hard time finding a spot to run/walk. Eventually, the 5:00 pace group (which started about 3-4 minutes behind me) caught me and I made it my goal to stay with/ahead of them as we headed to Animal Kingdom. (12:29 (stop for my mom and bathroom!), 12:28, 11:30, 10:55, 11:08)

Mom was much more successful than during the half!
Attempted the jump shot…

Miles 10-15: The first half of this segment had us heading past the water treatment plant (so smelly!), through boring “cone alley” and towards Animal Kingdom. These few miles were pretty boring – there were a few things on the side of the road, but not really any characters. Around mile 12 I was starting to get some chaffing under my arm, so I stopped to get some vaseline from an aid stop – what a godsend! I was stoked to see the animals when going into the park. I really wanted there to be a warthog! I was disappointed when I only saw two mules. Maybe the good stuff was on the other side of the road?

Anyways, around mile 13 we finally entered the Animal Kingdom park – my favorite! I regret not stopping for a picture with Timon and Rafikki, but was making good time and wanted to keep trucking. At this point I had my watch taped, so I didn’t know how far ahead of the mile markers I was. When I arrived at the 13.1 marker I took off the tape to see I was already .5 miles ahead of the mile marker, crap. I can make up some time, but that’s a lot of time to make up! At that point I decided to keep running 60:30 intervals at the same comfortably-hard pace, but understood that even with that, a sub-5:00 wasn’t happening. Since I was running so fast (for me) I decided not to up my intervals to 90:30. Anyways, after about a mile that brought us through backstage AK and the parking lot, we were back on the highway for the trek to ESPN Wide World of Sports (WWOS). I was thankful to stop at another aid station for them to have sunscreen. Not only sunscreen, but the kind I normally use! (I’m allergic to many. As a redhead, this sucks). (11:08, 10:50, :41, 11:03, :11)

Miles 16-20: I was dreading this part of the race, due to race recaps I’d read. It was 2.5 boring miles on the highway, then another 2.5ish weaving through the (WWOS). I was doing really well until about mile 18. I had just stopped for a quick picture with Pluto (my first of the day), but when we hit mile 18, I started to feel a little off and depleted. Since my 5:00 goal was out the window, I decided to just have fun. Between miles 18-20 I stopped for pictures with Minnie, Goofy and Mickey/Donald. I also had a banana – I’ve never done this in a race but it was seriously a lifesaver and I felt so great after! I will definitely take advantage of them in future races. I was thrilled running through the baseball stadium and through the mile 20 marker. “Just” a 10K (or 7 miles) to go! Physically and mentally I was feeling great! (10:59, 11:00, :19, 13:52 (Minnie), 15:14 (Goofy))

Miles 21-26.2 (or 27): Coming out of ESPN WWOS felt so good! The course widened and we could see runners behind us and cheer them on. I was completely giddy when I saw Jeff Galloway ahead of me just before the 21 mile marker. I knew he started with the A corral and must of fallen back (his wife and I went back and forth during my WWOS stops). **Back story: I obviously run using Galloway intervals. I passed him at mile 8 of MCM 2016, and then he passed me at 24 when I was struggling hard. It felt like redemption to pass him.**  I shared my gratitude for his training methods, and sped by. Anyways, then I just felt super strong heading up “the hill” and towards Hollywood Studios. I started chitchatting with some other runners which was great and helped pass the time.

Around mile 23 (I think?) we headed passed a candy stop (skittles, YESSS), I stopped for a picture with Oswald as we were heading in for our short jaunt in Hollywood Studios. Honestly it was so short that I hardly remember it aside from the fact that I took more candy (nerds) from strangers and it was incredible.  After Hollywood Studios, we headed towards the Boardwalk. The course got so narrow here and it was really hard to keep going at a decent clip. When we got onto the Boardwalk proper, it did open up and on my god it was beautiful!! I was completely taken away by the beauty, as well as the crowd support. When my watch dinged for 25 miles (well, like 24.4) I knew we were almost to EPCOT! It took so much not to cry. I was almost there and feeling FANTASTIC!

EPCOTTTT!!!!

And then we crossed “international gateway” and were in Epcot, running around the world!! We made it! There were so many people everywhere and seriously I’m surprised I didn’t ugly cry. I totally cried a little but thankfully I was wearing my sunglasses :P. I turned off my interval timer to just enjoy the experience. The mile 25 marker was special for the anniversary, and it really hit me then that I had met this goal that I set when I was in high school. One bummer was that I really wanted to get a wine slushie (France), beer (Germany), and/or a margarita (Mexico), and I had reached the World Showcase before it officially opened at 11:00, so most of the stations were closed! I also was bummed that many of the princesses weren’t out yet. I did get pictures with Snow White and Mulan just as they were coming out though! Then it was the rest of the jaunt through future world, under the ball, past the gospel choir, and to the finish!!! (15:15 (Mickey/Donald), 11:26, :40, 12:58 (Oswald), :17, :14, 10:53)

I DID IT! My official time was 5:21:36. Even with all of my stops and running .8 miles over, it was still 12 minutes faster than my first marathon! I was so proud. I ran this the day after a half marathon, with tired legs and having been sick the week before. I felt freaking fantastic. Sure, I was a little stiff, but nothing on me hurt or felt injured. Unlike my first two marathons, I didn’t feel like I was going to puke after. It was a success.

Just for kicks and grins, I looked at Strava to see what my time was without stops. With stop time taken out, I ran 5:04 for 27 miles. This equates to a 11:18 pace, which if I ran only 26.2 would have been around a 4:58. While my 5:21 was my time, I was really happy to see that my average running pace was a sub-5:00 pace while running 60:30 intervals the entire time. I can run a marathon. I can do it. And now I have the confidence to know that I have a sub-5:00 in me.

Post-race celebration: My mom and I got on the bus quickly, showered, and were off to the Magic Kingdom ASAP! I had been dreaming of post-race nachos from Pecos Bill’s Tell Tale Inn Cafe since I registered, and boy, was I ready! I seriously went savage on them. My mom and I really enjoyed our half-day at Magic Kingdom. By 8:00 I had walked/ran a total of 38 miles for the day and I was DEAD. When we got back to the hotel I finally had one last Mickey ice cream sandwich, my post-race beer (there’s no alcohol at MK), packed, and collapsed in bed.

My last celebration was breakfast at Chef Mickey’s the morning after the Marathon. This was a complete surprise for my mom to end our trip and it was definitely one of the highlights!

This was a long post, so if you made it this far – thank you! I plan to share one more post on my big takeaways from the trip, highlights, and what’s next. I can’t believe the experience is over but I’m so thankful that I took the risk and signed up for the Goofy Challenge!

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