…And then, after some fireworks and some amazing flames the race began…
The start was on a back road near Epcot. We snaked around until we reached the entrance to the Epcot parking lot. On the way to Epcot I decided to stop off at the side of the road to relieve myself one last time. I didn’t want to waste race time for that but I figured it’d be better early in the race than later. Some of the lanes had green lights (for cars) and a few were red. I jokingly wondered to myself if I could use the red lanes or not. When we passed through the gates a guy near me fell flat on his face after tripping on the speed bump. He was OK because he got back up immediately. Apparently even marathons must slow down when entering Epcot Center.
Once inside Epcot we passed through the center of the park which was lit up. I liked that part of the course a lot. It didn’t hurt that it was very early in the race and I wasn’t tired at all.
Then we left Epcot and headed towards the Magic Kingdom via some highways. There were many miles on the way to the Magic Kingdom. When we arrived near the front of the Magic Kingdom, at about mile 9, I saw Mary! I was really surprised to see her. I didn’t expect to see anyone I knew until the finish line. I was able to give her a kiss as I passed by.
We wound through the park and then came through the castle from the back of the park. I’m not sure why they have it setup this way. It may be because it offers a perfect opportunity for professional photographs. If we entered the front of the castle the runners would have a better view but there wouldn’t really be a photo opportunity.
It didn’t take long before we left the Magic Kingdom and we were back on highways. At around mile 10 or 11 I was getting hungry. I was nervous before the race and didn’t want to eat much. Mary encouraged me to eat most of a very large bagel. I was concerned that I was going to end up hitting the wall way too early in the race because I didn’t have enough food in me.
While I was wondering about food I spotted Mary and my parents somewhere around mile 13. Once again I was shocked that I actually found my “fan club” during the race. That distracted me from my hunger for a while.
Shortly after seeing my fan club I came across a food stop! They were giving out banana pieces so I took two. I slowly ate them and felt less concerned about hitting the wall. I really wanted a gel pack but settled for bananas. It was at about this point where I felt the first signs of fatigue. It was very minor. I really felt great and was surprised at how well I was holding up. I hadn’t been pushing myself, in fact I had been slowing myself a little bit. From my training I knew that things would get difficult later in the race and I wanted to make sure I’d have energy to complete it.
I’m not sure at what point in the race that I walked first. I think it was around mile 18 but it may have been sooner. Things started to get rather difficult starting at mile 18. The sun was coming out and the temperature was increasing. The humidity didn’t feel like it abated at all. By mile 20 things were extremely difficult.
Mile 20-21 and just beyond were my least favorite parts of the course. It was hot, I was very tired, and that section of the course was a big u-turn with no shade. Mentally it was challenging because I knew that I was only running to the end of a u-turn and that I’d have to run the entire thing again in reverse. I know that I walked a LOT during this part of the course. I’m pretty sure that it took me about 12 minutes to complete this mile.
The u-turn was the most difficult and most boring section. After that there was only 5 miles to go. The last five miles included running through MGM Studios, the boardwalk, and finally through Epcot. I never knew how close MGM was to Epcot. MGM wasn’t too bad but the sun and heat were very difficult to deal with. Inside the park it was nice. There was shade and we even ran through a tunnel where costuming is done. Once we were outside the park it was another story.
The boardwalk and the remainder of the run through Epcot center was very hot. The last 3 miles or so didn’t feel that bad. I suspect this was due to adrenaline. When I came around near the Innoventions area I really started to pick up my pace. There was a woman whom I had run nearly the entire race behind that I encouraged to speed up and run with me. She did. She kept up with me right until I saw the finish line. When I saw the finish I broke into a sprint.
Running the the finish I felt my headphones pop out of my ears. I didn’t care. I only cared about making it through the finish as quickly as I could. I didn’t look for anyone in the crowd I only set my eyes on the finish.
When I did make it through I was tired and very much out of breath from the sprint. I let someone remove my timing chip and then I headed over to pick up my medal. At that point I saw Donna who hugged me and congratulated me on finishing my first marathon. I was pretty out of it physically and mentally at that point and I didn’t say much back.
I picked up my medal and a volunteer asked me if I was OK. I said I would be OK in a couple of minutes. I had my picture taken with my medal (which, is oddly missing from ASIs archives of my pictures). The photographer made sure I moved sideways so that my bib number was visible.
Inside the VIP runners tent I sat down on the floor to stretch. I thought that my toes were blistered. I though that there were hefty blisters under my toe nails but when I removed my socks I found no blisters. My feet and toes hurt but never blistered.
I expected to feel like garbage. Often after races or very intense training runs I would get stomach cramps and have difficulty walking. It was tough to walk from the normal muscle soreness but it was much easier than I expected. I didn’t get any stomach cramps. I think that was because I stayed hydrated and drank a fair amount of sports drink during the race.
For my victory meal I had my favorite sandwich – the Caribbean Jerk Chicken Sandwich from Earl of Sandwich at Downtown Disney.
I’m pleased with my times for the race. I probably could have done a little better had I pushed myself harder but then again that could have backfired leaving me with little energy for the end of the race. I’ve learned a lot and I’m planning on running more marathons. I’m strongly considering running the Marine Corps Marathon this fall with my sister Donna.
My splits for this race were:
- 5 mile 48:54 9:46 pace
- 10 mile 1:35:17 9:31 pace
- 13.1 mile 2:04:49 9:31 pace
- 20 mile 3:13:12 9:40 pace
- 26.2! 4:18:20 9:52 pace
As you can see my pace slacked off considerably for the second half of the race, especially for the last 6.2 miles. When I train for my next marathon I’m going to do long runs of 24 miles instead of 20 miles. To improve I really need to get a handle on the END of the race.
Right now I’m itching to find a race to run. I’d like to do a half marathon in the near future. In the fall I think I would like to run the Rochester Half Marathon again. For the most part it is a very well put together race. In some respects they actually outdid Disney! If the timing works out I think I will run the Utica Boilermaker again this summer.
I can’t believe that I’ve actually run a marathon. Not more than a year and a half ago I hated running. When I started running in the fall of 2005 I had trouble running for 20 minutes and now I’ve run for more than 4 hours! I’ve had a lot of people help me get here. My wife, Mary, put up with me devoting insane amounts of time to training and encouraged me to do it! My parents encouraged me and helped me during training by bringing me water and candy at the half way point of my runs. My sister, Donna, encouraged me to start running. If it weren’t for Donna I probably never would have run a marathon and I probably would never have gotten into distance running.