The 2017 WDW Marathon made me a Marathoner. It was the race I signed up for while I was 5 months pregnant and wanted that challenge after my second son was born. I look back now and shouldn’t have let the hormones run the show, but if I didn’t I wouldn’t have made the jump so soon. With only 16 weeks post baby and 10 weeks to train, I knew I had a lot on my plate.
Leading up until marathon week, I begun to prepare myself for 26.2 miles. I gathered as much information as possible; tips and wise words. My training was intense for a short amount of time. Also, between natural body changes and life, there were plenty of days I had to force myself just to get back out. I knew giving myself the short amount of time between having a baby and the
marathon may have been a stretch but I was going to stick to it. I meal prepped and stuck to a strict diet just the week of to ensure I had the proper nutrition and energy to keep me strong all the miles. I started to monitor which energy gels and hydration drinks worked best and for what amount time. One thing I would just have to accept is my milk production, since I was breastfeeding and that my boobs were going to throw me off during the end of my run. I didn’t even want to get the idea that I could stop and pump during the marathon. I’ll tell you now, I did pump after the run and filled 4 bottles for a total of 18 ounces! lol. Preparing myself for the marathon helped a lot. With proper nutrition I didn’t have any cramping or stomach pains during my run. Also, training prepared me to pace myself, slower then I was use to but at a pace that kept me comfortable. As long as I was under 12 minutes a mile, I was happy. My overall goal for the marathon was to “FINISH,” by finish I meant completing all 26.2 miles! (Disney will sweep runners if they fall behind and won’t be able to finish at 16min/mile pace.)
The morning of the marathon it was 30 degrees, along with wind chill which brought temperatures down to 18 degrees. Nonetheless it was freezing!! The only change I could make in my attire was adding a top layer, with the hopes that my legs would warm up. Just three days prior to the marathon the temps were looking to be a solid typical florida 77 degrees. I couldn’t have prepared myself if I wanted to, unless I put a treadmill in a freezer while training. It’s really what it felt like.
Once the gun went off for my corral it was game time. I tossed my throwaways and started down the road. I was freezing but my mind wasn’t focused on being cold, it was focused on watching my pace. I really didn’t want to leap out and tire out too quickly. The first 10 miles flew by, I had ran out of Epcot and through the Magic Kingdom. The one thing about the WDW Marathon is WDW is huge and you cover a lot of highways and parking lots. Once you get in the Parks it feels good to be able focus your eyes on something. This allowed me to use my highway miles as a way to pick up pace and the Parks as a place to slow down a little bit. By the halfway point, I was feeling good. It was smack in the middle of Animal Kingdom and I couldn’t believe how good I felt. I was still cold but it didn’t really bother me. I watched as some runners stopped at a bar and had a drink at the halfway mark, good for them I thought. There’s no way I could ever do that, lol. Heading out of Animal Kingdom and my way to the ESPN Park there was a lot of nothing, my mind started to race and I kept checking my watch. I was calculating numbers when I didn’t have to and was reminding myself, my goal for this race was not to come in first or last but, just to finish!! The idea of “just” finishing was hard to accept but with so many unexpected changes the weekend brought, it was all I could grasp. Although an ideal time for me to finish was 05:00:00 hours.
Miles came easier and my legs only felt stronger through the ESPN Park. Up until mile 20 I was soaring. In between mile 20 and 21 my left knee started to hurt. Through training I never experienced anything like this with my knees especially my left. So I was really caught off guard. As the pain escalated, I only begun to grow more frustrated. I wrestled with the idea I was undertrained, didn’t stretch enough, or maybe should have taken a pain killer, even though I’m too chicken to even take an Advil. The runner in me couldn’t imagine walking the remaining 4 miles, that would be the longest 4 miles ever!!! So I had to think fast, while I DO NOT recommend training your mind to think this way in case you may have a serious injury. I DO recommend learning how to use mottos and positive self talk in order to push your runs. I started to tell myself the “pain” was me growing stronger. I stopped at a medical tent at mile 22 and took a moment to stretch, and started to push myself up the road. I was just starting uphill on an offramp that would take me over and into Hollywood Studios. Uphill was grueling and as I came down the ramp, I straighten my left leg to keep it from bending, I built momentium and powered into Hollywood Studios. The Parks had just opened at this point and crowds started to form around the blocked off areas for runners. This was an adrenaline boost for me, it let me really meditate on my surroundings and off of my pain. I left out the park and started around the Swan Resort, another fun sight to keep me focused. I had two miles to go at this point and I wasn’t planning on slowing down, a quick mile later I was already at Downtown Disney. That last mile the crowds grew bigger and louder, with that much excitement all you want to do is finish strong! Before I knew it I was rounding the corner to a finish line! At that moment nothing hurt, I was overwhelmed with emotion, and was tearing up. As I crossed the finish line, as cliche as it sounds…a part of me changed. I know many runners say this but it does. You feel like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders you never knew was there. I had started a mission months before the race, I had weak moments, I had strong moments, I stayed focused, and it was finally finished.
Shortly after the finish line, I was reunited with Mav. My Mother-in-Law had flown down from DC for the weekend and watched the boys. It was still too cold for them to join me at the Friends and Family Area. It wasn’t too long before the warmth of the race wore off and we ventured back to our Hotel. My official finish time was 05:34:33. A half hour later then I had anticipated but I had a time that represented, “I finished.” I was cloud 9 for about a day after obtaining the Marathoner title before I knew I wanted to do another one, lol. It’s funny how that happens. I registered for the LA Marathon in March and I’m now training to not just, “finish” but to run at solid pace that is similar to what I have ran my half-marathons. I’m happy I made WDW my first marathon, I learned a lot from the course. I had fun, stopped at photo ops, and took advantage of every water station. The runners were great as well and enjoyed meeting so many different people. I hope to eventually return to the WDW Marathon in the future but for now I’m glad I was at least able to check it off my bucket list.