Onto the actual race!
One thing that’s significant about going into a Disney race is that everyone is in a great mood. It’s 5:30 in the morning, humid as all hell, and you’ve been up for 3 hours already, but you’re still smiling, and so is everyone around you. More than anything, you’re ready to run the race!
I was in Corral F, which meant it took about 15 minutes to cross the start line. Luckily, I didn’t have to walk 3/4 of a mile to get to the start line like I heard some of the farther out corrals had to do (hello, warm-up!). Every corral that started had – you guess it! – fireworks and Mickey Mouse announcing the start. I appreciated this because it made you feel special within your own little corral; it didn’t matter that you weren’t in corral A – you still go the same treatment.
I had submitted a time of 4:14, so I assumed I was with people within plus or minus 10 minutes of that range. What I found was that this was not necessarily the case – my first mile (and I was going the corral pace, not trying to weave my way to speed up) was 11:15. I had already decided this race was not going to be a PR, so I was okay with this – but if you’re expecting to run 8:00 or even 9:00 minute miles and your first mile is an 11:15 – that is hard to recover from! Something to keep in mind for you runners who may be wanting to PR: try to start in the front of your corral, no matter what corral you’re in! At least this way you have room to go your necessary speed and not waste effort weaving in order to maintain your pace.
By mile three, I was going faster, but not much. My second mile was 10:52 followed by a 10:26. Again, at this point, I had to remind myself that this was okay, and maybe instead of getting worked up, I should enjoy the scenery (Disney at night! The castle lit up! The characters!). I started taking pictures with each character I saw – the lines were never too bad, maybe only 2-5 people max, so each character was about a 1-2 minute stop in the run. By mile 19, I was seeking out characters in order to give myself a break, ha.
I was able to take pictures with Goofy, Donald, Mickey, Jafar, Captain Jack Sparrow, Timon…the list goes on! It was great to see some characters that you never normally see, and there was other cool things along the way – outside of Animal Kingdom, they had a bunch of zookeepers with various animals that you could stop and pet or take a selfie with. They also had the cast of the Lion King musical out on full stilts and everything that you could take pictures with – no one was taking advantage of this, which I don’t get! I think it was one of my coolest photo ops.
My sister had told me that when she ran the Disney Marathon last (maybe 3-4 years ago?) they had opened up Everest just for the runners, so I was totally looking forward to that! When we ran past it, I even veered out of my way to ask a cast member if that was an option – unfortunately, no go :(. I don’t know when they stopped doing it but that was a let down. I was looking forward to the break, too…
Around mile 16 of the race, you’re at the beginning of an out-and-back; while you’re starting at mile 16, the other runners are finishing around mile 21. That was one of the worst realizations, especially knowing that you had 4-5 miles before you got to that point! They really veered you in and out around Wide World of Sports in order to get this mileage in.
I think all the photo ops + slow beginning miles really helped me overcome any possible wall – I never felt one, and kept my splits negative for the last 10k! My overall time was 4:28 – 30 minutes slower than my time in Chicago 2 months prior – but given the circumstances, I was happy with it! I was also proud of myself – sometimes, it’s hard to convince yourself to not ‘race’ a race, and you’ll push yourself regardless. Maybe it was the humidity or the miles and miles of walking we did the two days before the marathon, but I ran a steady pace and am still proud of myself for the time.
Next time, though.. PR for sure! (Kidding – although a costume is definitely a must!).
Addie showing off the bling.