I apologize. Wait….what? That’s a weird way to start out such a happy post about a weekend of running at the most magical of places! An apology? What gives?
Well, I have to apologize for what will be a blog post with nearly a complete lack of pictures. You see, for the first time in four years I decided to not run the Disney marathon “just for fun.” Therefore, I didn’t take a lot of pictures…none actually. Instead, I had my eyes set on a PR (Personal Record for non-running folk). Originally, my friends and I had planned on running a sub 5-hour marathon which would be a PR of ~15 minutes for me. Let me tell you that running for over 26 miles at a pace that is ~30 seconds faster per mile than the last marathon you PR’d is a LOT faster. I knew it was going to be doubly tough because over the last year I managed to gain an extra 20 pounds…my training and focus on nutrition just wasn’t as sharp as in years past.
Three of us planned to run it together and use the Galloway Run-Walk-Run method. As the time approached for the race we found out that Mitch had a stress fracture in his foot and would not be able to run with us. Also, the week before the race Matthew came down with a stomach flu, but was still going to give it a go! Joe decided to run with us though he was doing the Dopey Challenge and had turned his ankle during the 10K so we were a sorry lot by the time Sunday came around. Joe, Matt and myself started the marathon together and it was a laughfest!
We went along for over half the race when not too far from DAK Joe had to slow a bit due to the pain in his ankle (he still finished!). Then it didn’t seem too much further down the road Matt had to slow down as well most likely due to a bit of dehydration (he ALSO still finished and PR’d). This left me to run the remaining back half of the race on my own and I just kept moving forward.
They say that at some point during a long run that it won’t hurt any more than it currently does…that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt like hell just that once it really hurts it probably won’t get any worse. I would like to thank the person who thought that tidbit of insight up and shared it. When Matt and I had been at the 13.1 mile mark we knew that we weren’t going to come in under 5 hours, but that didn’t bother me as my previous PR was 5:15:07 so as long as I PR’d I was happy, but it was a bit disappointing that the initial goal was already out of reach.
At the 20 mile marker running solo I was not a happy camper. My feet hurt like hades and I was looking forward to a trip around the world showcase. It was then that I really appreciated the volunteers and the spectators. It’s not difficult to see the look of pain on a runner’s face as they go by plus if a runner is taking 5 hours then most likely they have long since passed the enjoyment phase of the marathon until they see the finish line.
One spectator called out to me by name to keep going and that I was getting close. Another couldn’t see my name on the bib, but instead called out my team name (Team DAWS). Again and again the crowd was yelling out to individual runners! I was amazed at the sheer number of spectators yelling to the runners. I’ve ran a lot of races and have observed this before, but never so many.
By the time I reached the Disney Hollywood Studios I knew I was still on track to PR by over 10 minutes which is a great accomplishment considering I was carrying the extra weight.
I knew members of Team DAWS & the WDW Radio Running Team would be waiting just inside EPCOT and I really needed the boost of energy from seeing my fellow team members and running family. As I came into EPCOT I saw everyone and my face broke out into a big smile that stayed with me for the last mile plus of the race. I hadn’t smiled that big since I had finished my first marathon on this same course four years ago.
After crossing the finish line I knew that two of my friends were volunteers assigned to hand out medals so I hung back until I found Beth and Mike. It was extra special to have them give me my medal!
In the end I found that I had improved my PR for a marathon by 10 minutes and 25 seconds and this was also my best course time for the Disney marathon by over 26 minutes! It was time to celebrate with my running family so I headed to the buses to go back to the resort, get cleaned up and head back to EPCOT to start the celebration!
2014 promises to be a big year as I train for my first 70.3 triathlon, my first ultramarathon, and the Dopey Challenge for January 2015! Be sure to checkout my Facebook page for weekly motivation and running tips at Facebook.com/RunningDownsDream23!