This is where I talk about the miles…
When I left off, I was running to the bus for the race, without having any water or coffee. I am a coffee drinker, so I was a little nervous about not having my caffeine! I ate a Luna bar on the bus, which was hard to swallow without any water. There was so much traffic that the bus took 40 minutes to get from Pop Century to the start line. There was a water station in the first parking lot, so I drank two cups of water and ate some Energems, which supposedly has as much caffeine as an energy drink. I had just enough time to find the shortest bathroom line, then I had a long walk to the actual corral. I am not exaggerating when I say that the distance from the bus drop off to the starting line had to be at least one mile. That is just cruel.
I was assigned to Corral L based on my half marathon proof and expected finish time. Only at Disney World is a 6 hour marathon considered the median!
As I waited in my corral, I ate a packet of almond butter.
Finally, the real starting guns went off and it was time to go! My corral went about 40 minutes after the first wave. All I can remember about the first few miles were stress and anxiety. There were just way too many people to figure out what was happening. There was a six hour pace group next to me who was doing 2 minute run/2 minute walk intervals. I trained with 1 minute run/walk intervals. Experts tell you that during the race, do what you trained and don’t be tempted to change it just because you see a pace group. Well, I figured everything else had gone wrong so I jumped in with them. It was easier to run/walk when you are in a herd than by yourself.
And then I dropped all of my Clif blocks within the first two miles. Now I was distracted by freaking out about how I was going to fuel during the race. Luckily if you remember from my long training runs, I did train with very minimal fuel so I knew I didn’t need much. I stopped at the bathrooms around mile 4 (the transportation and ticket center) though that was a mistake because the line was long and I didn’t have to go that bad. I lost more than 5 minutes here. I also stopped for a photo in front of Cinderella’s castle. Between those two stops, my first 5 miles took over an hour. Eww.
Coming into the castle was very cool. There’s my pacer in front with the green sign sticking out of her back:
This picture is of the only really bad hill. We had to go steeply down under a bridge and then back up before entering a race track.
I kept plodding along, still feeling good but worrying about my food. One kind woman gave me a peanut butter cracker but other than the calories in the Powerade, that was all I got. I didn’t see any food stops until about mile 11.5, where there were bananas. I had never eaten a banana during a run before and yet I ate it anyway. Finally at mile 15 there were packets of Clif shot gels, so I took one and saved two for later. Um, I had never eaten gels before. Again, the experts say to never eat anything that you didn’t train with! I am so lucky nothing bad happened.
A quick stop at the halfway point. I could barely stand still for the photo. Since I started 41 minutes after the gun time, my halfway point was pretty exact!
I was drinking water and/or Powerade at every water stop, to the point where my stomach felt full and I skipped maybe two stops towards the end. Around mile 17, one station handed out washcloths soaked with ice cold water. As I took it and squeezed it over my head, the water running down my face tasted like saltwater from all the salt on my face. Sorry that’s gross, but it was so weird that I needed to share. I took other peoples’ advice and held onto that washcloth and re-wetted it until the final mile. It really helped to squeeze cold water on my arms, neck, and head to cool off. There were also some spectators who handed out a few pretzels so I ate a couple bites of that to get the salt but it was kind of hard to swallow. My body was getting tired but I was amazed that I didn’t really have any pain.
I had been running the entire time with this same pace group, and they were incredibly nice. I was having trouble getting words to come out of my mouth but I was happy to have them there as “my peeps”. Everyone sorta had nicknames too – ie “Canada”, “Ohio”, “America” (she was dressed patriotically), “Dopey”, and I of course was Pocahontas. Their chatting really helped pull me along, even though I was so tired that I couldn’t get any words out or barely raise my hands to wave to people. I can’t thank those kind strangers enough. Erica from California and the Pacebook Running Club and that group… I may never run into you again but thank you.
By the way, there were not as many costumes as I expected. Lots of tutus, sparkle skirts, and Minnie Mouse’s but not as many princesses. I only saw one other Pocahontas, [not] coincidentally also Asian, and we took a picture together. Being dressed as Pocahontas was awesome because people would cheer for me and just yell GO POCAHONTAS. When I ran through the baseball stadium at ESPN, the announcer said “Hey, here comes a Pocahontas, where you from Pocahontas?” So I yelled “RHODE ISLAND” and he said “Give it up for Pocahontas from Rhode Island!!” But truly, the winning spectator comment was from a woman in the Boardwalk area who yelled “Yeah Pocahontas! You’re almost there, it’s just around the river bend.” I hadn’t even thought of that pun.
At mile 19, I took another gel. By now, I didn’t really feel like swallowing anything, even water. I didn’t eat anything else after mile 19 and just concentrated on making sure I had enough water yet stressing about whether I would get hyponatremia. There was a stop where they handed out chocolates and fruit snacks so I ate the chocolate (a mini Mr. Goodbar) and maybe 3 bites of fruit snacks. Then I realized, holy crap, I’m going to finish.
I was getting so tired and it was hard to concentrate on the end goal. Every time I stopped for my 2 minute walk interval, it was very hard to get walking again. My feet were sore from the pounding. When I hit mile 20, I thought to myself, holy crap I’m going to finish! At mile 23, I said, oh my goodness even if I walk the entire rest of the way, I will finish! I had to stop thinking that though, because I did not even want the phrase “I could walk til the end” to even be in my brain.
Random funny things I witnessed:
- a guy at the starting line wearing just a speedo and sneakers
- Doctor Dribble, who did the whole marathon dribbling two basketballs
- A young lady with one of those scooters that you use when you have a broken leg, scooting along
- People crying while running
- People ordering margaritas while running
To be continued with the finish line…