Wow. I can’t believe as I’m writing this that the Disney Marathon is already over. It was a magical weekend for me and my family, needless to say my kids were super happy to be there. Disney was super exciting as a family and my Marathon almost seemed like the smallest part of it. We arrived Friday late night, and we had only a short little while to enjoy the great atmosphere at the Disney Boardwalk before it got too late. The next day, after the Expo we went to Magic Kingdom. The castle was astonishingly gorgeous and magical, we watched the Disney parades, hopped on rides and greeted many many famous characters. It was an overload of fun! My kids thought it was the best place on earth. I actually forgot that I had to run a marathon only a few hours later. We headed back to the hotel and had dinner at the hotel’s restaurant. It started to down pour outside and I was hoping that the rain would clear up by the early morning hours.
The marathon was suppose to start at 5:30 in the morning. I set my alarm clock for 2:30 am. When it rang I just could n’t see my self running 26 miles in a few hours. I was pretty tired and I so didn’t feel like eating anything that early in the morning. The shuttle service for the Marathon picked up runners every 15 minutes at all the Disney resort hotels, to bring them over to the Start. Everything was so well organized. When we arrived at Epcot Center there were already hundreds of runners. Music was blasting and the energy was awesome. I made sure I was eating my Cliff Bars and hydrated with electrolytes. This time I made sure I was heading straight to my corral. I would not make the same mistake like in New York, where we took our time and the corral closed right in front of our eyes, and we were moved back an hour. It was actually quite a walk to the corrals, I was happy I left n time. The Marathon started right on time and after the National Anthem each corral was saluted with fireworks before they started running. It was really beautiful. In the first mile I noticed the that it was actually quite humid. I tried to stick with an easy moderate pace for the first 2 miles. It really hard to stick to that when you see so many other runners passing you by. I felt my legs were a bit tired and heavy, most likely I did too much walking throughout the park the day before. We ran along a long street, it was still dark outside. I felt that I was working quite hard during these first 4 miles, I tried to move thoughts about the entire 26 miles out of my head. I kept saying to myself, one mile at a time. At the 6th Mile mark we arrived at Magic Kingdom. I couldn’t believe how beautiful the castle was lit in the dark. I wished my kids would have been able to see it. It was breathtaking. I thought if this marathon will continue like this I could run forever, it was just fun. Unfortunately the run throug Magic Kingdom only lasted for about one mile before we were heading towards miles of plain road side running. It really seemed endless. Along the course there were photo opportunities to pose with your favorite characters. as much I would have liked a picture with some of them, I just couldn’t get myself to stop and pause my run for a few minutes. Just stopping at water stations alone takes a toll on your pace, throw in some photo stops and you lose quite a bit of time. In mile 10 the run was getting hard for me. Running along a road side for this long was just plain boring and I started to focus more on my weaknesses than my strenghs. I had to take my second gel, as well. I needed something to put a spring into my shoes. I was really looking forward to Animal Kingdom at Mile 13. Unfortunately everything around there was still closed this early in the morning and you really couldn’t get the sense that you were inside a Disney park. It was over super quick and then we headed for another 10 miles of running along a road. Each mile felt endless, and it was starting to get warmer, too. These 10 miles were a drag. At the water and gel station at mile 18 I was entering really hard territory. Looking up a steep hill, I was really tempted to walk a bit. By this time a lot of people were walking,I always think that’s such a discouraging site. Mile 18 is when the marathon starts and with it the questions why am I doing this ordeal to myself? I could just stop, and that would be okay, too, why torturing myself to this degree? But something, I don’t know what it is let’s you keep moving and keep grinding. It was also the point when my foot pain started to kick in. My new HOKA shoes felt awesome, though. The extra cushioning of this shoe really helped absorbing a lot of the impact on my foot. I was happy I chose them for my run. In Mile 19 we ran through the ESPN Wide World of Sports Center, on a regular day I would have been so excited to be there, but since this was mile 19 it was just another hurdle to get through. I took another gel at this point, and this one really made me super nauseous. At this point my system was flooded with too much Gatorade and gels and my stomach was not having it. I remember clearly the moment when I saw the Mile 20 Marker. This was the first time in these 3 hours that I felt optimism and that I can do this. Every mile after mile 20 seems double from what a mile usually feels like. My pace took another hit, but the good thing was, I was still moving. Forward. Step by step. All I wanted to see was that next mile marker. Mile 23 was Hollywood Studios. As exausted as I was at this point, it was the next two mile that sum up this marathon for me. I lost the runner that was most of the time next to me the entire run, I saw endless runners walking, an ambulance helping a collapsed runner on the side of the road. Inside Hollywood Studios we had to run through a building that was set up as a club, with loud music and flashing lights. I honestly couldn’t stand it. My vision and concentration was compromised at this point and I had a hard time to run through the flickering flashes of the laser lights. It was only a minute or two, but I couldn’t stand it. When I saw the Mile 24 marker I thought the rest was a piece of cake and momentarily for a few minutes I was able to pick up my pace, but I had to pull back back quickly again. I was exhausted, drained and all I wanted to see was the finishing line. This is when you feel half-way delirious,and only the things that matter the most to you while come into your mind, helping you to put one more foot in front of the other. In this last two miles I was only thinking about the 3 people I love most in this life, Jim and the boys, who were waiting for me at the finishing line. I remembered the moments when I struggled most in my life and the moments that made me the happiest and I remembered why this training gives me the strength to belief in myself. And just as I was telling myself one more last time that I will never do this sh*t again, I was stepping over the finishing line and it was over. That fast. Boy did I want to cry! I was so weak that the site of the huge Mickey finishing medal scarred me. I thought when they put it around my neck that the weight of it would tip me over. Luckily it didn’t:) My time was 4:25:30. I predicted 4:25 last week in my training log, and that’s what it was. I knew from the pace in my training runs that I would come in somewhere around this time. I was really happy with my finishing time this time. It was hard work, and I was proud of myself that I did it.
My kids couldn’t wait to wear my medal and eat my recovery snacks and I had to answer the endless questions if we’re going inside the park now. So we walked back to our hotel which was a 2mile walk, but it felt great. It feels good to keep moving and I loved watching my fellow marathoners running along the board walk, heading towards the finishing line. I was so happy for every single one of time. So we headed back to the hotel, I took a quick shower and we left for Animal Kingdom for the day.
At 7Pm I collapsed face down on my hotel bed.