Marathon plan: Do 5:1 jog:walk intervals most of the way, except walk through the water stops and photo ops. If I feel strong, stick with intervals and only start running continuously after Mile 18 of the marathon. IF I don't feel strong, try to fight off walking continuously in the marathon long enough to make the finish line by the cutoff, and collect my Goofy medal. Stay ahead of your 6:50 minimum pace chart to beat the 7:00 deadline.
Marathon report: The night before the marathon was filled with trepidation. Could I do it? Could I actually finish this entire 42.4-mile journey? I was already tired and a little sore from the 16.2 miles I had done that day. Although it would be my 9th marathon, I’d never done a marathon yet where I’d run a step the previous day. In fact, all my 8 previous marathons had been preceded by a full 3-week taper. But, on the other hand, I was just tired. Nothing was terribly sore or hurting badly, other than a couple small blisters in the usual place on my little toe. I cut off the worried thinking by telling myself I’d just get myself to the starting line, and let the rest of the day take care of itself. Then I was asleep before my roommate Jeanne even turned out the light.
Sunday morning was the same routine as Saturday, only a little slower and stiffer. Up at 3, monorail to the race starting area at 4. Staying at the Polynesian Resort on the monorail line was worth every penny of avoiding bus and driving hassles, because we needed every extra minute of sleep for the Goofy Challenge. We actually could have left at 5 and still made the race start just fine, probably. It seemed less stressful and easier doing it the second day, since we knew where everything was. It also helped that the temperatures were somewhat more comfortable than the previous morning due to the absence of wind chill: Low temperature 34*F at 5:11AM, high temperature 66*F at 3:41PM, average wind 2.7 mph.
In the starting corrals, I realized with horror that I had lost my gel flask which had been clipped to my belt. I was relying on it to maintain my energy throughout the race. Fortunately Jeanne saved me from abject panic by giving me three of her gel packets, which were enough to get me through most of the race.
The race went off as scheduled at 6AM in the dark with fireworks and a sendoff from Mickey and Minnie. I was in the blue start which looped around the Epcot parking lot and entered the World Showcase near the United Kingdom and in the dark with everything lit up beautifully we ran past France, Morocco, Japan, the USA, and exited after Italy. Shortly thereafter we had a smooth merge with the runners from the red start, went back past our original starting area, and were headed off on a 6-mile run on concrete highways.
Once again I employed a 5:1 jog:walk schedule and my pace along the highway stretches was almost identical to the previous day. I hit the ten mile mark a scant 14 seconds later than on the previous day. So far, so good! As long as I could stay ahead of my pace chart.
We ran through the Magic Kingdom with the same good spirits and the same route as yesterday. This time I stopped at a couple different locations for photos, including one with Mrs. Incredible, and again positioned myself on the left side away from other runners when exiting Cinderella’s castle, hoping for a good official photo.
The next two miles were a difficult stretch both days, with runners squeezed into one lane and lines of walkers barricading the path for those behind them. Again, I tried to stay relaxed and walk when I had to and passed when I was able. A lot of the time I jogged along the side of the road in the grass just to avoid the other runners and to use the forgiving sandy surface.
At the 13.1-mile halfway point I knew I was on a good pace to finish – only 39 seconds slower than my finish time the previous day. I felt reasonably comfortable. This was the beginning of a very quiet section of the course that I expected not to like but actually enjoyed – it was a less-developed, quiet road through the woods which would have been nice for a solo jog. The only less-desirable feature was the smell emanating from the Disney sewage plant, but that didn’t last long.
At mile 16 we seemed to enter the Animal Kingdom, but we ran on backstage service roads for quite a long ways before we entered the park areas. The section through the park seemed very short, was a bit rolling, and included a view of Mount Everest under construction and a huge dinosaur next to the route. I had never been in the park before, and had hoped to see some of the animals, but alas, we were soon routed outside into the parking lot areas.
Then we were out on Osceola Parkway for the least fun part of the course. Four miles of running along concrete highways, sometimes steeply cambered. At least they were reasonably wide and fairly non-hilly, so it was just a long slog. It would have been quite miserable if it had been any hotter. I was getting fatigued. At times I wondered if I could finish. My internal dialogue went like this:
“I can’t possibly make it another 6 or 7 miles to the finish.”
“Can you make it to the next mile marker?”
“Well, yeah, I think I can maybe go just that far.”
“Then get going already!”
Keeping after myself in that fashion repeatedly, time and time again, I was able to maintain the 5:1 jog:walk intervals most of the way over the long highway stretch until the turn into the MGM studios at mile 22.5. At that point there was a red carpet laid on the road which felt wonderfully soft underfoot, and both sides of the road had throngs of spectators to cheer us on. It gave me a psychological boost, but at that point my old body had just run out of energy.
At about that point the intervals broke down and I mostly walked through the MGM area and only jogged for brief spurts when I could. Just keep going, one foot in front of the other . . . out of the MGM area and onto a long narrower sidewalk through the Boardwalk and Yacht Club and Beach Club areas.
Back into Epcot on the same route we had taken hours earlier that morning and I was delighted to find Linae and her friends Molly and Keri outside the Rose and Crown pub! Better yet, Linae had a Guinness that she offered me, and I gratefully accepted and swilled down. That was nectar of the Gods and was sufficient to improve my morale to get me to the finish line.
That gospel choir nailed me again at the end of the full. Just when I was about to DIE from exhaustion, I came around the corner at 26.1 miles, and they began a full-throated chorus belting out "Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice!" and sure enough, it hit my feelings so precisely that they got me wiping my eyes again. I gave the singers a double thumbs-up, and proceeded around the corner.
I crossed the finish line triumphantly, and collected my Mickey medal and finally encountered the Holy Grail - I received the priceless Goofy medal that I had sought for so very long.
Full marathon result:
10 Mile chip time 2:24:37
Half chip time 3:13:56
20 Mile chip time 5:00:54
Finish chip time 6:37:49
Overall: 9414/10131 (92%)
Gender: 4486/5024 (89%)
Division (women 45-49): 492/586 (83%)