My First Marathon- A Runners Journey Part Two
by Tina Bond
Where did we leave off? The day before the marathon, yes. Jim and I had to go to the expo to pick up our packets!! We ended up getting to the expo as they opened and it was great! No lines at packet pick up! Then it was over to the expo to pick up our shirts and some runDisney merchandise.
I was pleasantly surprised by how organized it was. There were no crazy lines and there was tons of merchandise left, even on the very last day. I got my ‘I DID IT’ shirt, and a mug. I could kick myself for NOT getting the marathon magnet. I also got a pair of the New Balance Cinderella runDisney shoes. I was shocked they even had my size on the last day seeing how much of a frenzy it caused when they came out. This expo was fantastic compared to the Disneyland and Princess Half Marathon expos.
I set my alarm for 2:00 am which is normal for any Disney race. I was very excited when I woke up! I wasn’t really nervous at all. I had my morning coffee, got all my race gear on, put Skin Strong on my feet, packed up and headed out the door. We left the house at 3:00 and were parked by 3:30. We brought bagels, bananas and peanut butter to eat while we waited in the car.
Jim and I started to head up to the port o potties to make one last pit stop before we walked to the corrals. The morning was cool and a little breezy. It was actually fantastic race weather. Jim was in Corral P and I was in M. We reached his corral first and this is when I got a little anxious. I had to leave my race buddy, but just for a little while. I gave him a big hug, told him good luck and off I went. It had rained a little during the night and the side of the road I had to walk on to get to my corral was muddy and wet. That made me paranoid. All I could think was “Don’t slip, don’t slip.” Finally made it to Corral M and went all the way to the front. I had never been to the front of a corral before. I wanted some extra buffer between me and Jim so I could try to get as far as possible before he could catch me!
I sat there and listened to people talking. There was a couple next to me who had never run a marathon before who were getting married in April. They were wearing the Minnie and Mickey wedding ears. There was a gentleman who was also running his first marathon but he was doing it as part of the Dopey Challenge (the 5k, 10k, half and full marathons). There were people from Michigan who were complaining about the cold, but who had also trained in 12 degree weather. Even though I had to wait about 40 minutes after the race started before my corral even made it to the front of the start line, I had lots of people to talk to!
Once it was our turn to go, we waited for Mickey to do the countdown. Then there were FIREWORKS and Corral M was off. I started the race doing 1:00/30 intervals because I wanted to make sure I paced myself for the beginning of the race. I had a lot of miles to go and didn’t want to burn out before the end. The race started great, I felt good. As a pre-emptive measure (because I had been having trouble with my knee on training runs), I decided it would be a great idea to take Tylenol at Mile 3. When I went over to the medical tent, they asked me for my bib number and marked my hand with a big, giant red line. This totally freaked me out!!!! I was so worried that since they took my bib number and marked me that if I asked for more Tylenol later in the race that I’d get swept. I tried wiping off the line with water, but that didn’t work. Shoot!!! From then on I was so worried. I just decided not to take anything else for the rest of the race.
Moving along I got to one of my most FAVORITE parts of the run: the water bridge. You’re probably thinking “What’s so great about the water bridge?” When I ran the Princess Half last year, there was a DJ standing on top of the water bridge. This is where boats from Fort Wilderness Lodge pass to get from Bay Lake to the Seven Seas Lagoon. Not only was he a DJ, but he was wearing these GIANT Mickey hands! He was talking with everyone and waving his giant hands as people ran by. When I ran by I gave him a ‘virtual’ high five. I was very happy to see this same guy on top of the water bridge again this year. I don’t know why I liked this guy so much, maybe it was the GIANT Mickey hands, but it was a highlight of my run!
At this point I had run through the Magic Kingdom gates and was closing in on mile 5 when all of a sudden I look over and who do I see? JIM!!!! He almost ran right by me!!! I was so excited to see him! At that point we regrouped, talked about the guy with giant Mickey hands, and kept running! We were getting close to entering the Magic Kingdom. I was so glad he was there so we could run down Main Street together!
The crowd support at the Magic Kingdom was phenomenal! My favorite part is the second you turn down Main Street you see the castle, see all the people and hear all the cheering! We had to stop to get a picture in front of the castle.
Miles 6 through 12 were challenging, not because it was hard to run, but because the crowd support on this stretch was very thin. There weren’t too many characters. At Mile 8 we got to run a loop around the Richard Petty Driving Experience track. I was excited about that but as we entered the track, there was a tunnel going onto the track. It was extremely hard just walking down the slope. I think if I didn’t have to run through the tunnel my knee would’ve held out a little longer. Somewhere between Mile 10 and 11 we got to run by the “Treasure Chest” or the wastewater treatment facility which smelled absolutely fantastic! Just kidding. It smelled exactly like it sounds. I tried not to open my mouth as we ran by. At Mile 11 ‘Sweet Caroline’ was on repeat, so we got to hear that at least 3 times!
Mile 13 was great! It meant that we were halfway there and we got to run through Animal Kingdom! This part of the race had special meaning to me. A few years ago Jim and I decided to head over to Animal Kingdom for the day. On the way up roads were blocked with cones and traffic was horrible. We had no idea what was going on, but then we saw the RUNNERS! I watched them as we drove by on Osceola Parkway and thought to myself “I never want to do that.” We drove by the Mile 16 marker and I saw people running and walking. I didn’t know people could walk a marathon! Some of the people looked miserable. I am sure they were. I remember what I felt like at Mile 16. There was pain and cursing and pain. I digress. When we finally parked we cheered on the runners as we walked up to the entrance. I saw Mickey and there were bands playing. I thought it was neat and the energy I felt as we walked by the runners was amazing, but I still had no desire to run it.
Fast forward to this year and it was MY turn to run through Animal Kingdom and to be cheered on by people going to the parks for the day. People were going to drive by me and say “I’m never doing that.” Who knows, maybe I inspired someone to run it. I ran by Mickey and the band and then it was out of the park to Osceola Parkway. I will never look at this road the same ever again.
Miles 16-21 were very difficult. These were the most difficult miles throughout the whole race. This is where the cursing begins. This is when I start texting my friends (thanks Carol Lee, Dana and Diane!). This is where I say “I’m never doing this again” and “This is the stupidest idea you’ve ever had.” In all my training runs Mile 16 was where everything just started to hurt. I would get very tired and hungry. The Tylenol I took at Mile 2 had worn off long, long ago and I didn’t want to take anymore because I knew I’d be swept.
Around the 20 Mile mark we crossed a timing chip and Jim got an alert that I was going to cross the finish line in 7:05:xx. My knee was killing me. I tried to do intervals, but every time I stopped it was hard to get going again. It actually hurt worse to do intervals than to run straight through. I couldn’t take it anymore. As we left Wide World of Sports I decided it was time for more Tylenol. I found a medical tent just before Mile 21, sweet relief! At the tent they asked me when I took the first Tylenol. I didn’t know the time, but I told them around Mile 3. The lady then asked me how long ago that was. I looked at her like she had 3 heads. Mile 3 was like 5 hours ago, lady! Seriously? At any rate, they gave me 2 more Tylenol. No sweeping, no hand marking, no writing down my bib number! I was safe!
After that I don’t know what happened, but at Mile 22 I think I got my second wind! SECOND WIND! The Tylenol kicked in and the pain wasn’t as bad. I was able to run a little more easily. The other thing that helped was seeing the Mile 22 marker and knowing I was so close. We were about to run through Hollywood Studios to EPCOT to the FINISH!
Running through Hollywood Studios was fantastic! There were so many people and they were yelling cheers to me! (Having your name on the front of your race shirt is a really good idea!) Another reason why I liked this part of the race was because once we left Hollywood Studios, it was just like a training run.
I had run the route from Hollywood Studios to EPCOT so many times before on training runs. I knew the route. I was confident. I was also able to pick up the pace. I felt like a machine! Like one of those machines that you see at 7-11 that cooks the hot dogs (get it, because it’s slow!?).
Once we entered EPCOT, I was so excited. I looked over to Jim and he said to me “This is our Showcase Showdown!” He was right! We had to run around the World Showcase before we exited the park to the Finish Line. We got to the Choir and it was amazing! I finally got to hear them SING! We made the turn out of the park and I could see it… the FINISH LINE! I can’t tell you how happy I was! As Jim and I neared the finish we grabbed hands and ran! Jim’s favorite character, Donald, was waiting at the finish line. As we went by Donald we ran on either side, gave him a High-5, grabbed hands and crossed the finish! We stopped and Jim gave me the biggest hug ever! It was over. I was elated, happy, hurting. It felt great having that medal around my neck. 26.2 miles. Wow. I DID IT!
Jim got a text with the official time and I came in at 6:59:56. Remember at Mile 20 when I crossed the timing strip and I was projected to finish in 7:05:xx? In that last 6.2 miles I somehow took 5 minutes off my overall time! I was really moving, albeit at a turtles pace.
Initially I decided this marathon was going to be my one and only marathon. Since some time has passed and I have almost forgotten the pain, I changed my mind and will do another marathon some day. Before I do another full there are a few things I need to do first. 1. I need to work on getting better at half marathons. I want to be more comfortable with the half marathon distance and get my time down to 2:30, eventually to 2:00. 2. I need to work more on my core, strength and stretching. I think those 3 things would have really helped improve my marathon performance and prevented or reduced any issues I had with injury. If I can do those things I think I’ll have a better overall time. Not being injured would also be very nice.
Jim asked me why I decided to do another marathon. I thought about it for a long time. Why would I put myself through the
torture of training and getting up at 4 am to go on an 18 mile run? I decided to do another marathon is because it was hard. I am going to run another marathon because it was hard!!!
Tina lives in Orlando with her husband, Jim. When she’s not jet setting across the country with her job or running, or training for a race, or recovering from a race, she enjoys reading, photography, movies, music and going to Disney!!