This weekend was the Disney Marathon weekend which is the high point of the RunDisney calendar with 4 days of races from kids runs to the full marathon. It is a big affair with over 50,000 participating across the weekend. This was also the 25th anniversary of the marathon. In usual Disney fashion, it was an over the top affair – multiple fireworks displays at the start, a Disney hit being played from each of the 25 years being played as each wave took off. Then of course there were the characters photo ops throughout the run – a Disney staple. The only thing Disney couldn’t control was the weather which was another cold one by Florida standards.
This was my second marathon, last year being my first, and I was psyched going in. I thought I had trained well, worked on my nutrition and had set a game plan for pace throughout the race. Marathons have a great way of humbling you!
The first half went well , timing out at 2:30:00. I even got to meet Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear and Sheriff Woody to boot. By mile 18 the wheels started coming off the truck. I felt a muscle cramp in my left shin which never really cleared and required a walk break. By mile 19, my other leg muscles obviously took this as a sign to join in the party. The shin pain was followed by left quad, right calf and left hip. The walk breaks became longer and then the mental games began. It then became a matter of survival for the last seven miles. Many of my fellow runners joined me at the Biofreeze/Vaseline tents – self medicating to get us through another mile after mile.
One of the great things about big marathons like Disney is the crowd support. All of the parks were full of cheering fans helping motivate you. I had dressed up as Woody so one of the highlights for me was the crowd interaction. Often I heard “There’s a snake on my boots” or “Ride like the wind Bullseye” and kids wanted to give me a high five. A great pick me up when you need it.
Anyway, got enough energy to run the last 5K and finish in 5:31:00 – not as good as last year but a finish all the same.
Why do we do this?
That is a good question. Definitely not for a pain free run in the park. I think the idea of achieving something that you once thought you could never do is a big motivator. Many fellow runners came with stories like overcoming injury or personal loss, honoring loved ones to name a few reasons. If you looks at the facebook page of Team #runDisney you will see many inspiring stories.
After it is all done you cross the line and get your medal – this year we even got commemorative Mickey Mouse Ears as a bonus. As the legs tighten up and you lay back the big words come back to you: “I AM A MARATHONER”.
And nobody can take that from you.