Sunday, January 12, 2014

Marathon Training : Week 101 : The Marathon

Other marathon training posts...

It is official, I completed my first marathon. I started and I finished. I have a t-shirt and a bib and a medal and some photos as proof! Everyone keeps asking me how it went and how I feel. I feel good that I finished. My only goal was to finish. The experience itself was mostly awful and someone awesome. I feel really sore and walking is difficult but I know that'll go away. Also chafing, let's not talk about it.

Getting signed in and ready for the marathon was a debacle. Navigating Run Disney's website and information is difficult and I showed up to sign in at Epcot when I should've been at ESPN. Unfortunately, getting from one place to another is not easy, especially since I didn't have a car. The first two employees I encountered knew nothing. The third really tried to be helpful but his hands were tied. The next few were assholes who wasted my time and eventually were told off with many expletives.

Basically, I was standing over in a back stage area, surrounded by trucks, with nowhere to sit, for over an hour when a Run Disney person came up to lecture me about how they can't transport guests due to liability and I'd have to take a million buses to get where I was going. I was not having that. I went back to the entrance to Epcot and demanded to see a guest services manager. He turned out to be the awesome guest services person you expect from Disney and settled me in with a ride very quickly.

So I ended up at the running expo, completely stressed out, with a half hour to check in. The place was really annoying. Check in was back in one room, but t-shirts were in another...and I had to go down through the expo to get to one of the places. The expo is really just an excuse for vendors to set up and sell shit and it was crowded and I was pissed. Also, it was nearing 80 degrees and very humid and that had me stressed for what the next day would entail. But in the end, I managed to get everything together and get with my couple for engagement photos inside the Magic Kingdom!!

The night before the race, I didn't really have a chance of getting a ton of sleep. I wasn't really worried, because running a marathon will keep you awake! The morning of the race, I left my hotel at 3:15a to get to Epcot at 3:45. Little did I know that part of the race was sitting in my lettered corral and waiting as each corral ahead of me started the race. I didn't get on the course until 6:15a.

The race itself was just a bunch of things. Parts of it were really fun. I ran the first 14 miles and was doing really well. At mile 12, in Animal Kingdom, someone directed the runners to Everest, a roller coaster. I definitely had the time, so I got in line and road the ride. That was fun and surreal, to be running a marathon and stop to ride a roller coaster! But that's all part of this event. There were little vignettes with characters set up pretty much every mile. Each vignette had a pro photographer as well as a cast member who would take photos with cell phones. Each mile was marked with a big sign with the clock and a character or two on it. Part of the race ran through an actual car race track and there were classic cars set up. There was a LOT going on...and I didn't love it. It felt overwhelming to me.

The runners were really fun and I was always around a few of them who seemed to be really cool. I would sign whenever I wanted, often not well, and people around me joined in or applauded me or maybe were annoyed but didn't show it. I cheered a lot and talked to a lot of people. All of the volunteers and cast members who were on the sidelines were really supportive and always cheering us on, which was awesome. That part of the race felt good, although somewhat overwhelming as it seemed like I couldn't go a half mile without a ton of cheering and noise making.

The course took us through the parks, like actually down the main midway of each park; Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, ESPN, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot. That part was cool. Unfortunately, the parks made up maybe a total of six miles. The rest of the course was on big, sunny streets or back access roads. One part, behind the water treatment plant, was cool to me...but the rest was just hot and was ESPN. I didn't like any of this, so much so that I would not recommend this race to anyone. The parks are such a small part and the rest is just giant, hot roads. Although, to be fair, the water and powerade and medical stations were frequent and well manned.

Because of the unexpected heat (it was 70s, I think, maybe 60s, very sunny and warm, but not too humid), I decided to walk starting at mile 14. Mile 14 was somewhere along a really long stretch of hot road. And along the other side of the divided highway, was the rest of the course. There was a good 6-8 miles along hot road, through ESPN (which is all open and sunny), and then back along the hot road to Hollywood Studios. Hollywood Studios is not shady and that route took us to a boardwalk over to Epcot. The boardwalk and the midway of Epcot are not shady. So basically, after mile 14, it was a LOT of sun. I fucking hate the sun. It was not super hot, but I could feel a headache coming on and decided it was not worth heat exhaustion. Based on my play list, I was ahead of my time by mile 15 and continued to be right on time when I hit mile 20. Now from there, I lost time because of pain in my hips and blisters. These things might have happened despite the weather, but with cooler weather, I might have run further. In the end, I just don't care. I crossed the finish line, which is what matters...but I hated every step of miles 20-26.2. HATED. EVERY. STEP. I stopped taking photos, stopped singing, and just focused on not stopping. I watched as I left the comfy middle of the pack and started to fall behind. From mile 20-24, I was seriously concerned I would somehow not make it.

But I did make it, which is the point. And I will never run/walk a marathon again. (Probably.)

Also, Run Disney seemed far more concerned with upselling packages than giving me important information, which made every step of the logistics of signing in and getting to the race more difficult. Add that to the noise and distractions (which I didn't like) and the super sunny course, and I don't suggest this race to anyone. I paid $170 for this, and I don't think it was worth it. There are far nicer courses with fewer people, fewer distractions, and more beauty for much less. Run Disney just seemed to be way more about making money than anything else, and that doesn't interest me.

But at the end of the day, I DID IT! I trained for two years and I accomplished my goal and that is pretty fucking cool.


  1. Way to go girl! Whatever you (or we) run in future, must check out course! But you did it and it is all over but the recovery!

  2. Fenna, I am really proud of you for finishing the marathon and for sticking with such a huge goal all the way to completion! Seriously, doing anything every week for 101 weeks is very impressive to me. You're awesome, my friend!

    1. Thank you!!! You totally got what this was all about : setting a goal and following through. I feel awesome and I really appreciate your support!!!

  3. SOOOOOOOO happy for you! I really want you to write a guest post about your running experiences!