Disney’s Marathon Weekend Marathon

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2017 Disney Marathon Medal

With all of my pre marathon prep over and done, My Disney Marathon is about to begin.

The fireworks shoot up into the sky, announcing the start of another heat, and off I go. I am sticking to my game plan, starting off at a fast walk. Sure people are jogging past me but I’m walking at a good pace that I’m comfortable with.

Now I’m not going go through everything mile by mile, because this would be a very long blog post, and not a lot would change throughout the race, but I will hit the high points.

Today instead of heading back to Epcot we start the race heading towards the magic kingdom so we’ve got about 5 miles on the road before we stepped foot inside a theme park. People I know who have run other Disney races have told me that it is running on the road that is the most boring and most difficult.

I have to say I disagree, first of all your on Disney property and if you’re anything like me, you are excited and happy no matter where you are on Disney property. Also the energy level is awesome! People around you are wearing little mermaid costumes, genie costumes, everyone’s excited and enthusiastic about competing in such a spectacular event. There was not one mile of this race that I found boring in any way.

As with all the other races there were character spots, where some people choose to stop and take pictures along the way. I chose not to stop, as I really just needed to save as much time as possible for finishing the race in the allowed time. But they were a lot of fun to look at.

Disney's Marathon Weekend Marathon Course

First stop magic kingdom, so we entered the park right at Main Street USA, the course headed up Main Street over to Tomorrowland, past Tomorrowland Speedway, from there I followed the
course to Fantasyland, right through the middle of Cinderella’s Castle. After that I headed over to Splash Mountain and then out through a side exit where one of the train stations are.

By this part of the race I have really gotten into my stride, I have found a technique that, for me, is working really well, the only way to describe it is by calling it shuffling. I’m moving at a slow jogging pace, but I am not lifting my feet up very far, almost skating my feet centimeters above the ground, thus conserving energy, and eliminating the strain on my quadriceps. From this point forward I am going to call it speed walking, because shuffling doesn’t sound as good to me.

I am out of the Magic Kingdom and just passing by Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, I am seven miles into the race and feeling pretty darn good. I’m speed walking 99% of the time, and moving at a pretty fast pace…it feels right.

The 1% of the time that I’m actually jogging it’s only when a Disney photo pass person is there taking a picture. I don’t want to give anyone any false impressions of the pictures I post, I was not jogging nor was I running for most of the race. But I sure was when there was a photo pass person!

From there we headed to a part on Disney World property that I have never been. Some of the back roads behind the parks.

The only buildings back here were water management, and recycling buildings. Along the way Disney put up signs notifying that runners of the efforts that Disney puts forward and just how much they actually recycle. It was very cool to see that stuff. As you may know, I feel very strongly about taking care of our planet, and I think Disney does a pretty darn good job considering the amount of energy and disposable goods that they require every day.

I’m really happy that Disney showcased this, for one, it was nice to see them showcase all of their conservation efforts. You really don’t hear or see much of that, occasionally you see something at Animal Kingdom, or you hear it mentioned if you are listening to a podcast like Radio Harambe (my favorite podcast). Other than that, you never need to think about it, but it is nice knowing that even though you are not thinking about conservation or recycling, Disney still is.

It also gave me something to look at, and think about during the race, this was the longest stretch of strictly road racing, almost 10 miles worth, and it was nice to have that broken up a little bit.

Tim Shevlin Disney MarathonNext stop Animal Kingdom. We enter Animal Kingdom through a back entrance located by the Kilimanjaro Safari. We actually passed by Rafiki’s Planet Watch on the way in, which looks very different from the back side, I never would have even known what it was but I saw a small sign. From there we headed towards Expedition Everest. I’m not sure if Disney did this purposely but we were at the halfway mark right as we past Mount Everest. I’ll tell you, Disney never disappoints when it comes to small details. I couldn’t help but think of how easy this race is in comparison to actually summiting Mount Everest, Edmund Hillary would be chuckling at my strugle, but enough of that, on with the race! From the shadow of Mount Everest, I then past through Dinoland and out of the park.

After leaving the Animal Kingdom I have about 4 miles of racing on the road. This part of the course was the same as during the Star Wars Half Marathon, and I remember really liking this part. Again, I might be in the minority, but I love the entire course, and it was in this section that they had DJs blasting music from tricked out cars and high platforms, which really helped keep the energy level up.

Right around section of the race I started to notice an increase in medical stations as well as the number of water and Gatorade stops. I also noticed an increase in the number of injured competitors. I am glad that I always stay well hydrated and that I packed those snacks. Otherwise I might be laying on the side of the road right now too.

I hope that everyone who entered and didn’t finish remembers it’s the effort that we put in that really counts. It’s not if we finish but did we give it our all. Everyone who entered this race is a champion in my book, this is a very difficult task.

So about four and half miles later we’re getting close to the ESPN Wide World of Sports.

Most of the parks that I enter for the race I spend about one total mile in the park, a little bit more in Epcot. But I was in the ESPN area for almost four miles! As cool as ESPN is, going up and down and back and forth in the same area for four miles, I can’t help to start wanting to get out of there.

There was one part of the time in ESPN where we ran around the warning track of a baseball field, it was very cool. They also had a photo pass person there taking pictures in a great location, the photographer was in the outfield, taking a picture and getting the whole stadium in the background. The problem was I was wearing my long sleeve shirt over my bib so whether they took a picture of me or not, I will never know.

Most of the time when I knew there before the photopass people around, I would take my long sleeve shirt off and expose my bib, I didn’t have time to do that here. Next year I am making sure my bib is showing the whole time.

It was also at this location that my race changed. Throughout the whole race I was running m
y own race, I was keeping my own time doing what worked for me. Now while I was in the ESPN Wide World of Sports I caught up to a five hour race group. Basically there is a runner that is keeping a certain pace and running a certain way while holding up a sign that says “five hour pace”, which means he will finish the race in five hours. So I thought to myself why don’t I stick with these guys for a bit and see how it goes. That was a mistake.

Tim Shuffling

They were doing a jog/walk program where they would jog for 20 seconds and walk for 10 seconds. I started doing that and within 1 mile my quadriceps became very fatigued. As I mentioned earlier when I was doing the speed walking I was not putting that strain or jarring on my quads, but when I started jogging with his group I was. I continued with them for about a mile and then my legs were getting so fatigued I couldn’t keep up. As I tried to go back into my speed walking, I noticed my speed was not there like it had been. My race had immediately changed.

So as we leave ESPN’s Wide World of Sports I’m on mile 21 heading towards Hollywood studios. At this point I am no longer shuffling or speed walking as I like to call it, but I am walking as quickly as I can, the jogging had taken too big a toll on my quads, and I was paying the piper. My time in Hollywood studios was short lived as the course entered by the Tower of terror, then headed to the center of the park and then out the front entrance.

Good thing that for now Hollywood Studios is my least favorite park. I say “for now” because I have a feeling once Star Wars land opens, MGM (I still like calling it by that name) will be my favorite.

After leaving MGM we headed down the path that leads to the boardwalk.

At that point I looked at my watch and realized even if it took me an hour and a half to go the next 2 miles I would still finish the race with plenty of time. As tired and sore as I was, that realization was a huge relief, and a weight felt like it lifted off my shoulders.

So we headed through the boardwalk and into the back entrance of Epcot.Tim Shevlin Crosses Finish Line Disney

As we enter the world showcase we made a right so we went around most of the world showcase. I was in the home stretch and although very tired and fatigued I was very happy.

As I’m going through I couldn’t help but notice racers stopping and buying a couple beers or a margarita to finish the race with a drink in their hand. It was very funny to see and if I was a drinker I may have been tempted to do the same thing. But finishing the race with a Coke didn’t seem quite as fun, so I just kept going.

Right as we leave Epcot Center the finish line is within sight.

Going through the finish line was such a feeling of accomplishment joy, excitement, and relief.  By crossing that finish line, my Disney Marathon journey was over.  And it had only taken me 6 hours and 31 minutes to finish 26.2 miles.  That actually is not a very fast time, but who cares, I finished.

The Winner of this years Disney Marathon finished with a time of 2 hours and 23 minutes… Boy that puts my speed in perspective.

Disney Marathon Dopey ChallengeI walked up and received my medals, the marathon medal, the goofy and dopey challenge medals and the half marathon medal from yesterday. So out of the four medals that I received that day one of them was truly earned. And that one marathon medal was the only one that I cared about. This was one of the most physically demanding things that I have ever done, and I earned that one medal!

After receiving my medals I went up and grabbed my Disney snack box, then I went and got my real post race snack box and started my post race recovery.
So I admit it, I was not as prepared for this race as I would have like to have been. I hadn’t walked for any distance in about two months, and while I was doing cardio on the stair mill everyday, that is no substitute for actual training. And because my training wasn’t there, the race was much more difficult. But I learned a lot about myself and I learned about running in a Disney Marathon, so I will take what I learned and use it next time.

What an exciting feeling to cross that finish line, as difficult as it was, I loved every minute of it, and can’t wait to start training for next years Disney Marathon… are you in?

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