Wednesday, January 17, 2018

2018 Disney World Marathon recap

This is a hard recap to write.  This was supposed to be my first marathon, I had been working toward it for 6 months with building my base in the Summer and officially starting training in September, and it was such a let down getting swept a bit past mile 20.  But overall, it was a great experience.  I enjoyed the training, had fun with it, and enjoyed the race until I started having problems with my knee.  In fact, it was so much fun that a lot of the miles seemed to just fly by, even the miles on the highways!

But let's start at the beginning.  A lot of the talk of this marathon weekend was about how cold it was.  Thankfully for me, the weather warmed up as the weekend went on and the marathon was the warmest day of the weekend.  But the morning still started out cold.  I took everyone's advice and went with layers I could throw away.  I had on capris, calf sleeves, a short sleeved tech shirt, arm sleeves and a buff as my main race gear.  On top of that I had throw away sweat pants, a hoodie and gloves as well as a mylar heat sheet.

That seemed like the right level of clothes.  While I wouldn't say I was warm at the beginning, I wasn't too uncomfortably cold.  But the problem was the amount of time we had to wait in the cold.  We got to the starting area around 3:30 am.  We went straight to wait by the corrals and entered as soon as we were allowed so we could get toward the front of our corrals.  The race was using mini waves within each corral and we wanted to be in the first wave of our corral.  So I think we were in our corral around 4:30, the race started at 5:30, and we started around 6:15 or so.  So that was a long wait in the cold, a long time between race start and breakfast, and a long time between the last portapotty availability and the time we started. Since this was the 25th anniversary of the marathon, they had 25 waves and each wave started with fireworks and the hit Disney song from that year.

The start of the race was still pretty cold.  I had gotten rid of the throw away pants at the official race start at 5:30 but didn't get rid of the hoodie and gloves until almost 20 minutes after I started.  I didn't regret getting rid of the hoodie but I probably should have kept the gloves a bit longer.

Miles 1 - 5: 15:15, 15:14, 15:23, 15:31, 15:21
The first mile was pretty crowded but it spread out a bit once we were on the highway and headed to the magic kingdom.  (Course Map) I have to admit that the first several miles are all a blur and it seemed like we were at the Magic Kingdom gates before I knew it.  But based on my photos, there was a character stop with Launchpad and Scrooge McDuck.  I didn't stop for any actual character stops as I knew I couldn't afford to waste time in lines.  I only took photos if it was a character I particularly liked and just took the photo as I was going past so they're not very good.

Miles 6 - 12:  17:09, 14:51, 14:36, 15:02, 15:38, 16:11, 16:07
And then we were heading into the Magic Kingdom, which was amazing!  I thought this area would be really crowded but it wasn't too bad.  And it wasn't even that crowded when I went through the castle, I had to slow down a bit but didn't have to stop running.  I did have to make a bathroom stop here, which you can see in the mile 6 split of 17:09.  Each bathroom stop was 3-4 minutes due to the lines but I tried to pick ones with short lines.  I wasn't surprised I had to go so early in the race because we had to wait so long in the corral.

The Magic Kingdom was running up Main Street, then making a right into Tomorrow Land, then running through Fantasy Land, out through the castle, and a right to go through Frontier Land and out of the park through a back stage area.

After that was "cone alley." I had heard that this area was crowded and it was.  But somehow those seemed like my fastest splits of the race.  After that it was back on the highway to Animal Kingdom and then an out and back on a random road for miles 11 and 12.  I actually liked this out and back section because it was cool to see the other runners and they had some good DJs in this section.  Though this was also the section with a waste processing plant and it did not smell good at all.

Miles 13 - 18:  17:14, 16:55, 16:05, 18:05, 18:34, 21:37
A bit past mile 12 we entered the Animal Kingdom.  The park was open by the time we got there but it wasn't too bad because most people went to the Pandora section and we did not run in that area.  I loved that right before entering Animal Kingdom, they had cast members with real animals that you could pet and take photos with.

Mile 13 was my second bathroom stop (again reflected in the 17 minute split and it took 3-4 minutes) as I really had to go again and I saw a bathroom with short lines.  I have no idea why I had to go to the bathroom so much other than I must have been overhydrating.  We ran through Animal Kingdom, I saw several people peel off to ride Everest but I knew I didn't have time for roller coasters during the race.

Miles 15 to 18 was more time running on the highway.  Unfortunately, my right knee was beginning to hurt during this point and it shows in those splits.  I also had to go to the bathroom again!  I couldn't wait for the real bathrooms at Wide World of Sports and had to stop at a portapotty line, which is the 21 minute split.  My knee tightened up even more during that wait in line and I had a hard time recovering after that.  Getting up off the portapotty felt really hard on that bad knee.

Miles 19 to 21:  19:57, 19:14, 20:42

Clearly, this is the point at which I knew I was going to be swept.  I tried to pull things together and run when I could but bending that knee was just resulting in shooting pains.  I had to just start walking and the Balloon Ladies (Disney's visual signal of the 16 minute pace requirement) passed me around the mile 20 marker.  Which showed as mile 20.7 on my Garmin.  We had entered the Wide World of Sports around mile 18 and the exit was a bit past mile 20.  I kept walking the rest of the course in Wide World of Sports after the Balloon Ladies passed me and entered the parking lot a bit past mile 21 on my Garmin.  At that point, my race was over.

I was put on a van with a couple other runners and we were all shuttled to the finish line.  They did give us a medal and a commemorative 25 year anniversary Mickey ears hat.  We were also given a heat sheet, water, and food and then I went into the family reunion area to meet up with Mike.  We rested there a while, ate some food, and then took the bus back to our hotel.

I did have fun most of the race.  And seeing several people having to be put into wheelchairs definitely put things into perspective for me.  I didn't finish but I did what I could given my knee and the multiple bathroom stops.  My average pace was 16:53 according to my Garmin, and since I didn't pause it during the race, that includes all the bathroom stops.

I'll make a full post about my knee and my thoughts on that later.  But for those that have been reading a while, this is exactly the same thing that happened during RnR DC in March of 2017 that caused a DNF in that race.  Clearly, ignoring it since then was not the right thing to do.  I didn't have any problems at the other halfs I did last year but I did have pain in that knee during the 20 miler and during taper.  Both DNF races and the 20 miler were on the cold side but I can't control the weather so have to figure something else out.