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Back In Time WDW Marathon 2008 my first race report

Discussion in 'Running at WDW' started by Greenlawler, Dec 15, 2016.

  1. Greenlawler

    Greenlawler Well-Known Member

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    So almost 10 years ago I started this journey, I am not sure any of you are interested at all. But over the next few days I will reprint all eight parts of my first race blog I originally posted in MySpace back in early 2008.

    It's long but I got a kick in re-visiting it.


    Part One: Now A Marathon
    My least favorite day of the year was Christmas Day, I know odd. This was for three reasons. The first was that it would be a full year before Christmas season again. The second was that I have always been a “journey not arrival” person. I loved the first sightings of lights, the yards with decorations, making Christmas lists, visiting Santa at the mall, when Christmas morning was over my family was ready for it all to come down. In escense I liked the buildup but not so much the pay-off. The third and final reason was the mystery was over. I knew what Santa brought me. I was always pleased but the speculation was over. Those same feelings are raining down on me as I type. So it is with that same pleased yet empty feeling that I recount what was truly one of the greatest days of my life.

    In order to tell you the whole story I have to start at the beginning. This whole odyssey began one day last April. We were still living in Russellville and I was on the internet at the house. Our family has always been big on Disney. Our hobby is getting our pictures made with as many characters as possible at the parks. Over our many trips we have collected almost 150 of them. This is a marathon blog so I will not bore you with how or why this started, it’s just something we love. Anyways, I was looking at some Disney Character picture collections when I ran into a picture of a guy with “Hades”. Now Hades is the villain from Disney’s Hercules movie. I thought “now that would be a cool one for our collection”. I saw where the picture was taken at the marathon last year. To understand the hobby you need to know that there are many others who do this as well. It is kind of a badge of honor when you find a really rare character like Hades. It’s a lot like having a rare baseball card or coin (although you can’t sell it on ebay). This picture sighting was coupled with a visit to the doctor that week. I weighed a little more than usual, about 10 pounds. This added fuel to the fire. I asked Amanda what she thought about me running a marathon at Disney. Amanda always supportive said “I think you should do it”. I have always a habitual exerciser, so this made since to me. I was excited but at the same time I could not believe I was going to do this. Amanda also decided to run the half marathon. We would run our first marathons at my favorite place in the world!

    Now let’s fast forward to 3:30 a.m. the 16th of January. I rose from my sleep to drive over to Disney (no small feat). The race did not start till 6:00 a.m. but everything I had read said to be there by 4:00 a.m. I waited nervously with 15,000 or so others who had registered (I am not sure how many were there). My race number was in the 12,000’s so I was set to start near the back of the race. When I registered back in April I had no knowledge of how long it would take me to finish a marathon. I knew I would be stopping a lot to get my picture made with characters so I assumed it would take me 6 hours and 30 minutes. My only barometer was that you have 7 hours to finish the marathon. I thought 6:30 was a good estimate for a first timer with a camera. I went to my starting position at about 5:15 a.m. and waited nervously for 45 minutes. I probably used the restroom 10 times in anticipation.
     
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  2. Greenlawler

    Greenlawler Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Marathon Part 2
    On the front end, let me say since this was my first experience, I had nothing to compare it to, but Disney seemed to do this right. There was plenty going on all around the runners. There were live bands, video screens, interviews with participants and other things. The race began with much fanfare. Mickey, Donald, Minnie and Goofy were on a stage and performed a skit, then fireworks and music at 6:00 a.m. time to run. I waited for about five minutes before my group began to move forward. I gave Mickey Mouse a high five as we jogged forward and then we started to run. I immediately ran to the woods on the side of the course a couple of times to use the rest room, I was so nervous.

    When I finally got going at a good pace, I was floating on air, excitement, adrenaline, enthusiasm pushing me like a giant hand. I realized quickly that I was starting too far back. All through my training I knew this might happen. I had trained for 10 or 11 minute miles which would put me finishing way ahead of my original thought. The first mile was pure joy, adrenaline and anticipation. I was not running with anyone to help me but I did not care. I knew I was going too fast but I could not help it, I felt great. I was passing people right and left.

    At mile two I began to notice that I had not seen any characters yet, aside from those at the start. I was a little disappointed after all that was a major motivation. Of course it was early but I did not know what to expect. We were nearing our first run through a park and that lifted my spirits. Epcot was just ahead. I entered the park and thought now this is what I expected! It was neat being there so early, it was still dark as the sun had not peaked over the landscape yet. There were people along the path cheering us on. I passed into the World Showcase part of the park, mile 3. That is where I saw the first group of characters. I stopped and got a picture with Chip, Dale and Pluto. I continued to run and stopped for a photo with Mulan. We took a right out of the park and started the next stretch toward the Magic Kingdom.

    I had no idea how long we would be running till we hit the Magic Kingdom. It did not matter to me. The run through Epcot was yet another boost of confidence. I was still walking on air. In the marathon they have these groups called “pace teams” they carry banners or balloons that say 6:00, 5:30, 5:00 and so on. If you run with that team you will finish in that time. By the time we were midway through Epcot I had passed the 5:30 group. This was a sign that I was doing well, maybe too well. I had to have made up a lot of time to catch them since I started so far back.

    The Magic Kingdom would not come for another 7 miles. There were plenty of people on the sides of the course yelling encouragement. On your race number they print your name above it so people can call you by name to encourage you. I got many “good job Todd” cheers. During my training a friend of mine and Columbia Academy football coach Wes Duncan let me have a t-shirt to train in. It was a huge sleeveless CA Dawgs football shirt. It was way too big for my frame but I had trained in it so I felt a sense of loyalty to wear it. Along the run people in the crowd mistook the CA to be a GA. I was attracting a lot of attention from Georgia fans who saw the “GA” and Dawgs. They would yell “go Georgia” and “hunker down you Dawg!” I did not stop to explain I just simply gave them a “thumbs up” and embraced the fact that I was a Georgia Dawg for the day.
    [​IMG]The start[​IMG]here we go[​IMG]high five to Mickey[​IMG]first character photo
     
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  3. JillC LI

    JillC LI Well-Known Member

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    Cool so far. I always enjoy reading these.
     
  4. Swissmiss

    Swissmiss Well-Known Member

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    Following as well!
     
  5. Greenlawler

    Greenlawler Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Marathon Part 3

    There is not much to tell about miles 4-9. I was in the zone. I enjoyed the good will shouts from the crowd. I listened to the music set up along the course and just ran. There was one section where the path split two ways. One path was a country music path, and one path was an 80’s path. While I was born in Nashville and feel a little allegiance to the style of music that fueled the growth of my city I chose 80’s and was treated to Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus”, and Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me With Science”. I noticed out of the fifty or so runners I was currently jogging with probably 2 choosing country music.

    Back to the race, I was flying, for me. I caught up to the 5:00 hour pace group and passed them. Now I really was breaking new ground and thoughts of a sub five marathon were creeping into my head. What happened to slowing down and just having fun? This was fun, I felt great passing these other runners. I guess for the first time in the last 8 months I was actually getting a little competitive. Of course, not with the other runners, by this time I was at mile 9. Adriano Bastos of Brazil was probably about to hit mile 24, only two to go for his first place finish. He finished more than 15 minutes before the second place runner. We came to the Magic Kingdom monorail station. I enjoyed watching the monorails pass. I thought “usually that would be me on the monorail looking down watching the mass of runners. I would be thinking those people are nuts, now I am actually running in this marathon”.

    We approached the Magic Kingdom at mile 10. There was a feeling of excitement. It was right at 7:00 a.m. the sun was rising on the horizon. There were people everywhere cheering on the runners. We hit Main Street and here we were, in the place where dreams come true. I took in the sights and smells of my favorite place on earth. I was a little disappointed as my character radar was still on. I had seen pictures from previous marathons of the 7 Dwarfs lined up on Main Street, they were not here today We kept going through Main Street. Then we took a left toward Tomorrowland. At this point character sightings picked up. The first was Chip and Dale again. I stopped anyways. After the quick stop I turned right up towards Fantasyland. There were other characters here including Alice and Winnie the Pooh. We continued through towards Cinderella’s Castle. The Castle is easily the biggest icon at Disney and we were going to run through it. People who run the marathons talk about getting emotional as they pass through. I was excited but not emotional. Just to the left were the wicked step mother and sisters from Cinderella. I stopped. The sisters and Lady Tremaine are always funny and very much in character. I saw that Ariel, Prince Eric and some royal trumpeters were on the ledge of the Castle waving to the runners. Although I was enjoying stopping for the characters I met. I thought “I still have not seen any one new for the collection”. This took a little off the excitement but not much as I entered the Castle.

    We ran out of the Castle and into Liberty Square. Liberty Square has always been my second favorite part of the park behind Main Street. We turned right into Frontierland where I stopped for Big Al, and Liver Lips, two of the Country Bears. We took a hard left into the backstage area of the Magic Kingdom. There was a huge Pirate ship with Captain Jack Sparrow and assorted other pirates. This was the longest line for photos I had seen. Amanda had seen it during her half marathon run the day before so I passed by it. There were some neat sights here including several massive electronic hippos from the Jungle Cruise ride. We exited the park and began a four mile journey to the Animal Kingdom. I had slipped behind the 5:00 mile pace group but not for long.
    [​IMG]Entering the Kingdom[​IMG]the castle[​IMG]Big fan of the Country Bears since I was a kid[​IMG]Backstage at Disney[​IMG]
     
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  6. Greenlawler

    Greenlawler Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    My constant stops in the Magic Kingdom caused me to slip behind the 5:00 pace team again. I worked hard to catch up with them. I may have expended too much energy. I was still feeling the effects of the Magic Kingdom still floating, still feeling great. This stretch was much better than the one between Epcot and the Magic Kingdom. It was three miles shorter. There was more entertainment, as well. During the marathon the characters take breaks and switch out with other characters in a rotation. I know I missed some based on photos I saw. Amanda only saw like 5 characters total the day before while running the half. She just ran by at the wrong time apparently. I did miss some that would have been new to the family. You see since there were 15,000 people registered for the Disney Marathon the first 3 miles of the race there were two different paths, half the runners were blue, the other half red. The top flight runners and some of the walkers were blue. The average people like me were reds. The paths merge just past mile three but I missed Esmeralda, Quasimodo, and Phoebus, characters from Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame., because I was in the red group.

    Mile 15 ahead, Animal Kingdom here I come. Now Animal Kingdom is by far the largest park. You can fit the whole Magic Kingdom and its parking lots in the area that is just the Safari ride at the Animal Kingdom. As we entered Animal Kingdom I stopped to meet with Donald Duck and Daisy who were greeting the runners as they entered the back end of the park. Guest were arriving in the Animal Kingdom as the park was opening. I wondered if they knew this was going on. We came into the park near the area known as Dinoland U.S.A. and we ran toward Everest the newest Disney thrill ride. I heard that a couple of guys even stopped and rode Everest then got off and joined the race again, totally legal at this race. I ran a little while longer and then had some character stops with Baloo, King Louie and Rafiki. I got going again. There were very few people who were taking pictures in the group I was in and I never had to wait. I would simply run up to the character give my camera to an attendant, say cheese and I was off again. I am guessing this took all of 14 seconds tops. This was because I was at the tail end of the “competitors”.

    I believe I was among the last group of people who were taking this thing really seriously. I think maybe there was another guy and a couple who were also taking photos with the characters but most all of the people in it for fun and pictures were behind our group. You know, you could actually walk the vast majority of the marathon. The only requirement is a 16 minute mile pace which equates to a 7:00 hour finish. You would have to run every so often but not hard. It’s called being swept when you cannot keep up the pace. It’s kind of novel to think you are being hunted down by a “sweeper”. I envision a large street cleaning truck which maims you before disqualifying you. I caught the 5:00 hour pace group after loosing them during my stops. The lady leading that group was very conversational. She was very nice but at this point in the race I was not in talking mode. I stayed slightly ahead of them really thinking “sub five hour marathon” would be awesome, once again forgetting the original intent of my run which was the fun part. I worked hard to stay with them.

    This is where it started. It was like the first sign of weakness. The first hint of fatigue, I was finally feeling the effects of running 15 miles. I was still passing people but not like I was earlier. The roads at Animal Kingdom are different; they are paved in a way to give the appearance of a rough terrain. They “don’t just give the appearance” to feet that have run this far, these paths are rough. This did not make my now aching feet very happy. My most common injury during training was foot pain. I really over trained for the marathon because the first three months I did not know what I was doing. This led to some sore feet. I also did not have the right running shoes for me during much of my training. If you ever decide to do this, do yourself a favor and go to a real running store not one located in a mall. Your feet would thank you if they could talk.

    We exited the Animal Kingdom at the front gate. Remember where I said the Animal Kingdom was huge? Well we ran more than 2 miles on the rough paths that make up the park. Now we were leaving, this was the only park I was glad to be out of. It was time for another stretch before the next park. It was mile 18. Everything I read said to beware of this stretch regardless of the marathon you were in. This is where the pretenders give up and the finishers press on.
    [​IMG]Everest looms in the distance[​IMG]Donald is never looking at the camera when we get a picture of him[​IMG]Baloo and Louie
     
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  7. surfsupdon

    surfsupdon Well-Known Member

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    Love seeing Carissa at the start. She was there for my first race weekend as well, back in 2006.

    Thanks for sharing, again.
     
  8. Greenlawler

    Greenlawler Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Just a reminder this was written on MySpace 10 years ago, so it was not really aimed at veteran runners or Disney people, so it may seem a little over explanatory in parts.

    Marathon part 5
    The dreaded "runner's wall", the thing that prevents the runner from taking another step. The “wall” could be psychological or physical pain. It is a term I had heard from day one of my training. Mile 18 is usually where the “wall” begins to loom. While training it is common practice for runners to do very few long mileage runs, usually these runs are taken on Saturday or Sunday. Each week they may increase by one usually topping out around 20 miles, some plans top at 23, some at 18. Some runners do not even run an 18 miler during training. Even runners who run multiple 20 milers, like myself can struggle here, 18 miles is 18 miles. There is no way that gets easier. The “wall” is waiting at mile 18 for everyone.

    I was starting to hurt a little more, this time my legs were feeling every step of the 18 miles. The pavement at Animal Kingdom had done some damage to my feet. The whole walking on air thing, remember that? That joyful push was gone. I was taking water and Power-Aide every mile. Aside from water stations they have First Aid stations at every other mile or so. On the outside of them are huge buckets of Bio-Freeze, a muscle rub. I have been a fan of muscle rub since I was a kid. I just love that “cold burning” feeling you get. Amanda however detest it and tells me I smell like an old man when I use it. I began hitting every one of these Bio-Freeze containers as well. Disney was doing a great job providing for the runners with bananas, power gels, and even candy a little later. It would be four miles till we hit the next park and I was getting tired

    At mile 18 I finally saw one. A character we had not met yet in all the years our family has been going to Disney. It was John Smith from Pocahontas. Now this of course would seem rather silly to you, but in the character world John Smith is considered a rarity. You can see him every night in “Fantasmic”, a really cool show at the Hollywood Studios, but as far as getting a picture and signature well John Smith is a tough find. Pocahontas was there as well and I stopped got out my pen to collect the rare autograph, got a picture, and even talked to them a while, they were very nice. They told me more characters were ahead so I moved briskly forward.They were right. Hook, Peter Pan, Wendy, Tarzan, and Jane were all stationed along the road. Our family had seen them all before but I was having fun. I stopped for each one. It was a welcome distraction from the pain. I called Amanda and told her about John Smith, and I spoke to the boys for a pick me up.

    A guy wearing a Puerto Rico flag shirt was ahead of me just a few yards. At first I thought it was a Captain America shirt with the big white star and red and blue trim. I caught him and we talked a little. I called him “Captain America” which he seemed to understand, although now that I think back he probably had no clue what I was talking about. He spoke little English but we seemed to click anyways. We talked as much as our language gap and mutual fatigue allowed. I ran with him for the next three miles, which was more than 30 minutes. We parted ways a little later as he skipped a water stop, which I had no intention of missing. At mile 20 there was a rock band but even they could not help the fatigue I was feeling at this point. We came to a stretch where you ran down a mile and back on the opposite side of the road, a “down and back”. This was by far the worst part of the race. Many runners who have written about their marathon describe "out and backs" as the single worst stretches that marathon organizers throw at you. No new scenery for 15 minutes or so, and no characters to push me forward. There were a few cheerleaders and a pep band. After the down and back Amanda called just in time, I needed that boost. I had run five 20 mile training runs but never more than 20 miles. It was new ground for me. With my constant character stops I was caught and passed by the 5:00 hour pace group never to see them again.

    I was disappointed and I lacked the energy to run them down again, I had stopped too often. I could barely even see them. If I had tried I may have not been able to finish the remaining 6 miles. I was however content as this was for fun, right? I had never expected to be doing so well anyways. I heard a wise saying about marathons that is very true. "A marathon is two halves, the first 20 miles and the second half is the last six". A very wise saying that I now understood. A little while later a friend from our new church named John Carnahan called not knowing I was running. He was actually teaching the class that I usually teach, The tennagers in the class were with him as we talked. This passed some time for me and I was able to break through what I thought was my wall at mile 21. How foolish of me.
    [​IMG]Finally a rare find[​IMG]Tarzan and Jane, you can see "Captain America" in the background.
     
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  9. Greenlawler

    Greenlawler Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    The marathon saga part 6
    It was mile 22 when we entered Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I was feeling okay. The boost from finally meeting a new character and entering a park had revived my legs a little. As I entered the Studios I saw a large group of characters to the right, it was the “Toy Story gang”, Buzz, Woody, an Army man, and Jessie, I got a picture and then passed some other characters I had seen numerous times over the years like Mike and Sully. As far as I know this was the first time I was getting picky about who to stop for. That is when my real obstacle reared its ugly head.

    I have never been disciplined about at stretching. I had trained for almost eight whole months and never pulled anything. As I ran I felt a twinge in my inner thigh and then pain. I knew I was in trouble right here on the brink of mile 23. I was only three and half miles to the finish line. I limped forward but my legs were hurting, it was like the “twinge” in my thigh told other parts of my legs that it was okay to shut it down. I had to stop. I hated the fact that runners were now passing me but I had to do something. I was too far along to panic now. If I had to I would crawl to the finish. Luckily the pain subsided with some stretching, but I felt the effects of that “twinge” for the next three days. I was pressing on. On this stretch I ran into Kermit and Miss Piggy, couple of rare finds there!

    We were approaching the giant hat, the centerpiece of that park. Each Disney park has a centerpiece. In epcot it is the giant ball, in the Magic Kingdom it is the Castle. In the Animal Kingdom it is the “Tree of Life. In the studios it is the giant sorceres hat from “Fantasia”. This was where I knew the photo I had seen of Hades was taken. If you have been following this epic from part one you know that Hades is the reason I was out there. I began to look for signs of the villain. I saw some other Disney villains, Cruella DeVille, Jafar, and Snow White’s evil queen, but no Hades. I stopped for a photo with them anyways and had a nice brief conversation with Cruella, whom by the way recognized me later that week in the parks.

    I asked the attendant on duty if Hades was coming out. Each group of characters has one. She said yes, but it would be 20 minutes before he came back out. Twenty minutes I thought! That would kill any attempt at a great time. I was discouraged, my runners pride told me to go on and I did. I was determined to at least make an effort at around 5:00 hours. As I began my run to the front of the park, I kept thinking “my time is hurting anyways, because of my twinge. I will never make 5:00 hours. My whole inspiration was to meet rare characters and take my time enjoying myself. I had never cared about my time until I saw how good it was going to be. The picture of Hades had inspired me”. So I made a critical decision I was going back to see Hades. At this point I threw the thoughts of a sub 5:00 hour completely out. I was even doubting a 6:00 hour time.

    My legs were sore and I hobbled back to where Hades would come out. The attendant and the villains with her were shocked. The attendant a girl, who was very sweet could not believe I was doing this. She decided to take action for me. She left to get Hades early. I stood there talking to the other villains while I waited. Then just about 8 minutes later, Hades walked out. All 8 feet of him, he was huge. He walked up to me pulled me aside, we communicated although, he could not talk. He showed me his car he rides in the daily parade, he signed an autograph for our family, something he usually does not do, and took several photos. Dozens of runners passed maybe hundreds but it did not matter. This was the original inspiration, the reason I was here on that day, this was a moment I did not want to miss! Counting the time I stopped went back and waited it was probably a 15 minute mission from start to finish. I did not care, mission accomplished I was refreshed.

    The only negative result of my mission was that for most of the 15 minutes I was not running. This gave my legs time to say “were out of here”. When I finally got back to running I could barely do it. It took a full mile to get them on a pace they were comfortable with. I would walk then run, run then walk, hobble and shuffle. Now I knew that I was at my “wall.” This is where dreams are made or crushed. I pulled out every once of reserve and determined not to walk another step. I pushed though the wall. It was mile 24 and we hit Disney’s boardwalk. There were a few spectators yelling encouragement. “Just over two miles left, go Todd”. “Your almost there”, I thought “almost depends on your definition.” To me “almost” was a billion miles away at this point. It was here that I saw an ambulance loading a very tall, muscular, man on a stretcher. A grim reminder of how hard this thing was. I felt terrible for this man. I now had something that was taking my mind off my pain. I was feeling bad for him. In a really weird way it pushed me forward. Two miles and change to go.
    [​IMG]Just before the dreaded "twinge"[​IMG]Miss Piggy in the house[​IMG]"The payoff" after 8 months[​IMG]
     
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  10. Swissmiss

    Swissmiss Well-Known Member

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    You're killing me making me wait so long to hear the end of your race! ;)
     
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  11. Texas84

    Texas84 DVC Fan Boy Premium Member

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    Bring back Miss Piggy!
     
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  12. Greenlawler

    Greenlawler Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Mrathon Saga part 7
    As we left the Boardwalk, we ran about a third of a mile when the “giant ball” at Epcot came into view. This signaled the home stretch. Many people don’t know this but The “giant ball” is actually called “Spaceship Earth”. It is in fact a ride. One of the original Epcot rides, a learning ride not a thrill ride. Needless to say the lines for this one are not long. Epcot when opened in 1982 and was really a park about Discovery, and the Future. The park was supposed to be vastly different than its brother the Magic Kingdom. Now it still is unique but according to Epcot “purist” (I am not one of these) it has lost a little of that original vision.

    This marked our second trip here and it was the last leg of the marathon. I knew if I could just get through this last park I would be a legitimate finisher. When I say “legitimate” I mean to say, “I ran” a marathon. Sure I walked some maybe a third of a mile total, just when I had to. I don’t want to imply that walking a marathon de-legitimizes your marathon status, but for me I needed to finish running. Amanda called and said they were waiting for me under the “giant ball, or Spaceship Earth”. This was a source of inspiration. I needed all I could get at this point. I had begun the day running less than 9 minute miles. Now, at mile 24 and a half, I was struggling to get by with a 15 minute mile. I thought I might still make it right at the 5:45 minutes but that would be pushing it, my legs were not going to let me do it. I was doing more shuffling than true running. Based on my watch I knew the 5:30 pace group had passed me but I had no idea where.

    We entered the park at England in the World Showcase just hoping the 6:00 hour pace group was not on my heels. Epcot is made up of two halves. One is the World Showcase. This is the back half of the park. This is made up of various biuldings which represent various countries. The other half is Future World, the front of the park where the ball is. I knew the finish line was near the entrance of the park. As we entered the park at the England area I thought, “Wow, we are really close. A left turn here and all we have to do is pass by Canada and then to Future World and then we are done.” The problem was however that instead of taking a left at the juncture we took a hard right back toward the other pavilions in the World Showcase. Epcot is a giant circle. We were taking the long way around.

    As we ran through the World Showcase there were no characters that I saw. At this point however after seeing Hades I did not mind. I just wanted to finish. I never doubted I would, I just did not want to hobble or shuffle to the finish line. I picked it up a little. We passed by France, Morraco, Japan, Germany etc…That is when I heard some screaming ahead. I ran forward fearing the worst for one of my fellow runners. I had seen one too many ambulances. I was running by the last of the World Showcase pavilions, by Norway and then Mexico, when I saw the source of the yelling. It was not anyone in anguish, but a Disney employee yelling encouragement to the runners at the bridge that connects the Showcase to Future World the front of the park. I approached the area she was in, a little wierded out by her yelling. She was so loud it was almost un-nerving. She yelled at me at the top of her lungs, “You can do it Todd, you are making your own personal history today!” This resonated deeply. She had made an impact on me. I was making my own history!

    With that encouragement quickening my pace I was determined to finish strong. I decided to give everything this last stretch. I was nearing the giant ball and began to look for my family desperately trying to find more encouragement to will me forward. As I passed the ball I was afraid I had missed them among the hundreds of onlookers, and then just to the left there they stood, the people I love the most in the world, my family! My three sons, my wife, her parents, and a niece were there! They were cheering for me and holding up a sign of encouragement that read “run Todd, run”. I slowed just enough to kiss my boys, Brock, Battle, Brewer and Amanda. I had written their names on my arms in marker for a little added inspiration, but now they were here in the flesh to help me finish. I was going to do it! Just seeing them was enough inspiration that I knew without any doubts that I was going to finish strong. My son Brewer has “downs” syndrome, he is very special. We celebrated his birthday last week at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital in a life or death struggle with RSV. He won, and now I was going to finish. All our boys are awesome but seeing my baby boy,who had overcome so much, that was an extra kick. A flood of emotions followed during that last few moments. I was thinking back on the last 8 months.

    I remembered looks of disbelief as I told people I was going to run a marathon, Those initial five mile runs through the streets of Russellville thinking man this is going to be easy! I remembered the huge, vicious dog who must have been the child of a Wolf and a T-Rex back in Russellville. That beast scared the life out of me several times, leash laws people! I thought back on our move from Russellville to Columbia and how hard that was. I remembered my first attempt at a 13 mile run, that’s when I began to realize how hard this would really be. I thought back to days at Columbia State Community College where I pounded the pavement for countless miles every day during the record hot summer. I remembered hurrying home from church for the long, no very long, Sunday runs, watching the Titans games and running on a treadmill from kickoff to the last play. I remembered the pain I had in my left foot back in September and how I thought I had done something that would keep me from this moment. I remembered running in the driving snow flurries on December the 23rd freezing and calling it quits after mile 3. I thought of my last training run on a hotel treadmill in Atlanta just four days prior. I actually busted hard and was scrapped up pretty good but luckily I avoided being injured. These were good memories now. All of those ups and downs contributed to this moment. I was on the brink of tears. I knew it was okay to cry as most people do when they finish their first marathon, but I was not going to. For some reason my pride kicked in. I thought this was too big of a moment for that. After seeing my family and remembering those last 8 months I had to fight those tears off all the way to the finish. I had less than one mile to go.
    [​IMG]This is from earlier in the marathon but you can see one of the scars from my treamill slip in Atlanta on my left leg.[​IMG]my favorite photo from our trip. Brewer is in full cheese mode.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2016
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  13. Greenlawler

    Greenlawler Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Marathon Saga 8 the final note
    February 9, 2008 at 11:55pm
    I exited Epcot and the finish line was less than half a mile off. I passed the giant mile 26 sign. It was at this point that the course narrowed into what seemed to be a grove. There was no crowd of people present just a curved area flanked by trees on both sides. We had been running through streets surrounded by cheering people for so long it was almost like the race organizers set this up so the runners could get their thoughts together before the big finish. The calm before the storm, and then boom! The area opened there it was the grandstand, thousands of people. The crowds on along the path were so dense with people yelling, it was almost like you were the only person they were cheering for. Then it came into view, the finish line.

    I picked up my pace like most runners do at the finish line. This is so the people in the grandstand will be surprised you finished where you did, they will be shocked that you were so fast but not in the top ten. Over the course of these blogs I have told you about how the characters were my main inspiration. However I have not filled you in on this. There are a lot of characters running the race too. Not official Disney characters but people in costume, some elaborate some not. I saw some fun costumes, and some disturbing ones. For example there were probably 50 people dressed as Goofy, I saw at least 4 Minnie Mouse's. There was a Spartan Warrior clad in Shield, Helmet, Sword, Cape, Sandals and small swimsuit that’s all. There were dozens of Tinkerbells and assorted Pixies…You get the picture. At this point half a mile to go I was passed by a Minnie Mouse. This damaged the ole pride a little and I began to get that competitive fire. It is a wacky phenomenon that, even though there are 15,000 people in the race most runners at the end sprint to pass one more person. It’s as if finishing 8,554th was not good enough but 8,553rd will satisfy! I was going for it that is until I saw what was ahead.

    As I got closer I saw the only thing that would detract me from catching Minnie Mouse, more characters. It had been a while since I had seen any characters. But these were not just any characters. They were Robin Hood and The Sheriff of Nottingham. I could not believe it. It had to have been Disney magic. You see these characters are very special to me and my family. Robin Hood was one of Brock’s (my oldest son's) favorite movies when he was very young and it’s always been my favorite Disney movie. We have searched for Robin Hood characters with every visit to Disney; sometimes we see them sometimes we do not. This was the perfect ending. I stopped for a photo with each, my 36th and 37th character stops. I was only about 10 yards from finishing, but this was another great moment I refused to pass up. I came to the Sheriff first. It was almost like he was excited that someone stopped so close to the finish to visit with him. I imagine most runners just sprinted on by having no clue who he was. Here I was at the brink of finishing my marathon. The Sheriff almost ran with me to the finish, but I had to stop for Robin Hood too. When I finished with the pictures I approached the finish line.

    The large clock above the line read 5:35. I crossed the line! I had beaten my projected time by almost a full hour. As I crossed the line I was too exhausted to really feel anything but relief that I could now walk. The next several minutes are a blur. I remember limping forward looking for the spot they handed out the medals. A college student was standing just ahead with an arm full of medals and she placed a medal over my head. It was my medal now. I remember stopping for a picture holding my medal, I remember Amanda calling to tell me where she was, I remember looking for water, and inhaling a banana or two. I remember being draped with a foil type blanket that would help cool me down. Finally the feeling of accomplishment washed over me. I had done it. I started five minutes after the official start so my time was 5:31. Subtract the 15 minute Hades mission and the 35 character stops and I think I would have finished in just less than 5 hours. I felt beyond tired but incredible. It was a full eight months, and 15 less pounds later from that day in April when the dream began. Officially I finished in 7,758th place, with a time of 5:31 minutes. I know with my stops that place would have been much better, but a got pictures and had a life changing experience on my terms.

    I hobbled to the parking lot, it what seemed like forever to find the van. Every step was painful. Amanda drove me back to the condo for a shower. The original plan was to do what experienced runners tell you to do, walk out your soreness. We were going to go to a park that day, but I was too sore and tired to even go (those who know me know this is a major statement). I ignored the wise advice and crashed in bed the rest of the day. I watched football and just laid there reliving every step. For the next three days as we visited the parks I paid for that mistake. My legs were now officially taking their vacation. With every step it felt like my legs were buckling. Walking down steps was very painful. Walking was very painful. Thankfully the boys are still young enough to need strollers. These acted as my walkers for the next few days.

    Although it may seem odd, I miss that pain. Every time I felt the pain I also felt accomplishment. That feeling of accomplishment if bottled could be sold for millions. There were days that I did not want to train, when running 12 miles seemed like a chore. The days when I knew I should not run because it was making it hard to have a life. There were days especially in September when my foot was hurting so bad I wondered if I could pull this off. I pushed through the pain to train. The endless runs on an oval track with nothing but my thoughts and a cheap AM/FM radio. I remember being so tired of the constant running and staying up to help get three little boys to sleep. Those nights when I was so tired but Brewer our baby would wake up in the middle of the night. Now I remember all those runs and feelings fondly. It is amazing that feeling. The feeling of accomplishment is so great it erases all the pain, tiredness, boredom of running on a track or treadmill.

    This feeling is so great, I want it again. I sent in my registration for the 2009 Disney marathon the week we got back. Next year I will be running for charity, the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee. In fact I may be crazy but I am going to run the half and the full. It’s called the Goofy challenge. They only allow 4,000 runners to try it and it is already full for 2009. I have the fever I was warned about. Marathon vets said that once I ran a marathon I would want to do it again, the vets said I would have a fever for running. I did not believe them. They were right; I do have the fever, but not marathon fever. I have Disney Marathon fever. I do not think I want to run a whole 26 mile and change marathon anywhere else. This time I will be training all year, and I am now more experienced. My goal will be to beat my 2008 time, but since I will be running a half marathon the day before I am not sure that will be possible, plus I imagine I will stop for every character again in 2009.

    I accomplished an eight month dream, something I never thought I would do. I did it at a place that holds personal magic, my childhood memories, and has been an instrumental part of our family. I would encourage you to do the same. I have never been a big chase your dreams “rah-rah” guy, until now. I was changed a little. Maybe your goal is not a marathon, whatever it is for you go for it. Find something you want to do and reach for your dreams. I did. What some runners told me is true. “The runner that starts the marathon is not the same person who finishes the marathon.” To sum it all up I go back to the woman screaming on the bridge at Epcot. I wrote my own personal history that day!
    [​IMG]The Sheriff with the finish line looming[​IMG]Just 10 yards from completion with my last character Robin Hood![​IMG]its funny that I was so excited I did not take a picture of the marathon finish, but this is the picture Amanda took.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2016
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  14. Swissmiss

    Swissmiss Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for sharing!
     
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  15. JillC LI

    JillC LI Well-Known Member

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    I always say that the pain after a race is your badge of honor - wear it with pride. Whether it reminds of of a new distance achieved or a new pace/PR, you definitely did something special to earn it.

    Great race report. :)
     
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  16. FerretAfros

    FerretAfros Well-Known Member

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    Great recap! You really seemed to capture the emotion of the journey, which is what sets the marathon apart from other distances for me. Even if you're perfectly trained (I can't imagine doing 5 20-mile training runs like that!), there's just so many other emotions at play on race day that it really makes it something special

    Reading this also reminded me how great the old course was, with the early lap through Epcot. I only got to run it once, but it was so much better than having to repeat the first 9 miles exactly from the day before, followed by all that distance in WWOS
     
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  17. Texas84

    Texas84 DVC Fan Boy Premium Member

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    Reminded me of my first marathon at WDW. Hurting bad but happy then realized I had a mile walk back to the car through the Epcot parking lot. Almost didn't make it. No more offsite race weekends for this guy. :D
     
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  18. Greenlawler

    Greenlawler Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Lol....my experience exactly. We stayed at a monorail resort for the next 8 years, because of this haha
     
  19. lukacseven

    lukacseven Active Member

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    I learned 2 valuable lessons after the running the 2006 Disney half - Pack extra clothes for all weather conditions, no matter what the forecast says and you train hard not to finish the race, but so you can walk normal afterwards. I thought being a former college athlete I could run a half marathon no problem with minimal training (and I was right), but I was hurting for a solid 2-3 days - the worst I've ever felt after a race. Now 8 race weekends since, including 3 Goofys and a Dopey and I felt pretty good after those (except for that initial getting off the bus when you get back to the resort).
     
  20. Texas84

    Texas84 DVC Fan Boy Premium Member

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    You mean stepping down off the bus? Oh yeah, that hurts! :D
     

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