Freezing temperatures, running 5 miles in a rain poncho, realizing a hot tub is not hot enough, and a panic zone pretty much sums up the 2017 Walt Disney World Marathon. Marci and I prepared for this marathon as best we could and I really believe we did the best we could, but the elements were not on our side for this race. While I was able to improve my time from last year's marathon it still was not nearly close to my goal and I had to learn that just finishing when times got tough had to be good enough for me this year.
We flew into Florida Thursday evening and spent Friday at the ESPN Zone picking up our packets, visiting the Expo, and running the kid races with my nephew and niece. It was a glorious 80 degree, sunny Florida day - oh how we didn't know what was around the corner for us.
The day before the race we planned to get up early and get an easy three mile warm up run in - but the forecast called for heavy winds and thunderstorms so we decided to wait until the morning to decide if we were going to run or not. 7am rolled around and we learned that Disney had cancelled the Half Marathon that was scheduled for Saturday due to the thunderstorms - we knew then that our race day was going to be more difficult than we had planned. We got up early and sat out in my father-in-law's back deck and watched the storms roll in. We had loads of lightning, heavy rains and wind, and watched the temperature drop from 70 degrees at 7am to 55 degrees at 10am.
The day quickly turned to a much cooler temperature and the winds started to really pick up. By time we checked into our hotel in the afternoon we had to change out of shorts and sandals and into warmer clothes.
Friday night we prepped for the run filling our hydration packs, getting our food in order for the next day - Guus for Marci and Clif Energy Food for me. We KT Taped our knees, more out of habit than need, pre bandaged any blister hot spots that sometimes form on our feet, and settled in for dinner of a chickpea salad, kale, edamame, almond, and cranberry salad, pretzels, and green juice. Then we pretended to go to sleep around 9pm, most likely actually falling asleep closer to 10 or 11pm and set the alarm for our super early wake up call of 3am.
We got up as best we could Sunday morning and headed down for our bus to take us to Epcot at 4am. It was packed and we were glad we got down in time so we had a seat and didn't have to stand for the ride.
Remember my post, What to Wear on a Cold Run? Well its a good thing I had that experience behind me because when we got to the start line at the Walt Disney World Marathon in Orlando, yes that is Orlando FLORIDA, the temperature was a balmy 28 degrees. It was all I could do to ignore how insanely cold I was and to try and imagine how much 'fun' I would be having over the next several hours. Luckily I went into auto pilot for the first 19 miles and was able to get through them without thinking about how incredibly frozen I was.
I know I couldn't have dressed any warmer. We wore long sleeves, ear covers, gloves, capris and ponchos to try and block the winds at the start of the race. Marci tore off her poncho in the first two miles, but I kept mine on until about five miles in - I never knew I'd be able to run five miles in a rain poncho and not have it bother me.
As the sun came up the day did get a little warmer, but we continued to have gusts of freezing cold air in the 15 to 20mph range that just blew us sideways. There was a point about 15 miles in when I looked up and I could see the breath of all the runners ahead of me like gas blowing to the side. It was an amazing sight to see, but in the moment it only reminded me of how cold I was.
Overall, I was disappointed with my finish. I had the best four months of training that I possibly could have had. No injuries, steady paces, and two back to back 20 mile runs that made me feel unstoppable. I did come down with a stuffy head cold the week before the race, but I felt I had kicked it by time we got down to Florida. Between that and the bitter cold of the day I think the weather just got to me and sunk into my bones and I just couldn't shake it. Most of my energy was spent trying to stay warm and by the middle of the run I was exhausted. And by time we hit the newly named "Panic Zone" (the ESPN Zone), which Marci and I hate running through, I had a mini panic attack by mile 20 and needed to have Marci talk me through it so I could catch my breath again. There's absolutely no way I would have finished the run without her, so once again, here's to the best running partner a girl can have! Not only did she sacrifice running her own PR (she's much faster than I am), she did it completely selflessly, because as she told me, we were in this together and she'd be with me to cross the finish line.
One of the highlights of the marathon weekend was meeting up with Team Fox, the charity we were raising funds for during the lead up to the marathon. Team Fox is an amazing foundation that has helped find many new ways to treat Parkinson's patients and give them a better quality of life. We were able to meet up with Laura and Seth - the two representatives from the foundation - and meet some of the other runners that were raising funds for the charity. They set up a few cheer spots during the race and it was amazing to see their white and orange signs on the course cheering for us as we ran by. It definitely gave us that huge boost we needed especially during the last two miles of the race. We couldn't have done it without them!
After the race we ate, napped, ate again, and then enjoyed the outdoor hot tub at the hotel. We were still so cold so the hot tub just wasn't hot enough for us, and honestly, I think I'm still cold from that morning.
In the end, the point of running a Disney race is to have fun! Before, during, and after the race. We made sure to have a good time the days after the race and enjoy the Disney experience being goofballs.
But we're not done. In eight weeks Marci and I will toe the line together again at the Los Angeles Marathon on March 19th. Hopefully that race will go more according to plan and hopefully we'll be able to feel all our appendages by the end of it!