We did it! After a year of planning and training in the heat, the rain and the snow, I crossed the finish line on Sunday, January 11 after running 39.3 miles in 2 days. The event is part of Walt Disney World's marathon weekend and includes running the half marathon on Saturday and the full marathon on Sunday. Somehow the idea of this race caught on last January and we traveled to Orlando with more than a dozen of our Chuckit running friends who were 'goofy' enough to do this race. In retrospect, the hardest part of this race was getting up at 3 AM EST (midnight PST!) 2 days in a row to get to the 5:50 AM race start. My strategy was to run a personal worst half marathon to run a more normal full marathon. The half started with fireworks and we were off to the Magic Kingdom. The energy on Main Street and music pumping through Tomorrowland was incredible. Before I knew it, we had run through Cinderella's castle and were on our way back to Epcot and the finish line. That had to be the most fun I've ever had in a half marathon as it was nice to take it easy and just savor the miles in a race. After the race, we ate, napped and spent the rest of Saturday afternoon by the pool. Then we carbed up at Portobello Yacht Club and went to bed early.
The alarm went off again at 3 AM and Richard and I dragged ourselves out of bed to meet Glen, Bert, Bill and Heidi for the bus at 3:30. This time we were smarter and lounged on the ground in our 'throw away' clothing before proceeding to the start. The fireworks were bigger this time and we were off and running. We ran through Epcot and back up to the Magic Kingdom. I ran across the 4:15 pace group heading into the Magic Kindom and hung with them for a few miles, but never expected to finish with them since I had run the half the day before. I used a strategy of walking through every water stop and Disney is so well supported that this is about every mile after mile 4. I looked forward to running through the Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, 2 parks I had not yet been to. I encountered Disney characters and smiling faces and people waiting for character photos along the way. Like the half, this was about the most fun I'd had in a marathon and I was happy to see the miles were passing easily. About mile 24, Bethany was there to cheer us on and then I entered Epcot and knew I was nearly done. I crossed the finish line in 4:13:55, over a minute faster than my fall marathon in Victoria and my 4th fastest time of the 10 marathons I've run to date. I did some back to back long runs in my training and didn't feel like my long runs suffered as much as expected from the previous day's mileage. Recovery was the bigger challenge and I took the rest of the week off from running to enjoy Disneyworld!
The rest of our trip was a blast and I got to spend time at all 4 parks. Richard and I did an off road Segway tour around the Ft. Wilderness campground. This wasn't nearly as much fun as our Segway tour of California Adventure, but it was fun to ride the off road Segways. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed Animal Kingdom and decided Expedition Everest was my favorite attraction. It combines outstanding line theming that captured my interest so much I was sad the line moved quickly and multiple roller coaster elements (backward, darkness) that make it a thrilling ride. I'm not usually an animal lover (except for Tapas!) but I enjoyed the animal attractions in the park and it's clear Disney has made an investment in making this a world class park. The Magic Kingdom was classic and felt like an expanded Disneyland, Hollywood Studios hosts some of the most thrilling attractions and Epcot's World Showcase and Illuminations fireworks show were spectacular. My only complaint of the week was Disney's bus transportation to our All Star Sports hotel was at times frustrating. The lines for downtown Disney were long and there was no direct bus transportation from the World Showcase/boardwalk areas to our hotel. However, when I think about how large Disneyworld is and how much there is to offer, I am amazed that they make it all work with the top notch customer service Disney provides.