Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Happiest Place on Earth: Disney Marathon Race Recap

This month, I traveled to the happiest place on earth for my 9th Disney Marathon!  I will never get tired of this race... We started the long weekend the way all good weekends start - with some serious shopping at the marathon expo!

It doesn't get better than this!

An official race jacket, a new pair of compression socks, two pairs of arm warmers, and a long-sleeved shirt later, and the mission was complete!  

On Friday, we explored the Magic Kingdom and had a lot of fun while enjoying the 80 degree weather - what a difference from Boston's winter wonderland!

Cinderella's castle... see you again at Mile 7!
On Saturday, we went to Epcot and watched the half marathon finish, and also walked "around the world", exploring each country.  Epcot is where the marathon finishes, so the next time I would see those countries, I would be in too much pain to notice!

Disney's version of Canada's Victoria Gardens
 Finally, it was the morning of the race!  To beat the heat, Disney starts the race at 5:30 am, with a recommended arrival time of 3:30 am.  This is my LEAST favorite part every year.

A very cold, tired and nervous Minnie!
 The race starts just outside of Epcot (in the dark!) and heads out to Magic Kingdom, where we run through Cinderella's Castle and along Main Street for miles 6-8.  At this point, the sun is just coming up, the air is cool, and our legs are fresh - life is good!

Feeling good so far!
Then the race passes the Grand Floridian Hotel, runs through the uneven paths of the Animal Kingdom, and then winds around six agonizingly boring miles of the Wide World of Sports.  This is around mile 20, just when the pain is starting to set in, and we are so close... but so far... Time to bear down and push hard. Finally, we reach MGM at mile 22, and the end is in sight!

If that smile looks forced, it's because I am HURTING!
 After MGM, we run across the Boardwalk, and now the crowds are starting to gather, and the amazing support pushes us on.  One spectator's handmade poster says, "There will be a day when you will fail... Today is not that day."  The physical and mental exhaustion has set in, and I fight back tears as I realize that I am about to achieve yet another awesome accomplishment.

The next few miles around Epcot seem to last forever, as we circle the World Showcase, and then approach the Epcot ball, where the race finishes just beyond the park entrance.  Now I am smiling with my whole heart, loving every moment and taking it all in.

Mile 26... only 0.2 to go!
 I dig deep one last time, and push hard across the finish line for a strong finish.  It was another awesome Disney Marathon!  I usually am too exhausted to stop for a post-finish line photo, but this year I was still feeling pretty good, so I stop to pose a few times for the race photographers.

Gotta love the Mickey medal!
After a long, hot shower and some clean clothes, we head off to enjoy a victory lunch!  Root beer float?  Okay, sold!!

Doesn't get much better than this!
We finished the weekend with an awesome character breakfast at the Grand Floridian on Monday morning, and a restful few hours on the beach at the Polynesian, soaking up the last of the sun before heading back to snowy New England again!  Another awesome race at what I truly know to be the happiest place on earth!

Never too old for this!

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