Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My Magical Marathon

     My lasts few posts have been about recovering from my shin splint injury. I did everything possible to keep up with my training and fitness to prepare for the Walt Disney World Marathon on January 13th. I had the most amazing virtual support team and cheerleaders via Twitter encouraging me and telling me I could do this! Most of them I didn’t even know in real life! There were also doubters and those who warned me to be careful and not hurt myself more. I even had little nagging doubts in the back of my mind saying “What if you can’t run? What if it does start to hurt?” Well…

Marathon #2 Complete!
      I ran a MARATHON on Sunday, January 13th, and I finished strong and ran pain free the entire race! Now, let me also clarify that I use the Galloway run/walk/run method for half marathons and beyond. I used 2/1 run/walk intervals for the marathon. I also took it slow and easy and because it was the Walt Disney World Marathon, I stopped at almost every character photo op available!!
     But this marathon was not accomplished alone. This run was not all about me. I did not, as I usually do, run my own race. And yet, it was the most magical, fabulous run/race I have ever had! I did listen to my body and make sure to not push through any pain. But there was never any pain to push through!
     To quote my friend, Linzie, “This is the true story, of 7 strangers, who met on Twitter and flew to Walt Disney World to support one another during marathon weekend.” That’s what this race was really about. A group of people who, less than four weeks prior, were just chatting on Twitter. We came together because of Team runDisney. We formed a group when we noticed we were in the same start corral for the race. Then others started to join us just for fun! A movement started as we began to prepare and plan for our Marathon Weekend. We discovered we had a lot of the same dreams and needs for this weekend. Many were nervous, some were injured, all were excited. This would be my second marathon after a disappointing first marathon less than a year before. Many would be running their first ever marathon. We needed each other and a bond was quickly formed. Plans were made to meet, to hang out together and to run together.
      We met up at the race expo on Thursday, shopping for merchandise, picking up our race bibs and shirts and planning the rest of our weekend.
The early expo crew! So early, I'm still asleep apparently!
Several of us were lucky enough to get into the social media runDisney meet-up on Friday morning where we were able to make even more magical memories.
Fun at the social media meet-up with runDisney!
We also spent time listening to the inspiring speakers at the Expo and cheering on those that ran the half marathon on Saturday. We even met for a carbo-loading session at Ghirardelli’s soda shop in Downtown Disney! 
CorralG carbo-loading at Ghiradelli!
Yes, I ate that all by myself! This girl can eat!
     Sunday morning, we all met up at the ungodly hour of 4:30am before the race! You could feel the nervous excitement in the air. We were really doing this! We had a few photos taken and then moved on to bag check and the long walk to our corral. Once at our corral we HAD to get a picture with our group name – the corral sign!
     As we waited for the race to begin we sat in a little circle just chatting about life and things in general. It was a very relaxed way to wait for the race.
Captain Linzie & Coach Marcia
     As the corrals finally began to move out – we were second to last – we became more and more awake & ready! Our fireworks went off and we even got a “Corral G Gladiators” shout out from the announcers. No one knew who we were at that time but by the end of the race I’m pretty sure everyone knew!
     Looking back, it’s amazing to me how quickly the miles flew by! The others may not feel the same but we did have so much fun! We stopped for pictures and chatted and laughed the whole way! The first few miles were in the dark, lit only by street lights or Disney lights. As the sun began to rise, we were heading thru the gates to parking at the Magic Kingdom.
      As we headed past the Contemporary Resort and towards the Magic Kingdom we saw this:
I have never seen the movie “Hercules” but I have always identified with this song when it comes to my running and really my life: searching for that place I truly belong. "Go the Distance" was the song chosen by the runners as this year’s marathon song. I was so happy! They also played it before the start of the race earlier that morning.
     Next it was time to enter the Magic Kingdom. This is the only park I have never run through! This is also my first Disney race in daylight! As we rounded the corner of Main Street and headed toward the castle, it was very hard to contain my excitement and my tears! Even now as I remember, the tears still flow. It was so magical! We were running on Main Street, USA!!!
So unbelievably fabulous to RUN down Main Street, USA!!!
I snapped so many pictures and as we neared the castle I tried to get a self portrait in front. Kinda hard but I got it!
     We also stopped for some family members to take our picture together then headed off to Tomorrowland yelling and cheering! We were so pumped up! We stopped for almost every character throughout the Magic Kingdom! The lines weren’t too bad and the Cast Members were very efficient with taking photos and handling multiple cameras and phones! They were so amazing!
All the Beauties and the Beasts!
The best part of all was getting to run through the castle! I’ve seen so many pictures and videos of this! I had wanted to do this for such a long time and now here was my chance! And what was I thinking as I ran through? Make sure the photographers can see me! I want a good picture of this! Well, I think I got what I wished for! runDisney, feel free to use this in your promos! I don’t think you can get a better shot!
After we ran down the ramp of the castle, we stopped for a couple group shots in front then it was off to Liberty Square and Frontierland!
CorralG made it thru the Castle!
We lost a lot of time with all of our stops inside the Magic Kingdom, but we made up quite a bit after we excited the park. We ran past the golf courses still fresh with morning dew and glowing in the sun. We ran past the Grand Floridian resort, my favorite, and past the Polynesian resort.
      Next stop, the most exciting of all! Well, for me anyway!
The Walt Disney World Speedway - Always heard, never seen...Until now!
     Inside the Walt Disney world Speedway we found the entire track lined with cars of all kinds from all eras!
Sweet Vette!
     For a car girl, this was really cool! I took so many pictures – of cars! How silly! But I wanted to remember them! I should have stopped and had my picture with some of them! We did stop for the cars from the actual movie Cars though!
     After the excitement of the speedway it was a long trip to Animal Kingdom. The sun was rising higher in the sky and it was warming up! The next few miles ran through much of the hidden backlots of Disney. We saw their very large nursery of beautiful plants and flowers, storage for props for events like the Flower & Garden Fest and as we neared the Animal Kingdom there were several Cast Members out with various types of animals from sheep to snakes! We entered Animal Kingdom from the back of the park which is different from all of the night races I have done. Running thru the parks at night is awesome, especially Animal Kingdom since it closes at dusk but running thru the parks in the daylight is just as fantastic! We of course had to stop for a group photo in front of Everest!
Hard to see, but that is Everest in the background!
     We were halfway through! It was getting hotter and we were slowing down but we all tried to keep each other going! The long trek down Osceola Parkway began at about mile 14. We started to spread out at this point. There were spectators to cheer us and some entertainment but my favorite part were the quotes along the way.
My favorite quote of many on the roadside...Also on our medals!
     We gathered up at the Mile 16 sign. I needed a picture with my lucky number!
Me & my lucky number!
     We headed into the ESPN Wide World of Sports at about mile 17. This is where I felt like around every curve something new and unexpected might happen! The Mile 20 Spectacular was coming and we really didn’t know when or where (other than around mile 20) it was going to happen! No one knew what to expect and we were all anxious to find out just what it was!!!
Pit stop at ESPN WWOS - thanks Disney Leigh for snapping this!
     We took a long break and did lots of walking thru the Wide World of Sports. A few of us got our second wind here. It was a nice break! When we hit the track at the sports complex I was all excited! I LOVE running on the track at WWOS! It’s so bouncy! I loved running it at Tower of Terror and I loved running it this day! 
Me running the track - bouncy, bouncy!!

Loving being on the track at ESPN WWOS!!!
     As we left the track, we wound our way thru the parking lots and out of the WWOS onto the road. As we rounded the corner, the Mile 20 Spectacular began! It was out on the road and as we neared mile 20 the road was strewn with LARGE characters from various Disney movies! So much fun to see and get pictures with!
A VERY BIG Genie from Aladdin!
Me & Jill with Mike Wazowski!
     Right before the Mile 20 banner, there stood the three we were all racing for! Goofy, Donald and best of all, Mickey! They are usually NOT on a race course in my experience so to have all three right there was super cool to me! And of course, we stopped for pictures!
Me & the crew!

#CorralG & the Crew

     After the picture we all gathered in a line, holding hands and crossed the Mile 20 mats together! I REALLY wish there had been a photographer there to take pictures of that! 
Mile 20 banner & timing mat
     Wow! We only had six more miles to go! We were so excited and happy! We were having a great time! But we were also tired! At this point we had been on the course for over five hours! We headed towards Disney's Hollywood Studios. As we came down the familiar route - every other race I had done entered this way - we saw the Tower of Terror. I reflected back to Wine & Dine Half and the Tower of Terror 10 Miler. Every other time, we entered in the dark shadows of the Tower. Today the sun was shining brightly, lighting up the Tower and everything around it! It was glorious!
No dark shadows this time...
     We stopped for a few pictures in the Studios and I think at this point we were all becoming a bit delirious! We were being very silly and having lots of fun! I think it may have been the only thing that got us through those last few miles!
Linzie was dead at this point...
     As we left the Studios, I got really excited! I knew we were getting close to the finish because the Wine & Dine Half follows a similar route to the finish at Epcot. I entered my own little world at this point, taking it all in that I was actually running and finishing this marathon. After all that I had been through to get here! It was an amazing feeling!! Once we turned onto the Yacht Club resort, we gathered as a team again and entered Epcot through the back of England.
Great Britain at World Showcase, Epcot
I was so excited to be able to run through World Showcase, my favorite part of Epcot. As soon as we hit France, I asked Linzie to snap a quick pic!
My France...
I was having so much fun and enjoying this time, but my team was starting to break down. We were getting near the end and they were feeling it! We did a lot of walking and stopped for a few pictures but not too many. We wanted to be DONE!
YES! Mile 26! We made it!!!
The famed Halleluiah Chorus at Mile 26! Lovely!!!
     The energy level of our group increased significantly as we neared Spaceship Earth. It was time for our BIG FINISH! And oh what a finish it was! In fact, you can watch it here... (Thanks, Erin, for filming us!)

     We made quite a scene to say the least and quite honestly felt like stars! The crowd loved us and waved and cheered. It was the best race finish EVER!
The #CorralG Conga line finish!!!
      But once across the finish line, we all realized that we had really just finished our marathon - some of us for the very first time, others battling injuries, but all of us FINISHED! We hugged and laughed and cried! It was truly the most magical of all marathons!
The sweet taste of a Disney Marathon finish!!!
     I've run alone most of my running career. I've run almost every race alone. I thought I preferred that. I always tell everyone to run your own race! And yes, sometimes we just need to do that. But there are other times, magical times, when you decide to put you aside and be a part of something bigger than yourself. CorralG became that. I had my slowest marathon that I will ever have. But you know what? I also had the best, most unbelievably fun, magical, EPIC race of my life! (So far anyway! Who knows what will happen at our CorralG reunion at Wine & Dine 2013! You may want to be there!)


  1. Loved reading this and reliving your day. So happy that you had such a happy race! And happy to know you. :) -Christine

    1. Thank you, Christine! Happy to know you too! See you soon at Princess!!!

  2. I teared up watching all you marathoners on race day and I am tearing up again reading your story! Way to inspire, #CorralG!!

    1. Aw! Thanks Sabrina! You should totally run the WDW Marathon one day! It's quite fabulous! And with friends - it can't be beat!

  3. congrats on your marathon! loved the pics!

  4. Congrats! Glad you were able to run pain free! It was great to meet you at the expo!

    1. Yay! It was so great to meet you too Carrie! And thanks! Hope to see you again at another runDisney race!

  5. Found your report through the re-tweet from RunDisney, and I'm so glad I did! Great report, and my most sincere congratulations on a fantastic, magical race.

    1. Thanks Maggie and welcome! There will be more to come! It was truly a wonderful weekend!

  6. Found your blog through Twitter. Great recap! I totally agree that some races cry out to be with a fun group. One of these days I'll do Disney World. I have to say, after reading your post, I'm incredibly jealous that Downtown Disney in Fl has a Ghirardelli! I live near the one in CA, and Ghirardelli is inside the CA Adventure park. I wish it was more accessible!

    1. Thanks, Jennifer and welcome! Hope you enjoy my blog! You MUST come to FLA and do the Disney Marathon someday! It is quite fabulous!!! I'm originally from CA so I'm jealous you're there! :-)

  7. Great recap! I was in the VIP tent when yall came by, I was yelling for you! So glad you had a good time, love the photos!

    1. Thank you Heather! You know what the funny thing is? After you said that I started thinking back and I want to say I may have seen you in the VIP area because I remember conga-ing by it and looking in! :-) Thank you for everything - again! Hugs! See ya soon!

  8. What kind of camera did you use? I ran the marathon last year and the goofy challenge this year. and 2 different point & shoot cameras and ended up with blurry pictures. Well we had a few good ones but mostly blurry.

    1. Teresa, I actually only used my iPhone 4S camera! I carried my point & shoot in my arm band but never pulled it out. It takes blurry pics too! But the iPhone did much better. Pics in the dark still were not great but otherwise I got some great shots!

  9. Awesome recap! I was following along with you guys the whole time. You all looked like you were having the time of your lives! Maybe one of these races I can join in the fun!
    Congrats on your second marathon!

    1. Aw, thanks Lena! Maybe we can do a CorralG race reunion on the West Coast! It would certainly be easier for you! But you have GOT TO run the Disney Marathon!!! It is amazing! I cannot wait to do it again! See you soon for Princess!!!

  10. I love reading the accounts of Corral G. It is so inspiring. Hope to meet all of you next year!

    1. Thank you! Keep an eye out for us! There will be some of us at every runDisney race this year! But we will for sure be at Marathon Weekend again next year!