If you missed my 2016 Walt Disney World Marathon Race Recap Part 1, you can go back and catch up on my mental issues HERE. It wasn’t looking pretty for Shenanigans on her first Marathon!
The one where The Cavalry arrives.
I started the race by myself but knew my friends Yanni and John would catch up to me. Right at my low point, I pulled off to the side of the road to find out where they were.
I needed help. I needed someone else to take control. My head was a mess, and the hard, boring part was ahead of me.
As I turned around to look back at the runners, hoping to see Yanni… guys…
THERE. SHE. WAS.
Right in front of me. The perfect person at the perfect time.
Later, she would tell me that they had a plan to get me through this race. I was glad to hear it since my plan had gone out the window at that point. She took over, and I fell into place behind her on the road.
She started me back running- or gliding as she so smartly called it- for 30-seconds. Then we walked for 2 minutes. At some point, she changed that to :30/1 min without me even noticing.
John, a retired Marine, who runs with a professional camera in his hand, (hello… my personal race photographer!), told me to stop looking at my watch, to eat and drink more, and to pick up my feet.
Sir, yes, Sir!
By the time we hit Animal Kingdom, I was feeling a little better. We still weren’t running fast, but we were in a solid interval pattern, and I had no major complaints.
And Animal Kingdom meant Lisa, DisBroad Bonnie and the Moms Panel friends with FOOD. I was looking forward to this part of the race.
Lisa was volunteering at a water stop- I got a quick hug and tears in my eyes when I saw her! We forgot the picture, though. #WhompWhomp.
Bonnie ROCKS. She made signs, brought food, and even acted as my sherpa.
I was concerned about my feet and their tendency to blister, so she volunteered to meet me at mile 13 with a spare pair of socks and my backup shoes. She also had Cokes and food and a BIG hug which I totally needed.
I did not need the socks or shoes. Huzzah! Vasoline and Rock Tape on my feet were saving the day. Plus soft, cushy Hokas. Bless the Hoka Gods, I tell ya.
Love you, Bonnie. You’re MY favorite!
About half a mile down the road lived Flat Steve Harvey and the Moms Panelists. I was tickled when I heard:
Uno, Dos, Tres… Mc Farland!
Shouted loud and clear! I die.
Jen, Amy, Faith, and Diane are 4 of the best people I know. They were out both days cheering on the runners with their Flat Steve Harvey sign. I got more food for the road and big hugs and was ready to attack the 2nd half of this marathon.
We now headed into the beast of the marathon. The middle miles where anything could happen, and Wide World of Sports loomed.
If you had asked me at this point what I thought about this experience, I’d say it was fun. I was whooped, but I was honestly having a good time.
This credit goes to John, who kept up a steady stream of nonsense to keep my mind occupied.
Yanni was the time keeper and pacer; John was the entertainment.
Most people HATE this section of the race.
I must be weird. I liked running into Wide World of Sports and seeing the faster peeps who are running out of it. It was a great distraction for me, especially since we knew the Balloon Ladies were making time on us.
We also started seeing a few of our friends along this stretch. I found DisBroad Summer, and we ended up being around each other through the rest of the race.
I liked Wide World of Sports.
Here’s why. It was all new, it twisted and turned, we had a track and a baseball field, and there were a lot of characters out here with short lines.
Since boredom is my biggest problem, anything that’s a distraction helps me stay on track.
Leaving WWoS started a fun new thing: John running backward and looking for the Balloon Ladies.
He was convinced they didn’t exist.
I, of course, knew they did and that we were only about 12 minutes ahead of them at this point. As we hit mile 22, I saw a couple of “Parade Buses” just ahead.
And one of them MOVED forward.
But tall John couldn’t see any balloons, there were tons of people around us going the same speed as we were, and we were pretty sure we had a 12 minute buffer.
But seeing those buses… freak mode switched back on. I did not come this far not to finish this thing.
Y’all… I looked at Yanni and told her that while I knew we were safe, I was just going to keep running until I was completely past those buses. She laughed a little (I’m sure she thought I was melodramatic) but said, “Okay…” and off we went at a little trot.
We ran up the hill past the Green Army Men, who were a HOOT. I wish I had a Go-Pro because there were so many hilarious cast members on the course worth remembering.
Soon we were inside Hollywood Studios, and I felt the pressure of this race start to subside.
I started believing that a marathon distance was going to be completed this day and began to relax a little.
At this point of the race, people were slowing down and walking. We were still on our intervals, thanks to pace keeper Yanni, and I’m proud of this. Our pace stayed pretty steady from mile 9 on (minus any bathroom stops); it wasn’t fast, but it was solid.
Most runners passed the characters without stopping, which meant we could make quick stops if we wanted to.
George? Yep, I wanted that one!
As we exited Hollywood Studios, I knew this was where the last hard sweep could happen.
Sure enough: there were more “Parade Buses” parked at the entrance of the path down to the Boardwalk area.
I heard some chatter going on up ahead and wanted to get clarification for what I was hearing. I stopped right in front of the last bus driver and he became my new bestie.
“Hey, Patty… there will be NO bus ride for you today! Go finish your marathon!”
Summer was with me at the time and admitted she was fighting back tears at that moment. I looked at Yanni and let out a huge sigh of relief and plastered on a big, genuine smile.
Balloon Ladies? I didn’t care anymore. In fact, I hoped we’d see them so I could give them a hug!
I finally broke my social media silence and posted on Facebook that I was doing this thing. And remembered the words someone had told me about the final 2 miles: they are your victory lap. Enjoy them!
Oh, boy oh boy, did I! Yanni stopped making me run and let me just enjoy the final miles. She’s good: she knew just what I needed when I needed it!
At the mile 24 marker, we found Marci and Dr. Laura, two of my favorite runDisney friends.
Summer kept moving and we lost her, but we picked up a few others on the way to the finish line.
Just before the Boardwalk, I stopped for a picture with Genie. I love Genie, and so does my daughter, so I wanted that one for her.
We also finally saw the balloons coming our way.
For the first time in any runDisney event, I was passed by the Balloon Ladies.
And I didn’t care at all. Ha!
I got to chat with Nancy and Molly as they kept their 16-minute mile pace and moved on past us. For the record, they were moving “fast” compared to me. 16-minute miles may feel like a stroll to some, but to me at mile 24 of the marathon, it felt like a sprint, y’all!
I saw Bonnie again at the Boardwalk and picked up another Coke to finish with some sugar in me.
I also found my friend, Mike, long finished and showered because he’s fast like that, hanging out to cheer in the final runners. Mike’s been encouraging me for YEARS to do this, so it was a cool moment to see him right at the end and say I’m DOING THIS, MIKE!
MIKE! I RAN A MARATHON!
Around Morocco, I had the best surprise ever: Jane and Kirsten were pulled over to the side waiting for us. It took me a minute to realize they did not have their medals on; they hadn’t finished yet. They were waiting on me.
I puffy heart them.
These two bad ass girls ran every mile of Dopey together and had shenanigans to spare. Since Jane was part of team “You can DO this,” I was thrilled to finish that last mile with her.
Our group grew again and John took off for Mexico. Yanni had promised me a margarita to finish with, and bless her, it was the best thing I’ve ever had on a race course.
One last hug from the Mom’s Panel crew, a Mc Farland cheer send off, and we were ready to finish this marathon in style!
I couldn’t believe my luck. I planned on finishing this race with 2 friends. I ended up covering those last miles with 7 of them.
John dropped back and took this picture as we crossed the finish together.
It took just over 7 hours and 50 minutes, but we finished the Walt Disney World Marathon. The miles were NOT easy, it was harder than I ever thought it would be, and I was so happy to be finishing.
But I was also so happy I did it.
I FREAKING DID IT.
How did I feel? Like a dang rockstar.
That may not make sense to those hung up on the time it took me to finish, but this was an accomplishment for me. It was a huge step out of my comfort zone to even train for this event, much less show up, start and finish it. Fear kept me from trying in the past and fear held me back.
That’s probably not something everyone can relate to, but if you do relate to that fear, let me tell you… it was an awesome feeling when I discovered I was brave enough to do it.
Comfort zone: SHATTERED.
I’m still processing how absolutely hard this event was on me mentally and physically. But in the moments from mile 24 to 26.2, I felt like I could do ANYTHING.
But that might have been the margarita talking. Damn, that drink was FINE!
Did it change my life? Well, I’m not sorting through the endorsements or anything. Ha.
Completing the Marathon did change the way I look at myself as a runner, though. So in a way, sure, it changed my life. And the benefits of completing this race flowed into the next week when I ran the Star Wars Rebel Challenge.
I’m sure you have lots of questions. Like: What are my takeaways? Should you, as a back of the pack run/walker sign up for one? How did I feel physically?
I hate to do this- buuutttt…. there’s a Part 3.
Yanni wrote her perspective HERE. Check it out. If you’ve ever thought you should pace someone for a marathon, she’s going to give you the real scoop!
Patty Holliday is a Marvel loving, Disney obsessed wife, and mother of four. She’s a travel agent specializing in Disney & Universal vacations- and loves a candid confession. Find her in Virginia (or anywhere frequent flyer miles or her trusty minivan takes her.)