2007 Walt Disney World Marathon Report: Volney Willett
When you have two young kids the pre-race routine always starts days before the actual event. The kids did the fun runs on Saturday (well I carried my 2 year old half asleep 200m for the cool medal) and we walked (yes I said walked) around Disney World for the rest of the day. Not a way to rest before a marathon, but you try telling a 5 year old that she can't see Cinderella's castle until tomorrow.
Race morning started at 2:45am with a shower, bagel, banana, and Gatorade. I knew that my goal time 3:45-3:59 was not attainable with the conditions. I have been training with temps in the 30s, and today was fore-casted for mid 70s to 80s with high humidity. Also, I didn't give a qualifying time (to prove I could run a marathon under 5 hours), so they put me in the last corral. There were thousands, upon thousands, of people in front of me. Because of the weather I scrapped my time goals, brought extra Enduralytes and had my wife meet me around mile 9 with Propel. This turned out to be a great idea.
As we drove into the park the humidity was dense. She dropped me off in the parking lot and went back to the hotel to get some more sleep. The kids stayed with the grand parents. Then I listened for awhile to the live band, turned in my bag, and found a port-a-potty.
Walking 1/2 mile to the start. It's a marathon. You have plenty of time to warm up in those first few miles.
Just after 6:00am Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy started us off with fireworks. Ten minutes later I got to the starting line. I started off in the back of the pack and mostly tried to work on keep my cadence around 90 and taking short strides. My trained pace was around 8:30 so this just about killed me. I found out early that it was impossible to pass people and I was running sideways more than forward. I figured why? In many areas the course gets narrow and really congested. I would end up in a fast walk.
Just after the mile 1 marker I decided to relieve myself in the bushes like just about everyone (boys and girls). I was carrying my cell phone in an old Fuel Belt phone case and after going back up the hill to the road I realized it was gone. Oh _hit!!! It is my office cell. Guess I have to double back. I ran back down the hill to where I peed and it wasn't there. It was still dark outside and I was having a hard time seeing in the weeds. I followed my trail back down to mile marker 1. I still didn't find it, so I went back along my path and there it was just steps from where I peed. I gave the case to one of the workers with a trash bag and carried the phone until I met my wife at mile 9.
I carried Hammer gel and Endurolytes with me, because I was really concerned about stomach problems. I don't think I've had a long run where I did have some problem. I didn't eat anything on the course that I didn't have in training and I limited my fiber the 3 days prior to the race and it paid off. No real stomach problems during the race. I did drink a little Powerade (I trained with Gatorade), and a lot of water followed by Enduralytes. It was a great plan for re-hydration and not running fast saved me for going to the Animal Kingdom later.
The first half of the marathon I essentially ran in my zone 1 recovery HR. Most of the second half was in Zone 2. I really never was in Zone 3 or 4 for long until the very end when the heat pushed it higher. During most of the first part of the race I ran on the shoulder in the grass because that was the best place to pass everyone. I finally found the 5:30 pace group around mile 14 and then the 5:00 somewhere around mile 20.
I switched cell phones with Janelle at mile 9, so I could tell them when I was going to finish. Right as I rounded the last corner I saw them, my wife and daughter (my son was asleep again). That was really cool. The best part of the race.
Running in the back and middle of the pack is pretty fun. It's like a 5 hour party. There were characters everywhere and it was cool to run through Disney World. There was a long section in the middle of the race that is on the way to the Animal Kingdom. It was pretty boring, but they put funny signs up, some bands, and even a corny comedian or two (I can't remember).
When I hit the finish line I went straight to the medical tent. I didn't even get my medal yet. I iced down my legs and abdomen, put drops in my eyes, then went for the medal and to meet up with my family. The post race food was sad. I guess they want you to go to Epcot and feast there. Not a bad idea, but I went back to my hotel for the first ice bath I was looking forward to. It is a really long walk from the finish to the car.
What would you do differently?:
Bring a small camera. If you are going to run slowly get tons of pictures. People were get pictures with tons of characters. Many were standing in line to do so. Can you believe people stood in line during a marathon?
Walking the very long way to the car.
What limited your ability to perform faster:
The weather and the corral placement.
I coming back next year for the 15th annual race and this time I'm doing the Goofy Race and a Half Challenge. Yep, I'm going for the cool three medals.