My Disney Marathon Experience

It felt really weird to type the post for today’s blog. It still does not seem real. It all went by so fast. Isn’t that the way it always is though when you’ve been planning something for months.

Let’s see…when we left off, I had just finished my day at the Expo and was heading to bed.

My alarm went off at the ungodly time of 3:15 AM. Thankfully, I was overwhelmed with excitement and got out of bed pretty easily. I ate a quick breakfast of a Clif bar and milk before getting dressed and heading out the door at 3:45 AM. I had a short walk to the bus pick-up area which would take me to the start line staging area.

I sat next to a really nice lady from Pennsylvania on the bus. It was her second marathon, so I enjoyed picking up some tips from her and chatting to calm my nerves. One thing that she told me about that I have to share with y’all is this app called Charity Miles. For each mile you run or walk, 25 cents is donated to the charity of your choice. I wish I had known about this app during my training, but I plan on using it from now on for sure.

After getting off the bus and through security, it was about a 15-20 minute walk to the corrals at the start line. I was in corral I, so I had a little bit of a wait until the fireworks went off at 6:00 AM for my corral to start.

It’s hard to describe the experience of running at Disney. I hate sounding cliche, but it really is magical. The first 5 miles of the race were in the dark. There was so much energy from both the runners and the spectators and volunteers. I could barely contain my excitement when I saw this:

Disney Marathon 2014

I knew my parent’s would be waiting for me on Main Street, so I was ready to get to my favorite park! There is no way to prepare for the sight of turning onto main street and seeing Cinderella’s castle adorned in lights with the sounds of the screaming crowd. One of my favorite parts of the race hands down.

Disney Marathon 2014

Disney Marathon 2014

After leaving the Magic Kingdom, we went back out on the Disney back roads. Between miles 8 and 9, we actually ran along the Walt Disney World Speedway. They were blaring some great classic rock songs over the speakers, the sun was beginning to rise and there were so many beautiful cars lined up along the track.

Disney Marathon 2014

Disney Marathon 2014

Miles 10-12 were a bit boring. It was mainly just backroads. Around mile 10 I actually got hungry, but I didn’t want to take any of my gel bites without water. Thankfully, the next water station at the end of mile 11 included bananas. Even though I despise bananas, I still managed to get half of one down – desperate times!

Shortly after mile 12, we entered Animal Kingdom where I stopped for a photo in front of Mt. Everest.

Disney Marathon 2014

Right when we exited Animal Kingdom, we hit the half-marathon marker. I was officially half way done! I felt really good and couldn’t believe I already had done a half-marathon.

Miles 14-17 were more back roads and highways. Thankfully Disney places entertainment and character stops along each mile to keep runners entertained. It was around this point that I started implementing a more walk/run method. I wanted to make it all the way to mile 26 feeling strong. I knew if I kept running so much that I would risk hitting the infamous “wall.” I finally let myself start listening to my iPod and started alternating running and walking with each song.

Miles 18-19 were the only part of the course that I did not really care for that much. It was running through the Wide World of Sports Complex which is actually really nice. Looking back on it, I’m not really sure why I didn’t like this part? I think I was just over it and wanted to get back to one of the parks.

Disney Marathon 2014

We went back on the Disney roads for miles 20-22. I kept waiting for this big, bad wall to smack me in my face, but it never came. Mentally, I was doing great. Physically though, I could feel major muscle pain in my hips. It was becoming a chore to pick my legs up when running. But even with the pain, I never felt like I wouldn’t finish or that I wanted to give up. I never even wanted to cry. I just wanted to keep on going. I was just mad that my legs weren’t keeping up with how I felt inside.

Mile 23 took us through Hollywood Studios (MGM to all the old Disney fans like myself).

Mile 24 took us along Disney’s Boardwalk area which was really beautiful. I also encountered another form of beauty in this sign:

Disney Marathon 2014

Ryan Gosling’s face was exactly the extra motivation I needed to get through the final miles!

Mile 25 came as soon as I entered Epcot. I only had 1.2 miles left to go! I could not believe I was almost done with a MARATHON. And then I saw Aladdin…

Disney Marathon 2014

On a scale of 1-10, how weird is it that I used to have a crush on Aladdin when I was a child? He was such a bad boy with a heart of gold,and he had a flying carpet and a pet monkey. Keeper! Plus, I think I somehow recognized his voice as being the same voice as D.J’s boyfriend Steve on Full House. Who didn’t love Steve?

The last mile around Epcot’s world showcase went by incredibly fast. Before I knew it I was approaching the finish line! Right when I was about to start my final sprint to the finish line (as much as a sprint as I could muster after 26 miles), I heard a crowd of people shout my name. Apparently, my parents had been shouting my name to get my attention, but it didn’t work; so everyone around them chipped in as well. It was great to be able to see them right before I finished…just so I had witnesses that I actually did cross the finish line.

There is no feeling comparable to crossing the finish line after 26.2 miles. Instant relief and pride. I had done it. I had finished my first marathon. Not on my own of course. I wouldn’t have even made it to the half-marathon point without God providing me strength – both mentally and physically. When I am weak, He is strong! This marathon proved it.

I cannot give the Disney staff and volunteers enough praise! They were organized, supportive, patient, kind and inspiring. I was overwhelmed by their smiles, cheering and positive words.

My final race time was 5:47:20. I may be a slow, but I am still a marathoner!

Here’s my official breakdown:

Place Name Bib Age Div Place Gender Place 5 Mile Split 10 Mile Split Half Split 20 Mile Split Clock Time Net Time  
11675 STACIE WELLS 4900 25 887 5034 1:02:45 2:02:23 2:44:55 4:17:48 6:13:39 5:47:22

Disney Marathon 2014

I’m going to be doing a Q&A blog sometime next week about my marathon training and experience. If you have any questions you’d like for me to answer, please leave me a comment or send me an e-mail. Fueling? Race attire? Pacing? How on earth I got up at 3:15 in the morning? Whatever you want to know, I will answer!

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  1.' says

    Congratulations, Stacie!!!!!!!!!!! Running a Disney Marathon must really be magical. I went to Disney World for the first time last September and I just want to go back so bad already. My goal is to run a disney race at some point. Maybe the Princess Half.

    I’m excited to see your Q&A. I think my biggest question as a soon-to-be marathoner in training this year is – how did you find the time for longer runs during the week? The long run doesn’t scare me. What scares me is like 8-10 miles being the “normal” run distance throughout the week and I worry about having the time for ALL the running. Any thoughts are great!

  2.' says

    Oh my gosh I am so proud of you Stacie! Way to go, that is a huge accomplishment! And that race looks so fun! Perfect for a first marathon! I would love to know about how you fueled for your marathon!

    • says

      Thanks so much, Becky! The race was so much fun (things I never thought I would say about running 26.2 miles haha). Thanks for your question. I will make sure to cover how I fueled during my race.

  3.' says

    Congratulations!!!!! I think running the marathon at Disney would be so amazing! We were just there before Christmas and, you’re right, it is magical. So I can’t imagine how magical it must be to then run a marathon there. Well done! Do you think you’ll run another? After I ran the NYC marathon two years ago, that was the first thing people asked me and I said, “Absolutely NOT!” LOL! How quickly things change once your legs have healed;) Congrats and have a great weekend!

    • says

      Oddly enough, as soon as I finished I said that I wanted to do it again next year! Actually, the New York marathon is pretty high up on my list now. How was your experience with that? Besides tired legs of course!

      Hope you had a great weekend too!


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