Mr. Jeff Galloway always says that a runner’s wall occurs at the furthest distance that person has run in the past 3 weeks. Although he is perhaps alone in his belief that the best training involves going at least the distance of the upcoming race, if not a few miles beyond, I have a new appreciation for his logic after running 26.2 miles. And “running” may be an overstatement because starting at mile 20, very little actual running took place!!!
As you can probably see from my pictures so far, we were experience a beautiful cloudless, sunny day. An ideal day for enjoying all that Disney World has to offer. Unless, of course, part of what you’re trying to enjoy is a marathon. I have always been pretty sensitive to hot weather and this race was no exception for me. As a reached mile 20 I felt off. In retrospect it is possible to diagnose the symptoms I was feeling but at the time I just kept thinking about the next water stop. I felt dehydrated and overheated and kept thinking I needed to drink more fluid. I took fuel more often than I planned and took an extra salt tablet or 2. Anything to get myself through the last 6.2 miles.
Somewhere about halfway between mile 20 and mile 21 we made a complete U-turn. At the U of this 180 were some announcers who were cheering us on by name (our names were on our bibs). As I made the turn they yelled out my name and commented on my 26.2 tattoos on my knees. Despite feeling awful, that made me laugh and was a good pick-me-up. At this point I was walking. My legs were sore but ok. My head hurt and I felt bad. Non-specific yuckiness. My body’s way of trying to tell me that normal people don’t go as fast as they can for 26.2 miles.

At Mile 21 you can see that I was not alone in my walking.
As we were heading towards Hollywood Studios, it seems appropriate that we should encounter some Toy Story characters….

One of my favorite moments in the Half Marathon is the Green Army man that you encounter late in the race at the only real uphill. He is yelling at the runners with a megaphone. This Army Man reminded me of that memory.

At Mile 22. More walkers. It’s nice to see that I wasn’t the only one struggling at this point!
We entered Hollywood Studios via a backstage route. They had some entertainment along the way.

Mr. Incredible is a hero in my house! I enjoyed seeing him at this point.

I love the movie Up. I think I watched it during one of my long treadmill runs!!!
We ran through a really cool area with costumes and props from various Disney movies. I was a bit disoriented at the time and I’m pretty sure this was still backstage at Hollywood Studios. As we entered the “onstage” area with saw:

The guys from Monsters, Inc. With mile marker 23 just up ahead!

Only a bit more than a 5k left!!!
Hollywood Studios is a big blur. I can barely remember which areas we saw. The park was clearly open and hopping at the time. I remember running by the sorcerer’s hat….

We exited Hollywood Studios and I encountered something wonderful. Some thoughtful spectators (wearing W.I.S.H. so there are from the Disboards!!!) were handing out wet washcloths to the runners. They had other goodies but that washcloth probably got me to the finish line!!!!

Mile 24!!! You can see the Boardwalk Resort on the right.
By this time I was a complete mess. Lots of spectators cheering us on by name. Good thing I had my sunglasses on because every time I heard my name I started to cry. I think I spent the last 2-3 miles in tears!
We took the path along the water (where the Friendship Boats go from Hollywood Studios to the Boardwalk-area Resorts and finally to Epcot). I have walked that path to and from Hollywood Studios before. We could see the Swan/Dolphin on the left as we entered onto the Boardwalk and went past 2 of my favorite Disney Resorts – Yacht Club and Beach Club. And finally towards the International Gateway into Epcot.
Here in France was the next milestone:

We could see many people already wearing their Mickey Medals and lots of park guests already having a drink. I knew that I only had to go around World Showcase, to the front of Epcot, and I would finish…

Belle was out and meeting guests in France.

Aladdin cheered on a runner in Morocco.

Snow White in Germany. Getting there!
We took the path to Future World and ran right by Guest Relations. Our former au pair, Delphine, now works for Guest Relations in Epcot. She was standing right there to give me a big hug!!!! I was seriously crying by now. And I don’t even have a picture of it!!!
Soon we entered the backstage area to get towards the finish line and saw this beautiful site:

The last mile marker of the race.
Many of the people around me decided to run the last 0.2 miles. And many tried to encourage me to do the same but I had NOTHING left for that. Around the corner there was an amazing Gospel Choir singing us to the finish. And then I saw this:

I did manage to run across the finish line.
runDisney – Disney World Full Marathon:
AMANDA NORTH at Finish in 5:58:33.
Pace: 13:41 min/Mile.
Time of Arrival: 11:59:00.

I got my medal. Wandered to bag check and retrieved my stuff. Stopped for a potty break. And tried to figure out what to do. I knew something wasn’t right. I wasn’t sure if I was horribly dehydrated and needed an IV. But I had just peed at the end of the race so that didn’t seem right (sorry TMI!). I thought I should probably stop at the medic tent but couldn’t process the steps it would take to find the tent and get there. I finally gave up and hopped on one of the buses back to my hotel.
A nice man (who had just finished the Goofy – the half on Saturday and full on Sunday) was sitting next to me. He congratulated me on my finish and I started crying. I couldn’t process anything at that point. He finally offered me some food which I ate. One my core temperature started cooling down (I suspect I had at least heat exhaustion, if not worse), I was able to start functioning. The bus ride involved some discussion with the driver over which resorts he would or would not visit (he was supposed to go to 3 or 4 but was being difficult). There was some discussion that I was going to have to take the monorail from the Polynesian back to the Grand Floridian but some of the more vocal people on the bus made sure that I got back to my hotel (it was only me and one other man going to the Grand Floridian). I don’t know who these people were but I’m very, very grateful.
Tom and Zachary were in the room (Zachary was sleeping in the stroller). Tom helped me get a cool bath and figure out what was wrong. We finally realized that I was overheated (which was fixed by air conditioning and a cool bath) and way over-hydrated. There is a major danger in over-hydrating during a marathon. You lose body salt and replace it with water (or even watered down sports drink) which lowers your body salt. This causes a condition called hyponatremia. Which I definitely had. Which is why I felt so crappy during the last 6-8 miles of the race. Tom banned me from any liquid until I saw some yellow in my pee (again, TMI) and I ate salty pretzels and lay down for awhile. I was peeing water-like urine about every 45 minutes for the next 5 hours. OOPS!!!! Lesson-learned. I was NOT dehydrated. Just overheating. If I had poured water on my head instead of drinking it, I would have been ok.
We headed to Epcot for a celebration dinner, complete with a margarita (with salt on the rim, of course!!!). By Monday morning I was feeling pretty good. My legs were still a bit sore, but not nearly as bad as they had been the previous year after the half marathon. I had the amazing experience of going to Magic Kingdom with my Mickey Medal and showing it off to anyone and everyone who would look.
Prior to the race I was considering going Goofy in 2013. I now realize that I need at least one more full marathon under my belt. I need to “do it right” now that I’ve learned so much. So watch for me at the 20th anniversary of the Mickey Medal next January!!!
In the meantime I’m training away for the More Magazine Women’s Half Marathon on April 15th in Central Park!