The final 10k of the marathon.  Or in the case, of the Goofy.  This is often where the Wall begins.  Although I’ve only run 2 full marathons, in my opinion the last part of the marathon is where the brain dominates over muscle. Mind over matter.  It’s less about athletic ability and more about sheer will-power.  At no time is that more true than in a marathon where heat plays a major role, as it did in this case.

After the mile 20 “not-so-spectacular” we exited Wide World of Sports and turned toward Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Another stretch on hot asphalt. At least there was some crowd support here.  And since we were running next to slow-moving traffic, we got some cheers from people driving by.

I think it was was somewhere around here that some awesome stranger had a cooler full of ice that he was handing out.  I put some under my cap and down my shirt.  Heaven!!!

Our military friends were back to encourage us as we began an overpass.  The hill wasn’t horribly steep but at Mile 21 any hill feels steep.  At the top of the hill I noticed a woman leaning against the wall and then sit down.  I was in front of her and didn’t have the energy to turn around but I saw a police car at the bottom of the hill and told the officer to send help.

For all of you metric system folks.  Here’s the 35k mark.

I think it’s cool that you can get an idea of where we were by looking at the road sign behind the mile marker!

Entering Hollywood Studios from backstage!

Around here one of my Team Studios Central teammates was waiting with ICE COLD WASHCLOTHS! Seriously.  A little piece of Manna from Heaven. Nothing in the world could have been better at that point of the race.  Nothing was better than seeing a familiar face and feeling something cold.  It was such a huge energizer!

I remember so much more about running through Hollywood Studios this year compared to last year!

The path to the Boardwalk.  I have run this path several times before on training runs while staying in Disney World.  It’s a great place to run and I felt like I was in the home-stretch!

From there we enter World Showcase via a backstage area.  The final water stop of the race is back there.  And then we enter into England and across the bridge to France.

I felt pretty strong still.  The heat was bothering me but not so much that I couldn’t continue my run/walk strategy.  I was able to pick up my pace a bit and enjoy World Showcase.

I wasn’t able to get a picture of the incredible Gospel Choir.  But what could be better at mile 26? At this point I had a sudden and severe pain in my right shin.  My first thought was a stress fracture but I knew I only had a little way left to go.  Luckily it ended up being a shin splint that healed pretty quickly.

Although it is tempting to sprint to the finish, that final 0.2 miles ain’t nothing.  So I restrained myself until the final line was in full view.  Somehow I have no photos of the finish line.  Once I felt I was close enough, I ran my way across.  By dumb luck I finished on the left side of the course where Goofy happened to be located.  I was able to high-five him as I was crossing the finish line!!!

I received my BEAUTIFUL Mickey Medal right away and headed to the Goofy tent for my Goofy medal.  I stopped at the self-serve medical tent for some ice for my shin.  I waited in line for my finisher photo (I haven’t usually done that but I knew I would wait in the Race Retreat for my friends to finish).  I started crying and the photographer kept asking if I was ok.  I said yes.  He asked if I was sure.  I said yes.  Then he asked if I was lying.  So I started laughing.

The Race Retreat was a Godsend.  Plenty of food and Powerade.  I sat down with my right leg up to ice my shin.  The lovely man sitting next to me does medical massage and examined my leg.  He reassured me that it was more likely a shin splint than a stress fracture.  (He was SO nice but also totally not hitting on me as his husband arrived about 30 minutes later.)  I received messages from many people, including my Team Studios Central teammates.  When I told them I was injured, they talked their way into Race Retreat to make sure I was ok!

I realized that I was a bit dehydrated since I had gone about 8 or more hours without peeing.  So I loaded up on Powerade.  I was sitting in my soaking wet clothes (dumping water on my head all race) so I grabbed my checked bag and took advantage of the changing area.  I saw several friends and had a chance to recover pretty well.  Definitely worth the cost of the Retreat, especially for the Goofy.

My finish time of 5:51:56 was about 20 minutes or so slower than I had hoped.  But with heat and humidity and a half marathon the day before, this was still pretty good.  My e-coach Jeff Galloway was happy with my results and reassured me that under better race conditions, I would have reached my time goal.

All in all it’s been an incredible journey and I’m grateful that I was along for the ride!