Archive for February, 2014

As we entered Animal Kingdom our group had one goal – ride Expedition Everest! But before we got to the roller coaster, I needed to get the black stuff off my hands that I acquired while posing dramatically on the train tracks. I have fond memories of indoor plumbing in the bathrooms at Animal Kingdom.  When I ran my first marathon (2 years ago), I overheated and splashing cold water on my face in the bathroom at Animal Kingdom went a long way to helping me get to the finish line. So when the opportunity arose to use running water to wash the tar off my hands, I took it.

The group met up at the Fast Pass Entrance to Expedition Everest.  The Cast Members let us use the Fast Pass line and we were soon boarding the roller coaster.




We had one interesting moment when the ride stopped for a while. I was a little worried that we were going to get stuck on the ride and be unable to finish the race! Fortunately it was only a brief pause and we were back on course again.

In my opinion one of the best parts of the newer marathon course is having Animal Kingdom earlier in the race.  Animal Kingdom can be hotter than Hades on a good day and running there in full sun can be brutal, especially during heat wave years.


Halfway done!!!

At the far side of Animal Kingdom we met up with the wife of one of my co-runners who had all sorts of goodies for us. I was happy to have a cool wet towel which I kept for the rest of the race.  Even though it never got super hot, the wet towel was greatly appreciated.


Heading to the next Cone Alley on the way to Wide World of Sports.


For those at a “dead” run, the grave-diggers were willing to help.


Because it’s always better to be buried in a mass grave….


My 5 year old wants to marry Ariel. I’m always happy to pose with my future daughter-in-law!

I do remember last year that this was a spot where some people decided to cut the course.  There were cones separated those of us running into ESPN Wide World of Sports from those leaving it. Some people decided to skip the whole Sports Complex and cut the marathon a few miles short. There was a timing mat at mile 20 to try to prevent this but I’m sure it happened again this year. Not to get on my soapbox but I really can’t understand cheating in this way. Unless you’re an elite runner, nobody cares about your finish time except you. If you run fewer than 26.2 miles, you haven’t finished a marathon. Period. Why cheat yourself?


I had made it to ESPN without taking a single bathroom break but at this point in the race I was starting to have to go. We saw “real” bathrooms with indoor plumbing in the Sports Complex. The line for the women’s bathroom was quite long but there was no line for the men’s room. Guess which bathroom we used? I don’t think it helped that I announced that I was a urologist when we walked by the urinals…


It was shortly after this point that another runner starting talking to one of the guys in our little group. It only took a minute or so for me to realize that she and I follow each other on Twitter. We spent the next several miles catching up and getting to know each other. Since Mary Jo is a pharmacist and I’m a doctor, we have a lot in common. Plus we both love running and Disney! It was so fun to randomly meet up with a virtual friend and it really made some of the tougher miles much, much easier.


Part of the journey through ESPN Wide World of Sports involves running around the warning track of the baseball stadium. The field was off-limits.


Unless you climbed under the rope…. Did I mention that I’m usually an extreme rule follower???


No Mile 20 Spectacular (which was less than spectacular last year) but at least Mile 20 was Frozen. And then we were leaving ESPN Wide World of Sports and heading into the final 10k….

After passing mile 5, we reached the most iconic portion of the marathon at Disney World.  Magic Kingdom.  I have a deep love for the Magic Kingdom. Perhaps this is because I was born the same month and year that the Magic Kingdom opened.  Or maybe it’s all the happy memories I have of the time I’ve spent there.  Regardless, this is a special part of the race.

After leaving the Contemporary Resort behind, you enter a backstage area which puts you in the Magic Kingdom near the hat shop.  You soon turn right and find yourself running down Main Street, U.S.A with a glorious view of Cinderella’s Castle.  There are tons of spectators along Main Street, including my dear friends Deanna and her new husband Neil who gave me a big hug and some encouragement.


About as iconic as a Disney World picture can get!

We turned right and headed towards Tomorrowland and then headed back towards Fantasyland.  And then the BIG run through Cinderella’s Castle!


A slightly blurry picture of Mickey and Minnie greeting guests before the runners headed through the Castle.

I didn’t see the usual troubadours announcing us as we ran through the Castle but otherwise this was the same amazing experience I remembered.


This might not be a flattering picture but at least I look really, really happy!

On the far side of the Castle we waited for a group photo.  This was delayed due to a bathroom stop.  Which seemed to take a long time.  Which lead to some inappropriate comments about knowing a good urologist.  It went downhill from there. One plus side to waiting around is that I ran into someone I knew and was able to take her picture in front of the Castle for her.


Without the bathroom goers….


With the whole group.  Now everyone will know who needs a urologist…. 😉

We re-entered the race and headed towards Liberty Square and then Frontierland.


“You’ve Got a Friend in Me!”

As we headed past Splash Mountain and towards the backstage area, I missed an opportunity to lay across the train tracks but we got this picture instead.


We briefly ran past Rapunzel and Flynn Rider (I suppressed an overwhelming urge to wait in a long line for a picture) and headed towards the infamous Cone Alley. For those who are unfamiliar with “cone alley,” this is a special part of the Disney marathon (and many of the half marathons) where you run past the Grand Floridian and Polynesian.  The road is one lane in each direction and the runners are separated from on-coming traffic by a line of orange cones.  The running path is one lane wide (which is to say that it’s super narrow) and there may be traffic on the other side of the cones.  It’s a frustrating spot because it’s difficult to pass people and it’s especially challenging for those doing run/walk intervals.


You can see the crowd of runners to my left.


Donald was playing golf while we ran by.

This was also a bittersweet portion of the course for me because two years ago, when I ran my first full marathon, my family – including my mom – was watching me in the area.  We had stayed at the Grand Floridian and my family cheered right here.


Last year, for the 20th anniversary of the marathon, Disney changed the course to include a portion in the Speedway.  The entrance to the Speedway involves an insanely steep ramp but the rest of the Speedway was fun.



The sun was coming up but it never got uncomfortably warm this year.

After exiting the Speedway, we headed along the stretch of backstage roads to Animal Kingdom.  In previous years this was my least favorite part of the race but this year I had fun people to entertain me.  Makes ALL the difference!


Eddie tried to get a decent Villians picture for me but it wasn’t mean to be.


Posing with Merida.  Who inspired my outfit. One of my running mates had dressed as Merida at the Princess Half Marathon compete with red wig.  He definitely put my outfit to shame!


Here are 3 Disney dogs and the music? Who Let the Dogs Out! (Groan…)

It was along this stretch of road that several funny things happened.

1. This is the stretch of road where you go past the sewage treatment facility.  The scent is quite…aromatic.  So we took a picture with us holding our noses.


2. Since most of my running-mates were part of Team All Ears and I’ve been a member of Team Studios Central, I was asked about my Disney running team.  I was explaining how nice and small the team is and how supportive.  I was also saying that I’m one of the older members of the team and often feel a bit like the Team Mom (or one of the team moms).  I explained that since I’m “only” 42 years old, it’s funny to me that I’m one of the old people on the team.  My dear friend Rich looked at me at said, “You’re only 42? You B****!” Intentionally or not this was said loud enough for many people to overhear. Which led to many funny retorts.  Hilarity ensued.

3. I finally managed to get a picture laying across the train tracks in dramatic fashion.


And we also ran past miles 11 and 12 before entering Animal Kingdom…



Next up? Animal Kingdom and the best roller coaster ride of my life!