Mission Accomplished – 2014 Walt Disney World marathon Recap Part 2

Well, Star Command had given me the go ahead to continue my marathon recap. As you know, marathons are run in 26.2 consecutive miles. So, even though my recap yesterday took a pause at 13.1 miles, the actual marathon continued on. The pace group I ran with cheered when we crossed the half way mark. It was not only the half way mark but marked a chance for us to slow dow a little bit. You see, since we stopped for a restroom break at mile 4, we were trying to make up that time. By the 13.1 mile mark, we had made up that time. So, we could go a little slower and still maintain the finish time of 6 hours.


We journeyed through the back stage area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom and through the parking lot. I really liked the parking lot because there were a lot of spectators out to chEAR us on. The mood was good and our group of runners was growing. This next stretch was the second boring stretch of the marathon course. I had read ahead of time that this stretch would be boring. So, I was glad to have a group of runners to chat with along the way.


So, along the roads we continued. Run 2 minutes, walk 2 minutes and we got the group hand wave to let other runners know we were going to be walking. Each walk break was feeling better and the run intervals seemed to last longer and longer. We did make some alterations on this portion as we came to the various water/power aid stations. When we’d see one, even if we weren’t finished with a 2 minute walk break, we’d try to run for at least a minute before getting to the station.


The mile 15 marker was Ariel, my wife’s favorite Disney character. So, even though the group was running, I stopped to make sure and get a good picture. Then, I ran to catch up. Another thing I remember about this mile marker is that we climbed an overpass to get to it. Running uphill is never pleasant 15 miles along the road. However, we just happened to be on a run interval on the uphill.


We were on run intervals as we passed the mile 16 and 17 markers. So, no pictures. However the 18th mile brought us into the next point of interest on this journey…the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Boy did we get to know the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. There was a lot of winding pathways here. The route was narrow which made it harder to stay with my group. Our fearless leader had no problems alerting others that she was coming through and she led us on. My favorite part of the ESPN Wide of World Complex was running on an actual track! I loved running on this surface!


This would be the last mile marker I would cross with my pace group. We found Nemo, but I was struggling by this point to stay with the group. On the run intervals, I was towards the back of the group. The walk breaks would allow me to catch them again. I could feel my stamina weakening. There would be run intervals where I would have to stop for a few seconds to walk and then continue running again. Several in the group were awesome at keeping me with them. The would say, “Come on Buzz, you can do this!” However, during the 19th mile, they took off on a run interval and I could not go. It was difficult to watch them go off and quickly fade away in the distance. To be honest, I was tired and my mind told me I couldn’t go any more. So, I walked as they ran away.


By the time we got to Champion Stadium, I had quit on the running part. I started doing the math in my head and realized that I probably could have walked the entire rest of the race and still finish in under 7 hours. That would hold the Agents of Zurg (AKA the Balloon Ladies) at bay.


Champion Stadium is a nice enough minor league ball park. However, as you can see, there weren’t many people in the stands to cheer us on. So, it was not nearly as cool as running through Angel Stadium for the Disneyland Half Marathon.


When I saw the Marathon Photo guys, I had to at least look like I was running. This part of the stadium was the only part I ran in.


The shade in the outfield was heavenly. Not that it was a hot day, but the shade felt good. It was when I was in the outfield that I came to peace with loosing my pace group. I was ready to walk the rest of the way.


As we exited Champion Stadium, I felt calm and at peace. I was determined to finish this race and knew that I would. Exiting Champion Stadium meant out time at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex was coming to its conclusion! On the way out, an odd thing happened. I saw Bobby Montgomery run past me and he waved. It was odd because I knew that him and his wife were in an earlier corral than me. How on earth did I end up ahead of them? Maybe it wasn’t Bobby and the guy passing was waving at someone else. However, about a minute or so later, Heather passed by as well and waved. So, I ran with Heather for a little stretch. Then, stopped to let her move along to catch her husband. That time I quit running because I thought there was no way I was going to stay with her. Oh well.


Mile 20 was now finished! On this part of the route, we saw the runners who were on their way to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. I also saw the end of the race. By that point I was more than 3 miles ahead of them! I could also see the point of the race where the final sweeper busses waited. Nothing was going to stop me now!


During the 21st mile, I was also treated to hearing Katy Perry’s Roar blaring over the loudspeakers. These signs were awesome!


Good advice. I was taking in everything at this point. After all, I was pretty much walking.


Reading this one was really emotional for me. After all, I was in the 21st mile of a marathon. The dream that I had been pursuing since March of 2013 was getting closer and closer to being realized.


Thanks Walt for the inspiration to continue on!


21 miles down and 5.2 to go! I was feeling pretty good by this point. I was walking a little faster and even tried a few short runs. When you spend as much time walking as I did from miles 19-21, there is plenty of time to evaluate your possible finish time. I knew I would make it to the finish line before 7 hours. The question was how much more time before that would I be there?


I took this picture as we were about to turn onto the street that would take us to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I took the picture and said…not today Zurg! I am not being swept from the course today!


As we turned to head towards Disney’s Hollywood Studios, we encountered a famous hill…the last hill. When I saw my good friend, I knew this was the hill so many of the race reports of the marathon talked about. The Green Army Guy was happy to see me. He gave me my final bits of encouragement and instruction. We saluted the camera guy and I was off for the last portion of this journey.


 I did run up the rest of this hill. Then, walked at the top. Once I saw the downhill, I knew I had to run the entire way downhill. That’s exactly what I did.


Getting ever so close to Disney’s Hollywood Studios!


With 22 miles now in the books, I knew that I was in for a more fun portion of this course. Disney’s Hollywood Studios awaited.


Disney’s Hollywood Studios! From here on out it was 2 theme parks and a run through the Boardwalk area left. Unfortunately, my phone battery gave me the “time to charge me” signal right after taking this photo. So, I turned off the music and was more conservative with my pictures the rest of the way. When we got to the backstage area of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, they had candy for us! The two pieces of chocolate I took never tasted so good! We also got some Monster’s University gummies which I just didn’t have the energy to deal with. So, I kept mine through the finish line.


Running through Disney’s Hollywood Studios was pure awesomeness! The crowd support was completely unexpected. Every cheer…every “Go Buzz!” Every “To infinity and beyond!” Just jazzed me up. Before I knew it, every cheer got me to run. These weren’t measured run intervals like earlier. However, I was running in mile 23 of the marathon! Back in the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex when I lost my pace group, I never thought I’d be doing that. However, in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, I found some more energy. It was awesome!


Seeing the Marathon Photo guys also perked me up. More photos!


As you can see, I was feeling pretty good as I left Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The crowd energy just continued all the way through the parking lot. The only thing that was concerning to me was that I never saw a mile 23 marker on the course. Anyways, onward we went. The pathway we took to get to the Boardwalk area was simply beautiful. I was so wishing that my camera wasn’t telling me to charge it because there would have been even more photos along this path. In the Boardwalk area, we passed the mile 24 marker! I was thrilled. Of course, this part of the course had more than enough to distract my thoughts from the fact that I had already completed 24 miles and was tired.


Shortly before entering EPCOT, I checked my phone and saw text messages from my wife telling me where she was. I let her know I was entering EPCOT and would arrive at the finish line shortly. She texted back asking how many miles were left. I got that text right after seeing the above sign. So, I sent a text back…25 miles, 1.2 miles to go. It was also at this point of the race that I heard a spectator say, “here come the marathoners!” That was a special moment for me because I was in the group of runners who she was talking about. That was the moment that I realized I was now a marathoner! I knew that I still had like a mile to go. However, I knew I was going to finish. We were in EPCOT. When we leave that theme park, it’s only 0.2 miles to go. Yes, a special moment in time.


When we passed by Belle, I saw the Photo pass person look at me as if to ask if I wanted a picture. Maybe they were letting the marathoners cut in line ahead of those already waiting? I didn’t know.


We continued on around the World Showcase!


Making our way towards Spaceship Earth!


Seeing Spaceship Earth, never gets old. However, seeing it here was thrilling. It meant that we were almost to the finish! Much like Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the crowds in EPCOT were AMAZING! The music that played as we ran was epic. Who needed my phone for music? Not with the music they had playing in EPCOT. It was amazing and made me feel like I was running in a movie! You know, kind of like the music that played at the end of Spirit of the Marathon. Epic!


As I ran past Spaceship Earth, I knew what was coming next…


The Gospel choir…


And the Mile 26 marker! Mickey Mouse never looked so good! I asked a guy to get a picture of me with this marker. However, that picture was horrible. It cut out not only the 26, but most of me as well. Oh well, I had a race to finish. Bouyed by the sounds of the choir and the emotions of knowing my journey was almost at its conclusion, there was only one thing left to think about…Where was my wife?


First, I saw one of my favorite professors from college. She was there to run in the 10K and Half Marathon and to support her brother who was running the marathon. We had tried to arrange for her to meet my wife beforehand so my wife would have someone to hang out with while waiting for me. Well, that didn’t quite work out. However, she knew where my wife was and pointed me down the course a little.


If you can’t tell, I’m still looking for her among the many faces in the crowd. She spotted me though. After taking this picture, she yelled my name and I finally saw her! One of the sweetest moments of the day was seeing my wife close to the finish line. I was kind of hoping that I could go over and give her a hug or something. However, there were two barricades to keep the crown off the course.


I did stop briefly to make sure she was able to get a picture. I didn’t know she’d already snapped a couple.


From there, I could see the finish line!


From here, I could see the Disney characters that were out to greet us. Mickey Mouse had a line waiting for pictures with him. However, Minnie Mouse had no such line.


So, much like I did at the end of the Disneyland Half Marathon, I made my way over for a high-five. This time with Minnie Mouse.


Finishing! My finishing time was 6 hours, 21 minutes, 45 seconds. Since it was my first full marathon, a new PR for me!


Once I crossed the line, I made sure to take in the moment. I wanted to remember that incredible feeling of knowing I just joined the 1 percent in something. Many people would never dream of attempting a marathon. Around 1 percent will actually run and finish one. I was now in that group! The feeling is indescribable. I thought I would be in tears. However, I was just so full of joy and happiness! I went next to get my finisher medal. That beautiful medal that I first saw at the Disneyland Half Marathon Expo back in August. It was now and forever mine! Then, after getting the medal, you got some water and power aid and a mylar blanket. After you get all of those things and your hands are full, it’s time for the official finishers photo. I did manage to put down all the stuff before the photo was taken. After the photo, you go off and get a box of various snacks and a banana. All I really wanted to do was get to the place where I had arranged to meet my wife.


While I waited for her, I got the money shot. Marathon Finisher!


After several texts, Brooke and I finally found each other! It was so good to see her! She told me where my former professor was hanging out and we made our way over there.


It was the first time I’ve seen her in around 12 years! It was great to be able to catch up on life. We’ve been able to keep in touch via Facebook (which is how I knew she was going to be there). What’s cooler is that she’s planning on coming out for the Dumbo Double Dare this August!


It was a fun reunion! When Jessica’s brother arrived (after finishing the marathon), they had family things to do and I wanted to get to a place to eat lunch because this Space Ranger was hungry. So, Brooke and I headed back to the All Star Sports Resort (where we stayed) for a shower and lunch.


Before the shower, we had to take a photo with our new bling.


After lunch, we soaked our legs in the pool. I know it’s not quite the same thing as an ice bath, but it felt very good.


Yep…relaxing at the pool. Life was feeling really good!


There was time for a quick nap at the room before we headed off for dinner. So, I made sure to put on my new Pro-Compression Socks. Let me just say that these things are pure magic! My calves were a little sore from the marathon before putting them on. I wasn’t walking completely right. However, after the nap in them, I was good as new. So, I wore them to dinner.


We took the bus to the Magic Kingdom and then waited for this boat to take us to the Wilderness Creek Lodge for the celebratory dinner.


We got to the boat at sunset. The views were amazing!


Cinderella’s Castle in the distance as we sailed away!


Yep. We were two happy campers…I mean Space Rangers…as we sailed toward dinner.


Okay, one point to gripe about here. We arrived 5 minutes early for our reservation and still had to wait nearly 30 minutes to be seated. I wasn’t too happy about that. I mean, what’s the point of a dinner reservation if you’re going to have to wait that long? Anyways, we were able to stay positive and enjoy being in the beautiful lobby of the Wilderness Creek Lodge. This reminded me of the Grand Californian lobby.


I don’t know why I even looked at the menu. I knew exactly what I was going to order…


All you can eat and oh so good!


We both loved the Whispering Canyon Cafe! It’s a very fun place to dine and the food was so amazing! The wait staff is super fun. We didn’t feel the need for ketchup. However, when you ask for some, you get more than you can handle. The wait staff will make a big announcement and you will find yourself getting more bottles of ketchup at your table than it can handle. It looked like they passed around the bottles from table to table and had the kids bring the ketchup from one table to the next. The kids seemed to have a lot of fun doing that. I missed out on a fun thing while in the restroom. Apparently, they called out the men that were dining there to all stand up (and they waited until every man stood up) and sing “I’m a Little Tea Pot.” When the first time through the song was just plain and ordinary, the wait staff made sure they sang it again “like men.” I got back at the table as everyone was clapping for the guys. Brooke was laughing.  It was oh so much fun!


As we arrived back at the Magic Kingdom for our bus to the All Star Sports Resort, they had the light parade going on! It was freezing cold out on the water for our boat ride to the Magic Kingdom. However, the boat ride was just a great way to end a magical day! I went to Walt Disney World to run my first full marathon.


Mission Accomplished! I know Buzz Lightyear was pleased.

19 thoughts on “Mission Accomplished – 2014 Walt Disney World marathon Recap Part 2

    1. Thank you Kim! Although, what I did at WDW is small potatoes compared with your finishing the Dopey Challenge and then coming out to California and running the Neverland 5K, Tink 10K and Tink Half. That was quite an accomplishment! I wish I had seen you at WDW as well. I think I saw your husband as I was leaving for the busses back to the hotel after the marathon. If I wasn’t so hungry, I might have followed. Following your running journey for this past year or so is part of what got me to sign up for the WDW Marathon to begin with. So, THANK YOU! I’m determined to sign up for the Dumbo Double Dare this year. This is my Coast to Coast year!

  1. Congratulations on your accomplishment. I just ran my first marathon at DisneyWorld also. I tried to keep an eye out for you to say hello, but after mile 15 or so all I could focus on was getting through the miles – one at a time.

    I want to thank you for the motivation that your site gave me. I only discovered it a week or so after Thanksgiving, but it really inspired me to reach my goal. Your overall positive outlook on life and your youthful affinity for all things Disney really jumped out of all of your posts – it was very refreshing. Keep up the great work!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. To know that the words I’ve put out here have inspired anyone to cross the finish line of any race is incredibly humbling. For the past year or so, I’ve been inspired by the words of so many other running bloggers and learned so much from them. To be counted among a group of people who has inspired anyone to start a race is a huge honor. So, thank you again for those kind words.

      Also, congrats to you in finishing your WDW Marathon! There were so many people running that race that it would have been easy to pass right by me and not recognize me. So no worries there. I hope you keep on running. That’s what I’m going to do.

  2. Hey sorry I’m a bit late to the party but I sure wasn’t gonna miss it! Awesome recap Greg and again congratulations. What an awesome accomplishment and how fun. Now I want to eat at the Whispering Canyon Cafe too…

    1. No worries Frank! Congrats to you again as well on finishing your first full marathon! The Whispering Canyon Cafe was so much fun! You should absolutely consider dining there on your next visit to Walt Disney World.

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