The morning of the full started the same way as the morning of the half. We woke up early, got dressed, gathered our stuff, and headed to the shuttle bus to Epcot. While everyone had been excited for the half, you could tell that people were nervous for the full and the bus ride was pretty quiet.
The set-up at Epcot was the exact same as the day before so checking our bags and getting over to the start line felt like a breeze. I did three things differently on Sunday than I did on Saturday- I went to the bathroom twice before the race (I didn’t want to have to go during the race like I did during the half), I jogged a bit to warm-up my legs and to see how they felt, and instead of having a Clif Shot within 30 minutes of the start I had a mini Clif Bar (it didn’t give me the same boost in energy).
My legs were a little sore at the start of the race (mostly my quads) so before the race even started, I knew I was going to run the marathon on the slower side. I lined up in the middle of Corral A and waited for the fireworks signifying the start.
The race followed the same course as the half until around mile 8 when the full ran around a race track. I felt decent until then but all of a sudden my feet began to swell (it was hot and humid) and I felt a huge blister form between two of my toes. It was painful but there was really nothing that I could do about it so I kept running. A few miles later it stopped hurting so I figured that it had popped.
A lot of runners have complained about the course between Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom but I really didn’t mind it. We were running on back roads, there was plenty of entertainment, and it didn’t smell nearly as bad as people have claimed. We entered Animal Kingdom around mile 12 and I got a boost of energy from the spectators and volunteers. At this point I was running miles between 8:10-8:20 and felt strong so I wasn’t stopping for character pictures. I was also really feeling the heat/low energy so I was taking in more fuel (Clif Shots) more frequently than I did during training.
The portion of the course between Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios was incredibly boring. We were running almost exclusively on highways and doing mainly out-and-backs where we would run to the end of one stretch, turn around and run back. It was boring and it was really hot. I was taking in 1-2 cups of water/powerade every water station (there was one almost every 2 miles) and eventually had to use a porta potty. Surprisingly, it didn’t take nearly as long to go as I thought it would!
Even with drinking a lot and pouring water over my head, I wasn’t cooling down and I started to get the chills so around mile 18, I started walking the entirety of water stations. This worked for a while but it wasn’t really cooling me down so after running past the 20th mile marker (and having my picture taken with some characters), I decided to walk most of mile 21, figuring that if I could cool myself down, I would run the rest of the course. By this time, a lot of other Goofy Challengers were walking too so I was in good company and made some friends on the course .
When I got to the mile marker for mile 21, I started to run again and felt a lot better. I still walked through water stations but I was able to run most of the last 25 miles at a decent pace (slightly under 9 min/miles). At some point, I also stepped on something funny and my foot hit the top of my shoe. It hurt but I kept running not knowing what it was.We entered Hollywood Studios around mile 22.5 and the distractions helped a lot and before I knew it, we were running around the countries in Epcot, passing the Gospel choir at mile 26, and then crossing the finish line in 3:51:42!
I found my mom and Ian in the crowd and the first words out of my mouth were “well, that was hard”. I got my bag, my medals (!), some ice, and sat down for a few minutes. My toe was really starting to feel weird (from where my foot had hit the top of my shoe) so Ian walked me over to the first aid tent. I’ll save you from any gory pictures, my I had a huge blood blister under my nail that was causing my toe to throb from the pressure. They bandaged it up for me (I have a big toenail phobia) and later that evening I was able to pop it and relieve the pressure (it still hurts though!).
After my friend finished the race (she PR-ed the marathon!), we went back to the hotel, showered, ate some food, and relaxed until it was time to go to Downtown Disney and celebrate. I was due for a drink so I ordered a mojito while we waited for our dinner reservation.
Post-39.3 mile bliss!
Of course, I wore my Goofy shirt and medal for the rest of the time I was in Florida. I earned those bad boys!
Overall, I had fun at the marathon and enjoyed most of the course. There were definitely some boring parts but I didn’t think it was as bad as a lot of people make it out to be. Again, the race was incredibly well organized and the volunteers were amazing. Even the first aid staff was friendly. I’m not totally satisfied with my marathon time but given that I ran a half the day before and didn’t want to get injured before Boston, I’m content that I finished the Goofy Challenge in one piece (minus the toe + blisters) and with a smile on my face!
Be on the lookout for one more post documenting my thoughts on the Goofy Challenge overall and what I learned from the experience!