Back when I started training for NYCM, I thought I’d take a few weeks off afterwards and then jump right back into training for Dopey and Glass Sipper Challenges. See, it had always been my goal to just finish Dopey. As for Glass Slipper, I wanted to PR in the Enchanted 10k and do the Princess half for fun. So, I thought I’d continue to do weekly long runs for Dopey, and weekly speedwork sessions with the 10k in mind.
But then NYCM was a disaster and I ran an extra marathon, and ended up getting way more burnt out than anticipated. It was a struggle to regroup and focus on Dopey. I eventually did and got my long runs in, and thankfully Dopey went well. However, I kind of forget about speedwork.
Until this past Saturday. The first time in forever that I averaged sub-8:00 pace.
I say kind of because a lot of my runs in December were on the treadmill. When I run on the treadmill, I’m always adjusting the belt speed to make the workout fun. So there was some informal pace pick-ups, but I literally hadn’t done a true speed workout (meaning tempo runs or 800m repeats, my speed workouts of choice) since October.
We’re 4 weeks out from the Glass Slipper Challenge and I finally feel ready to add speedwork back to my training. Originally, I wanted to aim for a sub-45:00 time for the 10k. Well, that is not happening! I feel recovered from Dopey but even if I train as hard as possible from now until the 10k, I won’t meet that goal. There’s just not enough time.
My 10k PR is 46:25, from a race in May 2010. I think I can beat that now, and I’d ideally like to go sub-46. So, that’s the goal. 45:xx (7:24/mile or faster) for the 10k. I’m not sure if that’s too lofty* or not, but you never know until you try, right?
May 2010 feels like 100 years ago!
To get there I’m going to do weekly speedwork sessions and I’m going to do my long runs at a faster than marathon training clip, too. I’ll shoot for 8:30ish pace, but I won’t be too strict about it. Here’s the plan:
|4mi easy||5x 800m w/ warm-up + 400m recoveries||Spin + TRX||4mi stroller||OFF||11mi||OFF|
|5mi easy||6mi w/ tempo at 7:30||Spin + TRX||4mi stroller||OFF||12mi||OFF|
|5mi easy||6x800m w/ warm-up + 400m recoveries||Spin + TRX||4mi stroller||OFF||10mi||OFF|
|Spin + TRX||4m w/2 tempo at 7:30||4mi easy||OFF||OFF||Enchanted 10k||Princess half|
I have weekly stroller runs slated, but they’ll only happen if the weather stays decent. If it doesn’t, I’ll replace that workout with 4 fastish miles and move it to Friday.
Here’s how this past week looked:
|Spin +TRX||4mi stroller at 8:52 pace||OFF||4mi stroller at 9:13 pace||OFF||5mi w/ 3 tempo at 7:35 pace||10mi at 8:14 pace|
The other thing I really need to work on? My Princess half costume! I’m not dressing up for the 10k, but I’m doing something fun with Heather for the half!
*If anyone else started singing “Scoop, Muck, and Dizzy, Roley, too…” when I wrote “Lofty”, you are my new favorite person.
We had a lazy day on the Saturday before the marathon – well as lazy as you can be after running a half marathon! We lounged around the hotel, went to Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney for a super early dinner (4:00 p.m.), and we were in bed by 6:30 p.m. #partyanimals I did a much better job of fueling that day, and ate something carb-heavy every hour.
Breakfast was being served at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek for runners starting at 2:30 a.m., with the first bus departing the resort at 3:00 a.m. This meant we had to wake up at 1:45 a.m. so I’d have enough time to pump, get dressed, and walk to the other hotel (we were staying at Waldorf Astoria next door). This seemed crazy early, but after being late to the half marathon the day before, we didn’t want to chance anything. Plus, after three mornings of very early races, we had no problem falling asleep!
I woke up on race morning feeling well-rested, but there were butterflies in my stomach. I was excited that we were only one race away from our Dopey medals, but that race was a marathon!
Traditionally, marathons and I haven’t mixed well. Before this race, I had started five marathons, finished four, and have been happy about my performance in one. But I had a really good round of marathon training this past year. The other marathons I ran were in 2009 and 2010, and training never went well back then. Still, I’ve run two marathons during this round of training and one went horribly wrong and one went amazingly well. Which was the fluke? I wanted to believe NYCM was, but given my history with marathons, I didn’t know.
Now, of course I didn’t expect to PR or run anything close to my PR, considering it was part of Dopey. Jeff thought we could run a 4:15, and I told him he was insane. I said we’d likely be more in the 4:45-5:00 range. But I made it my secret goal to come in sub-4:30. As usual, I chose this goal for no rhyme or reason – it just sounded like a strong time (for us) for Dopey.
Our approach for the marathon was run “hard” for 10 miles (aiming for 8:30 pace), run easier for 10 miles walking through the entire length of each fluid station, and just try to hold it together for the last 6.2 but keep a consistent run/ walk ratio. We both excel in blowing up during marathons, so this strategy made the most sense – there’s no way we could keep a consistent pace over 26.2 miles.
Around 2:25 a.m. we left the room and headed to breakfast. The spread was great. I ate two mini bagels, coffee, and a banana. I also stashed a muffin and a granola bar in my bag to eat closer to the race. I refused to start the marathon under-fueled. Still, pre-race nerves were trying to get the best of me so it was challenging to choke down breakfast.
Before getting on the bus, we met up with Victoria! And I’m so glad that we did! We had so much fun chatting that it really helped calm my nerves.
One other issue I was anxious about was pumping before and after the race. The races the other days were short enough that I could pump before leaving the room and wait to pump again until we got back. But for comfort, I wanted to pump as close to the marathon start time as possible, and immediately afterwards. runDisney originally told me that they wouldn’t have a location for nursing moms to pump, so I planned on pumping under a cover near bag check. But then we saw this at the race site!
Apparently this baby tent had been there all week and I just didn’t spot it. Oops! Inside was awesome. There were rocking chairs, outlets, a changing table, etc. When we arrived, there was no one in the tent, so the three of us just sat there chatting until closer to the start time.
I pumped around 4:15, we went to check our bags, and get in line for the porta-potties. It was much warmer today than it had been all week (THANK GOD). The temperature was around 50 degrees with light winds. I had my NYCM finisher blanket that I planned on shedding. Standing in line for the bathrooms, though, I felt cold. I could not understand why! I had a few moments of “I hate my body for always being cold/ I hate winter/ I hate marathons” while we were standing there, but luckily my mood lifted as we made the trek to the corrals.
I was getting more excited the closer we got to the corral area. We said good-bye to Victoria and headed to Corral C. We sat on the pavement in our corral and I ate a muffin. Before we knew it, the race was about to begin!
As soon as we started, I hated myself for not testing my Minnie ears on a run. They kept falling in my face. I must have readjusted them ten times in the first mile alone. I finally got them to stay put, but they weren’t very comfortable.
As we made the right turn onto World Drive, I couldn’t believe how good I felt. I felt much stronger today than I did the day before when we were at this point (the first 8 miles of the half and full marathon courses are the same). Then I took off my NYCM blanket, and I felt comfortable without it. It was a wonderful feeling after freezing the 3 days before. I wasn’t cold, I wasn’t hot – I was just right.
Before I threw it to the side, my husband asked me if I was sure I wanted to get rid of it. Oh, I was positive. We were only at mile 2 of the marathon, but I knew today was going to be a good day. I was feeling strong and confident. When I tossed my NYCM blanket, I threw away all of my negative feelings about marathons with it. I wanted to own this race.
Still, I knew there would be no speed records set today. Despite feeling strong, I got nervous when I saw consecutive 8:17s flash across my Garmin in the first 4 miles. I didn’t want to go too crazy in the beginning.
We entered the Magic Kingdom and it was even more magical than the day before. There were more spectators lining Main Street, likely because the weather was warmer. Jeff wanted to stop at the bathroom in Tomorrowland, so I took the opportunity to adjust my ears. When we stopped, I felt that I was getting a blister between my big toe and second toe on the right foot. I had no idea why, but I wasn’t happy about it.
Then we ran through the castle, which was wonderful as always!
At the fluid station near the exit of MK, I started drinking entire cups of Powerade. Usually I just take a sip and toss it, but I was nervous about the heat and humidity so I made sure to take extra fluids. Oh – I also wanted to note that I have no idea when I took my gels! I know I took one more than usual, 4 total, but cannot remember when on the course I took them.
After we left MK, I was looking forward to running on the speedway. Jeff had run it during the 2013 marathon, but I never had. The narrow entryway and steep hill climbing into the speedway was a little odd, but I didn’t mind it. I wasn’t a huge fan of running around the race track, though. I don’t think I expected it to be so vast. I was eager to get back out on the roads.
The area between the speedway and Animal Kingdom is known as being one of the most boring parts of the course, but I enjoyed it. The miles were ticking away, our pace was awesome, and we felt great – no doubt thanks to the flat course. I think one of the factors that makes Dopey so doable is the lack of elevation change on the Disney courses. It’s so much easier on the body, in my opinion, to run 4 consecutive races on a super flat course. I don’t think I’d be able to finish Dopey if it was held in Charlotte.
We also ended up in a fun pack of runners at this point. There were fellow Dopeys – and we all started cheering once we reached double digits. Being near runners who are happy and supportive really makes a race more fun, and it’s one of the main reasons I love runDisney races!
Once we reached Animal Kingdom, we made another bathroom stop. This time when we stopped I noticed that my hamstrings were a little tight, so we took an extra few minutes to stretch. I also took off my arm warmers, but didn’t want to toss them so I turned them into a tail.
Only then did we realize that we were already at mile 13 in the race and we remembered our race plan – to walk more of the fluid stops once we got to double digits. But we both felt strong, so we decided to play it by ear.
My blister started bothering me a lot more by this point, and I didn’t know what to do. Jeff asked if I wanted to stop at a medical tent, but I didn’t know how they’d help a blister. I told him other parts of my body will probably start hurting soon so hopefully that would direct some of the pain away from the blister.
When we left Animal Kingdom, we ran into my friend Divya! I’m so bummed we didn’t get a picture together, but we kept a pretty even pace for the next mile.
Then right after mile 14, my blister popped. Oh my goodness – I have never had a blister pop when I was running and it hurt! I thought our race was going to fall apart here because the pain was so much. But with each step, the pain faded away a little bit. Thank goodness.
The stretch from AK to Wide World of Sports is another part of the course that is notorious for being boring, but I didn’t mind it. I liked seeing the characters, performers, and eventually the fast runners on the road who were heading towards Hollywood Studios. These miles are usually the most challenging for me in a marathon mentally, but I felt great, and so did Jeff. This is also where the sun seems to get to people in the race, but we had clouds all morning. Seriously, we couldn’t have had better marathon weather. We were extremely lucky.
When we turned right onto Victory Way towards WWS we heard the announcer say “some of you are coming up on mile 17, some of you are approaching mile 20.” At that moment I decided that I was going to run the Disney marathon all out one day. For some reason, I thought to myself when he said that “I’m going to be past mile 20 at this clock time the next time I run this race”. I cannot believe I was on such a runner’s high at mile 17 of a marathon – so unlike me.
Then we ran through WWS. I LOVED this part of the course. It probably ties the Boardwalk/Beach Club area as my second favorite spot on the course (MK is first, obviously). I think WWS is gorgeous with all the green fields, so I always enjoy going there. Plus, we ran on the track! Oh, the track’s surface was such a treat for our tired legs!
I could have done without running around the baseball stadium, but only because the entryway/ exit was so narrow. Otherwise, it was fun – and I loved that there were so many spectators out!
Suddenly, we were at mile 20 – the announcer was saying the same thing and we were already on the other side. This was by far the quickest 3 miles of the course! I was still feeling great and Jeff said he was, too. I couldn’t believe we were only 6.2 miles away from completing Dopey. I was on the biggest high, and thought that just maybe marathons were becoming my “thing” after all.
By this point in the race, our pace had dropped a bit because we were walking more of the fluid stations. But our miles were pretty consistent, right at a 9:00 minute/ mile pace. I did some quick math and realized not only would we crush my 4:30 goal, but barring major catastrophe, we’d probably come in under Jeff’s 4:15 goal. Which was crazy to me. I never would have predicted that we’d feel so strong during the marathon.
Mile 21 came quickly, and then we headed up the long ramp towards Hollywood Studios. Jeff and I ran our first marathon back in 2009 here. This exact spot was where it all fell apart. Not that we ever had it together, but Jeff was injured, so he spent time at the medical tent at the top of the ramp. It felt weird to be back at this point in the race doing so well.
But that feeling didn’t last long. Right when we hit mile 22, I started feeling sick to my stomach. All the gels and Powerade were sloshing around and I felt like I was going to get sick. We entered Hollywood Studios and the chocolate aid station was next. I grabbed a Hershey’s miniature and it did not help the situation. Jeff took a piece, too, and asked me if I wanted it and I said no. That may seriously be the only time in my life I turned down chocolate.
Our pace really slowed through HS because I did not feel well. We made a stop in the bathrooms toward the entrance so I could regroup. I took a few deep breaths, drank some water out of the fountain, and told myself to get my act together.
It was only then that I realized how close we’d be to finishing around 4 hours. I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t done better math earlier. I truly believe we had a sub-4 in us that day. But now it was too late. I wasn’t feeling well and it was taking everything I had to keep our pace under 10:00 minute/miles.
We left HS and headed to the walkway leading to the Boardwalk area. I kept looking for the mile 24 marker, but I couldn’t see it. I swear that was the longest mile of the race. Then I saw a lady with a huge tub of animal crackers with a sign “take one”. I have never taken food from a spectator before but an animal cracker sounded like the best thing ever. I asked the lady if I could have one and she said “of course, good luck”. I am so, so thankful for her! As soon as I ate the cracker, my stomach settled and I got a surge of energy.
I was so grateful because now I felt better. Exhausted, but happy. I enjoyed every step running by the Yacht and Beach Clubs and through World Showcase. When we made the turn into Future World, I started to get choked up.
We did it – 48.6 miles in 4 days! And we were finishing with a bang. I feel like I first saw myself as a marathoner that day. I first completed the distance here 6 years ago, but now I felt like I truly deserved the title. A “for fun” marathon was not only fun, but I felt strong and crushed my goal. It was a great feeling.
I told Jeff before the race that no matter the time on the clock, I wanted to stop right before the finish line and get a picture with Mickey. Unfortunately, Mickey wasn’t out but Pluto was!
Jeff snapped my picture and then we crossed the finish line, hand in hand like all the other races of the week.
We did it! We finished in 4:04:35 - a 9:19 pace.
I’d heard from people who ran Dopey the year before that the marathon was the best part. I thought they were crazy or lying, but it’s true. It’s so nice knowing that you don’t have to hold back and you’ll be truly done at the end of the race.
I’ve run over 80 races, but the 2015 runDisney Walt Disney World Marathon definitely earned a spot in the top 5. I had an absolute blast and can’t wait to do it again someday. As for Dopey? I’ll have more thoughts on that soon. But it was a lot of fun ending the challenge on such a high note!
A few months ago, I was invited to stay at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek/ Waldorf Astoria Orlando as part of Marathon Weekends. The resorts, located within the gates of Walt Disney World, offer perks and special pricing for runners participating in runDisney events (specifically Marathon weekend, Princess weekend, and Wine and Dine weekend).
Now, I’m not going to lie – I’ve never stayed off-site at Disney and the thought of doing so for a race made me nervous. Would we get to the race site in time? Would the accommodations measure up to Disney standards? Would it be a hassle getting other places on Disney property? Still, Marathon Weekends seemed great so we decided to try it out.
And I’m so glad that we did! From the minute we walked into the resort, we were blown away by the hospitality, cleanliness, and grandeur. Just check out the pool area.
Our room was amazing, too. We had a suite, with a separate living room area and bedroom which is the perfect set up for families with young kids.
The bed was incredibly comfortable, too.
We were also given this awesome runner’s welcome basket upon check-in, which was such a thoughtful surprise!
Other perks runners receive when they book a Marathon Weekends rate include:
- Complimentary bus transportation to and from the race site.
- Complimentary snacks and beverages before the race. Our delicious breakfast (at 2:30 a.m.) included bagels with spreads, muffins, oatmeal, fruit, granola and power bars, coffee, tea, and bottled water.
- A send off from marathon cheerleaders at 2:30 a.m.
- Carbo-loading dinner options at two of the restaurants at the resort.
- Personalized assistance from the Runner’s Concierge.
- 10% off food and beverage during your stay.
- A reduced room rate. Yup, all of this is available for a lower price than a room at rack rate. I was shocked, too!
The food at the resort was also amazing – we loved the breakfast buffet at Oscar’s!
As if that wasn’t enough, Hilton Bonnet Creek also adds extra fun into marathon weekend. Guests could estimate their finish times for the half and full marathons (you could enter twice if you ran Goofy or Dopey), and the guest who came in closest to their estimated finish time won a free weekend stay for a future date.
And that’s not all. Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek and Waldorf Astoria Orlando each have a mascot. Bonnie and Waldy, respectively. Two Hilton employees dress up as Bonnie and Waldy and run the half marathon. If runners staying at the resort find the mascots along the course, they’ll be given a prize. The first runners to spot each of them at the castle were given a special “golden ticket”. Bonnie and Waldy shared their whereabouts on social media during the race so runners could find them more easily. Everyone who participated in the hunt for Bonnie and Waldy was invited to a runner’s luncheon after the race, and if you wore your finisher’s medal, you received a free drink voucher.
I mean how awesome is that? You can tell that Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek/ Waldorf Astoria Orlando truly love their runners. They offer everything a runner needs, plus some special extras.
As for my personal review, I think what my husband said during our stay sums it up: “We’re never staying anywhere else for a race weekend again.”
All of my original concerns over staying in a non-Disney resort were unfounded. We arrived at the race site in plenty of time (even after eating our delicious breakfast), the accommodations were equal to or better than places on Disney property (and more affordable), and we took advantage of the complimentary and hassle-free transportation to get to places around Disney.
I cannot recommend Marathon Weekends at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek/ Waldorf Astoria Orlando enough. We will definitely be back!
To make a reservation, visit www.hiltonbonnetcreek.com/marathon
Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek/ Waldorf Astoria Orlando provided me with two nights of complementary accommodations. I was not required to write this review. All opinions are my own – the resort really is that fantastic.