As I begin the second half of the marathon or as I was counting it the final 1/3 of my journey I started to encounter these blob like creatures that were starting to overtake the course. These blobs were groups of runners who were taking very long walk breaks or were just resigned to doing a very fast walk. Whatever they were doing is fine by me I would never judge anyone whose out there moving but there is an etiquette during a race to keep it down to two abreast.
I continued stopping for pictures with the characters but the lines have really begun to stretch out from 30 seconds to a few minutes so I decided that after the Pirates of the Caribbean picture I wouldn't stop again. The stretch between the magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom is in my opinion the dullest stretch of the race which only makes entering into Animal Kingdom that much more enjoyable.
As I was entering AK a female runner came up to me and asked what my shirt was about. The shirts logo is Run For Our Sons. The fundraising arm for PPMD which raises money for research to find a cure to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. So I explained the charity and we began talking about running. It turns out she is originally from South Africa but currently lives in San Francisco. This was her first Goofy as well and she is a fellow long distance trail runner. We ate up a couple of miles running and talking and then she stopped to take some pictures so we said goodbye and I continued on.
Here is where it got pretty interesting. Last year as I was leaving the Animal Kingdom I was stating to feel worn out. My energy stores were just about done and I was fatiguing. You exit the Animal Kingdom through a side gate and are led around the perimeter to where you actually go past the main entrance and then back out onto the highway.
Mile 18, this is where I fell to pieces last year. I had nothing left, I had 8 miles to go and I could barely put one foot in front of the other. This year though was completely different. I headed down the highway a bit apprehensive expecting to crash again but it never happened. I felt fine, in fact I felt just as good at mile 18 as I did at mile 1. I knew that as we ran there would be an annoying section coming up. Before we could enter Hollywood Studios we had to head down another stretch of highway for a half a mile loop around and then head right back up it. I hate these sections in any race. I especially hate this one because of how terrible I felt last year. I did pull over this year only because my right foot, the one I strained in December felt like I had tied the laces in my shoe way to tight when in reality the laces were nice and loose. So I adjusted the shoe and moved on.
Mile 20, into Hollywood Studios and to get there we have to run up the last "hill" the final on ramp of this adventure. Here is where I knew that I had become a changed runner. Instead of glomming onto one of the many walking packs I began jogging at a nice clip around them like I was moving around a bunch of roadblocks. Up the hill without a second thought and into Hollywood Studios. Right before you enter the park you pass yet another food/water station. This one had a gummy bear like thing that was gross and little chocolate bars that I personally couldn't eat. The combination of running and a mini chocolate bar didn't sit well with me.
Were in the park proper now and when I hit the park last year I was in agony. I couldn't function correctly, i was highly agitated and if any spectator cheered my name I snarled in disgust. This year I was practically begging people to cheer me. I kept running right next to the roped off audience high fiving the crowd. The nice part about leaving Hollywood Studios besides only having 4 miles left is that you head to the boardwalk. The highway system is done. The boardwalk leading to the Yacht Club is terrific. You run along a body of water which is a nice treat and through the Yacht Club area which I would love to stay in and asyou are doing this you can see that Epcot is literally right in front of you. This means mile 25 is right around the corner.
Mile 25, Epcot, the end is nigh. You enter Epcot and if you went straight you would be a 1/4 mile to the finish line but we make a hard right and begin to loop through the nations of Epcot. Passing the 25 mile marker is one of the greatest feelings you can have. Running that last mile was such a great feeling but man it felt like 3 miles.. I wanted this race over so even though I started to feel tired around mile 22 I turned it up and decided to zig zag past all of the walking pods. Even last year in absolute exhaustion I mustered up enough energy to run the last mile. Looking at that giant orb in the front of Epcot and knowing that as it gets closer I get closer to being done. Here comes the ball, there it goes, we make a right turn away from the orb and into the waiting arms of the local choir. 26 miles down, 2 tenths to go!!! Once you pass the choir you get make a final turn and you run straight into the grandstands where thousands of people are waiting to cheer you on. It's such a great feeling, one that everyone should experience if possible.
Here comes the finish line a final high five to Mickey and Minnie and i'm done. Race over, 39.66 by my watch. As soon as I was done I walked over to get my Mickey medal walk a little further and there it is My Goofy Medal, sure there were thousands of Goofy medals but one of them was mine. It was made specifically for me. I took a few pictures, grabbed some complimentary food and found my family. I greeted them with a huge smile and immediately started talking about how much fun that was. The furthest thing from last year when I ran over the finish line and right into the medical tent. Then I hobbled to my family and felt like I had been dragged through the 26.2.
Yet again this weekend exceeded expectations. The race was filled with water, food, and aid stations. It started on time and ran really smoothly. Bravo Run Disney. I will see you again.