In less than six weeks, it will be time for the Walt Disney World Marathon race weekend. For many, this will be the start of their 2016 race calendar whether they are running the 5k, 10k, half or full marathon or all of them. This year, I am going solo to run the Mickey Marathon on Sunday, January 10th. This will be my third time to run this marathon, and my first time to run it without races on the prior days. It's hard to believe now that my first marathon was part of the Goofy Challenge back in 2013. Alot has happened in my running world since then and this will be an opportunity to enjoy marathon weekend without back to back races. This equals more sleep which is a win!
Here is what to expect if this is your first marathon at Walt Disney World:
* Early wake up call: Because this race starts at 5:30 am, you will be arriving at the staging area between 4:00 and 4:30 am. Be sure to get plenty of rest on Friday night because the wake up time for Sunday morning can be rough!
* Crowded course: Disney races have alot of runners. The corral system works well, but there are narrow sections of the course that make it difficult if you have a pack of people running/walking together. Be patient and have a plan if you are running with someone else.
* Costumed runners: One of the fun things about Disney races are seeing many runners in elaborate Disney themed outfits. We have worn some costumes during our races in FL and CA, but they include running tops and bottoms so we can still move comfortably. If you do plan to run in costume, make sure you do not wear a mask as those are not allowed according to the runDisney website.
* Magical moments along the way: Running through 4 amusement parks during a marathon make the miles go by quicker than a regular marathon course. Depending on your timing, some runners even try to ride Expedition Everest, a roller coaster ride in Animal Kingdom on the way. My favorite part of the course is running up Main Street in the Magic Kingdom which is lined with cheering spectators.
* Finish line with Mickey: Each of my marathons has included a finish line with Mickey, but it is quite possible that other characters are at the finish line as well. If you are not running for time, this is a great opportunity to get a photo since Marathon Foto has camera crew ready to take a special photo.
Training for this marathon has been different than my prior marathons for a couple reasons. First of all, I did not know I would be running both NYC Marathon in November and then the London Marathon in April 2016. Normally I would have deferred one of the races, but I talked with my coach and we figured my training for Mickey would be abbreviated after just completing the NYC Marathon November 1st. After a total break from running for nearly two weeks, I started back on November 14th with a one hour run. Since then, I have added 3-4 runs per week and feel that I am back to my normal speed for long run training. Yesterday was fifteen miles in perfect temperatures with sunshine and it was quite enjoyable. My prior week long run was cut short due to knee pain so I was anxious for this to be a good one. Coach was not happy I had gone to Zumba class which seemed to be the culprit for my sore knee.
With less than 6 weeks, there will not be many long runs, but after a reasonably good training cycle for NYC, I feel confident that by the time January 10th arrives, I will be ready for the marathon. Now it's time to hope for cool weather with no rain or snow, especially no snow!
Are you running the Mickey Marathon? Is it your first?