Today, I am working a half-day at work and then it’s off to Orlando for marathon weekend!
Not mine, though. HA! My mom is running her second marathon on Sunday. I hope to find a way to blog throughout the weekend and most definitely will be tweeting up a storm on marathon day!
Last year, I spectated at the Walt Disney World Marathon and it was a blast. I made a lot of mistakes as a first-time marathon spectator but spectating at this marathon is not like spectating at other marathons, nor is it for the faint of heart.
I’ve compiled a list of mistakes I made last year and what I’ll be doing differently this time around. Last year was miserable for me. I want a different experience this year.
MISTAKE #1 - Not getting enough sleep the night before
The first bus that takes runners to the race site leaves at 3:00am. There are other buses that leave later but I read some horror stories from people who waited for the later buses. Getting to the race site is utter chaos and my mom has enough anxiety about making sure she has enough time to get settled once she gets to the race site that we try to make the first one. So it’s an EARLY wake-up call on race day. Last year, we slept in on Saturday and then didn’t get to bed until pretty late. Well, my mom and my brother did. When I was still awake after midnight, I decided it would be harder on my body to get just two hours of sleep than to just stay up so I stayed up. THIS WAS NOT A GOOD IDEA. I was cranky and overly emotional due to my lack of sleep. Also? Really, really really tired.
THIS YEAR, I am going to institute an early wake-up call for both my mom and me on Saturday morning and then? I’m hitting the sack at 7:00pm! I do not do all-nighters. I want to be as well-rested as possible to make it through the following day. (I also didn’t end up sleeping well the following night due to my mom having terrible blood blisters at the bottom of her feet and me freaking out she would have to have her feet cut off and I would have to take care of my crippled mother. Yes. I had nightmares. I never said I was normal.)
MISTAKE #2 - Not buying a ticket to a park or the spectator package
Spectating at a RunDisney event is a vastly different experience than spectating anywhere else. For one, you have to depend on trams and trolleys to get you to specified destinations throughout the course. And for another, unless you buy a special spectating package or a ticket to one of the theme parks, your options for food and drink are severely limited. As in non-existent. The spectating package was expensive but did allow for more access to places around the course and a place to sit down and EAT. If we had a ticket to a park (like Epcot, which was where the runners run through around Mile 9), we could go in there for food and drink and a place to somewhat relax. (After Mile 13, there’s nowhere else to see the runners until the finish. DISLIKE!) We could also hop back ON the bus that would take us back to our hotel where we could either find something to eat there or go out somewhere. But I was nervous about how long it would take us to get there, eat, and come back in time to see my mom finish so we ended up staying at the race site which, in hindsight, was a TERRIBLE idea. But I don’t think I was operating on all cylinders last year...
THIS YEAR... we are all buying park tickets! My brother and sister-in-law are buying annual passes and my mom and I are taking advantage of an awesome “3 days, $99” deal. We can spend 3 days at any Disney park, one of which will be Sunday. (I’m buying the Park Hopper so we won’t be limited in what park we can stop in while we wait during the marathon.) And then we have two more days until May we can come back! I like this idea a whole lot!
MISTAKE #3 - Not having any food or drink to fuel me for the upcoming 9 hours
Oh, this was the biggest mistake of all. Somehow, I didn’t pack anything in my bag so far as nourishment was concerned. I think because I expected my brother and I to head back to the hotel after we saw Mom at Mile 13, I didn’t even think to bring a snack or anything while we waited. And need I remind you we got to the race site a little after 3:00am and didn’t leave until close to 1:00pm? I was a Grumpy Gus, that’s for sure! I do not function well when I’m hungry. The worst part of this marathon is that it’s very hard to find somewhere to eat. (Plus, I was nervous about not seeing my mom finishing so was at the finish line area way earlier than we needed to be.) I’m actually very surprised my brother was still speaking to me after everything I put him through that day. Hehe.
THIS YEAR... I am definitely filling up a backpack with food and drinks to get my brother and I through the first part of this journey. (I’m not sure when my sister-in-law and nephew will be joining us but I imagine not until later in the day.) Then, hopefully, after seeing my mom pass Mile 13, we can stop into a park and get something to eat and relax for a little until we head on over to the finish line to see her finish. Obviously, I am very concerned about eating this time around.
MISTAKE #4 - Not dressing warm enough
It was in the low thirties that day, which is pretty freaking cold for this Florida girl. I wore a pair of jeans, running shoes, a long-sleeved shirt, and a lightweight hoodie. It was not anywhere near warm enough for me. I was basically an icicle from the time I stepped off the bus to the time we got back to the hotel. It never really warmed up enough (especially with the wind) for me to ever feel fully comfortable. I felt really bad for my brother who had on a pair of long shorts and a big hoodie. He doesn’t get cold easily but he was chilled to the bone, too.
THIS YEAR... the weather is looking much nicer. The lows are in the upper 50s and highs in the low 70s. I’m also going to make sure to bundle up and bring some blankets for the morning part (fifty degrees in the middle of the night feels way different than fifty degrees in the afternoon!). But I think the weather is going to play nice this year. And since my mom would prefer to run in the heat than in the cold, she’s especially happy.
MISTAKE #5 - Not having enough communication with my mom
My mom decided against carrying her phone with her for the race. She didn’t want it weighing her down but it also meant my brother and I didn’t have any communication with her. It wasn’t so bad in the beginning since we were able to see her three different times, but it was AWFUL from Mile 13 on, since there were no places to view her (unless we bought park tickets) until the end. For some reason, even though I set up to receive text alerts when she passed certain points, I never got any so I had to keep refreshing the website on my phone to see where she was. There was always a huge lag between updates (like HOURS!) so it put me in a constant state of worry and paranoia something was terribly wrong.
THIS YEAR... my mom is definitely carrying her phone on her. (I even bought her a Spibelt for Christmas since her other belt was more bulky.) I am not going through THAT again. She’s also set up her Facebook and Twitter feeds to update and I’m going to have myself, my brother, and my sister-in-law all set up to receive text alerts. ONE of those ways has to work, right?
Even though this seems to be a major complain-y post, I am so freaking excited to do this all again. I know I’ll be better prepared and she’s better trained. We know what mistakes we made last year and we have learned our lessons from them. Aside from the lack of spectator spots towards the latter half of the course (seriously, Disney, WHY?), it was so much fun to spectate at this marathon. It’s a fun marathon, not one most people run for time, and what better way to inspire a person than to see people FINISHING A MARATHON? I know my mom is going to crush her time she set at last year’s marathon.
She’s entering into a very nervous “can I really do this again?” time right now. So, if you can, leave her some words of encouragement in the comments or reply to her on Twitter (seriously, she’ll LOVE that!). I can’t believe that in three days time, my mom will be a TWO-TIME MARATHONER. That’s crazy to me!