Wednesday, June 19, 2013

WDW Marathon Wknd Post III: The Race.

I have never come so close to a DNF as I did on this day.

Hubs & me prior to the race
I am a solo runner.  Part of running's therapeutic effect for me is that I get out by myself and run my miles alone with my thoughts.  I like to go at my own pace, on my own route, and take my own time.  I believe every runner is different, every day is different, every mile is different.  I believe in my own strength as a runner and as a person.  I think I can get myself through just about anything.  I talk a big game...I completely underestimated the power that another person has to keep you going.

I won't lie, I have mixed feelings about my marathon experience.  I know I shouldn't, I went into the race injured, fully accepting that the outcome of the race was a crapshoot.  My IT band tendinitis was debilitating at this point, and I did not know how or if I would make it through. In fact, if this had been any other marathon, I would have withdrawn.  But, we were at Walt Disney World.  It's a magical place.  My husband and running buddy Tracey were there to run too.  My parents and kids were spectating and enjoying a weekend at the parks.  I had support, I could do this.  If I didn't finish, I told myself, I'm okay with that.

At 3:00 am, I laced up the speedlaces on my Hoka One Ones.  Dressed as a Fireside Girl from Phineas & Ferb, hubs (in normal running gear) and I waited outside the Polynesian for the Monorail.  We were beyond excited.  This was our first marathon.  We had no idea what lay before us.

We made our way with the throngs of runners to the Epcot parking lot, awaiting the hike to the corrals. Having done the WDW Princess Half Marathon almost a year earlier, I knew the routine.  The pre-race gathering place was a block party.  Runners were singing, taking photos, and kicking up their heels while waiting in line for the hundreds of portapotties.

Finally it was time to hike to the corrals.  Hundreds more portapotties lined the route.  Shockingly, despite the fact we were rich in portapotties, runners, female runners even, chose to use the bushes, in full view of the rest of us!  I overheard someone behind me say, "I am from here and I would never pull my pants down in those bushes.  It's not even the snakes and alligators that'll get ya, it's the giant spiders and fire ants."  I briefly imagined what it would be like to have fire ants in my running shorts.  Words cannot express how miserable that would be...period, not to mention before a frickin' marathon.  I quickly put that disturbing thought aside.  Only the safety of the portapotties for me.
Race Start.  26.2 Woo hoo!

The corrals were in sight.  Hubs made his way ahead to corral B.  I had decided to run with Tracey, so we waited in the same corral for the race to start.  While in the corral, we nervously discussed our race strategy while munching on our energy bars.  We decided to continue with the Galloway method, and put my Garmin on a 3 min run, 1 min walk interval.  At one point I thought I was hearing voices, but it was only Mickey Mouse on the microphone, getting us ready to run.

And it was time.  With a firework show and a cheer, we were off. (see route at the bottom of the page)

Most of the race was a blur, but there were several moments that I remember well.

Magic Kingdom at sunrise
The first few miles were exhilarating, as they always are.  We took a portapotty break (while others were still using the woods...what the hell?) and happily ran/walked our intervals.  My knee was tight from the get-go, but felt okay at the pace we were going.  It was interesting to observe the difference in our running form.  Tracey is nimble and light on her feet with a shorter, fast stride, so she was fun to keep up with as she darted between other runners.  My longer legs and long strides make me move more efficiently straight lines.  Darting is not one of my strong points.  We moved along in the dark, talking and listening to other runners around us.  The pre-dawn January air felt great, but it was not cool.  I started to worry that the day would get pretty hot.

The approach to Magic Kingdom at sunrise was unbelievably magical and beautiful.  Running down Main Street USA as the sunbeam began it's slow descent from the top of the castle as it rose from the horizon behind us is an image that will be burned into my memory forever.  That may have been worth the whole race.

Running through the castle
The run through Magic Kingdom was, well, magical.  We detoured in Frontierland for a flush toilet break (what a luxury!) and to splash cold water on our faces.  Soon we ran out of the park, and past the Reedy Creek Fire Station.  Then we made our way past the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, and around the WDW Speedway where folks had set up a car show and we saw my favorite cars, Lightning McQueen and Mater.  At this point we were probably about 8 miles in, and were still feeling pretty good.  We had stopped to meet some of our favorite characters, smiled and high-fived some cute guys in tuxedos, and had run through Cinderella's castle like it was our job.  Our interval was treating us well.

I stopped at a medical tent and chewed some tylenol to stave off the creeping-in knee pain.  We then ran about 3 miles or so, which felt like a LONG three miles, to Animal Kingdom.  My favorite diversion here was some folks tailgating in a camper, ribbing the runners as they went by.  Purely hysterical.  The running route connecting the parks in some cases was cinched down to about three people wide.  We had been slowed to a walk many times because we got caught by groups of walkers with no way to go around them.  I felt like this really slowed down our overall time where we could have covered more ground more quickly while we still had relatively fresh legs.

Once in Animal Kingdom, the park setting helped with the monotony of the WDW backroads.  But, because AK's paths are so narrow, we were bumping along quite a bit with other runners.  And, it was starting to get pretty hot.  We were about halfway through the marathon, and by now it was about 9am.  The sun was fully up and the shade was disappearing.  It was here in the park that we took an extended bathroom break.  We splashed our faces, changed socks, squeezed out our bondibands and retaped our legs.  The parks were beginning to open, and crowds of people were coming in.  Thankfully WDW clearly marked the runners' route through the parks.

The mile 15 mini celebration
On our way out of Animal Kingdom and onto the WDW "inner-state" roads, we were approaching mile 15 and both of us were beginning to feel spent.  The wall was nearing.  We stopped to take a pic at the 15 mile marker, since that was the furthest either of us had run in a race before, at the Charleston Distance Run.  At this point we were out on the open road, in the sun, with no shade, and we were getting hot and tired.

It was another three miles before we reached the ESPN Sports Complex, our next "diversion" from the open road route.  We reached for our energy bar fuel.  I thought I had another Luna Bar, but I realized I nervously ate it while we were chatting in the corrals.  Tracey generously shared her granola bar with me.  It was a very nice change from the Gu we'd been sucking on during prior miles.

I had been calling out our run/walk intervals.  "Happy Beep" when it was time to walk.  "Let's go" when it was time to run.  Starting into the Sports Complex, we were routed around in narrow passageways through all the sports fields in the complex.  I suddenly became very irritated with people in my way.  I do not like big crowds, and I had hit my limit.  The intervals were useless here, as we were forced to walk behind others because we couldn't get around.  However, my knee had gone from a whine to a scream at this point, so it may have been a blessing.  But, all I knew was that it was getting hotter by the minute, and the sweaty bodies and heavy breathing around me were almost too much for me to take.  Tracey and I had fallen quiet, and I was afraid of overheating.

Heading towards Mile 20 Spectacular
Thankfully, a medical tent was handing out cold sponges.  I think these wet pieces of magic are what brought us back to life for awhile.  We strapped them under the back strap of our sports bras.  Tracey's knee tape was falling off and she went looking for more tape while I chewed more Tylenol.  Super gross, but I was desperate for it to work fast.

Finally we made it to the MILE 20 SPECTACULAR that had been so highly touted before the race.  It was the 20th anniversary of the marathon, so they put forth extra effort at this mile to make the entertainment special.  Also, I have heard that mile 20 is the effort halfway point in marathon.  After my experience, I'd say this statement is true.  Anyway, I'm not sure if it was the near heat stroke or my general irritation, but I thought the spectacular was, well, meh.

It was also at this point that we saw the race sweeper and sag wagons going in the opposite direction, about 6 miles behind us.  It was my goal all along to not get swept up before I finished the race.  I did a quick calculation in my head and figured that from this point, if we could keep a 15 min mile average pace, we should stay ahead of the sweeper.  That was a good thing, too, because by this time, I had a hatchet fully embedded in my knee, our conversation was beginning to trail off and what little we said was incoherent.  Delirium was setting in.  It was mid-morning, no breeze, the pavement was sweltering hot, and the thought of traveling another 6.2 miles felt unobtainable.  Honestly, if I had not had Tracey there with me, I'm not sure I could have kept going.  Halfway to Hollywood Studios, at about mile 22, we were out on the long, sunny, straight 6-lane road, no runners going the other direction (meaning they had been swept up), and slow, staggering runners around us.  At this point I said to Tracey, "I don't care if I run another step."  She said, "Let's just keep going.  See that girl up there in the pink shirt?  Let's run to her."  So we did.  My knee was raging.  But we kept going.

We are strong! Grrrr!!!
We entered Hollywood Studios and put on a strong face for our pic with Wreck-It Ralph, my kids' favorite movie at the time.  Thinking of them, and thinking we only had a few more miles to go, reenergized me some.  We ran down Hollywood Boulevard and lots of cheering spectators lined the route.  My knee was on fire, but I lumbered on, with Tracey, as we picked out landmarks ahead of us to run to.

The walkway to Epcot was miserable.  It was so hot by then that it felt like a steambath.  I was full-on limping by now.  We were so very hot and tired.  Kids playing in the resort pools were hard to look at.  They looked so cool and happy.

Beautiful Hollywood Boulevard
As we entered Epcot between United Kingdom and France, I almost lost it.  The World Showcase is my favorite part of Disney World.  Hubs and I have spent many hours there, exploring the countries, sampling the foods, and enjoying the drinks.  We have done this before and after having kids.  Even with our kids, we always feel like we're on an exotic date when visiting Epcot's World Showcase.  I felt like I was home in this special place for us.  To my amazement, some of the runners were stopping off for beer and frozen vodka drinks!  I know we were within a mile of the finish line, but wow!  (Kinda wish I had thought of that).  Rounding the turn out of the World Showcase and entering the rest of the park, I saw my parents and kids waiting to cheer me on.  I was so happy to see them!  They brought me gummy bears, my favorite.  Tracey and I put on big smiley faces, and rounded the last turn to the back of the park, sung on by the awesome gospel crew, and finally, finally, the finish line was in sight.  I had been texting with hubs, he had run a strong race and finished his first marathon, having already downed a celebratory beer and was lounging in the air conditioned hotel room.  I was beyond thrilled for him, and dreaming of beer and air conditioning myself...

Six long hours after the start of the race, Tracey and I high-fived Mickey and Minnie as we crossed the finish line.  We were marathoners.  Jeez Louise we did it.  I would have never made it through without her by my side.  The frustration, the heat, and the pain would have been too much for me to bear on my own.  I was so glad she was there with me.  I will never forget how the support of another can bring you through when you can no longer do it on your own.  This is why running and fellow runners are friggin awesome.  It's life, in a magnifying glass, lived way more awesomely.  Miles can definitely bring people together.
The hardware


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend POST II Marathon RUNcation Logistics

197 days of Marathon Training, and the race comes along just to end it....

This is part 2 of my posts about my first marathon, training for it, and the aftermath.  In July of 2012 I began training for the Walt Disney World Marathon using the Jeff Galloway training plan that came with marathon registration.

Warning: this is alot of information, some of it is a snooze unless you're planning on or have run the WDW marathon.  Again, my attempt to share my decisions and experiences in hopes that it will be helpful to others.  Hopefully this will be timely, as those who have registered for WDW 2014 will be thinking about their race weekend plans.

As our big weekend neared, I had many big decisions ahead of me:  first, whether or not to go ahead and run the race, given my bout with a raging case of IT band tendinitis (see prior post).  But second, and probably most important, WHAT TO WEAR?

My best running friend Tracey has a creative gift for all things theatrical, so her costume had been long decided and designed.  Brilliantly, she chose to be Fireside Girl Isabella ("whatchya dooooo-in?") from one of the best-written cartoons on television, Phineas and Ferb.  Hubs was running this marathon too, so I debated between dressing up with him or with Tracey as a duo.  Hubs and I originally had a costume idea to be the female and male characters from Tron, wearing all black, and attaching glow string (since about three hours of the race is in the dark).  However, as I suspected he would from the get-go, hubs backed out of the costume thing so the decision was made for me: I too, would be a Fireside Girl.

Fireside Girls
Donning our yellow tops and brown sparkle skirts, calf sleeves and complete with a Fireside Girl sash and bow-adorned Bondi band, Tracey and Hubs and I met under the streetlamps in the Epcot Parking lot, awaiting the opening of the race corrals.

But before I get too far ahead of myself, let me back up a few days to our logistical mobilization to the race venue.  Also, I need to tell you that I am a logistical nerd.  I love logistics.  I am actually trained in process improvement and efficiency, certified by GE to be a Six Sigma Master Black Belt.  I now use my MBB training to run our family and household, as I stay at home with our little ones, working part time from home.  I LOVE mobilization planning and logistical strategy, so bear with me.

In the days leading up to our scheduled departure, hubs and I went over all of our gear, again thankful that we only had to run at this race, not prepare for all the gear required for a triathlon.  However, preparing for a family vacation to Walt Disney World AND a marathon proved to be quite the strategic challenge.

Luckily, our family regularly visits WDW.  We live 5 hrs away, and can drive there easily.  Because of this, we have our trips honed to a science.  We love to observe other groups of visitors to the parks, slapping their foreheads in utter confusion and frustration, or walking around in a daze, their precisely calculated, to-the-minute touring plan sabotaged in the first hour of the day by their kids who cannot walk past an attraction or a character without planting their feet and demanding to ride, see, or meet.  Dragging the kid past their desired attraction to the one on your touring plan can result in a kid meltdown and refusal to do anything BUT what's in front of them at that moment.  That used to be us, we say to ourselves, as we happily skip through the park with our kids, sans map or touring plan.  Multiple trips per year allow you to do this.  

Our park plan usually consists of a list of "must-dos" for the day, compiled by all of us before we set out.  We diligently get up and out early, hit the parks until about noon, and then race back to the room for some downtime, a nap, or a cool-off at the pool.  Hubs and I usually take turns running during this time, just a 5k or so.  It's amazing how much better our feet and legs feel when we go for a midday run.  We are glued to our TouringPlans app on our iphones to tell us wait times, showtimes, and park hours.  We plan our next move while in line.  After a generous midday break, we head back out to the parks and stay late.  We delight in seeing the park crowds going in the opposite direction as we are.  Most of the crowd is arriving as we are leaving the parks, and those same folks, hot, tired, and having completed only 2 of the things on their extensive list, trudging to the exit as we, refreshed and fueled, are heading back in.

My race toiletry bag
Our race gear:

  • Bondiband
  • sunglasses
  • Body glide & skin strong spray
  • sunscreen
  • run shirts - tank for me, compression top & tech tee for hubs
  • UA compression shorts
  • Nike run shorts for hubs
  • sparkle skirt
  • spi belt for me
  • nathan gel pack for hubs
  • kt tape for my knee
  • Zensah compression calf sleeves
  • ininji socks
  • Hoka One One shoes for me, Brooks Adrenaline for hubs
  • ipod (didn't use it)
  • Garmin watch
  • Road ID
  • iPhone
  • Snotrag
Krispie Treat Carboload
Race fuel:
  • Prerace
    • Ensure
    • Gatorade
    • Clif Bar
  • During race
    • Gu (about every hour to two hours)
    • Gatorade & water at aid stations
    • Luna bar
    • Advil/tylenol
    • Salt Tabs
Night before:
  • "Runner's special" pasta dish from Captain Cook's at the Polynesian
  • Giant rice krispie treat on Main Street USA
  • Gatorade & water all day hydration
WDW gear:
Disney makes it easy
  • Osprey cross-body bag that holds my large camera, etc.
  • North face backpack carried by hubs
  • Select stuffed animals & Disney themed toys for kiddos purchased on prior trips
  • Breakfast foods (for quick getaway in the morning) such as clif bars, etc.
  • Pediasure nutrition drink for kiddos (way to keep them full with nutrients)
  • Park snacks; apples, carrots, nutella sandwich makings, fun size candies
  • Laptop, electronic chargers for phones, etc.
  • Road IDs for entire family
  • Refillable water bottles
  • Wipes, advil, tylenol, chapstick, sunscreen
  • Hand sanitizer & sanitizing wipes
  • Shoes: flip flops (for around hotel), keens (for wet days), and running shoes
  • Family Uniform: sport shorts/capris or cargo shorts, tech tshirt & fleece if needed
View of WDW Half Marathon
from Monorail in Epcot
We had planned on my parents and our family of four to stay in one room at the Polynesian for race weekend.  We chose this hotel for several reasons:  One, the room was big enough for us all to stay comfortably, and it cost the same as two value resort rooms.  Two, for race day mobility, it offered the most and easiest travel options.  Being on the monorail route, hubs and I jumped on the monorail to take us to the race start line, and my parents and kiddos were able to easily spectate the race from the Polynesian grounds.  Also, on race day, the roads and wheeled transportation shuts down after the race start  because of the race route.  However, the monorail continues to run, and those who are staying in a monorail resort, Polynesian, Grand Floridian, or Contemporary, can travel to the Magic Kingdom or Epcot easily during the race.  Plus, since my parents were to be in charge of our kids on race day, riding the monorail was the easiest way for them to get to and from the parks without a hitch.

The room choice was superb, and I believe that anyone who plans to participate in the Marathon with family in tow would not be dissatisfied with any of the resorts on the monorail line.  Yes, they cost ALOT more than other Disney resorts.  However, the reduction in the logistical challenges of staying at other resorts on race weekend is probably worth the premium price.  I maintain that all Disney resorts are ridiculously expensive, but we keep coming back to them because staying there removes some of the hassle factor from your vacation.  In contrast to staying at a monorail line resort, runners must wait in line for a bus to the race route.  This part is very easy for the runners.  The problem arises for their families and spectators.  For anyone who wants to spectate and cheer their runner, and want to see them on the course, spectators will have to be on a bus by 5:45am to avoid transportation route closures.  Once on the course, spectators can take the monorail between the Magic Kingdom and Epcot.  Or, if they want to meet you at the finish line, they can board a bus later in the day and go directly to the finish, missing their runner en route.  

Runners must be on Disney transportation by 3:30am...just an fyi...that is an EARLY morning.  But the race day adrenaline kicks in quickly!

WDW offers free runner tracking for spectators to keep track of their runner on the course.  Anyone can track marathon runners on the course by setting up a text message to come to their phone as the runner crosses milestones along the way.  This helps those on WDW campus to predict where their runner is, and get themselves in position to cheer them on as they pass by.

Other logistical issues to consider:
  • I would recommend taking WDW transportation to and from the Expo for packet pickup.  Parking at the ESPN Sports Complex is a disaster.  Plus taking the race transportation is fun, and you get to check out and talk to other runners.  
  • I would also recommend hitting the Expo on Marathon weekend (if you're only doing the marathon, and not the Goofy Challenge) at the last possible moment, Saturday afternoon.  By this time the expo crowds have significantly lessened, and packet pickup has no wait.  The only downside to this strategy is that by this time, the marathon merchandise has also significantly lessened.  So if you are hell-bent on getting lots of WDW marathon souvenirs, you may be disappointed.
  • Plan time to visit and tour both before the marathon and after.  Some folks make the mistake of thinking they'll be too tired to tour parks after the marathon.  I argue the opposite.  Time on your feet before the marathon can impact your marathon performance.  Time walking around the parks after the marathon is excellent for helping to lessen soreness and stiffness.  
  • The best part about walking around the parks after the marathon is the knowing looks and celebratory experience that continues for days after the race.  Runners wear their medals and race tees through the parks and congratulate each other.  WDW cast members congratulate the runners as well, and the thrill of completing your marathon and the afterglow of the race continues at WDW like no other race venue.
  • Bring shoes other than running shoes to tour the parks after the marathon.  Blisters, swelling, chafing, and general foot soreness can make wearing enclosed shoes painful.  Bring a supportive pair of sandals or flip flops, preferably a shoe that will accommodate compression recovery socks or sleeves.  Yes, you will be much slower limping around in the parks after running a marathon.  But, you will not be the only one, and it's quite humbling and comedic to see others hobbling around.  The groans from runners as they sit or stand (especially in the bathroom or on a ride) is hilarious.  It's a hobble of pride.  
  • Bring your own race day breakfast in case the hotel breakfast is not suitable for your tummy.  Remember, nothing new on race day.  So if you haven't had eggs and waffles prior to a run, I wouldn't recommend downing them at 3am prior to the marathon.  WDW resort hotels provide a runner's breakfast, consisting of something like a bagel and cream cheese, fruit and coffee.
  • On race morning don't forget the sunscreen and sunglasses and/or visor.  It is dark when you leave your room and when the race starts.  It's easy to forget that the sun will come up mid-race, and you will want your shades for the Florida sun.
OK, that was a novel.  But, hopefully someone will find it helpful.  Next post:  The race itself.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 2013 POST 1: TRAINING & KNEE INJURY

WDW Marathon 2013!
Well these posts are long, long overdue.  I have spent several months mulling over my marathon experience, and now I'm finally ready to write about it.  My hope is that someone will read this post who is having a similar injury experience and can learn from it as well.

At the beginning of 2012, hubs and I debated whether or not we wanted to dedicate 2012 to training for a marathon or a half ironman.  We decided that by doing a marathon first, the half marathon at the end of the 70.3 would be mentally easier to do after having completed 26.2.  13.1 was the furthest either of us had raced.  

So marathon it was!  We decided to go big, and do it at one of our favorite places on earth, Walt Disney World in Florida.  I had run the WDW Princess Half Marathon the year before, and resolved then that if I ever did a marathon, it would be at Disney.  Those folks know what they're doing!  At Princess, the miles flew by, and the venue and logistics were seamless.  They make it hard to feel tired when so many Disney characters are cheering you on! 

On the day of marathon registration, we were at my Dad's camp in the cranberry wilderness of West Virginia.  We used a cell booster to get the signal we needed to register for the WDW marathon.  My parents were with us, and they agreed to come too, so a family weekend at WDW was planned!  My best running friend, Tracey, who also ran the Princess Half, the Charleston Distance Run and the Savannah Half also registered for the WDW marathon.  She is the only friend of mine who is as crazy as I am over planning fun and challenging race venues.  Soon after our registration, we texted each other, "WHAT HAVE WE DONE!?!" but resolved to keep each other going as we trained for the marathon.  Little did we know how much we would need each other before it was all over.

We decided to follow the Jeff Galloway training plan, since it was easy to download to our calendars.  Plus it was fun to be on the same plan as so many training for the marathon, sharing our experiences on Twitter and DailyMile.  If I had one regret about the training, it was the lack of cross training that it includes, but I know now that I should have dedicated more time to cross and strength training myself.  More about that later.  
Training in the heat of
summer in SC means
lots of running
before dawn!

On July 4, 2012, we kicked off our marathon training.  At first it was a step back from the mileage and pace I had already been running.  But I loyally followed the plan, and ran my long runs on the weekend and a 30-45 min run twice a week.  I stayed with this until the marathon in January of 2013.  Along the way we registered for and ran the Charleston Distance Run 15 miler as a "training run" (see prior post), and ran several 5ks, Savannah Rock and Roll Half Marathon, the Savannah River Bridge Run (hubs), and other various running events.  One thing I noticed quickly was that marathon training made 5 miles feel like 1 mile, but my average pace at all distances was slowing down.  Looking back, I really should have built in some regular speedwork and tempo runs.  
My best running friend Tracey
and me at Savannah Rock & Roll Half Mary

After finishing the Savannah Rock and Roll Half in November, I was standing in the middle of Forsythe Park looking for Tracey who had also run the race.  As I stood and swiveled back and forth, scanning the crowd, my left knee "popped."  It felt like a tendon rolled briefly over a bone and snapped back in place.  It hurt, and was sore, but my crazy bumpy joints pop all the the time so I didn't think much of it.  

Between the Half Marathon and my next long run, I ran a few 30 minute runs and had no soreness in my knee.  My next long run was to be 17 miles.  By about mile 12 my knee was really aching, and by mile 13 I pretty much had to stop running.  This was the first time I have ever had an injury that made me stop.  Walking was fine.  Running was excruciating.

After that, anytime I ran over about 2 miles, my knee forced me to stop.  Frustrated, I made an appointment at the Orthopedist's office and went in for a consult.  He confirmed that I had a case of IT Band tendinitis, and sent me back with the recommendation to rest as much as I could and when I did run, go until it hurts, then walk home.  Also he told me to ice 3 times per day and ibuprofen around the clock to dampen the tendinitis.  He said that if I couldn't get the tendinitis under control before my long training runs and the marathon, he'd give me a cortisone shot to get me over the hump. 

My one & only 20+ training run
Two weeks later I went back for the cortisone shot, right before Christmas.  The shot definitely prolonged my "run until it hurts" runs, but did not kill the pain completely.  I still had to stop at about 6 or 7 miles.  By this time I had one 20+ mile run to get in before the race.  Just after the first of the year, my family and I were in FL and my parents kept the kids while hubs and I embarked on our 20+ mile training run.  I used the Galloway method and ran/walked the run (4 mins run, 1 min walk) and completed all 22 miles.  My body hurt, my knee was not too happy with me, but I got it done.  To me, that was the important part.  Now I believed I could probably do all 26.2 in the state of injury I was currently in.

Ocean ice baths are the best
Per my Orthopod's recommendation, I went to a physical therapist before the race to learn how to tape my knee with KT tape, and some pointers to avoid pain during the race.  At this point I knew there would be no running without pain, it was just a matter of how far I could get before the pain forced me to stop.

Unfortunately my knee pain got progressively worse up until the start of Marathon Weekend, probably because the cortisone shot was wearing off.  I was disheartened, with all the time spent training, and I even considered withdrawing from the race.  Honestly, if it had been any other race, I would have withdrawn.  But my family was coming down for the weekend to make a vacation out of it, and we had so much invested.  I felt safe attempting this race at WDW, knowing that the race is very well staffed and I would not be left alone on the course.  

How to tape my knee
So I was prepared for the worst: a DNF at my first marathon.  But, I knew Walt Disney World would not let me down.  The magic of the place and the miracle of help from a friend taught me a lesson in human perseverance and a reliance on others that I would not have ever learned if I had run a healthy marathon.