Disney World is the happiest place on earth.
Even from a medical tent.
I should back up. But first, I want to clarify I was just fine and it wasn’t anything more complicated than some asthma issues, being sick, and dehydration. And if you ever feel “off” during a running event, there’s no shame to ending up in a med tent. Better safe than sorry.
After all, you don’t want to Mickey Mouse around with your health.
January 2008. I headed down to Florida with Nicole M., a good friend of mine from the first day of high school. She was an amazing cheerleader for my first marathon, ran four full marathons with me, attempted the 2007 Chicago marathon with me, and ran the 1/2 in Indianapolis…just to join me later in the course for a few miles as I tackled the full.
But holy cow, did we have fun in Florida.
Budget conscious, we chose the Pop Century Disney Resort and were welcomed with same hospitality you’d expect from anywhere in Disney World. The plan was to arrive in Florida, head to the expo, and have a full day and a half to visit the parks. Then run a marathon, go out to celebrate, and one more full day of parks before flying home.
The transportation in Disney is wonderful. We felt taken care of the entire trip, from being carted over to Disney’s Wide World of Sports for the expo, to all the parks. Pre-marathon we had a blast visiting Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios as grown-ups, only slightly envious of the children who were taking their picture with the characters. Little did we know, we would get our chance soon enough.
Bedtime was 6:00 p.m. the day before marathon morning so we could be awake for our early wake-up call. We were aiming for the 3:00 a.m. shuttle bus to ensure we were at the park by the required 4:00 a.m. time.
The race kicked off at 6:00 a.m., already hot and muggy. The day before I was already feeling a little sick. However, I knew I had seven hours to finish. I figured if I had to walk it out to get it done, I would be ok with that. Quickly after the gun went off, I waved Nicole M. on ahead of me.
The marathon itself is like a Disney World playground for adults. You run through all the parks, and Disney characters are hanging out along the entire course. Most of us were running with cameras and waited in line to take our pictures with the characters. We even got to run through the princess castle. It was like the adults finally got a chance to be the kids at Disney World.
And it was awesome.
Mile 15 I wasn’t feeling so hot and made the decision to walk the rest of the marathon. Mile 18 I wanted to cry. Mile 20 I realized I was going to be cutting it really close. Mile 24 I stopped at an aid station to get ice. The medic questioned the lack of color in my face and wondered out loud if I was ok to finish. I quickly scooted off. I was, after all, cutting into what precious time I had left.
And there was no way I was stopping with two frigging miles to go.
Two point two miles later, with two and a half minutes left in a seven hour time limit, after shuffling on, just waiting for it to end already, I crossed the finish line of the Disney World Marathon.
And walked myself right into the medical tent where I promptly burst into tears.
It took several sports drinks until color returned to my face, but we managed to get my asthma under control, my temperature down, and my melodrama in check. Nicole M. managed to find me, collect my medal for me, and snap a picture so we could always remember this amazing moment together.
After napping and taking advantage of room service, we managed to head out for bit. The next day we tackled the entire Magic Kingdom park, complete with fireworks. It was a blast.
And just like that, state #5 was checked off my list.