Having my brain shattered by a max volume 3.00am alarm call was sweet relief.
Relief from the suspicion/mild panic that maybe I’d wake up at 7.30am rested, refreshed, and 2 hours after the start of the WaltDisneyWorld Marathon on 11th January 2015. Relief that at least one of the three alarms I set, had worked.
Following the relief was the recollection that for some of my early-hours training runs I had been woken up, felt relieved, and fallen straight back to sleep again, so I immediately rolled out of bed and tried to work out how to turn off the laptop alarm that I’d downloaded 6 hours earlier.
Wolf down a sachet of oatmeal. Darn, no spoon…just drink the stuff… Check.
Bathroom mirror selfie wearing race gear. Check.
43rd check that I have everything. Check.
Leave in time to catch the monorail to Epcot at about 3.30a.m. Check.
Emerging from our hotel room in a contact lens fog I met a fellow fruit loop…marathoner…in the corridor. Like me, she’s an ex-very overweight person turned marathon runner, although in her case she has zero intention of ever doing a second. “I’m one and done” she said, as I replied – based on my no experience whatsoever – that I intended this to be the first of many…or at least a few…at least two…well, to be honest, I’m just hoping to finish my debut in one piece.
By the time we reached Port-a-Potty City the adrenaline was doing its job, which just got worse after the 15 minute walk onto the freeway to the corrals. It felt good to take the left turn towards corrals A through H(?) while the I-ish through P sections went ahead and to the right. After the fifth facilities break in 45 minutes I began to be concerned that I was losing some essential fluids, although my biggest concern during the last break – during the national anthem – was getting whacked by a marshall, or anyone who knew I was English. I hoped the other guys at the tree line with me at the time were American so I could just point at them as my excuse. (That’s right – these were 11th hour breaks – we didn’t have time to get to a Tardis.)
Eventually and after the first volley of fireworks the wheelchair competitors started, then the Elite section, then corral A. As soon as we started moving towards the start line I suddenly felt overwhelmed, almost sobbing with anticipation.
Since signing up on April 28th 2014 I had logged over 1,000 miles, 1.5 million steps and 150 hours in training. An entire swamp of revolting energy gel packs, three pairs of running shoes, half a tub of Vaseline and way too many 4:30am and earlier alarm calls. Not to mention approximately 100 times having a needle stuck into me by my chiropractor. Three half marathons had also been and gone in the mean time, but they were secondary to the goal of getting me to this point.
I had Jude and Rachael on their way to Cinderella’s castle in Magic Kingdom to join the crowds there and hopefully see me at about 5 mile, and then they would be in the stands by the finish line.
The marathon had been for over 20 years the epitome of what I considered myself incapable of. And here I was walking slowly towards the start of my first ever marathon. I can’t believe I’m actually here…I love this, this is precisely where I’m supposed to be, I thought.
I must be out of my mind, came the chaser.
So yes, I was a little choked up, and the race hadn’t even started yet.