As Megan prepared for her first marathon, she was doing a large portion of her training in a Michigan winter. That means bundling up for long runs in the snow and cold temperatures.
So imagine her surprise when the heat advisories were announced during the 2013 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend!
This year, Mother Nature decided to throw a curveball in mid-January and unleash high humidity and 80 degree temperatures during Marathon Weekend. (Note: the exact opposite happened in 2010 – sleet and 20* temperatures!)
runDisney warned runners of the heat and humidity, and encouraged everyone to take it easy during the half marathon and marathon races.
Runner’s World staff, runDisney personnel, Jeff Galloway and Bart Yasso spoke to Megan directly as she had been training in much different conditions. They advised her to stay hydrated before and during the race, slow down her pace and race smart. They encouraged her to listen to her body and know that it may not be her fastest run – but to enjoy the race.
On January 13, 2013, Megan began her race at 5:30 am in 65* temperatures – and 100% humidity. She started drinking water at every aid station, and Powerade at every other station. She ran through the Transportation and Ticket Center and into Magic Kingdom. Although she felt slightly cool, Krista (who cheered her on at Cinderella’s Castle) noticed Megan was already soaked by mile 6.
The haze was noticeable as she passed the Grand Floridian and Polynesian Resorts. Around mile 9, at the new portion of the marathon course – the Walt Disney World Speedway – the sun started to rise. Although the humidity appeared to lower slightly, it was clear that the sun would start to become the problem. She ran the back roads toward Animal Kingdom and through the park itself.
Next came Osceola Parkway – a section she recognized from the Wine & Dine Half Marathon. However, this race – it would be much different. There was absolutely no shade along this stretch, and Megan started to feel fatigued from the heat. She was blessed to have another runner offer her sea salt, which helps restore the sodium she was losing from sweating, and gave her the jumpstart she needed.
At mile 16, she entered ESPN Wide World of Sports, where the runners zigzagged through the complex. She ran through the mile 20 surprise (large puppet characters along with Mickey, Minnie and Pluto) and started heading toward Hollywood Studios.
Although her pace was slowing, she was staying hydrated with water and Powerade at every stop, as well as dumping water over her head to cool down. She ran through Hollywood Studios, toward the Boardwalk, past the Yacht and Beach Club and into Epcot.
Having had virtually no shade and over 80* temperatures for the last several miles, she was feeling the heat. However, there was only a mile left!
She ran through World Showcase, into Future World, past the gospel choir – and then the finish line was in sight. She kicked it into gear and finished her first marathon with a smile on her face!
After the race, she was sure to continue hydrating. (As well as enjoying some potato chips that Krista so graciously got for her!) The heat and humidity were brutal, but the Michigan girl completed her first marathon, with her partner-in-crime – Krista’s husband – by her side.
The words of the runDisney personnel, Jeff Galloway and Bart Yasso helped her make a smart decision on race day. She stayed hydrated. She listened to her body. She slowed her pace.
And she finished the race.
Read Megan’s full marathon recap as well as her thoughts during the race!