Running is a process that tests the mind, body and soul. It won't always be easy, but rather, it is most often challenging. And that is why it is so rewarding. In the blog, RADrabbit Travis Bautista gives us a race recap from the Walt Disney World Marathon, which he ran this past weekend. This was Travis' FIRST full marathon, and his journey is remarkable. Read Travis' race recap in his own words below:
Coolddd. rabbit fully loaded shorts - woop woop!
Why I ran my first Marathon
The reason that I ran my first marathon was simple. I had heard about people’s various reasons for running it: it was an emotional, ultra-taxing moment; it was one of their most precious moments, up there with the birth of their children; it’s one of those huge challenges that people can tackle but can be achievable if you “put in the work”!
My reason for running my first was simple, though: I’m super competitive.
I started running seriously a little over a year ago after a lifetime of club-level sports and martial arts. For this training cycle I used a modified Hansons beginner training plan, which involves two harder workouts a week & a long run. These plans usually cap the long run at 16mi but I had a few runs over 16, including one 20miler three weeks out from race day. I peaked at 52 MPW about 2 weeks from race day, had no major injuries throughout the plan and came out of the 2-week taper feeling pretty good.
In terms of PRs, I had a conservatively no-taper paced half marathon PR of 1:37:12 (7:26min/mi pace) in December, and all of my training paces were based on my marathon-paced workouts of 7:40min/mi.
Best race map I could find. Circa 2013, course is pretty much the same!
Course & Weather
This marathon spans all four Walt Disney World Parks and their multi-sport complex – starts at Epcot, then Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, ESPN Wide World of Sports (WWOS), Hollywood Studios, and finishes at Epcot. Because this is Florida: elevation change = ~0ft.
I have always been told to have multiple goals and to not commit too hard to them for your first marathon. My 3 goals were to: 1) Sub 3:20:00 - 2)Sub 3:30:00 - 3) Most importantly - Have fun!
Got to the staging area where they had bag check a bit earlier than I probably needed to – around 4:25am for a 5:35am start. Luckily some of my close friends and S.O. came to gather the beanie and extra jacket I wore to the staging area, and would also see me and take some of my clothes later on in the course.
Miles 1-8 (8:22min/mi avg) – the, will my legs ever warm up?
The fire works at the beginning!
Main street of Magic Kingdom, lit up with thousands of spectators!
This marathon course is awesome. Granted, I’ve never run a marathon before, but the crowd support and the amount of characters and scenery is pretty much non-stop. Miles 1-9 start you at Epcot (with fireworks!!) and then loops you around Seven Seas Lagoon and through Magic Kingdom (and the castle!!).
So, at this point looking at my pace over the first 8 miles, you know something was wrong. At first, the day of, I thought it was just because I had to stand around in 26ºF weather for an hour and didn’t layer right. The legs were sluggish and anytime I tried 7:40 pace it didn’t feel easy like I knew it should. So, I decided to not push it and settled in. On the way up to Magic Kingdom we saw our first marching band, a bunch load of characters, I gave my friends and S.O. my jacket; and, I also ran into a Strava friend and his daughter (in a 17,000+ person marathon, mind you!!), so stuck with them for miles 4-8.
Miles 9-21 (7:44min/mi avg) – the half marathon inside a marathon
Stitch and I at mile 8-ish.
This part of the course took us through Animal Kingdom, a long stretch of highway overpasses to ESPN WWOS, and then winds you through WWOS and up to Hollywood Studios. Cool enough, in this stretch of the marathon I ran almost exactly the time that I ran in my first HM race (1:43:00-ish)!
I found a groove here, and also I saw stitch (Stitch^2!, among a bunch of other characters and marching bands and actual bands), ran through Animal Kingdom, and then winded through WWOS. A track and a windy, turn-y run at mile 20 of a marathon was no bueno, though. Mile 17.5, right before we got into WWOS, I got my first little cramp spasm (yay, marathons!) in my left groin. Then around mile 20 a right hamstring cramp starting coming up, but I held onto pace so nothing too problematic. But, a problem there was…
Miles 22-26.2 (9:40min/mi avg) – the marathon that just keeps giving!
In hindsight this actually does not look that bad. In hindsight though it still is the most painful, difficult, and longest 5miles of my life. Mile 22 I ran in 8:32 - which had the races only notable hill, of course pep-talked by an actual toy arm soldier. I averaged a little over a 10-minute mile the last 5k and it so it was actually, literally the longest 5k of my life.
At this point in the race we ran through Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Boardwalk, and finally around Epcot’s World Showcase Lagoon to the finish.
It was all an emotional blur of pain and happiness – but mostly pain.
When people say that their first marathon was the most emotional, painful, fulfilling, terrifying, gratifying.. thing they’ve ever done, you probably doubt their sanity in using so many antithetical adjectives. But, when I say that this was one of the most trying times of my life I swear I’m sane.
Moments of appreciation, of the friends and family and the simple ability to run. So many people along this blur of the course, so many people that you do not know or will probably never know. And here they are yelling and shouting and willing you to keep going. And then there are the people that you do know. While I can barely remember anything about this part of the race, and while my pace is the slowest and what I’m least proud of, this part of the marathon was my favorite part. I now understand the insanity.
The people that you know..
To me, to be a RADrabbit isn’t just to run the fastest, it’s to run your fastest and to be your best. While racing is super fun (and I’m super competitive), to me to be a rabbit is to enjoy chasing your own goals and your own times. It’s to enjoy the competition, the process of grinding through a goal or training cycle, and to better not just your PRs but to better yourself.
That is the beautiful thing about running and life in general: everyone at that starting line or that board meeting or that classroom is competing against themselves; constantly setting the bar higher, constantly challenging themselves to be a better version of what they were yesterday. And that is what it means for me to be a RADrabbit, and why I ultimately decided to run my first marathon.
I love running fast, but I also love challenging myself in new and different ways. That is what makes a great athlete and a great person, and what hopefully will make me a better person in 2017. It also coincidentally is what 8 months ago led me to sign up for what may not be my best marathon or my last marathon, but my first and most gratifying/memorable/terrifying/momentous/painful/emotional marathon at the 2017 Walt Disney World Marathon.
Dazed and confused! And happy and sad and..
- Travis Bautista, RADrabbit