In Which Jenn Recaps The 2021 Wilmington Marathon

Wilmington Marathon

I’m gonna be up front with you guys: that went poorly. But it went, so I’m gonna tell you about it. I’m consistent like that. 

It all started out okay: I woke up on time, fueled up, taped up, dressed, and made it to downtown Wilmington without incident. Weather ranged from 55 in the morning to the low 70s later in the day, which is a little chilly for me but most would call it perfect running weather.

There was both a Wilmington Marathon and Half Marathon going off that morning, and due to COVID restrictions runners were divided into waves going off every ten minutes over the course of two hours. I was in the second wave, so I didn’t have to wait too long.

Waves were called about fifteen minutes before their actual start times, and just before six I was funneled with others of my predicted finishing time (future me says: ha!) around the court house and onto the steps, where we watched the first corral start before moving into their space. We were initially told to space ourselves out according to traffic cones that had been place into the corrals, but no one paid much attention. Everyone had had their temperature taken before entering, of course, but I was still glad to be 80% vaccinated.

And then, without much further ado, we were off! We headed down Front Street and almost directly into a short but steep hill – but that’s okay; they’d warned us about it in advance. From there we headed out of the downtown area and into quieter residential areas for several miles, much of which ran along a lake. This was all very pleasant and picturesque, but it did get monotonous after awhile. I guess they can’t all be Walt Disney World.

I was pleased with my energy at the start – I actually felt fresh and ready to roll for once! But I kept my pace free and easy in an effort to keep myself from burning out later in the race. I tried to think of my legs as a perpetual motion machine rather than one of those toy cars that you wind up with friction. 

After a brief port-a-potty pit stop around mile 5, I rolled up to the oak tree turn around point and began the long slog back the exact way I had just come. Yes, it was an out-and-back course, and yes, because I was running the marathon I was going to have to do that out-and-back twice. Out-and-back inception! But that’s the price of running in the age of COVID – sometimes you have to compress the course so it can function with less support.

Wilmington Marathon

I traversed the lake and neighborhood portion of the route again before splitting off an heading back into downtown Wilmington, going past the finish line on my left and deeper into the city. We ran past the community college and the convention center where packet pickup had been before taking another U turn and running down onto the Riverwalk boardwalk area. (If you ran last year’s Battleship Half, you may recall this as the beginning of that course.)

From there you either finished – lucky you! – or bypassed the finish and took a left to start the whole thing over again. Which meant the first thing I faced on round two was that big ol’ hill again. Glorious. But I had signed up for the marathon, so up the hill I went.

I’m not 100% sure where it all started to go wrong. As I said earlier, I started the race out feeling pretty good. My training had been solid. My nutrition felt good. I had taped up my problem areas. Maybe as early as mile 8 I might have started to get a bad feeling, although that could be hindsight. And anyway, as I’ve discussed before, the darkest psychological part of a marathon tends to hit me pretty early, simply because I have soooo much fartherrrr to goooooo. 

All I know is that somewhere in the mile 14 to 15 area things started to go sideways. My right hand swelled up, which is a new one – I think because I have some eczema on those fingers, and the combination of hand sanitizer and the morning breeze was irritating.

More salient to the moment was that my right calf started to seize up, which is something that has occasionally niggled me A BIT but never to the point of being a legit problem. This time, however, when my calf started throwing out protest signals, my hamstring was ALSO like, oh, word? Are we shutting down? And THEN my stupid IT band, which longtime readers may remember as a problem from FOUR YEARS AGO, thought it might be fun to join the pity party, which caused my LEFT IT BAND TO START HURTING TOO, and THEN MY LEFT HEEL FROM THE UA SHOES, and basically what I’m trying to say here is that both of my legs mutinied.

They mutinied for the remainder of the race.

I swear to God, guys, it was the 2017 Baltimore Marathon all over again. Except with that race I at least saw it coming. This muscular disaster was out of left field. I had to do the whole poor man’s run-walk intervals and everything. I was literally running to the next orange course marker cone, walking to the next one after that, running to the next, walking to the next, for like ten miles. It suuuuuucked. Like, discomfort in a marathon I’m used to, but this was more akin to pain. And somehow downhill made it worse?

So there I was, hobbling my way down the edge of the lake, around the tree, back into downtown Wilmington. Needless to say, I walk all the water stops. Everything is terrible and I hate it. My time has gone from pretty good to one of my worst. 

I knew I was going to finish. I was confident in that much. I was going to drag myself to the end one was or another. But I’m still thankful for the small miracle that was the final half mile.

I was back on the Riverwalk boardwalk and forced myself back into a run just as I was passing another lady. “Well, if you’re running, I’m running,” she said, thus forging one of those instantaneous friendships that come of races, fleeting but forever meaningful. “All right!” I returned, and somehow from there on I was able to run the remainder of the race, pain be damned. 

Just like that, the famed runner’s high kicked in. “You’re almost there!” shouted a random passerby. “Hey, I didn’t quit!” I shouted back, and he laughed and said “I love it!”

“You catch anything?” said a runner behind me as we swung past a guy hanging out with a fishing pole. “No,” he said, which for some reason struck as all as hilarious.

“You’re very handsome!” I told a German shepherd as I passed him, briefly startling and confusing the middle aged man walking him.

“There’s the finish line! Charge up the hill!” said a volunteer. “Are you coming with me?” I asked, but he sadly wasn’t allowed to leave his post.

But I did charge up the hill, somehow, and the spectators lined up all clapped and cheered for me because I was running, and then finally the finish line was in site. “Number 11 is finishing the FULL marathon!” said the announcer as I passed beneath the arch, and I got bonus cheers from the crowd. I WAS DONE!

It was awful.

BUT I finished and that’s what counts. I can be sulky about a less than ideal race, but as long as you finish how bad can it really be?

There was a finisher’s only area where we picked up bags that contained our medals, fresh masks, and an assortment of snacks. I was thrilled beyond measure to find a can of seltzer energy water in the bag; I’d been craving something with bubbles for miles. Races should offer Coke at later water stops if you ask me.

Wilmington Marathon medal

All right, so, that wasn’t exactly the performance I’d been hoping for. All the same, I finally have my fifteenth marathon under my belt. Today I get my second COVID vaccine shot, and I hope you’re somewhere on your vaccine journey too. Because the sooner we’re all vaccinated, the sooner race schedules can get back to normal. runDisney can (knocking on all the wood) return, and we can stop with all these limited expos, cancelled after parties, and stupid out-and-backs. 

Here’s to a future full of races! Hopefully I will do a better job. 🤣

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Is Finally Running That Marathon TOMORROW

 Hello! I have two items of exciting news:

  1. I am currently 80% vaccinated and will be receiving my final COVID booster shot on Tuesday!
  2. I am finally running my 15th marathon TOMORROW!

It’s crazy to think that I haven’t run a marathon in over a year. I haven’t had that much time between marathons… ever. I ran my first marathon in 2014 and then from 2015 on I ran two to three every single year. If nothing else, there was my rock, my staple, the Walt Disney World Marathon, every year in January. But with the tragic cancellation of this year’s race, I have been bereft.

So I’m not sure how this is gonna go. My training has been solid, I think, but it’s so hard to tell how things will go under the best of circumstances. Lord knows I’ve had marathons I’ve gone into thinking I’ll kill it only to come up short, and marathons where I performed beyond my own expectations (those are the ones that keep us going, no?). And with such a long gap since my last marathon – hell, since my last race of any distance – I must confess I’m a little nervous. This one may be a matter of getting my footing back. Or, to put it melodramatically, this one may be a matter of survival. We’ll worry about times in at a future date.

So here I am, laying out my race gear, chugging Powerade Zero, psyching myself up for the Wilmington Marathon. Perhaps that last one is most important – I always say that the marathon is a mental game. You can do it, me! You can do it, me! YOU CAN DO IT!

Just keep swimming
SHUT UP DORY THIS ISN’T A TRIATHLON

Usain Bolt
That’s better.

Will it be a triumphant return? Or a tale of tears and tragedy? Tune in next week for the race recap and find out!

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn’s 15th Marathon Continues To Give Chase

The 2020 Wilmington Marathon was supposed to be my fifteenth marathon. Scheduled for March, it was cancelled, my first COVID race casualty.

So then the 2021 Walt Disney World Marathon was in position to become my fifteenth marathon. Painfully but understandably, it was cancelled, alongside the Princess Half and Star Wars Half weekends.

Which brought me back around to the 2021 Wilmington Marathon, where my deferred registration had landed after last year’s cancellation. I’d imagine the race organizers thought they’d be free and clear by February 2021. Alas and alack.

Still, it’s run by the same organizers who safely put together the Battleship Half Marathon last November, and all their pre-race communications suggested that while the course might be modified the race would go on.

That is, up until two days ago, at which point it was announced that the race had been postponed – to April 17.

This as you may recognize is smack dab in the middle of the would-be Star Wars Rival Weekend races at Walt Disney World. As mentioned above, runDisney has already cancelled that race, BUT I hadn’t cancelled my WDW trip. My race is now on day two of my WDW vacation. Whee! 

FIFTEENTH MARATHON WHY WON’T YOU LET ME RUN YOU???

Luckily my WDW travel buddy has been very kind and accommodating, and since there’s no official event date to make anymore we’ve agreed to push the trip back a day or two so I can run the dang race. Whew. And of course this is better anyway, as by April more people should be vaccinated and there’ll be much less risk.

Against all odds, I am hopeful. I am hopeful that Biden’s aggressive vaccination plan will work out. I’m hopefully we’ll all be vaccinated soon. I’m hopeful people will stop getting sick, we can all safely race and travel again, and I can go back to getting anxious over normal things, like whether or not I’ll wake up in time for my races

One of these days I’m gonna run my fifteenth marathon – and I’m hopeful it’ll be soon!

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Has Thoughts About The New WDW Marathon Course

Hello cats and kittens! Are you stuck inside due to COVID-19 quarantine? Is the world slowly crumbling around you? Does the threat of cancelled races and Disney trips loom over your head? Me too! Let’s distract ourselves with a frivolous runDisney discussion topic.

Let’s talk about the 2020 Walt Disney World Marathon course. It was appreciably different from the course used for at least the previous 5 years, which I know because I ran 2015-2019 of those races and subsequent changes, while existent, were minor.

But 2020 was a brand new experience. And as is so often the case when I comes to change, I had mixed feelings. I think a lot of this was to accommodate all the construction; I wouldn’t be surprised to see major adjustments as frequent as from year to year until all the newness shakes itself out.

So my opinions may be even less valuable than ever. Nonetheless, here are some of my random thoughts on the 2020 course, in no particular order:

  • Hitting the Magic Kingdom later in the race was nice in some ways, as it gave you something to look forward to. But by the time I – moderately slow from undertraining but nonetheless a denizen of early-ish corral C – didn’t get to MK before sunrise. I missed seeing the lights on castle.
  • However, I did like that hitting more fun stuff during later miles. Long stretches of road and Wide World of Sports were replaced by stuff like the aforementioned Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and I wasn’t mad about that.
  • Speaking of Wide World of Sports, I’m neutral on its excision. I know a lot of people hated it with a fiery passion, but I developed a strange fondness for it over the years.
  • On the other hand, the vaunted addition of Blizzard Beach was kinda boring. No characters, no spectators.
  • In fact, there were hardly any characters at all toward the end of the race, at least when I was running through it. This might have been a product of the heat; maybe Disney was trying to keep people moving, especially since they ended up removing a mile from the course for the slower folks thanks to the weather. But I didn’t see a single character in World Showcase, which was weird.
  • Doubling back through the Epcot bus area in the beginning was a bad idea. I don’t think I need to explain this one. But if you’re curious, I dive into my conspiracy theories a bit more in my marathon recap
  • There were no real out-and-backs! Score!
  • Obviously the run through the Studios down the Boardwalk and into Epcot remains EPIC. It was a bit of a bummer having to turn out of World Showcase early and go backstage, but I understand we had to accommodate the construction. Still, somebody could’ve hooked up some speakers during the last half mile or so backstage. I had been jamming to the Disney music and really missed it at the end of the race.
  • EXCUSE ME WHERE WAS THE GOSPEL CHOIR AT MILE 26???????

So those are some things that stood out to me. Did you run the race? What did you think?

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn’s Fifteenth Marathon Is Cancelled :(

Alas, my friends, add my name to the legions of the bummed out.

I was all set to run my fifteenth marathon next Saturday, the Wilmington Marathon in North Carolina. But like so many events, the threat of coronavirus forced the race organizers to cancel it.

I don’t begrudge them this – their hands were forced by a combination of government edicts and common sense. Race communications have been very promising; we’re assured that if we can just wait a bit while they organize their thoughts we’ll be given an array of options including at the very least a deferral to next year at no charge. All in all the trend is one of generosity.

But I can’t help but be a little sad – I trained! I planned! Now I have to do battle with Spirit Airlines customer service! Blast and damnation!

Ah well. What can ya do. I’m sure a lot of you are in similar boats, both in terms of races and also Disney trips, what with, oh, every single Disney resort closed around the world right now. Obviously we all recognize the necessity of the cancellations, but also: drat.

Speaking of which, my next trip to WDW for the Rival Run doesn’t begin until April 18, so fingers crossed that this health crisis has improved enough that we can all enjoy the race weekend by then.

In the meantime, Becky at Disney In Your Day wrote a great piece on handling the anxiety of trip planning and cancellation in these trying times. I recommend it if you’re currently in the throes of a similar fate.

Stay safe out there, kids!

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. It would thrill me extremely if you would leave a comment with any questions or thoughtsSee ya real soon!

In When Jenn LIKES Doing “Just” The WDW Marathon

Just the 2018 WDW Marathon was my favorite race so far!
A couple days after the Walt Disney World Marathon, half the people you encounter in Orlando International Airport ran the race. We’re all decked out in our gear, a lot of have on our medals, and we’re all dying to talk about it; it’s one of the only times I ever cheerfully talk to strangers. 
So there I am, chatting with a nice family from Houston as I wait outside my gate with my subpar airport wrap. Seeing my medal, they congratulate me on completing the Goofy Challenge. “We only ran the marathon,” they say, almost apologetically.
Weirdly enough, I have had a conversation like this on multiple occasions. Heck, my very first time in 2015, when I did Dopey, I met a woman who said practically the same thing: “Oh, I only ran the marathon.”
Excuse me? You only did what now?
You only ran 26.2 grueling miles that you trained hard for? You’re one of the, I don’t know, 1% of the population or whatever that can call themselves a marathoner?
Look, I can get caught up in this way of thinking myself sometimes. Of my six WDW Marathons, only two have been completed as part of challenges. “Oh, you did Dopey; I just ran the marathon,” I once said to the woman next to me at the California Grill bar.
And it’s not like we’re wrong. We did, comparatively, do less.
But we still ran a full freakin’ marathon, which sure as hell ain’t nothing. And besides, I like running only the marathon. The challenges are fun and all, but running only one race makes the whole thing less stressful. There are all the anxiety-inducing trappings of the race, of course – waking up and getting to the bus on time, etc. – but mostly you don’t have to think about anything but that one experience. You can relax and enjoy it. Everything you’ve got in the tank is fresh; no leftovers here. And you’re not yet jaded by course or characters. It’s a good time.
Doing Dopey and Goofy was awesome. But I think next year I might do just the marathon. I kinda like it that way. 
Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Trip Report Of All: The 2020 WDW Marathon

And now for my favorite kind of post – the trip report! I’ll be covering my 2020 Marathon trip. You can read all the posts in this report here. Onward!

This is the story about how a recurrent IT band issue left me horrifically undertrained for a full 26.2 miles worth of running in high heat and humidity and also I was already tired from running a half marathon the day before and somehow it was AMAZING and I loved it and it was even better than last year???

As the Mad Hatter advises, we shall begin at the beginning: our morning began with a chipper 2am wakeup call, which was super fun as always. Although for once I actually really slept for a couple hours. I’m as anxious as ever so I think perhaps even my psyche is finally tired.

Anyway, Erika and I woke, dressed, and ventured into the night to grab a bus to the start line. One of the nice things about staying at a deluxe resort is that the bus lines are never as bad, and we were able to wander onto a bus at our leisure. I was decked out in my Sally costume, and I prayed to Catherine O’Hara to give me strength.

Per my usual we were at the staging area a good two hours in advance, and amused ourselves with some photography before we were finally permitted to make the long walk to the corrals. I sent Erika off to corral F with a crisp high five before wandering down to corral C for the long wait.

And a long wait it was, indeed. A big deal had been made of the race start being moved up to 5am this year, but at 4:57am we hadn’t even had the national anthem yet; something was clearly up. I took an extra porta potty break while the race hosts continued to chatter and stall for time.

It turned out the reason for the delay was that the course traversed much of the same parking lot area currently being used as drop off by the buses. Many have decried this as an obviously bad idea, and I don’t necessarily disagree, but I do have an operating theory: I think the reason Disney made the race start 5am instead of the usual 5:30am was because they knew they wouldn’t be able to clear the area in time, and they were giving themselves breathing room. By that token, our start time just before 5:30am was actually a win. Or a bunch of the race organizers are idiots; all things are possible.

Moving right along. Corral C came up pretty quickly, and soon I crossed the start line and headed toward… Epcot?

Okay. Listen. I knew that there had been changes to the marathon course. However, for some reason I had it in my head that the changes amounted to fun tweaks; I didn’t do a full study of the new map on the principle that it would be a fun distraction if I encountered some surprises here and there.

Well, as it turned out, “here and there” was EVERYWHERE. The course was COMPLETELY different. I spent just about the whole race like “Where am I?????” Some changes were, to my mind, positive, and some were negative, but I certainly got my surprises.

The first few miles of the race include a brief run through Epcot, where I stopped to commune with my best friend Figment before rolling past the Mexico pavilion and back out of the park. (Incidentally, it is CRIMINAL that there was no legit Figment and Dreamfinder photo op here.)

We experienced some parking lot time and some road time, which was predictably a bit boring but so far I was feeling okay; slow, but okay, and miraculously, pain-free! My side and knee were KT-Taped to high heaven but it seemed to be working. You know what else is incredible?

Rim shot!

(Not gonna lie; I stopped almost exclusively for Frozone.)

I’ve talked before about how around mile 7 is my least favorite part of the marathon, but I was used to be it being right after the Magic Kingdom. This time it came before, but I was too busy being confused by my surroundings to register if this was an improvement. All I can tell you is that by the time I hit Cinderella Castle around mile 10 or so the sun was already up, so just like in the half no glorious nighttime-lit-up castle photo for me. Sigh. There were no appreciable lines for pictures, though, so I stopped for one anyway.

Oh, wait, but before that I stopped for Buzz Lightyear in Tomorrowland and also my beloved Sam Eagle in Liberty Sqare! JJ was also out and if I’d had to presence of mind I would’ve asked him to try to take a selfie with me with Sam in the background if we could make it work. Maybe next time?

I’m gonna play catch with my dad!
You are all WEIRDOS.

Back to chronological order. Okay, the course took me out of the Magic Kingdom via the usual backstage way; there were some characters out but nothing I didn’t already have or particularly love so I kept on rolling.

Roundabouts here I think we ran past the sewage treatment plant as per usual, because even a new course can’t save you from everything. Oh, and I was very surprised to see the Haunted Mansion gravediggers at a very early mile 12 or so.

Can’t scare Sally, duh.

I hit mile 13 shortly afterward and my morale actually got a boost. If you think of the marathon as, I don’t know, a parabola or whatever, the peak is 13.1, and once you pass that, it’s all downhill from there, right? I mean that in the positive sense. Something like that. Anyway, my feet kind hurt and it was hot and muggy and I was slow but I wasn’t experiencing any pain and the halfway point was behind me, so: onward!

We had reached another period of long boring roads, but some characters livening things up a bit. I saw a top hat on a duck and thought I was stopping for Scrooge McDuck; it turned out to be Fancy Donald and Daisy but that was okay too, I guess.

I also stopped for the country bears, inexplicably rousted from their usual home in Frontierland. The camera caught me off guard but given the company I think it kinda works…?

Mama, don’t whip little Buford – I think you should shoot him instead

Finally we approached the Animal Kingdom; there were a smattering of animals out but NO FESTIVAL OF THE LION KING PERFORMERS????? They are my rock! My must-do! Theory: because DAK was positioned much later in the race this year, the FotLK cast couldn’t be out because they had to prepare for a show. Which is unacceptable and I demand we return to the original course immediately.

But back to what I was actually doing at the time. Right. So I entered Disney’s Animal Kingdom, used the bathroom, trotted past Everest; you know, the usual (if I recall correctly it was around 9am but I didn’t see Everest operating; not sure what that was about). I turn the corner on the way to Dinoland, feeling, y’know, reasonably okay about things for mile 17ish.

And then I see her. It’s HER. It’s KEVIN!!!!!

No, seriously, I busted out my phone in line expressly so I could send my only in-race tweet, which read as follows: “KEVIN KEVIN KEVIN KEVIN!!!!!!!”

And it was everything I dreamed it would be.

May I take your bird back to camp as my prisoner?
OH PLEASE OH PLEASE OH PLEASE BE MY PRISONER

So I grinned my way out of DAK, my feet heavy but my heart light, my Kevin-induced joy propelling me down boring between-park roadways. “Hi Sally!” said a water stop volunteer. It’s nice to feel recognized.

On the road I came across a couple denizens of the Adventurer’s Club, which had little to no line. “The people who remember the Adventurer’s Club,” they were saying into their mics, “are much older and slower than this.” Well, I already had a photo with them from 2018, but I wasn’t about to let them feel unappreciated, so I stopped for a pic.

It turned out to be a very gratifying stop at that, for the second I approached the martini guy lit up. “Look what we have here! It’s Sally!” he said. “It’s like The Nightmare During the Marathon!”

“The whole thing, really,” I couldn’t help but reply, and was very pleased with myself when he laughed. “KUNGALOOSH,” we all agreed, and I ran back onto the course.

I also I met up with Señorita Minnie who was cool but certainly no Kevin.

Then came the much-lauded new addition: Blizzard Beach. Boy was that a disappointment. First of all we got routed around the seemingly endless parking lot, and then once we got into Blizzard Beach barely anything was even happening. The wave pool was running and stuff like that, but there weren’t any characters or anything. I’d actually say I prefer Wide World of Sports, where at least there were lots of characters and marching bands and stuff.

Blizzard Beach was hard, but it was about to get harder. For awhile there I had been using the following mantra: “I am comfortable with being uncomfortable.” But I was getting awfully uncomfortable. My feet definitely hurt. My muscles were sore. I was shuffling along. Luckily I wasn’t in any real pain, but somewhere in the area of miles 21 to 23 I wasn’t thrilled with my position in life.

But guys – this year, it happened for me. Y’know how last year, even though I was better trained and all that jazz, I didn’t get the miracle boost from running into the Studios? This time, God only knows why, it WORKED. Oh boy did it work. I took one step over the berm into Hollywood Studios and I was instantly almost in happy tears. All my aches vanished. I was full of joy. I. WAS. RUNNING. DISNEY!

And so here on out, despite everything that came before, I had THE BEST TIME. The course was back on track the way I remembered it and I was soaking it all in. Spectators were calling “Go Sally!” left and right; I was slapping fives and groovin.’ Hyacinth Hippo says what up.

On the Boardwalk someone happened to yell “Dig deep!” and I immediately began singing my Song of the Training Cycle to myself: “Ya gotta dig a little deeper! For you, it’s gonna be tough! Ya gotta dig a little deeper! You ain’t dug near far enough!” I’m sure I looked like a crazy person, mouthing nonsense with a crumpled almost-crying-for-happiness face, but what can ya do.

Then we finally hit World Showcase and as always that was MY JAM. The classic Disney music was playing as I surged on. It was still hot and it was still humid and I was still just SO DELIRIOUSLY happy. Oddly enough, I didn’t see a single character out – maybe because of the heat advisory they were trying to keep everyone moving? But it didn’t matter; I was zooming and in the zone.

Let’s see; what could really put the finishing touch on my runner’s high? Oh, I don’t know – how about if THEY STARTED PLAYING “DIG A LITTLE DEEPER”??? It wasn’t quite the ecstasy of my “How Far I’ll Go” moment of 2018 but it was darned closed. I added hand gestures to my lip syncing and ran on.

The weird new course swerved us out of World Showcase before Norway, which while not ideal was understandable to accommodate construction. What I did not care for is that no one bothered to carry over the music to the final backstage bit of course. I missed the end of my song. 🙁 Would it have killed them to set up some some additional speakers? Also and more importantly, where the hell was the gospel choir at mile 26???? I demand answers, runDisney!

All this kvetching is to say: I had made it! I had the gas in the tank to plunge for the finish line, and while I crossed under the wire with one of the worst marathon times of my career, I had hit all the heights of happiness I come to runDisney to hit. Somehow, despite my poor (and I mean POOR) training cycle and record heat and humidity, I had SO MUCH FUN. My heart was full from having just run the WDW Marathon – and broken, because it was over.

Clearly I’ll see you next year. And the year after that, and the year after that, and the year after that, and the year after that, and…

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn’s Dad Offers A Marathon Insight

My parents don’t have a ton of opinions on my running career. They think the exercise is good, of course, but they’re not into it or anything. They’ve never come out to spectate or what have you. Likewise, they’ve never discouraged me from running either. Their thought process regarding my running is pretty John Oliverian, all told.

But occasionally they’ll offer an insight, and here’s a good one from my dad.

After the Wrightsville Beach Marathon, my parents and I met up with my honorary aunt and uncle for dinner downtown. “So are you going to go home tomorrow and run again?” my uncle asked.

“Oh, no,” I said. “I have next week off. I always take a week off post-marathon. The best part of a marathon is the week you don’t run after!”

“I see,” replied my dad. “So it’s kind of like beating your head against the wall because it feels so good when you stop.”

And… I kinda can’t argue with that.


Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Recaps The Wrightsville Beach Marathon

The quote myself on Twitter: 


As a non-Disney race, the Wrightsville Beach Marathon was never gonna be the joyous march to glory that characterizes the WDW Marathon. And it wasn’t. But it went well enough. Now that I’ve sufficiently built your excitement, let’s dive in.

I hopped out of bed at 5am (which to runDisney enthusiasts is definitely sleeping in), down an Uncrustable, slapped on some tape, and was out the door half an hour later. My dad graciously drove me to the start line, and I was able to eat another snack and hit up a porta potty with plenty of time to spare before the 6:40am start time.

There were no corrals, but the staging area was peppered by pacers with large signs indicate their expected final time; we were instructed to place ourselves accordingly. A couple minutes after 6:40am we were walked a short distance from the staging area to the official start line, and then we were off!


The course was slightly different than last year, although not wildly so. This time we ended up on the main street right next to the beach pretty quickly, a period of time that was also marked by a rain shower. Combined with the mid-50s temperatures I wasn’t exactly thrilled with this, but it wasn’t a total downpour so it was okay.

Shortly after that we ended up in Landfall, a gated community of considerable size – we were in there for a good 4 miles or so. It being early there wasn’t a ton of spectator support, but a couple people were out including one excellent neighborhood group blasting music and waving to the runners as they perused a table of donuts. They weren’t sharing, but at least they were getting into the spirit of the thing!

A few miles later the half marathoners split off from us, while us marathoners began our lonely trudge to the faraway finish line on separate grounds. Which were pretty lovely to start – we ran by the bay and over a bridge with some very nice views. Of course, this was followed by a horrific, multi-mile labyrinth of Inception-style out-and-backs made all the more exciting by more rain at one point, but I suppose they can’t all be winners.


And how was I doing by this deep-in-the-marathon point? Okay. My energy wasn’t roaring, but I was keeping my pace pretty steady and none of the body parts on Injury Watch were acting up. Though I felt the lack of character stops acutely, I was impressed by how much the race organizers had boosted the volunteer support. In addition to water stops, there were a bunch of people along the course expressly there to cheer us on. Some of them were super into it, too; it may interest you to know that according to some NC high schoolers, I AM A QUEEN.

Unfortunately a rough part was coming up: the Double Lake Loop. There was a several-mile loop you had to take twice before breaking off for the finish line, and boy was that first loop rough as you watched people ahead of you peel off to the end while you trudged along on your first loop. 


In order to prevent cheating, you picked up a wristband just before completely that first loop, which served as a sort of ticket to the finish line. Some middle school kids were holding them out like jousting rings so you could just thrust your hand in without stopping, and at least that was a nice morale-boosting moment.


And then… to the finish! … Which was still about three miles away. At this point my mood took a bit of a dip. I never did break out any music, because I was afraid that if I stopped to get out my headphones I’d lose my momentum. Although I didn’t have far to go I knew the numbers weren’t adding up for a PR, and I just wanted to be done. Specifically I wanted to sit down on the side of the course and burst into tears. But I kept running, because nobody gets a medal for tears!

Luckily, a bright spot popped up unexpectedly. A lot of the water/Gatorade/Clif Shot stops (there were ALWAYS Clif Shots, which was nice, but only strawberry and vanilla, boo)  were specifically themed to local colleges and universities and manned by alums. At the West Virginia University stop, they were advertising beer… and expressly NO WATER. This a) made me laugh and b) they gave me some Bud Light or something that totally scratched the itch that was making me crave some seltzer water. I was not cured of my malaise, but I was bolstered. 

Finally, finally, we turned onto the University of North Carolina Wilmington campus, and I knew I was almost home. Half a mile later and then finish line was in sight! I managed to push it a little to the finish, and wound up with a final time of 4:38:38, which is not my BEST time but it is my SECOND best time so I guess that’s pretty good?


The post-race party is modest compared to some bigger races but proportionally pretty impressive. We got water, bundt cake, and a small bag of snacks at the finish, plus there was more food and massages in a runner’s only area. And of course any race that gives out good free beer at the end is a plus – there was a Dogfish Head tent and I took two small cups of Sea Quench sour ale (YEAH BABY!) before dragging myself off to meet my dad, who in addition to drop-offs can also perform pickups on request.

This was the 10th anniversary of the Wrightsville Beach Marathon weekend of races, and based on last year versus this year I think it’s starting to pick up steam. There were a lot more participants and more course support, and I enjoyed it about as much as anyone can enjoy a non-runDisney race. If you’re in the general area, I would absolutely recommend it.

When’s your next marathon? “Never” is an acceptable and understandable answer.

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Is About To Tackle Marathon #13

Okaaaay! So. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this. I have a marathon coming up on Saturday. Wrightsville Beach Marathon go-round number 2.


But it’s not just any marathon. It’s my ceremonial marathon #13. And 13, as you may not know, is one of my lucky numbers!*

Unrelated.

So will this be my lucky marathon? Well I’ll tell ya… I don’t know.

Pro: It’s supposed to be a runner-friendly mid-to-upper-50s for most of the race.
Con: But it’s also supposed to rain the night before, so some parts of the course could be wet/muddy.

Pro: My IT band has been behaving itself of late! (Knock on wood, please. All of you.)
Con: I occasionally feel the beginnings of a tight hamstring. I’ve never quite gotten there but I better stretch and maybe even tape it up…

Pro: I have a solid fueling plan and having been making pretty nutritionally sound choices all week. No drinking.
Con: Oh, God. I’ve been sneezing a lot the last couple days. Am I getting a cold?!

In conclusion: darned if I know. But I do know that come tomorrow morning I’ll be toeing the line, like a good little non-quitter, armed with my race mantras and ready to face the music. Pray for me now and in the hour of my potential death.

*Fun fact about me: my costume was filed as Wench 13 when I worked at Medieval Times.

What’s your lucky number?

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!