Weekend Review: The Walt Disney World Half Marathon. I Did It!

Posted: January 9, 2012 in Weekend Review


Warning: This Post Will Be Massive!

If you want the short version, just look at the next picture and move along. I’ve got a long story to tell with loads of pictures and many thanks.

The short version is that I made it. I should say WE made it. I crossed the Finish Line of the Disney Half Marathon behind James and Lisa at 9:59 a.m. on I have so much to tell you about today. We will start with…


Thursday was the day that James, Lisa and I made our way over to ESPN Wide World of Sports to pick up our race packets at the Disney Marathon Weekend Expo. We got there right at 10 a.m. when the event started to avoid crowds. It wasn’t too bad when we got there.

Hers a shot of the packet pick-up area.

Let’s just say that Disney has got their sh!t together! We had to split up. Lisa and I went to get our race packets in one area but James had to go elsewhere for his since he was running the Goofy Marathon(1/2 on Saturday and full on Sunday). I traded in my waiver…

…for my race packet.

My race bib was very cool. It had a chrono-tag on the back that would provide our times and allowed you all to get text, email or facebook/twitter updates. We had to take our bibs and walk through an area of the floor to make sure our names showed up when we crossed. That all worked great so we met up with James at the expo vendor area.

You can still see the floor in that picture. It didn’t take long before those pathways were overcrowded with people. our first stop was to get our swag bags. They were filled with lots of advertisements but we got our marathon tech shirts too.

After that, we walked around and shopped a bit. James dropped some large coin and bought me an incredible waist belt that has two canteens for liquid, two areas to hold gel packs and a pocket for your I.D., cellphone, etc. This helped me so much during the event and I’m very thankful for a friend like him!

We took a walk over to see the medals for the event.
The Donald one on the left is for the 1/2 marathon. The Mickey on the right is for the full marathon and the Goofy in the middle is for crazy people, like James, who decided to do both in the same weekend.

We paused outside for a quick picture on the way out and made our way back to our homes and day jobs. We wouldn’t see each other again until…


I awoke at 2:00 a.m. to get dressed. This was my awesome shirt for the race provided by Jennifer Morgan.

I wanted a shirt that would briefly tell my story on the back to people that were passing me during the race. I also wanted the shirt to bring people to the blog and Twitter. It worked very well. Maybe too well but I’ll get to that later in my recollection of the 1/2 marathon.

I drove over to James and we got in his car and picked up Lisa. By 3:15 a.m. we were driving to the EPCOT parking lot staging area for the race. We hit some pretty heavy traffic entering Disney property.

Once we parked and entered the staging area, we hit the port-o-lets. We weren’t the only ones waiting in line. I call this picture Where’s Jesus?

Next we walked around the back of EPCOT to the corrals. James and Lisa knew I couldn’t do this alone. My corral was E. Lisa had D and James had H. We knew that we couldn’t move forward so Lisa moved back to E with me and James snuck in with us. If he hadn’t snuck in, I may not have ever found him in the crowd. We stood in the corral for about ten minutes and then we heard the announcer and Donald Duck countdown the launch of the first wave. We heard 3…2…1… and then the sky exploded!

Note: At this point in the story, I don’t have any pictures of the actual run while it was dark. I was too focused on making it to the end and didn’t take any pictures

The first explosion was for the wheelchair racers. These guys are ridiculously fast on their recumbent bikes and wheelchairs. You’ll see how fast they were later in the post. After that, corrals A, B, C and D were launched out and then at about 6:00 a.m. We were off. Our first interval was a one minute jog followed by a two minute walk. James immediately slowed my pace down because, as I anticipated, I took off at a 13:00 per mile pace. Lisa had her Garmin set to beep every one minute and every two minutes for the intervals so we could maintain our pace. My first 5k (3 miles) went off at a 16:16 per mile pace and I held on pretty well during the jogs. I hit the 5k mark at 6:50 a.m. That about two to six minutes faster than every 5k I did in 2011 and sixty minutes faster than Warrior Dash last January. Just past mile 3 and I saw my friend, Rick Brown, chaperoning the Oviedo High School marching band and he managed to see me yelled my name. I found him on the side of the road, waved and kept running. We made it down to Magic Kingdom. As we entered on Main Street, I felt amazing. There were people lining the streets cheering for all of us. We took a right into Tomorrowland and then around through Fantasyland. We passed the carousel and ran through the middle of Cinderella’s Castle. We came down on the right side of the castle and…well…I was out of it. I thought I heard my mother yelling Pat! Pat! and I looked and it was another woman. She must have been yelling for another person named Pat. Shortly after this moment I saw Jennifer Morgan standing there with a sign she made for me that said Go Pat Go! That really lifted my spirits! We kept going through Liberty Square into Frontierland and then out the back of the Magic Kingdom cast area. It was here, in mile 7, that things started to go slightly bad. I was hurting. The pain contributed to the depression of that not being my mom outside the castle and I was choking back tears a little while staying behind James and Lisa to avoid the embarrassment of that. A moment later and I saw that James started getting concerned. He was shoving PowerAde into my hand to drink and making me eat several shot blocks. It wasn’t until after the race that he told me my lips were going white and I was a little pale at this point. We pushed on. We ran out past the Grand Floridian into mile 8 and the cramps became unbearable.

We stopped almost every mile after this for James to smash his fists into my calves to force out the lactic acid. It helped some. We kept maintaining intervals but switched to 1:30 running and 2:00 walking to get our pace up. I was slowing badly. Still no sign of the sag wagon at this point and there were lots of people around us but I was struggling badly! Mile 9. Another cramp massage. Mile 10. One more cramp massage. It was in mile 10 that we walked up the exit ramp from World Drive to the EPCOT parking area. Then…I saw it. Not the sag wagon. I was on the overpass looking down World Drive and the sight I saw helped me know I was going to make it. I saw thousands of people as far as the eye could see walking and running behind me. So many people that the sag wagon was nowhere in sight and I was just a few miles out from the end. We came down off the overpass, turned a corner and started up a hill into the EPCOT parking lot. That when I finally got my phone out to take this picture.

Seeing Spaceship Earth from the hill was a welcoming sight. Just two miles to go and thousands of people still behind and between me and the sag wagon. At this point, I asked if we could just walk the rest of the way. My legs couldn’t handle any more jogging intervals. In addition to that, the shirt…well, the shirt did its job. It told a story and, throughout the course of the race, people would turn to me as they passed saying good job!, congratulations, I used to be like you…, Keep going. They’d turn to their run buddies and say did you see his shirt? he lost 100 pounds. Some would also pat me on the back. What a great feeling but talking to people and getting pats on the back at mile 12 starts to get a little irritating when you’re completely exhausted. We walked into EPCOT, up to the lagoon where the countries are and back to the entrance. As we came under Spaceship Earth we moved out into a cast member area between the guest area and the parking lot. Right then, we were treated to an awesome gospel choir singing either Get ‘er done or Get it boy or something that I couldn’t understand but the harmonies were awesome and I took the following video.

After we passed the choir, we rounded a corner to the right and I saw it…

…the most amazing sight Id seen all day. The Finish Line stood only 600 feet away. Since I was absolutely sure I was finishing and getting that medal, I stopped INSIDE the finish line for the first fun picture I took all day with Donald.

I can tell how much pain I’m in here because I tried to smile but it looks more like I’m trying to poop. Folks, if you can ever see my teeth in my smile, I’m not actually smiling normally. After the picture was taken, I turned toward the finish line and crossed.

A few more steps and the medal was placed around my neck and I met up with Lisa and James. I got handed a bagel, a banana, a PowerAde and a massage and then we rested a bit before heading home. Here are my official stats. Happily, I was not the last person to finish!

So Many to Thank

I’m not going to tell you about Sunday since I just stayed home and recovered. My right ankle is a mess and I’m slowly walking around the house like an old woman trying to get things done. What I mostly want to do to close this blog is thank everyone that made my marathon experience possible

The Training Team
Thanks to all of those who walked, jogged and biked with me between June 2011 and today. Matt Greenwald, Jennifer Morgan, James and Lori Jessup, Lisa Pannell, Marrisa Bazemore, Jenny King and my sweet Padawan (who I continue to protect by leaving her name and face off my very public blog). She biked, jogged and walked at my side as if her daddy means the world to her.

The Monetary Sponsors
I could not have raised enough money for this on my own in 2011. I spent a good deal of the year unemployed. The following people contributed money by clicking the donate button on the left and helping me register for the event.
Special thanks to Heather and Sebastian Peralta, Maria Bisceglia, Jennifer Morgan, Keri Patterson-Nestle, Jennifer and Joe Lamy, Alicia Barger, Tony Coogler, Barbara and Chris Hochreiter, Patti Deakin, Gayle and Rob Castellucci and Bryan and Marrisa Bazemore.

Thanks goes out to my family. I know you all tried to be there. Life and distance get in the way and I understand that. You tried. It was so chaotic and crowded there that I’d have been worried you might get lost. It’s interesting to have those closest to me watch me grow up increasing in obesity my whole life and then one day I hit 35 and decide to turn it around and they stand behind me 100%. They comment on the blog, they call me and check in on my eating and fitness. They even come out and exercise with me. 2011 saw my father go primal and buy two paddleboards for him and me so we could get out and enjoy life while building core strength. So, I give my love, appreciation and thanks to Vincent Palazzolo, Barbara and Chris Hochreiter, Stella and Pat Librie, Mark Librie, Kathy and Geoff Castellucci, Melissa Palazzolo and my daughter.

James and Lisa
My running buddies. I already described how these two stood by me for the event yesterday. Lisa kept the interval notifications going. James sped me up, slowed me down as needed and helped my muscles make it a few more miles to the end. Having Lisa next to me as a professional nurse didn’t hurt either. There were medical tents throughout the course but if all else failed, I knew I was in good hands. She helped me stretch out a horrible cramp in mile 12 that nearly broke me. You guys gave me strength and determination to keep going. I told James two times to go on ahead because I didn’t think I could make it. This happened somewhere around mile 8 and that’s when he decided he was going to start administering the massages to my calves to get me through the next few miles. These two were my rock yesterday.

The Fans, Facebookers, Tweeters and Texters
You know who you are but there are so many of you that I lost count. I sat down after finishing, turned my phone toward my social networks and was beaten down by a battalion of #GoPatGo, inspirational messages on Facebook, Twitter and text messages. You guys are amazing. They say the social networks make us poor conversationalists and no one can really know the current state of the world if they aren’t plugged in to the internet at some point. I kind of like to put a positive spin on it and say: how else could I have received real-time motivation from 679 friends without modern technology? Thank you for your kind words of encouragement!

The Finish Line

For all my whining and stressing, I made it. I didn’t do it alone because of all of you. At the beginning of 2011, I never saw myself doing something like this. As I huffed and puffed across the finish line of Warrior Dash, I never thought I’d run two more 5k events and then jump straight into a 1/2 marathon. But I did. So if life is telling you you can’t, take hold, say f#*@! you! and know that YOU CAN! You need to believe it and you need people that believe in you surrounding you and supporting. That the kind of push that gets you across a finish line that 13.1 miles away from the start. That the kind of push that gets you to lose 100 pounds and commit to losing 100 more in 2012.

As I sit here writing this for you, I realize I didn’t cross the finish line. I just got queued up for the next starting line. Every finish comes with a new beginning. Its 2012. Do something phenomenal for yourself this year. I did.



  1. JMar says:

    I am almost in tears reading this. I am so proud of you and you also gave me flashbacks of the wine and dine for me last year! Keep at it, Pat! This is just the beginning! 🙂

  2. Keri Patterson Nestle (KP) says:

    AWESOMENESS !!!!!!!!!!!!!! So proud of you Pat for pushing through and not only finishing , but quite well 🙂 and very glad I could be a part in supporting you !! So many people talk the talk but you truly walk (run , jog, paddle board, and yes walk) the walk also !!!

  3. Marrisa says:

    Wow!! AMAZING!!! You RULE!!!!!!!!!!!! That’s all I can say. I always tell you how you inspire me and this is no different! I will continue to support you as my friend and motivator!! WHOO HOO!!!

    • Pasquale says:

      You were there in the beginning during my first days of jogging. You were able to walk beside me while I jogged. I sucked. You would have been so proud yesterday at seeing that my jogging pace actually allowed me to pass walkers. Thank you for training with me at the start!

      • Marrisa says:

        I’m so happy to have been a part of it. I’m always up for a run/jog/bike with my friend Pat:-)

  4. Lis Burns says:

    Hi, Pat! I saw you post the link to this on Facebook, and had to come check it out. I remember you talking about it on our gig back in December. YOU DID IT! Congratulations on such an incredible accomplishment! What an inspiration you are! Bravo, friend!

  5. We are so incredibly proud of you and all you’ve done! #gopatgo! 😉 xoxo

  6. Jenny says:

    I can’t believe I am saying this, but you got me to do the Warrior Dash in a couple weeks and now after reading this…I WANT to do the Disney 1/2 Marathon! Once I get things situated with school, I am going to have to figure out a new training schedule! So proud of how far you have come and what you have accomplished. What a GREAT start to 2012! Congrats buddy!!!

  7. Melanie says:

    You are awesome! I loved reading your recap and I was thinking of you on race day!

  8. Lisa says:

    So when are we doing the next one :-)???

    • Pasquale says:

      My plan is going back on couch 2 5k for more distance and control of breathing. Then couch 2 10k. Then I’ll integrate galloways half marathon training module into runkeeper for $9.99 and work my way through that. After I run 2013 Disney half like a monster, I want to train for a full by 2014. Sooner if my body allows.

      Am I sick in the head?!

  9. Alicia Barger says:

    Pat, you should be so proud of yourself! Not only for completing the half marathon, but also for being such an inspration to those who follow your blog! There have been many days when seeing your posts made me get up and go work out. Making the choices to eat better and get in shape isn’t easy, but it can be done. I’ll be thinking of you as I start training for the Biltmore 15k in May, knowing that if you can do a half marathon, what’s a measly 9 miles for me? (ha!) keep up the good work buddy!

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s