Running for 26.2 miles when you've already run out of style.
By Owen Panettieri (playwright, lyricist)
A little over a month ago, I ran my third Disney World Marathon. I love this event. It's about the joy of the race with very little pressure to run a personal best time. I'm sure some people go in with that goal, but the race has so many character photo op spots built into the race that it's more about enjoying yourself as you run than it is about getting through it as fast as possible.
I finally looked at my race pictures and I think they're hilarious. I basically look more like Little Edie strolling through the most magical place on Earth, waving at strangers and eating crunchy M&M's, than I do someone whose on mile 23 of a 26.2 mile run. Let's dissect my outfit and I'll explain what went into these strong fashion choices. But before I start, I have to say it was hella cold in Orlando the day of the marathon. The rest of the week was pretty nice, there were even several undeniably warm days. But there was awful weather the day before (lightning canceled the half-marathon that was supposed to take place Saturday morning) and then the temperature PLUNGED. When we started the race on Sunday morning it was not even 40 degrees outside. The irony here was that even though it was winter in NYC I had waited to do all my long training runs on days where the temperature spiked above 50 degrees in NYC. So here I was in what was supposed to be sunny and warm Florida and I would be running in weather that was significantly colder than what I was used to and what I planned to wear would simply not be sufficient to keep me warm for a 5 hour run. I foolishly didn't even pack a warmer option with me, so I had to improvise.
I was going to wear a sleeveless running shirt and shorts. These became my bottom layer. On top of that layer I wore a long sleeve running shirt that I got as part of my registration for the race. On top of that went a Disney hoodie we purchased in Animal Kingdom the day because it was so damn cold. I'm also wearing my compression socks which go all the way up to my knees. For accessories, I have my scarf, my sunglasses, knit gloves that I also purchased in Animal Kingdom (they are shoved in my shorts pockets in the picture above), my MFF Ninja Masters Headband and my Bose blue tooth headphones that doubled as much needed ear muffs. All in all, it got the job done, but I also feel like Stacy London and Clinton Kelly are just out of frame ready to run up behind me and pull me into a special Disney Edition of What Not To Wear.
My favorite accessory here really is the crunchy M&M's though. There are a bunch of different snack stations throughout the course. Most have bananas, sometimes there are pretzels, or Gu energy boosters. I vaguely remember someone handing out red vines, but that must've just been a dude on the side of the road and not an official station (delicious and desperately needed either way.) The last snack station was chocolate as we were making our way through Hollywood Studios. Some volunteers were handing out mini candy bars, which would be my first choice under normal circumstances, but then I noticed that some volunteers were handing out regular size packets of crunchy M&M's and I was all, "Screw your mini Milky Ways! Give me that bag o' sweet crunchy candy!" I knew I could really stretch out that kind of snack that would result in a couple miles of eating and running. I was right. I didn't run out of M&M's until I got to Epcot about 2 miles later and was then really in the home stretch. Those were easily the best M&M's I ever had. Seeing them in this picture makes me happy (and hungry).
Besides my ridiculous outfit. The other thing that I noticed from my pictures is how happy I look in all of them. There was no point during the race that I felt particularly fatigued. In fact, as the race went on I felt stronger and happier. No matter how I look, I know I definitely think I'll be running the Disney World Marathon again in the future. But next time, I think I'll pack multiple sensible matching outfits for varying weather conditions.
OWEN PANETTIERI is the author of the awarding-winning plays Vestments of the Gods and The Timing of a Day. His play A Burial Place had its world debut in NYC in 2016. Member of Playwrights Gallery in NYC. www.owenpanettieri.com