My First 26.2 – Disney vs. Space Coast?

I’ve been toying with the idea of running a marathon since right around Mile 11 of the Princess Half Marathon.  I was so close to the end of the race and felt great, so I started thinking that maybe running 26.2 miles wasn’t as impossible as it seemed just a few short months ago.  Running a marathon is never something I wanted to do.  I’ve had a few friends who have done it, and while I had a heck of a lot of respect for them, I just never had the desire to do it myself.

There’s something addicting about running though.  If you’d told me 6 months ago that I was seriously considering signing up for a marathon, I’d tell you that you were out of your mind.  Yet, here I am, not just trying to decide if I should run a marathon, but trying to decide which one to do as my first.  I’m struggling with the decision though.  I have it narrowed down to two races and they both sound great.

First, the Walt Disney World Marathon in January.  I’ve been told that this race is tough to top.  You run through all four parks, there is a ton of on-course entertainment, beautiful medals, great crowd support.  As with most Disney races though, a lot of runners seem to consider this a “fun” race and not one to be super serious about.  Not that it’s not a serious race, anytime you cover 26.2 miles powered by your own two legs and a few energy gels, it’s serious.  This one is more about fun though, you see a lot of racers rocking their Mickey Mouse ears, dressed as their favorite princess, and there’s a TON of sparkle.  This race seems like it’s one that would be a lot of run to run with a group of friends (as my twitter buddy Marcia pointed out to me in her recap of last years race).  I don’t typically run in a group, but I do have two friends that may be interested in doing this one for fun and not a killer time, so maybe..?

The other race I’m considering is the Space Coast Marathon, in December.  According to their site, this course is “one of the most beautiful waterfront courses on the east coast”.  There is something so peaceful about running alongside the coast, being able to look out over the water.  That’s a definite perk for me.  The course is also partially shaded and mostly flat, a lot of people use it to BQ.  All of the aid stations are space themed, volunteers are wearing space-themed gear, there are photo-ops on site with astronauts, and the medals are equally beautiful.  This race is also MUCH smaller (capped at 4,000 runners) which is a definite plus, as it’s no fun adding extra distance to an already long race by dodging other runners.  Did I mention that their official “space snack” is a Moon Pie.  How can I say no to a Moon Pie?

Either way, I won’t be on my own.  My husband is planning to run the half marathon both weekends, so he’ll be there either on course with me (at Space Coast) or cheering from the sidelines (at Disney).  I have a friend planning to run the half at Space Coast as well and a few friends running different races over Marathon weekend at Disney.  They’re not really helping to make my decision any easier!  My husband certainly isn’t, he just told me to run both!

My first big race was a a Disney race and it was wonderful.  I loved the energy, the crowds, everything.  Running down Main Street, U.S.A. while a huge crowd cheers for you and reaches out to give you high fives was an absolutely incredible feeling, one I’d definitely love to feel again.  I also really love the smaller local races where I can easily run at my own pace, with less stress, pretty surroundings, and fun crowds.. and moon pies.  So, do I go for crowded and a more fun oriented race  or do I go for a smaller and more serious race?  As with my first half marathon, my main goal here is to just cross the finish line.  I don’t have a time goal in mind, though if I’m being honest, I have to admit that I am a little bit competitive.  I love seeing my average pace drop the more I train and it would feel really good to have a decent finish time for my first marathon.  It’s not a necessity though.

I have no clue which racing environment is better for a first marathon.  If you were me, which would you choose?  How would you decide which to run?  Do you think one makes more sense for a first timer?

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21 thoughts on “My First 26.2 – Disney vs. Space Coast?”

  1. While I am not planning on running a marathon, I would probably lean towards WDW Marathon weekend. While it’s more crowded and not a flat course, it would make me feel less pressure than the Space Coast race would. Smaller races make me feel self concious and I feel like I’m not an elite-enough runner to participate in them (my hangup, I know it’s silly). Although Space Coast has all of the new special bling if you run races on consecutive years and I am a sucker for extra bling…

  2. I ran Disney as my first this year. The weather was horrible, and I fully blame that for a lot of the reason I didn’t do as well as I wanted. But, most weekends Disney has their marathon it is chilly, so this year was an anomaly. It’s definitely fun, but there is a lot of down time without a crowd, and that got to me mentally at times. I don’t know much about the other one you’re considering, so I can’t really speak to that. Here’s my Disney recap from this year in case that’s helpful at all:

  3. I’ve run the WDW Marathon twice, and it’s great. However, both times I found the course a bit stinky – felt like I was going to gag from the stench. It’s got a great vibe though, for sure!
    If I were in your shoes, I’d choose the Space Coast Marathon. From your description it sounds lovely. It’s also great to change it up a bit, see more places, run different courses – plus, you probably wouldn’t have to wake up quite so early as Disney.

    1. Thanks Colleen :) I’ve heard that Disney can smell pretty awful early in the morning.. gagging and running don’t exactly go together well! Adam really wants to do the Space Coast half, so I’m thinking about maybe just doing both.. I just don’t know if that’s going to suck doing them a month apart!

      1. You could do both, but it is a lot on your body so close together. Heck – go with it. You’ll be trained up for the first marathon, so it’s just maintaining it. :)
        I’d probably do both!

  4. I really want to do the Space Coast. I don’t know that Mr. PugRunner will be into it, though, so it might just be me.

    1. Adam really wants to do the half that weekend too. Will he come down with you if you run it? Andrea wants to run it too and will be coming solo.

  5. Disney was my first full and I am so glad. There is a lot of pressure for your first full so I wanted something that I would look forward to, fun characters, running through the parks, the chance to take a break and snap some photos, etc. it really helped take the pressure off and was SO much fun!

    1. The pressure is what I’m worried about. I’m so competitive with myself though, I’m worried that if I do the Disney one and take my time, I’ll be upset with myself afterward if I have a so-so time. I know that doesn’t make much sense though. I think what I may do is sign up for both and if I decide I’m not ready for a full yet, I can drop down to the half for Space Coast. I’m 99.9% sure I’m signing up for the Disney one though!

  6. I would choose WDW, but then I’m basically going against my own choice. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do WDW or NYC first but ultimately I’m going to do the NYC ING Marathon in 2015 as my first marathon. I go back and forth about doing WDW before it, but since I was born/raised/ and still live just an hour or so outside of NYC- that marathon is what I think when I think of marathons. I’m not from Boston so I didn’t grow up knowing about that one being what it is. NYC is my Boston. So for my first, I want it to be NYC, where hopefully some friends and family can come support, and I’m supporting my love for the greatest city in the world. Would I love to do the WDW one? Absolutely. I think if you have no attachment to the area where Space Coast is- I’d do WDW as my first. Go BIG or go home :) But if you think you can handle both of them- just do it. You are a running rock star after all! :) I know you can totally do both! So basically I’m not offering much advice but I DO believe that YOU can do both. You have the mentality of an awesome runner.

    1. Thanks for your insight, Christina! We’re planning to do both races, I just don’t know if I should sign up for the half or full at each of them. Trying to figure out training for those plus Wine & Dine is making my head hurt!!

      No attachment to Space Coast, I’ve just heard it’s a pretty flat course and could be good for a first shot at 26.2, but then with Disney I feel like I wouldn’t have to stress over time.. but I know me and I’d be a little bummed if I let it go and didn’t try my best for my first shot. Why am I so darn indecisive?!

      I may just sign up for both and be done with it, I can always drop down to the half later.. at least I know I can for Space Coast and I think I can for Disney.. maybe?

  7. Hi. I ran The half at Disney. It was fun ,expensive, but it was the Princezs and I did it with my daughter. I am running the Half in the space coast definitely for the Bling. My favorite Marsthon and my first and a great race for a first Marathon is Chicago. The most fun I ever had. Great crowds cheers music and all the great neighborhoods of ChicGo and an outstanding expo. Better than any I have ever attended. My nest Full Marathon will be Marine corp. the people’s marathon. Soo the choice is hard but for the fun money and excitement I’d choose Chicago it runs in October and has about 30,000 runners what a great day.

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