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A Tale of Five Marathons – How Disney was Different

I’ve now run 5 marathons in the past 2.5 years, and I had become accustomed to “the wall” arriving right around mile 16. Honestly, I didn’t think I would ever run a marathon where I didn’t bonk with about 8 miles to go. The mile-split charts below largely speak for themselves, but you can see that in marathon #5 I somehow managed to avoid “the wall” and run strongly in the final 8 miles. I’m still not sure why, but I plan to explore some ideas over the coming days about why Disney was different. Stay tuned!

2008 Vermont City Marathon – My First

2009 Vermont City Marathon – My Second
2009 ING Hartford Marathon – My Third
2009 Manchester City Marathon – My Fourth
2010 Walt Disney World Marathon – My Fifth

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a biology teacher, track/soccer coach, and dad (x3) with a passion for running, soccer, and science. If you'd like to learn a little bit more about who I am and what I do, click here, or visit


  1. Brendan (aka @mainerunnah) says:

    Pete – the visual is a telling story about your success at Disney. Nice even splits, although how does elevation play a factor as I think you mentioned that Disney is flatter than Manchester & VCM. Good on ya. Keep up the great work!

  2. Barry Cott says:

    Pete – I posted on DailyMile before, but perhaps this is a better place to discuss. Were all four previous marathons hot/warm weather ones? Your wall could be related to your relative inability to disperse heat in the warmer weather.

    • Pete Larson says:


      I’ve thought about the temp factor, and it could very well have played a
      role. However, neither of my previous 2 marathons were particularly warm
      (Manchester in November was in the 40’s at the start), so it’s hard to say
      for sure. I think the biggest factor was mileage – I’ve accumulated a lot
      since the Fall, and put in a number of double-run days leading up to
      Disney. Running the 2 Fall marathons also helped a great deal – and with
      two months off since Manchester I was feeling pretty fresh.


  3. I live about an hour from Disney. It’s usally my favorite race! I missed it this year though; I just gave birth in October and wasn’t cleared to run in time to train (I had a “high risk” pregnancy and wasn’t allowed to run while prego so I’m starting all over). I’m a native Floridian so I was kind of glad to have missed this year, it was COLD! I wondered if it would be easier for those used to running in the cold than for those of us used to running in blistering heat.

    • Pete Larson says:


      Thanks for the comment! I think it did help to be from NH in those
      conditions – once we got moving I felt fine. It was actually warmer than
      most of my recent runs back home! We have a bay due in April, so my wife is
      going through the same thing as you right now. She was “high risk” in her
      previous pregnany, which was very hard. Smoother this time around, but
      we’ve still got a few months to go (April due date). How you can do Disney
      next year!


  4. chrissduffy says:

    Pete-this is an interesting visual comparison of your marathons. It’s very telling.

    I appreciated hearing your race report. Though I’m slower and a littlle older than you, I identified with it on several levels.

    Like you, Disney was my 5th marathon. I had hoped for a breakthrough like you had, but it was not to be. I need to build a more consistent base.

    Glad you had a great race. What’s next for you? I’m going for Vermont for the 3rd time.

    • Pete Larson says:


      Yeah, something clicked this time, and there are a number of factors that I
      think came into play. I’m still not a high mileage marathoner (I’ve topped
      50 miles in a week only one ever), but ran two in the Fall and then had 2
      months off before Disney, which was a good amount of recovery. I think
      running the earlier two helped lot. As far as next, I’d love to do Vermont
      again (did it the past 2 years), but we’ve got a baby due in April and I’m
      holding off on marathons until the Fall at the earliest. For the time
      being, I’m going to focus on bettering my 5K PR and run more local races
      this season.


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