On Sunday, February 24th, I took part in the most amazing, most challenging thing I’ve ever had the courage to do: run a half marathon. I say this because I’ve never considered myself a runner.
In middle school I ran track, and I was fast. Once I entered high school I didn’t participate in sports and I quickly fell out of love with running. As I got older, I attempted running again but found it frustrating. I couldn’t run half a kilometer to save my life! This changed last May when I spent a week in Walt Disney World and picked up a Women’s Running magazine at the airport, that’s when I saw an ad for runDisney runs. I was sold! Anything to go back to Disney? Yep.
On Saturday, I carbo loaded at lunch, a meal of spaghetti with marinara sauce and bread at Pizzafari in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I drank more water than I normally drink in a few days. I was feeling both excited and nervous. I kept telling myself, “You can do this!” I wanted to prove myself wrong, but to prove to others-who very much talked behind my back, saying, “She can’t do this.”- that in fact, I could do it.
Laid all my clothes out the night before and set alarm clocks on my iPhone at 15-minute intervals: 2:00, 2:15, 2:30. I wanted to be at the bus stop by 3 am since I had a race retreat and wanted to sit and relax before heading to the corrals.
The bus at the Art of Animation resort was already there and there were no lines. The ride was about 20 minutes with traffic into Epcot. The parking lot had lots of tents: ice tents, medical tents, bag check-in and the race retreat tent. I walked in and helped myself to some pre-race treats. They offered bagels with peanut butter, jam/jelly, muffins and coffee/tea. It was also nice to have a private port-a-potty!
I left around 4:15 and walked outside once the announcement was made that runners needed to make their way to the corrals. A volunteer checked my bib and told me to follow the crowds and the corrals would be there in about 20 minutes. Talk about a nice warmup!
The weather was cool but not cold, and once at the corrals, I placed my sweater on the fence. There were cardboard bins for clothing but I saw runners throwing trash in there!!
A volunteer checked bibs to ensure that you were entering the correct corral, however, I saw people climbing the fence and getting into earlier corrals, which really annoyed me. The corrals were crowded and it was difficult to get back if you needed to use the potty, so I can see how some people used that to their advantage to climb into earlier corrals.
At 5:30, fireworks went off and off went the wheelchair participants, and every 7 minutes after that, a corral was off and running. I was placed in H, which took off at 6:24 AM.
Miles 1-2 seem to pass by quickly and soon I was looking for that 5K mark. I signed myself for runner tracking and about 5 secs after passing the mark, I received a text message. I passed Captain Jack Sparrow and the ship on my left, the villains on my right, but the lines were too long to stop and have a picture taken. As much as I wanted to stop, I couldn’t, I was worried about being in the last corral and being swept. I just had to run.
The field was crowded and there were a lot of walkers. There were walkers to my left, to my right, runners on the left and right, and runners bobbing and weaving through crowds just to get through. A one point, I ran about 1/4 mile on the grass and it hurt my hips, badly. I just couldn’t get by!
The crowd seemed to spread out once we were about to enter Magic Kingdom and it was exciting to see that I made it that far. Made a left turn around Space Mountain and on my left, I saw a band playing drums and it made me smile.
Once entering Magic Kingdom, there were crowds on both sides of the ropes, cheering people on, clapping, holding signs, and I was pumped. Running through Main Street USA and seeing the castle up ahead, and the field became congested. At that point, I couldn’t run anymore, I had to walk, slow. The lines were long and I really wanted a pic with Mickey and Minnie, but again, I worried about timing. Once walking through the crowded Cinderella Castle, photographers were set up to take pictures in front of the castle. I waited about 3 minutes and I was well on my way.
Half Way mark!! Alicia Keys’, “Girl on Fire” played on loud speakers.
I HAD to stop and have my picture taken with Lilo and Stitch….I just love Stitch 🙂 I felt like such a kid when I saw Stitch, I’m like, “Stiiiiiitch!!!!!” 🙂
10k mark and my body felt like I hadn’t even run that far! I stopped at every water/Powerade station and had a cup of each. I have issues with dehydration and that was the last thing I needed to worry about.
Mile 10 and I was really starting feeling the heat. The humidity was getting to me and I kept looking for the next water station. My legs felt tired, but it never crossed my mind to slow down and quit when I was so close. On I-4 and the exit sign for Epcot when I noticed it was a hill leading to an overpass. Well, that hill was killer. I ran/walked up that hill and regained strength to get me through the last 2 miles.
Spectators once again cheered on and when I saw the choir on my right, I wanted to cry. I was out of breath, choking on my tears. Seeing that choir meant the end was just around the corner. I couldn’t slow down! I remember saying I my head, “I want this soooo bad!”
Turned a corner and there it was, the finish line. I ran faster from excitement, there were spectators in bleachers cheering on, and arms held high, I crossed that finish line, with a smile on my face and tears in my eyes. A lady approached me with a medal, took my pic and walked off feeling like I was walking on clouds. Days later, it all still feels surreal. I did it!!!
I’d like to thank runDisney for giving people an opportunity to make their dreams reality. So many runs are not walker-friendly and it was nice to see runners of all ages and backgrounds get off the couch and attempt a half-marathon.
Thank you to the volunteers who provided us with water, Powerade and fuel to finish this run. The volunteers who cheered us on from the sidelines, you have no idea how much your encouragement helped, at times when my mind wanted to quit.
Thank you to my Mom, who believed in me when no one else in my family did. I love you!
Last but not least, to the Princess Posse. You are all amazing and I could not have done it without you.
I realize this is starting to sound like I won an Academy Award, ha!! (Sorry)
I’m already looking forward to next year’s Princess Half, but first, I’m off to California for Disneyland Half Marathon.
See you at the finish line!