I can’t tell you the day I thought it was a good idea to run Goofy (Disney World Half Marathon and Disney World Marathon in 24 hours). That is a blur to me. What I can tell you is the day that I thought, “What the hell am I doing running 39.3 miles?!” The thought came to me post Disney World Half Marathon, when my body was so sore that I actually subjected myself to this…
In the last year and a half I have ran a hand full of half marathons. Even though I kept the Disney World half marathon easy, it hurt… and it hurt bad. I went to bed that night thinking, “if I cry or tear up trying to get up in the morning… I am calling it quits.” So I set-up flat Amanda and then curled up for 7 hours of running dreams.
The next morning I was on autopilot. I woke-up right with the alarm, rolled out of bed, and was dressed before my eyes fully opened. It was time to head to the starting line of the Walt Disney World Marathon.
I am assuming it was the excitement of the race, but my body wasn’t as sore as I thought it would be. Being in a crowd of 20,000 plus people can really put you in better spirits; especially if that crowd is full of excited runners. As we sat in our corral waiting for the race to start, I had the chance to talk to a woman who coordinates and runs ultra marathons. It got me to thinking…. (wait until my next big announcement).
But before I knew it we were being ushered to the front of the corrals; it was our turn for the gun (or in Disney style… FIREWORKS!).
At about mile one, the pain from the day before started to rear its head again. I began to hurt in my lower back, calf muscles, and shins. I was starting the race off miserable. I told myself I at least had to get to mile 10. I don’t know why I choose ten, but at the time it just seemed logical.
By mile two… I hit the wall. Weird, I know. WHO HITS A WALL AT MILE 2?! I did. I wanted to quit. My body was begging me to stop. But there was so much excitement around me I got caught up in it. I forced myself to keep going. I told myself get to mile 5 then decide.
By mile three, my muscles were starting to change their mind. My body was warming up and I was starting to feel like I could do this.
The rest of the morning was really a blur. I didn’t stop much for character pictures or photo opportunities. I channeled my inner Forest Gump “And I RAN!” I put on my favorite tunes and I got caught up in my music and let the other runners around pace me. I had turned my brain on autopilot; yes, even in the Magic Kingdom.
Before I knew it, I was halfway there. I had hit mile 13. I had passed mile 5 and 10; not once did I want to stop. My body was hot and my muscles were happy.
It was at this point that I realized, “unless I get hurt… I got this!”
This was the first time that I truly thought I was actually going to achieve the goal of running 39 miles in 24 hours. I felt unstoppable. That was until….
… I had a rock in my shoe.
The second half of the marathon was hot. People of Florida were comparing it to a typical July day. It was 85 degrees with a lot of humidity! As the miles went on, I saw people dropping out. Finding shade next to medical tents and calling it quits. I felt for them. It broke my heart to see so many dreams shattered. I just had to keep going, smiling through the heat and remind myself that I could do it.
By mile 18, I started to hurt again. My knees were swelling up and my joints were getting stiff. All I wanted to see was that mile 20 marker. But first we had to run the bases at ESPN Wide World of Sports. Then my second wind hit…
I put on my headphones and I cruised. I might have paused briefly for the mile 20 spectacular. The pause was more of my own excitement that…. WE MADE IT TO MILE 20! Only 6 more miles until I was done.
After the mile 20 spectacular, the route went down the highway and into Disney Hollywood Studios. Those miles were the most brutal miles… no shade, direct sun, and HOT temps. But I didn’t hit a wall. I just wanted it to be finished. I wanted that finish line more than anything. I was hurting, hot, and tired. I wasn’t even hungry; which for me is crazy because I AM ALWAYS HUNGRY when I run.
I wish I could tell you character stops and the miles they were at… but I can’t. I wish I could tell you what chocolate they were handing out at DHS… but I can’t (all I know is it was Hersey’s that taste sooooo good). So much of the concrete details of the race were a blur.
What I can tell you is that motivational signs at mile 22 of marathons that say “Everyone fails one day, but today is not your day” make me cry. People who scream, “You are amazing, Stranger!” make me cry. I think from mile 22 to 25 I spent most of my energy holding back tears. I knew I had done it. I was going to be a marathoner. Now it was just time to smile through the pain.
Then I saw it… my FAVORITE structure on Disney property. I was at the end of the race. It was only a matter of time before I had my medal.
The last mile was one of the most anticipated moments of my life; yes, ranking right up there with marriage and giving birth. Once I crossed the finish line I felt amazing, strong, and accomplished. I had achieved something I didn’t think possible… I ran 26.2 miles. And those miles were accomplished under very difficult conditions (sore muscles, hot temps, etc.).
The rest of the day was spent slowly walking around (keeping our muscles warm), followed by a much deserved nap. When I finally gathered up the energy to move again, we headed to the Magic Kingdom for extended hours, where we treated ourselves to much deserved Dole Whips.
The next day all I craved was fruit. So we found a place in the Animal Kingdom that sold amazing fruit plates.
The rest of the Disney trip was spent sporting my beautiful new treasures.
I would have fallen asleep wearing my marathon medal if it wasn’t so heavy!
The most interesting aspect about the whole race was the fact that going into it I didn’t think it would be such a life changing experience. Now that I am home, settled in, and back to my daily routine I do feel different. It’s a overwhelming sense of accomplishment; but not the kind that leaves you lazy. I have set higher goals for myself because I know that I can achieve them. Fear has left my vocabulary. I am a marathon runner.