First of all, congratulations to everyone whom I know both personally and blogs I read who completed the half, the full or the Goofy this past weekend in Disney. I can’t wait to hear all the stories!
Now, I, sadly, didn’t do this run. But it made me recall my first half, the one that started this addiction: Disney’s Princess Half Marathon. So, in honor of all the awesome people who run and the (almost) one year anniversary of my first half marathon, here is my recap! I know it’s a year later, but doesn’t make it any less memorable.
February 2012. The day I had been training almost a year for was approaching. Yes, I trained for a year (have I mentioned how not in shape I was?). It was a Sunday night, one week exactly before the race. I had done my last long run in the morning and Doug and I had come home from a day in Manhattan and I noticed a pain in my ankle. It hurt to put pressure on it and to point my foot. When I took my sock off, my fear was confirmed. It was swollen. I had sprained my ankle. Having done this to myself 8 times, I recognized it. It was far from my worst sprain, but it was still a sprain. I started crying. I trained for a year, and now my ankle was going ruin it for me.
I was still going to Disney. I would see how the week played out. I would rest it. I didn’t run at all that week to give it its best chance for recovery. Not running at all the entire week before the race didn’t add any comfort. But if I had to run, walk, crawl, I was going to cross that finish line and I would do everything I could to make that happen. Please keep in mind, this in no way, shape, or form, is me encouraging ANYONE to run hurt. I was stupid doing it, I could’ve injured myself much worse. I made a call. I’ve become a pro at my ankle and decided I could (hopefully) survive this race. I didn’t tell my parents that I’d hurt myself because they’d kill me for doing the run anyway. I told the two girls I was running it with, Cat and Gerri. They needed to know why I was going to slow them down.
We flew down on Thursday, took the Magical Express to our hotel. We then immediately dropped off our bags and headed to downtown Disney. We needed our ears to wear in the parks the next day! I am a dork, I have also converted Doug into a Disney dork too. We were somewhat newly engaged, and so, although we weren’t married yet, we opted for the Bride and Groom ears because who knew if we would go to Disney during our “honeymoon” phase. Picked up some Bailey shakes and the Irish Pub (yum!) and we were off! We played a little mini golf at Fantasia Gardens (dorks, remember). We then went to the Boardwalk for dinner at Kouzzina, which I will still forever refer to as Spoodles. I’ve been there numerous times, the food there is AMAZING. One of my favorite parts of Disney is the Boardwalk, Yacht and Beach Club area. We walked all the way around and then headed back to our home for the weekend.
So while I didn’t run on it prior to the race, I did walk through 3 theme parks…in one day…on it. Hey, I’m not coming all the way down to WDW and not making the most of it! Plus, Doug hadn’t been to Disney in years and hardly remembered any part of it, so we had to experience as much as possible in a short amount of time. Btw, if you’re going to attempt drinking your way though the World Showcase, you should probably start early than 9pm. Lesson learned.
Saturday morning we get up and we’re off to the expo! Time to pick up my shirt, bib and information packet. Word of warning: if you go to the Disney expo, either bring a lot of money because you will want to buy tons of stuff, or, go with blinders on so all you see is the packet pick-up booth and the exit. Good thing I had Doug with me, otherwise I would have left with a lot more that just a jacket and an “I Did It!” shirt. Since I technically hadn’t done it yet, I was skeptical in buying it, but Doug who was optimistic bought it for me.
We took it easy the rest of Saturday. Tried not to walk around too much. Caught the early performance of La Nouba (my favorite Cirque du Soleil show). Then off to bed early, had to get up by 3 to catch the bus to the corrals! Oddly enough, my pre-race bedtime is very close to Doug’s normal bedtime.
I actually wake up about 10 times before the alarm goes off as I am so worried I am or have slept through the alarm. I’m just a bundle of nerves. I suit up, wrap my ankle and pray it survives. I meet Cat and Gerri in the lobby and we’re off!
We all shifted our pre-determined corrals so we would start in the same one. As each corral moves forward, all I can do is keep saying “what am I doing?!?!” Fireworks go off as each of the corrals begin. Actually, that’s a lie. The fireworks only went off for corrals A-C (hey, we may be slow, but we all deserve fireworks at the start too!)
The start is brutal for me. Hell the entire race is brutal for me. I’m trying to hold out as long as possible before I ask for a walking break. The first water stop is my chance, and all I can do is think, oh boy, if I can barely run 2 miles before needing to walk, how am I going to do this whole thing?!?! And worst of all, I’m dragging down these 2 girls with me!
Cat had had a C-section several months earlier and so she needed to take breaks too due to the pain near her abdomen related to it. While obviously I hated that my friend was in pain, at least I knew we wouldn’t need to stop just on my part. Cat and I would alternate requesting walking breaks so Gerri could equally hate both of us…jk!
We hadn’t even reached the Magic Kingdom when we saw the “elite” runners on their way back to the finish line. We yelled and cheered them on. This is about being supportive for all of us. This is partly why I love the Disney races, it’s just an awesome feeling of togetherness, no matter what our level, no matter if we dressed up or not, if it’s just for fun or for a PR, we’re all supporting each other! We kept trekking and running. We ran our way through the Magic Kingdom (too exciting to stop running) with one exception…
Since Gerri and I were Disney pros, we were explaining to Cat all the sites we were seeing. The Grand Floridian, the Polynesian, and other Disney wonderfulness. Also just outside of the Magic Kingdom, we came across this…
As I mentioned, there was tons of support. Not just from the runners, but from random people who came out to cheer, whether they knew someone running or not! The boosters were great.
We were alternating walking and running, trying to save the walking for the bad hills and the water breaks (I can’t seem to manage to drink water while running without it ending up all over my face).
Around mile 12, just outside Epcot, we spot Cat’s husband and 2 little girls. She quickly ran to the sideline to give them a hug. It was hard for her to leave them because her oldest kept asking for Mommy to stay, but Cat gave her another big hug and would see her soon at the finish line.
We run through Epcot. We’re almost there, we can see the finish line! As tired as I was and as in pain as I was, I put it into 4th gear and sped up (well, as much as I could at that point). As we approach the finish line, I can see Doug in the bleachers jumping up and down, screaming “go baby!.” The three of us grabbed each others hands and crossed the finish line.
I still don’t know how we did it, but we did. And I was hooked. I crossed that finish line! Yes! I hobbled over to the meet-up area, was given ice for my ankle and then just collapsed on the floor. Then Doug gave me a card:
To my Baby
I am so proud of you sweetie!!! You’ve worked incredibly hard the last few months dealing with: rashes, sore muscles, cold weather, the flu, bunions, a bulky knee and a pain in the neck fiancé! You never gave up + that is something you should be truly proud of! I am …so happy to be here with you right here, right now…celebrating your accomplishments. Somehow, I know you finished the race…you weren’t going to let anything stop you…not even a bad ankle! No matter what though, know that I LOVE YOU…and even if you’re having trouble standing right now, I’ll always stand by you…that’s what a good baby does! I love you + I am very proud to be your fiancé today!
I cried. I admit it. I’m a sap. (his nickname is Roger, long story).
I wore that medal for the rest of the day. I wore it on the plane ride home! I was going to wear it to work, but didn’t. And the moment I got home, I started plotting my next race, and trying to convince my dad to do it to…but that’s another story.
Wow, my recap is long winded and not very recap-y. Sorry! I’ll try and do better with the recaps. It will probably help if I post them a little bit closer to the actual race.