3:23:55! This is how long it took me to run/walk the 2013 Disney's Princess Half Marathon at Disney World this Sunday! Mickey's outstretched white-gloved left hand welcomed me at the finish line. I didn't exactly feel this at that moment, but looking back now, it was a magical moment. You see, by about mile 11.5, my feet, particularly my heels, were in pain. I had decided to run the final 3.1 miles having just gotten some welcome relief from Biofreeze at mile 11. I then popped two sports beans and weaved my way around the women who were walking. At some point after this, I felt my heels just hurt badly, so much so that I just could not even step on them. I still plugged along trying several different landings on my feet. I tried landing on the lateral, medial and anterior portions of my feet and none really worked. So, as I finally passed mile 13, I decided that there was no way they were going to photograph me walking through the finish line. I ran on the anterior portion of my feet, that is, I tiptoed the final .1 mile to the finish. I gave Mickey a high five and walked towards the volunteers who were giving out the medals.
Posed with Snow White at the Expo!
For a few seconds as I was getting my medal, I forgot about my pain. Two other ladies were right behind me and we were all grinning as we accepted these hard earned medals! We took turns taking each other's pictures as the volunteers hung the medals around our necks. The medal is beautiful and has some weight to it. Next, I loosened my shoelaces and bee-lined to the medic area where I could hear, "Tylenol, anyone?". I limped to the table and took two and another volunteer uncapped a water bottle for me. I swallowed those two pills so fast you'd think I was in pain, ha ha! This was the culmination of months of training and I felt tired, hurting, and at the same time accomplished. Up to now, I still smile every time I remember what I just did. I never saw myself being able to run 13.1 miles! The road wasn't easy but it paid off. I can now say I am a half-marathoner!
Our day began at 2:30 am when the alarm on my phone came on. Ralph and I didn't fall asleep until about 11 pm the night before so we roughly had three and a half hours of sleep. It must have been adrenaline starting to kick in because we both just stood up and started to get ready. We had laid out our clothes and shoes the night before so we were out of the room and on the bus by 3:30 am. This was in fact the Princess Half Marathon so we were amazed at the costumes of the other runners who were heading towards the bus. Ralph and I did not wear any costumes frankly because I didn't have time to prepare for it. As soon as the bus was full, we headed out to Epcot. The bus dropped us off in the parking lot. You would think that it was in the middle of the day in the summer during peak tourist season because there was a sea of people walking towards the music blasting inside Epcot. The atmosphere was electrifying and lively as we headed inside the gates. The line dancing music came on and everybody just started to cheer.
We all just kept moving towards the music and towards the bag check tents. Photographers dotted the area so everybody was trying to get their photos taken as we maneuvered our way through a 20 foot wide entrance. Finally we found our tents and of course the "T-Z" tent was the farthest away. At the Expo where we picked up our bibs and t-shirts, they also gave us a clear plastic bag. This was the only bag that we were allowed to bring to the race and allowed to drop off. In it we placed extra change of clothes, bars, and our IDs. After we dropped the bags off, we started to walk about half a mile to our corrals. There were DJs playing music on one side and port-a-lets on the other! We finally arrived at Corral H, the final corral. I registered earlier than Ralph so I was actually in Corral F. Since those in later corrals cannot go up, I had to move back so I can stay with him. There is a 7 minute interval between start times for each corral. So, we didn't get the go from Fairy Godmother until 6:24 am, almost an hour after Corral A started!
Weather at the start of the race was humid and probably in the high 60s already. We had set our Jeff Galloway timer to a 45 sec run/30 sec walk interval. This was a 14 min/mile pace which is well under the Disney required pace of 16 min/mile. However, we were slowed down by the crowd. A lot of the participants were mostly walkers. A lot of us who ran had to weave around them. All in all, we probably ran an extra mile or two just because we had to run diagonally at times to pass the walkers. It was actually mentally draining trying to find a gap between the walkers. We hit Mile 1 and Ralph and I exclaimed, "We're just at mile 1? Whew, 12.1 miles to go".
At Mile 5, we were inside the Magic Kingdom. The crowd of spectators that lined Main Street U.S.A. was awesome. They were cheering loudly and that kept us energized. Then as we looked up, we saw Cinderella's castle. No matter how old you are, when you see the castle, you become a kid again. And what made it even more special was that we actually went through the castle. With thousands of us trying to get through, there was no running at all! We were packed like sardines walking inch by inch until we got out on the other side. Since I don't mind what my time was at the finish, some were not too happy that we probably lost precious minutes going through the castle.
Ralph had been trying to run ahead so at mile 8.5, he did. I didn't meet up with him until after the race by the baggage check tents. I didn't mind a bit that he went ahead. I just kept my pace and since I wasn't using my ipod, I enjoyed listening to the stories that the other runners/walkers were telling each other. At around Mile 11, a lot of us were feeling some discomfort. However, you didn't hear complaints. Instead you heard encouraging words - "we can do this", "you're doing great", "we are almost there", "keep going". Even though they were not directed at me, it really helped me keep going.
Just over a year ago, I ran my first 5K. A few months later after having only run a handful of 5K runs, I decided to run my first half-marathon. I cannot believe that I have actually accomplished this feat. This is the longest time that I have stuck with one sport or any type of physical activity. Now, I have grown to love running. In fact, I look forward to my running days. I have signed up for the Disney Tower of Terror 10 miler in October and the Space Coast Half Marathon in December. You might think I'm crazy, but I am actually looking forward to running in these two events. I feel that this is the only way that I will be motivated to keep on running. Future goal: a full marathon!
Our running gear!
These are what I packed inside my iFitness running pouch! The orange flavored sports beans were great. I didn't eat the Shot Bloks during the run but ate them as part of my breakfast.
Before the race!
After the race!