*If you haven’t already, check out part 1 here.
The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.
-John Bingham, from No Need for Speed: A Beginner’s Guide to the Joy of Running
I’m actually pretty sure the miracle is that I fucking finished. 13.1 miles is looonnnggg, and I was over it long before I finished. But let me back up:
I woke up bright and early at 2a.m. (!) the morning of the race. Surprisingly, I wasn’t feeling too sluggish from the lack of sleep, and I was also really mellow. Like, not nervous at all. I think it stemmed from the fact that I had been training for this race since October, and I was just ready to do it and get it over with. Kathy, Kristina, and I all got ready and headed out, catching the first bus out at 3a.m.:
The bus dropped us off at Epcot at the race pre-show/holding area, and we basically sat around, listening to the overly-enthusiastic DJ pumping up the crowd. I figured he was on cocaine to be so perky that early in the morning, but Kristina informed me that Disney was this well-oiled machine and that it has shifts of people working around the clock to ensure everybody has a “magical day.” This was simply the DJ’s shift. Made sense, but I still suspected cocaine.
After I ate my protein bar, banana, stretched, hydrated, and hit the porta potties a couple of times (!!), it was time to go to my corral. Once I got to corral C, I stretched some more, and pretty much sat around until it was time to get ready to start. I still was not nervous.
Then it was time to start. The National Anthem was sung, and Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother was brought out to count down the race. The really cool thing about the race start was that each corral got the same special send-off: the Fairy Godmother counted down the race, and then fireworks shot off, signaling the official start. Since I was in corral C, I saw the send-off three times before it was my turn to go. This was when I started to get excited. Finally! The race I’ve worked so hard for is finally here!
Mile 1 went by okay. I was feeling good, making sure I didn’t start out too fast. But then, like clockwork, my shins started screaming as mile 2 approached, and continued to scream all throughout that second mile. I stopped a couple of times when this happened; the first was to hit up a porta potty (!!!) and the second was to roll out my feet. For the most part, though, I pushed through, and by mile 3, the pain started to let up. By mile 4, there was no pain, but my legs felt heavy and super tired. Here was where I started to get over it a little bit. I was tired of my legs acting up, and I was tired of running on long boring roads (other than the Magic Kingdom and Epcot, most of the course was on the roads leading into and out from each theme park). I needed some scenery, something interesting to look at. I started running and walking, but I still ran more than I walked. Finally we were in the Magic Kingdom and running down Mainstreet U.S.A. while the crowd cheered us on. I got a burst of energy, and enthusiastically ran through Cinderella’s castle. The run through the Magic Kingdom was by far my favorite part of the race. It was just really cool to have the support of the crowd and to be able to see the park in that light that early in the morning. I even got kind of choked up. Then I quickly pulled myself together because I couldn’t catch my breath.
FYI: crying + running = start of hyperventilation.
After we got out of the Magic Kingdom, more boring roads. I remember running alongside a golf course and a few resorts, but what I remember the most is how over it I was. I was sweaty. I was tired. I wanted it all to be over. And I was only halfway through. However, I was surprised to find that I was still making decent time (for me), and miles 5-8 went by fairly quickly. My feelings for the rest of the race are best summed up by the following photos (warning: sweaty and unflattering pics ahead):
Here are my splits:
15k: I hate myself
Final Time: Who fucking cares, it’s over.
Place: Who fucking cares, it’s over.
Here are my splits according to Disney:
Final Time: 3:33:43
Looking back, I’m trying to figure out why I was so “over it” so early on, and I come back to the same two conclusions:
- I think I started training too early (mid-October as opposed to December, when the actual program started), so by the time the race finally rolled around, I was kind of burnt out.
- All the crap that happened during the latter part of my training, a.k.a., after Christmas break: lost endurance, runner’s knee, shin splints. It was like how my car is behaving now: as soon as one thing gets fixed, another thing malfunctions.
It was a good life lesson in finishing what you started, however. One that I can appreciate. So will I do another half marathon? Right now, it’s looking like no. I think I will stick to races that end in K. I’m still debating whether or not to join my sister and her friend for the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler (say that five times fast). And at the end of the day, I did get some pretty sweet bling:
But don’t get it twisted, the weekend was a lot of fun. I feel so blessed to have good girlfriends who were willing to sacrifice sleep to watch me run (one of them being pregnant and in uncomfortable shoes, which couldn’t have been fun), as well as support and encouragement and tips from other friends. I feel the love. You guys are seriously the best.