Well… We did it… And yet… days later I still struggle to find the right emotions of running my first full marathon.
That Sunday I went through a wide variety of emotions. I feel like every character from Inside Out was in my head. There was joy, sadness, fear, anger, frustration, happiness… I was terrified. I was determined. And in the end I was victorious.
Yet as I write this and look at my newly acquired medal… It still feels like a dream. Like… did it really happen? I still can’t believe we went 26.2 miles. It doesn’t feel like it. The only thing that constantly reminds we that we did, are the pictures we took with all of the mile markers. All 26 of them.
Our goal was to go to one park at a time. And then another. 4 parks. 26.2 miles. 7 hours. Yet so much feels like a foggy dream.
I am far from the “runners high” most runners have after a race. My prior running self included. Yet, it was one of my proudest moments in my life. Right up there with getting married, having kids, and graduating from college. But instead of basking in the glory of my accomplishments, I am deep in thought. It’s not as if I am disappointed in myself. With my performance. My goal was to simply finish… While riding a roller coaster. And I did just that. So why still so reflective?! That I am still trying to figure out.
I know that if we were further back in the corrals, there is a strong chance we probably would have not made it. Maybe. We wouldn’t have been able to stop as much as we did. We would not have been able to ride that roller coaster. Yes, we technically finished a few hundred yards behind the balloon ladies. But we were safe 2 miles prior to that.
I had just had a baby 5 months ago. And part of me is mad at myself for not accepting this as a reason. I am also mad at myself… Why couldn’t I give myself credit where credit is due. Maybe it’s because I was struggling with recovery right after the race. I was sore. My knee was killing me. We opened Jungle Book and I was physically (and mentally) struggling.
To put it nicely… I had my ass handed to me. And I had a constant reminder of that daily. I haven’t felt that way (after a run) in a very long time. Well… Not since my first half marathon. I thought we could go :30/:30 the whole way. I was wrong. We should have started out with something like :30/1:00 for the first half and then :30/:30 for the second. That original :30/:30 pace tired Kevin out too soon. I would give him that extra :30 seconds to recover and then I felt like I could go forever for those next :30 seconds. I was bursting through the crowd. I felt great. But I could see he was struggling.
My only complaint was right after we started (around mile 1) the constant feeling of needing to go to the bathroom hit. And I mean… I had to go. Where did this come from?! This wasn’t here 10 minutes ago?! If I could just make it to the TTC. To real bathrooms. That was my goal. It’s a horrible feeling. I was short with Kevin. I was frustrated. And then there it was. In all it’s wonderful transportation glory. The TTC! And there were the bathrooms. And a lady blocking the entrance saying more bathrooms that way. She blocked my way… So I kept going… I got separated from Kevin. And for 3 minutes I looked for him until I realized I should call him. He thought I was able to get into the bathrooms. Now I am even more frustrated. I needed to go and we lost precious potty time. I just needed to get to the Magic Kingdom. Now.
Finally, after running down Main Street, I was able to go. In a way I feel robbed of that glorious moment. I wasn’t thinking about anything but that bathroom. And God bless the bathrooms in Tomorrowland. Just like our first half, they were my first stop.
After that everything was great. We were feeling great. We were making great time. So as soon as we headed down the path in Tomorrowland and saw Lilo and Stitch we stopped for a picture.
Then we continued on… Till we got to the tea cups… And saw Alice. Another picture.
In a matter of 30 minutes we didn’t go very far but I didn’t care. This is why you runDisney. As we ran through the Magic Kingdom it was if I was reliving our first half. It was almost a dream and it was going too fast. Because this time… I wasn’t struggling.
We continued out of the park and ran into Mary Poppins and Burt… Another pic.
And then there he was… Richard. The little old man who has been greeting me and my family at the Grand Floridian since I was a kid. He was out there cheering us on and I just had to get a picture with him. I thanked him… And that’s when I realized I was going through memory lane. This entire day was going to be an emotional one.
We made it to the Animal Kingdom and once again… I had to go to the bathroom. But I wasn’t gonna let this stop me from riding Everest. So we ran up and got in line. A 15 minute line. I started to panic. Thinking we made a wrong choice. But after riding it and coming off (and asking where the balloon ladies were) I felt better about our 15 minute detour.
Once outside the park we had to drop back to :30/1:00 and that is when my IT band started acting up. It wasn’t until mile 14 it became a pain to walk that extra :30 seconds. I found the next medical tent and got some biofreeze and Tylenol. All the while praying my knee would let me finish.
We finally made our way to the Wide World of Sports… Which I never want to see again… And twisted our way through that horrific 3 mile section. It felt like a nightmare. As we passed mile 17 we realized we only had single digits left. And a new countdown began. Every time we passed officials we got the “They just entered WWOS” or “They are 8 minutes behind you!”. And panic started to set in. I looked at the “Parade Bus” and said NOT TODAY! Mentally giving it the finger. As we exited out and headed back down a road where we had just run down previously (on the other side)… The disheartening reality set in… That road was now empty…. No matter how bad my knee felt… No matter how tired we were… We had to keep moving.
I refused to look back. I knew I had to keep my eye on the ball. Epcot was only a few miles away. I remembered what that lady said those 2 years ago. I tried to channel the Wine and Dine half half from just a few weeks ago… To mentally get me Hollywood Studios. And it worked. My eyes focused on all the inspirational quote signs that were on the side of the road. “There will be a day that You will not be able to do this… But… Today is not that day.” No today… is not that day!!!
And before we knew it… Another parade bus group… NOT TODAY!… Because we were entering Hollywood Studios. We wound our way around that park… Mesmerized by the random guests cheering. A girl telling her dad… I want to do that. High fives from kids…
And before we knew it… We were heading out of the park. Past my friend Kim (who was cheering runners on). I gave her a big sweaty hug, took a picture, and headed right towards another group of Parade Busses.
To me… This is when I had my marathon moment. I looked at them and asked that all important question “Are we safe now?” And the staff there all cheered and yelled “you’re safe!” and “today you will finish a marathon!” I stopped and took a selfie with a few cast members and that parade bus, celebrating that moment.
We were safe. No medal can replace that feeling I felt at that moment. We were safe! We were going to finish. That Mickey medal we had our eye on these past few months would be ours.
And then we took a few moments to reflect! We took our time walking around the Boardwalk and the Yacht and Beach. We stopped to take our annual anniversary picture by the gazebo.
Then I saw it… A Peggy Sue sign. And the closer I got to it… I realized it was HER sign. And I just lost it. Another picture. I had seen her during both ToT and our first half. Both times I was unsure of what we were doing and if we would finish. And there her sign was… Peggy Sue’s legacy continues to shine down on me when I need it the most. It was the perfect thing to see going into Epcot.
I thought I was all done with the emotions. But I was wrong. As we came into Epcot I saw Jessi and her mom standing there cheering. She was able to snag some really hilarious pictures of me seeing her.
I of course ran over and gave them both a huge hug. I was so proud of her Mom. She just completed Dopey. And at that moment I was in such awe of her.
Seeing them both gave me the extra boost that I needed to run to our next location. We ran our way to France and mile 25. Almost there. 1.2 to go. Then we ran to Japan. I could see Italy in the distance. Then we ran to Italy. We then stopped and got our picture taken by a photo pass photographer. While we were waiting for the group in front of us to take their 30 pictures… The balloon ladies started to walk by. Kevin and I looked at each other… Took a few pics and took off. Passing Germany and the Beer we had be so craving since 10am that morning. We were trying to keep up… Rounding the corner to Mexico… We were back in front of them… Last chance for a drink… But the lines were too long… We kept going… Then finally by the fountains, they passed us… “You’re safe. We have to keep up with pace. You’re safe!” But we were not far behind… Mile 26…
The Gospel Choir… Tears… Balloons 200 years away… 300 yards… Finish line in sight… Mickey Mouse… A time clock… Hand in hand we took off for our final run and crossed the finish line.
We did it!
They say running a marathon changes your life. And I could agree more. I see a change in Kevin since we crossed that finish line. He made a goal for himself and he made it happen.
This first marathon reminds me a lot of our first half marathon. The first time tackling a distance that size. Insecurities if we would finish. Those balloon ladies. Not know how we would handle the whole aspect of it. And somehow… Once again… we did it.
I made many discoveries that day. And after running 26.2, I will honestly say, I think the half Marathon is my distance. I was rolling through those first 13 miles. I was running well after my 30 second recoveries. 13.1 seems so doable right now.
Since our first run… 3 years ago… I have learned many things. But most importantly I have learned… Each run is a journey. And what a journey it was. One I wasn’t sure I would want to do again. But today… It wouldn’t surprise me if I did.
Our marathon goal was to finish. And we did. But as funny as it sounds it’s not the memory of crossing the finish line that stands out the most to me. It’s the 100+ pictures we took during those 26.2 miles… And riding a roller coaster. My only regret is not stopping for a beer.