Saturday, February 27, 2016

Well, here goes nothing...

We made it to Disney! We went to the Expo, which was completely overwhelming, picked up our bibs and shirts, and headed to our resort.  We knew we were supposed to "carb load" the night before so I ate a po-boy with big thick bread... Delrose and Sami sat outside and watched a movie "under the stars" while Shaun & I got ready for bed.  We had to be up at 3 to catch our bus before 4 to get us to the "gathering spot" before 5.  I bought a "runners box" the night before from the cafeteria at our resort which had peanut butter, a bagel, a banana, a granola bar & a water.  I ate 1/2 the bagel with peanut butter on it, and saved the banana & bar for closer to race time. 

Since this is a princess race, I had on a red tutu skirt and black shirt (I was supposed to look like Minnie). I had my "cuff" for my knee and some KT tape on it too, hoping for the best. 

We get to the "gathering place" where there is a DJ set up and ladies are dancing and people are adjusting costumes everywhere.  I was just trying to sit and take it all in.  Honestly, at this point I was just terrified.

We started the VERY long walk to our corrals.  Shaun was in H & I was in O.  The last corral was P, so I had a little bit of a head start from the balloon ladies.  By the time I got to my corral, I had walked more than 2 miles! Seriously?
 I guess that was a good way of warming up- if I didn't have to wait more than an hour to get started! That's right... the race officially began at 5:30 & I went through the starting line at 6:29.  Right before it was our turn, my nerves were shot!
I was scared, nervous, had to pee, wanted to throw up, wanted to run away, felt completely alone.... there was pretty much nothing positive going on at that time. Our fireworks went off, people started moving... I started crying.  What was I doing? What was I thinking? I am crazy! I can't do this! I will never.... "Hey, are you ok?" It was a random princess next to me. "I don't think I can do this...." was my reply. She looked at me, smiled and said, "Sure you can! That's why you're here, now go!"
So, I went. 
I started running and I didn't stop moving for 3 hours and 24 minutes. 

That's right, I finished! I did it! I beat the balloon ladies! Honestly, I never even saw them or the end of the line! Every once in a while, I would look behind me to make sure they hadn't caught up to me, but they didn't!

I knew I could "easily" run a mile, so that was the plan, run the first mile, then just do what you can.  I knew I didn't want to get too tired too soon since I'd never done a long run...
One thing I wasn't prepared for was the amount of people.  It was more difficult dodging folks and trying to be polite and stay out of the way of faster runners. 

I was constantly checking my runkeeper app to be sure I wasn't going too fast or too slow.  I knew I had to keep a 16 minute mile to stay in front of those balloon ladies, plus I had a 5-6 minute head start... If I ran a 12 min. 1st mile, that would give me even more padded time....
This is what was running through my head the first 4 miles trying to convince myself I could finish this race. 

They had princes and princesses set up along the road for pictures.  I knew they would be there but I wasn't concerned about them.  I'm not a huge princess person, so I knew I wouldn't be tempted to stop.  However... when I saw Jack Skellington, I wanted to stop! I didn't - but I wanted to! I was able to take a pic while running. 

Once I got to my 5K mark, I was feeling pretty good.  I was averaging a 13:45 minute mile! I knew I wouldn't keep that pace, but was pleased with what I was doing- especially since I hadn't run in almost 3 weeks...

We were almost to the MK when I saw the busses! The busses that pick up the people that don't make it. We had to run past them on our way to the side of the MK.  Talk about motivation! I didn't want to see them again, so I started running again!
As we came around the corner on Main Street USA we could see all of the spectators. They were there to cheer for a family member or friend, but they were also cheering for us! I wanted to cry again! It was so moving for me! I just kept saying, "Thank you! Thank you" even though I knew they weren't there for me, they were helping me.  You couldn't help but run when they were cheering for you like that!

We took a right at the hub towards Tomorrowland.  We continued left towards Fantasyland.  The carousel was going.  I though it looked so beautiful.  We ran towards the castle with Elsa, Anna & Kristoff waving at us from above.
We went down towards the partners statue and took a right towards Liberty Tree.  This is where I forget.  I know we went through Liberty Square because I remember thinking, "I'm running in the poo river".... ( Disney inside joke)
We took a left right past Splash Mountain (where the parade comes in/goes out) and headed backstage.  More princes hanging out for pictures.  No time for that... I see the 10k sign ahead!
I'm still averaging under a 15 minute mile.  Hey, that means the 1/2 way point is close by, right? holy smokes- this is the farthest I've ever run! I might actually be able to do this!!!

I did receive a bunch of texts while going.  Two were Bible verses:
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us 'run with perseverance the race marked out for us' Hebrews 12:1"   Thank you Alecia!
" He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary. they will walk and not be faint.  Isaiah 40:29-31"  Thank you Hannah!
Seriously, I could feel those prayers! I was getting strength from them and God was absolutely carrying me forward!

Although I'd been saying (sometimes out loud), "I can do this, one step at a time, I can do this" throughout the entire race, it wasn't until mile 7 I started believing it. 

I finally allowed myself to slow down a bit. I knew mile 10 was coming and with it, the big onramp "hill". I took it slowly, reminding myself that the slow and steady tortoise won the race.... 

Someone said at the top of the onramp that once we passed mile 10, they weren't "sweeping" anymore! I'd done it! I'd beat the balloon ladies! Yahoo!!! Now, I just had to keep moving so I could finish! We had 2 more hills ahead of us I didn't know about before heading into Epcot.  As we made our way through the huge parking lot, I remember thinking, "I will never complain about parking again!"  
There were more spectators along the road now.  Some of them holding signs, all of them cheering.  Again, they gave me so much encouragement! I saw Lou cheering and I said, "Lou! I'm Summer!" but I didn't stop! I kept going!!! I'm not going to lie... I have never wanted to get out of Epcot so badly in my life! Everyone was saying, "You've got this!!! You're practically there!!!" We ran almost to the start of the countries, and turned around, heading back towards the exit.  After we exited, I could see the 13 mile mark.  As soon as I saw it, I started crying again.  I tried to record myself going through the finish line. 

I'm not going to lie.  I ugly cried! I mean for real! It was so bad, I'm not even gonna share it...
I immediately called my mom. I said, "I'm done" She said, "Well, how far did you make it?" SERIOUSLY?!?!??!?
I said, "Uh, 13.1 miles!"  She was so surprised, "Oh my gosh, I can't believe it! Wow, way to go!"

Right past the finish line, I heard someone calling my name, I looked over & my friend Melissa was there cheering! I ugly cried again!
 I was so moved to know someone was there cheering for me! I couldn't quite reach her due to the barricades, but I squeezed her hand as best I could.  I walked a little farther where they were handing out the medals.  I heard a lady say, "Oh! She needs hers!" Obviously, I was still crying... She gave me a huge hug and told me how proud she was of me.  I just cried on her shoulder and told her thank you! I have no idea who she was, but I will never forget her!

I could see Shaun just beyond the next "gate" waiting for me.  He had been waiting for about an hour.  I didn't care how stinky we were, I just let him hug me. I know he was proud of me too!
So, there ya have it... My first Half Marathon! I'm officially a "half marathoner" No one can ever take that away from me!

I honestly didn't think I'd ever say this again, but... I think I want to go for a run today...

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