Anyways, we all got up to the wonderful morning alarm clock. I was extremely anxious. I feel like I have enough confidence with half marathon distance that I know I can complete it, but full marathons still scare me. As of last weekend, I'd only done one before and I didn't know how to mentally prepare myself. I don't really understand why, but quitting definitely went through my mind. Somehow, I trudged myself to the bus stop with a thousand thoughts running through my mind every minute. I got on the bus and managed to sit down, still worried about every little thing that could possibly happen to me along the long route. Since I did the Walt Disney World Marathon last year, I knew the route pretty well and felt like I could figure out where I'd be struggling the most alone the way. That was probably not the best thing to spend my morning doing.
So my mom and I went to our starting corrals, but not without much drama. Naturally, we had a port-a-potty malfunction. Well, at least my mom did. She made a new friend that morning. hahaha. That poor lady..
Anyways, so we made the lengthy trek to the starting corrals, pretending that we weren't really about to run a marathon. You'd think that I'd have the entire running thing mentally figured out the third day in a row, but not so much. Anyhow, so we got there, huddled up and had a spontaneous dance party while all of the other slow runners in our corral looked at us grumpily. They started the race and it started to feel more real. Since we started in the back half of the pack, in one of the slower corrals, we got to wait a little while before our start. That was a little bit intimidating. It was okay, though.
When we crossed the start line, I knew that I had no option but to try to put space between me and the people at the end. I wanted to prove that I was worthy of running a marathon and definitely that I was worthy of running one faster than the people who were already behind me. I wanted to also be faster than the people ahead of me. I had way too much paranoia about being picked up by the sweeper bus. So I ran. My mom ran with me too. At some point my mom wasn't running with my anymore, but I'm not sure when I lost her. I ran the several miles to EPCOT, where I had to choose between taking a left path or a right path around Spaceship Earth. I went right. Someone ran with me for a little bit, telling me that he was "Perfectly Goofy", meaning that he had completed every Goofy Challenge thus far. Impressive.
I left EPCOT and knew that I was on my way to the Magic Kingdom. First, I knew that, right before mile 5, I'd find Katherine and Kailey waiting there with signs to greet my mom and me. I was excited. There's something about people cheering at races that pushes people along. There's something even MORE about friends and family cheering people along during races that means that much more. As I was running up toward them, I was super excited, just knowing that I had supporters that were there for me. It's really an awesome thing. I'm really thankful for all supporters who get up and go out there and cheer for people at any race. It's truly a wonderful thing.
I watched the sun come up while I was running toward the Magic Kingdom. That was awesome. There's something about being up before the sun and knowing that you're doing something awesome with your life when you see the sun rising off in the distance.
I was still feeling pretty good up until mile 8, when my intestines started aching again. (I really need to be more cautious about what I eat before a race...) I had to stop at the bathroom at mile 8 and a half or so. That's when I really started struggling. Kath and Kailey were at mile 9 waiting for my mom and me, but I was definitely wanting to quit at that point. I felt miserable and I still had 17 miles left. I stopped and said hello to Katherine and Kailey and kept going. The next several miles were up to the Magic Kingdom and through the park. I knew that was manageable. Actually, when I got to the Magic Kingdom, I started to feel a lot better. It was almost as though a weight had been lifted.
I was feeling pretty good, I ran down Main Street, through Tomorrowland, stopped for a picture in Fantasyland with the Mad Hatter and made my way through the castle. Running through Cinderella's Castle is one of the most anticipated parts of the races. For me, the most exciting part is turning the corner down Main Street, seeing all of the cheering people with signs, cheering everyone along. It's exciting and wonderful.
After the castle, we headed through Liberty Square and Frontierland. I saw some coworkers getting everything opened up for the day and waved as I ran through. I felt so much better after I had finished running through the Magic Kingdom. There's really nothing like it. I was rejuvenated and refreshed... and felt like I was ready to run a number of more miles. I didn't really feel like I had just run more than ten miles at that point. Awesome. I had also been checking my Garmin obsessively and was way ahead of pacing requirements at that point. I was extremely excited about that.. and a little bit relieved at the same time. I knew in my heart that I'd finish the race and that I'd receive the medals that I had wanted so badly and for so long. I was not naive enough to think that it was going to be an easy or a simple journey, but I was beginning to feel more confident in myself, finally.
I was having fun. I made it to mile 13.1 and smiled as I crossed the little timing thing. I was halfway there and I felt awesome. My body felt okay and the Disney entertainment was phenomenal along the way.I was ahead of my pace by a lot and everything felt fantastic. I kept trucking along, knowing that I was probably going to hit a wall soon. That was an advantage of knowing the race course. I knew what the roughest miles would probably be. I ran as much as I could up until my legs needed to stop and take a break. Unfortunately, that meant that I walked for several miles and obliterated my chance at meeting any of my goals for finish times. My goal kind of morphed into just a goal to finish. I do wish that I would have pushed myself a little harder in those miles between Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, but those miles were tough. I had the strength to keep moving forward, but not the strength to continue running every step of the way. I'd like to think that next year I will be more fit, and I will be. I'm working on it every day.
At mile 16 or 17, we entered Animal Kingdom. That was really awesome, because I finally had a little bit more energy in my system. We ran along the park, which is the park that I'm personally least familiar with. I work at the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom just hasn't been a park that I have visited often, ever since it opened. It was neat to run though the park, see characters, guests, and cast members who went out of their way to cheer and wave to us as we passed. I guess it is kind of a continual theme that the crowds really get me through races. I had a lot of fun running through the park again and realized that I had less than ten miles left and that I still has two parks and the Boardwalk to run through. I felt like the rest of the race would be a breeze.
After Animal Kingdom, we headed down the road toward Hollywood Studios. I felt really confident in my ability to finish the race. I was still a little bit ahead of pace, but was still walking the majority of the time. Looking back, I'm somewhat frustrated in myself for not running more and pacing things out better. I wonder if I hadn't pushed it as hard in the first half, maybe I'd have been able to better run the second half. I don't know... There is a part of the route when you run down a half mile down the road and then a half mile (or so) back. You see all of the people faster than you on the way there and all of the people slower than you are on the way back. My mom and I passed each other on the way back, so she was about a mile behind me at mile 20/21. That was a little bit of a relief, because I hadn't seen her in a while and honestly didn't know where she was.
Hollywood Studios was super fun. I had been looking forward to that part of the race for several miles, because it was one of my favorite parts that I ran through last year. We ran backstage a little bit and got candy and fruit snacks at one of the water stops. I couldn't eat the chocolate, so I had to throw them out. (Sorrrrry Disney on a waste of your money...). I ate the fruit snacks, though. Fruit snacks combined with energy gel and water definitely got me through the final few miles. Hollywood Studios was awesome. I tried to congratulate everybody I saw who had a half marathon medal on from the day before, but it was getting a little bit difficult to speak out loud. I wish that we could have fun more miles through the park, because it is such an awesome park, but I guess that there's only so much that they can do when the park is still open. I have to keep that in mind, I guess.
I was most excited to see the Incredibles when I first got into the park, because last year when I got to that point, they weren't out anymore. I had just been a little bit too slow. This year, I made it and got a picture with both Mr. AND Mrs. Incredible and Frozone. As I was running down the street toward them, Mrs. Incredible was waving and clapping at everybody who was passing. It was a touching moment for me and meant a lot. I stopped and got a picture with them and really felt like I was on my way to finishing my second marathon, that I was past all of the most difficult portions of the race and was almost done. I was so excited. Thrilled, actually.
Everyone, their medals, and Goofy. We're all going Coast to Coast this year!
So Far: 59.93 miles/16 days
To go: 940.07 miles/350 days
(long run tomorrow!)