Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Walt Disney World Marathon 2010

Well, my goodness!

A week has passed since the Disney Marathon and I am feeling good :) There is so much to say, so I will try to recount as much as possible without boring the poo out of you:

My sister and I got up at 3:00 AM and started getting ready for the race (dressing, stretching, applying copious amounts of Body Glide), each of us freaking out in our own way. I used the purple Sharpie provided by Disney in our marathon gift bags to do a little something I used to do in college: I wrote adjectives on my body. With the idea that there is a connection and strength between mind and body, the thought that what we say can affect how we feel, I occasionally write on myself to help that along (see What the Bleep Do We Know?! to understand more).

"Powerful" on each thigh. "Strong" (with a 3-circle Mickey) on my core.

The words are almost faded, but are a fun reminder of what I did a week ago.

Anyway, by 4:00 AM, we caught the Monorail to take us to the race starting site. Everyone on the train with us looked just as excited and cold--and when I say cold, I mean cold. Hoth cold.

It was 27 degrees and all the layers we were wearing did very little for warmth. It was actually quite funny, people in hardcore running gear wrapped in trash bags and Mylar, bathrobes and towels. A DJ blasted music that I bobbed along to in an attempt to stay warm.

And don't even get me started on how chilly the Porta-Potties were. It was no wonder that as soon as the race began, you could see runners peeling off to pee on the edge of the trees!

It was around this time, waiting in line to freeze our butts off, that my dear sister kindly and encouragingly told me, "This is the WORST idea ever."

Ahh, sweet sister! But it was all in good fun--especially since she recently told me she's considering doing another marathon, yay!

Anywho, as the race really got started, there were fireworks and music and Mickey and the gang to welcome us to the starting line! As our massive corral (the Tsunami, they called us) crossed the start, our D-Tags were activated. Attached to our shoelaces, the D-Tags are how the timing was recorded for each individual racer; it was also great to walk through the parks later and see people with their D-Tags still attached.

My sister and I started the race together, which was really important to me. Even though I knew we wouldn't be running the whole thing together, it was really good that we starting out by running across the starting line together :) This won't be the last race we do together, but more on that later.

It really was something to run in the cold, dark morning. Racewalkers, joggers, couples, groups. Everyone was excited--if not freezing! As I had mentioned earlier, there were a lot of layers that got thrown to the side as everyone started to get a little warmer; however, just as quickly as someone would ditch a sweatshirt, someone else would pick it up and put it on!

The mile markers were big lit signs with the elapsed time shown in front of them. People stopped to get their pictures in front of them; Disney provides you with a disposable camera, which is very nice of them considering how many photo opportunities there are along the way for great pictures! There are princesses and pirates and Pluto, too, all ready to take a picture with you as you run through the various parks.

Epcot, the first park you come across, was my favorite to run through, since it was still dark. Crowds of people who were brave enough to come out this early were cheering us on throughout the entire race, but it was really something to see them at the entrance to Epcot. Running past Spaceship Earth (aka the Big Golf Ball) with an inspiring orchestral score blasting out of the speakers was unbelievable.

The rest of the race is kind of blurry. It was freezing (the ground near the water/Powerade stations was icy), and running on the long stretches of highway was pretty tough. It was a huge help to have the ChEAR Team shouting encouraging words to us, and every time I got really tired, there was a marching band playing "Eye of the Tiger" or the Central Florida Accordion Club playing Polka music!

I really hit the wall around Mile 10; my hip, which had bothered me during the early weeks of training, did not do well in the cold weather. I kept myself going by setting mini goals: Just make the next big mile cut--and I did. Just make it to the Magic Kingdom--and I ran through Cinderella Castle. Just make it to my parents, who were waiting to see us run past at mile 12.5--and I saw them, and cried, and was ready to call it a day.

Even when I could barely shuffle along, there was such an overwhelming amount of support, from my family and total strangers and the wonderful people at Walt Disney World. I went as far as I could, and then (truly) happily limped back to the hotel room with my Mom and Dad.

A hot shower that drained the Atlantic Ocean and some cashews and water kept me going while the folks went to go see my sister cross the finish line. Not too long after they left the room, though, I heard a rustling outside the door: It was my sister, wrapped in warming Mylar and wearing a Mickey-shaped medal! Although my parents missed seeing her cross the finish line, I was really excited that I got to see her first :) Even though she was nasty gross with salt caked to her forehead, I was so proud of her and so glad that she finished her first marathon!

The rest of our stay down in Walt Disney World was wonderful, filled with good food, great rides, and a crap-ton of painkillers! Everywhere we went there were people wearing their medals, limping with pride. I really was so pleased and proud of myself for my accomplishment: even if I didn't finish the marathon, I ran a half marathon for my first race and trained my butt off!

As soon as I was back in the hotel room, all I could think of was how I couldn't wait for next year. And in the mean time, I'll be running some other races--my sister and I are already getting ready to sign up for the Peachtree Roadrace in July, and she's got a half marathon coming up in March!

These past four months have been so rewarding; even when I was achy and tired and ready to quit, I kept going (despite many whiny posts), and last week was incredible.

I intend to keep posting (much more frequently) in this blog, especially with all the upcoming races, and I am looking forward to attempting new challenges and pushing myself to meet new goals.

Thank you for sticking with me, and I hope you continue to do so as I find out what new adventures are in store for me! Maybe I've amused you, maybe I've bored you, maybe I've even inspired you to go try a challenge of your own, but I really do hope that regardless of what this blog may have done for you, you remember its title, and the reason behind it:

"If you can dream it, you can do it."

Thanks, everyone.

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