Okay, it’s DONE. This is gonna be a long one, so grab a snack, cause I really need to get this all down, cause I really, really don’t want to forget. A week ago, gosh I can still hardly process it. As always it seems like a lifetime ago. I began this journey six months ago, through the heat of the summer, the holidays, and through a nasty bout with my sinuses right at Christmas, and to be on the other side seems crazy!! Before I begin though, I have some other people to shout out: Pamela, my very best friend finished her first half marathon the day before I tackled my race. I am so over the moon proud of her I can not even begin to say….and she rocked my world on marathon morning…..more on that later. Shannon, another very dear friend completed her first half as well last weekend….making it look easy. So very proud of her as well. She was my voice of reason for a lot of my training, always there to listen, and kick my butt when I needed it. All my Lizards. You welcomed me into our awesome family and I was so very excited to finally shake some hands and give out hugs. I’m such a shy lizard, but I am so glad I got to meet you all. Jocelyn, Scott, Joey I couldn’t have gotten through some of those long training runs without your perfectly timed texts to lift me up. You all are AWESOME!!! Congratulations to all of you!
I was really a wreck the week leading up to the race….sick and so scared and excited at the same time. We got to Orlando Wednesday night and true to form we hit the ground running, catching the last night of the Osbourne lights, and having dinner and laughs at Sci-Fi…..but always in the back of my mind was screaming “YOU ARE RUNNING A MARATHON ON SUNDAY YOU CRAZY PERSON” Expo was a blast, getting bibs is always the like the final piece of the puzzle, the thing that makes it real. I had Jeff Galloway sign my bib, so I could “take him with me.” I ran into Caryn…somehow spotting her at the Raw Threads booth….Yay!! A Firstie!!! I got my wristband and a button…..that was another final piece for me too. Loved them, wore my button race day and it is in all my pics and that alone makes me very happy….that group was so helpful in this journey, someone always ready to answer a question or help with the panic. Finding Kirk was another final piece for me, we chatted in the group a bunch and we share a birthday….the exact birthday. 🙂 I wish I could have seen him race morning, odd how quickly that morning goes by!! But first, Pam and I had a 10k to run …in the pouring rain. Piglet and Pooh got drenched, but it was fun! How can running with your best friend at Disney World not be fun?…..but part of me so wished I was running the half with Pam the next day and simple skipping that other race….lol. We watched baby Alice run her first race with Shannon’s parents…rained on her too! But she was adorable, and a future runDisney racer I am sure. 🙂
Half marathon day gave Pam and Shannon nicer weather, overcast, slightly cool and no rain!! I got to see them both cross the finish line, though I wish I had gotten up earlier to cheer them on the course……I won’t make that mistake again. They were both awesome!!!! But again, even celebrating with Pam,and even at the Lizard meet up….all my poor brain could think was: YOU ARE RUNNING A MARATHON TOMORROW!! YOU ARE CRAZY!! Damn my silly brain. AHHHHH!!! I was so ridiculously jealous that Pam was done….why am I doing this again? That was all I could think…..why? I must be totally nuts.
Marathon morning comes early, I think I got up about 2:30(yikes!), and the rest of the morning is like flashes of memories…..getting dressed, feeling really anxious….Pam telling me I was going to be awesome and telling me she planned to follow me around all day. Walking to the bus, a nice lady, whose name I never got chatting to pass the time. I am not a casual converser….odd, huh? since I do it for a living….Pam is the one who can talk to just about anybody…I so envy her! To the runner’s area, finding my Lizards(so very awesome to hang with them!!) Jocelyn wagging her finger telling me to get outta my head.. :), the guys all joking…so excited! I finally found my corral mate, who was actually in the group right next to me with the Mickey Milers….Christine I couldn’t have gotten through the rest of the morning without you and Sandi. To the corrals…..Christine brought 2 mylar blankets to sit on….picnic time for the three of us. Now faster….national anthem, corrals starting!!! Yay! Fireworks!! We were in L, corrals moved quickly, I didn’t have much time to really think. Rudy called out my other Facebook family the #Firsties! It was very cool!! I won’t bore you with a mile by mile….but I do need to say: It was humid. It was HOT….though maybe it just seemed that way, cause, damn, the one thing this AZ runner is not used to is humidity. UGH. Humidity is for the yoga studio, not the run. I was dripping before we even got to mile 2. UHOH. Part of me was already thinking….danger! danger! I shoved it aside and kept to my intervals, tried to breathe, and take it easy. Pam texted me to let me know she was at the TTC, about mile 4 looking for me on the left. I found her easily with her Pooh ears. 🙂 oh so happy to see her!! Right before I saw her though, a small miracle happened. Someone tapped me on the shoulder as she ran up beside me. My bus mate!! She found me. And I still didn’t get her name….I really, really hope she finished her race!
Magic kingdom was so much fun! I slowed down, walked a bit, took a couple selfies, and then looked for a bathroom….lol. As usual, even though I had gone before the corrals, I still had to go, and it was becoming worrisome….all the portapottys had very lengthy lines….and I was so scared to stop so early. We circled into Tomorrowland, and I saw a bunch of runners veer off to a “real” bathroom….but there was a line….a long one. Yikes. I kept going. Into Frontierland….another bunch of peeps are running to the left off course. YES!!! No line at all…..”I am so glad I waited!” I blurt out to a nice lady at the sink….lol. “Right?” she says…..”I do love a real bathroom!”
Okay….onward pass the train and we are out of the MK, pass a DJ playing tunes on a truck and he announces that right now we are 30 minutes ahead of the sweepers. My heart goes to my throat. Talk of sweepers so soon? He says they have done a sweep at mile 5. But I charge on…..keeping to my intervals. Run your own race, Donna….don’t freak til there is something to freak about. Pam texts to say she is on the road between the Poly and the Grand. Crazy lady. lol And sure enough there she is! Yelling for me and asking how I’m doing. I remember saying “hot.” And damn was I ever. My head was soaked, my visor brim and headband soaked as well….but darn they worked well….thank you Sparkle Athletic! Animal Kingdom was our next goal…and man it took forever. Miles 8-almost 12 had to pass before we got there. The Tree of life was gorgeous and our time in the park so quick! Back on the road, we hit the half way point and somewhere in there the animal keepers and a line of animals on there side of the road. I just remember someone screaming and running to the opposite side of the road….lol…I guess she wasn’t too fond of whatever animal she saw. Okay, so it was about here the sun was struggling to peek through and I was cursing it. Still hot, and SO HUMID. I don’t drink Powerade usually, cause it is way too sugary, but I did, I was so worried about cramping. Been there, done that once before, and I knew that if my calves cramped I would be done. So, I drank it. One of the many awesome things about runDisney races is the course support….plenty of water stops, with tons of volunteers, all ready with the liquid in the cups, or ready to fill your bottle. I drank and filled my bottle at just about every stop, and while I was hot, I never got cramps or felt dehydrated. Go me!! The very real problem was my feet. They hurt. They always hurt, but today, they started letting me know about at about 13.1. UGH. I had been worried about my legs hurting, but they never did. My feet? Oh boy. I think I downed two tylenol about mile 16 in that LONG stretch on the way to WWOS. OH! Pam found me right outside Animal Kingdom! And by now, she was with a tribe of spectators moving around property together….ISOR(in search of runners!!) LOL. I can’t begin to say how wonderful it is to spot a friendly face….
This is about the time things started to worry me. Coming up to the infamous WWOS….the never-ending weaving in and out of the ball fields….so hard and so long.I began to want to really stop, the pain in my feet now was horrible. Then I get a devastating text from Christine….she had been swept at mile 14. I was so hurt for her. Then another text….gosh that Jocelyn has damn near perfect timing. She was also in the maze of WWOS….she was so excited I was that far, as I was for her….I realized that there was no way I could stop now….that would just be silly! I was still run walking at this point, and made another pit stop in a real bathroom….such a treat….lol….and a lady at the sink said she was using me to keep her pace up…her knee was done, and she had to walk. You think I would be upset she was keeping pace with me by walking? nah, she was so excited to run into me and tell me how she had been chasing me by watching for my running skirt. 🙂 Good times. While I had the desire to go on now, I also knew the sweep was not far away…as I exited WWOS I didn’t see any other runners going in….UHOH. We exit WWOS at mile 20, but the next landmark is almost 3 miles away. UHOH. And three miles might as well be 300 at this point. Most people are walking, and are hurting….you can see it. I am still run walking, but starting to hate it….lol….the emotions of a marathoner. In my head I know the last sweep is somewhere right before Hollywood Studios..between 22 and 23….although I find out later, they swept at mile 19(how horrible!!) So now my mission is simple: Make it to the Studios. Pam texts again and says she is there. It was the longest part of the course for me….so terrified of any bus I see….anything on a bike…..I told myself to run…until I was safe, then I would walk it in. My feet were done. Into the Studios, WOOHOO….but I still didn’t feel safe..still panicking at the sight of a volunteer on a bike. I find Pam, at some point Jocelyn texted me a pic….I finally could look at it. It was a Pam/Jocelyn selfie and it made me so HAPPY!! I remember telling Pam I was tired, and I had to walk. She hugged me and told me to get going….and that she doubted she could get over the finish line in time…..but Shannon was there in the park. 🙂
I walked as fast as I could, still full of doubt, wanting to run, trying to figure out mileage….mapmyrun was way off….my watch was done at mile 18, my feet so very unhappy. Shannon texting me to ask where I was…mile 22 i thought. No wait here comes marker 23!! It was in the Studios that support from the crowd started to help….so many park guests, clapping, yelling…it was wonderful!
Out of the Studio, around the parking lot, someone is giving our Sour Patch Kids, I don’t even like Sour Patch kids, but i take one and it is the most glorious taste in the world. We round the parking lot, then head to a path. It is the path that leads to EPCOT. WHOA.
I took this picture a couple days later and I choked up when I took it. It was here I knew I was gonna make it. I think it is mile 24. There was a DJ in a boat, music blaring, people lined the walkway clapping, cheering. Oh good God. I AM GOING TO FINISH THIS. I walked high fiving anyone with a hand out….there was a lady with a sign that read “FREE HUGS HERE”, she had a bunch of hashmarks for her hugs……I ran over to her, apologizing for my sweat, i remember her laughing and thanking me for another hashmark. 🙂 People have asked what the best part of the race was….and I can answer without even thinking: EPCOT. And, no, not just because it was the end, but yes, that was damn sweet…..but really, it was about the music…..sweeping over us, a grand warrior…I kick ass anthem, and running around the countries. It was so breathtaking I can’t even begin to tell you. People stopping and cheering. Fellow runners, with medals hanging on their neck screaming: “You see this? You see this pretty medal? It’s YOURS!! You got this!!!” It was such an emotional time for me. I fought back tears half a dozen times. Though I silently also wished that EPCOT had fewer countries. LOL A race usually holds a couple really special memories. My next two were about to happen. Countries done, now we are on the path through future world. I hear my name. Someone is calling me. It’s Christine! She is in EPCOT with her husband and spots me. How? I have no idea. She says she is so excited for me and I am SO CLOSE. I am an emotional wreck…she didn’t finish, but she is here, hugging me and telling me to GO. Up a little further I hear my name again…umm…someone is SCREAMING my name. LOL Shannon. Freaking awesome!! People are all looking around and laughing. I hug her and she is yelling….go do it…go…you are so close. UHOH…round the corner to the gospel choir……holding it together is so hard. I just vaguely remember the lyrics…something about thanking God, well, yeah, cause I sure didn’t do this by myself. Finish chute…..oh holy crap. I am smiling one minute and just a puddle of tears the very next. That picture up top sums it up. I could not BELIEVE it. I still can’t. I am 51, asthmatic and slow as molasses….but somehow I just finished a marathon. Even today as I type, I am teary. I don’t think I will ever be able to think of that moment and not get emotional. Done. 26.2….and I have the pretty medal to prove it. 🙂
I can’t end without again congratulating my “partners in crime”……Shannon and Pam, and all my Lizards who finished Dopey, or their marathons. It was a tough day, weather wise, but they did it!! It was a day I will never forget. Pam proved herself to be the BEST friend anyone could hope to have in their corner…..hopping all over Disney property to cheer me on. It was a darn good day.
Onto the next race!!! Disneyland, Dumbo’s Double Dare will be the next run for the three partners in crime! I will be happy to be aiming for 13.1 instead of 26.2! Ummm…..along with a very pretty Coast to Coast medal. September can’t get her fast enough!!