To say I slept uneasy the night before was an understatement. I was anxious… anxious in a way that I hadn’t been for the 5K and the 10K. I always get race anxiety to some degree but this was different.
For the first time since December 2011, I was going to take on a half marathon. I had zero intention of running for time but the fact remained… It had been a LONG time since I had taken on this distance and I knew it was a gamble.
Our new plan of attack, to get on the bus slightly later and thus not have to stand in the cold as long worked out.
As soon as we got off the bus… I felt it… My demons returned. I tried to ignore them but it wasn’t happening. Luckily I had some distractions for a little while.
Vijay and I parted with Eric as soon as we got to gear check (Vijay and I had the same gear check tent). I then waited for Vijay while he waited in line for the port-a-potties. I had already decided to not start drinking water until I got to the start corral and I would then run with the bottle of water (I failed to check the course map and therefore did not know there would be water at about every mile).
Vijay and I had to part soon after and here is where the freak out really started…
I never said anything to Eric or Vijay and I was doing my best to internalize this freak out but it was difficult. I text someone that I was freaking out. He helped me once before and knowing that he has an odd sleep schedule and might actually be awake was a good thing… I needed support…
My freaking out got worse the closer my corral got to starting. I tried to distract myself with filming the start and the fireworks for a previous corral and then took some pictures but I couldn’t shake it. I was going to be running 13.1 miles with demons…
I ditched my warmer clothes and prepared to start my race.
As soon as the fireworks went off and I started to run I noticed how trashed my legs were. This was going to be painful. Not only was I running with demons but I was also running on trashed legs… lovely
The first stretch of the race was rather long and it was rather un-nerving to have fireworks go off behind you. I knew what it was but it was still a tad rattling… so not what I needed.
There were some characters along the route early on but the first 4 miles were pretty boring. The characters helped a TON as did all of the volunteers and spectators that were out there. But the lack of scenery and the dark only made the demons louder and I was really struggling a lot. I just kept telling myself to get to point A or B. I couldn’t see my watch without turning on the back light so I stopped when I wanted to take a picture and walked through the water stations but otherwise ran. The race was broken up in my mind in small obstacles… I needed to focus on the smaller picture… it was the only coping mechanism I could come up with on short notice.
I started to do better when the sun started to come up. But I still needed to break the race up mentally. It had never occurred to me that my demons would return so I had no plan of attack…. Still not sure if that was a good thing or not
Somewhere shortly after the 5 mile mark (I really was trying to ignore the mile markers to help me cope) we entered Magic Kingdom.
HOLY MOLY!!!! Not only was this insanely awesome but there were a TON of spectators. I stopped to take some selfies (which I really suck at) and just enjoy everything around me.
My stomach was a tad unhappy and I knew it was the start of GI Distress so I decided a bathroom detour was a good idea (again, I stopped my watch). This was also when I ditched my water since I was felt confident I wouldn’t need to worry about dehydration (Thank you runDisney for the multitude of water stations).
I was briefly amused by the guys near the merry-go-round handing out kleenex and then we were running underneath the castle!!! So much fun!
I stopped to try to get in a better selfie and a nice gentleman offered to take a couple pics of me if I took a few of him and his GF. Happy to oblige and he got two really great shots of me with the castle in the background.
Back to this running thing… I was stopping more often in the park for pictures but I was having fun. And well… at least I was distracted enough to ignore the demons…
After Magic Kingdom we were on a stretch of road (later found out this ran in front of the golf course). There were characters and more spectators but the sun was getting higher in the sky and my demons got louder.
The struggle was getting more and more difficult. I was hurting a lot and I still had a good chunk of race to go. Doubting myself became all too common of a thought running through my head. I decided to start using my original running plan… Run until the mile marker then walk a quarter of a mile.
It was helping but I couldn’t shake the demons…
When I hit the 9 mile mark, I text someone again. He had already text me back so I knew he was awake. I told him I was struggling. I didn’t tell him all the doubts running through my head but I think he knew. He cracked a few jokes and told me he had my back… and called me a dork for being sentimental…. which made me only chuckle more.
Nine miles of a race with demons and being insanely sore… more than half way there… just under 4 miles left… My emotions were starting to go haywire.
Perhaps one of my favorite parts of the race was around… I think 11 miles (again… I was trying to ignore the number on the mile markers) they had one of the plastic green toy soldiers from toy story… I could hear him yelling at people to do push-ups. Each time someone stopped they had to do push-ups. Wasting time by being on your cell phone… stop and do push-ups!
I couldn’t help but laugh. I also thought of someone… It reminded me so much of him… He had faith in me… It was time to finish this race.
Except we had several on/off ramps to deal with. My legs were not happy with hills. The sun was up in full force and I was beyond emotional at this point. I was tired and my legs hurt and I was starting to get cold (go figure)
Less than a mile to go and we are now running through Epcot. I knew the end was near but I couldn’t keep my emotions in check.
Without a doubt, I knew I was finishing this race… But I still had a pesky demon on my shoulder and my emotions were out of control… Although, it is difficult to run and cry at the same time… thankfully…
I stopped several times for pictures and tried to enjoy the last mile. There were a ton of high-fives but I was struggling to not cry… although… lack of water in your system does help
As we started to round the last few turns… the ones that had been the same the previous two days, I got my phone out of my pocket and turned on the video to film my running into the finish line… It’s a horrible video because of all of the shaking but I am happy to have it
Somewhere, somehow, I managed to speed up a little bit and crossed my finish line.
If I had an liquid in my system I would have cried. Those demons are gone…. Or they damn well better be now
I text someone again to tell him that I did it… that I finished the race. I got my medal and was ecstatic… sore but ecstatic. I happily stopped for the photographer who wanted to take pictures of runners with medals. Then I looked at my watch… excluding my detour to the restroom it was a PR… HOLY $HIT!!! I thanked him again for talking my through the last 4 miles and he told me to go get bacon mac and cheese… which sounded incredible but wasn’t on the menu for us.
Eric was waiting for me right outside my gear check tent when I walked out. He told me how his race went and I told him about mine. He also informed me that there was gear on sale… Since I was cold and didn’t have enough with me to get (or stay) warm for the immediate future, off we went. Totally ingenious BTW
I text several other people and told them what happened while we waited for Vijay to finish. Once he did, we immediately headed for the monorail for our brunch reservation at Chef Mickey’s!
As for my “official” time… well, yes it is slower than my watch since it includes my restroom break…
But I don’t care because I DID IT!!!!