Dreams Come True: My First Half Marathon

Princess’s Run Through Disney World

Back to the Half Marathon recap! Just as an aside, I had a little injury while snowboarding last weekend and have been off the pavement for awhile now. It may be 2 months before I can run again so read this one up, as there won’t be another race post for awhile…  😦

Early Morning on the Highway

The Start: I started running in the pitch black which is 5:45am. I was near the one male runner in Corral A – the 1:40 pacer. The Fairy Godmother kicked it all off with her wand and fireworks, and off we went! Later I learned I was only 15 seconds from the start line so I was in a pretty good spot. At first I thought “wouldn’t it be nice if I could hang on to this pacer guy?” but after about 3/4 mile, I had to let him go, that pace felt a bit uncomfortable for so early in the race. My goal was to do under 2 hours, no matter what, and my secret wish (in Disney, you always have to wish) was to even do sub 1:50.

5K Split: The race was on the highway for the first few miles, which was not too inspirational, but I did get to see Captain Jack Sparrow and a few other loonies

Into the Castle

whom I did not stop for – sorry, Capt’ maybe next time! (Some people were dodging off the road to take photos, which I would have loved to do but not on my first half marathon! I needed to clock a good time!) I don’t remember exactly where the 5K split was but we ran over one of those timer mats so I knew that 2 people would be getting a text saying where I was and how I was doing, which made me happy. I felt pretty alone out there, and a bit emotional. This was finally happening! After 2 half marathon chances dashed because of bad weather, here I finally was, running the race of my ‘dreams’ in Disney! I had been looking forward to this for ages. I went through a lot since I signed up and it was finally the moment. MY moment. I almost got teary-eyed.

Through Cinderella's Castle

10K Split: Suddenly I ran under the big gates that said “Welcome to Magic Kingdom,” and it sure was magical. First, there was a taiko group playing in the parking lot! And then I saw  almost all the princesses, princes, queens, characters, bad guys, everyone! They were all lit up pretty and waving and cheering. It was awesome. Inspirational. Definitely Magical.

Half Way: The 10K split was right after you popped out of Cinderella’s Castle. I asked Shaun to chase me there to get a photo but apparently I was moving faster than I anticipated. He was busy monorailing around to find me! But again, it made me happy to know he would know where I was after they texted him my 10K time. It was still dark when I came out of the castle. After that, it was through the back lots, and

10K Complete!

back on the highway where I encountered the dreaded sign “Halfway There.” I did a self-check and realized, shit! I was getting tired, the highway looked endless, the magic of Magic Kingdom gone for the rest of the race. Now what was there to look forward to? I chugged on, deciding at Mile 7 to try and eat my energy jelly beans. What a mistake! I hadn’t noticed how dry my mouth was and I was having a hard time choking them down and picking them out of my teeth (purple ones too, real attractive). I ran by a water station and although I had not planned on trying to drink water this race, I thought I better try to wash down the beans. I pinched the cup as I saw other runners doing and promptly sloshed a few drops in my mouth and

Just keep running

some up my nose. >.<

15K Split: After that little episode I decided no more beans. Even though I tried to think they were giving me a mental boost, I really wasn’t feeling like I was doing so hot. I kept my eye on the mile marker time, since I knew it would be pretty close to my chip time. I was still “ok” but I was getting worried that like my cross country 5K, I would burn out by the end. I also kept feeling like I was slowing down. So I tried to pick it up, thinking that by doing so, I would at least be keeping even with my pacing. It turns out I was doing a great job keeping even and speeding up my average by a few seconds. Someone handed me a GU which I promptly dropped by accident (not that I was going to risk choking to death on that). I took a slosh of Powerade

Dying a little bit

for the mental benefits. More highway and finally, the time mat for 15K in a parking lot. Strategy be damned, I was tired.

11 Miles: After the time mat, I became conflicted. I wanted to speed up. They say you are supposed to endure your first 10 miles and race the last 3.1. Well, the way I was feeling, I decided on holding back on the speed up because I felt it was too early for the way I was feeling. Some girl in a cap frustrated me because she would speed by me, and then stop and walk at the water stations. I would pass her every time, but she would catch up with me with her speed and pass me over and over again. We repeated this for a bit and I just tried to ignore her. I was giving it all I got with a bit to spare for the very end. For some reason, the highway course got all

Last bit through Epcot

sortsa slanty as we went on overpasses, exits, etc. I got worried now – why were these obstacles HERE where we are the most tired? I don’t remember now what got me through that part, it was definitely tough. Maybe a mental pep talk or general competitiveness. But, I made it through. The blessed 12 mile mark finally arrived.

12 Miles to Finish Line:After I saw there was 1.1 left, I started to do what I felt was a ‘pick up.’ In fact, it was not. I think my 12th mile was at an 8 minute pace. I didn’t know it but Mile 9-12, I was a little on the slow side, between 7:48 and 8 minute miles. (Slow compared to the other miles, not slow for my expectations, mind you!!!) After I thought I only had half a mile to go, I started my end pick up. It was kinda narrow and curving around tight turns

Finishing Sprint!

which made you feel you were going faster than you were. I was in backstage Epcot which was not super pretty, but there was some atmosphere. I lot of workers were standing out and cheering. It was light and there weren’t many runners near me. I tried to keep behind a girl in a black tutu and I did, though I never managed to catch up. I passed the girl in the cap and kept her behind me (not by much though, if I look at the finish line photo!). At one point I realized I shot my wad too early, and there was more race to go. After a mental “oh crap” I quickly decided that this was it. I was not slowing down, or else I would never pick it up again. I decided to ‘show my guts’ as I read about in the book “Once a Runner” and keep killing it until I reached the finish line. I was dying, my breathing

Finish!!!!

was appalling and my form was clompy. But I didn’t care, this was it! The finish line appeared in pink and purple, there was Donald Duck and Goofy, and confetti everywhere and YAAAYYYYY!!!!! I FINISHED!!!!

The race was over! And I could barely breathe. I was gasping and limping (out of soreness). I spied the time clock, which was 1:43:16. Even without adjusting it for my chip time, I was super happy. I blew my goal out of the water!!! (And my chip time was 1:43:01!!!) I hobbled away to sit after a photo shoot and getting loaded with snacks and beverages. A girl came up to me and told me she had tried to catch me the whole time but just couldn’t, making me feel really good. Shaun came to find me and after more trials and tribulations (it was impossible to get out of the park, the race was still going for hours and blocked all our normal bus routes!), we finally got back to the hotel where I showered and proudly put my medal back on and we headed to the parks for more awesome Disney Fun.

My first half marathon was unforgettable. I really thank all of you who supported me and who helped me get to this point. It has been a LONG time since I have been so proud of myself. My medal shines in my bedroom now. I love it. I loved this experience. I can’t wait to make many more.

Course Map

Princess Blackfoot

My pal

Team Princess Blackfoot!

I made it!!!

Runners still running

I deserved this!

Space Mountain!

Half Marathon and Disney Day Done

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7 thoughts on “Dreams Come True: My First Half Marathon

  1. Congratulations on finishing your first half – and on your time! That’s crazy impressive. My first half is coming up next month, and I love reading others’ accounts of what it’s like to finish.

    Keep running!

      • I’m running the Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon. It’s a huge race here in Louisville. Mostly flat, so I won’t be so stressed out. Then it’s on to the Marine Corps Marathon in October!

      • Sounds super fun! Will it be very hot? Full marathon ready already?! I have had a bit of a set back (broke my spine) so I may not be able to do a full this year. Boo! I will have to keep reading your blog in envy!

    • You will be surprised how smiley you can get when you see those cameras (and especially the finish line)! The people cheering definitely help keep you happy too, even though at times it feels rough. One thing I think about that is if I am not cramping or having some sorta pain, I should be thankful and smiley.

      Hope to hear about your experience in May!

  2. Pingback: Post Zambia adventure blues and Summer snails | Blackfoot Running

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