I can’t believe I actually did it. Considering everything that has happened since signing up for the race in October, I’m still slightly unsure that was me crossing the finish line.
I’ve mentioned a few times that I, the non-athlete, have had a few spurts of dedicated exercise throughout the past year. Some were specifically dedicated to running, but life took some serious turns in December and I was never able to complete my training as planned. I found myself working two jobs and struggling to find time to eat breakfast and dinner, let alone run or write. Everything was going to calm down soon, but the time when everything would shift gears coincided with the weekend of a race for which I’d already registered.
I seriously considered bailing. When I told people why I was headed to Florida in a few short days, friends and family fell into two camps. Some said, “There’s no way you can do this. You haven’t trained, you’re going to hurt yourself. You just aren’t capable of completing 13+ miles.” Others said, “Eh, you’ll be fine. You’ll be surprised what you’re capable of if you don’t give up. Just do it, you’ll really be okay.” Most of the people who thought I’d be okay never saw me run. Trust me, it isn’t pretty.
Until I got to Florida, I didn’t have time to weigh my options. I accepted everyone’s opinions (usually with a smile), stored them in a little piece of my brain, and carried on. There were more immediate issues at hand that needed my attention than $150+ in non-refundable fees.
And then it was here: Race Weekend. We flew down Thursday after work, and I spent Friday relaxing the day away. During dinner with Mike, Lauren, and my brother that evening, we joked about our attempt at this race. Should we skip the race, wear running clothes in the park, and take pretend photos as “proof” of our participation? Would we have more fun just going to Magic Kingdom than we would subjecting ourselves to this physical test? The boys were serious about skipping the marathon, but Lauren and I knew that we wanted to go through with our plan. When we picked up our race packets and purchased our tiaras the next day, we clocked 13 miles driving in the car… it was frighteningly long.
But when the alarm clocks went off at 2 AM yesterday, I knew it was go time. I could still hear the naysayers in my head, but the supporters won out. I told myself, “I’ve accomplished many things of which I am proud, endured some difficult challenges, and this is no different. I have the strength to win. And for me, finishing is winning.”
We left the house at 3 AM, ate strawberries and grapes in the car, and arrived at the reception area by 4:15.
Lauren and I said goodbye to the boys, and we set out on a long, dark, quiet walk to the starting line. With loud music, a wish from the Fairy Godmother, and sets of fireworks exploding, the race began. A mentally and physically grueling 3 and a half hours followed, filled with cheers, runs, walks, Powerade, fruit chews, water, and photos of our accomplishments (some still on cameras, I’ll post a follow up with more pictures after they are downloaded).
Our start time was 6:03 AM, and the first five miles of the course stretched along the parkway in the dark. There weren’t any crowds aside from a small one at the starting line and one high school marching band, but some photo-ops (with long lines a la Disney) dotted the early path. Adrenaline was high, along with our motivation to prove we really could do this. Halfway through the race, the sun rose and we made a few cheers to keep our focus.
Finishing is winning! Waffles are for Winners! A long nap when we get home!
Not exactly clever on all counts, but they pushed us through. The boys took the monorail between the parks and found us four times throughout the race, delivering us some extra pep. Even with muscle cramps starting at mile 6, foot pain beginning at mile 9, and rain coming down at mile 11, we endured.
It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t fast… but I did it.