Monday, March 11, 2013

Thoughts on a half-marathon, part two.

For "Thoughts on a half-marathon, part one," go here.

The Trip
We decided to make what was going to be a girls weekend into a full on family affair. The closer we got to the big day, the more we realized we wanted our main dudes there too. Two other friends were running with me...Kelly being a multi-marathoner and Rachael fresh off of baby #3. We were all in it to make memories with Rach and I hoping to still be in the upright position at the finish line.

The Expo
I'm thankful the lines were long and the crowds were outrageous because had they not been, I would have bought every race trinket there. We did get to taste test every flavor of Luna Bar and see some princesses and find the perfect Sweaty Band for the race. And of course we had to pose like goobers for a pre-race photo.
We even got all of our kiddos involved since they were NOT loving being dragged around from booth to booth while we scoped out running gear and the latest greatest products that would turn us into rock star runners.
I waited in line at Race Relations on a whim that I *might* could get my Corral moved up. When I registered for the race I had not yet run a mile so I gave my estimated time as the highest it would allow. Big mistake. After all of that training, I didn't want to be stuck with the walkers. Once I proved my time for a recent 5K, they moved me up to Corral B!!! From Corral H. That was a HUGE boost for my motivation. I was with the real runners now.

The Race
The night before, I very carefully packed my bag for the race that I would be checking at the start line. Thankfully I had Kelly's expertise to let me know what I would need immediately after (food, food, food, powerade and a jacket!). I laid my head down on the pillow at 10pm and stared at the ceiling until my alarm went off at 2:15am. Up and at 'em!! I felt a little nauseous with that up-all-night feeling I remember so well from college. We drove to our destination and felt like we were entering a rock concert! Stadium lights were blaring and a DJ was gettin funky on stage with huge screens projecting race finishes from years past. The magic had begun.

We spent about an hour milling about and even resting on the pavement some while I watched everyone eat their granola bars and bananas, while slightly panicking that if these hard core runners were eating, maybe I should? No, stick to the plan. Dinner the night before was my last meal and it would sustain me (race proved this to be a FABULOUS DECISION).

The girls and I made the 20 minute walk to the Start. We huddled up, prayed together, jumped around in excitement and finally split to our 3 different corrals.
I couldn't believe how close I was to the front. The end of Corral A was just ahead of me and I could clearly see the start. 
I turned around and WAY in the distance could see the end of my corral (the orange sign below the words), knowing there were 6 more corrals just as big behind there. 25,000 people hanging out in the streets of Disney at 4:30am!
The fireworks blasted and Corral A runners shot off in the dark. 5 minutes later the next set of fireworks exploded and I was off!
"OH HECK YES!!" was all I said for the first mile. THIS WAS IT. 6 months of training had finally led up to this exact moment and here I was on mile 1 of this 13 mile trek. OH HECK YES!!

Everything in me wanted to sprint in excitement but my head was so trained that thankfully it overpowered and kept saying "Lock it in. Lock it in." I made a last minute decision to NOT turn on any music or have my mapmyrun app turned on which would tell me what mile I was on and my pace. I knew there would be plenty of music along the way and signage for miles, but I didn't think about not knowing my pace. 2 miles in and I thoroughly regretted that decision. Running in the dark and running in packs was throwing me off and I didn't know if I was running 9 minute miles or 12 minute miles. And at that point I refused to stop and fix my phone. I just kept going, hoping my pace was on par with my usual training.

The first 4 miles were a blur - fairly quiet and backroady and pretty easy. At about 5 miles we were entering Disney and the people were everywhere. Signs and yelling and cheering. I felt like Rudy coming onto the field for Notre Dame (and Rudy/Sean Astin really was there!). Running down Main Street and through the Castle with HUNDREDS of people cheering was probably my favorite part. I notice a man running beside me around mile 6 (which was notable as there were not many men running the PRINCESS race) and HELLO, it's Jeff Galloway, the famous runner who is the official runDisney trainer. I was giddy. We stayed together for about a mile and then he stopped to walk. She-Ra was back. I gave him the "peace out" symbol and tore past him like my 6 months of training could whoop his 40+ years worth. BOOYAH BOYEEEEE.

I'm thankful I wasn't familiar with the course or knew what to expect for if I had, now would have been the time to call it a day. THREE overpasses came and went. THREE. I had heard there would be one, BUT THREE??? I live at sea level so these were mountain ranges for me. I hunkered down and owned those suckas.

I finally made it into Epcot to finish it off. At this point I started to choke up a bit, mostly from the overwhelming emotion I'd held in for the last 12 miles. It quickly started to turn into hyperventilating because I didn't have a lot of oxygen left for boohooing so I literally had to talk out loud to myself. "Hold it together. Hold it. Hold it."
And then I rounded a corner and there was a full-fledged gospel choir singing me home. There was no way they'd put a gospel choir anywhere but the end so I knew this was it. Rounding one more corner and I saw the Finish Line. They called my name over the loud speakers as I was coming through and Minnie Mouse came at me with a high-five.

I was done. I freakin just ran 13.1 miles in 2 hours and 22 minutes. 
There was no wiping that smile off my face. EVER.
And I'm ready to do it again. :)


Mary H said...

I love how I laugh out loud when I read your blog.......

dani macsnider said...

you have inspired me. i must do this. i must. im going to start training. this was amazing to read. i am so excited for you.