Sunday, April 29, 2018

Lessons Learned from the Half Marathon I Didn't Finish

May 2017 I had the brilliant idea to sign up for the 2018 Disney Princess Half Marathon. I was still battling post pardum depression and so badly needed something that made me feel superhuman, something to work towards. I felt like I was failing as a wife, mother, daughter, sister...the list went on and on. I wanted something to feel proud of and more than anything I wanted to set the example for Brynn that it’s okay to try something out of your comfort zone. I wanted her to know that as long as she tried she was braver than most. So with good intentions, persuasion, and a $200 entry sister and I were signed up for our first half marathon.

My sweet husband got himself and Brynn up at the crack of dawn to cheer me on at MK

Nine months seemed like such a long time to train...but then life got in the way. If you follow along with my life you know that in July 2017 we made the decision to move {back} to Orlando. I took time getting adjusted to my new role at work, our new house, and having a social life again. Then before I knew it the holidays snuck up on me. All the fun parties and celebrations further more clouded the reality of training for the race. I had printed off the Galloway training schedule and it stayed pinned to the bulletin board. Before I could come to my senses it was already February and I was weeks away from the race.

My sister had started training and everyone else I knew that was running had trained and was in great shape. I began to start doubting myself and rightfully so. A part of me wanted to not even attempt it but then I remember that I shelled out $200 for this damn thing so I might as well give it a try.

Race week was upon me and the nerves fell to the wayside because I was so excited to see my sister and everyone else who was coming to visit. In our calls leading up to the race she was truly dreading it and had no problem voicing that...I couldn’t get too sensitive because I’m the same way when it comes to things but I started to feel incredible guilt for pretty much making her do this race with me knowing that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with her. Brynn’s race and the expo were a great distractions but when the time came to go to sleep I was restless. I eventually, with the help of some sleeping aides, fell asleep.

The morning of the race was filled with nerves and self doubt. I had talked with Brian the day before and had set the realistic goal to make it to the castle (about 5.5 miles) and he decided to get up early to be there in Magic Kingdom to see me run through. My sister and I got to our corral and got closer and closer to the starting line and as soon as we started running I felt like I was a lost cause. Around mile 1 I told her to go ahead with my friend Alexis because I couldn’t keep up and didn’t want to slow her down. She tried to stay but after I assured her it was okay she went on. At that moment I realized that I was the only person that was going to get me through this race. It was both terrifying and empowering. I called Brian as I got closer to Magic Kingdom and he kept saying “we” are almost there. Looking back I thought it was weird because there was no way that he woke up Brynn early to get there. In Fantasyland I met up with my friend Faison and took some pics before we made our way through the castle. I knew where to look for Brian and as I ran down the castle walkway I saw the greatest thing...the man I love holding our daughter who was absolutely beaming when she saw me. I know it was probably the fact that she hadn’t seen me in a few hours but the look on her face looked like pure excitement and pride. I ran through the crowd and hugged them both. We took pictures and talked quickly. I had every intention to stop there but decided to keep going. The second half of the course is rough filled with congested roadways and my own false sense of pace. I decided to walk with the crowd wihich completely killed my pace and before I knew it I was behind pace. As the dreaded balloon ladies passed me I called Brian and let him know that I would be swept soon. I thought just saying it out loud would make me cry but I was so damn proud of pushing myself. I wanted to make it to the castle (about 5.5 miles in) and I made it just shy of mile 10. I know I’m going to go the race again and I will cross the finish line. Even though I still got a medal the true prize was seeing my husband and daughter so proud of me and my sister thanking me for pushing her  to do this because she would have never done it on her own. This was her first race ever and she finished in under 3 hours! I’m so proud of her and am glad she wants to do another race so we can cross the finish line together. At the end of the day I made it 10 miles with no training at the heaviest I’ve been in my life and that’s something to be proud of and it truly has been a jumping point to get back to a healthy lifestyle.

So glad I stopped at every mile marker!

My sister crossing the finish line!

A photo with all our medals and Donald

So here is what I learned from my first Disney half marathon:
  • Really break in your shoes. I thought I had broken mine in but my blood blisters proved otherwise.
  • Do a trial run or two in the outfit (down to the undergarments lol) you plan on wearing. I'm so glad I did because I saw so many uncomfortable people on the course. 
  • Skin Glide is gold...don't skip putting it everywhere you think you might chaff. 
  • Getting to your corral early really does help. I had a 10 minute head start from my friend who was at the back of the same corral.
  • Get water/Gatorade at every station and use the Biofreeze at the medical tents.
  • Make sure your race bib is visible on the front for race photos...we learned the hard way with the kids bib, no pictures.
  • No matter what stop for a photo in front of Cinderella Castle...I had cast members and spectators take photos for me to save time. 
  • The course route back to Epcot is the damn devil (and was my demise) keep running even though everyone else is walking so you don’t fall behind pace like I did.
  • Take a picture with each mile marker. It’s a great way to document your race!
  • Bring sandals or flips flops in your post race bag and if you want to hit the parks right after a change of clothes. It took us over an hour to get out of the Epcot parking lot so not having to run home to change would have been great. 
  • If you get swept it's okay. You did 100% better than all the people who never tried.
If you're wondering if I'm going to try again know that I am! I'm going to train and learn from my failures to make sure I cross the finish line next year! And sister is doing it again too...but on her own accord this time :)

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