January 8, 2011 was the day I got hooked on running and all it offers. This day we completed our first half marathon with over 50,000 of our new friends and family. I’m still shocked and awed at the same time how I even completed this amazing feat. We had never run or even attempted to walk this distance before. I don’t think even as a kid I walked this distance, so this accomplishment was major. We were both severely out of shape when we started training in September 2010. We trained for 16 weeks and followed the plan to a T. I remember the first day of training when I huffed and puffed walking across the street and reaching a quarter of a mile. I wasn’t convinced I could walk the whole thirteen miles without dying. The goal was to cross the finish line in 3 hours and 30 minutes, and not to get picked up by the famous bus of shame.
I felt nervous and excited when the day arrived. We woke up around 3 am and hopped on the bus to the starting line. My body and brain still sleepy, but once on the bus I was overcome with elation and a sense of intense adventure. We were placed in the last corral and on that January morning in Orlando it was 30 degrees, and it was cold. That part was the least fun, but the energy coming off the runners kept us warm as we waited for over an hour or so before our corral let loose on the course. We were also reminded we needed to keep a pace of at least 16 minutes per mile and if we fell back we would get picked up and shuttled to the finish. We were determined to avoid the bus at all costs. Fear raced through me as I wasn’t sure if we’d finish because the longest training run/walk we accomplished was 10 miles and worried the last 3 miles would kill us.
Once on the course we kept that steady pace between 16 minutes and 15 minutes per mile. We had a ball with all the music and characters on the course. We didn’t want to risk our time of not finishing so we didn’t take pictures along the course. Disney was pretty strict about the 3 hours and 30 minute finish time and that ramped up the stress, so we kept moving along pretty well. We only stopped for one fast bathroom break. We cruised along pretty well and at mile 9 I hit the wall. I ran out of gas and wasn’t sure if I could complete the rest of the race. But my husband (running/walking partner) didn’t fail me and we grabbed gator aide and a snack at mile 10 and kept moving. It sure is all about the fuel (more on that in a future post). Once we rounded mile 12 I knew we only had one more mile to go. Mile 12 was full of magic as gospel singers roared and cheered us through to the last mile. I then got my second wind as I heard the announcer and saw the finish line in the distance. I knew we had made it. Mickey and Minnie high fived, hugged, and congratulated us on the beautiful accomplishment as we soared across the finish line. Indeed, what a wonder accomplishment.
I vividly remember that September day 2010I answered my phone. I heard the excitement on the other end of the line as my daughter squealed, “Let’s sign up to run the Disney world half marathon!” I didn’t even know how far a half marathon was. I ask, “What is a half marathon?” She laughed, “It’s thirteen point one miles.” I stayed silent for I’m not even sure how long, but when I got over the shock of thirteen miles I replied with, “Are you crazy? I can’t even walk from the mailbox and back and you want me to run how far?” She laughed again and said, “You can do it. All you have to do is train. You and dad really need to get healthy. It’s not good you sit around all the time.” My next question was, “How much is this half marathon?” The answer came quick with, “Only $90.00.” “Only $90.00 to run/walk thirteen miles and some change, hmmm.” That didn’t sound too appealing to spend that kind of money on a half marathon, but she convinced me and with a little coaxing I got my husband involved. We signed up and spent the $180.00 total for the two of us and we were then forever committed to running. I’m glad we did it and as I look back on the last eight years, it’s been quite a ride.