I slept like a rock the night before my big race. I had a total peace & calm about the race, which is so not like me. I put on my Peter Pan running gear, and I'm a huge fan of the custom shirt I made. I was out the door and on the bus about 3:15 a.m., which is obnoxiously early. But you know, I got to run in Disney, so who cares?
Getting to the race fairly early, allowed me to get to the front of my corral. I also spent some time talking to the people I was surrounded by, many of them first time marathoners. I continued to remain calm. I had decided I was going to give it my best shot, and if I didn't make it, I didn't make it. Soon my corral was at the starting line, and it was time to GO, GO, GO.
I felt pretty good the first 3-4 miles! My pace was about 15:30, which was no where near my training times, but it is difficult when you are weaving through so many people. Plus, I noticed my pace was decreasing little by little with each mile as the crowd thinned.
Running through the Magic Kingdom (my favorite park) never gets old! The lines were pretty short for some of the characters, so I decided to stop. It is hard to meet Wreck it Ralph, Vanellope Von Schweetz, and Louis in the parks, so I thought, "Why Not?"
After leaving the Magic Kingdom, it was a pretty long slog down to Animal Kingdom. We ran through some of the pretty resorts, and there were some miscellaneous characters spread about. But other than stops for poweraid and cliff blocks, I just kept running.
By the way, putting, "It's my first marathon," on the back of my shirt was an excellent idea. Everyone was so nice, congratulating me and telling me I was looking great throughout the entire race. It helped a lot, during the hard moments.
I was so excited to enter Animal Kingdom. I had never been to Animal Kingdom, so I was getting my first glimpse of that park. From here on out during the race, I really didn't take many pictures, I just wanted to keep moving and get it done. So my words will have to be enough description until I get to the finish line!
I ran the whole time, without stopping, for the first 18 miles, before I started to hit "the wall." From miles 18-20, I alternated between running and walking before just walking. About mile 22, I had a moment when I was so certain I would not finish. Even though I just had 4 miles to go, it just seemed so hard, so far away. But I stoped at the medical tent, I put some bio-freeze on my legs and popped some tylenol, and I just kept going.
My pace had slowed down quite a bit walking, probably about 17-18 minutes per mile. I knew if I could get to Hollywood Studios, I was out of harm's way, and I could not be swept. Some one alerted me that the balloon ladies (the ladies you have to stay in front of to not get swept) were about 5 minutes behind me. I had about one mile to go before getting to the studios.
I don't know if it was fear or adrenaline, but something about seeing those dreaded ladies, got me into gear! I broke into a walk/jog that was as fast as my earlier times! I finally made it to the studios, and I was safe, but I had such adrenaline coursing through me at that point, that I just kept going at my quickened pace. I was determined to finish strong.
Finally, I made it into Epcot for the last two miles. World Showcase never felt so long in my entire life! When I got to mile 26, I thought that was worth stopping to take a picture. When I crossed that finish line, I burst into tears! I couldn't believe I had done it. I was so proud.
I finished in a little under 7 hours, and I could not have been more proud to finish. Sometimes I can't believe how far I have come, how much work it took to get here. Many years ago, before I was even a runner, I put run a marathon on my bucket list. I knew this was most likely an unattainable goal, and yet I accomplished it. Life is good.
So what do you after you run a marathon? You take an Epson salt bath, tend to the blisters on your feet, put on your compression socks, order a pizza, watch the Packers' win a playoff game, and talk, talk, talk (since you are on a runners' high that just won't stop).
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