Once upon a time, I signed up for a half marathon….and had never even run a 5k.
My cousin came to live with me for a few months in 2013 and wanted to run the Princess Half while she was in town. And she wanted me to do it with her. Sure, why the hell not? I was not a runner. Or in good shape of any kind.
A couple of months or so prior to registering, I had just decided to make a fitness change and put my health first. I had lingering weight of the Freshmen 15 (during my senior year) and had adopted overall unhealthy habits. So I figured why the hell not run the race and take the plunge. In July 2012 I registered for the 2013 WDW Princess Half…way back when you could decide at your leisure to register for a Disney race and didn’t have to be ready signup at 11:59am. I actually think I registered a month after registration opened and faced the bracket pricing levels! What?! That’s unheard of these days! ?
So I had a little over 6 months to train, which was plenty of time. At that point I was comfortable running about 3 miles. I built up strength and endurance and by the time February rolled around I was as ready as I would be!
Oh yeah, the furthest I had run during training was 7 miles.
Race weekend arrived and we were so nervous and excited. That weekend was a whirlwind..We barely made it to the expo to pickup our packets the Friday before the race. That year the expo was held at Coronado Springs and you had to take a shuttle to from Downtown Disney to the resort and back again and we made it by the skin of our teeth! We got our packets and had just enough time to get shirts from official merchandise before the expo closed. Soon enough we were on the shuttle back to Downtown Disney and off to carb up for the big day!
We packed our checked bags with waters and prerace fuel the night before and headed to be pretty early to be up for 3am! You always have to be up and out early for Disney races…
We were up and out on time and before we knew it, made it to Epcot. It was race time!
We got into our corral and waited for our time to start. I peed like 3 times before we made it to the corral, but somehow had to pee again right as our corral was moving towards the start. I tried to focus on all the excitement of the race and then we crossed the start line! I was running my first half marathon!
By the time I was about 3/4 of a mile into the race, I couldn’t ignore the urge to pee, so I made a bee line for the first porta pottie stop…normally the first bathroom stop on the course doesn’t have long lines, so I jumped at my opportunity. Connie went ahead and we promised to meet back up.
Super embarrassing porta pottie story: I got into the stall and I guess I didn’t completely latch the door, so some guy flung the door open on me mid pants down. We both basically froze in horror and I grabbed the door shut! I was so flustered in general, so this happening didn’t help. I finished up and bolted out of there to keep going..I wasn’t even at the first mile marker yet!
Surprisingly enough the miles passed on by. Before I knew it I was in the Magic Kingdom area and saw my family at the Ticket and Transportation Center. It’s always so encouraging and motivating when you have your people cheering for you!
After seeing them, I really had a good pace going and was feeling really strong. So fast I guess that I didn’t even notice that a bottle from my belt popped off. A nice runner was kind enough to chase me for a few hundred yards to return it…I was just so in the zone that I didn’t hear her yelling or even notice. I was a hot mess at this race!
I ran through the castle and made it outside Magic Kingdom to where I suppose I hit my first wall. That part of the course is long and kind of boring…I zoned out and really had to push through! At this point, I was in the furthest run I’d ever been on, but still had about 5-6 miles left!
Finally I hit the mile 10 marker and knew only 3 miles stood between me and completing my first half! I made it up and over a few overpasses– why are all the hills at the end of Disney races!?– and came through the side entrance of Epcot. After getting a final push from my family around mile 12, I was on to the end of the race. At this point everything hurt but once I saw the gospel singers at the exit of the park, I knew I was in the home stretch! I crossed the finish line and was completely overcome with emotions. Never in my life did I think I was a runner or would ever accomplish such a big goal. I was so proud and excited and exhausted.
I think the best way to describe the post run feeling was dazed. I walked through the finish line chute, received my medal, and tried to get back to my bag. I was trying to call my group so they could find me, but everyone there was doing the same thing so I couldn’t get through. Somewhere along the way after the race I dropped my arm band with Brian’s iPod that I had borrowed and lost it. Connie and I never met back up on the course, so we were trying to find each other too! Eventually we all met back up, took lots of photos, and congratulated each other and celebrated!
I remember being so sore. I barely had an appetite, but we had breakfast reservations at the Grande Floridian afterwards. It hurt to walk, but we always heard that we should walk it out, so we went to breakfast then the Magic Kingdom for a victory lap around the park.
Somewhere close to the Hall of Presidents, I remember sitting on a wall and I think I was done at that point! We made our trek back to the car…which is always a long walk after a race….and went home. I ate breadsticks from Olive Garden and passed out for a few hours on the couch!
This was my very first half marathon and when I knew I was absolutely in love with running. The feeling of crossing your first finish line is one that goes unmatched and unlocks a newfound passion in so many of us.
And all this happened before I even ran an official 5k!
This was from my very first 5k! A month after I ran my first half marathon!