Everyone has a bucket list…and on my bucket list is the Disney Marathon. Not just any marathon - specifically the Disney Marathon. Why you might ask? Well my family grew up going to Disney World every year. Until I was in college I could not recall a single year since the age of like 5 that I hadn’t been there.
So around my 26th birthday I got this crazy idea - why not run 26 miles in my 26th year? And wouldn’t you know there was still space left is the Disney Marathon which takes place early January every year.
I had mentioned the marathon to my younger sister (who ran her first race in August) and encouraged her to sign up as well. We both did and I began training. Well training is a far stretch - I tried to train - but I HATE running. Absolutely hate it. But I had already signed up so I do what I always do - assume I can complete anything with the least amount of training.
I started in October on what was week 5 of the training plan. I was suppose to be at 10 miles. So that weekend I headed to a local park and was determined to do my 10 miles. I was fine until mile 8 - then the pain and aches. By mile 9 I was limping around determined not to stop until my iPhone app told me I was done. I was limping for three days afterwards - lesson learned not to start training with 10 miles.
By December I was doing well with a 12-13 min/mile pace. I had a method of alternating running and walking with each new song on my iPhone. But when I was doing my 16 mile training pain hit me at mile 8. It was my left foot and it felt like shooting pain up my calf. I should have stopped right there and rested - but being the person I was I knew I could talk myself out of running if I didn’t park my car and run from it halfway so I had to do the full mileage. So there I was 8 miles from my car in the middle of a trail outside the city with 8 miles to go.
It took me two hours to get back to my car and after seeing the doctor we realized I bruised my foot. We were six weeks from the marathon at this point and I had to rest for at least four. My lack of serious training and dancers bunions bite me in the butt.
I stopped running and my parents didn’t think I would even do the marathon. But I knew I would. My sister and I flew down four days before the big race and while she did early morning jogs - I slept in and was my lazy self. My dad had joked up to the race that I wouldn’t be able to finish in the time limit or he could do nine holes of golf between my sister and mines finish time. Yes it was all in fun - but knowing my dad - he had no faith in me doing this.
The day of the race came and I was pumped and ready for my medal. I was in the last corral to start and felt good during the first few miles. But around mile 9 I started losing my pace and was getting discouraged. I tried to follow those around me who used watches to pace them (it beeped to signal walk/jog). This only worked for a while as they would either get to far ahead of me during the jog or far behind me. Right before we hit the Magic Kingdom I met two men who were doing the Goofy Challenge (both the half marathon and full) who were doing 13 min/mile pace doing 4 mins run 1 min walk. I asked if they minded if I paced with them and they ran with me the rest of the way.
If one of us was feeling pain we all would slow down. We cheered each other on through the miles and adjusted our pace to make sure we would complete before the time limit. But around mile 23 one of them started limping. He had hurt his knee the day before and the pain was bad. We slowed down but by mile 24 we weren’t sure we would make the time limit. So the two men told me to run ahead to ensure I would get my medal. I asked them if they were sure and they said they had done this race many times and already had their half marathon medal. I felt terrible leaving them with 2 miles to go, but I surged ahead to make sure I would finish in time.
During the final mile I had so much energy left because we had been taking it slow the last 5 miles. I was giving high fives to people in Epcot and thanking them for standing out there for over 7 hours to cheer on people. And then finally I saw mile marker 26. Disney had a gospel choir singing and you couldn’t help but be emotional. After almost giving up and quitting at mile 16 - I had a few tears because I had done it. Granted I hadn’t trained the best, I injured myself, and I was going to have a terrible time but none of that mattered because I hadn’t quit.
I crossed the finish line and right before getting my medal I saw my parents and sister in the stands. After being told they weren’t going to be there - they had waited for me. My sister finished under 5 hours and me at 7, so they had sat for over 2 hours for me to cross. It meant the world. My sister and I wore our medals all the way to the hotel.
I had already decided I want to try the marathon thing again - but my sister like many always says that they are done. But here we are in June and both of us are already signed up for the Goofy Challenge in January and I am happy to report that I have already begun training and it didn’t start with ten miles.