Adventures in Running: My First Marathon
AIR: My First Marathon
Disney January 2009.
It was the week before my wedding.
No lie. Seven days after running my first marathon, I walked down the aisle and married my best friend. I DO NOT recommend this to anyone. Wedding time frame part, not the marrying best friend part. That I highly recommend.
In my defense, I signed up for the marathon prior to getting engaged. The wedding date worked out best for whatever reasons. I can't even remember why now. The six months leading up to the marathon/wedding were probably the most stressful of my entire life. Marathon training takes so much time and energy. So does wedding planning. On a positive side, most of my family came to cheer my marathon finish because they were already in town for the wedding. That was a huge blessing.
My dearest cousin, Alyssa, had signed up for the Goofy. Fitting name for a crazy race. On Saturday, the Goofy participant runs the Disney Half Marathon. On Sunday, they run the full. CRAZY!
I was happy to have her running the full with me because she planned to stay at my pace. My family and I went to cheer her finishing the half. She tore it up with some ridiculously fast time. I was so proud. She is just one of those amazing runners. I knew she would have no trouble staying with me on Sunday, but I worried that she might struggle with how slow it would be.
True to her word, we were off together with the fireworks and ten thousand-some people racing with us. The beginning is somewhat of a blur because the race starts a 6am in the pitch dark. I only remembered the start of my first half so well because of the adventure that it turned out to be.
We went slow, I do remember that. Probably 11 or 12 min/mile pace. I had no concept of how long it would take me to finish. I assumed about 5 hours.
Each park was fun, but they flash by so quickly that I always felt kind of cheated. I would rather run three or four laps around each park than run the boring back roads that have no scenery. However, that is the majority of the marathon. The parks are probably a mile each. Therefore, four miles of the race is fun Disney parks, and twenty-two miles is boring.
Hence, why we don't run Disney races anymore. Plus they are super expensive, have gotten impossibly crowded, and start way too early for the 40 minute drive it takes to get there from my aunt's house. Granted, there are bands lined up every few miles, people cheering everywhere, DJs, singers, etc. I guess it's just not enough to make the Disney races worth it to me now. I'm glad I've done a bunch of them. I'm sort of at the been-there-done-that stage with it.
Not sure what Alyssa and I chatted about, but I think we talked most of the race. Just as we left Animal Kingdom, I noticed I was hurting. In general, I felt tired and already knew it would be really hard to finish. That's about the time we got some BioFreeze to rub on our legs. It did help.
However, around mile 18, a large blister that had formed on my baby toe popped. It felt like someone had shot off the toe from underneath with a gun. I don't know why, but it was excruciating. I yelled, "It popped!"
Alyssa panicked, thinking I meant an ankle or knee bone cracked on me. When I told her it was a blister, she knew what to do.
I wanted to stop. We did walk as we discussed my injury. Alyssa told me that I had to make a decision. We could walk in the heat (it was pretty hot for January) for a really long time, which would hurt. Or we could run and finish a lot faster, which would also hurt.
I knew she was right. I needed to suck it up and go. We found a medic who bandaged up my toe, but I still felt every step like needles shot up into my toe and foot. It was the longest eight-mile trek ever.
Alyssa encouraged me, talking the whole time. She prayed, I prayed. We trotted slowly all the way to Epcot where the race finishes in the parking lot. Running around the world at Epcot should have been a lot more fun, I thought to myself bitterly at the time. But then I realized that even if I didn't have a blister, I would feel just as dead and ready to be done because we were almost to the last mile.
As we winded through the last back road with constant turns, there was a praise band singing. I teared up hearing them. I can't remember the song, but I remember how it felt. I was really almost there, pain and all. The finish line came into view, and we sped up maybe a fraction. I could hardly get my legs to move. Alyssa and I grabbed hands and lifted them up. It was overwhelming as we passed under the finish line sign, and I burst into tears.
6 hours and 15 minutes. That's a long time to run, and we really did only stop once for the bathroom. We walked for about half a mile when I got my blister. The rest, we ran. Alyssa and I hugged and walked and cried. She may not have cried, I can't remember for sure.
More than once, I swore that I would NEVER EVER EVER EVER run a marathon. Now I've run two, and I'm signed up for one in November. There's something amazing about finishing a marathon when you never thought you could. I learned a lot about myself, like how I could push through pain, especially with the help of a friend.
I also learned I needed to get a different running shoe. Blister problem solved!
|At the Expo|
|Family came to cheer|
|We did it!|