At The Start
Today was the day, the final day of the journey I started a year ago to run a marathon. How am I feeling after you ask? Well the answer is this...crap!
Most of you wouldn't be shocked by that answer I'm sure. Why anyone would want to run 42.2km or 26.4miles is craziness, lunacy, all out mental deficiency! and I heartily agree. I always knew it was going to be hard, but what I never fully appreciated and/or respected was the sheer mental and physical breakdown your body undertakes as it covers that distance.
I loved the fact my race number ended in 40!
View from the path!
At 3:15am the brain alarm went off. The "I don't want to miss the alarm and therefore gets up 45 minutes before needed" wake up! I made the standard oatmeal breakfast and followed it with a banana. I had laid out my clothes the night before and was ready and waiting at 3:45am. Lisa was also ready to go and my mother was up for support. She hasn't missed a Disney race yet!
Lisa and I were off to Epcot! "All runners must be in their corrals by 5am or they won't be able to start". Well I guess we weren't the only ones who though that was bogus b/c when we hit the park there were about 1000 cars in line to get in. At least this time I didn't get lost and end up at the Magic Kingdom parking lot and have to take the monorail to Epcot. We parked and walked to the runners area. This is where it hits you, the sheer magnitude of the Disney experience. I mean the race kit pick up was grande, but when Disney does anything, they do it spectacularly! They are a well oiled machine and what makes it even more special are the 1000 or so volunteers and cast members who are out long before the runners get there and set up and direct us lost souls where to go.
Pee break, just use one of the 600 or so port-o-potty's ! Now off to the corrals. Lisa and I were in corral E (5hour). It's about a 20minute walk to the start line, hence why they want you there early.
5:35am: Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Donald come out to cheer on the crowds and the fireworks go off in true Disney fashion. Wheel chair racers are off and each corral follows with 5 minutes between. In a flash we are off and across the start line. Lisa and I find it a bit slow to start but once we get into Epcot we get our stride. Feeling great, feeling strong. Around Epcot and into the back park. The first 10km (6miles) go by in a flash. Mile 6 to 8 are hard but only because there isn't much to see as you run the roads between Epcot and Magic Kingdom. You enter Magic Kingdom at mile 10 and in my opinion one of the best parts of the race. Running down Main Street towards Cinderella's Castle with all the spectators lining the street is an awesome boost! Running past Space Mountain and the Tea Cups, passing characters along the way.
STOP - Woody and Jesse from Toy Story were out in Frontierland. We stand in line, get to the front to take our picture and Jesse goes on break. I so would have been a rockstar if I had had my picture taken with her, but I guess Woody will have to do! On we go!
2hrs and 27minutes: we come out of the Magic Kingdom and cross over the half way mark. Good time and feeling OK but for my hip. I decided to stop at a medical tent for some biofreeze (best stuff on the planet). It numbs the area, it's unfortunate that my hamstrings start to get tired at that point too. Into Animal Kingdom and around Mount Everest (where the previous day Lisa and I rode the roller coaster) now we are running around it while others are coming down the mountain.
STOP - Picture with Minnie of course!
Coming out of Animal Kingdom are the best spectators in the world (at least to me). Rob, Abby, Rowan and my mother were there to cheer us on. At this point the sun was up and it was getting hot so I took off a layer and dropped off my sun glasses because they kept fogging up and continued on our way!
With each mile my body started to break down. I've never had this happen before in any sport I've ever done. I was slowing down and eventually had to shorten my run/walk times. We passed the 32km/20miles marker and I had a full mental breakdown. I called to Lisa to stop and just started to cry and tried not to throw-up. I couldn't go on at least I didn't want to. But Lisa was amazing and got me running again. I'm not sure I would have continued, at least I wouldn't have run. I would have walked the last 10kms (6miles). With each step I felt so many things. I hurt, I was tired, I felt gross and above all I was pissed at myself for not being able to complete something I spent the last year working towards. I was ashamed and that's what I used to get my legs moving. Basically yelling at myself (internally) to get my ass moving and cross that finish line. Interspersed within the expletives were moments of utter despair. Lisa kept changing the running plan. First it was 10 and 1's, then it was 5 and 1's and then it was 2 and 1's etc. And that's what we did!
The last 5km (3miles): Can't say that I remember it completely but I do remember entering Epcot and knowing this is where we finish. Even that didn't motivate me to keep running. The Mickey Mouse Medal, the faces of my family and most of all Lisa kept me going. I think I cried with each step and as I looked around I wasn't the only person experiencing this emotional/physical roller coaster. I could see the big dome but it was all the way around the world. More and more spectators were around and as they yell out your name telling you that you are awesome and almost done certainly did help (so if you've ever been a spectator at a race, we really do need you too). Just before the finish line we go into the back park for about 200meters and then through the gates to the stands and the finish. It honestly took everything in me to make my legs move and start running. But what was this, all this applause and support and my legs started to pick up a little speed (don't kid yourself, it wasn't much that anyone would notice) but I did. We could see it now and with a high five to Goofy and Donald we crossed the finish line. My body found the last bit of energy I needed.
With a hug and a cry, Lisa and I just held each other. She was amazing and I know there wasn't any way I could have done this without her. At least not in 5 hours and 9 minutes (yes I beat Rob's PB :)
And there it was, the most beautiful medal I've every seen.
I'd like to thank everyone who's taken this journey with me and supported me. I've never felt so much love from just trying to attempt something before I turned 40. The emails, text messages and Facebook messages that came in within minutes of us crossing the finish line made all the pain go away for a while, at least until I tried to sit down, or get up or move in anyway. LOL
It's two days later and my body still hates me. The muscles are starting to loosen up but the electrolyte imbalance still lingers. I think I'll take the week off :)
Three weeks until I turn 40, now what?