We did it!
Katie Rose and I ran 13.1 miles to complete our first half marathon together! It was an amazing nonstop weekend that culminated in an accomplishment that I am beyond proud of. But let’s start from the very beginning…
The weekend began on Friday when I took off from JFK for Orlando. After arriving in Orlando, Disney’s magical express (yes, it’s actually named that and yes, it was pretty magical) took me to the Port Orleans Riverside Hotel. Katie Rose, her fiance Drew, and I spent all night chatting and trying on our costumes for the big day.
Taking photos of Katie and I prancing around in Minnie Mouse ears was for sure the highlight of Drew’s weekend.
The next day we woke up bright and early and moseyed around the Animal Kingdom.
We then took a quick break and went to the race expo to pick up our race packets. The race expo was at the ESPN Wide World of Sports (which I didn’t even know existed) and the whole thing was gigantic!
It took us about 15 minutes to pick up our packets (race numbers, tshirts, etc) and then we spent a few minutes wandering around the expo. I had never been to a race expo before, and this was one hell of a balagan. Various vendors were handing out free samples, there were lectures on different race related topics, and I saw a fair amount of “absolutely necessary” running gear.
A bit intimidating! We wandered through the expo for a while, bought some sport beans for fueling along the race, and took a few photos with glass slippers (necessary).
We wound up heading home around 8:00 because we knew we had an early wake-up call the next day. Despite the fact that we were in bed by 10:00PM I spent the majority of my night tossing and turning with nerves for the day to come. I probably got about 2 hours of sleep total before my alarm clock went off at 3:15AM (ahhhhh) and we were headed out the door.
Katie and I nervously munched on some trail mix on the bus ride to Epcot and eventually found ourselves in a sea of princesses (and some princes!) headed for the start line.
We dropped off our bags, stuffed the sports beans into our bras (we’re classy like that), and made our way towards corral F.
The race officially started at 5:45AM, but our corral left off at 6:15–we had to make it to the corrals by 5:00, which meant that we had a lot of time to kill before the start. We stretched a little, took way too many pictures, chatted with other people in princess gear, and danced around in an attempt to stay warm!
Finally at 5:45, the crowd started moving–the corrals were started one by one and with each corral start they had another set of fireworks!
Katie and I began running with a loose plan of keeping our pace slower at first, stopping to take pictures whenever necessary (definitely happened many many times), running together for all 13.1 miles, and just generally going with the flow. This was our first half marathon and we wanted to be able to enjoy the experience!
The first few miles of the race were on access roads leading up to the Magic Kingdom. Oh man, were those first few miles crowded. Katie and I were constantly weaving through the crowds–we spent the first few miles running on the grass next to the main road in an attempt to bypass walkers and general “bottlenecking.” Of course, this wasn’t so bad–it gave us the opportunity to relax and get into a groove rather than taking all that “start-of-race” adrenaline and trying to run at an unsustainable pace.
There were multiple character stops along those first few miles, a marching band playing, and a drumming circle. I didn’t use my ipod at all because there were so many things going on around me I just didn’t have to!
To be honest, the first four or five miles are kind of a blur. I remember almost nothing with all of the excitement going on around me! I was pumped up and we both felt really good.
I had my phone strapped around my arm so we had Drew text us with his location–this made finding him during the race really really easy. We met up with him around mile 4–gave him a quick high five and then sped off into the Magic Kingdom!
This was absolutely one of the best parts of the race. I think we were probably only in the Magic Kingdom for about a mile, but that mile left me on a high for the following 3 or 4!
Everyone knows that I’m not really the “Disney-est” of people, but running through the castle definitely made me feel like an excited little kid! There was squealing involved for sure.
For the next few miles we ran past the Grand Floridian and a Disney golf course (we saw Drew again at mile 8!). I started to feel a little sluggish around mile 9 so we popped a few of those sport beans, which had been nicely warmed in our sports bras (they were in a plastic container, not gross!). Miles 9-12 were mostly on access roads, which was kind of boring considering that’s when I felt like I needed the most distractions. We also had to go up a few different ramps and those hills at the end of the race were definitely not appreciated! We did take a few walk breaks through the water stations from miles 10-12, but we also picked up our pace on the runs so there was definitely a good balance going on.
I’m not going to lie, the last mile was pretty torturous. We picked up our pace as best we could and powered through that last stretch–there was a gospel choir at the end singing us to the finish, which gave us the last bit of motivation we needed! As we ran the last .10 miles of the race Katie and I grabbed hands and cheered as we crossed the finish.
It took a few seconds for the excitement of the finish to wear off–a race volunteer handed me my medal, people started shoving Powerade in my face. Then all of the sudden I found myself in tears. I’m not really sure what got into me–everything was just totally overwhelming. This was absolutely the most challenging thing that I have ever done physically and the fact that I had finally completed what seemed like such a lofty goal was just unreal. I followed a long training plan and worked my way up to this both mentally and physically–I had finally done it! This is the first time I’ve cried happy tears and I think it was a very appropriate moment 🙂
Now we can call ourselves half marathoners 🙂
A big thanks to Drew for cheering us on!
We spent the rest of the day wandering around Hollywood studios, munching on some eats, and doing a little post-race boozing.
For now it’s back to the daily grind, but I’ll definitely be signing up for more races in the future. In fact, Casey and I just signed up for the Run for the Wild 5k! We’ll be skipping our way through the Bronx Zoo on April 28th. I’ll be in costume for this one as well (I plan on only signing up for races that can be run in costume)–hope to see you there!