The day that I trained for since July was finally here. I ran 3x per week for eight months and got into the best shape of my life, and it was finally the moment to put all my hard work to the test.
We managed to be asleep by around 10 p.m. and our alarms went off at the ungodly hour of 2:30 a.m. We crawled out of bed to get ready and got out the door by 3:15 to catch the bus to the start area. We all double and triple checked to make sure we had everything with us since there was no returning at that point. Headphones? Phone? Bib? SHOES? Check!
I heard from some friends who ran the race before that it was smart to bring breakfast with you. The resort obviously wasn’t open for breakfast at 3 a.m., but I’m also glad we decided to wait to eat until we were on-site because the beginning of the race was a LOT of waiting. A lot. So we ate the bagels and granola bars that we brought in our carry on, and we snagged butter from the food court the night before. We also brought a couple bottles of water and some Powerade to hydrate plenty before the race.
Once we finished eating, we made the 20 minute walk to the corrals. I was warned it was a far walk, so we were prepared. There were people next to us complaining, but we didn’t mind loosening up our legs. We also made sure to take a few potty breaks since we hydrated so much while we sat.
Not pictured here, but we brought sweatshirts to throw away since the morning was a tad chillly. RunDisney actually picks up the sweatshirts and donates them to charity, so we didn’t mind losing an old hoodie (mine was from 8th grade, believe it or not!).
The actual race started at 5:30 a.m., but we were in corral N because we didn’t submit a proof of time to be up in one of the earlier corrals. Without getting to far ahead of myself, I will definitely submit a time next race. SO. MANY. WALKERS. It was incredibly frustrating, especially for Kevin.
Anyways! We waited in our corral for about an hour and passed time by stretching and judging other people’s outrageous costumes. Some of them were adorable and cute, but there were some costumes that were just plain crazy. Like the person who had stuffed animals safety pinned to her shirt. Like you’re really going to run 13.1 miles with that? (They were probably one of the thousand walkers.) But here’s an example of a great costume: The Beast and Gaston.
Finally, at a little before 6:30 a.m. it was our turn and the fireworks sent us off!
Kevin, Pam and I decided a few months ago that we were all going to run the race at our own paces. None of us trained together (Kev and I did some runs together, but not all of them), and we all wanted to be able to do our personal best without being a hinderance to each other. After the first quarter mile or so, I was on my own and turned up my music to get in the zone.
I decided I was going to keep my phone out and take pictures while I was running, but after the first two mile signs, I quickly realized taking pictures while running was not something I excelled in.
I checked my running app to see how I was doing with my pace and I was doing fine. I felt great, my legs were loose so I just kept going as normal and didn’t change much. After the first two miles, I saw the first character stop and the line was SO long.
Before the race, I told myself I wouldn’t mind stopping for characters because I did pay $175 to run it and damnit, I was going to enjoy it! But once I was running, I had no desire to stop and wait in a line that was 30 people deep to take a picture with a character. So instead, I took blurry pictures of other people with the characters while I ran by.
Miles 1 – 3 were good, and then I saw the magical sign that showed we were entering Magic Kingdom. Whaaaaaahoooo!
And then my phone rang. It was Kevin. My anxiety set in and I thought “what happened?” “did he pull a muscle?” “did he break his leg?” “did he finish already!?” When I answered, he said he just couldn’t run at his normal pace (average 7:30 min/mile…I know. I know.), and would rather run it with me and enjoy it, than try to weave in and out of people so much that he gets hurt or hurts someone else.
So back to the walkers. SO MANY OF THEM. I had no idea! I assumed people would walk towards the middle or end, or do a walk/run combo, but there were people who seriously never ran at all. I couldn’t believe the amount of people who walked through the start, without even doing a light jog.
And I get that some people sign up for the race to walk it, but I didn’t think there’d be THAT many. I also would have thought that runDisney would have a running lane and a walking lane, because at times, the paths were as wide as a sidewalk which meant the runners got stuck weaving in and out of the walkers, or running on the grass to get around them.
So Kevin was frustrated and decided to wait for me just outside of Magic Kingdom and we ran the rest of it together starting at mile 4 or so! Truthfully, I was happy. Well, bummed for him since he couldn’t do his personal best, but I knew going in that a runDisney race wasn’t the place to PR.
(The pictures of me running 13.1 are so flattering, let me tell you.)
A mile later, we were about ready to enter the Magic Kingdom and I was PUMPED! Running down Main Street and towards the castle was every bit as magical as I imagined.
The entire left side of Main Street was packed with spectators and they were so encouraging.
We paused for five seconds to talk the World’s Fastest Selfie in front of the castle.
And of course, running through the castle was as magical of all.
Especially because we had a surprise visit from Anna, Elsa and Kristoff wishing us well! I turned to Kevin and excitedly yelled, “FROZENNNNN!!” like a five-year-old. I’ll go ahead and file that under moments I’m not proud of.
I was pleasantly surprised at how much we ran through the park. I thought for sure we’d run through the castle and be done, but we spent the majority of mile five in the actual park!
We did see a bathroom with no line in Frontierland so we took advantage and peed as fast as we could to get back to our run. (No joke, I seriously saw girls in there reapplying makeup in the mirrors #aintnobodygottimeforthat.)
Here’s a picture of me trying to take a picture of Snow White but failing miserably.
Leaving Magic Kingdom was depressing because we knew we had about five more miles of nothingness. We talked for a little bit and enjoyed people watching and getting cheered on by a few spectators, but mile ten was when I hit my wall. And I. hit. it. hard.
You see, mile ten is where there is a super convenient extra large on ramp, which basically felt like Mount Everest after running ten miles. They had the Green Army Men from Toy Story cheering us on, which helped a little, but I was really struggling. This is when I was so glad to have Kevin there to help me keep going. I really wanted to stop, but I didn’t. I knew that we had just a 5K left and a 5K was nothing compared to the ten miles we just ran.
Finally, we saw the signs for Epcot at mile 12 and we got so excited. We were almost there!
The run through Epcot wasn’t nearly as exciting as Magic Kingdom because we just wanted to be done at that point. The sun was blazing down on us and even though it was probably only high 70s, we were used to 20-degree weather so it felt pretty hot towards the end of our run.
Also…even though the walkers were frustrating, I was so impressed with how encouraging everyone was. I noticed people telling strangers to keep up the good work and push through. As we were rounding the final corner, I could see the finish line and I just passed a girl who was running alone and was really struggling. She stopped to walk so I jogged over to her and told her that I could literally SEE the finish line and to keep going, so she did! If I was by myself, I would have loved to have someone encourage me like that. Thankfully, I had Kevin who cheered me on the whole way. 😉
But really, seeing the finish line was a feeling like no other. I couldn’t believe that I was seconds away from completing my first half marathon, especially since I’ve always said that I am not a runner!
(Yes, this is us in the black holding hands as we finished. So cute, I know. (Thanks to Cheryl’s mom for taking these pictures of us!!))
We crossed the finish line in 2:44:42. All 13.1 were complete!
My legs were chafing. My arms were chafing. My arm band was driving me nuts. My legs felt like jelly. Kevin’s knee was hurting. BUT WE DID IT.
RunDisney has their races down to a science and the area after the finish line was super organized. The runners were fed into a line to get our metals (and pixie dust for me!) and then we headed to the Medical Tent to ice our knees, take some Tylenol and get BioFreeze.
Then, we got our food and found a spot to sit and wait for my aunt Pam to finish her race. We INHALED this box. Thank you, runDisney. Thank you. (And thank you to the random guy who gave Kevin and I a handful of Animal Crackers as we passed you at mile 11. Those were clutch.)
My grandma was watching for my aunt to finish and met up with Kevin and I to hand us a rose as a congratulations gift. So sweet of her!
Pam finished the race a few minutes after us (so proud!) and we met up for a picture before we headed back to our resort.
We all showered and changed out of our sweaty running clothes…and I quickly learned that I had tan lines from my KT Tape. Ha!
Know why we were in such a hurry to get showered and changed? POOL TIME! It reached mid 80s and we were pumped to go for a dip.
And when you run 13.1 miles, a margarita is necessary.
Either that margarita was really strong, or I was extra tired…or both, but I took a nice little nap by the pool that afternoon.
That night, we ate an early dinner. Grandma ordered us pizza, salad and we grabbed some beers and ate it in bed. And it was glorious. I think we were all asleep by 9:30 p.m. that night. Ha!
Oh, so I know I said our official time was 2:44:42 (which is a 12:34 min/mile pace), but my running app said we ran 14 miles and I believe it. We weaved in and out of people so much, so I don’t doubt that doing that added a whole mile extra to our run. So here is what I’m going with as my official time:
I should note that this is MY BEST TIME EVER, for a run that long. I trained at a 12-12:30 min/mile so I was SO FREAKING EXCITED when I saw my time. And I didn’t even have a time goal in mind!
Here you can see my splits…obviously mile 6 was slow because we stopped to pee and took our time through Magic Kingdom, but mile 7 was apparently a sprint? Who knew!
So, two pairs of running shoes, countless socks, a couple ice baths, a month of terrible shin splints, one gym membership, the desire to quit dozens of times and hundreds of miles on the pavement and treadmill…I completed my first half marathon!
Thank you to everyone who was so encouraging as I tracked my journey here on the blog and talked about running nonstop to anyone who would listen. I appreciate it more than you know!