Where to start? I am not what I would consider a runner. I’m not an athlete. I’m simply someone who wants to do something she has never done before. For example, last year I went to Tony Robbins’ UPW Seminar with my husband and yes, I did walk on fire! It was an amazing and life-changing experience. After I walked on fire, I felt invincible. So what was a little 5k and a half marathon?
I have competed in 5ks and 10ks before and so I knew I could do that. But a half marathon? I must be out of my mind. I mean, I do like running, but having to train on a treadmill is the equivalent of torture to me. I mean, where am I running to? Give me a spin bike anytime.
So, what did I learn?
Train. And Train Some More
I cannot honestly say that I trained enough for the race. I was more concerned with my asthma acting up and plantar fascitis, than I was with making sure my training was where it needed to be. I never made time to train on the road and that was probably my biggest mistake. Instead I trained on the treadmill, but nothing takes the place of the road under your feet. Note to newbies. Practice on all types of surfaces. The roads you will be racing on are hot as heck, uneven, sometimes filled with rocks and gravel, and at times packed with people. Which leads me to my next lesson.
Focus on the Positive, but Prepare for the Worst
Now I know, this one goes against what we normally are told. My father always said, “Don’t assume because..” Well, you probably know the rest. I should have made an assumption and in not doing so, it cost me dearly. What happened? During the half, probably at about mile 3, right after we had just gotten through the majorly crowded, sardine can of a path between Boardwalk and Hollywood Studios, I injured my knee. That’s right. At only mile 3. As the group opened up, a man in front of me decided it was a brilliant idea to come to a complete stop. Right in front of me. With people to my left, people to my right, and people behind me, I attempted to maneuver around him while not hitting into others. Yeah. That did not go well. My foot went one way, my knee went the other. But I was not about to give up. I had this. If only I had been smart and made an assumption beforehand that someone might possibly do something like that. I might have had a plan for how I would react. Maybe I would have just run over him! 😉
Carry Your Own Power Gels, Energy Beans, & Water.
Yes, Disney does supply water and powerade during the race, BUT word to the wise! CARRY YOUR OWN! At many times, the crowds were too packed to make it over safely to grab the water, and a few times that I did, the water cup had about a 1/2 inch of water in it. Certainly not enough to keep me hydrated! I am so thankful that I decided to carry my own.
Prepare for the Balloon Ladies
Ah, the dreaded balloon ladies! You either love them or hate them. Now, I do not know them personally, and I am told they are wonderful ladies, BUT I do not like them at all. Why? First of all, being human, there are mistakes that can be made. They are supposed to keep the 16 minute mile pace. Yet, there were at least two times that they were ahead of pace and actually had to be slowed down. I get that. Unfortunately, there is a major head game that goes on when you see them coming behind you. Now that has nothing to do with them, and everything to do with mindset. I had been placed in a corral that was way too close to them to start with, so that immediately put me at a disadvantage. That is my fault. If I had trained more and gotten my time down, and had proof of that time, I could have been place further up. Now I know.
But how disheartening was it to refuse to not give up and run/walk as much as I could with an injured knee, only to have the balloon ladies pass me. Even after they passed me right before Animal Kingdom, I had convinced myself that through all the pain, I would finish. That somehow God was going to see me through. That I would be able to finish. Which now leads to number 5. The hardest lesson of all.
Sometimes Winning isn’t About Finishing
After my injury at mile 3, I focused on that finish line. I wanted it. I could see it in my mind. It didn’t matter that with each additional mile, the grimace on my face got more noticeable. I knew my husband, my kids, and my sister were tracking me via the app and I was not about to quit and have my kids see me disappear off the tracker and wonder what happened. As Yoda says, “Do or Do Not. There is no try.”. By the time I was in the parking lot about to enter the Animal Kingdom, I could barely run. A few medics tried to stop me, but I wouldn’t listen. They told me it was ok to stop. Only it wasn’t ok. Not in my mind. I didn’t do all I did to quit. At that point, I had endured an additional 5+ miles. I was going to prove to myself that I could do it.
No fear. Shoot! I am a freaking firewalker! A knee injury was not going to stop me.
As I made my way through the last theme park out of the three, I spoke to a few ladies who were struggling. They were ready to end it. I wasn’t about to. I had one lady telling me that she was happy she made it that far. She was proud of herself. Instead, I was fuming and my anger at getting hurt was fueling my need to finish. I made my way out the entrance to Animal Kingdom and was heading to the last stretch of Osceola Parkway. I saw that “Parade Bus” in the distance. At that point, I was still convinced that I was not getting swept. That is how certain I was that I was going to finish. I was not about to participate in the “Ride of Shame”. I saw the ladies in front of me willingly get on the bus and then it hit me.
I was being swept. Now I knew how those people I read about felt, and why they were ready to fight to stay off the bus. I wanted to run and jump right over the state trooper car blocking the road, but then I thought, hmm. Jail would not be the result I wanted. So, I boarded the bus…and I wanted to cry.
I was devastated. I failed. At least according to the rules I had set myself up for with the race. To not finish meant I failed. It meant I did not win. And no, I did not want first place. I wanted to win against myself. My toughest opponent.
I listened as people were sharing how they were happy they got that far. How great it was. How this, how that. One guy was laid out on the floor of the bus trying not to throw up. Another lady in front of me was about to be sick. I, however, felt completely healthy. I had no health issues with my asthma like I feared. My foot felt fine. I could have finished those last three miles. Heck, I could have finished another 13 if I absolutely had to, but it didn’t happen that way.
And THEN… I got off the bus, not at the finish line, but by the cars. The volunteers placed the medal I so wanted to earn, on my neck. My heart sunk again. I took it off, held it in my hand and said, “I did not earn this. It does not belong on my neck.” Then, I walked to where the buses were, with my medal hanging shamefully down in my hand, among all of my fellow Dark Siders who finished. They were all so joyous and proud.
I rode the bus back to the hotel, but I got off at the Swan because I couldn’t take the happiness and pride on the bus anymore. I walked back to the Boardwalk area and as soon as I neared the front of JellyRolls, my two children came running towards me. I wanted this to be an amazing lesson of what their mom decided to do and had accomplished. Instead I was ashamed and I knew they knew I was swept because they were tracking me. Shoot, even the twitterverse knew I had “completed a 15k+” because my husband chose to get his notifications via twitter. UGH. I didn’t go to compete a 15k. It was a half or nothing. I didn’t know what to say to my kids…but my son had something to say.
“I’m proud of you Mommy. You went further than you ever had before”.
Gulp. He was right. I had never trained up to the half. I had never gone past the 10k point, so the fact that while injured, I managed to go to 10 miles, was an accomplishment. If only I felt that in my heart. To this day, it still does not sit well. My medal hangs with my 5k in my office. It has taken me awhile to even wear my half marathon shirt. My husband and kids say I should wear it because I proved something to myself that day. I went for something that I had never done before, and although I didn’t complete it, I still won. I think they may actually be right.
I won because I stepped outside of my comfort zone. I won because I didn’t give up. I won because I gave every bit of myself during that race. I could not control the circumstances. I could not control someone else stopping dead in their tracks. We can’t control everything, and that is something I am learning. I can only control how I view things and how I react.
So, if you are considering doing a RunDisney race, or any race for that matter, do it will all your heart. Yes, the training and work has to be done and is vital to your success, but train your heart and mind. I had told myself that it was 80% psychology and 20% mechanics. I proved that to be true. If it was merely mechanics, I would never have gotten past mile 3. It was my mindset that got me as far as I did.
Remember, most importantly… have fun! Enjoy the process. And don’t ever think you failed if you don’t finish. You went further than someone who never even tried.
If you are planning to run a RunDisney race coming up, remember, as Authorized Disney Vacation Planners, I, or my sister Debbie, can book your trip for you. We do not have access to bibs at this point, but we can handle everything else for you. Just go to either my MamaMouse FB page or our agency page, Cruise Planners:2mm Travel and leave us a message!