26.2

I did it. I ran a marathon. I ran a MARATHON! It feels so surreal. I’m going to recap the race with as much detail as I can remember.

 

After fighting weather delays, we finally made it to packet pick-up one hour before they closed. We were SO excited to get our race bibs and shirts but also starting to feel SO nervous. I had been fighting some foot pain for a couple of weeks and just walking at the expo was hurting, so I was feeling nervous about completing 26 miles the next day.

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We had pasta followed by a chocolate chip cookie for a very early dinner around 5pm (eastern time) since we both missed lunch. After laying out all of our clothes, gear, fuel, etc. for the morning and setting our alarms, we were asleep before 7:30pm which was amazing!

Our first alarm went off at 3:00am but we were awake and feeling rested thanks to 7.5 hours of sleep! We talked about our nerves, got dressed in what felt like a hundred layers of clothes, checked the weather for the millionth time and set out to catch a bus from our Disney resort to the starting area.

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It became apparent to us upon walking to the start line party that the wind chill was even colder than we expected, so after taking a quick before picture, we promptly added on our last layer of warmth, a garbage bag. Yes, you read that right and yes, it was amazing at keeping the chilling wind from bothering us even more. There were many others around us with the same idea (shout out to Erin for the suggestion!) and those who did not do this were obviously in envy of our added warmth and fashion statement. From the time we arrived at the start party to the crossing the start line we stood in the cold for 2 hours! While waiting and huddling together with strangers, we met two great ladies from Tampa who were running together and saw them several other times on the course as well. Shoutout to Heather and Dina for making our pre-race more enjoyable! I’m not sure what time it was, but at some point we made our way to the start line, which was about a mile away. A while later, it was our turn to start!

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Miles 1-5ish were spent making our way to Magic Kingdom. We were obviously still feeling very fresh at this point but it was so fun to see the castle all lit up when we got close and then even more fun to run through it!

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We knew miles 6ish-11ish would be difficult since they were spent making our way to Animal Kingdom on back roads. We tried to focus on our surroundings, the DJ’s set up along the way to provide encouragement and the runners and spectators we encountered.

We hit the half marathon mark in the middle of Animal Kingdom, which was great! At this point we began to see our fellow marathoners stop to have a drink at the bar in Animal Kingdom or to get in line for rides (Mt. Everest). We couldn’t imagine stopping and then having to run 13.1 more miles!

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Miles 14-18 were spent traveling from Animal Kingdom to the Wide World of Sports. It was around mile 16 that my foot began to really give me trouble. We had decided ahead of time that we would run consistently only stopping at water stations when needed or if one of us needed to stretch or go to the bathroom until we reached a point (for whatever reason) we needed to implement a walk/run method. Mile 16 was where we implemented walk/run doing run 5 minutes, walk 1 minute. We did a good job of keeping up with this schedule and running extra if we hit a water station in the middle of a run segment.

Miles 18-21 were spent in the Wide World of Sports, which was not the most eventful section, and I don’t remember much except that we passed Mickey and Minnie, I had to stop for the bathroom right after the 20 mark and that we decided during this section to increase our running time to 6-7 min followed by 1 min of walking. We set a goal of finishing the race as close to 5:30 as possible (according to our Garmin watches). Mile 21 had an overpass which was not fun. It is also when my foot went from hurting to really hurting and I just wanted the race to be over. Tiffany said around this point “think about what it will be like to cross the finish line and get our medals” this would normally be something that would help me, but instead I responded with “I just can’t wait to be done and take a shower”. HAHA!

Around mile 23, we entered Hollywood Studios, which was a quick visit only through the front part of the park then headed toward the finish in Epcot. Though we only had a 5K left at this point, it seemed like the longest 3 miles ever. We ran to the Boardwalk and all the way around it (we did not expect this and it was so mentally challenging) before entering Epcot to run around the countries, which by the way felt like they were never-ending.

My watch hit 26.2 right at the 5:30 mark, but we could tell that the finish line was still a little ways off. We turned a corner coming out of Epcot and could see the spectator stands begin, and got so excited! As we continued, the spectator numbers grew and then we could see the finish! I was so emotional at this point. The pain I was feeling was overwhelming but even more overwhelming was the thought that we were almost done. We were almost marathoners. We joined hands as we approached the finish line and crossed the finish with our hands in the air. I know the girl who gave me my medal thought I was crazy standing there crying as she put it around my neck.

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As soon as we stopped, my right foot began hurting very bad. This was interesting since it was the opposite foot that hurt during the race. We made our way to get water, take a few pictures and then found a place to set our feet up to recover a bit.

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I looked at my phone and had some strange texts from Tyler, so I tried face timing him to share my excitement. He didn’t answer. At this point I was suspicious and asked Tiffany if he was there. A few minutes later, after Tyler texted Tiffany and told her he was there and to find him, I saw him! My sweet husband drove to our friends house in Tallahassee Saturday then drove to Disney Sunday morning to be there when I finished the race! He had been texting me all morning (I get text messages on my Garmin watch) and I had responded to a few when I could but ignored the ones I had received around mile 23 and mile 25 since I had no idea he was there and looking for us. Sadly, he did not get to see us cross the finish line even though he was there and looking for us. BUT I was sooo very excited to hug him when he found us.

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After we hobbled to Tyler’s truck, we went to eat brunch then Tyler dropped us at our resort so we could shower and rest while he went back to Tallahassee to stay with our friends again (by his choice, I promise we offered for him to stay). I suffered through the crazy foot pain and made it to dinner Sunday night where we enjoyed some delicious Mexican food and a margarita, followed by a cupcake (from Sprinkles) which was enjoyed in our pajamas at the room while icing my foot.

Saying goodbye to your best friend always sucks, but after such an amazing experience together, this goodbye was very bittersweet.

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I can’t believe all the training and sweat and tears that went into this marathon. I’m so proud of us for doing it and can’t believe it is over!

In my PhD world, the second semester of school starts tomorrow. Here’s to a great semester and new fitness goals to be determined.

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