Prior to running, when I was thinking about what I would write for my marathon re-cap, titles such as “What Not To Do To Prepare for a Marathon” and “The Worst Day of my Life” popped into my head. I was so ready for January 11th to royally suck. If you read my previous post, you’ll know that I was worried for this one. I didn’t feel ready, I didn’t feel excited, I felt completely deflated and unworthy. I had been injured, unable to train, and so I thought that I wasn’t going to be able to feel proud of myself during this race, because I didn’t feel like I had earned it.
I would just like to take back all of those thoughts.
On Sunday I ran the Walt Disney World Marathon, and I completed it. I went in not knowing what to expect. I had never run over 21.1 km (13.1 miles), and I hadn’t done that since August.
Leading up to the marathon, I felt surprisingly calm. In the absence of physically training, I told myself over and over and over that I was going to complete this, and pictured myself every day at the finish line holding that metal. The night before, I got into bed at 8PM (my alarm had to be set for 3:15AM), and got ready for a good night’s sleep.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere right as I was drifting off to sleep, I started shaking. My stomach started hurting, and I started sobbing. We’re not talking a few nervous tears here people, we are talking bawling my head off. It seemed in that moment, all of the pressure I had been putting on myself, all the of nerves I had been suppressing, exploded. It’s hard to put into words because like I mentioned – I mentally felt ok. I couldn’t explain to my friend what I was feeling because I didn’t know what I was feeling. But clearly I needed an outlet for my underlying emotions.
When I woke up early the next day, I again felt ok. Not overly excited, but not dread either. I made my way down to the start of the race and waited my turn to go. I was in corral “J” – the 4:45 corral, and had to wait about 35 minutes before I could start.
I started very slow. I knew I had to. It was slower than I felt comfortable running, but I told myself if I quickened my pace I risked the chance of injury and not finishing. So I mosey’d along, and eventually I found my sweet spot.
The race was amazing, especially for a first time marathoner. We started at Epcot, ran through Magic Kingdom (with Elsa and Anna waving at you from the terrace!), through the Speedway, Animal Kingdom, ESPN World of Sports, Hollywood Studios, and back to Epcot for the grand finale. Even the highway parts were beautiful for the most part.
I felt excellent for a majority of the race, and because I started so slow I was able to gradually quicken my pace as the race went on, something I never considered would happen. I took my time and really soaked it in. At about 35KM my toes went numb and my feel started to hurt, so I made sure I took care of myself and gave myself permission to listen to my body. And in the end I was right, I finished the marathon I didn’t think I could complete.
Upon finishing, a wave of emotion swept through me. Seeing my friend at the finish line, knowing my parents were watching and cheering on the live feed back home, it all meant so much to me. But most of all I was so proud of myself. I did something I had set out to do, and even though the journey was completely different from what I had imagined it would be, at the end it no longer mattered. I put my mind to something and achieved it, and I can’t think of anything that feels better than that.
So I know this isn’t a typical race re-cap. I don’t know my splits. Heck, I don’t even know my final time. But none of that matters to me. In this post I just wanted to express this feeling of accomplishment, and maybe suggest to you readers who are uncertain of their capabilities that a little grit and a lot of determination can take you places you never thought you could get to.
Cheesy, I know, but it’s the truth.