Alternate title: I was right when I said this was probably a bad idea. But I can’t wait to do it again!
I wasn’t prepared.
I was supposed to go run a half marathon and I wasn’t prepared. The Jana of 2012 would have laughed that there was even a SLIGHT possibility that I could venture into the corral, move towards the start line, and find my way mile by mile to the finish.
I wasn’t prepared to be wowed by my body.
Spoiler: I did it.
Last Thursday morning, at 3am, the three of us ventured out to the Happiest Place on Earth.
We were there by noon, checked into our room at the Polynesian Resort, one of my favorite hotels on Disney’s property. The monorail goes right overhead while you’re walking into the lobby. If that doesn’t make you excited upon arrival, I’m not sure what does!
On Thursday afternoon, we enjoyed Hollywood studios. It was great to catch up and meet up with Kadye, a friend who works at Disney. She showed us around and gave us super cool trivia and tidbits of information.
Friday, we spent the day at Magic Kingdom. I have a really super cool story to tell y’all about that on Tuesday! Stay tuned. The day was truly magical. We rode everything we wanted to, including Space Mountain! At night, the castle was transformed from “regular” Cinderella’s Castle into “icy holiday” Cinderella’s Castle. Did I cry? Uh, maybe, what of it?
When we returned to the hotel, my sister met me there with my nephew. He spent the night with us because the boys were going to run the 1 mile race the next morning. They had to get their Indiana Jones costumes all situated and have time to goof off together.
On Saturday morning, we did breakfast and then headed to the ESPN Wide World of Sports for the Kids Races.
How fun are these?? They have everything from a Diaper Dash, 100m, 200m, 400m, and 1 mile race. The kids are so excited and just love being the center of attention.
The boys were dressed as Indiana Jones, both from different scenes. There were princesses and Snow Whites and other characters participating. The costumes weren’t as prolific as they were at the Princess Half, but there were still some!
The boys did a great job! Henry finished in 8:20 and S finished in 11:04. Not bad at all, huh?
The rest of the day was spent with my sister’s family at the pool at the Polynesian. We had a great time there, watching all the kids play and hydrating for the evening race.
Ok, so my hydrating was accompanied by some carbs in the form of a liquor drink…
At 7pm, I boarded the bus for the race. Well, not after pacing the room for what seemed like forever, downing a flatbread pizza, adjusting my bib at least 11 times, and generally wanting to throw up.
I was alone. I think this was the hardest part for me, and the part that caused me the most anxiety. I knew a few people who were running, all from online, and had plans to meet up before the race, but I know how things like that go… it just never happens in crowds of 15,000 people. It’s hard.
But once I got to the holding area for the race, I hooked up with Michele, who is from “home.” And then I hooked up with Claudia and her cool husband Josh. I was able to hang out with them pre-race and I could feel my anxiety falling away. We were in the same corral – J for Jana – but I knew that as soon as the fireworks signaled the start, we would go our separate ways.
Luckily, after about 4 times of Claudia passing me and then me passing Claudia, we decided we were obviously around the same pace and we could just run together. We would take it slow because neither of us were properly trained, she had a lingering injury, and I’m just slow!
Things went great. We got into a great rhythm and really stayed with a 2/1 run/walk interval. We walked through water stops. We stopped for her to stretch her injury.
It felt good. It felt really good.
We soared through Animal Kingdom’s hills, past Expedition Everest and the Tree of Life.
We avoided confrontation with Darth Vader in Hollywood Studios. We actually stopped in the middle of the course to take pictures in the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights in Hollywood Studios. If you haven’t been there to see this? You MUST go.
We ran through the back lots, on dark highways, up and down more hills than the Princess Half had, and enjoyed the scenery.
Around mile 8, after feeling really good for nearly ¾ of the race, my right thigh and hip started hurting. Unusual because it’s not a normal arthritis impacted joint to have pain in. Maybe it was the cortisone shot I had that made me run a little funny or HA! maybe it was the fact that I hadn’t trained and had run 8 miles already! Yeah, that’s probably it.
We trekked through Epcot, hobbling and whining, and longing for the finish to magically appear before us. The crowds got thicker and the cheers got louder. The promise of beer and wine and that shiny medal pushed us through.
Claudia and I ran hard across the finish line – our time slow and steady at 3:34:30. Certainly not a PR, but certainly a PA (Personal Achievement).
We got our medals and hightailed it to the beer. I mean, that’s why we ran, right?
Josh and Claudia were gracious enough to let me hang out with them post-race. We toasted and whined and generally felt like dying, but we laughed and had a great time!
Sleep was my friend. The boys let me sleep in while they started on Epcot without me on Sunday. But once I gathered myself, got dressed, threw that medal around my neck for the day, I realized something.
Without a doubt, what I’ve done for my body and for myself is more than I know. My body didn’t let me down. My mind didn’t let me down. I believed I could and I did. I don’t know if I could have if Claudia and I didn’t do it together, but it doesn’t matter. We did it. We believed in ourselves.
The pride I wore the next day is something I can’t put into words. But maybe, just maybe, you can see it in my face.
Thank you, RunDisney, for another amazing race. See you in February for the Glass Slipper Challenge! This time I’ll be ready for you!