So a couple years ago I would have told you that for me to run a half marathon was Impossible. Well I am here to tell you that impossible things are happening everyday.
Christopher Reeve said, “So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”
“Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” – Lewis Carroll
Nelson Mandela, “It always seems impossible until it is done.”
Quotes about impossible things becoming possible are some of my new favorites. In the beginning running a mile seemed impossible and then I did it. Then running 3 miles seemed impossible. I will never forget the day I ran my first 10k (6.2-mile) distance. I was on a treadmill in a gym in Apopka, Florida. I was supposed to run 5.5 that day but when I got to 5 miles I felt wonderful so I decided to plug on. Part of the reason was because I knew that on the map for the Princess Half Marathon I was training for around mile 6 is where you run through the castle.
When I started this whole running thing I really honestly thought to myself that if I just made it to the castle I would be completely happy to just be done with it all. Of course months later after I successfully completed my 10-mile and 13-mile walks (I couldn’t run due to my bone spur) I knew that the castle would never really be enough, that I wanted to finish.
Back in July/August I tore my calf muscle just weeks before what was supposed to be my second half marathon at Disneyland. I was devastated. I cried for a week and then I pulled myself together and went to the doctor. I went through over 3 months where I wasn’t able to run at all and I had to rest my leg. I did massage therapy and acupuncture in hopes that it would speed up the healing process. When I was finally able to run again I was terrified of being injured AGAIN. I decided I needed to back off running for a bit and strength train and focus on losing weight so that my body could better handle the running thing. I made the decision that I may not run the half marathon in January that I already signed up for.
As the months went by I started walking again and I lost 28 pound and 16 inches and things started to get easier. I got out and walked several days a week to try and increase my athletic tolerance. Around the middle of November I started running again. It is so very difficult running again after being off for so long. What was easy at one point is now a challenge and you have to fight your way through the first of many runs. I fought my way through and my speed increased some. Now I am as slow as a turtle running through peanut butter but at least now the peanut butter was more like caramel. Ha!
As I cheered for Bill for his marathon in December I decided when we got home I was going to try for a long distance run. Now it’s funny to me how two years ago a mile was impossible and now a “long” run was at least six miles. Boy how times change. I went out for my long run and easily finished eight miles which was quite a surprise given I had not run over three miles in nearly six months. Then two weeks later I plugged on to 10.5. I knew that I might be able to finish the half marathon. I was still too slow to stay ahead of the pacers but if I had enough of a buffer with my corral placements I knew I could do it the same way I did the Princess with the bone spur.
We get to Florida and I am not convinced anymore. I began doubting my ability and myself. I knew if I had all the time in the world I could go 13.1 miles but I don’t have all the time I have a limited amount of time. After the 10K I was really thrown into a world of doubt. Having to keep up with the Balloon Lady pacers was almost impossible for three miles. If they caught up and passed me I knew I wouldn’t be able to catch up with them for 13 miles. I had a good buffer with my corral placement and I should have an extra 20-30 minutes before they started after the last racer started. Bill decided to walk/run with me like we had planned to do for the 10k. If the balloon ladies caught up he was going to leave me and finish his race. I was very happy at the beginning of the race to hang out with all my friends that were running. I was also very happy with our Donald and Daisy costumes. We both looked great. We got to our Corrals and sat down because we had over an hour until we started. We started chatting with a few of the runners sitting near us. The thing I love about races and especially Disney races is everyone out there has something in common. We love Disney and we love to run. This makes everyone instant friends.
The time came for us to move forward as the race began for those in the early corrals. I felt like I left my stomach in the hotel room. I was not this nervous for the Princess because I was injured. For the Princess I was in motivation mode. I was going to go out there and do whatever it took to get as far as I could humanly go. I could easily have been compared the little train that could. Nothing was going to stop me. I swear the majority of the race at the Princess I spent staring at the area where my foot was going to hit next. I almost had blinders on to the majority of the experience. This race I wasn’t nearly as sick even though I still caught a nice head cold before the race. I wasn’t in the severe pain I was in at the Princess so I was more aware of what was going on around me.
Bill and I moved up to the starting line and I was not feeling secure. The thing about races is it doesn’t matter how you feel when the gun or fireworks go off you go. So off we went. We started out at a decent pace and as we went we would count the fireworks. We started in Corral L so the next set was M and then N next up O and finally P. The later corrals started out slower because they had a lot more people in them then the early corrals. With each set of fireworks would come a flood of people. People who forgot to put in a finish time or those that may have put in a fake ones and ended up in the last corral. All kinds of people behind me that are now faster then I am. Finally after the last corral set off the fast folks caught up and passed us. We were in the midst of a sea of people. I loved looking around and seeing all the people in costume. Costume running isn’t exclusive to Disney but people that run Disney are some of the best-costumed people. Many of you know how much I love running in costume so this is my happy place. So many great characters portrayed but that will have to be another blog.
We made our way through the course and things had definitely improved with the extra corrals from the Princess race. It was not nearly as crowded as we made our way past the hotels and into the Magic Kingdom park.
Now the one thing that I was unhappy about for the Princess Half was we did not stop to take a picture in front of the castle. I was in such a state that I just wanted to keep pushing on. We stopped to have a cast member (employee) take our photo and she screwed up the camera so we didn’t get a picture. The one and only thing I wanted to make sure we did was to get a picture in front of the castle. We saw a cast member on Main Street and I darted over and handed him our camera. He snapped a great photo of us and we moved on. We rounded through the park and when we came out of the castle we ran over and got another photo right in front. I was pleased as punch. Now I just had to plug on so I could finish this thing.
We headed out of the Magic Kingdom and passed the 10k sign. I smiled remembering that first 10k run so very long ago when 10k was all I thought I would ever do. Well I sure as heck wasn’t ready to board a bus to the finish line I was gonna do this.
Things started looking more positive. At this point I knew there was big sweep at mile 10 so if I made it that far I hoped I could keep it up and finish. We pushed through mile 8 and 9 and Bill mentions that I was doing a heck of a lot better then I did at the Princess because by mile 7 I was mumbling to myself about how I felt like I was gonna die. LOL Well mile 9 I didn’t feel like I was gonna die but I sure felt like I wasn’t gonna be doing much that afternoon.
Now this is one of the funny things. The races start at 5:30 am east coast. So by the time I finished most of my friends and family on the west coast weren’t even up for their morning coffee. I swear at Disney races I have completed more before dawn then I do most days.
I munched down a couple almond butter packets in hope they would give me the last burst of energy I needed to get through the last 4 miles and when I was approaching the dreaded uphill area at mile 10 I put on the combination of Pink and Katy Perry that I know pumps me up and I tackled it hard. I went over to the far left and charged the hill like nobodies business making mile 10 my fastest mile the whole race. As I charged past the weary looking souls I got a number of very dirty looks for showing off all my energy. I would like to thank Jeff Galloway for some of that. Start slow and Finish Strong he says.
I got to the top of the hill and realize the balloon lady pacers were already on the hill somewhere behind me. I have passed one of the big sweep stations so I am feeling confident that I will finish now. I plow on up and down the little hills and when we hit the roundabout the balloons are less then half a mile behind. All I have to do is make it into Epcot and I know I will be allowed to finish. I put on more pumping music and plow up the last big hill at mile 11.
Bill actually fell behind me on the hills as he wasn’t prepared for how I was planning to TAKE THE HILL. I remember a scene from some old war movie my dad likes where they had to take the hill and I just put my head down and plow onward. I jogged down the downward slope into the Epcot parking lot. There waiting at the entrance into Epcot is the ever present and amazing Peggy. Peggy is a mother of a runner and she is at nearly every Disney race all year long. She hands out candy to those that want something sweet. She is an angel and I love seeing her.
We head into Epcot and now I know I will be allowed to finish. We get to the turn around by the lake and since I know I am safe I decide it is finally time for a character stop. Rafiki and Timon from the Lion King are standing there with no line at all. By the time most people get half a mile from the finish they are ready just to be done. Not me I see an opportunity for a character photo and that is all the incentive I need. With a mighty big grin on my face we get the photo and head towards the finish.
On our way back by we see the balloon ladies are mere yards behind us. I am about done. I have next to no energy left but I want to beat the balloon ladies. One last good sprint as far as I can go and then walking it into the finish line. Donald Duck is standing off to the right of the finish line. I am dressed as Daisy so I make a calculated choice and let the balloon ladies pass while Bill takes my picture with Donald.
My hat is crooked but I don’t even care. I have FINISHED! I wept. I seriously just broke down. Princess weekend I thought I would cry more but I just was so determined I couldn’t think of anything. This race was so much more emotional for me. We walked through and received our medals and then Bill got his third wristband to show he had completed the race for his Dopey medal.
We got our photos with our medals and then headed over to the race tent for a bite to eat before heading back to the hotel. Mary Poppins wasn’t in the tent when I finally got there so I didn’t get my photo but that just means next time I gottta run faster. Yes there will be a next time.
Walt Disney said, “It’s Fun To Do the Impossible.”