Sunday, March 3, 2013

The (Not So) Glamorous Side of Running a Half Marathon

Running has never been my favorite thing. I don't have great endurance, or speed, or really an ability to pace myself. All things that are pretty important in order to be a successful runner. Despite all of these things I, for some reason, thought it would be a great idea to sign up for a half marathon.

As if my complete lack athletic ability wasn't enough of a reason to not participate in something like this, the fact that I actually had to pay money to do it... Well, it just seems uncharacteristic at best. I think it may have been peer pressure, or I fell into a false sense of security because I had soooo many months to prepare, or I may have been delirious. Or maybe Disney tricked me by telling me I could be a real life Princess when it was all over. Realistically, it was probably a combination of the last two.

Whatever the reason for my completely crazy idea to sign up, I was signed up and the day for the half marathon was only getting closer.

I participated in what I will loosely call training for this half marathon, because, to be honest, I could have tried a little bit harder. But I did run. Multiple times a week, even. Until about two weeks before the big day arrived. 

I then participated in a little something I like to call self-sabotage. I ate whatever I wanted, with no regard to its health benefits. I also stopped running. For two weeks, I think I only ran one time. Maybe two. Was I nervous? Yes. But at this point, there wasn't really anything I could do. The night before I was briefly concerned that I would not be able to sustain a run for more than five minutes.

One of the unpleasant things I learned about running this half marathon was how early I had to arrive at Epcot Center. Really early. Obnoxiously early. So, being the responsible (soon to be) Princess that I am, I tucked myself into bed at a very respectable 8 o'clock and waited to drift into dreamland. At 10 o'clock I was mildly irritated to still be awake, but really not all that surprised. I was nervous and excited and there was a lot of anticipation, so I knew there might be a chance I would have a hard time falling asleep. By 11 o'clock I think I had rolled, shifted, slid, and adjusted to at least 600 different sleeping positions, and yet still- no sleep. At 12:45, when I knew there was only an hour left before I would have to begin my Princess Preparations, I had to fight off a panic attack. How could I possibly run 13.1 miles, IN A ROW, with no sleep? But this Princess was unfortunately going to find out.

When the race started for me at 6:17am, I knew immediately I never wanted to do it again. With every step I could feel the regret seeping out through the soles of my feet. Ok, that is an exaggeration. I only felt regret for the first few steps, then I realized I was going to be fine and I could in fact run for more than five minutes at a time.

At mile 4 there was a family viewing area and I knew seeing the smiling faces of my family and friends would help boost me up. I was starting to get really, really tired and the knowledge that I had no sleep was lingering in the back of my mind, haunting me. I tried to make it a point of accomplishment... kind of like "Hey, check you out! You are doing this with no sleep. I bet most of these people slept last night, and they aren't any better than you." I thought it was going to amp me up and give me a boost but instead it went something like this.. "Yeah, most of these people slept and they are now going to finish a half marathon and you are not because you didn't sleep. Who doesn't sleep before running THIRTEEN miles?! What is wrong with you?!" The family viewing area had passed me by at this point and there was not a friendly face in sight. Ok, that's not exactly true. There were a lot of friendly faces, and they smiled and cheered for me. But they weren't familiar friendly faces and unexpectedly I was sad. I honestly thought I wouldn't want people to see me run. I mean, I am no Phoebe Buffay when I run, but I am certainly not Jackie Joyner-Kersee either. I imagined that I would not want anyone to see me running through the streets of Disney lest there be any kind of photographic proof of the entire ordeal.

So here I was running through the streets of Epcot, exhausted because I hadn't slept, sad that I hadn't seen my family, and psyching myself out unintentionally. I could feel a panic attack coming on. I couldn't take in deep enough breaths and I could feel tears form in the corners of my eyes and it was all I could do not to thankfully throw myself at the feet of the goddesses working at the water station. I did my best to control the oncoming panic attack, stopped thinking about my lack of sleep and foraged forth, telling myself that my family would be waiting for me at mile 8.

And they were. Smiling, waving, and cheering; giving me a little burst of energy that would hopefully be enough to get me through the next 5 miles.

Around mile 9 my fingers went numb. Apparently, this is a common thing. Or not. I'm not really sure. But there were a lot of other people waving their hands over their heads, so I took this as a sign that I should be doing that, too, because it must be helpful for numb hands. The thought briefly crossed my mind that I might be signaling to the aliens that I was ready to be beamed up to outer space, but luckily I am still here to tell this tale so, while it may not have been a sure fire method to restore feeling to my fingers, it was also not a message to the Ewoks or other creatures that I was ready to be taken to the mother ship.

When I crossed over into mile 13 and the end was finally near it became the easiest thing I had ever done. Just run like you've never run before and cross the finish line so this can finally be over. So I did, and it was, and I did feel a sense of accomplishment, just like they say you will. But I sure was glad it was over. At that moment, I would have signed any kind of document that said I would never, ever, under any circumstances, live saving or otherwise, participate in this kind of craziness EVER AGAIN. Luckily, I didn't sign a document because now, several days removed from the race, I would do it again. I would hopefully get some sleep the night before and possibly not take two weeks off from running before the big event, but even under those circumstances, I'd still go for it.

Because now, I'm a Princess. I'm still waiting on Disney to send me the keys to my very own castle, but I'm sure they're on the way...

PS: Here is a photo of me and my fellow Disney Princesses who I am sure are still waiting for the keys to their castles also.


  1. Congratulations on your 1/2 Marathon accomplishment! Promise me you will do another one and I promise to run it with you!!

    1. Aunt Renee, for some reason I am just seeing this! I am definitely in for next year's Disney Princess, and I am kind of thinking about the Wine and Dine at Epcot in November!