Wednesday, January 12, 2011

marathoner

I'm back from Orlando! Back from the warm weather just in time for another blizzard. I'm really glad that we were on a late morning flight yesterday, who knows if I would have gotten back otherwise. I know that you all deserve an epic race recap. I am going to be honest and say that I don't remember tons of details about the race itself, but I will do my best. Before I go into that, I wanted to once again thank all of you for your continuing support. Knowing that you were all cheering me on and tracking my race progress and helped me keep myself together mentally when I thought that maybe I didn't have it in me to make it to the finish. I feel truly lucky to have such a great and constant support system. You're all fan-freaking-tastic. So onto the race recap...

We arrived in Orlando late on Thursday night. By the time Lori, Liz and I got the rental car and checked into to the hotel, it was after midnight. Just one thing about our rental car? It was a Kia and it was the size of a Hotwheels car, didn't have power locks BUT did have satellite radio. Friday morning we decided to go pick up our race numbers to avoid any anxiety. It was very exciting to be surrounded by all of those runners, and Liz and I were pumped to get our swag:


We spent the rest of the day at Sea World. You know, hangin' with Shamu, makin' friends with the seals and all that jazz. Saturday was spent at Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios. I love roller coasters so we hit up the Hulk and the ride formerly known as Dueling Dragons. That night, Liz made us an amazing pre-race pasta dinner. My friend Dara and her boyfriend came up to join us and we had a great time. We had a hellishly early start so I had taken a Tylenol PM and was in bed by 9:00pm.

Did you know that the seals are fed continuously all day? Very much like me!
You know what's really awful? Waking up as some of your friends are juuuust going to sleep. My alarm went off at 3:00am and Liz and I had our coffee, made breakfast and tried to hit the road as quickly as possible. By 3:30am we were in the car and on our way to Epcot. The last thing I wanted was for us to miss the start because we were stuck in traffic or waiting for the bathroom. The first thing I remember is that it was COLD. I guess that makes sense since it was, you know, 4:30 in the morning. I was definitely nervous because I went to the bathroom twice within a half an hour time frame. And as I was lining up for the start I realized that I had to pee AGAIN. Seriously? Not the time for my tiny bladder to strike.

Do you know that I cried as I stood there in my corral? I was there by myself and I kept thinking about what I was about to do. And I fought back more tears as I crossed the starting line. I was about to run my first marathon, I could hardly believe it. There was once a time when I could not run for 5 minutes straight, let alone five hours. Six years ago I was in a knee brace and was told that I'd never run without pain. To all of you who think that you just aren't meant to be a runner, let this post serve to disprove that theory. If I can do it, I swear that you can too.

The first few miles were uneventful, except for having to stop to pee TWICE very soon after starting. While much of the race was on highways, we did get to run through the Disney parks, and that was magical. There's something really special about running through Epcot before sunrise.

Mile 2.5
I honestly don't remember all that much about the first half of the race, although I wish I did. I kept telling myself to be present in the moment, to take it all in, to soak it all up. However, my body started to go into conservation mode and I found myself retreating into that runner's zone, the place where you think about everything and nothing all at the same time. I do remember being extremely excited to run through the Magic Kingdom. I was all, "CINDERELLA'S CASTLE!!!!". Who wouldn't be excited by that?
10.5 miles
Here's where the race begins to blur.. Things were fine from miles 13-18 and then.. life started to suck. I was hydrated, and had eaten enough but damnit, it was starting to feel it. I remember being really amused that my IT band, which had forced me into an early taper, didn't bother me at all during the race. I was having a decent amount of pain in my left upper hamstring, as well as my lower back. Along the way I saw a little boy holding a sign that said "dig a little deeper," and every time I felt myself fading I repeated that line to myself. It helped, more than I thought it would. The suckfest continued until I passed the mile 23 marker. I was getting close, I could feel it. And something in my switched back on. It was as though I'd found this secret energy reserve and the prospect of finishing was REAL. And as I ran along the boardwalk, the entrance to Epcot (the finish), I kept telling myself, "dig a little deeper, what do you have left? Dig. Dig. DIG." And as I crossed the finish line I cried. Again. My goal had been to make it in under five hours and I did it! By the skin of my teeth, but hey, I'll take it.

I have to say that I'm really glad that I purchased a Garmin prior to running the marathon. It was really helpful to know my pace. I'm not going to lie, I felt as though I was moving a lot faster than I actually was. When I'd thought about my marathon plan, I definitely didn't take into account all of the water stations. I'm physically incapable of drinking and running at the same time, so that definitely impacted my time. A lot of the race course was on highways, which wasn't all that visually stimulating. However, the parts that took us through the Disney parks were great. I really enjoyed when the people of Finland (I think?) came and cheered us on as we ran through Epcot for the final time. 

Generally after I finish a race I find a way to nitpick my performance. I'll say I could have sped up at this point or attacked that hill a little more. But this race? I have no regrets. Yes, of course it would have been great to be faster, but I ran it with heart. How could I ever begrudge myself for that? I can't. I won't. I am a marathoner.


Oh, and according to my Garmin, my time was actually 4:59:30 (not 42!). I was 12 seconds faster than I'd originally thought. GO ME!

12 comments:

adamm9 said...

Woohoo! Congratulations again, marathoner!

Megan said...

that's so fantastic! one of my goals before i have a baby is to run the disney marathon. disney world is my favorite place in the world and i *need* to run my first marathon there!

i'm so glad you posted a great recap!

KJ said...

Congrats!

I almost cried just reading your post. I remember being in my Corral in 2008, and being similarly overwhelmed. I started crying on mile 26 - 26.2, but was gasping so badly that I had to choose crying or running, so I chose running.

I really liked your comment about the runners zone or whatever - where you think about everything and nothing at the same time - for my short years as a runner, I've been trying to explain that to people but couldn't find the words...so thank you!

Hope you're feeling good and resting up. A marathon is something to be WAY proud of in itself, but under 5 hours, I am convinced you are a ROCKSTAR!

Every Little Thing said...

What an amazing accomplishment! YOU are amazing, so it's only fitting! You know we're all so proud of you!

Ella said...

omfg HOW CUTE ARE YOU in your yellow cardigan and mouse ears!!?!??

not gonna lie, you're a major inspiration to me. I've been a really on-again/off-again runner for a few years and just quit when I get bored/busy. your running posts give me hope, though. :) CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!

Graceful Lady said...

I love it when we prove the doctors wrong J. Great race recap and what an inspiration. I got teary reading it feeling the emotions with you and how a sign can really be a sign to help us conquer 26.2. When I ran Boston, one woman held a sign "With God all things are possible". You done real good - real good!

Dori said...

Best part: "It was all fine from 13-18." You are a REAL runner for being able to say that! I've never ran more than 13, and can't imagine 13-18 EVER feeling fine! This was such a great post! I am so proud of you and happy for you! Marathoner!! Knew you'd do it! Robin would be so proud!

Monica said...

Wow, I teared up reading this. What an amazing inspiration you are, in every way. Your honesty and humor about the entire situation and race is refreshing and endearing.
I want to let you know that it DOES absolutely encourage people like me who are starting where you started: can't run a full mile without stopping or feeling like I'm going to die; and to hear it from someone who just finished their marathon is more than enough encouragement!

I can't begin to imagine how physically and emotionally taxing a marathon is, but I know you're glad you did it and I'm so, so fucking proud of you (are you sick of hearing it, yet? haha)

Molly said...

YOU ROCK!!!!! I love this post! No but really, you're amazing!!!!!!!

Elizabeth said...

This post gave me chills. You are an inspiration. Mama proud :)

j. said...

adam - thank you! i actually was tempted to wear my medal to work. i've been telling everyone who will listen about it haha

megan - it was definitely an experience! i recommend it. it's not super competitive (at least not from where i stood!), everyone is cheery, there are characters everywhere! only downside is that you have to wake up before dawn.

kj - YES! that runners zone is a means of survival on long runs! i'm glad, though, that i'm not the only one who has cried before even starting the race. makes me feel like less of a sissy ;)

stacey - THANK YOU. your positive words are always, always appreciated

ella - i had to get ears! i decided that the sorcerer's apprentice ears fit the bill the best for me. and that means so much to me, i never thought i could be an inspiration to anyone!

mary - thank you! and thanks for talking me down from the ledge when i was having my "toe issue". seems to be healing just fine. toenail may even come back!

j. said...

dori - it's amazing how training for this marathon has actually made me FEEL as though i'm a real runner. who would have ever thought that after running 13 miles i'd be sailing through to 18? insanity. thank you for listening to me gripe about everything from running to boys :)

monica - your comment almost made ME tear up, you rascal. it makes me smile that i could be a motivation for you since you're already awesome and bad ass :) thank you for always telling me how proud you are of me, it means a lot.

molly - thank you so much!!

e-beth - you will always be my #1 fan, no matter what. i love ya for it.