Well, friends. I did it! I am officially a marathoner. After holidays, a sinus infection, a crazy winter storm, and other obstacles potentially deterring me from my goal, we managed to get to Walt Disney World safe and sound, and I was able to fulfill my long-time goal of finishing a marathon.
For the first time in my life I am starting a new year feeling a deep sense of pride and accomplishment. So often the beginning of a new calendar year is a time to think about all the things you need to give up and change about yourself. This time, I feel strong, happy and fulfilled. I hope everyone else who experienced the joy of this Walt Disney World Marathon weekend feels the same sense of contentment and pride in themselves. WE DID IT!
This marathon was everything I wanted it to be. Yes, including the weather. We were FREEZING for the majority of our trip, and the starting line was no exception. Having just trained in winter conditions, I was feeling prepared. Though I’ll admit, my teeth were chattering that first mile! I wore my jacket the entire time and had gloves that I dropped around mile 24 (right around the time the marathon stopped being fun and started feeling tough.)
I didn’t take photos and I didn’t listen to headphones. Instead, I wanted to soak up every moment as much as possible. Plus knowing PhotoPass was there to capture the moment helped me save my phone battery! I did use a Garmin watch only to get a sense of my pace and remember which mile we were on. So I didn’t go completely tech-free, but I was pretty close. I ended up with a fairly conservative, yet consistent pace throughout, and ended up with naturally negative splits up until the last few miles.
I cried when I saw the citizens of Main Street and Cinderella Castle, felt pretty numb at Animal Kingdom (it went by in a flash!), braced myself emotionally for the toughest part of the course, ESPN Wide World of Sports, and got emotional again when I hit Hollywood Studios, knowing how close I was to the finish. I thought I would cry when I got to World Showcase at Epcot but at that point, I was feeling tired and just wanted to finish LOL! By the time I hit that finish line mat, I was ugly crying. I ended up with a time of 5:22, right around where I wanted to be.
The most important part of the day for me after finishing the marathon was proper recovery. I got back “home” and immediately showered, stretched and did the magic “legs against the wall” trick, had some hot chicken noodle soup, and took a nap. I proceeded to bawl after my nap with the deepest sense of gratitude and joy. Delayed onset emotions leftover from the race I guess! I also rewarded myself with one of these (and a gigantic cheeseburger and fries from Cosmic Rays with a perfect view of Cinderella Castle):
I don’t know how I managed to have enough energy to stay in Magic Kingdom Sunday night, but Tommy and I ended up sticking around for the Once Upon A Time show, and Happily Ever After. The opening of Happily Ever After was more poignant to me than ever, having just fulfilled my dream:
“…Each of us have a dream, a heart’s desire, it calls to us,
and when we’re brave enough to listen, and bold enough to pursue,
that dream will lead us on a journey to discover who we’re meant to be.
All we have to do is look inside our hearts and unlock the magic within.”
I am a marathoner. And there was no place I’d rather call my first marathon than Walt Disney World, my favorite place on earth. To everyone who followed along with my training updates, thank you! And stay tuned for more magic, memories and miles.
Gina / Will Run for Disney