My First Half-Marathon

First of all, thanks again for everyone’s support. I’m not kidding when I say I thought of y’all as I was running. Especially in the first few miles when I wondered what the hell I was doing, I remembered all the words of encouragement and support I’ve gotten as well as how far I’ve come in the past year. About 51 weeks ago, I was in San Diego feeling sorry for my fat self. Nearly a year later, I AM A HALF-MARATHON FINISHER.

Enough of the gooey stuff. You want to know about the race, right?

Well, the weather forecast was disappointingly consistent with the actual weather. I arrived with my parents on Thursday evening. We checked into the Beach Club (which was awesome) and I braved the crowds at the expo to pick up my bib. My mom was completely overwhelmed by this scene. I tried out The Stick (if you’re not familiar with it, it’s sort of along the lines of a foam roller – it rolls knots out of your muscles, basically) and worked some tension out of my IT bands and quads.

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On Friday, we walked around Downtown Disney, and I got some fairy dust sprinkled on me for good luck.

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Friday night was the pasta dinner with Team A-T. Have you heard of Tim Borland? He’s the dude that ran 63 marathons in 63 days to raise awareness for A-T, and he spoke at the dinner. To say he’s amazing is an understatement. He’s also tall. Below is Team Joe. (He’s the kid in the middle in the black T-shirt. He has A-T, and we ran for him.)

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As soon as I got back to the hotel after dinner, I tried to go to sleep. But being that it was

1. 8pm and
2. I was FREAKING out about the race,

sleep did not come for quite some time.

I woke up at 3am the next morning to get ready to board the bus for the race. My parents asked me multiple times if I really wanted to do this. Sleepily, I nodded yes from my bed. As soon as I got out of bed, I was ready and raring to go! I threw back a Luna bar and a banana, sipped some water and got dressed. All week, the weather forecasts basically said it was going to be miserable. I thought that they were lying. So I had no idea what to wear. I finally settled on running tights, a compression shirt, my A-T jersey and a sweatshirt. I also bought a Disney poncho that I discarded around mile 2.

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I boarded the bus from my hotel to EPCOT (which is ordinarily a 5-minute walk, but we weren’t allowed to walk…), where the race started. The first wave started at 5:40. I boarded the bus at 4. We probably got there around 4:30, so I spent nearly two hours waiting in the freezing, sleeting weather before my wave started at 6:20. Until I started running, I was standing outside wondering what the hell I was doing.

Miles 1-2 were no piece of cake either, and I continued questioning why I was running in freezing weather in Florida at 6:30am. Around mile 4, we started getting closer to the Magic Kingdom. From there on out, my adrenaline only surged. OMG, I’M RUNNING THROUGH THE MAGIC KINGDOM.

It was every bit as awesome as you would think. By mile 6.5ish, we were already out of the Magic Kingdom. I knew the next 5 miles would just be on regular roads, but running through Cinderella’s Castle was all I needed to get me to the end. I haven’t synced my Garmin yet, but I think I continued to get faster until mile 10. After mile 10, I yelled out to everyone I was running around, “ONLY A 5K TO GO!” I had a big, goofy (haha) smile on my face for the entire rest of the race.

The fellow runners were really one of the best parts of the weekend (aside from, obviously, having my amazingly supportive parents there) — everyone was in such a good mood and it was awesome to have something in common with SO many people. Everyone I talked to before the race said that despite my back pain and having not really trained the few weeks prior, that I would be just fine…and they were right!

I was in such good spirits the entire way that I would read the back of people’s shirts and yell encouraging things “Go NJ!” “Go DC!” I talked to a few fellow Team A-Ters, some random people with DC shirts and some girls that had shirts that said “Pain is weakness leaving the body!” (I yelled “I have no more weakness!” I wasn’t really in that much pain at all, but it seemed appropriate at the time icon smile My First Half Marathon )

My two gripes? One is walkers. I think it’s awesome that it’s possible for people that can’t run to participate in a half-marathon. But since I entered through a charity, I was all the way in the last corral and wave, and I had to pass quite a few walkers. Walkers to the left, runners to the right, or something like that would have made things much more enjoyable. (I heard a few other runners with the same complaint.) Two: cell phones. Now, I’m as attached to my iPhone as the next person, but really, on a race course is no place for a phone conversation. “Oh, hi honey, I’m at mile 8,” I heard. I wanted to take the guy’s cell phone and throw it. Third gripe would obviously be the weather. Florida, WTF?

Before hurting my back, I had wanted to finish at 2:11 (also my birthday). After my back started hurting, I just wanted to finish, but my goal was still around 2:30. Given that I went really really easy on things the few weeks before (due to the injury and the holidays), I’m really happy with my 2:34. 2:36. (That was the official chip time.) Sure, I would have liked to have run it faster, but not too shabby for my first try! The next one (TBA) will clearly be beaucoup faster.

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I can’t wait for the official race pictures!

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