We arrived Friday evening for the Disney Marathon Weekend. My Aunt Joanie works for Disney so she was able to get us a great discount at the All Star Sports Resort inside Disney. Our room overlooked a giant heated pool that captivated us until almost Midnight.
On Saturday my Aunt Joanie and Uncle Ricky treated Trent and the kids to a day at Animal Kingdom. While they had an awesome action packed day filled with roller coaster rides and amazing animal encounters, I went to the marathon expo to pick up my race packet and then I spent the rest of the day hydrating, stretching, resting and trying to calm my marathon jitters.
Now for the not-so-fun part—Sunday started with a 2AM wake up call! Yes, I had to get up at 2AM to eat, get dressed and catch the shuttle to Epcot at 3AM. I arrived at Epcot at 3:30AM with 60,000 other idiots and then waited an hour to begin lining up at the start line. It took two hours of walking and waiting to finally get to the front of the start line. My corral took off at 6:25AM.
Once I began running I felt great and it would occasionally dawn on me, “I’m running a freaking marathon!” and I couldn’t help but smile. Eight months of training, physical therapy,early bedtimes, early wake up calls and that final ridiculous 2AM wake up call all came down to this and it felt awesome to finally be in that moment.
The race started and ended at Epcot and the course took us through all the Disney parks. Aside from several stretches of crossing highway overpasses, it was a beautiful run with lots to see. Everything was going great until after the Magic Kingdom I started to feel that familiar pain in my knee caused by IT band friction syndrome. At mile seven I stopped and did the stretches I was taught to alleviate the pain and the pain would subside just to return even sharper a little later. This went on and on and on for the remainder of the race. I stopped at one medic tent to have them wrap my knee only to stop at the next medic tent to have them unwrap it because the tape made it hurt even more.
I was diagnosed with this injury a while back so I went into this race knowing this could happen so I ran when I could and walked when I needed. It was tough and it took every ounce of will power to finish. At mile 22 I hit the notorious "wall" and had a little mental breakdown that led to some crying. That dreaded voice entered my head saying, "You can't do this" but that voice turned out to be a liar. I just couldn't give up knowing that Trent and the kids were waiting for me at the finish line.
Oh, crossing that finish line! "What's it feel like?" everybody asks. It felt incredible and it's hard to describe but I think it's comparable to giving birth. It's months of preparing your body to perform and you have all these preconceived notions of how it's going to be but everything is completely different and things don't go your way and it hurts worse than you ever imagined. After hours of pain you begin to think you're going to die and just when you think you can't take it anymore and after you've told all the doctors and nurses and marathon spectators to go fuck themselves (just in your head of course), you look down at this brand new human that your body created or you cross that finish line that your body carried you for 26 miles—and you're reborn. YOU FEEL SO ALIVE!
After the marathon, Trent's sisters and their families came to the hotel to celebrate with us. We mostly hung out by the pool so I could stretch and soothe my sore body. Aside from my knee injury, I also got a pretty good sunburn, lost a couple toenails and had some ugly chafing in places I'd rather not speak about. Being surrounded by people I love made all the pain go away. Well that and the pizza and beer.
The morning after the marathon, Aunt Joanie and Uncle Ricky surprised the kids and took us out to breakfast with the characters. It was an awesome buffet and I indulged because "I ran a freaking marathon yesterday!" It was the perfect way to end the marathon weekend. Oh, did I mention that Trent was playing football with his nephews at the hotel and pulled his hamstring? Yeah, he was limping around that breakfast buffet in a marathon t-shirt stealing my damn thunder!
Running a marathon was a check mark on my bucket list. I don't think I'll ever run a full one again but I'm so proud that I did. I learned a lot about myself. I've spent my whole life hating my body for not being perfect and now I can't stop thanking my body for being so strong.
I want to thank everyone who supported me, believed in me and encouraged me through this whole dream but mostly I'd like to thank Billy Squier for "The Stroke" because that killer melody took me across the finish line!