*** This is both a lesson and a recap. While the recap part is mainly for my own memories, I promise there is a lesson at the end.
Let me tell you about myself about 9 years ago. I was in college, my stepfather had just passed away about 6 months earlier, and I was spiraling into a continual darkness. I was 100 lbs heavier than I am now. I still danced, but was not fit or healthy.
Eventually, I woke up and started working to a healthier existence. A couple years ago, I started the Couch 2 5K. I did it and then fell off the running. Then Summer 2012, I started again and actually did really well. I got to the point that I could run for 45 minutes. Then, I stopped.
Well, around March, I picked it back up again. And, I got the wild idea to sign up for a 10 Mile Run. I really don't know WHY I got that idea, but I did and I convinced my sister Megan to sign up, as well. Shortly after, she suggested we sign up for a 5K series during the summer. We trained and practiced and completed the series. Then, we kept training. Honestly, I didn't train as hard as I should have, but the Florida Summer got to me. Regardless, I did keep running and preparing for October 5th.
It came, alright.
Megan, my mom, and I headed to Orlando. We picked up our race packets and checked into the hotel.......
Then, we waited. It seemed like for-ev-er. I tried to nap, but that was a no go. I did manage to eat.
Finally, it was time to get ready and head toward the buses for the race!!!
"Does this tutu make my butt look big?"
I cannot explain the energy on that bus ride. Everyone was excited, nervous, and buzzing with energy.
Momma and I on the bus!......
If I thought the bus ride was exciting, getting OFF the bus and walking towards the pre-party and race start was multiplied. There were thousands of people in the parking lot of Hollywood Studios. A DJ, music blaring, light up balloons.... it was insane. The most entertaining part was all the runner costumes. Oh, the creativity......
Like this guy.....
He was part of an entire ensemble of Star Wars characters.
I had a couple friends that were also running. We tried to meet up, but with so many people using cells, reception was non-existent. We spent a couple of hours just walking around and trying to stay calm. And, my mom took tons of pictures.....
Eventually, it was time for us to get into our corral. Since neither of us had proof of times, we were in the last two corrals.... I moved back to Megan's, so we could start together. Everyone had to line up at 9:15. The race started at 10pm. Our corral wasn't scheduled to start until 10:28.
In essence, I felt like I was going to throw up for over an hour.
Here is us faking being calm, cool, and collected.
FINALLY, it was our turn to start. Towards the Start Line, we were able to see my mom holding up signs for us and her phone. She had my cousin on Facetime, so she could see us, too!! Honestly, that is what calmed us down and got us really excited. The loud music, the lights, fog, DJ, and MC helped, too.
Something I loved is that Disney gives a grand start to each corral. With the scary "Twilight Zone" music and a firework start, we were off!! Our route looked like this.....
While Megan and I started together, we knew that we wold be running by ourselves. She has a faster pace than I do and we each run to music. Despite the official website claiming that they do not recommend earbuds, most racers do wear them. The warnings and announcements are LOUD. Even with my music going, I could hear the important stuff.
A couple notes about the course..... it is mostly on main roads. At first, it is kind of cool to realize that you are running where you normally drive at Disney World, but it gets a bit boring. They do have entertainment and characters along the way (I didn't stand in line for any of them), but mainly you are just running.
It was HOT and HUMID. Not as bad as what we dealt with in July and August, but still pretty nasty. I made sure to take all of my walk breaks and to drink plenty of fluids at each water station.
My least favorite part was the dirt path you take right before entering Wide World of Sports. While the character stations they had were really cool, the path was dark and narrow. You would have three or four people walking shoulder-to-shoulder (rude), so you'd have to go off the path to run around them. Plus, all the dirt being kicked up was irritating.
When we did get to Wide World of Sports, I thought I would never get out of there. It was like reliving my worst PE days, all over again, lol. We ran onto the soccer fields, went around the track, ran on sidewalks, and then went around the baseball field before heading out.
As you can see, as we exited the complex, we hit the Mile 7 Marker (btw, the mile markers were awesome.... a running clock with an elevator theme), that was when I started having true doubts about myself. This was the conversation I was having with myself, in my head.....
"Yay!!! Mile 7..... Almost there!!!!"
"Only 3 more miles! 3 miles is normal to you. You got this!"
"Holy cow, I have THREE miles to go...... It's after midnight and I still have three miles to go."
"It is so hot. I'm so tired."
"What if I just walk the rest of the way? That wouldn't be so bad, right?"
"Where is more water? I'm so thirsty."
"WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO?!?!?! WHY DID YOU SIGN UP FOR THIS, JESSICA?!?!?!"
"I don't think I can do this."
"Just keep running. Just keep running until you fall down."
"If I pass out, will I still get a medal?"
"WHERE is the water station?"
"Don't stop. Just keep running."
About the 7.5 mile mark, a cool breeze came. Out of nowhere. All around me, people were exclaiming over the cool breeze. I said out loud, "Thank you, Jesus. I needed this."
Now, I won't say that I didn't struggle the rest of the way, but it gave me a push that I desperately needed to keep going.
Eventually, we got back to Hollywood Studios. The last mile and a half was actually in the park. As awesome as it was, it was also a little bit of a mind game. See, I know that park like the back of my hand. I know exactly how to get from Lights, Motors, Action to Tower of Terror..... the best, most direct route. Yeah, they don't take you that way. You weave in and out, taking the most indirect way possible. When we rounded the Sorcerer's Hat, there was a big crowd cheering and a DJ congratulating us..... we only had a half a mile left.
That may have been the longest half mile EVER. The volunteers that were cheering us along were amazing, especially that last half mile. They knew we were hot, tired, and just ready to quit.
When I saw the finish line? I booked it as hard and as fast as I could. I totally crossed the finish line with both arms pumped over my head in victory. My mom was there to take a picture and cheer me on.
After you finish, you still have about another mile to walk to get the freebies, cool down, and get your bag before getting to meet up with your family.
This was my view when I finished..... A moment I will never forget......
The very first thing they hand you is cool towels. Then, you get in line to have one of the ten or so people handing out medals put one over your neck. Just like in the Olympics. When the lady told me, "Congratulations. You did it!" I almost cried.
I called my sister who I knew had already finished (we signed up for each other's updates, so my phone dinged when she hit the 5K, 10K, and Finish). She had just gotten my update and was able to tell me my time before I even knew it, lol. She was waiting past the bag claim with our friend BJ.
In that walk, they hand you a ton of freebies. My hands were full. I got my bag and happened to run into my friends.... we patted each other on the back and then I met up with my mom, Megan, and BJ.
My mom had these shirts made for us, while she was waiting. She was SOOOO proud of us....
They had an onsite engraver. It cost $20, but I felt is was well worth it.
I will keep this thing forever......
They had an after-party and we stayed until about 3:45am. It was exhausting, but the whole night was so exhilerating.
Two proud sisters......
11300 people registered..... 9474 actually came and finished.... My overall placement was 4233. Out of 6132 women, I finished 2349.
I ran ten miles in 2 hours and 8 minutes.
My FB status the next morning read, "I did it!!!!! If you ever had PE with me, then you will know that ME running ten miles is basically a miracle."
People said (and still are) how proud they were.... how impressed.... how they could never do it.
I'm soooooo proud of myself and my accomplishment. And, I'm soooooo thankful for their compliments.
Here's the thing though.... They *can* do it. Again, I once weighed 100 lbs more than I do now. I've struggled my whole life with running. I was always last.... always the slowest.... always the awkward, clumsy kid that no one wanted on their team.
And, *I* placed ahead of over half of the 9474 people that participated.
If I can do it, anyone can. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow..... but eventually.
I've been running off and on for two years. I've been training (and not as seriously as I should have been) for 6 months. I worked for it and I did it.
You can, too.
Keep in mind, I still don't like running. I don't consider myself a runner. I do it because it is a challenge and because it pushes me completely out of my comfort zone.
If running isn't your thing (trust me, it's not my thing, either) or you have no desire to do it, that's fine. But, don't say you can't. You can. You can do anything that you are willing to work hard enough for. If it is humanly possible, you can do it.
Will you do it as well as the next person? Maybe not, but you can still do it.
That is my lesson. It's something that I learned in a big way this past weekend.
A couple of notes, if anyone is interested in running this race.........
- I would recommend staying on Disney property. It is a LATE night and not only is travel shorter when you are on property, but you don't have to worry about driving.
- Definitely jog to your own music, even though they say not to. There are boring stretches.... it's dark.... it's long...... unless you are planning to chat with a friend while walking briskly, music is needed.
- Warning.... you are going up and down a lot of ramps to get on the highway. So, not only are there hills (more than this native Floridian is used to), they are curving and slanted. Like a NASCAR race. Except you are trying to run it.
- It may be October, but chances are pretty high that it will still be hot and humid in Florida. I am used to this weather and I was feeling it. I would guess that the majority of the people I saw being carried away by medics at the end of the race were because of heat exhaustion/dehydration. My body/habits are able to adapt. I know what to do. However, I noticed so many people skipping right past the water stations. I would grab a cup of Powerade at the front of the station, walk, swig, and then grab a cup of water to do the same thing. Every. single. time. Yes, I felt a little yucky with that much liquid in my stomach a couple times. I did feel like I was going to get sick a couple of times. But, I just slowed down until I stopped feeling so water logged. When it was over, I drank both the bottle of Powerade and the bottle of water they handed us within the hour. Probably within 45 minutes. I kept drinking throughout the night. You have to do that when you are running 10 miles in Florida.
- It is an expensive race. It's Disney, after all. However, it is also worth every penny.
- If you have any questions about this race, feel free to email me :)