Jan 19
My First Marathon

My First Marathon

For some time now, I’ve admired those that had the willpower to run a marathon.  I’ve been lucky to work on many runners and athletes of all kinds, but I personally never thought that a marathon would be in my grasp. I’ve heard all the stories of the pain and discipline that goes with marathon training and wanted nothing to do with it. So how did I finally convince myself that this was something for me to do? Well the story is quite simple.

I’ve always been one for a good challenge. So when my good friend asked me to run the Philadelphia Half Marathon, I said sure no problem.  I’ve already run 5ks, 10ks, 10 milers and even a triathlon, so what’s another 13.1miles.  Usually being the one to give advice on how to train properly, I decided to heed my own advice and train. I began with running 3 miles to 5 miles to 7 miles and increasing every weekend, remembering when 3 miles alone was a struggle. I would run on the treadmill at work thus spending all day in the office.   I began taking better care of myself by eating less gluten, more fruits & vegetables, and taking vitamins that absorbed better.  However, still finding time to cheat a little and enjoy the 42oz bag of M&M’s that helped me train.

While training for the Philly Half Marathon, I realized how much discipline and determination I was putting into this one race, and said to myself why not keep going and do a Marathon!  So I started looking for a marathon that would fall within my training schedule.  To run a marathon in the spring risked me losing my motivation. I found the Disney Marathon fit right into my current training schedule.  But it was November and it was already sold out.  I thought my hopes were gone of running this marathon, until a friend of mine told me that there were still some openings through Marathon Tours. I was ecstatic! I signed up right away before I lost the opportunity again.  While most take months to fully train for a marathon I had 2 more months.  The Philadelphia Half Marathon turned into a training run for the Disney Full Marathon.  Another friend even helped by giving me a training schedule that I could stick to and get me at least ready for Disney.  I was doing pretty well until Thanksgiving. 

We went to Antigua for Thanksgiving, which was warm, relaxing and beautiful.  I even attempted to run up a steep steep hill there that made me sweat more going up 3 times than running the entire half marathon.  We went to Maine for Christmas, which was cold, relaxing, and beautiful in a different kind of way.  But my training suffered a bit during the holidays.  There were a couple of 70 degree days though in DC that were perfect for long runs.  Then came New Years, I had only one more week of training and then it was off to Disney.  I packed most of the stuff way ahead of time (vitamins, gels, chews, warm & cold weather running gear, road ID, shoes, ipod and bandanas). I didn’t want to leave anything to chance. 

On the Friday that I left for Florida flights were running late due to weather and I got a little nervous that I wouldn’t make the Expo in time for packet pickup.  But I stayed calm and prayed that we would all make it there on time.  On the plane I met this nice couple, the husband was in the military and he was going to run Disney as his first marathon, but he broke his foot just a month prior.  I felt so bad for him, b/c I can totally understand how annoying that would be to train for months and not be able to run it.  I arrived at the Disney resort and there were TONS of people there for the races.  The EXCITEMENT was in the air.  It was tangible and addictive.  I was happy and extremely nervous all at the same time.  I was still getting last minute messages from friends on what to do and what not to do.  I thought I was going to throw up.  The one thing they told me to do was to get sleep the nights before the race, but that didn’t happen so well and I was determined to do this race. 

Race day morning 4AM!!!  We get to the staging area, 20,000 people! I’m trying to stay calm but I’m really not.  Everything is going thru my mind (don’t go out too fast, walk at each drinking station, enjoy each mile, etc…)  I’m feeling really lonely that I have to run 26.2 miles all by myself but it turns out I didn’t. I made a new friend who ran with me for 17 miles but that’s a whole other story.  The corals (aka running sections) start from the beginning of the alphabet, so being in “K” we had a while before takeoff.  I used the port o potties 3 times b/c of my nerves but never used them again until the end of the race.  I was excited to get going and see my mom, dad and best friends that had come to cheer me on as I ran My First Marathon.  I couldn’t have asked for a better cheer squad, they made signs that I couldn’t miss, fed me and cheered me on at different checkpoints. 

Fireworks and we’re off at 6AM!!!  I pace myself.   Not too fast, not too slow.  I remember my friends saying if you run too fast in the beginning you’ll have nothing left for the end.  I know that mile 5 is at Magic Kingdom and the first spot I’ll see my cheer squad.  I see the castle and know I’m near.  The crowds are ridiculously full and everyone is cheering you on.  I see my Cheer Squad and my eyes brighten up and smile, I wanted to cry actually b/c I'm happy they are there.   Thru out the run there are multiple Disney characters that you can stop and take pictures with and rides you can get on.  I decided to just keep on running b/c this is My First Marathon and I want to RUN IT!!!  I get onto the race track and I’m in awe as to all the cars and the fact that I get to run on the track.  Next is Animal Kingdom and my next stop to see my cheer squad.  I’m excited b/c I’m hungry! By this time we’re at 13 miles.   I spot them; gather my supplies and I’m off again.  We get to ESPN Zone and there are still tons of people running with me, unfortunately my new friend’s neck started hurting and being the chiropractor I am, tried to help massage it out a little.  She appreciated my help but she was slowing down a bit and this was My First Marathon and I'm running this on my terms.  By the time we leave ESPN Zone it's mile 20.  OMG, my mind woke up and saw that I was at mile 20!!! What’s going to happen next?  The most I had ever run was 20 miles, I have no idea what 21 feels like.  So here I go!  Before I knew it, I was at 22, 23, and 24 miles. I saw my cheer squad for the last time before the end.  I was excited! 

Finally, the mile marker for 25.  I wasn’t sure exactly when I was supposed to kick into high gear but figured the last mile was ok.  I was running and in my amazement I was still feeling pretty good.  I actually smiled my way thru the last couple miles.  The last mile was in Epcot and I didn’t even notice I was running thru Epcot until I saw Japan.  I exited Epcot and kicked it up a notch.  I’m about to finish My First Marathon. Wooohooo!!! There’s Mickey with his hand out, I reach for it, give him a high five and cross the finish line. 

I’m smiling from cheek to cheek.  I can’t believe I did it and I’m shocked I didn’t throw up or cramp up.  I’m walking just a little bit past the finish line and I finally feel it.  The legs want to cramp, so instead I start dancing to keep the legs moving.  I’m strutting to my music and collecting my medal.  The race people even comment “you look like you could keep going”   hmmmmm maybe!   I find my cheer squad.  Give everyone hugs.  And rejoice that I finished and finished strong & happy.  WOW!!! My First Marathon is in the books.  It’s everything they said it would be and more. What an awesome feeling and I have a really cool medal to show for it.

 They say you only get one First Marathon so enjoy it!  I did indeed that!  This marathon is memorable for so many reasons.  I made new friends, almost came home with an entirely different kind of souvenir (that’s a whole other story), my best friend says I'm her new hero, my loved ones were there to cheer me on,  but most of all this is the first time I’ve ever been to Disney without my uncle.  He worked for Disney for 20 years and would give us day passes to the parks. We would do all 4 parks in one day b/c of him.  Instead, this time around I ran thru all four parks thinking of him and my family.  I dedicated this run to him, my father, and my grandmother who I got to see after the race and show her my cool  medal.  I hope to make it a family tradition each year.  But even if no one else can, I’ll definitely be doing it again and I may even do the Dopey Challenge!

A special Thank You goes out to my Cheer Squad:

Lauren-who made sure I woke up at 3:30AM and was with me from the start.  Also for being the person who asked me to do the Philly Half and in doing so started something you didn't know was going to happen. 

Maria- For driving all the way from Tampa after a long days work and almost falling asleep on the road. You made the best sign a girl could ask for. Your friendship has meant the world to me thru out the years.  I'm glad to be your hero. 

Dad-You've pushed me all my life and dared me to do new things all the time.  Thanks for looking over my shoulders while I ran on the treadmill trying to get me to run faster.  

Mom- You've always been there to support me.  Even when you're in pain and your feet are swollen, you find the strength to trek all around the Disney Parks to cheer me on with your homemade Trinidadian flag.  I spotted you first when coming around that last bend.  It brought a smile to my face to know you were there for me once again.  

My one piece of advice for those wanting to do a Marathon, always make sure you have a Cheer Squad!!!  

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