About this time last year my friend Skylar and I decided to sign up for a half marathon together. We signed up for the Avengers Half Marathon at Disneyland so we could also plan a trip for the 60th anniversary and holiday events.
When we signed up, we thought we would train and work hard to meet our goal for the November race. I was extra ambitious and signed up for the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge, which meant I was running the 10k and the half marathon. Neither of us did much training, and by “much” I mean, “I don’t think we trained at all.” Life was busy and work days were long and boyfriends and roommates took priority over running. Fair enough.
Because training was low on the list of worries, I was not at all prepared for my 19.3 miles that weekend. Somehow I managed to push through, even though it meant I didn’t get the most out of my Disneyland trip because I was asleep in the hotel for two days after my races. I cried for the last 4 miles because everything hurt and I realized I made a mistake in not preparing at all. There was a point where I didn’t think I would make it and just wanted to sit down and wait for the wheelchairs to pick me up and take me to the finish line.
I was so relieved to cross that finish line, and although I was frustrated with myself, I was proud that I had persevered through the race. I proved to myself that I could finish on time and showed what my body was capable of. With that being said, I also vowed to never sign up for a race that long without committing to at least a little bit of training leading up to it.
Fast-forward to the beginning of this year. Tax returns came and I had planned on saving mine to put towards another Disneyland trip with Jay for his birthday later this year. With our breakup, I had no other plans for that return (besides using it to pay off my credit card, which would have been the responsible thing to do). I wanted to start running again to help with my depression and emotions that remained after such an awful heartbreak and I saw there was still registration available for the Star Wars half marathon in April–8 weeks away. I found a training guide and signed up.
Now, I didn’t follow my training guide. In fact, I never ran farther than 3 miles in those 8 weeks. But I averaged walking at least 7 miles a day at work, plus I had friends to encourage me and run with me a few times a week. Even consistently running 3 miles every few days made such a huge difference when it came time for the race on April 17th.
I made it to the race expo the day before my race to get my t-shirt and race packet. To me, the expo is what gives me the motivation to get up the next day for the race. There is so much energy from the people excited to run their various events during the weekend.
I worked until seven or eight o’clock on Race Eve, and my alarm was set for two in the morning to be able to make it to EPCOT for parking. It was that moment that I suddenly felt anxious about running this race. I suddenly remembered how unprepared I felt at Disneyland for the race and it scared me for this one. For a moment I lost all confidence in myself and wished I was at home sleeping.
Something cool that happened before the race was that they had several character meet-and-greets out both before and after the race. As someone who isn’t fast enough to factor in character photos during a race, I really appreciated the incorporation of characters during that time before heading off to the corrals. I hadn’t seen the line for Boba Fett until it was too late, but I did manage a photo with the storm troopers.
It really wasn’t until I was in my corral (L for “Last!”) that I realized I couldn’t back out. When the time finally came to GO there was no turning back. While training with my friend Kristen, we had recently developed an appreciation for :30 intervals so that was my plan for the majority of the race. There were times I would walk a few extra “dings” but then I would make up for it and run the same amount of time. Somehow, I felt really good.
During my first half marathon, I was shot by mile 7. It dawned on me too far along just how far 13.1 miles really was. By mile 9 I was ready to sit on the ground and wait for a wheelchair to pick me up. By mile 10 I was in tears because every part of my body ached and felt like my joints were separating with 3 miles still to go. I felt emotionally and physically broken by the time I hobbled over the finish line and went straight to my hotel room.
This time around, none of that happened. Around those miles 8-10 I felt overwhelmed, but I knew it wasn’t impossible. The tears I cried were when I crossed the finish line and realized how good I still felt even with as little training as I did. I proved to myself that I was capable of making great time and pushing myself to complete this massive distance.
I completed Avengers in 03:30:00, and Star Wars in 03:12:23. Going from a 15:51 pace to a 14:41 pace and shaving almost 18 minutes off a half marathon time was so amazing to me. I knew I wanted to “do better” than my last half, but I had no idea I would do that much better.
The race had started at EPCOT and ended at ESPN, so I took a charter bus to the Polynesian and took the monorail to EPCOT from there. During the bus ride I rested and wished my phone hadn’t been dying or I could have gone to a park to show off my medal with the rest of the racers. Instead I went home and napped for five hours, but I deserved it.