It was July 12, 2016 when I signed up for the 2017 Disney Princess Half Marathon. I had slacked off with my workouts and had gained weight again. I told myself that now that I was registered for my first half marathon I would get back to it and start training. I bought a running journal hoping that it would keep me encouraged. As the months went by I told myself I would sign up for another run, I would go to the gym and run some miles on the treadmill. I never did sign up for another run and while I did run on the treadmill, it wasn’t very often and not enough to be considered training. I did a mile sometimes around my block with my dog and I was glad to at least get some running done.
As the February race came closer I started to get nervous. I knew that Disney swept you if you didn’t keep their pace (thankfully I didn’t know about the Balloon Ladies then, it would have made me more nervous), so I started to look it up to see if they really did do that… yes they do. I started to search if it was possible to run a half marathon without proper training… everything I read didn’t make me feel better. I had gained all the weight I had lost plus a bit more. With the run barely 2 months away, I went to the gym more often and ran longer miles everyday I went. I never reached the 13.1 but I did go as far as 8 miles before the race inched closer.
2017 was the year that Disney cancelled their marathon due to weather conditions. I remember that well because I began to hope that they would cancel the Princess half marathon because I just didn’t feel confident. I truly believed I could not finish the race. I was so scared that I didn’t want to go, I was willing to lose the money I paid because I didn’t want to face the possibility of failure. I would have quit, I would have never attempted the half marathon if it weren’t for my older sister. I thank her immensely because it was her who pushed me to go anyway. If it weren’t for her encouraging me, going to Disney with me, staying up to 3AM to drive me to the race, I would not have gone and would never have experienced the run that changed my life. To this I really can’t thank her enough.
It brings me to tears when I think back on that day. It was February 26, 2017 a year after I had done my first run. A part of me still hoped that the run wouldn’t go on but my sister was there staying up all night so that she could drive me and kept on encouraging me. I was so nervous… not only was I about to attempt a half marathon I didn’t feel ready for I was going to do it alone. After she dropped me off I followed the crowd since I didn’t know where to go or what to do. It was cold that morning but I seriously didn’t know if I was shaking from the cold or from nerves. Once I got to my corral I couldn’t stop shaking. After waiting for about an hour it was finally my turn to start the half marathon.
That first step across that start line was the beginning of the moment that changed my life. I ran, not at a fast pace but at a steady pace for about the first 6 miles. I was so scared of getting swept I refused to walk (and take pictures) unless I really had to. It was about mile 6.5 that one of the entertainers on the course said that we were 45 minutes ahead of the buses. At that point I was so relieved that I started to walk. I kept a walk, run, walk, run pace until mile 9 when I felt I could no longer run. I was exhausted but just kept on going. People always ask me how I felt during my first half marathon. One thing I always say is that the final 5K felt like the longest 5K of my life. I remember one of the volunteers at the 10 mile water stop told us “just a 5K left!” and I thought “only a 5K?”. The second thing is that mile 12 is the longest mile ever! I remember wondering how much longer until I saw mile 13.
And then I saw it, mile 13 and I knew the finish line was right around the corner.
I ran to the finish line. As I crossed it I heard a man announce, “you all are now half marathoners!”. Yes, we were, yes I was… and I couldn’t believe it. I did it. I really did, I started and finished a half marathon. My mom, who was another of my supporters, messaged me as she got the text update and my sister sent me another grand text telling me that she knew I could do it… I was surprised she was even awake after staying up all night. My little sister had also gone to Orlando with me so I thank her too for being there for me and also supporting me, she kept telling me what an accomplishment it was to finish.
It really was an accomplishment and it was one that really changed my life. It was this run that inspired me. After finishing my first half marathon I now felt inspired to run more, I wanted to run more. I looked for more runs and signed up for them, I no longer cared if I had to go alone. I had run the entire half marathon alone and being alone no longer scared me. When I think back on the person I was then it really brings me to tears because I still can’t believe what I did and what I continued to do. I did it alone, not truly alone because I had the encouraging words from my family and friends and it was all that I needed. Over a year later I re-read that running journal I had bought back in summer 2016. In it there was a page where I wrote down my goals. One of the goals was to run a half marathon. The reason why I wanted to run the half marathon was to prove to myself that I could. I not only proved to myself that I could, I proved to myself that I was capable of so much more and that this was only the beginning.
“Running is the greatest thing that ever happened to me. It’s the focus of my daily routine, the source of everything. It gives my life a sense of rhythm. It’s not just a game or a sport, something outside of life; it’s a part of life. It’s an adjective that defines me.” – The Complete Book of Running; James F. Fixx