Thursday, March 7, 2013

Path to Princess Half: The Journey Ends? Part II

So where I was?  Oh, that's right the story of a not so young Mommy of two following a crazy idea that led her to the Disney Princess Half Marathon.

Before I left Magic Kingdom, I made one last stop...and then kept right on going.  Sorry if this is TMI, but tutu's and POP's are not a match made in heaven.  But I digress.  The smile would not budge from my face.  If I could show you my race photos there is not one where I was not smiling.  It's amazing how finally doing something that you had planned, obsessed and drove others crazy about makes you feel.  I sort of felt at this point that I was invincible.  My hip wasn't bugging me, my knee was not bugging me.  I was just running.  Running in the "Happiest place on Earth" to be exact.

After heading back out of Magic Kingdom and back on the highway to Epcot.  I realized I was hitting my golden miles.  I've mentioned this before that somewhere between mile 6 and mile 8-9, I just lose track of everything and am in my own little world.  I usually have my best pace and am truly running without a care in the world.  Runner's high? I can tell you that the Princess Half was really no different.  For the life of me I could not tell you what character stops or diversions there were along this stretch of road. I remember the sweet volunteers, I remember watching other runners with their friends, walking, running...Just enjoying being there.  I remember passing the 10k mark and not really know what my time was.  Which again was good because I would have not been happy.  It was 8 minutes behind my first ever 10k time and that was only my third race ever.  

I can also remember the oh so important mile 7 mark.  Why so important?  Well you see that is when I got to hear what the prized Mile 7 song was  There had been a poll earlier requesting suggestions, the most popular suggestions moved on to a vote.  I was so curious to hear what it was.  I have to admit I did not vote for the song that won.  It was Alicia Keys "This Girl is on Fire".  I thought it was too slow.  I usually have to have either super poppy or super aggressive songs playing when I run and I just couldn't imagine it.  That is until I heard it when I got there.  At that moment it made sense and listening to the lyrics, I got it and now will have a special place in my heart for that song.  Yes, I might have even gotten teary again.  I swear.  For a person who is not super emotional I teared up more than I have in a long time.    

Due to the humidity I was pretty much hitting every water stop, alternating powerade and water.  I had carried a couple of Gu with me and of course my energyBits.    As I went a little further down the road I decided to make a stop for the heroes.  I had passed them earlier on my way to Magic Kingdom and they were still there.  I also figured at this point I was off my time so it didn't matter.  So I hopped off the road and got in line.  I have to admit this picture was slightly awkward.  i didn't know where to go or who to stand by, probably should have gone more center but ah well.  File that one away for furture reference.  

Shortly after this point was when my knee started giving me a little trouble but I kept going because by this point I was over half way there.  Not finishing was not an option.  So on I went.  As I was heading up the the hill to the exit ramp I was so happy to see the Sergeant from Toy Story there barking orders.  That moment was one of my favorites.  He was very well placed and oddly motivational.  

Next thing I knew I was heading through the Epcot tolls and back into the park  It was nice to be back in Epcot and by that point there were so many people cheering us on it was mind boggling.  Perma-smile stuck on my face I ran through the park and  flipped back around to the backstage area. I know I kicked into auto-pilot at this point and just was moving, moving, moving.

Then I heard them.  The gospel choir. Such a sweet, sweet sound to hear  Especially on a Sunday morning.  The importance here though is that they were signifying the finish line was near.  I rounded one last corner and there were the stands for the ChEAR squad and just crowds of people cheering everyone on.  I tried to look for Lisa, but I didn't see her.  I had turned my phone off earlier because the battery was wearing down rapidly and I wanted to make sure I had enough power to track her down.

  At any rate, there looming in front of me was the finish line.  I was about to finish my first ever  half marathon  I ran for that finish line with all of my might.  

And just like that I was done.  See that picture to the right?  Yes, it's kind of blurry.  See that look on my face?  That was the look of someone who accomplished something she thought she would never do.  It's also the look and body position of someone who is about to break into a happy dance.  I have seen the video of me crossing the finish line, so I know what comes next.  There is a little hop, and then self congratulatory hand clapping.  It was half adorkable, half embarrassing, but so glad to see that moment captured.  

I couldn't believe that I had finished. I got my medal and texted Lisa to see where to meet her. I kept picking up the medal and looking at it.    I was in such a daze that I walked right past the official finisher's medal picture stop.    I met Lisa over by the race retreat area and then we went to stand in line to get my name and time engraved on my medal.  

It was then that I found out what my time had ended up being.  I was over my goal time. I had wanted to finish under 2:30 and I finished at 2:40 and some change.  I was so so close.  But considering I did make several stops and I was gimpy I was quite pleased with it.  I tried to not allow myself to be disappointed for not making my goal, that the important thing was that I actually ran in The Princess Half Marathon and that I had an amazing time.  I also learned at this point that I did actually lose four minutes from my eta after my 10k time.  So I appeased myself with that.  

After we left the park we headed back to the Contemporary grabbed breakfast.  I indulged in the most yummy Mickey waffle, complete with strawberries, bananas and salted carmel.  Along with turkey sausage and chocolate milk.  We took breakfast back to the room and vegged for a little bit and I iced my knee.  I may or may not have taken a brief nap. After an hour or so we headed out to the Magic Kingdom and ended the night with dinner at Cinderella's Royal Table.  

We got back to the room after dinner only to find a delivery from my husband sitting on the bed waiting for me.  It may be cheesy to say but it was a truly magical day. It was everything that I had imagined it to be and more.  

So is this the end of my journey?  No, I suspect this is only the beginning.  Much to my husband's chagrin.  I am officially hooked on run Disney.  I am hoping and planning for next year already.  I might even have a costume idea already on standby.    Bring on Princess Half 2014!

One of my favorite quotes when I decided to run the half has been:

it was through this experience that I learned that is so true.  I can accomplish anything I set my mind on.  Even if I don't think I can do it and doubt myself along the way, I will get it done.  

And so my friends, this particular journey might have ended.  But there are numerous untold journey's waiting for me.  I can't wait to see how the rest of my personal journey and my running journey unfolds.