It's a sickness. I don't know why, but I'm always compelled to FINISH. Probably how I ended up finishing the race! Every time I do a trip report or recap, I just have to finish it. So, that's what I'm doing! In case you missed any of the previous Princess Recaps:
That took me like ten minutes to do those links. I'm ready for a nap now.
Ok, Ok, I know you are waiting on pins and needles b/c you don't already know that I finished the race. :p
So, there I was, in the Magic Kingdom hub, in panic mode b/c I suddenly had severe pain in my knee. I stepped onto the sidewalk, you know right where the snack cart usually is in the hub? Yeah, there. I'll always think of that now. I thought maybe stretching a bit would help. I stretched and tried to calm down. Nothing but pain. I could see the knee was swollen and realized that no amount of stretching was going to help at this point. I just need to go.
So that's what I did. In the amount of time it took me to run from the hub to Tomorrowland, I had decided that I could not stop again. As I ran, the pain subsided a tiny bit, but I was still in a lot of pain. When I looked at the videos I could see myself visible "limp-running". I fumbled with my earbuds and scowled a bit as I ran by a line of MAYBE 4 people waiting for the White Rabbit. *sigh* I wanted so badly to stop but as I thought back, I realized that each subsequent time I had stopped during the race, the knee pain had gotten worse. I was going to finish this race, I hadn't trained for this long to not finish, so I felt like I transitioned pretty quickly into letting go of anymore photos.
Until I saw the Castle. Ugh, my heart sunk a bit as I realized I could not stop for a shot in front of the castle, but I knew I already had the shot the CM took, so I let it go and just focused back on soaking up what I was actually doing! I was running through the castle! Who cares about photos! I was happy to see no bottlenecks or slow down and I was able to actually run through the castle. I teared up yet again, I was so overwhelmed by being here and doing what I had dreamed of but also had some fear of not finishing because of the pain. A photographer caught it. A little blown out from the flash, but I can see what I was feeling written all over my face.
I have to mention here that I really didn't care for my photos, but purchased them anyway because it was my first half marathon. I'm a photographer and I pride myself in finding great angles for people. It's not rocket science and I know I'm not a sports photographer, but I will never understand why they shoot UP during these races. The angle is so incredibly unflattering and adds even a double chin to people who don't have one. I don't know, maybe their legs are tired so they have to squat down. LOL. Anyway, I didn't love the angle of my shots, but most of you know what I look like and in the scheme of things it really doesn't matter if this is exactly what I looked like or how many extra double chins that angle gave me. It's enough for you to get the idea. They are a record of that day for me, so I'll cherish them, even if my face looks like a watermelon. ;)
So, I was overwhelmed running through the castle and as I came out and down the side, I looked over and saw a tiny line for the photo in front of the castle. A photographer caught me right when I was looking:
and then I let it go and kept going! Rey says this is my annoyed face.
In that shot I still had the camera in my hand but as I ran past mile 6 mile marker, I tested taking a shot while running and it was blurry. I decided to let it go as well (see a theme here?) and put the camera away.
I found more biofreeze and had some water on my next walking interval. If I kept moving I was ok. This was the first time I had fear of being swept. Looking back (and when I saw all the people behind me at mile 11) I realize this was silly, but at the time I was worried that if I had to walk the rest of the race (or crawl) I might be so slow that I would get swept. This had never really been a fear during training, so it was hard to swallow. I briefly got mad as well. I was angry that I couldn't just enjoy my race like everyone else. I wanted to have FUN and enjoy but instead I was just trying to push through this pain.
And then there was cold air...
I knew it was coming but hadn't looked up what song had won. I knew immediately it was Frozen. It was funny, I had not watched the movie because I knew I would want to change my costume last minute! LOL. I was sort of out of it, but I think they had cold air machines??? I thought I was delirious at one point. And then Let It Go was blaring, and I was singing...and sobbing. I was going to finish this race, pain be damned. It was at that point that I decided that if I couldn't have exactly the race I wanted, that I at least wanted to finish in a time that I had hoped for. I just wanted to get under 3 hours. I normally run 10 miles in 2 hours, so surely I could run those 3 miles in an hour?!
As I passed many short lines for photo ops, I wanted to stop and at least take a pic of each of them, but I couldn't. I was too afraid that the pain would worsen, so I just kept going. I put both my earbuds back in and blared my music. I thought it might take away from the experience, but I still felt the energy of all the people around me, even if I couldn't hear anything but my music. I needed to zone out. I'm pretty sure that was about the time a photographer got this shot. I look pretty happy for someone in pain.
Somewhere around mile 8, I saw the 2:45 pacers pass me. I was trying to keep up with them, they were doing intervals as well but not the same ones as me. I lost them when I had to stop for more Biofreeze somewhere between 8 & 9. I was bent over slathering my leg when I heard a familiar voice! April!! My twinkie! I'm not sure what I looked like to her, I was relieved to see a familiar face but afraid I would just spew all over her about pain, so when she asked how I was, I just said IN PAIN. I think. It's all such a blur. What I do remember is her asking me if I had gotten any tylenol yet and showing me that they had it. I promptly took it while they marked a big red X on my hand.
As I started back up, I think I was rambling about pain. I'm unsure. I was pretty out of it. Sorry Twinkie! She asked if I wanted company, she said she could pace me to the finish. I was so taken back, I didn't want to hinder her race, I knew I was moving slower than my usual pace, and I was worried I would make a fool of myself by crying or complaining the whole time...but oh how the company was needed. So I said yes. Good choice Karen! We started back up doing my 5/1 intervals, which seemed to be ok.
That was the moment I knew. I knew I would finish the race.
It was funny, the previous day at the pool April and I had been chatting and she said she wasn't a "caretaker" type of person. That couldn't have been farther from the truth. It was like having my own personal trainer and cheerleader! She would say things like "You are strong, just 3 miles to go, you can do that any day! Look at that...remember how close that was to the start? You are almost there." I knew she was trying to help me and knowing that made all the difference. My mantra in my head became "Pain is temporary". I had heard this so many times before but never really understood it until this moment.
At mile 10 we both wanted to stop for a picture. I had not gone more than 10 in training and April was dressed as Aurora, so she had to stop for the Aurora mile marker!
Haha, I look nearly insane! Right after this was the ramp up to the overpass. When I started back up running it was really painful, but I knew if I kept going it would loosen up a bit like the past few times. Up, up, up we went! I'm good with up. These last 3 miles were some of my favorite, even though I was in so much pain. As we were going up, Rachel came up to us! Different Rachel than from my meetup. This Rachel lives in Florida now and works for Disney. I follow her on Instagram, she takes fabulous photos. It was great to have another person with us, April and Rachel chatted and I listened but didn't talk much.
Anyone who knows me will find this hilarious. It's hard to shut me up. I know, you are shocked. Well, 10 miles of pain and I finally shut up! Now we know what it takes. As we passed Sarge and got to the top of the overpass, I asked April if she would take a picture and catch up to us. If I can't take them myself, I make other people do it for me! Brilliant. Loved seeing all the runners below headed up and around the ramp I just ran up.
I think we went down and then back up, I'm unsure, but I remember being up on another ramp into Epcot when I saw 11. More tears when I told the girls that this was the farthest I had ever run. I could see Epcot (barely) through the fog! I was almost there. I also knew there was a bit to go from reading other race reports, so I continued to pace myself and just focus on putting one foot in front of another.
Rachel had to stop for a bit and we kept going. I was nearly there! We came down into the Epcot parking lot and I saw 12! April told me that if I could run a mile in 20 minutes, I would do it in under 3 hours. As if! I can walk a mile in that time. Let's DO THIS! She also asked if I wanted to run the whole thing and she must have read my mind, I was so ready to do this.
The last mile was like a dream. The pain was still there, but it just didn't matter now. I was going to finish! We ran into Epcot and past Spaceship Earth. There were a bunch of Starbucks people outside waving Starbucks signs (noted to self: have one later!) and A Fairy Godmother was on a mic saying something to us about how we should yell out any word, doesn't matter what it is. I bit my tongue. LOL. I hammed it up for the photographer I saw as we ran past...
April doesn't even look like she's sweating. Oh, number one lesson I learned from this race? NEVER.EVER.EVER. wear my bangs down again. Never. Say goodbye to them, you won't see them again during a race.
We ran out to World Showcase and then turned around, April ran ahead to snap a picture of me.
We headed back to Spaceship Earth where we turned right into a back area. I knew they were coming, I felt like I was holding my breath to see them...and there they were. The Gospel Choir, singing. More tears, I was almost there! I so wish I had gotten photos of this, but I'm Letting it go...LOL
We came around another corner and I recognized it from photos, and before I knew it, there it was. The finish! I was completely overwhelmed but I sped up a bit. Pharrell's Happy was blasting but I barely noticed. I heard names being called, heard the cheers and saw that line. There are just no words to describe the relief, happiness, pain and accomplishment I felt all at that moment.
I love it! I know at first glance I look all sassy, but if you look again, there's some pain and relief in that face too. That's what I love about it. It was miserable and magical at the same time! (yes, Taylor Swift lyrics fit perfectly) That was the last shot like that, because I couldn't hold it together any longer, I was a sobbing mess. You have to know how important this is to me to post this photo because I hate the way I look, but love that it captured that moment when I realized I had done it. Trying to hold it in...
I had imagined this moment so many times but your imagination cannot capture those emotions the way the real thing can. I cried for the finishing, for the training, the pain, and the overwhelming pride I had for myself.
They handed us wet towelettes and had us continue to walk. I felt a little confused and dazed but April helped me find ice and they strapped it onto my knee. I felt a bit like a zombie at this point, I took a picture of my medal (priorities!) and then I was up hunting for water but could only see Powerade.
April (again...new BRF!) handed me a water and I drank. We took pics of each other quickly before saying our goodbyes, she had to go a different direction for the GSC and Coast to Coast medals!
I was still a zombie for a bit, I had my backdrop pic taken and grabbed a banana (don't even know where it went) and a box of food and headed out to the reunion area. Kim and Savannah both texted me saying they got ALL the updates all at once, after I had finished. Bummer. It took them a while to find me but they came bearing a rose and I burst into tears when Kim gave me a hug. I asked Kim what the time was that they sent, that's how I found out that I made it under three hours! 2:51:41. Not bad for a Disney Half with an injury!
They were good tears but I also missed Rey and wished he had been there.
He sent me a text, I thought I would share it.
I was looking at pics and reading everyone's comments. I always knew you could do it cause YOU can do anything. I wish I could have been there when you crossed but probably for the best because I teared up like a big baby looking at your pics, I wouldn't have been a good sight at the finish line. I truly mean it when I say you are an amazing, beautiful, smart, determined, inspirational woman. I love you and miss you and can't wait to see the rest of the pics.
In the next few days I will have a Final Thoughts post on my first half marathon and you'll see how I feel about doing another!