February 26, 2012 was a day that changed my life! It was that day that I realized I was a runner. It was that day that I realized you can accomplish anything if you set the goal and work towards it. It was that day that I realized that my MS diagnosis might not have been such a bad thing.
I woke up at 3am and headed onto a bus with many other princesses to run my first half marathon. I had trained well enough and run fast enough to warrant a Corral A start position and waited in the freezing cold with lots of other veteran runners. I was terrified and could only imagine finally crossing that finish line. My goal was to run it in less than 2:30, but I had never run 13.1 miles before and I wasn't sure if that was going to be possible.
As the Fairy Godmother said those magic words, fireworks went off above the start line and the race began. I took off running! Was I really going to be able to do this? Well, there was only one way to find out and I was off.
The initial 5 miles were uneventful, classic highway miles with some Disney magic. Entering the park and seeing the crowds of fans was so exciting and turning onto Main Street USA was a thrill. I was so focused on finishing, I didn't take the time to cherish the moment, and ran down Main St without stopping for a single picture. The tears started to appear as I turned the corner by Dumbo and realized I was about to run through Cinderella's Castle! My biggest regret of this first race was not stopping in front of the castle for a picture. Soon enough we were at the halfway point and Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger" was blaring on repeat and I could feel my second wind starting to take over.
Scott managed to make it to the Poynesian Resort and was there to cheer me on as I kept on running. Seeing him was just the inspiration I needed to finish this race. Miles 7-11 were difficult. For me those are the "mental" miles - the ones where your head is asking you what the heck you are doing even though your body is ready to keep going. For some extra support, I started to take a moment to really experience this journey and grabbed a few character pictures - I needed some memories of this first half marathon.
I remember entering Epcot and realizing I was almost there! I was going to complete my first half marathon! At this point, the tears began to roll down my cheeks as I thought about the moment of my diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis and how I was afraid of what my future might hold. I certainly didn't think that my diagnosis would ultimately bring me to the point of becoming a runner.
I passed the choir at mile 13 and could see the finish line. As I got close, I heard my name being announced and then I crossed the finish line with a high five for Princess Minnie!
My official time:
2:07:50 - (guess I beat my 2:30 goal) and I finished 1735 out of 16018 finishers!
I did it!
The Princess Half Marathon was the perfect location for my first half marathon. runDisney has become more popular in recent years because it allows runners of all abilities to come together, experience Disney magic, meet other like minded people and have fun while accomplishing a goal. Destination runs are perfect race experiences, even for new runners.
I was also fortunate to have been selected for a Disney Meet Up on Friday before the race. I will share my meet up experience in a future post for that is what truly hooked me on runDisney events!