This was my first half marathon. I have never been athletic. I don’t quite remember what set me on the running path, but at some point, I was signing up for the Disney Princess Half Marathon having never run for fun in my life.
During the good seasons (all seasons but winter), I drove out of my way to Edwin Warner Park. There were a few times I got lost. One time I lost my keys and had to wait two hours for a service to meet me and charge me $200 to replace them. I ran my first eight consecutive miles there. I saw a lot of dogs. I went there during heavy rain and (I learned later) a tornado to get in at least one mile.
During winter (ugh), I trudged to my apartment complex’s gym and used the treadmill. I was running three miles in thirty minutes and trying not to be overly pleased with myself. I was hit on. One time I was almost locked in. I became an expert on which treadmills were garbage and which I preferred.
Then, just one month before the half, my job relocated me. I was in the same state, but running had to be put on hold. It was an awful winter, and I had no outlet to run. I didn’t trust myself to run in the snow where I lived — though it was not quite rural, I was not comfortable with the condition of the roads and sidewalk and myself to risk it. When it was time, I drove the eleven hours to Orlando and worried.
I had nothing to eat. I hadn’t thought about it. I hadn’t planned. I had woken up at darkthirty in the morning and was about to run 13.1 miles on an empty stomach. As I dressed, I thought maybe I could do it. As I boarded the bus to the start, I thought it would be no problem. When we arrived and I saw that there were food vendors, I probably pushed people out of my way to get a bagel. I was so hungry and concerned about fuel.
I was also really worried I wouldn’t finish. Afterall, I had gone a month without running, and this was the first time I’d ever been in a non-gym class sport. I still didn’t know a lot about half marathons and expectations, so I was determined to come in under the time limit. It meant that I missed out on a lot of character photos. It meant I constantly checked my pace and worried if I wasn’t at least staying steady at 15:00/mile. It meant I was reassuring myself: you can do it. You can finish. You just have to finish. It meant that when I realized I was still running with the same people, I was relieved. They were here for their own runs, but I still found support in people who were also at my speed.
I don’t remember a lot about the course itself except that it felt like it was mostly road and less of the park. But when we ran through the park, it was magical. When we neared the finish, the people who were lined up to enter the park when it opened were cheering us on just as much as the spectators.
A lot of people say that when they finish, their next thought it on their next race. When is it? When can they sign up? When I finished, I thought, That’s it. No more. I got it out of the way and never have to do it again.
After throwing up and taking a nap, I went to the Magic Kingdom. I didn’t wear my medal because I thought that seemed kind of annoying and attention-hoggy. But when I saw others wearing their medals around the park, I thought, I was there! I was with you! I’m a runner too!
And even though I walked more than I ran, and I didn’t have an amazing costume, and I had taken a month-long break from training, and and and and.
I decided to fuck everything else because I was a runner too.