Tuesday’s on the Run: I am a Marathoner, but…

I am a marathoner, but…

I am not sure why I am struggling with accepting that I am a marathoner, probably because I feel like a fraud.  I have been trying to give myself time to process the experience of my first marathon and make sense of what happened during those 11 hours from the time I left my resort hotel until the time I returned. 

I envisioned the moment I crossed the finish line of the Walt Disney World Marathon at least 128 times in my head over the previous 10 months. I saw myself proclaiming, “Best Day Ever” as the medal was placed around my neck and whisking away on the monorail to my Happily Ever After. The classic Disney ending, but that is not what happened…

Instead, was the WORST DAY EVER and while the physical pain has faded, there is still no Happily Ever After.  I am trying to work through the depression, anger, and guilt to get back to some sense of normalcy in my running. There were so many things that went wrong…

  • The Weather (Upper 80s with 95% humidity).
  • A Delayed Start coupled with the release of corrals faster to make up for the time lost.
  • Going out too fast because I was going with the “flow” and worried about the heat.
  • Crowded race conditions.
  • Running most of the race alone and wallowing in my misery and self-defeating talk.

Almost all of these things where beyond my control, but still I cannot accept the title of a marathoner for 2 reasons…

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I wanted to QUIT and I can’t shake the disappointment that I have in myself. The race was BRUTAL and if you did not experience from middle to back of the pack, you have no idea what the sun can do to you both physically and mentally. I literally watched many people go down around me and passed others laying on the side of the road waiting for medical to get to them. The Walt Disney Marathon was the hardest thing I have ever ENDURED (this coming from a woman who had 2 ½ babies with no pain medication). I wasn’t expecting it to be so hard and nothing that I did during my training could have prepared me for race conditions that I experienced.  I can’t fault my training BECAUSE I DID TRAIN EVERY MILE at a pace that would have given me ample time to cross the finish line and did not rely on pixie dust. I went into the race well prepared, hydrated and confident.  

According to my tracking device, I ran well over 26.2 miles but… 

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I did not complete the entire course, officially I ran 24.54 miles, if the social media calculations are correct for the shortened course.  I know that this was completely the right decision by runDisney to put up the BLACK FLAG and I was thankful at the moment that it happened, so much so that I feel guilty for my feelings. However, the shortened course leaves unanswered questions as to whether I would have been able to complete the ENTIRE course that day.  I know my time with 6 miles to go and I know exactly how far in front of the “unofficial” pacers, the aka Balloon Ladies I was; but I continue to question myself over and over, would I have made it 4 more miles keeping in front of them to the point I knew I was safe on the course? I know the answer is YES, but I don’t know with 100% certainty that I would not have seen the inside of a parade bus because I can’t predict if I would have caved to that inner voice pleading with me to stop. 

Something mentally changed after I realized that I was being diverted, you might even say a little Disney Magic came into play that prevented me from stepping off the course and quitting..

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a well-timed sign along the course reminding me that I had too many people watching me and I did not want to be labeled a failure. 

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And then there was Rita, a friend from a Facebook group, who found me around mile 20 and suddenly I was not physically alone anymore. I had someone to cry and whine with. Together we…

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and by the time we made it into Epcot, I knew I was making my ONLY stop during the last 6 ½ hours (okay, actually I did stop for the bathroom, but I never allowed myself more than a run by character photo)…

I did not care if balloons passed me at this point.  I was DONE with hydration and wanted not to toast my victory but to raise my glass in defiance of yellow PowerAde, (which I will NEVER drink again). The drink did not make it to the finish line, but I did…

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The only thing I can do is accept what happened and move on.  I was able to dig a little deeper and not quit. I crossed the finish line on my own 2 feet, which was the goal that I had sat for myself last March when I accepted the challenge of 26.2 miles. I already was already a marathoner a few weeks prior when I went the distance but elected not to step on the timing mat for an official time, just so I could say my first marathon was the Walt Disney World 2020 Marathon. 

Crossing was not the real victory for me, it was the 413.65 miles I did before I crossed the starting line that morning.  I did EVERY run that I planned! 

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I am so proud of myself for putting in the training that got me to the finish line. It was in each of those 128 runs that I truly earned my medal & Mickey Ears and the title of a marathoner. 

So what is next in my world of running, other than NEVER drinking YELLOW POWERADE again?

I don’t know, as of right now I am one and done with the marathon distance.  I am hoping that the pain and misery of January 12th will be like the pain and misery I experienced 3 other days in my life (May 3, February 2 and August 3), forgotten replaced with knowing how blessed I truly am.  

I AM A MARATHONER!!!

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