Be forewarned: this is a long post to go with a long-ass race. Actual recap to come.
Normal runners have that goal to run a marathon “someday”. I am not a normal runner.
You may remember me signing up last year for the Goofy. Boy.
What on earth was I thinking? The very long advance notice required of the whole thing had me convinced that I’d be fiiiinnneeee to do a half and then a full back to back. Fiiiiinnnneeeee I said.
Yeah. Not so much. Over the course of that year, my running fell apart and personal issues factored in and I was in no shape mentally or physically to do the event. I deferred it- and felt an immediate sense of relief. It was completely the right decision at the time.
Even watching all my friends finish their first full marathons didn’t quite sway me to the “I need to do this” side of things. The reports back from BRF Julie: It was hard.
Table of Contents
How I Got To the Start of My First Marathon
Not impossible, but really really hard. As a marathon should be.
Guys, I don’t like hard.
Things don’t have to be easy exactly (because halves are far from easy for me!) but I’m also not a fan of putting myself into positions where life is straight-up hard. That’s not how I’m wired. I avoid hard things and tend to take the lighter side when it comes to challenges.
This is not a brag or anything to pat myself on the back. It’s a full-on character flaw, for sure. I might be happy but I’m not being challenged.
Flashback to April 2015 when registration for this weekend opened.
I went through the process to sign up for 2016 Goofy just for “blog experience”. I swear to you, I had NO intention of running that race. I do a lot of things #fortheblog so this was just another one of them. A lot of us have to defer and I thought I’d see what the process was like. For the record: it was super easy and painless.
Which is why I ended up paying the extra $15 (or thereabouts) to sign up for the 2016 race. (The hard part was paying the $400 the year before, amiright?)
At the time of sign-ups, I had ZERO intentions to run the marathon (or Goofy FFS.) But I figured for $15, who knows? Plans could change, I could lose 60 pounds and 5 minutes per mile- hey, stranger things have happened.
Yeah- none of that happened. In fact, I was 100% sure I was not running anything over marathon weekend by August. This had not changed well into November when I completed the Avengers Half.
Enter: Friends. There are many to acknowledge and thank for talking me into doing this crazy race.
First came the Jiminy Crickets.
You know those friends who quietly sit on your shoulder and encourage but don’t push? Those that plant ideas and then sit back and watch them grow? They generally do the right thing and when they talk, you listen?
I’ve got two of those friends.
I blame them.
And I thank them.
Probably equal parts blame and thank to be honest as I sit here feeling like a truck ran me over. DOMS, yall, they are REAL.
Tania kept trying. Since August, she asked and suggested and encouraged.
She knew I was signed up and since she also signed up, wouldn’t it be awesome to complete our marathons together?
Me: Um… no, Tania, it wouldn’t. You’re cute.
But I didn’t shut the door right away. I kept saying— weelllll, let me see how Avengers goes. I knew from the training plan that Avengers was a 15ish mile week. If I ran the 13.1 without major complaint, I’d consider pushing ahead and training for the full.
So Avengers happened. And it was fun. And I didn’t complain- which, I kid you not, was a first for me in a half marathon distance. I wasn’t hurting or hating life. I was just running. And well… Tania caught on to that. She kept asking about the marathon.
I kept avoiding.
Until one day I decided to run 12 miles and see how I felt. This was early December. I hadn’t run much since Avengers almost 3 weeks before so I had no idea what the 12 would bring.
The 12 were comfortable and solid.
Me: Hey, um, where are you in marathon training? What’s the mileage?
Jane: I’m at 18 this week. How much did you run today?
Jane: Go run 6 more and come talk to me when you’re done.
As God is my witness, I have no idea why I went back out for 6 more. But I did.
18 miles and … I felt great.
Waaaahhhhh???? What is going on here?!
Back to Jane. We chatted. She’s run a marathon before and was training for Dopey. She was honest and upfront about the struggles and what I’d need to do over the next couple weeks. She didn’t sugar coat it but she was encouraging. If I was willing to put in the work, I could finish. She consulted her coach- “asking for a friend” if it was possible to finish the Disney marathon with no time goals, just finishing, with the amount of time we had left to train.
He said- it will be hard. But possible.
After the Jiminy Crickets came My People.
Julie and Lisa
These sweet girls are My People. They train like me, they run like me, and they are also on “Team Complete” like me.
And BOTH of them are marathoners in 2015.
Julie gave me the rundown and said I could do it. She’s probably put the most miles on the road with me and knows exactly what my issues are (mental and slow) and still said- yes. You. Can. Do. It.
Lisa told me about her recent experience. And how much she LOVED it. Which I have to say, went a long way in convincing me that the marathon distance isn’t from the devil.
If my fellow back of the packer can go through a race and come out on the other side happy and ready to run another? There may be hope for me yet.
Both of these ladies made 18 their long run for their marathons and both said it was doable.
Okay then. What more did I need?
Mr. Shenanigans chimed in.
Him: I have no doubt you can do this. Go.
My lobster. He’s supportive to a fault even while rolling his eyes at yet another excuse to go to Disney. He understood the drive behind this one even if I didn’t.
I ended up scoring free flights with my air miles and my neighbor, Stephanie (also a GEM!), invited me to stay in her room for the weekend. Financially everything lined up.
So I was in. I just needed one more thing:
Lots of them. Even with my friend’s words of encouragement and experiences ringing in my head, I knew this was going to be my experience and I’d need to put in some major work before this happened.
A week after my 18-miler I ran 20. And felt like a freakin’ badass.
Due to sick kids and husband, I completed these miles on the treadmill. Some may say that is extra mental training, but I know me: the hard training is out on the road.
Treadmill? Please. I can do that all day with AC, potties nearby, and Netflix providing me a steady stream of distraction and entertainment. The challenge for me is doing all that out on the boring old road.
So next week I decided on 22 as my final long run. I took it outside and ran.
All. Freaking. Day.
I won’t lie- it sucked as far as the mental aspect went. I didn’t want to quit, but I did question why I thought this was a good idea. I had some chafing going on, my feet were developing minor blisters, and I couldn’t decide if I was hot or cold half the time.
But I did it. 22 miles. Boo-yah!
If you are keeping track: I did 18, 20, and 22 miles on successive weeks. NOT ideal. Probably dangerous. But I went into the miles looking to stay under 16 minutes and there was no pushing the speed. I went SLOW, y’all.
This was a goal to complete, not compete, the marathon and that’s what went through my head the entire time.
Since I made this decision to run kinda on the spur of the moment, it had to be done this way if I wanted a decent taper. Except for minor chafing and two small blisters, I felt good after each effort. My legs felt like I’d run a crapton, duh, but I was shocked at how good everything felt considering.
Enter the Cheerleader.
Yanni. There is so much I could say about Yanni and her husband John. That’s a full blog post on its own.
What I will say is that they are amazing ambassadors of the running community. I reached out to her about this race soon after her 2nd cancer diagnoses. John posted that she needed a distraction. What better distraction than telling her about my possible journey and letting her coach me through this? I was a baby marathoner in need of hand-holding. I am so giving- ha!
I was hoping for words of encouragement. I hoped to hear that “You can do this!” and that it will be worth it.
She did one better.
She signed up for the marathon that week and offered to get me to the finish line.
The one piece of the puzzle that I was not looking forward to was completing 26.2 miles (7+ hours) all by myself. I think she knew it was something I was dreading. I didn’t have to ask. She just offered to be that person.
And THAT’s how this happened. With the help of my friends, my tribe, my ‘Ohana. Hell, I can’t even say they helped so much as made it possible.
I love you guys. And I will never ever evvvveerrr do this again. Smooches!
Patty Holliday has been running Disney since 2011. She knows just about every tip, trick, and hack there is to cover the runDisney Magical Miles at Disney World and Disneyland. She knows every mile isn’t *always* magical- but with training, tips, and a little bit of pixie dust, they can be a lot of fun! You can also find her at noguiltlife.com and noguiltfangirl.com