Its been about a month since I crossed the Finish Line at the Walt Disney World Marathon. I am still in shock that I took this on and completed the race. My race recap is coming, it’s probably one of the most emotional posts I have had to compile as it was quite the ride. Before I told you about my day doing 26.2 miles at the happiest place on earth I wanted to recap my thoughts on the road to the marathon in retrospect of finishing. Truth is, I went mental preparing for and completing my first half marathon.
On Going Mental:
They say that 90% of a marathon is mental. I don’t know who THEY are, but to be frank they are correct. Aspects of this race drove to me to the edge of insanity. Being a slow half marathoner, slowing down 2 minutes per mile as suggested by coaches and training plan had me doubting if I would finish, or if I would be swept – FROM THE GET GO. Along with this nervousness, my insecurities and self-doubt, fear, and the hormones of a woman approaching “the change” (yes, this was a biggie) helped lead me to the brink. Throw in those long runs training during the holidays, you know the most stressful time of the year when the suicide rate climbs. Sprinkle in some family drama which had worn me down emotionally, yeah, it was the perfect storm.
I relied on Mr RWR to cover mini me entertainment on long run weekends when I would be gone for hours and with the occasional recovery from that run also needed (say yes to the Epsom salt bath ahhhhhh). My husband was amazing and supportive, that really helped, as y’all know how mom guilt can work.
Talking to Bill Rodgers and Jeff Galloway at the JG 13.1 expo eased my mind and I found myself trying to stop saying “If I Finish” to “When I Finish”…trust me not always successful. Jeff even had me thinking of switching up my intervals, which after the JG 13.1 I was completely on board with. That gave me hope.
I don’t know why I was fighting the confidence so much, truth is, I had support – lots of it. I had friends and family so proud of me. I had people who really believed in me and those who listened to me doubt myself and affirm I could do it. I wigged out between Christmas and New Years on my best running friends. The pressure of the holidays and my self-doubt, coupled with those wonderful hormones – I snapped and tried to shut them out. I have with such a wonderful group of supportive friends, after I apologized, I was forgiven. An amazing thing about going through some hard times or pushing yourself to doing something you never thought you could do, you really learn who your true friends are. I am blessed.
The week before the race, one wise Facebook friend posted for those of us in our nervous state, “If Only We Could Believe in Ourselves as Much as Others Do.” #Truth you know.
Training With a Group:
My first 10k, I trained with the Atlanta Track club. My first half marathon, I trained for with a Galloway Group. I knew I needed a group to help get me out for those long runs. I picked Team In Training which raised money for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. I signed up through the FLEX team, which is online.
For training, FLEX offers an online coach who I would ask questions and who through his brutal honesty and encouragement kept a glimmer of hope among all that self-doubt – just keep moving forward, know it won’t be easy, but it would be worth it his constant message. I remember after my 8 mile run, I was really tired and asked “how in the world am I going to do a full marathon if 8 makes me this tired?” He wisely told me, one run at a time, don’t look at the race until race day and that I was building to make it there. Coach Dan sent us reminders, encouragement and information to help us all finish our race and train smart.
I also had a local Coach I knew from Atlanta running boards. Micheal a TNT Rock N Roll New Orleans local group coach adopted the 3 of us in Atlanta training for Disney Marathon with Team In Training Flex. We were invited to run with them on their long training runs which were fully mapped out and supported with water stops and had people checking on you during the run. You just had to show up and they supported you. If you did not want to run alone, someone would run with you. Really TNT is the best, the training was amazing.
Did I follow my training 100%, nope. Silly me, working on that as always, but I did better than any other recent races. I had ups and downs during training runs, one I got home ached like I had the flu and cried and went to bed. Luckily my last long run, was solid with zero issues and I felt great. I had figured out in my training cycle how I needed to fuel and drink to stay hydrated, and having a good run gave me some sense of confidence – like hmm, I think I am gonna do this, of course the “I Hope” came in there too.
The Charity Race Impact:
One aspect of the Team In Training experience was the fact I was running for something bigger than me – I was fundraising for Leukemia Lymphoma Society to help fund research for finding a cure for cancer. When I was training I would think about my heroes and try not to wimp out on my every ache – which I tend to focus on.
- My cousin Maryann was my hero, she is a pediatric cancer survivor and now a mom of 2 . I spent many days at their house growing up and I can still remember her crying about having to go have a spinal tap to check her counts. Through research her type of cancer is now one with one of the most favorable prognosis.
- I began following a local cancer patient named Mary Elizabeth, whose courage and resolve to fight when things were looking bad or her body was weak were my inspiration.The week before the race she was at St Jude in Memphis in the ICU. She left the hospital yesterday!! Following her ups and downs during my training really drove home the importance of the funds I was helping raise for easier treatments and a cure.
- I learned shortly after I started training a friend of mine from my single days, Erin, was in the hospital fighting her own battle. Erin is a mom of twins who fought their own battle with preteen birth. They are survivors so I know their mom is tough too. Despite all she is going through, she always seems to have a good attitude.
Its funny, I went into TNT thinking while the money I raised was good, the training group was the best part. I was blown away by the generosity of so many in my fundraising efforts. When I heard that the 500 Team In Training Runners at Walt Disney World Marathon weekend had raised over $2 million dollars, I was in tears. I was honored to be a part of this team and to be able to make a difference in the lives of so many with these funds: I know they will. I tried to remember on my runs if I was meh or something hurt, suck it up – this is nothing compared to what Mary Elizabeth and Erin are dealing with and you get to go home when done!
Race-Cation with the Family:
The race weekend was the first when my family accompanied me – normally my races are with my friends, great girls weekend. I was a little worried going in they would add to my stress with what to do while I ran, but having them there was the best decision my husband ever made. My daughter was so proud and made me a sign.
She kept saying “Mommy you will finish, I will be so proud of you”. As a side, Mr RWR appreciated the low ride wait times and I do believe he has been converted to the power of a runDisney Racecation! Celebrating with my family in the parks after the race was truly the best trip ever. I was the only one running and they gave me all the space I needed to prepare.
The day before the race:
I was fortunate to run into my friend and fellow ENELL Ambassador Sparkly Runner Sarah at breakfast – actually first time we met in person. She asked me how I was doing and I do believe I started tearing up saying how worried I was. I was alone when I ran into her, the family was happily enjoying Disney’s Hollywood Studios. She was so calming and encouraging it really helped….and her boyfriend Matthew was super sweet too.
I headed over to the expo to pick up my race packet, bib and buy a water bottle for the race so I would have my security blanket on the course, my own. I ate lunch at the hotel’s quick service which was EXCELLENT – roasted chicken, veggies and mashed potatoes then went to the room to rest my feet and chill. I met local TNT Coach Micheal at Downtown Disney along with fellow teammates Wendy and Laura. We got a pep talk and he made sure we were all feeling OK. He tried to set up some expectations on the course too. I got back to resort to see Mini Me hit the pool, it was fun watching her have a blast, made me happy. Thoughts of dinner had my stomach acting up so we decided on IHOP – garden omelet with bacon and pancakes. Perfect!
I laid out all my stuff, got in bed around 9 and tried to close my eyes. I think I slept from just before 10 until 2:30, when I got up and got ready to go. I wanted to be on early bus at 3:15, so yeah, early rise. I took a banana, yogurt, half a bagel and some peanut butter with me which I started to nibble on the bus.
The Peace I Had Found Amidst the Crazy:
Somehow the week before the Marathon, I had made peace with myself that all I could do was show up and try. I was still scared don’t get me wrong. I was supposed to be running with my Best Running Friend Patty, but she had to defer the race. I was prepared to run alone – oh this was a process to accept too but eventually I got there. I knew there would be TNT Coaches along the way so I really would NOT be alone. I told the family to have fun race day and to just be at the finish – not to worry about seeing me on the race. I had a couple of running internet friends who had set up stations one at mile 13 and one at mile 24 which gave me some friendly faces to look forward to. Truly I have met some amazing people through my running. I envisioned myself crossing the finish line to try to take away the self doubt. I think the call from BRF Patty the night before really helped me to calm my nerves too. Thanks girl!
I don’t know the specific reason I decided to try to tackle this distance that less than 1% of the population has completed. I certainly don’t look like Deena Kastor you know? I watched Spirit Of The Marathon a few years back which I think is when the seed was truly planted. I guess in my head I had always wondered IF I had what it took to train and complete a full marathon, and I suppose turning 50 had me thinking, it’s now or never. I signed up because I wanted to try it and see what I had in me.
Along the way, I learned about myself and what I am capable of and of how I need to believe in me like others do. It wasn’t always easy – the training, the race, the mind games, but in the end it was certainly worth it. My Marathon Recap post is coming up. I am ready to talk about that crazy wonderful day where I did something I never thought I could achieve, finishing 26.2 miles. Hey Phidippidies died, I lived to tell the tale. That is something, right?
Have you had a race you had to overcome your mental self-doubt?
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