Although I have been a runner for over 10 years, I have never participated in a half or full marathon. My Mom is a runner so my sister and I grew up running alongside her. We rarely set goals, instead we ran to clear our minds and for social reasons – a great excuse to be together outside!
The time came when I started to wonder why I had never signed up for a half/full marathon. I couldn’t let my fear of not performing at a certain level keep me from even trying something I’d always thought about doing. SO, I decided to sign up for the Disney Half Marathon! After realizing this was already sold out I went for it and signed up for the FULL DISNEY MARATHON! A big jump, I know. I was already running 10 miles on my long days every week and had about 4-5 months to train so I figured there was no better time to just go for it! The full Marathon was also on my birthday so I thought of it as a sign and a great way to celebrate!
To make a long story short – I found a great training program and kept up with it for the months leading up to the marathon. Following a program turned out to be a fun way to mix things up – that is until I started having pain. It started in my knees and would work its way up to my right butt cheek. I never experienced pain like this running before and, instead of stopping immediately to address it, I would push past it and keep going (an approach I do not recommend to anyone…). It became a source of frustration for me because pain was the only thing slowing me down, not a lack of endurance. Tony convinced me to see a Sports Chiropractor who did his best to prepare me before the run while level-setting that my current situation (basically 2 minor knee injuries) would keep me from being pain-free.
By race day my knees had been resting for about 6 weeks and I was in a good head space – telling myself not to be too competitive, to have fun, and not worry about time. If I didn’t feel good, I could walk. And I was OK with that! Family had flown down to cheer me on so I had a great support group.
To make another long story short(ish): The run was rough. It was an incredibly long and lonely day. A bad cold front blew through Florida that weekend so it was 20 degrees the morning of the race, leaving little feeling in my feet and legs. Pain quickly crept back into my knees and my form fell. Meanwhile, Tony rushed around the parks all day while tracking my phone so he could meet up with me every chance he could. I could tell he was worried about me, based on my time, but I didn’t want to quit. I did my best to push through and shuffled my aching body all the way to the finish line. My family screamed for me at the finish, waving their arms and smiling. I could feel how proud of me they were. Tony met me in the prep area promptly afterwards and I collapsed in his arms and cried. I was so happy to be done but was also in an incredible amount of pain. He carried me to a quiet corner and helped me sit down and get some food in me. My Dad and sister found us and brought what I needed most – jokes. After regrouping I couldn’t even walk to the changing area to put on some warmer clothes. Tony stood me up, my Dad held up a towel, and my sister changed me in our corner of the prep area. Modesty went out the window in the face of pain and exhaustion. Afterwards we hobbled our way to the car, made it to our rental, and I collapsed on the bed until the next morning.
The next few days were spent enjoying the magic of Disney World and Universal Studios while my family wheeled me around in a wheel chair. All in all, it was a birthday weekend I will never forget.
The aftermath of the run included 2 very sore and bruised big toenails (which would eventually turn purple/black but never fall off), 2 injured knees (one of which I couldn’t fully extend for 2 months), really sore feet, and a blasted right hip flexor. I don’t want to scare anyone away from doing a half or full marathon, as these were all due to pre-existing knee injuries and the fact that my form completely fell halfway through the run.
Lessons learned from this run included:
1) Don’t over train
2) Stop running all the time and incorporate strength training to help support the distance I put on my knees!
3) Visit the Disney parks BEFORE your marathon so you don’t have to spend days walking around after you’ve worn your legs out, lol
A big thanks to everyone who sent messages of love and support. It took me awhile, but I’m finally looking forward to the next one!