Thursday, February 27, 2014

Disney Princess Weekend, Princess Half Marathon - February 23, 2014

This is post 2 of my recap from Disney's Glass Slipper Challenge of a 10K on day 1 and a half marathon on day 2. Part one can be found here.

I've got to say, this was a tough race, and I wasn't feeling it from the moment that we returned to the hotel room after the 10 K the previous day. I was in a funk. My foot was bothering me, and the humidity from the day before had really gotten to me. I think I had also overdosed on my albuterol during the race which also can lead to a lot of self-loathing. I had been texting with my friend Julia the night before the race, telling her that I wasn't feeling it... and was actually considering not going to the startline the following day.

But of course, I set my alarm anyway, and that 2am wakeup call came, and I was wide awake and ready to give it the good-ole-college-try. I had hoped that if I repeatedly told myself I was going to be ok, and I was going to have a good time... that I actually might start manifesting that as reality. But the minute my feet touched the floor, I knew that there may be trouble brewing. That pesky heel pain was back, though at a very dull achiness, but this was certainly not a good sign. I got myself ready, had a good cry, then woke the other girls up to begin the day.

We arrived at the start line very early, and were all so exhausted that we cat-napped in the car for a little bit. I had made plans to meet up with some people before the race, but we wound up blowing them off to steal the extra relaxation time. Brina and I were in a higher corral than Kelly and Michelle, but Brina really wanted to share the race experience with them, so she moved back. I was concerned that with the foot pain I was already having, I might lose my pace and run the risk of being swept, So I split off from them and headed to my corral alone. I still wasn't feeling it and was considering getting out of the corral altogether, but then I ran into someone I knew in passing from facebook who was running her first half marathon, so I stayed in the corral. I have to say, that I really liked Disney's new corralling system where the corrals are smaller and the gap between them is only 2 minutes... it made the start line process much more bearable, and soon it was our turn for our send off. Unlike the day before where the runners in my corral moseyed through the start at a snails pace causing an intense bottleneck, during the half, there was running from the start, and I had a little more room to maneuver.

Like most halves where I start the race with a few minutes of running before breaking into my run/walk/run intervals, I got 5 full minutes of running in straight out of the gate. I'm used to having some arch pain during my first long run period, but this day was different. Every time my right foot hit the ground, I got not only the shooting pain up through the trigger point in my heel, as well as a sharp pain in the outside of my ankle.

That ankle pain was ultimately the pain that brought me to the doctor last summer because over the course of a run, it had me worrying that I had fractured a bone in my ankle. It turned out not to be broken, and was instead swelling inside one of the bones in my ankle, but was left inappropriately treated for months and we only found out what was wrong with it this past December when I found a new podiatrist/orthopedic surgeon. But I digress. What you need to know here is that the pain I hadn't felt in this intensity for over 5 months was back with a vengeance. Normally the pains that I feel when starting out on a run will subside by the time I hit 10 minutes into a run, but these pains weren't subsiding... and in fact were getting worse the further I went.

At that point, I REALLY wasnt feeling the race. The self-loathing began in earnest. Crowds have a tendency to make me angry, so being in a field of 30,000 racers wasn't making this experience any easier. And on top of this, the fog wasn't lifting (fog also makes me nervous, I can't explain it, so please don't judge), it was really hot, and the humidity was hovering somewhere around 96-98%. This was NOT fun, and I soon made the informed decision to slow myself down to a walking pace. Even walking, I was passing people left and right and getting stuck behind large groups of women who were walking 6 and 7 abreast at a slower clip than I was... again, increasing my frustrations. I tried to put on some soothing music to calm my nerves, and that worked for the most part, at least until I got to the parts of the course where there were extreme bottlenecks, where we had to take the cloverleaf interchanges. These stretches of road do vile things to my feet and ankles because of the extreme camber. But I kept going.

I had hoped to get in some character stops, but every time I passed one, the lines were ridiculously long. Because my pace was already so slow, I didn't want to lose any more precious minutes of the race and add to my risk being swept. I did stop in Magic Kingdom to wait in line for a photo in the alcove in front of the castle, but that ate up at least 5 minutes... and left me feeling more anxious.

Not anxious enough to not stop and make a pressed penny later in the park or take a picture of myself in the stockades near the Haunted Mansion, though. I also stopped to take picture of me pulling the sword out of the stone, but I accidentally jumped the very short line here, and felt awful about it for the rest of the race. Oops. Sorry.

The rest of my time out there passed in a flurry. I kept moving. One painful step in front of another. Zoning out. I was emotional and wanted to cry. I found myself asking why I do this at all. I was sad and hurting physically and mentally. By mile 9, it was taking every fiber of my being to keep going because I just didn't care anymore. Only twice have I ever thought about taking a DNF at a race... once last year at my terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad race at Singer Island which was brutally hot, and once at the brutally cold race in Albion, Montana.... but this would be number 3. And this time, the desire to just give up was worse than those two events. This time I found myself saying that after this race not only would I be done with running Disney, but I would probably be done with running altogether. I found myself realizing that this wasn't fun. And if I'm not having fun, why even bother?

I told myself I could revisit the idea of quitting in another half mile, and kept going. Somehow a half mile later, when still questioning quitting, I gave myself another half mile. and from there, it was half mile to half mile. I could make the decision later. And somehow I found myself rounding the corner and seeing my favorite sight ever.

The gospel choir.

There is something to be said about that gospel choir. During my first half marathon, I saw that gospel choir. Being Jewish, I am not sure that I believe in the idea of heaven the way that many Americans do... but seeing that choir was the closest thing to heaven I had ever felt.... and during this race, it was no different. I knew that the finish was right around the corner, but these singers took away much of the self-hatred that I had been simmering in for the previous 13 miles. If asked, I'd probably tell people that my absolute favorite part of the Disney race experience is this choir, and that experiencing the crowds and bottlenecking on the course is ALL worth seeing and hearing this choir. It gave me the strength that I needed to push myself forward through the finishline.

And hug Mickey Mouse when I got there.

Net- 3:51:51
Pace 17:42/mile

Definitely not the greatest, but even with all the stops for photos on the course, also not the worst.

Half #19 done!

Now to get that swelling under control before deciding whether I will participate in half #20.


  1. Disney's huge crowds are definitely a deterrant for me. I'd advise you to take a break from racing. Run for fun, run without a watch, run on feeling alone without an interval timer. Maybe even try trail running or different scenery. Cross train and figure out how to heal. Running should be fun, try to find what made you love it in the first place and start there. Good luck!

  2. Great job on sticking in there! I didn't really have too many issues with the crowd, but I'm pretty sure I was in the ZONE because I missed out on a lot of the sites that I have seen other people take photos with. OOPS! I hope you get everything all figured out and under control -- injury wise-- so that you don't have to miss out on any running!

    1. thank you rachel. I can't imagine being so in the zone at disney as to have missed seeing the character stop lines and the crowding. go you for being able to get to that place.

  3. There's nothing wrong with taking an extended break to let overuse injuries heal. Try something like spinning classes or other forms of workouts. I know it can be hard to step away, but sometimes you just have to for your own good. Congratulations on finishing!

    1. that's a great idea. I'm actually doing some zumba classes at my gym.

  4. WTG Amy! I had a very very very painful race as well and what made it so hard was that no one else seemed to be in the pain I was in. I was angry for a while that I couldn't just have fun like everyone else. I'm sorry you were in pain too, it comforts me a bit though.

    1. I was looking at your photos of the race Karen, and realizing that you didn't LOOK like you were that in pain either. I think a lot of us have just been able to turn on the game face (of happiness) while doing these races. In my photos, I don't look like it was that bad either.