Sunday, January 15, 2012

26.2 Miles later: Disney Marathon complete

Hi everyone! I’m sorry this blog post took so long. I had a week from hell at work and I’m FINALLY getting a chance to type while I’m not at work or passed out from pure exhaustion. I’m sure this will be a long post, so I am sorry in advance. It was a long journey, 26 plus miles and six hours later. woof.

My Mom and I got to Disney late Friday night so by the time we got abroad on the Magical Express Bus, checked in to the hotel, walked to the All-Star Sports resort tennis section, drug ourselves up flight up steps and got situated it was after midnight.

on the airport monorail

Saturday morning we kicked things off my heading to the ESPN Wide World of Sports where we all went to the race expo. There we checked in, got our bib number and our goody bag which had an awesome long sleeve tech shirt for the marathon.  The expo was filled with vendors selling everything from headbands, tshirts, ear phones, sandals, foam rollers, you name it!!! From the run Disney section i bought a tshirt that says “I Did It, 26.2” as well as this awesome head band that says Disney Marathon on it. I also but three hilarious headsbands from this lady based out of Vermont. They say: “I run for chocolate” “In my dreams, I am a Kenyan” and “Suck it up Cupcake.” Love them all, cant wait to wear them!!! Ill be honest, I was a bit hesitant on buying the “I Did It” t-shirt because what if I didn’t complete the marathon? I wouldnt be able to stomach wearing that, it would be a lie. Luckily that is not an issue :)

new headband I bought

perfect photo opp

inside the expo

LETS GO 6223!!!!

Green screen photo opp we couldnt resist! hahahahaha

After spending too much money we were off to Epcot, a lot more fun than what I remember when I was 8 years old. It was very interesting, lots of fun, interactive games/rides. The entire time I was completely envious of my cousin Tyler as he sipped on beer from Germany, England, and more from Germany. We ended the night in Italy with an amazing Italian dinner. It was a perfect pre-game/race meal.

Italy in Epcot

Venice, Italy circa 2009

The night before race night I slept terrible. My alarm was set to get up at 2:50 a.m. I woke up before the alarm and I was watching the midnight news and giggled in bed as the weather man said “Its going to be a beautiful day for the marathoners tomorrow, but i’m sure none of you are hearing this right now because you should be asleep.” Sadly, I was not.

Sunday came. Race day. The day I’ve waited 38 weeks to get to. Was my training enough? Was I mentally prepared? Was I hydrated? Today would be the tell all. Like I was I was up before 3 a.m., sneaking around in the hotel room with the lights off as my mom and friend, Kristian, stay lie asleep. I put on my gear, supplied my running belt with essentials (energy jelly beans, sunglasses, bandaids) and proudly put my race day headband on (my american flag bandanna.) I met Jackie, Hans and Jackie’s friend Becky in the hotel cafe where I tried to attempt to eat breakfast. I choked down MAYBE 3/4 of a half of a bagel with peanut butter. My nervous were getting too me, hunger was not there. We jumped on the bus from the hotel to the race sight at 3:30 a.m. We headed over to Ecopt where a sea of people walked into the starting area.

Thousands of people gathered in the starting area. You dropped off checked bags, the amount of porta potties and the lines for them were insane. Like a group of sheep, we were herded into lines where we walked a 20 minute hike to the start line. We often were pushed to the side as wheel chair participants passed us on our leftside as they were the first group to start at 5:30 a.m. As we approached the starting line I said goodbye to my cousin and Hans. I was in an earlier corral then they were, being in the 5th group to take off, they were the 8th. I had the option of starting later with them because you can always move back not forward, but i mentally was psyching myself out, thinking I wouldnt make it in time. I gave my cousin a hug and a kiss, and wished her good luck as we both were ready to tackle a huge battle.

Before I knew it my group was inching up to the starting and Minnie said “3-2-1” then a boom of fireworks started us. We headed towards Epcot where about 2 miles in I saw our cheer squad (my mom, aunt, cousin and kristan.) It was dark out and they didnt see me, but I spotted them, making them always be on my left side i just stayed on that side during the run. We ran through Epcot and before I knew it we were off onto the highway for the next 6 miles. My spirits were still high, feeling good, keeping a steady pace.

everyone before the start

Fireworks to start things off!! Fire works shot off at every start (there were 8)

picture of Epcot while I ran through at 6 a.m.

Our next destination was Magic Kingdom where I knew I would see our cheer squad. With a quick stop to the bathroom, I was entering the Magic Kingdom. As we ran down part of Main Street I ran past a guy that had a super fancy sign that said “GO AMANDA.” He saw my name written on my shirt and starting screening GO AMANDA!!! It completely made my moment, I saw in later during the race and he cheered proudly like he was my dad. He gave me energy. We ran down Main Street, ran past Space Mountain, along the entire course every mile were Disney characters that you could stop and get your photo with. There were lots I would have liked to see but I knew I would be pressing on time.

We approached the castle, a part every blog I have read said is the greatest part. We ran through the big gates, looking down on a sea of spectators, I knew my mom and Kristian were down there. They  had a photographer set up down front, I def stopped for a photo. Right after I heard a cowbell and saw the cheer squad. Feeling great at the half way point I pressed on, feeling good.

Pic by my mom infront of the castle in Magic Kingdom

love you all

running past Space Mountain at about mile 8

For a bit I tagged along with a 5 hour 30 min passing group but the roads started to get tight and it was hard to keep with the pack bc people were walking and stopping completely. We next went into animal kingdom where they had lots of african music and good beats. It was mostly downhill as well which was a bonus. After Animal Kingdom it was the dreadful highway section again. This stretch of highway felt like forever and my body was starting to hurt. By mile 18 I was struggling; I knew I could keep running - so I swtiched to a run/walk method. There was an old couple by me I ran behind as their watches were already set to beep when to run and when to walk. They however, kicked my ass and I could keep up. I remember hitting mile 20.5 were we had a little turn around point. We ran side by side with other runners, i looked desperately for Jackie, but she was no where to be found.

At mile 23 this guy next to me looked over at me and asked “Are we almost done?” I think my response was “Only 3 more miles, yet it feels like forever.” Throughout the 26 miles there were medic stations, people were laying on beds, getting blisters wrapped, streching, grabbing biofreeze and vasoline by the handful. I should have grabbed biofreeze 17 miles earlier (I know now for next time.)

The run through Hollywood Studios was great. The spectators were great there, gave me a pick of a kick I needed. We ran down the Boardwalk, heading into Epcot where people staying at resorts were outside cheering us on. I remember asking one guy “hey, hows that beer?!” he said “Great, youll have one soon, just run faster!”

Putting “Amanda” on my tshirt was the smartest idea and thank god my friend Kristian told me to do it. SOOOOO many strangers cheered me on and I can not thank them enough for PERSONALLY speaking to me, looking at me eye to eye, saying “Come on Amanda, you can do it” “Hey amanda, you’re looking great! keep it up” Put me in tears a few times.

Mile 26 approached (OMG I am going to be doing it!!!) There was a huge choir there singing motivational songs. I knew right around the bend was the home stretch. Around the curve and there it was, the gates to the finish. People were so loud, cheering non stop. All of a sudden I heard our cheer sqaud, this time with the addition of Caroline and her husband Ryan. I waved, huge smile on my face. I looked up and there was the finish line.

the lady in the bottom right corner looks like she is throwing up!! to the right was the chorus!

seeing my family at the finish line!!!!

Jackie during the race!

Funniest moment of the race: As i was a few feet from the finish line the crowd in the bleachers rose to their feet, the loudest cheers. OMG all these people cheering for ME?!?!? Then all of a sudden over the loud speaker they announced “And here comes our women’s wheelchair finishers!!!” hahaha MAJOR SALT! But hey, I like to think they were cheering for me. I crossed the finish line a little over 6 hours, not the time I wanted, but I finished which is the goal for many individuals first marathon. I ehld my hands in victory and completely broke out in tears once I crossed. Standing in front of me was a nice gentleman who looked at me and said “Congratulations Amanda, you’re a marathoner!”  


AHHHHHH!!!!!!! My first pic after crossing the finish line

Caroline, myself and Kristian. So glad my PA girls now live in Florida :)

love you Marmee!

Jan. 8, 2012 will be a day I will remember for the rest of my life. It was a journey I couldnt do alone and I thank everyone who was a part of it with me. I am so proud of my cousin and all she accomplished as well. I am def ready for another marathon, this time taking what I learned from my mistakes to make me be the best athlete I can be!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Thank you everyone: Disney in 2 days

Well, I must admit – I have been an AWFUL blogger for the past two months, not writing an entry in well over two months, but with two days until the big race, I feel it is appropriate I write something for what I am sure will be the most difficult task I will ever endure in my life.

This entire journey was a bit of a whirlwind, something I always had on my “bucket list” which became a reality when my cousin Jackie and I said we were seriously going to do this. I signed up for the marathon on my 24th birthday, giving myself a challenge – a way to push myself limits and strides I have never gone before.
Has this journey been easy? No. Could I have pushed myself more and trained harder? Yes. But more than anything, I am doing this. I am really doing it. Whether I am running the whole time or stopping to walk periodically (which I wish I did not have to do but I am human), the support I have gotten from family, friends, co-workers and Twitter followers has been overwhelming.
I told someone at work yesterday what my goal time was to finish the race and all they said to me was “who care about a stupid time, you doing this and finishing at whatever time is a huge accomplishment. I could never do it. I’m proud of you.”
I’ve looked at this entire race as a pressured challenged, hoping to crush it as best as I can. But hearing that people are proud of me, love me and are cheering for me no matter how slow or fast I go has made this journey so worth it.
The past few days I have been completely mental – I’ve been super emotional about the race, thinking about how I will feel during and after. And I’ve been mentally psyching myself out a bit thinking my legs are hurting just walking around during the day when I know they are fine.
I won’t say much more but I would like to sign off by saying thank you. Thank you to everyone who has asked how training is going, who has gone on runs with me, who has sent me wishes and good lucks and for all that have believed/do believe in me.
 I will not let any of you down, I promise!
Special thanks go out to my family – especially my mom who will be accompanying me on this journey (I love you) and PARTICULARLY to my cousin Jackie who will be running with me this weekend. I am so excited for us to go on this journey together, something that will live with us for the rest of our lives. I am so proud of you and everything you have accomplished. Side by side, step by step we will be crossing that finish line together with tears of happiness and accomplishment. I love you.
Big thank you to Caroline Brown Bergh and Kristian Johnson who will be in Disney with my mom cheering me on. You are the greatest friends in the world!! xoxox
I’ll be sure to post after the race is over!!! See you soon Mickey!