It's the day after, and I'm not comatose, so I'm excited. I don't even know where to start with sharing the fun and drama of the day. I could make it sound so glorious but parts of it were brutal.
First, I must tell you that the support of my coaches and mentors is outstanding. We attended an Inspirational Dinner on Friday night, and it was moving. Team in Training in support of Leukemia & Lymphoma Society rocks!
On Saturday morning, I went out in the bad weather to see the half marathoners finish up the race. I was around 12.2'ish, and I got to cheer my teammates and the general running population along. They trudged through hours of rain/sleet/flurries. It was so cold and so gross for Florida, but they prevailed.
The afternoon was spent with my parents at the big expo and visiting. We got dinner at Olive Garden (along with masses of people). My roomy Andy and I did a test run of our clothing...so many layers.
Sunday morning started at 2:30am with oatmeal, tattooing my face with TNT, and getting dressed in the many layers. The team met in the lobby for some last minute chatting, then we rode the bus to EPCOT. SOOOOOO cold. I wore an attractive trashbag over me, which lasted until mile 4 (i think). We huddled together for a bit before heading to the port-o-potties for a last stop then into the corrals we went. I was the only one assigned to the last corral :( so Coach Roberto stayed with me until 50 feet after the start. It took forever for the 20'something people to go...only 16883 approx finished due to time or injury.
I will pre-advise you that some of the locations (mileage, etc) is somewhat a blur. I don't remember where some of the stuff happened, but I did my best to give closeness.
I can't say how cold it was. Even when the sun rose, the wind cut right through. As the ran progressed, I slowly stripped off items. I went from three pairs of pants to one - removed the grey sweatpants and the borrowed grey yoga pants. I had 4 layers on top and never removed any of them. I did get rid of gloves and scarf as well. So cold!
I would like to mention again how cold it was. Some people move faster, some slower. I got slower. Don't know if it was the layers or what. I had a hard time regulating my temperature-either too warm or too cold. Even at mile 16, I still couldn't balance it. It was a real struggle for me, but I finished.
Early on, I faced challenges with making time. Bathroom break at 3 or what, I was slower. I could see the sweepers and the vans just behind me at mile 5. It made me so anxious that my stomach hurt. I met Matilda from Sarasota around mile 7 who stayed with me until mile 11 when I started cramping up. She was an older individual completing her 1st marathon (done 3 half's already), and she had a Garmin so we kept time together for awhile.
My Cheer Squad of parents and a couple close friends met me at Mile 9 around the TTC with signs and excitement. They said I looked stressed at that time, but my dad ran with me for about 30 feet and tried to pump me up. I did the eventful run through the castle, so I hope the photographers got a couple good photos.
There were DJs and entertainers along the way. Cheerleaders from high schools and lots of characters. They even had Captain Jack with pirates in front of the pirate ship float...no time for pictures though. There was a comedian-type out there saying that later in the day I could ask my friend what they did, and they'd probably say "did some laundry, ran a couple errands" to which I could reply "Really? I did a marathon!" I wish I could've done some photos, as I got a new camera for that purpose, but my time prevented me from slow periods. I mean, they even had goats at Animal Kingdom.
Those damn sweepers were on my butt for a good bit of time. I kept cramping with some leg pain and more painful was my lower back. I stopped a few times and stretched it out.
Mile 12.7 presented the Cheer Squad again with a great sign that apparently was a big crowd pleaser "Focus on the Finish Line, Leave the Pain Behind". They looked so cold, but they kept smiling.
I followed behind some TNT coaches and participants at different times, just trying to keep momentum. I saw some behind the scenes, like the water treatment facility (oooo).
I had a great surprise at mile 18 when my Cheer Squad appeared. My dad really wanted to run with me for a few miles, but the cop was right there so that didn't happen. They caught a bus instead to race themselves to the finish.
Just after mile 20, those damn sweepers came along again and stated that they were doing a hard sweep at 21. I started moving. I ran with a coach and participant from South Florida (the coach was great that she came up to me after the race and said that she had lost sight of me later on and was glad to see that I finished). Just after 21, Coach/Mentor Tom found me. The coaches had been worried that they couldn't reach me, as I didn't hear my phone.
The next 5 miles felt like hell. I had to use the facilities, but there wasn't much time. Tom coached me every bit of the way, making sure I was keeping form and keeping pace. The sweepers came by again and stated there was the final sweep at 23.5. I heard later they pulled 80 people at Mile 21. Tom got me jogging, and my legs didn't want to move. I kept coughing (b/c of the cold weather), but every cough brought shooting pain in my lower back...wtf.
The whole Hollywood Studios tour was a blur because the 23.5 mark was just outside the park. We moved and moved and didn't stop. Of course we made it past, but we kept a good pace in order to make it inside EPCOT. I did get a Twizzler from a TNT person along the way.
I should state that there were TNT supporters throughout the race, though they did appear more after the 16 mile mark. My singlet was under my sweatshirt, so most didn't know I was TNT except for the tattoo on my cheek. They had cowbells and noisemakers, and they really made me smile.
Tom and I met up with Coach Roberto just before 25 (I think). I asked if I was allowed to use the bathroom in Germany, since I had to go a bit more by then. Tom told me "no". I could use one once I finished the race, but we weren't delaying. They were both coaching me, ensuring I was breathing and not too tense.
Side bar: if you ever volunteer or cheer people on in an event, please do not say "you're almost there". I heard that for 2 miles. I know it's with good intention, but I just wanted to hit so many people.
After 26 right before I got into the park to finish up the final mileage, Coach Jen & Coach Janice were waiting for me. Janice hugged me and walked me to the 26.1 mark. She kept telling me not to cry, but they were saying how proud they were. They sent me off to finish the race with the Fab 4 waiting for me.
The photos show that I was smiling. I did feel that exhilaration as I crossed the chip timer. It was cool too because the announcer said my name just after I crossed. I met up with a friend at the medals who was volunteering, and he got to give me my medal. I then picked up every bit of food/drink I could find, and I was even given a Marathon bag to keep it all in.
I headed straight to the TNT tent, where I was met by 2 other friends who hugged me like crazy. They were so excited, and so was I. There are some photos of me looking a bit rough, but in shock still I think. I quickly grabbed a pb&j and said thanks to my coaches. I saw later in photos that they had walked just behind all the way to the finish line (they were with me all the way).
Eventually my parents, 2 cheer squad friends, and 2 more friends appeared. Hugs all around, and it was like paparazzi because they all started taking photos. I got some good shots with the medal, friends, family, and even showing off my singlet honoring others.
By the time it was time to leave, it 1:30'ish, and I could barely walk. My back, my legs, my feet. I didn't mention before but I had had issues with one of my toes, and during the end of the race, it was surging with pain. So I had to make it across the parking lot at a snail's pace because I couldn't walk.
We headed back to my hotel room, and then I decided to come home a day early. My mom ended up driving me home, where I lay for hours on the couch. I did get up and around, so I wasn't stiff, but damn. I took a hot bath (didn't have joint swelling) and got all cleaned up. I didn't wear sunscreen (oops), so I have a nice white patch on my forehead that my headband covered...sexy.
I'm sure I've forgotten a funny story or two, but that was the day. I finished...I have a medal. I couldn't have done it without the support of my team and family/friends. Not only emotional but financial...I raised over $2200 for LLS. I was told that it was 5.3 million raised just from all the teams that participated in this event. Incredible.
Now it's time for a nap. You probably need one too after reading this. Thanks for following along in my adventure!