This was my first experience running (walking, crawling) any half marathon and there was so much to race morning that was new to me. I was sure there would be a few things along the way that I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t expect. The most obvious experience that I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t expect during a race in Orlando, was a morning low of 36 degrees. LetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s all say brrrr, shiver, shiver, chatter, chatter, and brrrr. Humor me, and letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s say it again. . The bright point though is that at least that meant there was one thing I could be sure of: this would definitely be a Ã¢â‚¬Å“briskÃ¢â‚¬Â race, even if my pace wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t!
The second experience that caught me a bit off guard was that a race like this happens so early. I mean really early in the morning. Of course, I had heard these silly mentions about race time as my friends and I made preparations for the race, but it didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t really sink in until we all arranged our wake up calls. Can I tell you now that I have never needed (or ever wanted) a wake up call at 2:30 am. Ã¢â‚¬Å“A.M.Ã¢â‚¬Â translates into morning, by the way. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s m-o-r-n-i-n-g! Now, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve worked night shift for about 15 years and have made no bones about the fact that I am only a Ã¢â‚¬Å“morning personÃ¢â‚¬Â if IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m still up from the night before! What was I thinking.
It was becoming obvious that there was something very wrong with this picture. I was willingly getting up at 2:30 in the morning, to go stand in 36 degree weather and gusty winds for a couple hours to do what? Ah yes, the clincher is the Ã¢â‚¬Å“what!Ã¢â‚¬Â I was doing all this just so I could step over some arbitrary line near Epcot, bust my behind for 13.1 miles, then step over another line near Epcot just so I could say I did it. Just so I could say I did it? Yep, just so I could say I did it! And guess whatÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
Ã¢â‚¬Â¦I DID IT I DID IT I DID I DID IT I DID IT I DID IT I DID IT!!!!!
Okay, have I made that IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve made that point perfectly clear? Yes, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got my Donald Medal and my matching Half-Marathon T-shirt and they are currently two of my most prized possessions. Not just because it was a personal accomplishment for me, but because it was an experience I got to share with friends. Hmm. I think a list of all that I got to share with my friends is appropriate now:
I got to meet with some dear friends from the Disney internet community that I talk with nearly everyday, but only get to see in person when we meet at Disney World.
I got to surprise a few friends who didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know I was going to be able to run in the race. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m still not sure if I was more thrilled to tell them or if they were more thrilled for me to hear the news.
I got to make numerous trips to the buffet the night before the race without anyone blinking an eye. Ahhh, thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s nothing like enjoying a meal with friends who would never doubt the carbo-loading myth anymore than they would doubt that Tinker Bell flies!
I got to spend quality time in the corral at the start line huddling with my friends for warmth. Wait a second. That might not have been a benefit. If they hadnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t been there I might have branched out and asked a few strangers to keep me warm. I hear thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a great way to jump-start oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s social life!
I got to learn that one of my friends has more guts and determination than IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll ever have. Turns out he broke his foot midway during the race yet still managed to finish the raceÃ¢â‚¬Â¦even ran most of it. Yes, he must be crazy but he also has my awe and respect for what a person can do when he puts his mind to it!
And finally, I got to do the entire course with a dear friend who had some serious health obstacles that could have (should have) kept her from the race, but there she was on race day Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ trained, prepared, and ready to take on what ever lay ahead in those 13.1 miles. Despite what had to be an unbelievable amount of pain for her, we jogged, walked and dragged ourselves mile after mile then finally, together, we crossed that finish line at the exact same time! We even had her daughter on the cell phone so she could share the moment, too! Even though we finished with what may have been a Ã¢â‚¬Å“turtle timeÃ¢â‚¬Â for others, the smiles and tears on our faces at the finish will attest that, as far as we were concerned, those might as well have been Olympic Medals that were placed around our necks.
Okay, so what exactly did I learn during my first Half Marathon? Well, first, I learned that preparing for it is something you have to do for yourself and by yourself. It has to be something that you want to do because you see a benefit for yourself in the training, no matter what happens on race day. There are too many unexpected twists and turns that can happen as race day approaches or even on the day itself. So you have to be able to get most of your satisfaction from what you know you accomplished before you ever get to the start line.
But beyond that, I also learned that when you share this event with friends, it can also take on a new meaning. DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get me wrong, it wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t take the early out of 2:30 am, the chatter out of 36 degrees, the pain out of an injury, or the disappointment out of a goal not met. What it does, though, is give you someone to drag your sorry rear end out of the bed when you find out thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s also a 2:30 in the morning. It gives you someone to huddle with for warmth at the starting line or trade Ã¢â‚¬Å“How Cold Was ItÃ¢â‚¬Â stories for years to come. It gives you someone to lean on figuratively or literally if an injury gets the better of you. And most of all, it gives you someone who wants to see you succeed just as much as you doÃ¢â‚¬Â¦who will laugh louder and jump higher than you do when you make your goal Ã¢â‚¬Â¦. or cry with you and remind you how much youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve accomplished along the way if you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t.
Marathon Weekend 2006 is now just a memory, but what a memory it is. For me, the memory was made so much sweeter by sharing it with friends. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m already sure IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll do the race again in 2007, and I already know that IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll have dear friends who will share it with me again. I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t imagine it any other way. So maybe as I file away my memories of this year, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll have to recant a previous statement. I mentioned earlier that my race medal and t-shirt were now two of my most prized possessions. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not exactly true. I think itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s really the memories and friendships that these objects represent that I hold so dear. So cheers to everyone… to the friends that IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve made, to the new friends I havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t met yet, and to the friends who are there no matter what!
How about you? Did you also participate in any of the Marathon Weekend races? Are you considering participating in 2007? In contrast to my experience, do you prefer these events as more of a solitary sport? Or maybe you manage a combination of solitude and sharing along the way. Let us know, weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d love to hear more than just my thoughts on the subject (giant nod of agreement from everyone at Mouse Fan CafÃƒÂ©!)