While I’ve run over 20 half marathons, I’ve “only” run two marathons. I am here to tell you, the feeling of completing your first marathon is like nothing else in this world. It’s both horrible and amazing for me, but unlike anything else I’ve experienced, other than childbirth. I know it sounds cliche, but they truly are similar. You push through, you do this thing that not everyone in the world can or chooses to do, and when it’s over you feel amazingly joyful and proud.
I’ve got a friend who just ran her first marathon at Walt Disney World. Both of my marathons were at WDW so I’m reflecting on All The Feels I had those days.
So you know where I’m coming from, I’m not one of those runners that just LOVES to run. Gets antsy when I miss a run. Nope. My butt is totally happy on the couch and I need serious motivation to stick to a routine. Once I get out and get going, I’m fine. I’m in okay shape but I’m in the back end of my forties, so no spring chicken. I didn’t even start running until 40.
The First Marathon: Why?
It was the challenge of the marathon that called to me. That, and the fact that everyone was doing it. Seriously. A passel of my BRF’s had decided to do the marathon and I threw my lot in with them. There was no way I was doing the training and the race alone.
It sucked. I’m not gonna lie. It takes over your Saturdays when you get closer to the race. I’d go off to meet my friend Wendy to run and be gone for HOURS. And then I’d ice. And make my protein smoothie. And then shower. And then lie on the couch, alternately whining and bragging. Constantly hungry. I have a very patient and supportive husband.
During my first marathon, Wendy and I ran with our friends Kristen and Suzanne for most of the way. We played, we ran, we rode Expedition Everest. We did everything we wanted to do in that marathon, because who knew if we would ever do this again? No time goal since we really had nothing to compare it to.
The Low: ESPN’s Wide World of Sports
This area is a soul sucking, F-bomb inducing pit. The Wall is real, my friends, and it hits here. The thing about WWOS is that you are just marking miles. You are routed throughout the complex to add miles to the course but you are not actually going anywhere. It’s incredibly frustrating.
Riding Expedition Everest: This was a blast. Seriously. Where else can you ride a roller coaster during a marathon? We timed it just right – Animal Kingdom was opening to the public just as we arrived. Expedition Everest is right on the course, so we hopped in the short line, rode, and jumped back on course. Bucket list item, for sure.
Exiting Hollywood Studios: Leaving HS, I didn’t expect there to be spectators in the back parking lot. When I heard them, I was surprised. When I saw how many there were, all cheering and clapping, I was a little choked up. I was also realizing that this was it. There was one more stop, and that was the finish line. This was when I knew, with absolute certainty, that I would finish. Even if I had to walk the rest of the way, I WOULD finish. This was my slight ugly cry moment. But none of my friends noticed because I keep that business to myself.
The Setback (and the Overcome)
The previous spring, Wendy had rolled her ankle on stairs in her house. For twenty-five miles, it made do. Then it quit. She started one of our running intervals and immediately stopped, gasping, “I can’t.” So we sent Kristen and Suzanne ahead while Wendy and I walked the last mile. The above picture reflects our decision to just enjoy the rest of the course.
The marathon spirit is a real thing, y’all. Approaching the finish line, Wendy said we were going to run. I told her no, it’s okay, we don’t have to run. She informed me, somewhat fiercely, that she did not come all this way to not run across the finish line. So we ran.
Everything hurt. The bottoms of my feet hurt. But I went to the parks that afternoon because I’m here to tell you that the WORST thing you can do after running 26.2 miles is sit on your ass. You will stiffen and tighten in places you weren’t even aware could feel bad things. The Magic Kingdom was still decorated for Christmas. People were happy, medals clanking. I was showered and refreshed. This is when it can really hit you. When you bask in your own glory and think about what a badass you really are. I was so incredibly proud of myself, which was good. I certainly didn’t do all that business for someone else. If you are doing this because you think you should, or just because someone else wants you to, it’s going to suck. Just know that.
I will never regret running those marathons. It proved something to myself and I will never have to wonder “what if”. I will never say never again – I’ve already got a Goofy run (half marathon on Saturday and full marathon on Sunday) idea percolating in the back of my head. Then, I think, “I might as well do Dopey (5K, 10K, half and full over four consecutive days). What’s nine more miles?” It’s crazy runner thinking.
But that first marathon? That’s a feeling of accomplishment all it’s own and it was worth every second.
Have you run a marathon? How did you feel after your first?
Are you thinking of running a marathon? What’s holding you back?