Monday, February 25, 2013

"I can go the distance!"



I did it.

Those were the words I told myself as I crossed the finish line at the 2013 Disney Princess Half Marathon.

I did it. Speaking to myself in second person I repeated, you did it.

Let me put this into perspective...May 2012 I began the "Couch to 5k" program while I was home before my move to Tampa.  I had never been an athlete and was always discouraged and embarrassed with my abilities throughout middle and high school. That May I struggled trying to run a mile, wanted to give up and became extremely frustrated. I remember the exact playlist that I had for those runs too to help give me some motivation. My mom even took me shopping for running clothes to help me out. It was a tough, tough battle. The goal, 5k.

Fast forward to July 2012, I move to Florida in the heat of the summer for graduate school. I find out my new roommate is an avid runner and we join some local running groups. I remember struggling to finish the 5k routes and I was always towards the end of the pack having so much trouble finishing. It was discouraging, but I still would not give up.

In August I received an email from runDisney saying Disney Princess Half Marathon Registration was open. I thought to myself, "I could NEVER do that, maybe in another year". My roommate being the great encourager she is pushed me to sign up and we created a team. It was a "Here goes nothing" moment, but I knew I was going to have to work hard. Really, really hard.

Fast forward to October 2012, I finally signed up and participated in my first 5k. At that point I had never run a full 3.1 miles and did not know if I honestly could. It was the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and I had always been involved in this organization through my sorority, so I figured why not, it's a good cause. I ran this race with my friend from grad school. I remember distinctly at mile 2 saying I am going to do this and we did it. I finished my first 5k. My friend told me I was a fighter and it was those words I took with me this past weekend.

November came and full training had begun. I participated in another 5k on Thanksgiving, the Turkey Trot. After the race I had some extreme ankle pain, but I figured it was just very sore...one week later and a trip to the clinic turns out I had sprained it pretty bad. I cried to my dad on the phone because this interrupted my training plan and my lifestyle. Through my huge transition here, running is the one thing that has kept me sane, it has kept me grounded and it has given me inner peace. It has been the one thing that has given me truly "me" time and has allowed for me to process my thoughts and my days. This was a defeating moment for me, but I was not backing down.

Within three weeks I was back at it again on during the winter holiday in NJ. I did not care it was 20 degrees out or that it was a holiday or that it was icy, I had a job to do and that was to get ready for this race. And I did. I also made it my New Years Resolution to run a race every month till January 2014.

The New Year came, motivation came and I pushed through January and the rest of February the best I could. And then this weekend came. I was nervous, excited and scared. What if I had to get picked up? What if I did not finish? What if I had to walk? I was not letting any of that happen.

The morning began at 2am when we woke up to get ready for the bus. When we arrived to the pre race location, we were greeted by photographers and bright lights and a DJ. This pepped me up! There was so many people, so many things to look at and still so many nerves. We did a little pre run shake out, we stretched and we wobbled, my favorite dance. I was READY to do this. I was READY to go.

Throughout the race, channeling my inner Rapunzel, I visualized myself crossing the finish line and walking around the park with a medal. I visualized proving to myself that I am more than what I used to be. I am stronger, determined, motivated and a fighter. The beginning of the race began and I was off. I was focusing on the end and what I had to do to cross the line. Then mile 5.5 came where we began to ascend into the Magic Kingdom. With hundreds of people, young and old from different backgrounds and ethnicities cheering me on on Main Street as I ran in, I could not help but get emotional. I was REALLY doing this, I was really here. When I got under Cinderella's castle and trumpets blared for me entrance (literally!)  I thought to myself "I am so lucky and happy and fortunate to have this opportunity and to know I worked for this".

At the half way mark, Alicia Key's "Girl on Fire" came on. I could not help myself but belt it. I was on fire and I was not letting down. Then mile 8 came and the volunteers from LUNA (my favorite protein bars) were on the side cheering me on and were extremely inspirational, I needed that. I get my energy from people and they truly got me there. Mile 10 then came where an army man from "Toy Story" motivated me to keep going, although this is the hardest part of the course I pushed through, I only had 3 more to go.

Finally we began to enter Epcot and I knew the end was near. With my tutu falling apart, my hair a mess (but tiara still in tact!) I picked up my pace and headed towards the Spaceship Earth ball, while a live choir sang in the background. Workers and cast members were telling me I was almost there, no time to stop now. I saw the stands, I saw the pink finish line, I saw Minnie and Mickey and I sprinted. I sprinted through that finish line, heard my roommates cheering for me and I sobbed. I sobbed because for the first time in my life I achieved a goal that I thought was impossible. I never thought I would have this moment. I received my medal and was sprinkled with "pixie dust" by a Disney cast member.

I had the opportunity to hobble (because despite the achievements, there is pain associated with it) around the park all day with my medal on and share this special day with great friends and the 22,000 other individuals who became true princesses that day and achieved their goals. I ended the night reflecting at "Reflections" at Epcot with my roommate and just recapped how amazing of a weekend that was. We both achieved goals whether it was time goals or just finishing, we both did it.

For now I will continue to stick to my New Years commitment, ending it in January 2014 at the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. Running has helped me immensely with this big transition in my life and I am glad it is now a part of my life. Welcome to my blog, "orange" you glad you came?

xox
gfr



"If you can dream it, you can do it!"-Walt Disney





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