Updated: Nov 11, 2019
"I'll Never Be a Runner"
In middle school gym class we were always required to run the half mile test and I remembered DREADING it. I would build up my anxiety all day until it was time and whine throughout the entire experience. I hated running. I didn't understand why anyone would put themselves through that torture.
Simultaneously, I have vivid memories from my childhood of my Dad running. He would put me in the jogging stroller as a kid and we would run around our neighborhood. Sometimes with his friends, sometimes alone. He was part of a running club in our area and would also volunteer at races. My siblings and I would tag along some times and help hand out water to runners on the course.
But still, I hated running. Many times I have said "I'll never be a runner" or even, "I can't run".
"But It'll Be Easy"
You may remember in April of 2018 I published a blog post about how I had decided I was going to run a half marathon (I laugh now as I read back through that post). In the beginning of 2018, I had come across a Buzzfeed article about the runDisney Princess Half Marathon, something that as a proclaimed Disney-fan I had surprisingly never heard of. I instantly became intrigued. The author made this race sound like a fun experience that everyone (including non-runners) would enjoy. So in the midst of planning a wedding and being swamped at work I thought "I'll just start training and run this in 2019, it'll be fun".
Spoiler alert: It didn't happen.
I thought it was going to be easy. The very first week of the training plan I found online had me running 3 miles three times that week. "I can run 3 miles no problem". Turns out, I couldn't run 3 miles at all. So instead of trying to work through it and build up my endurance, I gave up. I was bogged down by the stress of planning a wedding that I couldn't motivate myself to try and accomplish this strange running goal.
Fast forward to January of 2018. I was hanging out with Peter and some of his friends and we somehow ended up on the topic of running. In this conversation Peter had mentioned how I had once tried running, even went and bought shoes, but gave up. And after that the fire inside me started burning.
I got angry with myself. I had spent time and money on this goal to only give up. I had gone about trying to run the entirely wrong way. So what if, I trained properly and did my research? Would I actually be able to run 13.1 miles?
So I started training again but this time a bit differently. I started out by run-walking. I was embarrassed. I was unable to even run a mile without stopping. But I persisted. I kept run-walking, changing my time intervals until one day I realized I could run 3 miles without walking.
As I was building up my endurance, I started doing more "running research". Listening to running podcasts (I'll share my favorites below), reading books on running and trying to retain as much information as I could. I started to become not only obsessed with running but with the running culture as well. But in my head I still was not a runner.
runDisney Wine & Dine
So of course during all this time training I had the idea that I would just want to run one runDisney race to say I did it and then I could move on. As I mentioned, my original goal was to run the runDisney Princess Half Marathon. But after talking with my parents and Peter, we thought it would be fun to do the runDisney Half Marathon that takes place during the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival in November. We would make it into a whole trip. My mom who has been a treadmill runner for years also decided that she would run the race too. So in March, I officially registered for my first Half Marathon.
I was nervous that I wouldn't be able to do it. At that point, I was barely running. How could I run 13.1 miles in just 8 months? But at that point there was no going back. At that time I set a goal for myself, to finish in 2 hours and 30 mins.
The Summer of Running
I spent the entire summer running and cross-training and lifting. I was focused on my nutrition. I was listening to every podcast under the sun related to running, reading every book I could get my hands on about running and becoming fully obsessed with running.
I could now run almost 10 miles without stopping and I actually liked it. Running quickly became my therapy. When I was running, I wasn't thinking about anything else. I was focused on my feet hitting the ground. I would look forward to my runs most days. Of course, there were days I didn't want to run but I never regretted a run.
I remember at one point during the summer I was talking to Peter about running in general and I said something along the lines of "Well at my next race..." to which he responded "I thought you were only going to do this race and then be done". In that moment I realized that running had become something much bigger to me. I wouldn't be even close to being done once I crossed that finish lines. I had goals now, big ones.
Fast forward a few months and miles later, our trip was finally here. All of the training and preparation was leading up to this weekend. There are so many things I could share about our trip and our experience but I will try to keep this short as I know this blog post is already so long!
We arrived in Disney World late Thursday night and the race would be EARLY Sunday Morning. We spent all day Friday walking around Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.
Saturday we headed over to the ESPN Center to pick up our bibs and t shirts.
I wanted to keep it chill on Saturday as to not tire our legs out too much. Plus we would have to wake up at 2:45 am the next morning. We spent the rest of Saturday walking around Disney Springs and hanging out by our hotel pool.
When Sunday morning arrived I wasn't the least bit tired, I was excited. We got up, ate some breakfast, got ready and went over to the starting area.
In true Disney fashion, there was a lot of waiting. Since neither my mom or I had run a race previously, we were in one of the later corrals (or groups) to start the race.
Right at 6:00 am, we started our runDisney Half Marathon. The wine and dine course starts in the Magic Kingdom Parking Lot goes through Animal Kingdom, along lots of highway to dip through Hollywood Studios then over to Epcot through the World Showcase and ending in the Epcot Parking Lot.
How It Went
Leading up to the race I had a few long training runs that were 13 or 14 miles. I shared that originally my goal was to run the race under 2 hours and 30 minutes. In the midst of my training I realized that was more than possible. My goal constantly changed.
From 2:30 it went to 2:16 then 2:05.
My last long training run that I completed on my own, I had run the half marathon distance in 1:58. A 9 min pace. I was in tears. I went from not being able to run a mile to running 13 miles in under 2 hours.
Going into race day I didn't want to hold myself to this sub-2 hour standard too hard. I knew that the runDisney races were not meant for fast runners. I knew that we would be doing a lot of walking in the days leading up. I knew that being in a later corral meant that we would be surrounded by runners slower than us.
I ultimately finished the runDisney Wine and Dine Half Marathon in 2:04:28. I was not disappointed.
Would You Run It Again?
While I had a great time running the Wine and Dine Half Marathon, I won't be doing another runDisney race again. They are definitely fun races meant for Disney fanatics. They have characters scattered along the course, Disney music playing and other exciting elements. But they are not geared as much towards serious runners.
When I first decided to do a runDisney race it was for fun. But during my training my goals shifted. I wanted to run my best time possible but this wasn't the race to do it.
The first three miles I spent dodging walkers. I was constantly bobbing and weaving around others. No one kept to one side of the course and there were many run-walkers that would just stop in front of you. I understand that this was more prominent for me because of my later corral position but it was still frustrating.
What I also realized a few miles into the race was that we had done way too much walking during the past two days and my legs were TIRED. I could feel it but I knew I had to push on.
Was it my best run? No. But it was still fun and I was still so proud of my time and how far I have come.
As I said, I'm definitely not done with running. I think that with my current time it puts me at a great spot to be able to smash my goals.
In April I will be running the Sole of the City 10K in Baltimore hosted by Charm City Run. I've heard so many great things about this race and can't wait to take it on.
I'm also planning to run a spring half marathon, possibly the Shape Women's Half Marathon in NYC or the Fredrick, MD Half Marathon.
After that I plan to run a fall half marathon.
Will you ever run a Full Marathon?
Yes! I'm very intrigued by the marathon and my goal right now is to possibly run the Chicago Marathon in 2021.
Favorite Running Podcasts?
Ali on the Run
I'll Have Another
Favorite Running Books?
26 Marathons: What I've Learned About Faith, Identity, Running and Life From Each Marathon I've Run by Meb Keflezighi
Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory by Deena Kastor
Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall
And so that's it in a nutshell. If you've read this far, kudos and thank you! Let me know if you guys want to see more running content from me. It's become such an integral part of my life and I want to keep sharing. Also send me any running questions or advice!