3:05 in the morning. That was when the alarm went off on Saturday morning. And, yes, it was set that early on purpose. Perhaps because Justin and I had lost our minds. Actually, I’m sure that’s what it was. We were running the Disney World Half Marathon.
That was actually the entire reason we were at Disney World; Justin had promised his mom that he would run again for her. And, after all that had gone on, how could he not run? How could we not run? And so, despite our lack of training, sleep, and anything resembling energy, we were on a bus to Epcot to run 13.1 miles. In matching shirts I had made. Pink, for Augusta. Justin’s says, “I love you, Mom” on the back. Mine says, “This one is for Grandmama”. She would have loved them.
Disney knows how to throw a race; I’ve never seen anything like it. Eight corrals of people. 27,000 of our closest friends. Fireworks in the middle of the night. OK, OK. Fireworks at 5:30 in the morning. Might as well have been the middle of the night. Each corral got it’s own firework start, which was pretty fabulous.
All of a sudden, we were off and there was no turning back. Only 13.1 miles between us and relative rest (there was a two-year-old resting up at the hotel with an overpaid babysitter just waiting for us to show him more fun). This race was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. High school marching bands and cheerleaders were scattered throughout the course, playing and cheering us on. There was a tethered hot air balloon. Disney characters every mile or so. Oh, and the two parks.
The race started just outside of Epcot and ran all the way to the Magic Kingdom. And I do mean all. the. way. Just because you see signs that say “Magic Kingdom, Left Lane” does not mean you are close. They took us the long way – through the main parking gates, through two or three miles of parking lots. And then, finally, we were there. Running down Main Street.
And through Tomorrowland – Buzz posing for pictures right next to us. Around Fantasyland. Through the castle. Down a lovely street filled with the aroma of freshly baked cinnamon rolls. And then back onto the main street again.
It was fun until Mile 8. And then, all of a sudden, the race was horrible. Mile 9 should have brought some relief. The gel from the Clif Bar stop at 8.6 miles should have kicked in, but all I could think was that I still had four freaking miles left to run. But I held it together pretty well until Mile 10 when Justin kindly said, “Well, we just have a 5K left. That’s all.” I wanted to punch him. Instead, I posed for a picture.
Somehow, by the grace of God, Justin and I managed to cross the finish line. We were slow, but we ran almost the whole thing (probably 12.8 miles) and finished without major injury. And I know how thrilled Augusta would have been to watch us cross that finish line, hands raised over our heads.