For the 20th Anniversary, the RunDisney folks changed the Marathon Course. On the old course, the area between miles 14 and 20 used to be a boring “out and back” on the highways between the Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. Tough Miles, so people said. This year — they sent us out from the AK to the Wide World of Sports complex for a run around the ball park out there. Um….I’m here to tell ya — they were STILL some tough miles!
Mile 17 is where you begin to enter the Wide World of Sports complex area. By now, the sun was out and being fierce. Sunglasses ON; Visor ON; Sunscreen ON; Hydration ON; Mental Strength ON! But I’ll admit, I was already hoping I had enough to get me through. It began to feel really h.a.r.d. right around here. Mile 17 was the first time I got a look at some of the gazelles in front of me. As I began the right turn swing into WWoS, they were 4 miles ahead of me – coming back out. If I could have jumped the cones and gone with them — (if only!) — cuz that’s what my heart, mind and legs really WANTED to do. But if I had…then I wouldn’t have accomplished what I set out to do. No – this “thing”, this challenge — it had 26.2 puzzle pieces to it, and I was going to have to figure out how to hold myself together, so I could put each one in its proper place. LOL, somewhere along the way, I saw a person with a sign that had the image of a pizza cut into slices — and it said we had only eaten 5 of the 8 slices. UGH. But I’m already feeling soooo full! I don’t want to eat 3 more slices! LMAO, now I know how that guy on Man vs Food feels when he’s trying to swallow down a 60 ounce steak. At some point, what tasted very good in the early hours….starts to taste bitter and resentful 4 hours in. Use your head Diane, fight back those thoughts. This is where the REAL work has to happen. Hold it together.
I just mentioned the signs. They are worth talking about some more. The spectators in the crowd were Fan-TAS-Tic! The weather brought them out in droves, and made it easy for them to be there for us. So for that — I am very grateful! During the Marathon, everybody had a job to do. We runners, well, our job was obvious. The RunDisney people — they kept us watered and fed and medically sound. The Cast Members — their jobs varied by mile by park (more on that later), but the spectators……their job was to Lift Our Spirits, to Encourage Us, and often — To Make Us Laugh! From the signs that said, “Worst Parade Ever!!” or “The zombies are doing 12s. RUN!!” — to the man who called himself the “Course Liar”, and shouted out –“The Finish Line is just ahead. They’re serving Beer at the next Table. You just finished mile 25!” (er — it’s mile 16 dude, but nice try). We appreciated the laughs. They made the miles easier to choke down. I think I ate slice #6 a little easier because of them.
Because of the heat – in addition to cups of water and Powerade, RunDisney was offering to fill up your water bottles. This was a very good thing! My decision to wear my water belt meant I had two 16 ounce bottles with me. Peter was waiting for me at the WWoS, and he swapped out my empty bottle for full ones. I was grateful for them, and grateful to see him. I used the water bottles to take my gels (just like in training), and the water I picked up in cups —I poured some of them over my head. LOL. THAT was wonderful. I let my weary mind just enjoy that each time. Taking the edge off. Taking the edge off. In any way I can. Somewhere in this 6 mile stretch, they offered food. Bananas, gels, gu. I had my own gels — so I grabbed 3 bananas. I ate 2, and stuffed the last one in my belt. I’d keep it for later. Only a quarter-mile up the road, people were pulling to the side and puking their guts out! YIKES! It shocked me. I’m looking at them thinking, “Dude….what the hell!” For a second, I worried for myself. But then I pulled it together, and realized….”No, Diane. You feel fine. Ignore them. They obviously didn’t learn to eat during training.” I sent a “Thank you Marathon Brian” out into the Universe — because you took really good care of me dude. You made sure I learned everything I needed to learn. And maybe I wasn’t the fastest gazelle on the road that day — but dammit, I WAS one of the STRONG ONES. In the middle of “The Doing”, these little things…..meant sooo much more to me than my speed. I was the Total Package. Nothing Lacking. I Had Earned My Place Out There. I Was a Marathon-Er . No ifs, ands or buts. It became r.e.a.l. for me when I saw these young fit guys lose their bananas….and I KNEW that I wouldn’t. Even in the 80 degree Florida sun. Cuz it takes ALOT more than that to make STEEL melt! 🙂
Getting serious for a moment. Marathons are an amazing thing. They say, everyone who runs one — has a story. Some thing, some one, or some reason that drove people to test their physical limits. Some runners themselves, carried their reasons on their backs. Running for loved ones with cancer….with their names written on their shirts, along with the words “No one fights cancer alone!” One runner who was missing his entire left arm and part of his shoulder. A marine who ran the entire thing carrying the Marine Flag. A fireman who ran in full fire gear. (In 80 degrees!!!) A veteran running with the American flag – the whole way. And a Dad and his daughter running together, both wearing shirts that said…..”I run….because I can…for those who can’t“.
Ahhhh. fighting back the tears again.
I’ll leave this thought with you…because it was something that I realized only on Sunday….in the middle of “the Doing”. Runners are not motivated by vanity. It’s not about being faster than the person next to you, or the person behind you. Ohhh, I get it. The TV focusses on who comes in 1st. Believe me, I get it. I thought 15,000 of those runners on Sunday were there just to kick my butt! But I was wrong. Completely wrong. What I’m saying is this — what you see on TV, and what is happening out there on the pavement — are two totally different things. Runners are running with their hearts. For their Moms with breast cancer. For their babies who died of leukemia. For their lives — because they lost 80 pounds, and need to lose 45 more to be healthy and LIVE (me!)
Runners are running for very R.E.A.L. reasons. Because when mile 20 comes…..if your reason isn’t R.E.A.L……then good luck finding what it’s going to take to eat the next 6.2. Vanity won’t get you there. Just sayin’.
Ciao for now…..Diane