(Before I finish out the blog posts on my experience with the Dopey Challenge/WDW Marathon weekend, I asked Rachel to share about her experience during the marathon. While her marathon wasn’t what she expected it to be, I am so amazingly proud of her. She is a rock star marathoner!)
Allen asked me to write the blog post about the marathon portion of the Dopey Challenge, as it was quite an interesting and unique experience for me – and one that I won’t soon forget.
“You are not a failure.”
Many people, over the next several days after running my first marathon, would tell me this. I think I’m still having trouble believing them.
Let me preface this summary by stating that I did not have a positive experience. I don’t think it was related to the time, place, or actual race, but something else…something on a totally personal level.
One of the annoying things about my body is that I have a nervous stomach. So leading up to the race, that was my number one concern – that I would have an upset stomach during the race. Fortunately, during the night before and even upon waking up that morning, I felt fine – calm, relaxed, and at peace about the race. That is, until it actually started. For some reason, waiting in the corral for our turn to begin was excruciating! I started the race in bad fashion – and that’s without even mentioning the upper-60-degree weather and 100% humidity I had to contend with.
Shortly after the race began (this is a marathon, people – shortly means about 6 miles in), and after running through the breathtaking Magic Kingdom, I began to feel slightly better.
At this point I was glistening in quite a bit of sweat and because of the prior upset stomach, I finally took my first gel. Because there are limited (yet still frequent) water stops along the course, I was restricted by their locations as to when I could take my next gel. Unfortunately, I got a little overzealous and took my second gel much too close to the first – and cue a very full-feeling stomach.
A little while after I took the second gel (around mile 10), I started having some chest pains. I was chalking it up to a lot of things: my sports bra is too tight, the strap on my water backpack is squashing me, my full stomach has migrated to my chest, etc. However, after a while, the pain was agonizing – and unfortunately, between about miles 10 and 16, besides a quick jaunt in the Animal Kingdom, there is not much to distract besides asphalt and trees. I was in trouble.
I can’t remember at what point this happened, but eventually I had to pull Allen to the side of the road and let him know that this was unbearable, something might be wrong, I’m in a ridiculous amount of pain. Also at this point, I got super emotional – I had worked for so many long months for this goal, and now this pain (seemingly from out of nowhere, by the way) was going to hold me back from completing it?! It was infuriating. Luckily, Allen is the best husband in the world (no, he did not ask me to say that), so we decided to stop at the next medical tent.
Unfortunately, we needed to get through the whole of the ESPN Wide World of Sports before embarking on the next medical tent. I had heard nightmare stories about this part of the course, and I also found it to be quite tedious – but for different reasons, I think….
Finally, upon leaving ESPN, we found a medical tent at mile 20.7. There was an amazing PT there, Samantha, who told me that no, this pain is not in my head, I’m not having a heart attack, my ribs are just pressing on my lungs (nbd), and in fact I received an actual diagnosis: costochondritis. She also said that I was having a mini-panic attack as a result. She asked me to take several deep, calming breaths and gave me some Tylenol, which helped me feel slightly better.
At this point, the parts of the course left were meant to be very exciting: Hollywood Studios, the Boardwalk, and, of course, the World Showcase in Epcot. Sadly, I couldn’t enjoy any of it, because I was too busy feeling like I was going to die (only slightly hyperbolic). Although I felt better when we had stopped, it was still excruciating to run and walk – I couldn’t catch my breath either way. I felt like I was going to have to drag myself across the finish line, if I made it that far.
Somehow, somewhere, I found the strength to continue. Our great friends Nick and Ciara were there cheering us on in Epcot, right before mile 26, and that gave me a boost. And of course, seeing Mickey Mouse right at the finish line was wonderful.
(Do not be fooled by my expression in these photos – inside I was dying.)
The chest pain went away after I finished the race, but I felt very emotionally fragile throughout the next several days. Oddly enough, because we finished in such a long amount of time (about an hour longer than we had been training to finish), physically I felt great – my legs and feet were tired, but I wasn’t as exhausted as I had anticipated (blessing in disguise?).
I can’t say I’ll ever do another marathon (at least until I forget how this one felt), but I don’t have to – I’m a MARATHONER either way!