I Did It! A miracle for sure…..Princess Half Marathon Survivor

Princess Half Marathon 3- 14- February 27, 2013

One day in early November of 2012 a picture of this beauty awoke a dream in me that I had forgotten about.  It’s magical powers made me believe that there was a chance I could obtain it. So without further ado I set out on a journey to become an official Princess.

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The picture does not do justice to this beautiful medal.  Disney really does know how to make some gorgeous running bling.  It is absolutely beautiful.

For those of you unfamiliar with Disney races they are a ton of fun.  Filled with characters, costumes, entertainment, and a sprinkle of Disney magic so that runners and walkers of all ages, shapes, and sizes have a blast.

Before I tell you about my race recap I just want to say that I barely made it to the race.  A big part of me wanted to throw the towel in before even starting.

When I started training, I decided I would just do my best and see what happened.  I was out of shape and was going to start the training plan late which meant I would have some catching up to do.  I convinced Prince Charming that we needed to do this and asked him if he would train and run this race with me. We had ran the Beauty and The Beast 5K a few years before and we knew how much fun Disney races were so it was pretty easy to convince him.  After a a little over a month of training (you can read more about the training here) I began to believe that not only could I finish the race but maybe I could finish with a decent cushion.  I began to think I might even be able to take some photos.  My time was improving with each run.  I was getting cocky.

Then right after December I got hurt.  My knee was so bad I could barley walk and every muscle on my left leg was screaming at me everyday.

How did it happen?  The long story is, I was doing to much too fast.  The short story is, I tried to push through knee pain during a training run that was slotted to be a nine miler.   The pain hit at mile 1 and I kept going for 4 1/2 miles.  Not a great idea.  I couldn’t walk for days.

I thought the pain would last for a few days and then I would be healed.  I would be running again.  That didn’t happen.

 I was fighting against the race clock and in a full out panic.  How could I run when I could barely walk?

After a week of pain I had went to see a chiropractor.  This helped some.  I saw a dramatic improvement right away.  However, as soon as I tried a short walk/run/limp the pain was glaring its ugly head and I would re injure myself.  I asked the chiropractor how long before I would be able to run.  He said if I told you 3 weeks would you be happy?  I almost screamed No at him.  Well little did I know that the pain would haunt me for much longer than that.

For two months I limped, cried, foam rolled, iced, stretched, took Epson Salt baths and struggled.  I tried everything to finish my training for this race.   I ran through pain.  I cried.  I limped as I ran.  I spent a fortune on KT tape, BioFreeze, Ibuprofen, Vitamins, Chiropractor, and Massage Therapist.  I obsessively read everything I could get my hands on about recovering from injury, stretches, and core strength.   I would start feeling a little better so I would run and then my body would scream at me and I would be limping for days.

 Everyday was disappointing and frustrating.  I was doing everything that I was told, everything I had researched, and still the pain had me limping all the time.

I began to see a massage therapist and that seemed to really help.  She worked the sore muscles out.  The calf pain I had had for two months she magically worked out in 3 days.  Yet still without warning muscle spasms and pain would leave me in tears for seemingly no reason.  Sometimes it would just be from me walking around the house.

The week before the race I was still having muscle spasms daily that often times brought me to tears.  I was trying so hard to accomplish this goal but my body just didn’t want any part of me running.  I kept pushing through and tried to find ways to beat the pain.

You can read my Running Log and see how much the pain effected my training.

I began to hate the idea of the race, the Deadline of Doom.

My good intentions just didn’t seem be working.  My heart wanted this, my mind wanted to exercise, but my body wasn’t cooperating.

The pain was crippling me.  It was making me grumpy and I was starting to feel like all of this pain wasn’t worth it.

It was time for this race and I hadn’t put in the mileage that I wanted and needed too.

I wasn’t ready and I knew it.  Others told me to stop running.

I wasn’t ready and they knew it.

I wanted this so bad but it seemed everyone and everything was telling me to quit.

Then the day of the Expo arrived.  (I have an Expo recap here)

My Princess daughter Princess H began to get under the weather.  I started to feel sick too.  I read reports about the upcoming high levels of humidity, heat, and the possibility of rain.  Saturday, Princess H had a raging fever and I had stomach problems.  I hate leaving my kids when they are sick.  I pumped up the vitamin C.

The weather man kept talking about possible thunder and rain.

 I was wearing 5 year old shoes (long story) but they had very little tread left on them.

My legs were killing me just from walking around the Expo the day before.  How was I ever going to finish 13.1 miles?

I was scared.  I was afraid I wouldn’t finish.  I had nightmares of balloon ladies and being swept.

Maybe this was a higher power telling me I needed to NOT do this OR maybe it was the evil one trying to suppress my dreams.  

Or maybe, just maybe, I had to overcome all of this adversity to really appreciate my victory.

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I decided I had to go out and at least try.  What if I did finish?  What if God some how gave me the strength to push through.  I had spent 4 months on this goal.  I had under gone so much pain and spent so much time focused on this race.  I had to at least give it a go.  Didn’t I?

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I couldn’t quit.  I wasn’t a quitter.  I was a Princess.

I kept thinking back to Disney’s adjectives for a Princess = Commitment, Courage, Determination, Fantasy, Perseverance, and Strength.

 I kept thinking back to my massage therapist telling me, “You got this girl!” I kept thinking to my chiropractor who told me that he knew I would finish and he would probably just have to put me back together again after the race.  (Hmmm…. I guess like Humpty Dumpty). He said he thought their was a 99% chance that I would re-hurt my knee.  Wow!  Great Statistics.  So NOT funny.

I didn’t believe them.  I hadn’t trained far enough. My pace wasn’t fast enough.

But I couldn’t just stay home.  I would hate myself.

So I had do this, to try.  I would always regret it if I did not.

So I forced all doubt from my mind and concentrated my energy on the fact that I WAS going to finish!  I had ran/walked 7.5 miles in training.  If I walked the first 4 (like Jeff Galloway recommended) and Ran/walked 7- I would only have 2 to go.  I could do this!

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On Saturday Prince Charming and my little Prince ran the Mickey and Minnie Royal Family 5K.  Here is a recap of that.

So race morning arrived.  The kids were safely with their grandparents.  Our alarm went off at 1 Am.  I wanted to make sure that we arrived at Disney and were first in our corral to buy us as much time as possible to finish the race.

How Disney Races Work:  Disney puts you in Corrals based on your expected finish time that is submitted upon registration.  After the last participant crosses the finish line a Balloon Lady goes.  She is the official person keeping a 16 minute per mile pace.  If you fall below her you are at risk of being swept.  

What does swept mean? They pull a bus over the road and anyone behind that spot has to board the bus and is unable to finish.  They transport you to the finish line and reports say that Disney gives you the finisher medal for your efforts.  (Officially they say you only get the medal if you finish).  This can happen at any spot on the course when you fall below pace.  They usually give you warnings with orange flags at the mile markers and guys on bikes encourage you to make up the time difference.  

So basically the early corrals have a head start, more time for completing the race and pictures.  

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We left the house around 2am and arrived down at Disney a little before 3am.  No traffic.  It was so nice!  We parked right up front. We were literally like one of the first 10 people that arrived.   All the Volunteers and Race workers were in great moods.

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We went to the bag check area and received a standing ovation and applause from the 10 or more volunteers.  It was so kind and made us feel like royalty.  They were so excited to check in their first bag of the morning.

I had read that some women record a person or thing that is important to them for each mile to help them focus on doing their best.  I decided that this might be great motivation for me so I did it as well.

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Later I heard that it took a lot of Princesses over an hour in the traffic to get from the hotels to the race.  I also heard that some of the bus drivers got lost.  One lady had to get on the monorail at the Magic Kingdom because her driver was lost.  She got off at Epcot and sprinted to the start.  She was suppose to be in A corral and ended up joining a later corral.

I am so glad we got there early and didn’t have to stress about making it on time.  Disney says that if you aren’t in your corral by 5am that you won’t be able to race, but I’m not sure if that is enforced because I saw tons of people running to the start.

A man finally appeared and told us he was going to move the barricade and we were to follow him in his golf cart to the corrals.  Boy what a walk.  It was probably a mile or further.  I wasn’t expecting that.  A mile before the race even begins. Geez!

We got to our corral and we were the first ones there.  Yeah!  Just what we were hoping for.  We moved all the way to the right  because we were planning on walking and sat down to wait it out.  It was still over an hour before the race was to start.

We were filled with excitement at this point.

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I ran into a Princess that was part of a Facebook group with me and we chit chatted.  We were both first time runners working through injuries so we had a lot to discuss.

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This is a photo of the people behind us in our corral.  It’s impossible to see the end of the people and we were in Corral F.

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Finally it was time to start.  The Fairy Godmother counted down for the start of each corral.

(Thanks runDisney for the photos)

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The race began!!!!

 After each corral started the volunteers moved forward the next corral.  We were next to the Porta Potties and it was funny watching all the Princesses running over and then sprinting to their corral.

We got to stand right at the very front of our start.  It was so exciting and then the Fairy Godmother did her official countdown for our corral – 3, 2, 1 -GO!

The first mile went flying by.

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 I met a lady that had mentor on her shirt and asked her if she was doing run/walk intervals.  She said that she walks her half marathons and keeps about a 16 minute per mile pace.  I believe she said this was her 12th marathon. I decided since I was suppose to walk the first few miles I would stay with her.  After awhile I thought, this isn’t so bad.  If I can keep up this pace and walk maybe my injuries won’t flare up and I will be able to finish.  She was a Guardian Angel and a God sent.  I really think because of her I was able to finish my first half marathon.  She encouraged me the entire race and stayed with me and Prince Charming.

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We have a lot of photos with strangers in them.  I knew we wouldn’t have time to take photos because of the pace requirement so I had Prince Charming just snap photos of all the characters and mile marker signs so I would have them for memories.

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Before we knew it the time had come to run through the toll plaza towards the Magic Kingdom!

At this point I had lost Prince Charming.  I thought he got stuck behind us because he was taking photos.  I almost felt bad that I had him taking photos for me and hoped it wasn’t too much for him constantly having to catch up.

After all this was his first half marathon too!

That was until I found out he was like a quarter mile ahead of me.  He was sprinting around taking pictures for me but he was really enjoying himself.  I think it was an adventure for him.  He was zipping around and WASN’T struggling at all.  So much for feeling sorry for him.  This pace was a walk in the park for Prince Charming.

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Mile 3 down.  The miles seem to be flying by.  How come my RunKeeper keeps telling me I have ran further?

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Mr. McQueen made me think of my Little Prince C who is a big Cars fan. I couldn’t help but to smile. Then, this unique photo opportunity, I loved taking a quick glance at these Evil Ladies.

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These drummers were awesome.  I think it was at this point that we crossed under the bridge to head into Magic Kingdom.  Honestly, I was just concentrating on moving forward and the miles seemed to be flying by.  My only goal was to keep my “Mentor” in my sights.  I trusted she would get me to the finish line.  If she would get a few feet away, I would jog to catch up.

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Genie, Luminare, and Sebastian looked liked this when we came through.  However, I saw a video of them lit up for the pre-dawn runners and they were spectacular.

Princess 1-2 Marathon- 47- February 24, 2013-2It was right after mile 5 that we entered into the Magic Kingdom.  My In laws had brought my children so they could watch us.  It was an emotional moment to kiss them.  I was trying to stay with my “Mentor” so I dashed back on the course and kept on racing.  I didn’t realize she had pulled over to say Hi too.

Main Street was pretty packed full of spectators and runners. Honestly most of the Magic Kingdom part of the race was congested.  It was amazing hearing all of the people cheering and running this part of the race.  It was very magical.  Magic Kingdom had characters all over the place.

When I got injured I had began to doubt if I would be able to finish the race.  I decided to make getting to the castle my first goal and actually finishing the race my second goal.  I couldn’t believe how fast the first miles had gone by.  I was still pumped up on race day adrenaline.

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I found this beautiful photo on runDisney and loved it.  Obviously this was a very speedy runner who was ahead of the crowds of the slower runners in later corrals.  When I went down main street it was wall to wall people.

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This is Prince Charming’s Castle photo.  Where Oh Where is my photographer?

Oh yeah, he is hamming it up for his own pictures.

Hmmmm….. Well I guess this is his first half marathon too.

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Buzz from Toy Story and Gaston from Beauty and the Beast.

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Belle from Beauty and the Beast.  Alice and the Mad Hatter from Alice and the Wonderland.

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Mickey and Minnie dressed in their royal attire.

 I so wanted this picture but I never saw these guys. I’m sure the line was crazy long.  Prince Charming never saw them either so they may have been on break.   Thanks runDisney for the photo.

 

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And then there was the Castle!  The trumpeters greeted us and they were Awesome!

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This is what most runners who sign up for this race dream about- running through Cinderella’s Castle.  It is so Magical.

The Castle was great but by the time we got there it was impossible to run through it because of these crowds.

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Here is a lovely runDisney photo of someone who got to run through the castle.  What a gorgeous photo.

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 Prince Charming is stuck probably a few feet behind me and got this photo of me exiting the Castle.  RunDisney has official photographers that capture you running out of the castle.  They also have video clips.  Watching back I was already limping at this point.   On race day I didn’t even notice.

We rounded out of the Castle, next stop Frontier Land.

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Characters from Princess and the Frog.

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The train conductors were representing and my daughter’s favorite Princess Aurora was present.

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RunDisney lets everyone vote on the half way song choice.  This year the song Girl on Fire won.  They had a fire truck here too.  It was cute.  For awhile the music was blaring and it was nice.

After this is when I started to really feel it.  I began to feel sick to my stomach and I was getting tired.  I had only trained to 7.5 miles because of the injury and I had went the distance that I had gone in training with no problems.

But now I was in uncharted territory, I still had gas but it wasn’t as easy anymore.  The adrenaline had carried me much further than I had expected.  In my mind it didn’t feel like I had already went 7 miles but I was slowing down and my body could tell.

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These were the Chimney Sweepers and Mary Poppins.  I was not sure who these guys were but I’m pretty sure they were representing the Wedding Chapel.

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Lilo and Stich were hanging out at the Golf Course and this Mickey Golf cart was so adorable.

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Genie from Aladdin.

This is another character I would have loved to get a photo with but I was so tired at this point and needed to keep my legs moving.  Plus my “Mentor” had informed me that we were slowing down.

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I don’t remember much entertainment along this part of the course.  I remember it getting really hard.  My mentor told me this is the part of the race where instead of saying you have gone 8 miles you think to yourself only 5 more to go.

It was somewhere along here that she got pretty far ahead of me.  I kept trying to jog to catch up but honestly I felt so sick to my stomach I finally decided I just couldn’t.  Prince Charming and I would just have to finish this race on our own.   I didn’t want to hold her back.

She is so awesome though.  She came back to be with me.  I think she knew I was giving it my all.  I think the Powerade and drinking too much of it early on had made me sick.  It was very hot and humid so at every water stop I was drinking and pouring water over myself.

I was getting so hot and felt so nauseous at this point. Honestly, mile 7 through 10 are sort of a blur.  The miles seemed to go by pretty fast but I was just trying to keep moving.  My back and feet were hurting but mostly I was just tired.  I knew that I had never gone this far in training an I could feel that.  I tried to remember to look at my arm to remember who my miles were for.  Also my hands and fingers had been swelling for awhile now.  At this point they were huge.  I couldn’t even move the zipper on my shirt or pull up the cap on my water.

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Looking at that smile on his face and knowing how badly I was struggling at this point makes me think I want to do some very un-Princessy things to him.  LOL.

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I remember asking if we were like at mile 9 and my Mentor saying we are almost at 10!  I was so numb I couldn’t think straight!

Then it happened!  It was right before Mile 10 that I saw the dreaded balloon lady!  I heard someone say,  ”There is the Balloon Lady!”  I looked to my far left because I was still hugging the right and sure enough in a sea of women there was one lone woman carrying a ballon with a sign on her back that said 16 minute mile pace.  If someone wouldn’t have pointed her out I would not have ever seen her because of the crowds.  (And my mind being foggy)  I think there were actually two women but I only saw one balloon.

We had already passed a few points with big empty buses sitting on the side of the road.  Prince Charming thought she wasn’t the real Balloon Lady but just a pacer. (PBRC Facebook groups (which I’m a member of) have their own pacers and some were carrying balloons)  After all, how had she caught up with us.  We had a little head start and a bit of a cushion.  Another lady confirmed that this was indeed the balloon lady.

I had put my phone away a long time ago because my hands were going numb and were swollen.  Since my mentor was keeping pace I had decided I didn’t need to keep looking at it.  Well apparently she had slowed down a bunch to stay with me because she knew I was struggling.  I didn’t know we had slowed down that much.

I was in a full out panic upon seeing those balloon ladies.   I had spent months stalking blogs and Facebook pages.  I had read everything I coud get my hands on about these ladies and their very unMagical dream killing balloons.  (I’ve heard these ladies are really very sweet.  They are just doing a job)

 I was practically an expert on the art of sweeping, weeping Princesses. This couldn’t be happening.

  I explained to my “mentor” and Prince Charming that we had to run.  We had to stay with the balloon ladies.  Already they were putting distance between us.  I had worked to hard for my dreams to end here.  I couldn’t be defeated!

They both said, “NO!  We are fine!”  Look at all of these people.  Their is no way they can pick up all of these runners.  We were in a huge sea of women.  I had never looked behind me but apparently their were at least 500-1000 women or more back there.  The on ramp was just ahead and my mentor told me once we got on it they wouldn’t sweep us.  I wasn’t so sure.  I know Disney reserves the right to sweep anytime you are behind pace.  I had heard about people being swept on this very bridge.  However, there were a LOT of us.  I had always heard of stragglers getting swept.

Prince Charming and Mentors calm washed over me.  If they weren’t worried about being swept I decided I would just keep on moving forward.  Prince Charming and I had made a deal that if it looked like I was going to be swept he would sprint ahead so he could finish.  He wasn’t worried and I knew he wanted to finish so I calmed down.  In my heart of hearts, I was so tired I didn’t have the gas to stay with that balloon lady.  I think they both knew that.

Mile 10 is the start of a huge clover leaf  incline that is an on ramp.  Basically a very long overpass with a huge curve.  The bad news is -it is an on ramp.  The good news was I didn’t think it was as bad as my very extensive online research (my attempt at humor) had led me to believe and Epcot is on the other side.

Princess 1-2 Marathon- 87- February 24, 2013-2 At the top was this guy. I had read about how cute he can be telling runners to hurry up and this is what we signed up for.  Honestly, I don’t remember him saying anything.  I was feeling so sick by the time I got up the hill.  I think my mind said the hill wasn’t so bad but my body said something else all together.

Then I saw something I hadn’t read about.  Not only was I on a huge clover leaf overpass.  I now had to go down it and go back up another over pass.  What!  My research had failed me!

I was too tired to do anything but keep moving.  (In retrospect I’m guessing most people are so tired at this point they probably just remember this part of the race as Mt Everest and it all blurs together for them.)

I saw all of the runners ahead of me and I took my first and only peak behind me and saw a ton of Princesses.  I finally started to feel like I was probably safe from being swept.

Before going up the second over pass was a sharp around and back where only cones separated you from the skipping the extra distance.  I was so tempted to just go over the cones and joked about it with Prince Charming.  He was like, “Nope, we are doing the entire race.”  The good news is they had a great DJ and LED screen pumping some jams and it helped give me a bit of energy.

One more BIG hill and we were home free.  We would be in Epcot and I knew that I wouldn’t be swept once I got into Epcot.  We were almost there!

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Mile 11!  Only two to go.  I got this!  See the lady waving her mean old orange flag.  That meant we were behind pace and endanger of being swept.

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I saw the character from the Incredibles during my research and knew if she was there I wanted this picture.  If I got this far- I was Incredible too.

  There was no line for Ms. Incredible so I yelled for my photographer aka Prince Charming.  Oh wait! I don’t want to interrupt HIS photo.  He’s over hamming it up again with Mulan! What! Apparently she had no line either.

He made it just in time and I got this photo.   This was my awesome Mentor.  I asked her to jump into the picture with me.

One cool thing about the races are that they have some of the unique characters that you often times don’t see in the parks.

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I have never been more happy or excited to see Epcot.  Right before we got to mile 11 I was feeling sort of dizzy.  My “Mentor” is part of Team in Training and a coach from Team in Training kept asking us if we were ok.  He finally decided I didn’t look so good because he insisted that I drink some sort of sugarless electrolyte drink.  I was too tired to object.  It didn’t taste great but I had energy to do Mile 12 so I think it might have had some Disney Magic in it.

Most people say the last mile is so hard and long.  For me I was just soaking it up.  I was almost there.

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We saw these Beautiful Souls and I lost it.  I knew this choir was at the end and a highlight for so many.

Prince Charming ran ahead to get this picture for me and he turned around and I was full out sobbing.  I didn’t even care who saw me.  It hit me- I had done this!  Against all odds I had completed a Half Marathon.  All that pain and suffering had NOT been for nought.  I had accomplished my goal.   He looked at me with concern and I told him they were happy tears.  I think at that point he might have shed one or two for us, too.

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I looked like I am in pain in this photo.  I don’t remember being in pain.  I remember being HAPPY!

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We rounded the corner and I told Prince Charming I was too exhausted to run.  Their were my mice friends.  I had never been so happy to see the Mouse before.  These are runDisney’s official photos and are too great not to share.  I decided we needed photos so Prince Charming and I took these.

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This is us after we received our medals. Such a great moment of joy.  My heartfelt thanks goes out to the lady in purple “my mentor” and my husband.  God sent them both to help me accomplish this goal.

After receiving our medal I stopped my runKeeper and it had logged 14 miles!  If you count the mile to the corrals I had went 15 miles!  Wow!

I made the mistake of sitting down to talk to a medic at the ice spot and really regretted it.  After that the nausea kicked in with super force and my muscles locked up.  Prince Charming left to get our bag because it was pretty far away.  I was suppose to meet the Grandparents and kids and instead sat down on the ground.  I ate a banana which helped.  I took off my shoes and was shocked to find huge blood filled blisters on both pads of my feet, one on my big toe, and one on my second toe.   I had not even felt them.  I called Prince Charming and he decided to take me to the car in a wheel chair.  I wished I had went to find the picture spots with the Princesses but maybe next year.

So this was my journey during my half marathon.  It was very hard but so worth it.  We had already signed up for California’s Dumbo Double Dare.  I have a lot of hard work in front of me. I want the next half to be a lot faster and not such a struggle.  If you have never ran a race before I highly recommend trying a runDisney race.  They are so much fun and you won’t be disappointed.  The training plans are awesome.

If I can do it, anyone can do it.

untitled shoot- 117- January 30, 2013

My Heartfelt thanks go out to everyone who helped make this day possible.

 To my chiropractor who helped put this skeptical girl back together.  To my massage therapist who gave me confidence and rubbed away my stress.

To my In Laws who watched our kids every single weekend so that we could train. I’m so blessed to have them.

To my “Mentor” who led me through the race and stuck with me even when I was slowing her down.

To God who sent my mentor and gave me the strength and courage to fullfil this desire of my heart.

To my wonderful Prince Charming who supported, encouraged, guided, and trained me through the good times and the pain.  You’re awesome honey and with out you this would never have been possible.

And  lastly, to Disney for putting on a fabulous race.  If it wouldn’t have been for my first Disney 5K a few years ago, I would never have dreamed of this goal.

Thanks to all of the Princesses and super big Thanks for a lot of much needed Disney Magic on race day.

untitled shoot- 124- February 05, 2013

5 thoughts on “I Did It! A miracle for sure…..Princess Half Marathon Survivor

  1. You're amazing and I'm so grateful you shared your story. I hope you're back to feeling 100% as running on injury is the worst. Princess was my first half too and I was a nervous wreck. I'm about to do it again and due to the weather and family stuff my training hasn't been as strong so again I'm nervous. Your story will be on my mind when I'm out there and I hope it will inspire me to go the distance.

  2. I am so happy I read your blog. I actually saw my niece in your golf cart picture!! Yay. I was racing so my memory of that pit stop is a blur!

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