I want to start this post with a huge thank you to all of the volunteers. Thanks so much to everyone who took such good care of us runners! 

IMG_7400

After waiting for the first ten corrals to start the race, my corral had finally moved up to the starting line, and we all waited eagerly for our chance at the 13.1-mile course that stretched through Disney property. At about 5:50, our fireworks were released and the runners around us started to move forward slowly enough that I was able to snap a quick picture on my phone.

Josh and I kept up with the pace of the people around us, which was slow enough that we had no trouble maintaining it, even though we hadn’t done very much training in the past few months. The first mile went by easily, and took us from the far reaches of the Epcot parking lot to a side entrance of the World Showcase.

IMG_7404

The Showcase was absolutely dazzling. All of the pavilions were colorfully lit up, and I took in as much as I could as we zoomed through the countries.

IMG_7408

When the first water stop came up, I took a quick break to rehydrate and take off my sweater. The temperature was still mid-60s, but I had started to warm up.

IMG_7467

(Thanks to the Disney Photopass Photographer who captured this picture!)

The first character meet was just outside the back entrance of Epcot. A cast member stood at the back of the long line, shouting, “The line to meet Chewbacca is 20 minutes. If you stop now, you will be swept!”

Given that our only race goal was to finish without being swept off the course, Josh and I kept going. We had to maintain an average pace of 16 minutes/mile if we didn’t want to risk losing our chance to finish.

IMG_7411

The path between Epcot and Hollywood was very narrow at a lot of parts as we ran past Yacht and Beach Club, and a lot of runners were upset that they weren’t able to push their way through the crowd of walkers, but Josh and I just went fast when we could and slowed down when we had to. Being angry wasn’t going to help us move any faster.

The lights of Hollywood Studios shimmered in the distance as we approached the Mile 3 marker.

IMG_7412

As we ran through the park, I stopped to take a quick selfie with Kylo Ren. He was on a stage with a few storm troupers, offering encouragement to all of us who were “training for the Dark Side.”

IMG_7414

(The phrase “I don’t sweat–I sparkle” comes to mind, as I was definitely starting to get a little shiny at this point.)

IMG_7468

(Thanks to the Disney Photopass Photographer who captured this picture!)

The next several miles were pretty tedious. We raced down monotonous highways to get to Animal Kingdom. I started to fade a little after mile 7, and in my effort to recover via hydration, I had to start making bathroom stops, which took up to 10 minutes, depending on how many other people were in line for the porta potties. My right knee had also started to ache a little, but I pushed on as much as I could.

IMG_7417

IMG_7419

IMG_7425

Even though the sun had risen by this point, the temperatures were still really nice, in the low 70s. I kept marveling at what a perfect day for running it was.

IMG_7427

IMG_7429

Around the entrance to Animal Kingdom, there were tables where energy gels were being passed out. After trying to slurp down a gross raspberry one, I gave up and got out one of the chocolate gels I had brought. It was much better and gave me a little more energy, though my knee had started to really hurt and most of my jog through AK was a blur.

IMG_7431

By the time we left the park, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to run much more. In terms of energy, I was doing okay, but my knee was getting really stiff.

IMG_7433

By mile 10, I couldn’t do anything more than speed-walk.

IMG_7434

And by mile 11, I was limping as fast as I possibly could.

IMG_7437

I rejoiced at mile 12. We were basically there. There were no flags on the mile marker warning us that we were close to being swept. I took this as permission to walk as slowly as I needed to for the last mile. “They’re not going to sweep us at this point,” I insisted to Josh, who had been worried at each of the last several mile markers when he calculated our pace and saw how slowly we were going.

IMG_7446

After the longest mile of my life, we finally made it to the last marker, with the finish line just a little further.

IMG_7451

As we got closer, I got out my phone to take a quick picture and video as I ran/limped across the finish line.

IMG_7472IMG_7474IMG_7475

(Thanks to the Disney Photopass Photographers who captured these pictures!)

I had survived my first half marathon!

Love, Elizabeth

Have any of you done a runDisney event before? Let me know about it in the comments!