It was a chilly Florida morning at 3 am when I awoke for the Enchanted 10K. My friend Sara would be running with me both days – my teammate in it for the long haul. We huddled with 10,000 of our new friends, and oodles of mylar space-blankets, waiting for the release. We overcompensated for the cold and wore many layers. I was dressed as Rapunzel and was able to use my hair as a scarf for a little added warmth! Bonus!
The Enchanted 10K was just that – enchanted! It was a delightful course winding through EPCOT and the Boardwalk. It was a perfect length to be challenging, but not exhausting. And we had fun with it. Sara and I ran intervals and enjoyed the race. We laughed as we passed mounds of scarves, hats, gloves, and jackets which our fellow runners had tossed as they warmed up. It was a relaxing warm up – in all ways! Warm up in temperature. Warm up in mileage. And Warm up mentally for me for the Princess Half the next day.
It was an even earlier morning on Sunday when my alarm blared at 2:30 am and I let out a giggle of protest at my plans for the day. Getting up at 2:30 am to run a very long way! What was I thinking?! Sara and I spent the majority of the day after the Enchanted 10K stretching, icing, massaging, and ambulating in preparation for the next morning. We dressed in our costumes as Sully and Boo from Monsters Inc. And got ready for the challenge of the day.
Sara and I started strong, keeping to our planned pacing and enjoying the sights along the way. I love Main Street where scads of people gather to cheer on everyone. Yes, they likely have a specific runner in mind, but they also joyfully holler for us all. I remembered one cheerleader, Peggy Sue, in this very spot last year with her famous sign, “Hello, Perfect stranger, I’m proud of you.” and I got a little misty eyed. We turn right and jogged through Tomorrowland before running directly through Cinderella’s Castle. Just behind the castle, cast members were positioned handing out tissues. I snagged one assuming it was a prop for the photo op. I would gingerly dab the corner of my eye and try to get a good photo, but as I ran through the castle and caught a glimpse of everyone coming down Main Street, I actually needed the tissue to wipe a tear from my eyes! That was my magical moment this year.
Miles 8-10 are always my most difficult. I’ve been running a long time, feel spent, and still have a long way to go. Sara was hitting her wall as well. We slowed down, but stayed together. We were going to pull each other through this race. We were delighted to be surprised by a few friends at the 9 mile marker. It was perfect! We were in need of something delightful and seeing two familiar faces was just the thing. We trudged through the last four miles before reaching the Finish line, where the real magic happens. I set a record (for my longest ever half marathon time!), got ice for my irritable knee and proceeded to eat all the calories available!
Hardware follows Hard work. Amen. I wanted something tangible to show for my effort. Not just my effort over the past two days, or my mental stamina to keep going, but my effort throughout the entire training program. I earned my Glass Slipper medals and my Coast to Coast challenge (as I did the Star Wars Half as well– and wrote about it!) I have medals to show for my months of late nights and early mornings spent with just me and the road. These mean more to me than one day of competition. They represent all the ways I’ve “channeled Michael Jordan” over the years! I began running 30 seconds at a time and have slowly worked my way up to half marathons and combination challenges. They hang in my room, silently squelching my self-doubt. They are powerful. They are beautiful. They are heavy!