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The Fit and Fluffy Momma

embracing my 'fluff' while finding my 'fit'

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My Solo runDisney Experience

Hi, my name is Kristin, and I am a new runDisney addict.

Ok so maybe not (because I can’t afford it!), but I’m definitely hooked and cannot WAIT to go back for my next runDisney event! It was so perfect, starting with my drive there. I went by myself, which I struggled with a bit because I’ve never been away from my husband and kids all at the same time overnight (except for that one time I was in the hospital overnight for an emergency appendectomy… yeah, definitely not the same thing). But I think I needed to have this experience by myself. For me, it was more than just a trip to Disney, and more than just a race. It was a weekend that I needed to soak in fully for what it meant for me, and I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to do that. So here’s how my weekend went...

I live driving distance from Disney, so I left my house Saturday morning. The drive gave me time to think and reflect on the whole situation, to mentally prepare myself for what I was heading into, and I just broke down crying on the interstate. I fully expected to cry during the race, but not on the drive there. As a mom I don’t get much time to myself, so I guess the alone time gave me the opportunity to really acknowledge what I was doing. I was going to Disney to do my first ever half marathon. Having always thought that I would never physically be able to do a half marathon, there I was, driving to my favorite place ever, doing what I used to think I could never do. I was overwhelmed with gratitude and just cried and prayed as I drove.

The weather was absolutely amazing when I arrived. I had opted for the early online check-in a few days prior and requested an early arrival, and I am SO glad that I did! I received a text as I drove up to the resort around 9:45AM that my room was ready and I was able to go straight to it rather than having to check in at the desk (thanks to Magic Bands!).

I walked into my pirate room and started crying again (I know, I know… what can I say, the flood gates had already been opened!). It was such a fun room! I wished instantly that I could share it with my family, but quickly reset my focus on the whole event to not bum myself out. I shared some about my first thoughts when I arrived, which you can see here if you’d like to check it out - http://tinyurl.com/zvsyzuh.

After settling in and getting situated, I took the bus to the expo to pick up my race materials at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. I have to just say the buses are the BEST! Not having to drive myself around and deal with the traffic was awesome. I would’ve been so lost trying to get around on my own, and the buses really took the stress out of it. I had never been to the Wide World of Sports, so it was also fun to see a new area of Disney altogether. The expo is huge, and full of all kinds of fun stuff to look at (and mostly want to buy). I walked around and took some pictures, looked for some ladies in a solo Disney runners FB group that I’m in (we wear something to help us find each other, but I didn’t find any of them), drank some pink princess lemonade, and enjoyed every single second of doing it by myself.  Some people are uncomfortable doing things alone... I am not one of those people. It was AWESOME! Next time I go I definitely would want to go with someone, but it was great being able to explore and take it all in on my own. I had forgotten what it was like to do things alone, which I used to enjoy doing all the time.

When I got on the bus to head back to the resort I ended up sitting near a girl who was on the same bus as me on the way to the expo as well, so we ended up chatting for a while. She was 26 weeks pregnant and also doing the half marathon, her first ever… how’s that for some inspiration!

After returning from the expo I hopped on another bus to head over to Disney Springs. I walked around, rode the boat, ate some lunch/dinner, took some pictures, bought some keychains for my family, and took my jolly ol’ time. Again, it was awesome. No rushing, taking in all the Disney sights and smells, beautiful weather… just perfect. I have been to Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) more times than I can count. But this time was just different. It was part of the whole experience, and that made it a different kind of amazing.

I headed back to the resort and prepped my race gear so I’d be ready to go when I woke up at 2:50AM (yes, that is correct… and I actually wish I had been up earlier!) I facetimed my family and showed them my awesome room, did some work for my virtual fitness challengers, watched some Golden Girls, and had a really hard time falling asleep. I may have gotten about 4 hours of sleep that night… not really sure.

I set my phone alarm and scheduled a wake up call. They both went off at the same time and I popped up wide awake. I drank some water, at an energy bar, took a quick shower, checked with my FB running group, drank an energy drink, and made it to the 4AM bus. I’m still not sure how it took me over an hour to get ready, but I’m REALLY glad I made it to that 4AM bus! It took an HOUR to get from the resort to the starting area, a drive that should probably take about 10 minutes regularly (I don’t know the exact normal time, but that’s my guess). I met another really nice woman on that bus, and she may have been more excited for me than I was (I don’t actually think that’s possible, but it was really sweet how enthusiastic she was about it being my first runDisney event and half marathon ever). Traffic was insane, and again I was thankful for the bus system because I can’t imagine the frustration of being stuck in that attempting to drive in on my own. I do wish I had made it to an earlier bus though, because I missed most of the pre-race festivities including the group picture with the ladies in the FB group. That was a bummer. I did get a picture with Belle though!

Bag check was a breeze. I didn’t actually plan on checking a bag, but I had brought my running belt with me in a bag along with an extra long-sleeved shirt in case it was too cold. I was comfortable though, so I checked my bag with my extra shirt in it, as well as my portable phone charger because I didn’t feel like stuffing it into my running belt. I was glad I did that when the race was over, because I had a clean shirt to throw over my nasty sweatiness, and my phone battery was almost dead. I’ll definitely be checking a bag with those items at any future runDisney events I attend.

The only bad thing about the whole event was that there was no way around using a port-o-potty. I HAD to pee after getting off the bus, and I knew that I had over an hour before my corral was going to even start running, so I had to just suck it up and use it.

I believe they said there was about a mile walk from where the buses drop you off to the starting point, and as I approached the start I was blown away at the size of the crowd. It looked like it would be impossible to get through, but the event runs like a well-oiled machine and I made it to my corral without a problem. By the way, I was in the very last corral, and there were 16 total. If you’re not familiar with what corrals are (because I wasn’t), the starting area is separated into sections (called corrals) based on your estimated finish time. I didn’t know what I was doing when I registered and entered my estimated finish time as the longest time allowable to finish. Lesson learned… don’t do that unless you want to be in the very back of 20,000 - 25,000 runners and walkers. Oops.

During my hour wait from the time that I arrived at my corral to when I actually started, my stomach started cramping and I had to pee AGAIN! But I absolutely refused to leave my corral or use another port-o-potty. The FB group I mentioned had ladies in there who volunteered to be “Fairy Godmothers.” They were ladies that were not running but were tracking those of us who were in order to send us encouragement and cheer us on throughout the race. My fairy godmother was the SWEETEST, and she had texted me as I was waiting to let me know she had prayed for me and to give me some encouragement. I asked her to pray for my stomach, and it was awesome knowing that I had someone to reach out to at that ridiculous time in the morning for support.

As the time came closer for my corral to start, we started inching towards the starting line. With every corral release they set off fireworks, so it was just as magical for all of us in the back as it was for those in the front. And as soon as they set off those fireworks for my corral and I started going, all of the discomfort subsided and I felt AMAZING!

We started just outside of EPCOT and headed towards Magic Kingdom. My first photo stop was with Mrs. Incredible (which was special for me because the first character picture my husband and I have ever taken together was with the Incredibles). I hesitated because I didn’t want to lose my momentum, but when I realized how quickly the line was moving because everyone else was also anxious to get back on the course I decided to stop. I got right back in and continued to feel amazing. We made our way past the Magic Kingdom sign, then finally into Magic Kingdom. We started out heading towards the castle, then turned to go by Tomorrowland, and as we weaved around by the teacups I swooped into a regular restroom. This was probably about 5 miles in and although I was SO happy to have reached a regular restroom, I was regretting it after stopping. I think the stop really threw me off because after that my legs and under the left side of my rib cage started cramping terribly. I have never had that happen before, but I think all of the unusual activity for my body so early in the morning was a little too much. I became very frustrated with my body at that point, because I just wanted to get back into it and couldn’t. So I took some deep breaths, walked to help with the all over cramping, drank some powerade when it was available, and took some pictures. There was no point in letting that drag me down because there was SO much to take in around me. I totally had to fake a smile for the photographer before the castle though, because before I got to them I was hunched over holding my cramping rib cage. (Glad I faked that smile though, turned out to be one of my favorite pictures!)

As I continued the discomfort began to subside, and before long I was back to feeling amazing! I made sure to keep hydrating when I could, and stopped for a couple more character pictures. (I even saw a gator popping his head out of the water outside of Magic Kingdom… not my favorite moment.)

As EPCOT came back into view, I became overwhelmed with emotions again. I was almost there, I had almost finished my first half marathon. Yes there was some walking, but not nearly as much as I thought. I had run/jogged most of it, and I don’t know if it was a result of starting out so far in the back but I was sure doing a lot of running around massive amounts of people walking. I thought about the many 5K’s I had done that I had struggled so hard to fake it across the finish line for, and the amount of effort it had taken to do a final run at the finish for those dang finish line pictures! Those 5K’s, those struggles, were all a part of my journey to this day, this moment, this time of feeling amazing coming up on finishing 13.1 miles of mostly running/jogging, and NOT feeling like I was going to die or that my legs were going to give out on me. All of the doubts, all of the fears, all of the certainty that I could never do this, they were all gone… they were just a part of my past, a place that I would never have to return to, because by the grace of God I had overcome it.

I teared up as we weaved through EPCOT. But I full out cried as I crossed that finish line. I didn’t have to fake it across the finish. I didn’t struggle to get through it. I ran my heart out past that 13.1 mile mark with everything I had, and it felt incredible. I didn’t care who saw me or how ridiculous I looked. I didn’t care that nobody else around me was an emotional disaster. It was my moment, and nothing could take that away from me.

A little background for anyone new to my page… I grew up with arthritis and running just wasn’t in the cards for me. (I talked about this in my video link above, feel free to check it out if you didn’t already.) Some people don’t understand why people sign up and pay money to run these distances. We all have our own reasons…

Running, for me, is freedom.

Running, for me, is strength.

Running, for me, is the power to overcome.

Running, for me, is the grace of God in a tangible form.

Running, for me, is hope.

I will continue to run, for as long as I can, because I can, and because I’m grateful. If you are a runner, I would love to know what running means for you.

Thank you for reading, God bless, and I hope to see you at runDisney!

XOXO ~Kristin

 

PS - here's a little peek into my pirate room!

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