Three months ago I was sitting at happy hour with my coworker, sipping on margaritas and devouring chips and salsa, casually discussing Disneyland. Typical Tuesday around these parts.
By the time my margarita was gone she had convinced me to sign up for the Disneyland Half Marathon (because Disneyland, duh). I was far from marathon-ready, but I had three months to buckle down and get in shape. Plus, this wouldn’t be my first rodeo— I’ve run half a dozen half marathons before.
My mindset was similar to Elle Woods’ when Warner questioned her getting into law school, “what, like it’s hard?” Turns out, yes, yes it was hard.
In the months leading up to the race I started running more regularly. And by regularly, I mean three to four miles, four days a week. My “long run”, if you can even call it that, was a six mile run (once) on the treadmill. I was ambitious, stubborn and extremely undertrained.
This was the first half marathon in my running career where I was actually nervous for race day.
The morning of the race, I was exhausted, grumpy and wanted to be anywhere but in my corral getting ready to run thirteen miles. That all changed as soon as the half marathon started— because well, I was in Disneyland and they do one hell of a job of hosting an event.
The race kicked off between the Disneyland Hotel and Downtown Disney. From there, you run through California Adventure and then on to Disneyland. Contrary to my lack of training, I was feeling good and strong, and happy to be running for the first time in months (how can you not be happy when you’re running through the happiest place on earth). They had characters around the parks cheering you on and posing for photo opps with the runners, which was pretty dang cool if you’re in to that sort of thing (which I am).
At about mile four, the course spits you out on the streets of Anaheim. This is where things went downhill (literally and figuratively). Since I had only trained up to six miles, I was already losing my momentum and I didn’t have the encouragement of Mickey Mouse, Lilo or Sleeping Beauty to keep me motivated. Around mile six I hit a wall— hard.
My legs started to cramp up, my hips started to hurt, I was dehydrated and I wanted to quit. I was stopping at every aid station to chug water and I actually weighed the option of politely asking a police officer to drive me back to the finish line.
But, like I said, I’m stubborn. If women pushing 60 years old, dressed up as Cruella Deville, could finish the race, so could I.
I slammed my energy gel and before I knew it we were coming up on mile nine, which was the point in the race where we ran around the field of the Anaheim Angels Stadium. After this, I was in the home stretch (see what I did there?).
When you’ve already run ten miles, what’s another three— am I right? Maybe that’s just me.
I finished the race in my slowest time to date, but I finished with a smile on my face.
There’s magic in misery, just ask any runner running through Disneyland. It was hard (really hard), but it was without a doubt the happiest run on earth.