Believe me, I am probably as shocked as you are. I cannot believe I made it through 26.2 miles. So let's go through the journey together, shall we?!
Walt Disney World Marathon Recap Part One: The Training
The real journey for this whole thing started last summer when I registered for it. I wish I could explain to you what my reasoning was, and why I thought that since I'd made it through one half marathon without dying, I thought I could make it through a full marathon. I know I was sober when I registered and not more insane than I normally am, so intoxication and instability are not excuses. Regardless, I signed up for the marathon back in June of 2012 and committed to following this training plan to get through it. I chose this plan because I thought it was do-able (three training runs a week, very gradual increases in long runs) and it was created by Jeff Galloway, who suggests the run-walk method that I use. Plus, the point of the plan is to "Finish in the Upright Position" so it wasn't like I was going for anything lofty.
Please note that this training plan started on July 3rd. That's how long I've been training for the marathon. I wish I'd blogged more about the actual training process, but the truth is that I fell off the bandwagon a whole lot. As in, I think I spent more time blowing off runs than I did actually running during training. Perhaps not the best method to train for a marathon, but running in Florida in July is evil. Really, running in Florida almost any time is potentially evil. Because of that, and because of other factors like illness, exhaustion, and my personal favorite of laziness, I didn't follow the program exactly. But I got through what I thought was most important - the long runs. I did a really sucky 15-miler, a great 17-miler, a great 20-miler, and a solid 22-miler. My pace was absurdly slow, so I made myself a very modest time goal - I wanted to finish the marathon in less than 6 hours. Based on my long runs, it meant that I needed to push my pace just a tiny bit in the actual marathon to succeed, and I felt like that would be no problem.
Then I got to my first taper week, and something terrible happened - I got injured. I still don't know exactly what happened or how, but I went out for a little 6 mile run on Sunday, December 30th, and less than two miles in, the top of my left foot hurt like hell and my right knee was throbbing. I kept going, thinking that maybe it was stiff or sore from the 22-miler and it would feel better once I hit my stride, but it never did. I cut the run short after 5 miles, came home, and skipped the next two short runs in an attempt to rest. My next longish run came a week after - 7 miles, and the last weekend run before the marathon. I went out for it exactly one week before the marathon, and even though I re-laced my left shoe to try to fix the pain on the top of my foot, the foot pain flared up, the knee pain flared up, and I called it quits after two miles. I called home crying, and my mom and dad tried to calm me down while I walked back to my apartment because I couldn't bear to try to run again. My dad advised me to rest for a few days, ice my foot, ice my knee, take Advil, and try another run in a few days. So I rested as best as I could, iced like crazy, and carried Advil with me everywhere. Then I tried another run and all the same things flared up. I called home crying (this is becoming a trend) and my dad told me I probably shouldn't run the marathon. Needless to say, I was heartbroken. Even if my training hadn't gone that well, I'd still spent six months training for a marathon. I had put in the time for the long runs. The idea of not being able to run the marathon was too painful for me to think about. So I iced some more, I rested some more, and I vowed that as long as I didn't think I was causing myself permanent damage, I was running that marathon.
(stay tuned for part two - the expo!)