Yep, I got swept at the half marathon in Walt Disney World. They put me on a bus at a Mile 8. Insert sad trumpet sound here.
First off, I feel like I need to start with an apology to everyone who congratulated me on finishing the race after I posted a photo of me wearing the race medal at Epcot post-run. So awkward! It didn’t even occur to me to not put on the medal (they gave us all one as we got off the bus) and then when people congratulated me I was totally unprepared to be like, “Psych! I only ran 8 miles, sucker!” and instead just didn’t say anything about finishing, thinking I would come home and write this post instead. So, I apologize if that feels dishonest! I have since learned that there’s a whole lot of controversy about people even accepting medals if they didn’t finish the race, let alone wearing them. More on that in a minute…
OK, whole story:
So, I’m not sure how many of you have been following me since last summer but I started training for the Princess Half Marathon in July. It was a major comeback attempt since I haven’t run a half marathon since doing the Walt Disney World half in 2005 and I’ve gained a ton of weight (and two kids!) since then. It thought it would be poetic to run another half exactly a decade later and also great motivation to really make some progress on my fitness goals. It was hard to get started, but I had a lot of fun with it for the first couple of months and really enjoyed myself.
Unfortunately, I hit a serious roadblock in October that really set me back. I got a virus the week before Halloween and then wasn’t well again until the week after Christmas (respiratory infection, etc.), so I spent two and a half months either walking or not working out at all. I thought that I’d have enough time to recover for the race with the six weeks I had left to train, but ultimately I only did one long run before we left for Florida and I was barely under the pace requirement for that one. Not the strong start I was hoping for!
The other complication had nothing to do with training. When I decided to run the race, I thought I might go by myself and meet up with some of the past Disney brides who were running. Then, that trip expanded to Kyle and I taking a weekend away from the kids to pop out to FL. A lot of family discussions and tweaks later, the trip ended up being an epic two weeks that included three different hotel stays, a week with my parents in WDW, a week with Kyle’s parents in WDW, and a food blog conference somewhere in the middle. What started out as a victory tour for my triumphant return to racing turned into this random fitness event that I was doing in the wee hours of the morning in the middle of all of this other stuff.
Why was that an issue? (1) Before we even left, I was worried about shredding my legs during the race and then hobbling around for the rest of our vacation. (2) My stress level spiked as the trip became more complicated because I was preoccupied with taking care of the kids on their first WDW vacation. (3) Instead of staying on property, we ended up at an off-property resort on race day, which meant transportation to/from the race got more complicated. (4) Instead of taking it easy on the days leading up to the race, I did a red-eye flight, a rushed tour through the race expo, and a full day at the parks with my family. And finally (5) by race day, prepping myself for the run got lost in the chaos of vacationing.
As a result, a lot of things worked against me on the morning of the race. I didn’t sleep well because I was nervous. I only drank coffee before leaving, thinking I would grab something at the race, and then ended up proceeding straight to my corral on accident because I wasn’t paying attention. My legs and feet were sore from being in the parks all day. I saw people before the race, but ultimately ran alone since I didn’t know (or find) anyone in my immediate race area. Most importantly – my head and heart weren’t in it. As we waited to cross the start line, I couldn’t stop thinking about how I probably should have slept in.
So, I ran. And I had fun seeing the race sights and chatting a bit with the people around me, but there was no food on the course (at least the part that I saw) so by the time I hit mile 6 on a black-coffee-only stomach, I could feel my pace dropping. By the time I hit the entrance to the Magic Kingdom, I was non-stop thinking about food and the run had gone from pretty fun to a little fun to kind of sucking to OMG you all look like jogging Mickey waffles.
I pushed on for a bit, but I did give myself a few minutes to chat with Kyle and take a couple of photos inside the park. Before I knew it, I was officially behind pace and at mile 8 a Disney employee on a bicycle directed all of the runners in my area to a bus that was waiting to pick us up. It was official. I’d been swept at a Disney race.
In retrospect, I’m pretty sure I could have pushed harder. I would have been awkwardly running right in front of the bike lady but when I was swept I wouldn’t say that I was tapped out. Plus, I obviously would have had a better run if I had eaten breakfast. Or taken it easy. Or pushed a little harder in the 6 weeks leading up to the race. That being said, I didn’t (and don’t) feel sad about being swept because I still did all that work to train, I did my little 8 mile run, and it was a victory just to cross that freaking Start line after paying for three Disney races and then not showing up to them.
Which brings me to that medal thing…
The whole controversy about whether or not non-finishers should get a medal is very much drama caused by people worrying about what everyone around them is doing, so I don’t think there should be any shaming of people who receive/wear their medals if they didn’t finish. It doesn’t mean you finished any less if a non-finisher is wearing the same medal.
That being said, I so wish I hadn’t worn mine because it was super awkward to get congratulated and not know if you should blurt out that you didn’t actually run the whole thing. I only wore it for about an hour at Epcot while Kyle and I were procuring a hasty breakfast (which I promptly threw up, thank you very much 8 miles) but that was enough time to get congratulated by at least a dozen people. Plus, I did take and share pictures with it which (again)…enh, that’s misleading and it’s the only thing about the run that feels a little uncomfortable.
Honestly, though, I was and am happy to have that medal and I’m going to hang it up with my 2005 one and the one I’ll get when I run the Tink half in two months. I trained, I showed up, and it’s this tangible thing that triggers warm fuzzies about making healthy decisions for myself. I’m also going to wear my cute pink Princess half performance top to the gym while I train for the next race. I know that some elite runners would probably be annoyed to hear that, especially since I didn’t get swept for any medical emergency outside of my control, but in the end the great thing about these events is that they’re so personal. My race story ended on a bus but it’s still a good chapter for me. I just hope I get a little more mileage (5.1+ miles to be exact) out of the next chapter!
Side note: not all of the Morgans got swept at their Disney races! Miss Eva ran in her first runDisney kids event and managed to earn her medal without having an asthma attack, which earned her much praise from her parental units. I think she was pretty proud of herself…