The Marathon – Sunday
The morning of the race, my alarm went off and I felt pretty fresh getting up. I did my thing in the room to get ready, ate some oatmeal and got on the bus by 3:30 to head over to Epcot. This time I rode alone and it was weird walking towards the entrance by myself among the thousands of other people arriving. There was a bag check and notices about dog sniffing of bags. The security was visible there which I appreciated. I met up with Alison and then we had to meet up with Kimberly and Gail to get to the front of the starting area to film with Bob.
At the starting area we had a chance to meet with Linda Leonard Ambard and Peter Chuchro; two others who were being profiled by runDisney. They were terrific. Linda runs with TAPS and lost her husband in Afghanistan. Peter Chuchro is 34 who suffered from a stroke a year ago and was running his first marathon since his stroke. He finished at an amazing finish time of 3:44!
You could feel the energy at the start. The wheelchair athletes were lining up and I had the chance to say hello to Jacqui Kapinowski, the woman I met at the expo, who is also the past winner of all the wheelchair races.
I also met Ali Vincent from the Biggest Loser. I talked with her for a few minutes. She was so down to earth and a normal person running a race just like the rest of us! She admitted that she was nervous because she hadn’t had the time to do some long run training and haven’t run that long since she did her Iron Man. It was time to start the race and as we listened to the National Anthem and I was getting emotional knowing how Linda must have been feeling.
The corrals were released and we joined the other runners in the race around Corral G. The first few miles all of us had to go to the bathroom very badly because we didn’t have the chance to go while waiting at the start line. So our first few miles of running were to get to the TTC to get to a “real bathroom”. We were following Jeff Galloway’s recommendation for Kim to run 20 seconds and walk 20 seconds. That was an effective time for us. After our pit stop we continued through the Magic Kingdom where Frankie, the cameraman met up with Kimberly on his bike. He filmed her running through that park and then left prior to us going through cone ally to the Race track. From there we pretty much walked. At the race track we met Becca Kyler and she stuck with us through most of the race.
As we were running through the course, people would recognize Kim and give her hugs. You could feel the love and admiration from fellow runners as they wished her well on the race and thanked her for her inspiration. We met a fellow breast cancer survivor as we were entering Animal Kingdom. She told Kim that when she was bald her 9 month old and 2 month old children would kiss her head and they were such sweet kisses because the nerve endings are so sensitive in the scalp. She talked to us and told us that she was diagnosed at age 28 and was now 7 years cancer free. What an amazing story! I believe her name was Julia.
In Animal Kingdom we decided to ride on Everest. This was a first for me. It was my first time riding a roller coaster DURING a marathon! And it was also a first time for me to ride on Everest! WOW that was amazing!
As we continued out of Animal Kingdom to Oceola Parkway Kim was expressing that she was feeling tired so we had to encourage her to take on some Gu. It was hard for her to have Gu because she would feel nauseous. But after it started to kick in she realized that she was low on fuel and needed it.
We pushed on forward to ESPN. Alison was starting to limp more and we were beginning to worry about her. She thinks she has a broken toe from a few weeks prior to the race so we were watching her closely. At the water stop we lost our friend Becca. We took a potty break and Alison was elevating her foot to reduce the swelling in her toe. After the last banana stop (and our banana fight) in ESPN Alison met a breast cancer survivor,Carol, who also went through chemo the week before the Dopey challenge. She walked and talked with Kim through ESPN and the baseball stadium and then left us to move forward.
I was completely blown away by the experience. Several other women who had cancer shared their stories and offered their congratulations and support. When they did you could almost see Kim speed up a little. Their words of encouragement would lift her spirits. Kim’s spirits weren’t down by any means. She meant business with this race. She told me prior to the race that it wasn’t going to be pretty and to be prepared to walk. It wasn’t pretty, it was spectacular. To see such determination and fight was incredible. There were moments of fear when exiting ESPN because the sweepers were 45 minutes behind us and our pace was slipping to 15 minute miles. We also saw the actual street sweeper trucks entering ESPN. I had to remind Kim that they were 45 minutes behind us and that there were at least 3 miles back in ESPN that still had people so we were fine.
After we got to the water at mile marker 20 we met Gail’s parents and took pictures. We pushed forward towards the entrance to Hollywood studios and started to tell stories of how we met our husbands to help distract Kim and to help us all pass the time and get to know each other better. That was fun! Also at that point we had Kim look behind us to see how many people were still behind us and that we weren’t the last ones in the race. It’s hard when you never did a race so slow before, but I knew we’d make it.
We finally entered the backstage into Hollywood Studios where we got so fruit chewy candies that were awesome and Frankie found us there. He said Bob was worried a little about our time and he stayed with us on his bike until the end. Kimberly saw her friend Mel who gave her a huge hug and some Twizzlers and she started cruising through the rest of the park!
After we left Hollywood Studios we went to the walking path and my family was there to cheer us on. The kids gave Kim a high five and I hugged them all and followed her over the bridge towards the Beach Club and Epcot. More hugs on the Boardwalk from Deb of Team All Ears and then we were in Epcot. At this point I asked Kim what did she want to hear and she told me nothing, she needed quiet to get through the end. It was a lot like when being in labor and you just need to focus and bear down and push to the end. That’s what Kim did. We rounded the corner to mile 26 and the choir was there and a huge smile came across her face!
We crossed the finish line in 7 hours 24 minutes with tears, joy and excitement (and sore feet). But we were elated! My parents were there and Kim’s husband and daughter were there, but we couldn’t reach them at that point. We all hugged and the film crew interviewed Kim while we welled up with tears listening to her.
This was my slowest marathon; but my most special marathon. I met some great women and noticed that the fighters on the course were women. Our spirit is strong and when we have a desire and a dream to do something, we never give up. It was evident as Kim walked her way to the finish of that race with a smile on her face most of the time and the belief that she can do anything she puts her mind to. I hope my children learn that friendships are important, more important than finishing a race to get your best time. That supporting someone else’s dreams is just as important as our own. They may be too young to understand this now, but I hope someday I can tell them this story and they will learn from it.
Cancer has affected my family as well. My sister was diagnosed with oral cancer 2 years ago and is cancer free now and my mother had melanoma last year and is also clear. It is a terrible illness to fight. Thankfully I haven’t had to fight the fight, but have had my own adversities to overcome. I am thankful for my ability to run and to push through during hard times as well. I am looking forward to running more runDisney races and the Princess Glass Slipper Challenge in February!