Big congrats to my good friend Jillian Hoffman for completing her first half marathon! We ran our first 5K together back in 2010 and look how far we’ve come!! I am so excited to have her here on RAD to share her experience. Take it away girl…
Hi All! I’m Jillian and can’t wait to share my experience of running my first ever half marathon during Marathon Weekend!
Let’s go back to Marathon Weekend 2010. I participated in the 5k that weekend, my first race ever! I had so much fun and knew that I wanted to run a half marathon…eventually. Fast forward to New Year’s Eve 2012 just a few weeks before my 29th birthday. Every one kept asking what my resolutions were. Without even hesitating I said “to run the DisneyWorld Half Marathon in 2013 right before I turn 30.” And here’s my story of doing just that!
I spent all year training and even dealt with a severely strained psoas (hip) injury that sidelined me for almost 2 months back in Oct/Nov. So needless to say leading up to the race I had tons of anxiety about my injury and of course like so many others, came down with a cold the week before the race. Thank goodness that by Friday morning when I hopped on a flight down to Florida I was feeling much better.
The day before the race was a whirlwind! My friend Jen was joining me on this trip to run the half as well. After our flight landed in Orlando we hopped on Magical Express, checked into our room, and headed over to the Expo. We quickly got our race bibs (anxiety set in big time right there), then headed over to the Expo for some shopping. We dropped everything off in our room and it was already time for dinner with my parents who were down to cheer me on. We ate at Delmonico Italian Steakhouse, which isn’t too far off property and I can’t recommend it enough. We filled up on pasta & Lasagna Chips, the most amazing thing we’ve ever eaten!!
We got back to the room 7:30pm and had just enough time for showers, stretching (you bet I brought my foam roller with me!), and putting out our race clothes before we went to sleep.
At the cruel hour of 2:30am the first alarm went off. After hitting snooze twice we finally got out of bed around 2:45am. Both of us did some more stretching, chugged down bottles of water, and I ate my breakfast of 2 slices of whole wheat bread w/natural peanut butter and honey drizzled on it. We got dressed, put together our bag, and headed out the door. Since Jen is a way more experienced runner than I, we planned to just check her bag with both of our things since she was going to finish about an hour before me.
After making sure we had everything, it was off to the buses. One was pulling up just as we were getting to the stop so we made a quick run for it to make sure we got on. We were staying at the Caribbean Beach Resort so it was a quick ride over to Epcot. On the long walk from where the buses dropped us off to the pre-race area, I started to get really emotional! Everything I had worked on all year was about to be put to the test. As Jen saw me starting to tear up, she said exactly what I needed, “Stop being a whiney (insert expletive here haha), suck it up, you’re gonna rock this! Look how far you’ve come!!” We laughed but that was exactly what I needed to get me pumped up and ready! We met up with some friends to say hellos and good lucks.
We took a few bathroom breaks and checked our bag. Once through the bag check, insanity ensued! You could barely move! It took us over 20 minutes to walk from the bag check to our corral!
Jen was supposed to start in corral C but was awesome and moved back to start with me in F. God bless that girl because I would have freaked just standing around by myself! While waiting we stretched some more, chugged down more water, and started taking GU & Shotbloks.
Pretty soon fireworks were going off all around us as the race had officially started!!!
About a half hour after that first start our corral started moving on up to the start line!! Ahhhh here we go!!
This was it!! I was about to start running my first half marathon!! I was excited, nervous, elated, you name it!! Goofy & Donald were there and all of sudden it was time to go!!!
I was doing intervals of 2 mins running/2 mins walking as per my doctors instructions since this was going to be my longest run since the psoas injury. As soon as I hit my first walk interval Jen gave me a big hug and was off running! Side note: That chick finished in 2:16:05 and that was with 2 bathroom stops! Yeah girl!!
The first few miles went great!! So great in fact that I did my fastest 5k since before the injury! I was happy and taking pictures of things as I passed. I just couldn’t believe I was running a half marathon!!!
Heading into the TTC at mile 4 I was still feeling good and getting really excited that I wasn’t too far from the Magic Kingdom!
Coming down the hill just before the Contemporary there was a DJ in duck wings cheering us on! I couldn’t help but smile running down that hill!
Then we passed mile 5 and started making our way into the Magic Kingdom! I was already getting emotional. I took out my camera to take some pics as I was coming down Main Street…
Once on Main Street, I started looking for my friends Shelley & Betsy. I soon spotted them but Shelley started pointing at something. I looked over and my best friend Kelly was there!! I started bursting into tears because I could not believe that she surprised me!! Thank goodness my friend Shalon caught this moment on video. I cry every time I look at it!
After hugs & tears, I ran off with a renewed sense of spirit! I seriously loved the time in the Magic Kingdom!! I took lots of pictures and was able to use the bathroom in Tomorrowland with a very minimal wait! I also was able to get in a quick photo with Alice & the Red Queen since it was the only short line I saw the whole race!
Running through the castle was amazing! It got a little congested but seriously, it was so cool!!
After that I passed by Tiana & Louis…
On my way through Frontierland…
And out the back entrance…by the garbage! They tried to spiff it up with Cinderella and the castle float…
But the 10k mark, the water/powerade station, & port-a-pottys were all right there by the garbage! Seriously Disney?! It stunk so bad and I had such a hard time getting down my water. After that it got very tight too. I tried to keep to my intervals as best as I could but my running ones were almost as slow and my walking because there was just nowhere to go. A little after mile 7 it opened up but my hip started to hurt a bit. I stopped right after the Clif Bar station to stretch a little then continued on. Then next 2 miles were the worst of the whole race for me. It was just a long straight road with no entertainment, the sun blaring hot in my face, and trying to push through the pain. I want to give you all an honest look at how I felt so please try not to laugh too hard at my mile 8/9 pictures.
I had a serious moment of “OMG I’m not going to finish.” But just as I was approaching mile 10 I got a text from Jen saying “Babe, ur right on track to finish!!! Ur doing AMAZING!! Keep it up, almost done!!!” It was what I needed; I perked right up and hit a few awesome spots in the race! As I was coming up the overpass the Green Army Men were shouting at us to pick it up and get to that finish line! So I snapped a quick pic and got on up that hill!
As we were running over the bridge I saw nothing but a sea of people running where I had just come from. I know this may sound awful but seeing that gave me confidence that I was going to finish; I wasn’t last! The next confidence boost came from this fabulous woman right before mile 11. She ran up next to me and tapped me on the shoulder. I pulled out my ear buds and she says “Can I just say that you look amazing! You barely look like you’re sweating and I’m such a hot sweaty mess. You go girl! You so got this.” I laughed and thanked her and told her I could just hug her right now but I can promise I’m as sweaty as you and I’m sure you don’t want to feel that! Folks, this is why I love runDisney races! The camaraderie and all the encouragement! So if that lady was you, THANK YOU, you got me through those last 2.1 miles.
Honestly, I was really feeling great at this point. The pain in my hip wasn’t so bad, I know that I had properly hydrated and fueled along the course, and I knew my parents were going to be there at the end to cheer me on! Now we were coming into Epcot. Phineas & Ferb were rocking out and cheering us on with a DJ…
And I had just 1 more mile to go!!!!!
I called my parents & Jen to let them know I was making my way into Epcot and to find out where they were standing. Hearing my Dad’s voice and him telling me I’m almost there was all I needed. I was about to be a half marathoner!
The time in Epcot went so fast!! Before I knew it I was coming up to mile 13 and the sounds of the Gospel Choir.
Just past mile 13 was my parents and all my friends!! They were all jumping and cheering!
It was so amazing and I knew that finish line was coming! I started tearing up! I did it! I set my goal and I accomplished it!
My friend Rora was the one to give me my medal and a huge hug!! She let me have a good cry, gave me another hug and sent me on my way to get my powerade and food. I couldn’t believe it! I did it! I really did it!!
I’m so proud of how far I’ve come and I’m ready to take the next step! I’m already signed up for the Double Dumbo Dare in Disneyland and I have a feeling my friends are going to convince me to run the full marathon next January!