I am not a jock. It is painfully obvious that I am not a jock, and that’s something that I’m actually pretty happy with. Usually when I tell someone that I run, the response is, “Really? You? Huh,” and I prefer it that way. I’ve never been a sedentary person; I used to get up at 5:30am when I was in high school and do step aerobics, but my activity level has always been my dirty little secret. I want people to believe that I can eat whatever I want and not get fat. I want to be viewed as “lucky” rather than “dedicated.” It makes no sense.
My father decided that he and I needed to go down to Florida and run in the Walt Disney World Marathon. He runs marathons and has for 20 years. He is crazy. I ran a 5k last spring. I agreed to do the ½ marathon because I wanted a free trip to Florida.
We were required to be in the staging area by 4:30am. Wayne decided that traffic was going to be a nightmare, so we had to leave the hotel at 2:30am.
“You should really eat something, Annie.” he insisted.
“Wayne, it’s 2:30am, I can’t physically eat at this hour.” Unless I’ve been up all night drinking, but I kept that part to myself.
He kept talking about my time, how long it would take me to finish. “What do you think your time, will be Annie?”
“I don’t know Wayne, I’ve never run more than 5.5 miles in my life. I just hope I don’t collapse before the finish line.”
“Well, I think you’ll do it in 2:20, yup, 2:20.”
That’s 2 hours and 20 minutes. For a free vacation, I signed up to run for more than 2 hours. I barely go to movies that are more than 2 hours.
At the staging area I choked down a free sample of an energy bar, and a vitamin water, met a couple people from Kansas who offered me a pretzels and asked what I thought my time would be, then got in line for one of the 10 million porta-potties. Okay, it was more like 100, but whatever.
At the starting line, people were stretching out in that way that shows they mean business using poles and trees and making faces like they were encouraging their muscles to loosen up “Come on quads, I need you guys.” There were banana peels everywhere, which struck me as very unsafe. An insanely chipper woman was yelling over the P.A. about the tradition of the Walt Disney World Marathon, and this year’s theme “Imagine.” Seriously, imagine. Was last year’s theme “Imagination? Imagineer?” Disney really does make itself into a cliché.
The starting gun went off for Wave A, the runners who are actually going to run the whole race, and everybody cheered. Wave B, the less hardcore group including myself, moseyed toward the starting line and waited for out starting gun. Wave A got fireworks, we just got a loud horn sound, Wave C, the walkers, which started 20 minutes after Wave B, probably just got the perky lady yelling “Ready, set go!” I jammed my earbuds in, and turned my Ipod on. First song of the race: Crazy, by Gnarls Barkley. I just looked around and thought, I will remember when I lost my mind. Why do people pay money and fly across the country for the privilege of running on Florida’s highway system? Then I realized that no one around me was actually running. The crowd of people was so dense that there was no room to actually run. So I took my pristine running shoes that had never been outside before and ran the first 4 miles of the race in the ditch.
Around mile 5, something seemed to shift in my brain. I was running beside a huge group of strangers and I felt completely isolated. The songs on my running mix seemed to take on a new poignancy. I had to skip Faithless’s I Can’t get no Sleep, because it just made me tired. I ran through Cinderella’s castle to Cypress Hill telling me that “in the drug game if someone jerk you, you can shoot ’em and kill ’em.”
Mile 7, and I wanted to die. My guts felt like liquid, my hips ached, and the arches of my feet twinged with every step. I’d had more disgusting yellow Powerade than I thought possible. Someone at a refreshment station gave me some kind of energy goo that was apple pie flavored, but actually tasted like a foot. But I ate it (or slurped it, or whatever you do with something you can’t chew), because I was starting to get light-headed. I started walking, even though I heard my dad in my head telling me “Whatever you do, don’t walk. Once you start walking, you won’t stop.” I walked for 2 miles, slowly.
A little after mile 9, I started trying to psyche myself up. “Just get through it, you’re almost done, etc.” All the little lies we tell ourselves when we’re faced with something truly daunting and unpleasant. Then some girl passed me. That was nothing new, lots of people had passed me by this point. She had her racing number pinned to her back when most people had theirs on their front. I stared at it dazedly for a bit and then realized that this bitch was from Wave C. That wave started 20 minutes after mine and she just passed me.
Just as that thought registered my Ipod flipped to Me Against the Music, and all I thought was “Fuck this, I am not getting passed by a Wave Cer.” Suddenly, just like Britney, my hips were moving at a rapid pace, and I was, in fact, feeling it burn. Thankfully it hurt less than before, or else I was going numb. I left the hateful Wave Cer in my wake, and ran the rest of the stupid race.
The race finished in EPCOT where we looped around the big spiky golf ball and wound up back in the parking lot where we started. Once we got into the park I started frantically skipping through songs trying to find the perfect music to finish to, finally settling on Unwritten, by Natasha Bedingfield. I passed mile 13 and saw the finish line .1 miles away. There were bleachers full of people cheering and screaming. I passed another 10 people who apparently were going to jog to the finish line (again, fuck that people were watching), and passed under the big arch. A medic ran up to me as I was lamenting that I had timed my song out poorly (I wanted it to finish as I did, but alas) and asked if I was okay. She seemed really concerned and I briefly though about making something up to get some free medical attention, but instead I just smiled and said, “No, I’m great.”
For my efforts I got a ridiculous medal shaped like Donald Duck, a t-shirt, a couple orange wedges, and a horrific case of the runs. I spent the rest of the day in bed wanting to die, and when I finally managed to get up and try to eat some food, the first thing my dad asked me was, “So Annie, what do you think your time was?”
My official time was 2:39:50. My personal goal, once I changed my goal from just wanting to finish, was 2:40. I’ll get 2:20 on the next one.