This year’s edition of the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend saw runners from all 50 states and 32 countries try and tackle distances they never thought possible. For some runners it may have been a 5k (3.1 miles). For others it may have been their first marathon (26.2 miles), but some runners were looking for more than just a marathon. This year, runDisney added the Dopey Challenge which required runners to complete all four races in four days – a 5k, 10k, half marathon, and finally a full marathon.
There were 7,000 slots open for the Dopey Challenge and those spots sold out within a day or two. However, you don’t need to run 48.6 miles (the Dopey Challenge distance) to prove to yourself that you can accomplish your goals. Every runner has different goals and dreams to fulfill. In the world of running there are several goals you can tackle. For example, you may want to finish a 5k, or not just finish a half marathon, but run it the entire way. There are different goals for different levels of runners. It just depends on you and where you are in your running journey.
For those runners who are attempting to tackle longer distances your body can sometimes put up a fight against you. During an endurance race your body can and will break down. You sort of know that going into it, but what you tell yourself during the race is “I’m not going to stop. I’m getting to the finish line.” When you choose to start a race, it’s you versus the distance. It’s a personal fight to the finish line.
During this week’s DIS Unplugged Podcast, I was asked “What’s the point of running a race if it hurts?” The simple answer is the feeling of accomplishment, to finish the race, or to say “I did it!” However, the answer to that question goes much deeper. Whenever you decide to begin a race you are setting up a challenge between yourself and the distance. You want the satisfaction of knowing that your body could handle the distance. For those runners who know they can tackle the distance, they sometimes have added goals of beating a specific time. They want the feeling of knowing they can complete a distance faster than their previous race.
This year I attempted the full marathon, something I never thought I’d be able to complete in my life. My goal was to simply finish the race without getting injured. Never having run a full marathon, I wasn’t sure what type of pace I’d be able to keep during the race. I did train for this race, but I never really got a long enough run in prior to race day. That sort of shook my confidence and allowed fear to creep into my mind. runDisney requires a 16 minute per mile pace during the 26.2 mile trek.
I started the race rather slowly knowing there was a ton of distance to cover. After realizing I was keeping up with my pace I began to move a little faster. As the race continued my confidence began to build until I was far enough ahead of the required pace. My pace ended up around 13:45 per mile. After crossing the finish line, I never felt such a rush of enthusiasm and emotion in my life. I immediately flashed back to the days when I was just a heavy-set kid in high school and couldn’t even run a half mile. The feeling of self-gratification was amazing and something I’ll never forget for the rest of my life. For me personally, that is why I ran the full marathon. To prove to myself I left the days of poor health behind me; a self-validation that I’ve entered a new chapter in my life. Everyone has different reasons for why they run distance races. It doesn’t have to be about just finishing, or to just say “I did it!” There can be more to your goals and dreams, and there usually is.
If you’ve been thinking about running a race I strongly encourage you to give it a try. A 5k is the perfect distance to attempt. Something as simple as running a 5k can change your outlook on life. It can springboard you into other fitness goals like running a 10k, or going to the gym twice a week. If nothing else you’ll have a great memory of the time when you crossed the finish line. Trust me when I say “you won’t forget it.”
If you are going to run a distance race for the first time, runDisney is a great place to do it. Not only are we Disney fans, but there are a lot of Disney distractions along the course. Running through the theme parks is such a cool experience. Make this year “the year” you commit to a runDisney event. Try a 5k or 10k distance and see if you like it or if you can do it. I can promise you crossing the finish line is worth every bit of the blood, sweat, and tears you put into the race.
Photos Courtesy of runDisney
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Category: Disney World