My First Half Marathon

anewperson500I started running for two reasons:

  1. I wanted to lose weight but I needed a goal to get to in order to truly keep up an exercise regimen.
  2. Running was the cheapest, easiest form of exercise I could think of at the time that didn’t require me to get a gym membership (which is something I swore I would never do…)

So I signed up for the Disneyland Tinkerbell half marathon. I had run a few 5ks (3.1 miles) and a 10k (6.2 miles) previously, so a half marathon seemed like a perfectly attainable goal. I knew that I would need to train and prepare for this, so this would give me a good start to losing some weight and getting a steady exercise routine in.

I’ve never been a runner. I could barely do the mile in under 20 minutes in high school P.E., so the thought of having to eventually run 13.1 miles scared the living crap out of me – but I knew I would do this.

This is the training plan I followed.


I started on January 26th – 16 weeks before my half marathon. I stuck to it pretty rigorously for the first 10 weeks, and then the last 6 weeks I missed a few of the long runs, and in retrospect, I wish I didn’t.. This plan worked great, and for anybody that wants to do a half marathon, I highly suggest this routine, and sticking to it as much as possible. My very first run was incredibly difficult and it took me forever, but I finished! Every run got easier and easier after that. I actually began to look forward to my long Saturday morning runs.

The Sunday morning before my marathon, I woke up early to run 6 miles. I knew if I could do this, then I would be able to at least finish my half marathon. I completed my 6 miles with ease and was feeling very confident in myself.

Fast forward to 16 weeks later, and May 10th has finally arrived. The day I was supposed to run 13.1 miles. The day I had been thinking about since I registered in September is FINALLY here. I woke up at 3:45 in the morning shaking like crazy. My stomach hurt. I was so nervous. I was starting to doubt myself. I didn’t think there was any way I could do it. I owe a whole lot to my friend Helen, an experienced Disney runner, who calmed me down when I woke up. I put on my blue Tinkerbell half marathon shirt and my jazzed up running shoes, grabbed a bottle of water, an orange, and a quest bar (I’ll later learn to regret this) and started the trek to my starting corral.

In my gear and ready to go!

In my gear and ready to go!

Decorated my shoes with wings and charms. I needed all the motivation I could get!

I made friends with a few people in my corral as we impatiently waited for an hour and a half to go. The race itself started at 5:30 a.m. but I didn’t start racing until about 6:15 a.m. I was beginning to gain a lot more confidence when I turned around and saw thousands of people behind me. My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t run fast enough and get picked up by the pacer, but looking at the sea of people behind me gave me some much needed confidence.

I finally made it to the start line and all my nerves instantly went away. All I was focused on was making sure my legs kept moving.

At the start line, ready to run!

At the start line, ready to run!


The first 6 miles of the race were absolutely the best. We ran through California Adventure. I told myself I wasn’t going to stop and take any pictures because I wanted to keep a good pace, but I changed my mind around mile 2. I decided I wanted to just focus on having fun and remembering the moment, and if it slowed me down, so be it. I want pictures to remember it! So of course… I stopped to take a few pictures. I couldn’t help myself.

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We ran out of DCA and into Disneyland, and I basically speed-walked the entire way through Disneyland. I wanted to make sure I got lots of pictures and videos and had fun. I loved how they had characters out and everyone was there to cheer you on and have fun.

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The worst thing happened around mile 4… remember when I said all I had to eat was a quest bar and an orange before the race? That came back to haunt me. My stomach was yelling at me after mile 4. I didn’t have anything on me, but I knew around mile 8.5 they would be giving out clif energy gel shots (which basically tasted like citrus honey. They were kind of delicious actually). As long as I could make it another 4.5 miles, I thought I would be okay.

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After mile 6, the fun in the parks ended and we started racing around Anaheim. I definitely hit my wall at mile 7. It took everything I had just to keep my legs moving. I knew I was moving incredibly slow, but at least I was moving. I’m pretty sure miles 8 and 9 took me almost 20 minutes each.

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It felt like mile 8.5 was never going to come, but when I saw that red blow-up clif arch, I almost cried a little. This energy shots were very interesting. It tasted like lemon honey. I had never heard of them until the race. Something very interesting happened after I took it. I felt like a brand new person.

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I started picking up pace at mile 10. I felt great! I was run/walking at a decent speed. I couldn’t believe I finally made it to the double digits in the run. Miles 10, 11, and 12 helped me increase my average. I just wanted to get DONE! By the time I hit the beginning of mile 13, another wall came on. My legs started cramping, my foot was killing me, I could feel something in my knee rolling around… I was in a lot of pain. I knew if I stopped to rest, I wouldn’t get up, so I just powered through it.

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That last mile felt longer than the entire run itself. I thought it would never end.

Once I saw that mile 13 marker and that I finally finished, I took my quick picture, found some inner strength, and ran that entire last .1 part. That was the LONGEST .1 of a mile I’ve ever ran. I was exhausted at this point. I heard the announcer say my name as I approached the finish line, looked up, and THERE IT WAS – that bright blue FINISH sign. It didn’t quite hit me that I had finished.

Right after I crossed that finish line

The first thing they gave me was that beautiful, twirly TinkerIMG_1816bell medal. Then, they gave me a cold wet towel, water bottles galore, and a box of food. It wasn’t until I took my finisher’s picture and looked around and saw that people were still crossing the finish line that I realized what I had done… I just finished a half marathon. I just ran 13.1 miles. I just did something I never thought I was ever capable of doing. It was at that moment that tears escaped my eyes and ran down my cheeks. I couldn’t stop. I was so unbelievably proud of myself.

I ended up finishing in 3 hours and 43 minutes, with an average run time of 17 minutes/mile. I do wish I had run at a faster pace, but I’m not mad at it. It was my first one, I had stopped a lot to take pictures, and that wall hit me pretty hard.

 What I would have done differently:

  • Eaten a bigger breakfast
  • Carried some food with me and eaten something every 4 miles
  • Stretched more before the run

I am writing this the day after the run. I fell asleep last night at 8 p.m. Literally… I just closed my eyes and was dead to the world. I thought when I woke up I wouldn’t be able to walk, but I actually feel great. My knee and foot are sore, but other than that, I just still feel accomplished. I am tearing up now as I write this because I can’t believe I did what I did. The girl who could barely finish a mile in high school just ran 13 of them. The girl who used to be 250lbs just ran a half marathon.

The only question I’m asking myself now is… do I want to do a marathon? 😉

Check below for some more pictures I took during the race.

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