Disney World Half Marathon 2012.
I had pre registered long before my accident for the Disney World half Marathon, a race which I had ran every year for 5 years. Back in September after my accident, January seemed a long way ahead, and I thought for sure I would be back up and running again by then, and if not, well, I would at least walk it. (I didn’t quite realize the extent of my injuries at the time, many internal, fractures, cartilage, muscle, nerve damage, etc).
I was a little anxious a week before the event, and decided to try to run at least one mile, to see how my body felt. It had been 14 weeks since I had run, but I had been walking many miles consistently. Apart from a little minor neck and back pain and some aches here and there, the mile felt pretty good.
My sternum had been fractured in the accident, and the respiratory muscles bruised with some cartilage damage, also a contusion in the lung, there was still a slight pain in the chest when I inhaled deeply.
I decided to make my way on that chilly exciting morning to the elite corral where I had been assigned. After being admitted shyly in to my wave, I humbly edged to the side so others runners would be able to pass me freely once we started.
The Achilles team were arranging themselves in their wheelchairs and others wearing prosthetic limbs jiggled around a little to stay warm. There was a young man, perhaps in his early twenties that had lost both his legs in Iraq, participating for the first time in this distance. The announcer spoke briefly about his fight against cancer, and how the illness had now returned, but that he was determined to run this race and stomp out cancer every step of the way. I felt so fortunate, not only to be there, standing at the start line of the Disney Half Marathon, but to be alive, and with all my limbs in working order.
The gun fired and the fireworks cracked, I began a steady easy jog to the side of the road, and watched the flow of runners race by me. I had barely been running a mile and the pain in my neck started, I continued on until at around mile two, the pain was intense enough that I thought I would have to stop…….very disappointed I headed into a porto-potty. Inside, I could here the runners passing and thought, what do I do now? I realized I should at least find my way to the first help station or volunteer. I joined the flow of runners again settling into a very slow and easy pace and discovered to my delight the neck pain had subsided. I high fived some of the volunteers hands, yelled yahoo! and continued on with a smile. I slowly and steadily made my way along the course, delighted at how natural and comfortable it felt, stopping here and there to greet a character and take a picture. The left glute hurt a little but that also subsided quickly.
Disney is pretty flat but there are a few little ups and downs, small overpasses that we cross, one of the Achilles team members in his wheelchair was struggling and turning his wheels as hard as he could, his name tag on the back read ‘David’. I slowly shuffled past him and said ”Come on David, you got this!” On the downhill he flew by me, that was when I felt the aching in my knee and lower back. I passed him again on the flat, “Come on David, you inspire me!”, he looked up and smiled, another hill came and he passed again, and finally when I passed him the last time, I shouted, “Come on, I want a big hug at the finish line”.
A few more character greetings and photos, then before I knew it, I was only a couple of miles from the finish, I was beginning to feel uncomfortable, I can’t stop now I thought. Tears began to reveal my emotion as I moved even more slowly towards the finish. Did I really think I could pull this off? At this point I was thinking “oh wow, I had planned to walk this, but I truly believe that doing what felt more comfortable and natural for me, an easy paced jog, was better than trudging at a slow walk for many hours was kinder to my body.
Then I was there. I had made it!!!! I finished! The beautiful Donald medal commemorating his 15 years of running, was placed around my neck. Almost immediately after I stopped, I went to take a deep breath………..no air! I could not breath, it was like my lungs had decided to close up. My first thought, “What have I done?” . I saw the Medical tent and began to walk towards it, as soon as I began to walk, I could get some air,the breathing improved and slowly became normal. How embarrassing that would have been…………….oh, Hi, I was in ICU with 5 broken vertebrae and a lacerated liver, fractured sternum, knee foot, etc, 14 weeks ago, and I just jogged the half marathon and now I can’t breath! DOH!!!
As my breathing returned to normal I cried, bittersweet sobs. Then I saw David come in through the finish, he looked up and smiled, I took my hug, and thanked him. Very soon after David, came Dean, a good running friend and a doctor, we hugged a few moments while I tried to contain myself and congratulated him on his PR.
I wrapped the myla blanket around my achey cold back and hobbled to the bus, as soon as I returned to my room I relaxed in the bath a while, and wondered how I had managed to do what I did on absolutely no training after being hit by an SUV. Determination, a need to feel like something was not totally impossible anymore.
I than lay on the bed, attached my tens machine to my lumbar spine, that was aching, put a compression sleeve on my left knee, and on my left calf that had been lacerated 14 weeks prior by a piece of carbon, and thought again I cannot believe I just participated and completed the Disney half Marathon. I was happy, no regrets!!!
Yes I know, my husband has already told me I’m crazy! I’m starting to think he may be right.. Lol!Nah, not me!
I was a little sore and stiff the next day, to say the least, normal muscle soreness though, which was expected, my muscles hadn’t done much in the past weeks. The left knee and foot a little sore too, I expected soreness where my injuries were, and muscles were weaker, but I was feeling better by the hour.
I think I’ll rest and recover some more now, better behave myself a while!
Stay strong, I certainly will do my best to:-)
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