I always wonder what’s going through the minds of other athletes during races. I think to myself, Are you as miserable as I am? I had this thought particularly often during my most recent race, the Walt Disney World Marathon. Perhaps it was related to the whole “Happiest Place on Earth” thing, but seriously, I think this group of racers qualifies as the happiest I’ve personally encountered. Me? Not so much. As contagious and inspiring as that enthusiasm was at times, it also bewildered me. I mean, it’s a marathon. It hurts. At least, I hurt.
I may not know what all those costumed, cheerful people really had going through their heads, but here’s how those 26.2 miles went down in my brain:
1. It’s cold.
2. Still cold. And dark.
3. Oooh, Magic Kingdom parking lot.
I have to pee.
4. How big is this parking lot?
I’m going to ditch a layer.
That was a bad idea.
5. Seriously. Where am I?
6. Oooooh pretty castle. This is fantastic.
I should not have taken off that layer.
7. What time is it?
When is the sun coming up?
I can’t wait to take a nap.
8. Really, legs? Already?
9. These golf courses look pretty nice.
Golf is so boring.
My legs are tired.
I can do this. I’ve done this.
10. Oooh, sun. Maybe I should ditch another layer.
Omg no it’s freezing in the shade. Keeping this layer forever.
Seventeen more to go isn’t too bad.
I should’ve studied the map. When does this get fun again?
11. Is this a water treatment plant?
Keep running. There’s pizza after.
Yes, this is a sanitation plant of some sort.
I appreciate the effort to entertain us with fun facts about sanitation plants and recycling and whatnot.
12. Man, how far is the next park?
Pizza. Then nap.
13. Omg they brought out animals to cheer for us.
ANIMAL KINGDOM YES that means we’re almost halfway.
Fourteen more miles and then I don’t have to run for a month.
I have to pee.
14. When’s the next park?
Thirteen miles to go. No more running after that.
15. How is everyone around me so enthused? We’re running through a parking lot.
16. Maybe I should’ve dressed up. The costumed people seem to have superpowers.
17. Sixteen down. TEN MORE MILES.
And then I’ll eat pizza.
Please let us be done with these boring-ass highways soon.
I’m starting to lose steam.
This is worse than last time.
At least this one is flat.
Just think of the pizza.
I am so bored with running.
Maybe I should finally ditch this layer.
18. [Runs into the shade.] Idiot.
19. I think I’m going to need a bathroom…
20. Are they going to play jock jams for the entire four miles we’re in the Wide World of Sports? Not that I’m complaining…
21. DO THE ATHLETES THAT USE THESE FIELDS NEVER USE THE BATHROOM???
22. PRAISE BEJEEZUS IT’S A PORTAPOTTY.
23. This is not going well.
I can do this.
I forgot how much I hate Florida highways.
How am I still cold?
24. I wonder how many of these people voted for Trump.
25. Marathons are not my thing.
I can do this.
I might crap myself.
Hollywood Studios. Finally.
26. The boardwalk is nice.
Four weeks off running.
EPCOT. Where is mile marker 26? WHERE IS IT?
This music is really intense.
So is the pain in my legs.
What are the chances I crap myself?
Am I still running?
OW OW OW OW OW.
26.2. Point-two miles COME ON LET THIS BE OVER.
finish line YES YES YES I DID NOT SHIT MY PANTS.
Get me some pizza.
This was my second marathon — 49 days after my first — and really, it wasn’t that bad, especially considering how poorly I prepared for it. It went as I expected it to: painfully. I arrived at the starting line burnt out on running and looking forward to a break, and I really noticed the lack of first-timer adrenaline during the back 13 miles. Still, I’m thrilled with what I’ve accomplished.
I’m also thrilled for two other reasons: (1) I’m relaxed after a few weeks keeping it low key and run-free, and (2) I’m about to start another exciting adventure. Next week, I’ll begin training for my biggest challenge yet: a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run extravaganza — aka an ultra triathlon, better known as an Ironman. It’s been on my to-do list for the last few years, so I’m going for it on July 23 in Lake Placid, New York. I plan to write a lot about this endeavor. Stay tuned. Or plan to avoid me.