I had trained for the Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge in January 2017 for over 6 months and looked forward to it for almost a year, so you can imagine that I definitely was pretty bummed when the half marathon was cancelled due to weather. But as it turns out the cancellation really was one of the best things that could have happened to me; the aftermath finally made me feel like a 'runner' and part of the running community and gave me the extra push I needed to start Just Keep Running in the first place. The silver lining was really a blessing.
After learning of the cancellation, I was pretty upset and super determined to still get in my 13.1 miles. We went back our hotel's desk (we were staying at a Disney Resort hotel) to try to see if we could find a treadmill for me to utilize in the morning (since the weather was not going to be favorable), but we had no luck. With the impending weather and slightly stressed-out runner-self that I am, I decided at 9pm on Friday night that I was going to go out and get some miles in ("run it out").
There was a 1.5 mile stretch along our closed hotel road (security guarded), so I felt pretty safe and it was well-lit with many street lights. I put on some extra running clothes that I had and just wanted to run out my frustrations (enough so that I could go to sleep that night). Side note: I am almost ALWAYS a morning runner and 9pm is typically my bedtime, so heading out for a run at 9pm is totally out of character (that's just how bummed/ determined to get those miles in).
I immediately started to see some runners on my 1.5 mile stretch. Some were wearing their costumes, hydration packs, their bibs pinned on, light-up glowsticks; there were even spectators (family members) along the stretch with water, signs, encouraging cheers, cowbells. It was seriously amazing and really made me tear up. I'm really not sure if there is any other sport where this situation would bring out this many people crazily running 13.1 miles in the rain (it had started to sprinkle and would later downpour). The energy was completely contagious. Every runner I passed would say encouraging words, maybe list off how many more laps they have left, and I would cheer back "great work" or "you got this!".
I didn't plan on running 13.1 miles that night, but with all my new running friends out there- I just couldn't stop and let them down. We all only had each other to cheer and motivate. I wish I could describe the meaning that running until almost midnight meant to me that night, but it meant too much to put into words. The constant energy of the night really propelled me to run that full 13.1 miles into the night and pouring rain. I didn't even have a raincoat, but my team didn't care- they were there to get their miles in just like me. That community is really what matters. It didn't matter whether a runner had passed me 5 times already or if I had passed another runner previously, we were all out there to accomplish the same thing.
It was thanks to the running community that I completed my own Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge and proved to myself that I could do it. I could do what I once that was "impossible" ; that I was actually a runner. We are all runners completely the same goals (no matter your finish time).
My body may have ran both the 13.1 miles and 26.2 miles, but I owe it all to the running community and those fellow runners that ran with me that dark, cold, and rainy night. THANK YOU!