(Yes, I KNOW this is like six months late. Oh, well. In my defense, I couldn't actually write this recap at the time of the race anyway, because the things that made this race special to me were not public knowledge....)
I will start this by stating, for the record, that I met absolutely none of the goals that I’d set out for myself at Disney Princess (well, other than my goal to beat my time from 2011). But, the memories from that race are ones that I will cherish forever.
Rewind to Thursday morning in the main dining room at Port Orleans Riverside, when I’m BARELY coherent after getting in very, very late the night before. My best friend (Duchie) & her husband had flown in the night before from Chicago and I hadn’t seen them yet. Cue the hugs and squealing as we reunite. I notice that they exchange a “look” and I knew SOMETHING is up (seriously, I’ve known this woman for 16 years: I know when something is up), so I demand to know what’s going on. At which point she shows me an ultrasound of two tiny blobs. Cue MAJOR SQUEALING. And HUGGING. And tearing up. And then she says: “did you see how many there were?” And ZOMG, MY BEST FRIEND IS HAVING TWINS! They’ve only just found out themselves and she’s about eight weeks pregnant.
My original plan was to run the half at marathon goal pace (I was in training for the Eugene Marathon at the time). We started off at that pace, more or less, but it wasn’t super easy for either of us. The humidity always kills me (although I know I could have pushed and done it) and…she was 8 weeks pregnant. I think there was a moment, around mile 5 (I remember that we could see the backside of Space Mountain), when it was obvious from her breathing that she was having a tough time. Like way tougher than it should have been for her at that pace: she’s a 2:06ish half marathoner and we were on pace for 2:15. That was the first time I really realized how big an impact this pregnancy was going to have (and already had had) on her body. I think we both realized that in order to finish the race in whatever manner was safest for her and the tiny, precious cell blobs growing inside of her, we were going to have to throw “goal paces” out the window, slow down, and listen to what her body was saying.
Duchie kept telling me to go ahead and leave her. I told her there was no fucking way that I was leaving her. For one thing, if anything happened, I needed to be there to help her (and I knew that her husband and family were counting on me to get her through this race). And, I kind of already knew that this was going to be our last chance to run together for a really long time (indeed, her doctor told her NO MORE RUNNING at her appointment the following week). No way was I going to sacrifice this last run with my best friend and best running buddy for a chance at a PR. No PR means more than friendship.
From then on, we slowed down. We took some long walk breaks to get down gels and when her energy was down. We did a potty stop. We filled up our water bottles at least twice. We ran pretty slowly, but steadily. We chatted & laughed & strategized. But, we STILL didn’t stop for photos (although I told her that we’d HAVE to stop if Rucifee was out on the course…), because…it’s a race, not a meet & greet.
My absolutely favorite moment was when a little boy along the side of the course pointed at us, in our matching yellow shirts and Skirt Sports skirts and yelled: “TWINS!” Oh, kid, you had no idea!