Running My First Half Marathon

"I've just completed my first half marathon"

I didn't think those words would ever leave my mouth.

You see, if you're reading this with the idea of completing your first half marathon in your sights and you find yourself thinking, "Can I even do this?" I'm here to tell you that you can, because I was just like you not too long ago.

As a former "kid-who-sat-out-in-gym-class" turned fashion blogger, I used to think the only 13.1 miles I would ever complete would be compiled of laps around a shopping mall. When it came down to nutrition, I could eat a salad and protein, yes... or I could eat a pizza. Carb load! I am a driven individual when it comes to my career, but when it came to my own physical health I preferred to stay within my comfort zone. I never considered myself to be a runner, only having a couple 5Ks and one 10K under my belt. I thought half marathons and marathons were only for those verging on Olympian status and that those runners would create an unwelcoming experience for any of those who came out on race day just to give it a try.

But everything changed for me when I stood at the finish line of the 2014 Disneyland® Half Marathon. With a hot tea in hand, I cheered on the first hundred finishers as they ran across the finish line, while Mickey and friends celebrated and gave out high fives. You see, after the elite and professional runners, I watched thousands upon thousands of everyday people cross the finish line. Some were young while others were young at heart. Some were running, others walking, while some even skipped over the finish line.

They came in all different shapes and sizes, but there was one thing they had in common: they were all finishing a half marathon.

My first half marathon was the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon. I made sure to take in the speaker series, which is offered at the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo, and ask as many questions of as many people as I encountered who had already run a half marathon. In my mind, I broke it down into four 5K races. After each 5K, I did a full-body analysis and told myself, "You're feeling great! Onto the next 5K!"

It was around the 10-mile mark, as we were exiting the gates of Disney's Hollywood Studios, when all worry left me. I was going to complete my first half marathon! My race partner and I began to really enjoy ourselves at that point. "I've had a foot cramp since the third mile, but I'm still doing it!" I said out loud. "You go girl!!!" A stranger responded. The camaraderie and friendships you make out there on the course are unlike any other. You're surrounded not only by thousands of the best cheerleaders, but by thousands of your best friends.

Nearing the finish line, tears started to well up in my eyes. I realized I was about to have that moment that I've watched so many others have.

"I did it. I finished my first half marathon. I pushed through my own personal doubts and the doubts of others around me. I may not be the fastest runner or the most athletic, but I ran and I finished."

That finish line belongs to the 10,000th finisher just as much as it does to the 1st finisher. There is an electric sense of accomplishment and pride at a runDisney finish line. I want you to know that you, too, can experience that feeling.

Leslie Kay of DisneyBound is here to help inspire your runDisney outfits! Tweet her at @LADisneyBound