How I Got To the Start of My First Marathon

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marathon 2016 medals

Be forewarned: this is a long post to go with a long ass race.  Actual recap to come. 

Normal runners have that goal to run a marathon “some day”.  I am not a normal runner.

You may remember me signing up last year for the Goofy.  Boy.  What on earth was I thinking?  The very long advance notice required of the whole thing had me convinced that I’d be fiiiinnneeee to do a half and then a full back to back.  Fiiiiinnnneeeee I said.

Yeah.  Not so much.  Over the course of that year, my running fell apart and personal issues factored in and I was in no shape mentally or physically to do the event.  I deferred it- and felt an immediate sense of relief.  It was completely the right decision at the time.


Even watching all my friends finish their first full marathons didn’t quite sway me to the “I need to do this” side of things.  The reports back from BRF Julie: It was hard.  Not impossible, but really really hard.  As a marathon should be.

Guys, I don’t like hard.  Things don’t have to be easy exactly (because halves are far from easy for me!) but I’m also not a fan of putting myself into positions where life is straight up hard.  That’s not how I’m wired.  I avoid hard things and tend to take the lighter side when it comes to challenges.

This is not a brag or anything to pat myself on the back.  It’s a full-on character flaw, for sure.  I might be happy but I’m not being challenged.

Flashback to April 2015 when registration for this weekend opened.

I went through the process to sign up for the 2016 Goofy just for “blog experience”.  I swear to you, I had NO intention of running that race.  I do a lot of things #fortheblog so this was just another one of them.   A lot of us have to defer and I thought I’d see what the process was like.  For the record: it was super easy and painless.

Which is why I ended up paying the extra $15 (or thereabouts) to sign up for the 2016 race.  (The hard part was paying the $400 the year before, amiright?)

At the time of sign ups, I had ZERO intentions to run the marathon (or Goofy FFS.)  But I figured for $15, who knows?  Plans could change, I could lose 60 pounds and 5 minutes per mile- hey, stranger things have happened.

Yeah- none of that happened.  In fact, I was 100% sure I was not running anything over marathon weekend by August.  This had not changed well into November when I completed the Avengers Half.

Enter:  Friends.  There are many to acknowledge and thank for talking me into doing this crazy race.

First come the Jiminy Crickets.


You know those friends who quietly sit on your shoulder and encourage but don’t push?  Those that plant ideas and then sit back and watch them grow?  They generally do the right thing and when they talk, you listen?

I’ve got two of those friends.

I blame them.

And I thank them.

Probably equal parts blame and thank to be honest as I sit here feeling like a truck ran me over.  DOMS, yall, they are REAL.

Tania: my Lola. Falcon to my Captain. My Danny Diaz. The real deal.

Tania: my Lola. Falcon to my Captain. My Danny Diaz. The real deal.

Tania kept trying.  Since August, she asked and suggested and encouraged.

She knew I was signed up and since she also signed up, wouldn’t it be awesome to complete our marathons together?

Me:  Um… no, Tania, it wouldn’t.  You’re cute.

But I didn’t shut the door right away.  I kept saying— weelllll, let me see how Avengers goes.  I knew from the training plan that Avengers was a 15ish mile week.  If I ran the 13.1 without major complaint, I’d consider pushing ahead and training for the full.


Avengers medals

So Avengers happened.  And it was fun.  And I didn’t complain- which, I kid you not, was a first for me in a half marathon distance. I wasn’t hurting or hating life.  I was just running.  And well… Tania caught on to that.  She kept asking about the marathon.

I kept avoiding.

Until one day I decided to run 12 miles and see how I felt.  This was early December.  I hadn’t run much since Avengers almost 3 weeks before so I had no idea what the 12 would bring.

The 12 were comfortable and solid.

Enter Jane.

The spirit of Jane. We should all be so lucky to have a friend who tells you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. She didn't fall far from the Peggy Sue tree.

The spirit of Jane. We should all be so lucky to have a friend who tells you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. She didn’t fall far from the Peggy Sue tree.

Me: Hey, um, where are you in marathon training?  What’s the mileage?

Jane: I’m at 18 this week.  How much did you run today?

Me: 12.

Jane: Go run 6 more and come talk to me when you’re done.

Me: Gulp.

As God is my witness, I have no idea why I went back out for 6 more.  But I did.

18 miles and … I felt great.

Waaaahhhhh????  What is going on here?!

Back to Jane.  We chatted.  She’s run a marathon before and was training for Dopey.  She was honest and upfront about the struggles and what I’d need to do over the next couple weeks.  She didn’t sugar coat it but she was encouraging.  If I was willing to put in the work, I could finish.  She consulted her coach- “asking for a friend” if it was possible to finish the Disney marathon with no time goals, just finishing, with the amount of time we had left to train.

He said- it will be hard.  But possible.


After the Jiminy Crickets came My People.

PHM 2013

BRF and Marathoner Julie.

Julie and Lisa

These sweet girls are My People.  They train like me, they run like me, and they are also on “Team Complete” like me.

And BOTH of them are marathoners in 2015.

Julie gave me the rundown and said I could do it.  She’s probably put the most miles on the road with me and knows exactly what my issues are (mental and slow) and still said- yes.  You. Can. Do. It.

DL 10K 14 HM

Lisa is a super fun running partner. I highly recommend running with this girl for a race!

Lisa told me about her recent experience.  And how much she LOVED it.  Which I have to say, went a long way in convincing me that the marathon distance isn’t from the devil.

If my fellow back of the packer can go through a race and come out on the other side happy and ready to run another?  There may be hope for me yet.

Both of these ladies made 18 their long run for their marathons and both said it was doable.

Okay then.  What more did I need?

Mr. Shenanigans chimed in.

Him: I have no doubt you can do this.  Go.


My lobster.  He’s supportive to a fault even while rolling his eyes at yet another excuse to go to Disney.  He understood the drive behind this one even if I didn’t.

I ended up scoring free flights with my air miles and my neighbor, Stephanie (also a GEM!), invited me to stay in her room for the weekend.  Financially everything lined up.

So I was in.  I just needed one more thing:


Lots of them.  Even with my friend’s words of encouragement and experiences ringing in my head, I knew this was going to be my experience and I’d need to put in some major work before this happened.


That’s distance, not calories. Ha! (3.8 was my walk speed for intervals)

A week after my 18-miler I ran 20.  And felt like a freakin’ badass.

Due to sick kids and husband, I completed these miles on the treadmill.  Some may say that is extra mental training, but I know me: the hard training is out on the road.

Treadmill?  Please.  I can do that all day with AC, potties nearby, and Netflix providing me a steady stream of distraction and entertainment.  The challenge for me is doing all that out on the boring old road.

So next week I decided on 22 as my final long run. I took it outside and ran.

All. Freaking. Day.

The sun setting on my long day of running.

The sun setting on my long day of running.

I won’t lie- it sucked as far as the mental aspect went.  I didn’t want to quit, but I did question why I thought this was a good idea.  I had some chafing going on, my feet were developing minor blisters, and I couldn’t decide if I was hot or cold half the time.

But I did it.  22 miles.  Boo-yah!

If you are keeping track:  I did 18, 20, and 22 miles on successive weeks.  NOT ideal.  Probably dangerous.  But I went into the miles looking to stay under 16 minutes and there was no pushing the speed.  I went SLOW, y’all.

This was a goal to complete, not compete, the marathon and that’s what went through my head the entire time.

Since I made this decision to run kinda on the spur of the moment, it had to be done this way if I wanted a decent taper.  Except for minor chafing and two small blisters, I felt good after each effort.  My legs felt like I’d run a crapton, duh, but I was shocked at how good everything felt considering.

Enter the Cheerleader.


Yanni: sparkles and smiles ALL. THE. TIME. I adore her.

Yanni. There is so much I could say about Yanni and her husband John.  That’s a full blog post on its own.

What I will say is that they are amazing ambassadors of the running community.  I reached out to her about this race soon after her 2nd cancer diagnose.  John posted that she needed a distraction.  What better distraction than telling her about my possible journey and letting her coach me through this?  I was a baby marathoner in need of hand holding.  I am so giving- ha!

I was hoping for words of encouragement.  I hoped to hear that “You can do this!” and that it will be worth it.

She did one better.

She signed up for the marathon that week and offered to get me to the finish line. 

The one piece of the puzzle that I was not looking forward to was completing 26.2 miles (7+ hours) all by myself.  I think she knew it was something I was dreading.  I didn’t have to ask.  She just offered to be that person.

And THAT’s how this happened.  With the help of my friends, my tribe, my ‘Ohana.  Hell, I can’t even say they helped so much as made it possible.

I love you guys.  And I will never ever evvvveerrr do this again.  Smooches!

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  • OMG, did you just keep all this off the blog or did I miss it?

    Congrats — you are awesome and all your friends are awesome and you have run way farther than I ever have (or probably ever will).

  • Wow! That’s quite the accomplishment! You have quite the support system there. Congratulations!!!

  • Soooooo, would you recommend this race for someone’s first marathon? I was thinking about the Marine Corps Marathon in 2016 for my first (because I did the MCM10K this past October and it was pretty incredible) but there are far too many hard core runners in that marathon for sure.

    • patty says:

      I think this race took a lot of mental stress and pressure out of the equation for me. If you are a strong runner with a competitive streak, I think mcm would be amazing and a life changer. If running a marathon freaks you the heck out (raising hand) then the WDW marathon is a great first time event. Generous course support, fun atmosphere, and mostly flat course. It was a super positive experience for me!

  • Marcia says:

    WooHoo! This was SO much fun to read. Congrats to you and wow what an excellent tribe! The tribe is everything!

  • Vanessa Prince says:

    Congratulations again! Thanks for sharing your journey.

  • Audra O. says:

    Way to go! I have not been brave enough to even THINK about a full marathon yet.

  • Jessica S says:

    So excited for you!! Congrats!! I must tell you my husband is a little irked with you (j/k) because I told him yesterday that you ran the marathon and I totally should take the plunge to run it too! 😉

  • Ali says:

    I read your post yesterday and was so surprised and happy for you. I’m an Internet stranger but I have followed you for awhile now (in the least creepy way possible) and enjoy hearing about your journey. Maybe when I’ve had a few more half marathons under my belt, I’d consider doing a full. But you have inspired me to at least think about it. And to keep on trucking for the Dark Side in April. Congratulations!!!

  • I am so proud of you. I knew when you did 18, you were good. Its one heck of an experience….fun, hard, tiring, exhilarating…so many emotions in those 7 hours. Now you can check it off the list or consider another in the future! Congrats, I love running with you, it was exciting yesterday to get the texts at each checkpoint. Wonderful you were able to finish with so many amazing ladies!

  • Gill says:

    Congratulations! What an amazing achievement! I’ve just finished my 2nd half marathon on the weekend and thought ‘there’s no way I could do a full’ so have absolute respect for anyone that does. I look forward to reading the full race recap!

  • christi in ma says:

    congratulations Patty!!!
    I had wondered what happened with your Goofy deferral but figured maybe it was a 2017 race for you.
    I can’t wait to read your race recap!!

  • I’m trying to think of good words for you but all I seem to be able to think of is I AM SO SAD I WASN’T THERE TO HUG YOUR NECK AND SAY WOW AMAZING FRIEND FROM THE INTERNET YOU ARE AMAZING. And welcome to our very tiny club of marathoners. I’m glad you’re now a medal carrying member.

  • Elaine says:

    Don’t say never! I was thinking the whole way through reading this post that I should talk you in to walking the NYC Marathon with me. It’s a little dream of mine to do NYC, but I don’t think I would have the guts to go do it by myself.

  • Cara says:

    Congrats so happy for you! I have always put off running a full because if the hectic schedule with 3 young kids and usually being undertrained for the half. But life threw me a curve ball last month and I feel like WDW 2017 might be making it in the schedule. Thank you and look forward to your next review.

  • Tania says:

    I’ve always believed in you. I’m just happy you finally believed in yourself!

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Patty Holliday

If she isn’t chasing her four kids around Northern Virginia, Patty is chasing four bars on her phone to share her authentic and fun stories on social media and her blog, My No-Guilt Life. She’s also one half of the Marvel Moms, an online community for discussing the Marvel fandom. You can catch up on her runDisney fun at No-Guilt Disney.

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