Summer on the Run is a 12-week blog and video series that follows former Olympic swimmer and avid runner Summer Sanders on her journey to train for Disney's Princess Half Marathon on Feb. 24.
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, she will share training tips, and a little inspiration, as she gears up for the main event. Use hashtag #GoRun on Twitter to follow Summer and be part of the ongoing conversation.
I crossed the finish line glowing--both because I was psyched and because I was so hot from running 13.1 in the Florida humidity! Like most of you, I trained at home, which for me meant ice storms and snowy trails. I wasn't quite prepared for Florida weather. Who knew it would be that muggy at 5:30 a.m.?
But everything that a race through Disney promised, it delivered! From the roar of the crowds to the support of the runners, it was magical. I stopped twice briefly to pose with characters -- I couldn't resist! When I felt like my face was on fire from the heat, I figured I might as well use all those great distractions along the course, so I checked out the sights and visited every last water stop as planned. I even decided to dump some on my head and face to create a cooling effect.
I was able to get through the toughest moments with help from those around me, including those water station volunteers! And some good ole positive thinking goes a long way. I thought of my little Spider who had accomplished so much in the 5K the day before, and how could I slow down, let alone think about stopping?
It's amazing how quickly your mood can change during a race. I refused to get flustered by the things I couldn't control. I didn't take myself too seriously. I remembered my goal when I started training, which was to run on my own terms and feel confident that I was in control on race day. Though the weather threw me for a loop, I wasn't going to be defeated.
Many times during the race I soaked up that Disney spirit. I told myself I would see the finish line sooner than later, and I counted down the miles to keep myself busy, Of course, as I grabbed my post-race snack, I thought: What's next? When can I do this again? It's something us runners always do to ourselves. It may sound like torture to non-runners, but we love that natural high. Once the race is done, we challenge ourselves to do it better, faster, or with an even harder goal next time. And we want next time to come quickly!
For me that wasn't a problem. I'll be running my first Boston Marathon on April 15; I deferred last year due to injury, so this is my chance. It's a biggie because I've been building up to this race in my mind for years. It's so iconic, so historic -- it's the world's oldest annual 26.2-mile race -- and yikes, it has Heartbreak Hill.
I'm so glad that I have this base to build on because I have just 45 days. There's no taking time off -- in fact, I did my 15-mile long run this week, post race. Remembering all the weeks of training for Disney's Princess Half makes me feel secure -- I've got this covered.
Honestly, I can't wait to feel that rush of adrenaline again on Patriot's Day, when I stand with all the others who have qualified for Boston. I'll take my mark, and it will be different than every other race I've done save one thing: I'll fall in love with this sport all over again.
Summer got the job done in 1:43:31! She's already thinking about her next race -- the Boston Marathon this April. At the finish line, it doesn't matter how many people are in front of you or behind you—you've earned your place and your medal. Whether you're planning your next race or taking a break until the snow melts, it's your call. First thing's first, let's celebrate!