Welcome to the third stop on Magical Blogorail Red! Today we are discussing runDisney.
I am not a runner.
I’ve said it before, over and over again. At one point I actually declared the opposite, and I suppose that argument could be made as well. From that chapter of my life:
I have forever been adamant that I am decidedly not a runner. I quit track in school after one practice because apparently, before they let you just sprint down and do a few hurdles, you also have to run in circles around the track with your teammates. A lot. No thank you.
One quiet night in 2005, in a hotel room while my husband (a runner) was on an interview, I was trying to come up with some master plan to get him to go back to Disney World with me. This is hilarious now, since we go there every opportunity we get. That night though, I told him I’d run a half marathon with him if it were there. Plans were made for January 2007, money was spent – there was no turning back. From that hotel room, I was inspired. I read stories of people who made drastic life changes from being unable to walk to the mailbox without getting winded to completing the same distance. This is going to be great, I thought. From that hotel room.
The first mile I ran in that year-long training season (if you aren’t a runner, even a year doesn’t seem like enough time to run THIRTEEN.%*[email protected]), I thought I was going to die. No, I mean literally. My heart was pounding out of my chest so hard I could both hear and see it. My lungs were so desperate for air – and for my albuterol – that I feared I’d never get any oxygen back in them and would, by default, take my last breath right there in my driveway after running less than a single mile.
The days passed. I’d run some, motivated only by the fact that 1) I’d spent the money and 2) other people were succeeding so I had to, too. Then one day, I woke up and found myself finishing 5 miles… 9 miles… 13 miles. We completed the half on schedule with a time that is absolutely not worth sharing – but I had done it! The girl who was ready to quit short of her first mile since junior high had just finished a 13.1 mile race. I could do anything!
Except ever run again. I swore I’d done it once and, being not-a-runner, would never even entertain the thought again. Kyle? He was ready for more. The supportive wife I am, I quoted him all sorts of science and medicine that proved humans were absolutely not made for 26.2 miles. Then I signed up for the 2014 Walt Disney World (full) Marathon.
How did that happen?! you ask. I’ve always known I was wired to be a runner. I live for personal goals and smashing personal records. I can make the world’s greatest playlist for motivation and speed, and love the idea of running. But it seems somewhere I lost the physical part that goes with that wiring. “It’s not that I don’t like exercise, it’s that running is boring,” I’d tell anyone who asked. “Running takes too long and doesn’t entertain me.” “Running takes hours and I end up back in the same place I started, having accomplished nothing but getting tired and sweaty.” “There is no such thing as a runner’s high.”
One day in 2013, I came home and told my husband I had signed us up for a 5K – for absolutely no reason. A few days before the race, I decided I should probably run for the first time in over five years. I took to the track at the gym and cranked out 3 miles. It was boring, but whoa! I weighed 30 pounds more than when I ran my first mile as an adult (and had not run two steps since that ’07 race), but was able to finish 3 miles with relative ease. I learned very quickly that the inadvertent cross-training I had done by taking up spinning and interval training in the interim had done wonders for my cardiovascular health.
I started looking at other races. Running wasn’t awful. It had the potential on occasion to be, dare I say it, exhilarating. We planned to sign up for the half in January 2014 when Kyle said, “I think I’ll finally do the full marathon. I’d like to do a different route, and have always wanted to do one.” I half-listened and replied, “Oh my gosh, you’re right. And I totally don’t want the same medal as before!” – so we both signed up for the full.
That old entry went on to talk about how incredible the training was going. How much I was enjoying running. How I was a long way from 26 miles, but all I could think about was running, all the time. I was a changed woman.
I laugh at that girl now, because the 2014 Marathon Weekend is behind us. Not long after that blissfully ignorant post I had an injury, months of physical therapy, joint injections, etc. I stopped training and gave up on the idea of running the race. Then I finished the race with pretty much no training and medical advice against starting, like a stubborn idiot. To this day, I am only a little bit proud of the accomplishment.
And yet? I am absolutely looking forward to the 2015 Glass Slipper Challenge taking place in just six weeks – a 10K on Saturday followed by a half marathon on Sunday. Am I a glutton for punishment? Probably a little. But here is what I have learned from my runDisney experiences, and what I want to share if you have ever, ever even considered – for a moment – participating in one:
1) You can do it. I know, many of you are thinking that you are really not a runner, and that people like me – who say we are not runners but have medals that try and prove otherwise – are frauds. But I’m serious. My story is not unique, and there are people I know personally that have overcome huge physical tragedies, bad genetics, and things that make my excuses look totally lame that have accomplished races they never thought they could.
You might not win the race, or even your age group. You might, like in my 26.2 story, barely make it in under the allotted time. Heck, you might not even finish at all. But you can start. You can go farther than you did before, and farther than you think you can. I just know it’s true, beyond a shadow of a doubt.
2) runDisney is THE place to do it. If you have the resources at all – you can save up over time while you train, you can time a vacation or conference for a slated event, whatever – these races are the perfect place for people like us to get our feet wet. The race courses are “easy” (I know – it’s all relative); the entertainment and organization, as you might expect, are top-notch; the support of other racers and all of the spectators is unlike anything I have seen anywhere else; and there are lots of “people like us” doing their first race, too.
3) Our bodies are incredible – at our highest or lowest weights, our highest or lowest level of fitness. I ran my first half when I was young and skinny; it was insanely hard. I run now quite overweight, much older, and much more “out of shape” at first glance, and it’s easiER. The shape of your body does not define you, or even your overall health. Yes, we should take care of ourselves. But your heart health, your mental fortitude – all of this plays a role in who you are much more than your pants size. I’m learning this, and running (even when I hate every step of it) really helps drive that home.
When I finish a run – my first mile or two in ages or the 8-9 that I am at right now – I often breathe a huge sigh of relief that it’s done. I usually didn’t love any of it, I’m not feeling exhilarated or overjoyed. But I am proud of the fact that my legs just took me that far, and that my body gave birth to three kids and is still functional and healthy enough to be with them for a long time, God-willing 🙂
4) Never say never. “I will never run a long race.” “Well, I’ll never run another one.” “I’ll definitely never run a full.” “I”ll never host a podcast.” Whatever the situation – fitness related or otherwise – I’ve learned that saying that dreaded N-word (not that one, the other one…) almost always results in me eating my words. Learn from my mistakes, and just don’t say it. 🙂
5) People can change. We can overcome our greatest hurdles. For me, running is hard. It’s not fun. But crossing the finish line honestly isn’t the hardest thing I’ve accomplished since that first race in 2007. In my story, that’s just one thing on the surface. Instead, runDisney has changed the heart of a girl with an eating disorder, a horrible body image, awful self-esteem, and no confidence into one that still struggles with all those things – but has tangible reminders that she is able. And so are you.
Do you have a runDisney story? Will you begin one?
Thank you for joining me today! Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is DISTherapy.
Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:
- 1st Stop ~ My Dreams of Disney – runDisney Isn’t as Bad as You Think
- 2nd Stop ~ Home is Where the Mouse Is – 10 Tips for runDisney Beginners
- 3rd Stop ~ For the Love of Disney – You are here 🙂
- 4th Stop ~ DISTherapy – 15 runDisney Highlights in 2015
- Final Stop ~ Two Moms and a Mouse – A New Take On a Dream Come True