T minus 30 days….

6 Oct

At this exact time in 30 (short) long days, I will have been in Florida for just about 5 hours! Now, if you’ve been following my blog for sometime now, you’ll know my love of all things Disney, and more recently, my love of all things runDisney and racing. And this trip is extra special, I will be participating in my very first half marathon – Wine and Dine 2014! Never in a million years would I have thought I’d be preparing to run 13.1 miles FOR FUN.

Like all of my previous runDisney races, I’ll be running with my Disney sister, Monique – who got me hooked on this expensive, but thrilling, hobby….

 

This time, we even convinced another Disney sister, Catherine, and her sister, Alison, to join us! I can’t wait for our Disney CP roomie reunion!

Catherine and I on "It's a Small World" - we were celebrating her birthday!

Catherine and I on “It’s a Small World” – we were celebrating her birthday!

I have been training for this race since April, and some days I’ve discovered are harder than others, physically and mentally. I’ve learned a lot about myself – running it turns out helps me process life and problems and issues and just lets me clear my head. Yes, I listen to music as I’m running/walking/crawling (okay, I’m joking, but some days it feels like that’s what I’ll have to do to get back home!), but honestly, 9 times out of 10 I don’t even know what song is playing. I’m much too busy watching for loose stones and rocks and pot holes and cars – I’m a county road runner, we don’t have sidewalks. And I’m an asthmatic, which means a good portion of my brain is focused on breathing and picturing my “happy place” – sandy white beach, soft waves at sunset, when I feel my lungs start to tighten. I’ve taught myself to visualize wide open spaces, my lungs filling with fresh air – it calms me down (when you can’t breathe, it’s VERY stressful) and helps me refocus at the task at hand – placing one foot in front of the other.

When I began my training, a 5K was difficult. The last long distance run I had done was the 2013 Tower of Terror 10 miler in October. Now, I live in the northern part of the U.S. and winters here are harsh, especially this past one, so needless to say, I was back in terrible shape. I was frustrated. I KNEW my body was capable of running a distance of 10 miles, but I could barely go three. I told myself it didn’t matter if I was the last one to cross the finish line, or if I had to crawl across it, one way or another, I was going to prove to myself and every naysayer I’d ever met, that I could do it. I decided then to set a goal – I was going to run my first 13.1 training run on my 26th birthday (September 14th) – I had 5 months of hard work ahead of me.

My mom began walking with me – my little sister encouraged me to keep going – my Disney sisters and I checked in on each other’s progress, but best of all, I downloaded RunKeeper and set it to post to my social media as a way to keep myself accountable. I wanted needed my friends and family to keep me on track, if I didn’t train for a few days, there was someone there to remind me I was slacking, or to encourage me when I felt I’d hit a wall, or experienced runner friends to offer tips and tricks that may help.

All of that hard work was put to the test the morning of my birthday – a Sunday. I had never been more nervous for a run, but the weather was the perfect temp, the sky was clear and not one dog barked or chased me during my run. And guess what, I DID IT! I went farther than I needed to in under the time I was aiming for. I was OVER THE MOON. I had done it. I finished. I survived. I exceeded my own expectations and I loved how comfortable I felt in my own skin for the first time in a very long time. I was proud of what my body had just accomplished.

IMG_1432

Yesterday, I had planned to do another 13.1 training run. It didn’t go according to plan. For one thing, I think we’ve seen the last of our warm days, and the cooler air set in quickly. When I left for my run, it was a balmy 38 degrees Fahrenheit. I was comfortably dressed in a running tank top, over shirt, wind jacket, Under Armor pants and a running skirt. I was even rocking my brand new running shoes – they were a birthday gift from my parents!

running shoes_september 2014

The cooler temps and the strong wind took its toll on my lungs and my knee. I couldn’t finish all 13 miles, I had to stop at 11. I felt defeated. my lungs were on fire, my knee wanted to buckle under me (I’ve had four knee surgeries, any slight change in air pressure causes pain.) and I had some nice blisters forming on my feet. I returned home after 2 hours and 45 minutes. While I am glad I listened to my body when it demanded I stop (there’s no way I’m risking an injury this close to the race), I started to panic that I wouldn’t be able to finish – enter my FANTASTIC support system. Someone pointed out I STILL have a month, and that’s I’m miles ahead of many people who will show up in November, another friend pointed out that my pacing was right on track from my birthday training run – had I been able to keep going, I would have finished at roughly the same time, and a third friend pointed out the weather conditions will be just a little more favorable for racing (warm air for my crumby lungs!!) and last but not least, I was reminded of how far I’ve come in such a short time, and that as long as I have fun, why worry!

So I had one bad run, but really, it was a success – I went 11 miles. It was 47 degrees when I returned home. My muscles have relaxed and I’m not in pain. Still worried about those blisters, though.

I am ready for Wine and Dine. I am ready to wear that medal with pride. I am ready to runDisney.

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