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The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done: Running the LA Marathon

It’s official. Running is a mental illness. I’m counting down the days until marathon running is entered into the DSM. It’s only a matter of time. Four days ago I finished the LA Marathon—however reluctantly. Nothing in my life has challenged me physically and mentally like those 26.2 miles. The experience was leaps and bounds more difficult than my first marathon.

Let me get the bummer stuff out of the way. The LA Marathon just isn’t for me. As much as I love Los Angeles (and I do, deeply), running across it did nothing for me. I thought the experience of bipedally moving from the east side to the west, unencumbered by traffic and a vehicle, would instill a great deal of civic pride in my heart. It did not. The first six miles were great. Brad was still running with me. We trotted through the streets of downtown Los Angeles discovering little gazebos and walkways that you just don’t notice when you’re in a car. I felt fresh and strong, and the city looked great. Once the race got really hard (which I’ll get to in a minute) the city lost its luster and no amount of drag performers in WeHo or palm trees on Rodeo Drive could cheer me up.

I wanted to run the Walt Disney World Marathon because I knew that no matter how hard the running got or how bad I felt physically, I would be in my happy place. I thought the environment would act as a stimulant when my legs wanted to give out, and I was right. My old pal Mickey got me through. I loved running through the world of Disney because the whole place made me happy. I love Los Angeles but my associations with the city are not that pure. There are certain neighborhoods and streets that feel like happy places and others that feel like haunts. I’d pass down a street near where I used to live years ago and think, “Oh that was a tough time in my life.” Who wants to be reminded of such chapters of one’s life when doing the hardest thing you’ve ever attempted to do? Total bummer. No, LA has way too many complex emotional associations to make for a good marathon environment.

Another benefit to Walt Disney World was that I did not know the geography. I had no idea how far it was from Animal Kingdom to Hollywood Studios so I couldn’t think about the many miles from point A to point B. Not knowing the terrain forced me into the moment and the mile at hand. Very beneficial. In Los Angeles, however, I am all too acutely aware of how far it is from Hollywood to Brentwood and so when running down Sunset Blvd I felt completely crushed by the thought of making it allllll the way to Wilshire. Are you kidding me? I have to run to Crescent Heights? I’m only at Sunset Junction! Not possible! When it comes to running those kinds of distances, ignorance is bliss.

I live in Venice and I work in Glassell Park. For those of you who don’t know LA geography, Venice is as far west as you can go, and Glassell Park is about as far east as you can go and still say you’re in Los Angeles. In short, I traverse the entire city from west to east and back again—every—single—day. Why did I think going from the “Stadium to the Sea” would hold any novelty for me? It felt like my commute.

My last beef with the LA Marathon is logistical. WHY IS IT SO HARD TO ORDER ENOUGH BATHROOMS TO ACCOMMODATE 26,000 PEOPLE? I swear. It seems that every race I do skimps on the port-0-potties and I seriously don’t understand it. There’s no way to irritate a runner faster than a) run out of water or b) not provide enough bathrooms thus causing said runner to have to wait in line when she should be running. This is exactly what happened. I may have had one too many garlic knots the night before at C&O Trattoria but I had to make two bathroom stops during the marathon. Guess how long I waited in line? Go ahead. Guess.

20 minutes.

What?! That is unacceptable. I was already having a painfully slow race but to add an extra 20 minutes to my time, and then another 10 minutes for the second bathroom stop, that is heartrendingly significant. We all paid a lot of money to run this thing. Can’t we go to the bathroom in a timely manner? Oh and the first john I used ran out of toilet paper. Not cool. I mean there just aren’t a lot of options in that scenario.

So those are the reasons both personal and logistical that I won’t be running the LA Marathon, specifically, again anytime soon. I’m glad I did it. I was curious. But now I know.

More bummer stuff—I’m ashamed of my time. Listen, I never ever judge anyone else’s running pace. I don’t believe there is a certain speed at which you become a real runner. It’s personal. A 10 minute mile may be slow to one runner and unattainably fast for another. To Meb, an 8 minute mile is a very gentle jog. I can’t even imagine. We run to discover our capabilities and ranges, and learn to perform within them. Me? At my best, I’m a 10 minute mile runner on a 5k, an 11 on 10k, and an 11:00-11:30 on a half marathon. Knowing that range I believe in my heart of hearts that I should be able to do a marathon between a 12:00-13:00 minute mile. I believe I can do that.

This marathon clocked in at a 15:00. Part of that was due to the half hour I wasted using the loo, but even taking that out of consideration I generally clocked about a 14:00 on my Garmin. Here’s the thing. I’m not a 15 minute mile runner. I’m not a 14 minute mile runner. I’m just not. So even though I finished the race and got my medal, I feel beat. I feel like the course and the day got the best of me. Even though my mom keeps telling me I should feel proud, I don’t feel proud. Two in and I’ve yet to perform a marathon at my potential.

There was a litany of reasons specific to where I’m at right now as a runner that made this race so slow and painful. The greatest challenge I faced going in was that I was injured for about 50% of my training. By the time I hit the double digit training runs I was almost crippled by shin splints. Even on 3 mile runs I could barely get my time below a 12:30 minute mile. Brutal. I was this close to skipping the marathon after I barely finished a 16 mile run. It was an “oh what the hell” attitude that got me to sign up, not any kind of belief in my strength.

I was injured, and I was overweight. Look, I like myself. I like my body. Maybe if I were a bit more dissatisfied on an emotional level it would be easier to lay off the calories that have put this extra weight on my frame. But alas, I’m fairly confident in my skin and didn’t feel all that motivated to slim down for this race that I wasn’t even that enthusiastic about running in the first place. To be overweight as a runner is tough stuff. It makes your job ten times harder. It is precisely the same thing as a fit person with no body fat trying to run 26.2 miles wearing a forty pound lead suit. It would slow anyone down. I don’t need to lose forty pounds but I could stand to lose twenty-five. I think if I did that, that might be the only missing link to my elusive 5:30 marathon.

So what was it like to run a marathon with all of those things working against me? As I said on Instagram, I can’t imagine anything in the world—short of torture and maybe childbirth—harder than running that race. (I’ve actually heard several women tell me that giving birth was easier for them than running a marathon, so there you go). I hit a wall at mile thirteen. THIRTEEN. It’s normal and expected to hit a wall at some point but usually it’s around 18. Then you work through it until about mile 21, and you’ve got the last 5 miles on adrenaline. I hit it with HALF OF THE RACE LEFT TO RUN. Besides a few brief and fleeting runner’s high moments, I pushed against that wall for the entire rest of the race.

What does it mean to hit a wall? I think the best way to imagine it is literally. Imagine running in place, now push up against a wall. Now don’t stop. Now keep doing that for five hours. Now imagine there are thousands of people around you running right through the wall but you still have to push against it. Now imagine the feeling like you’re not getting anywhere even though your feet are moving in a manner that would suggest forward motion. Now imagine that this is your fate for all time. Like Sisyphus, you are to push against this wall for eternity. Now imagine you feel more alone than you’ve ever felt in your life. Now imagine the time you felt like the biggest failure in the entire universe. Now feel like that. Now magnify that feeling by ten. Keep pushing against that wall. Now imagine you’re nauseous. Now imagine your mouth is on fire but no matter how much water you drink your mouth is still thirsty, but you can’t drink more because then your stomach will be even more nauseous. Now imagine a car just rolled over your feet.

It’s kind of like that.

It is so difficult to put the struggle into words because I don’t actually remember any of it. I remember it intellectually, but I don’t remember the pain. Nature does this as a defense mechanism so we’ll repeat painful things like childbirth without hesitation, but I’m not sure Mother Nature anticipated the effect on marathon runners. I imagine her looking down on us from some celestial treehouse shouting “You guys! Stop it! I wiped the pain memory for making babies! Not for this! This is ridiculous!” Runners don’t listen though. I don’t remember the pain. Which is what has led me to my next question…

Which marathon should I run next?

At mile 20 I promised myself I would draft a document and have it notarized stating that I was not allowed to run another marathon. Ever. Three hours after I’d finished I started doing the math in my head to figure out how much I’d have to save to do Walt Disney World in 2018. I’m telling you. It’s a certifiable mental disorder. Despite the tears running down my face (there were many), despite the pain, the doubt, the struggle—I want to do it again. I understand masochism now. Something about pain and struggle brings us closer to our potential and a divine truth.

Can you tell I’m Catholic?

In all honesty, this race was a spiritual experience. Perhaps it’s the season of Lent that has me meditating deeply on the concept of struggle. When I ran up against that wall I wasn’t running on strength. I had none. I wasn’t running on willpower. I had none. I wasn’t running on grit. I had none. I had nothing. Nothing left. I had to pull from something higher than myself. And whether or not you believe that’s a real thing or just a mind trick, it doesn’t really matter and I don’t really care. It only mattered that it worked. And that higher power—that pull on a force of energy beyond myself—was absolutely the only thing that got me across that finish line. Oh and this song by The Killers.

“I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” You see this quote a lot in the running world. You’ll see it written on people’s bibs, printed on people’s shirts. Meb has it listed as the only thing on his Twitter bio. The first time I saw a runner with this passage printed on her running shirt I scoffed. Pfft. I’m a Catholic but I’m not really on board with the whole divinity of Jesus thing. It’s confusing. I’m a bad Catholic. I just don’t believe all the magic miracle stuff, but I do believe that Jesus was an amazing figure with an absolutely incredible story. I love all the rituals, and I love good stories. So what does that passage really mean? It doesn’t have to mean that the magic of Jesus helps win races. It can mean that if you want it to. If you need it to. If it does to you. To me it is the story of the universe—that there is a force which unites all of us. This thing—this energy—is there for us to call on when we need to endure. It is pure goodness and grit. It is mystery and it is power. It is outside us and within us. It never runs out. It never hits a wall. Whether you call it Christ or God or The Force or the Universe, I think the important point is that it is something eternally strong that exists outside of you, but flies like a kite with its string tethered directly to your own heart. And to the heart of every human walking the earth. I accessed that magic on Sunday. I let myself fly that kite, and it is the only reason I finished.

So what were the upsides to running the LA Marathon? Oh of course there were many. That divine revelation thing was pretty cool. Seeing so many friends on course made my heart explode. (Seriously guys, you have no idea how much you helped). I learned a ton. You can’t go halfway on something that hard and expect satisfying results. I didn’t— couldn’t—go all in on my training and I should have adjusted my expectations accordingly for finishing the race. Manage your expectations. Always a good life lesson.

I’m fired up for next time. I may have thrown out the contract prohibiting me from running again, but I left a few provisions. I won’t sign up for another marathon until I’ve dropped 20 pounds. And I won’t sign up for another marathon until I’ve found one that I’m really excited about. I may only have one marathon left in me and if that’s the case I have to see what I’m capable of. Where I run is just as important as how I run. Unfortunately I have top shelf taste. I’d love to run Rome more than anything. Hmm.

It was a true treat to run this race with my husband and Neiman. Even though we didn’t run it together, we were together, you know? Neiman finally broke his 4 hour marathon goal (see what I mean about relativity with pace? that is crazy fast), and Brad made his goal of running the entire race without any walk breaks and he made a great time too. Good job boys.

I learned about struggle. I’m a very laid back and casual person. I’m not Type A. I don’t like things to be hard. This serves me in that I’m a very happy person most of the time. What I learned about myself in this race is that I associate struggle with failure. When things got hard running this race the negative thoughts FLOODED in. I couldn’t keep them out. A true athlete encounters physical struggle, but they win the race by winning the game between their ears. I didn’t lose this marathon with my shin splinty legs. I lost it with my mind.

If running marathons were easy everyone would do it. Everyone doesn’t do it so the struggle makes the difference. If getting a book published were easy everyone would do it. Getting my book published is, as it turns out, very much in the not easy category, so I have to embrace the struggle as a sign pointing me toward success. Insert any dream or goal and the same is true. Struggle is the stuff. It’s the troll guarding the bridge that you either have to fight, escape, or trick into letting you pass. Rejoice when you encounter the struggle troll. Then kick his ass.

Oh and my skirt was really cute.

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There’s more to share but I think it’s time to move on. On to the next race. I’ll take a break from marathon running for a couple of years, but marathon—I’m coming for you. We don’t get to break up like that.

Some photos.

 

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Lovers getting married at Mile 11.

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Completely unappreciative.

Happy running friends!

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What Running a Marathon Taught Me About Coping

Yesterday I had a panic attack. My heart raced. I broke into a sweat and felt like I couldn’t breathe. The attack hit me out of nowhere. Pretty sure I actually muttered to myself “Oh my, what’s this? What’s happening to me?”

It’s not that I’ve never had a panic attack before. I’m all too familiar with the phenomenon. It’s just that for me they are almost always preceded by some direct and identifiable psychological turmoil, but lately I’ve been y’know, happy. I suppose I could connect the dots. Stressful week at work? An unfamiliar feeling of optimistic ambition relating to my writing career? (I’ve never been so pro-active about a personal goal and while it’s all very exciting, there’s a scared little girl inside me no doubt trying to shake me up out of fear of failure.) Ongoing family crisis? (Which is currently a sleeping dragon but I’m waiting for it to wake up again.) Maybe I just let my blood sugar get too low. There are truly any number of things that could trigger an anxiety attack but none of them have been front line lately so it surprised me to experience a physical manifestation of the fears. Whatever the reason, panic took hold.

I’ve never been great about dealing with these pesky attacks. I suppose that by definition they encroach your senses beyond reason, so an inability to deal sensibly is kind of the point. This has always been inconvenient as it’s forced me to rely on the support of others to get by. I’d call my mom or my step-dad and they’d talk me off the edge. These days my husband fills the role nicely, holding me and loving me until even the panic feels cozy and at home. While it’s crucial  to have people in your life who can save you in a crisis, self-reliance is something for which I always strive.

And that’s where the marathon enters the picture.

Running the Walt Disney World Marathon left me with innumerable life lessons, but perhaps the lesson that surprised me the most was a deepening of the phrase “it gets better.” Sometime around mile 14 things got really hard, and I thought to myself “Oh crap, if it’s this hard now how am I going to survive 12 more miles?” The logic being that an increase in distance should correlate to an increase in fatigue and thus difficulty. Logically speaking running a marathon would look something like this:

Marathon HillIt makes sense right? The longer you run the harder it gets? See, though, here’s the thing about endurance running. It doesn’t really make sense. Does it make sense to train for four straight months at the expense of a clean house, social life, and free time? Not really. Does it make sense to pay $200 to do something you could theoretically do on your own for free? Not really. Does it make sense to voluntarily put yourself in pain or at the very least extreme discomfort for 4-6 hours straight? Definitely not. Nothing about marathon running makes sense, including the experience of running it.

So there I am at mile 14, incredibly concerned that if it’s this hard now I simply won’t be able to finish. A funny thing happened. I just kept running, and it got better. It gets better.

Then it got hard again, and better, and really hard, then easy, then impossible, then doable, then great, then transcendent, then I finished. So running a marathon actually looks more like this:

Marathon realnessHow can mile 20 be easier than mile 14? And what kind of sense does it make for mile 5 to be harder than mile 25? No sense at all. That’s long-distance running for you. Reason #673 why running is a giant metaphor for life. It does get better. But then it gets hard again.

The It Gets Better campaign is beautiful, and important. In the darkest hour we all need someone to look in our eyes and promise that it DOES get better. It does. But let’s talk realness for a sec. It will probably get hard again. Really hard. And then it will get better. Undoubtedly. Life is not a long walk up hill. It’s a marathon. It’s the high school mile being harder than the college mile. It’s the quarter-life mile being harder than the thirty-something mile. It’s the family mile being easier than the work mile and oh, wait a minute, now the family mile is the hardest yet. Each challenge paid off with a nice stretch of joy. The joy inevitably followed by a new challenge. Somewhere there is a finish line that makes it all worth it.

Even once we’ve finished the marathon, we’ll probably do another one. We’ll get right back on the course of ups and downs. Extreme highs and lows. We’ll cope. Because it doesn’t make sense, a marathon or life. The one thing you can count on is that it will change, and for better or worse you’ll be wiser once you’ve endured.

I highly recommend running a marathon to exercise this radical unpredictability of life. It’s cathartic. Years of emotional ups and downs will be condensed for you into a 5 hour physical metaphor that you can take with you into the big, bad, beautiful, chaotic world. You will know in your muscles and bones what it feels like to cope, to endure, and to be rewarded with a strange sort of peace. (Which you will forever project onto the medal they hand you at the finish line. You will cherish that cheaply made trinket endlessly. God help the poor soul who ever tries to take my bling away!)

Last night I’m lying in bed, my husband sleeping peacefully next to me. I’m fitful, fighting the remains of this pesky panic attack. My insides feel dark blue, my thoughts are glum, my breath is shallow. I read. I watch TV. I try to breathe in calm and exhale chaos. It’s not really working. I’m in it, a tough mile. But I think back to the marathon. I think about how mile 25 was easier than mile 5. Suddenly I feel, not calm, but confident. It will get better. I will also have another panic attack someday. I will cope.

Now it’s tomorrow. You know what? This mile feels great. It’s a beautiful day with no panic in sight. It got better. For now. And that’s enough to keep me running.

Mile 25. On top of the world.

Mile 25. On top of the world.

Walt Disney World Marathon Review, as told by Piglet and Eeyore.

Walt Disney World Marathon 2016 registration goes on sale next week. While I would absolutely love to go the distance at the World again I’m afraid my pocketbook does not allow. The trek to this event will have to remain a rare occurrence until I’m stinking rich, or some other stroke of fate lands me in Florida in early January. In honor of this fantastic marathon it’s time to share our official yet incredibly casual review of the 2015 race.

Brad interviewed Neiman and I the day after the race to capture our thoughts, good and not-so-good. I got super smiley sitting here at my desk re-watching this video. That day in Epcot, the day after the race, had to be one of my favorite days I’ve ever had on this earth. Fresh off the victory of finishing my first marathon, glowing with accomplishment, and spending the entire day in Walt Disney World with two of my favorite people. That was a good day.

Without further ado, here is our review!

VIDEO: 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Race Recap

Brad just finished our recap video of the Walt Disney World Marathon! I know I say this every time he makes a new video but I really think this one is the best yet! Maybe that’s because he gets better and better at cutting these recaps, or maybe it’s because each race is more magical than the last. Either way, this one is GOOD! Really good. Check it out. If nothing else at least watch the first minute for Brad’s magic moment with Winnie the Pooh. This doesn’t happen every day.

What a great race. Still reeling from our accomplishment. Great video Brad! Everyone, let’s tell Brad how great he is. I tell him every day but he’s used to it from his wife. Share your comments below or on YouTube!

Just a Couple Little Major Announcements

You know that feeling when you have so much to do that the weight of it all paralyzes you from actually doing anything? So you spend way too much time on Facebook. The final refuge of the paralyzed. You shop on Amazon for things you don’t need. You read Buzzfeeds about Disney princesses re-imagined as rocks. Anything to keep you from activating your brain. That’s my relationship to blogging at the moment.

I have the single biggest announcement to make about running since I started writing here at Running to Tahiti. Everything has led to this. It’s huge.

Follow that up with the SECOND biggest announcement to make since I began running over 15 years ago. So yeah.

Each of these announcements comes with deep introspection, analysis, and reflection that maybe no one really cares about but I feel compelled to explore. It’s the whole point. So I feel I can’t make these announcements until I can adequately collect my thoughts and articulate them clearly.

Who has the time for that? On top of these massive colossal running milestones are the myriad other report type articles I’d like to write. Race recaps, tips, running news, etc. There’s a lot going on.

And then there’s my personal life. Running a marathon gave me 6 hours to think about things and well, oh…

Woops.

I let one out of the bag there. I guess I’ll just tell you then. I ran a marathon.

I RAN A MARATHON!!!!!

So yeah, that’s huge. What can I say? Nothing I can say in this moment can adequately capture the significance of crossing that finish line. I’ll try again later, but until then, here are Pooh and friends:

Pooh Friends FinishI know, it’s a proof. I’m sorry! I DO plan on buying some of the official race pics but I have to wait until a payday rolls around that’s not right after a trip to Walt Disney World. I’m broke and those pictures are about $5000 a piece. For serious. Here’s some more though.

So yeah, running for over 6 hours straight. You should try it sometime. No really you should. I finished 26.2 miles and I swear within less than one hour I was thinking to myself “When can I do that again?”

Runners are so crazy. I love it. It’s like how that one time, during the marathon, when I was thinking about how we made it to Tahiti… oh.

Wait…

Let another one slip there. Big announcement. We made it to Tahiti.

WE MADE IT TO TAHITI!!!!

I know what you’re thinking. “You’re not in Tahiti, lady. You just posted a Daily Mile run in Santa Monica yesterday.” You would be right. I am not currently in Tahiti. But clearly you haven’t been reading my blog for very long. That’s ok. Here’s the short of it. 4 years ago Brad and I picked a dream destination. Tahiti. We looked up the miles between L.A. and Tahiti, and vowed to run the equivalent distance no matter how long it would take. We put $1 in a savings account for every 1 mile that we’d run, and now we’ve got a sweet little nugget of change to ACTUALLY get us to Tahiti. Because we ran there. So it’s like we’re there. Get it? Running to Tahiti?

We reached the shores of Tahiti somewhere around mile 10 of our first marathon. How sweet is that? I tell you what. I had quite the little burst of energy for several miles after that fact dawned me. The burst of energy came only after I stopped crying from joy of course.

The perfect words elude me once again. It’s best I just blurt out these announcements because my mind is just mushy joy right now and can’t formulate thoughts. Just feelings.

Pride, joy, relief, disbelief, awe, eagerness, electricity.

When I started this journey 4,109 miles seemed like, not an impossible distance, but quite a distant one. The number is just so big. Like saving for a mortgage, you never really feel like that extra $100 you put in your account from your paycheck every month is going to amount to what you need but somehow, day after day, month after month, you just keep doing it and slowly it does. Little tiny efforts don’t feel in the immediate sense like they can ever amount to much, but if you wake up every day with renewed commitment and HOPE… If you believe in what you’re doing… You get what I’m saying here, the whole Rome wasn’t built in a day thing. But really think about that! I don’t like the Rome analogy actually. It’s too elaborate, tangled up in complex political systems and evil emperors. There are too many people involved in that metaphor. It took too many people to build Rome. Personal achievement requires a more solitary comparison. A single steady force chipping away at a rock. Something much more simple. It’s like… the Grand Canyon. Sweet, smooth, steady water trickling trickling then rushing and gushing over a loooooong time. Water, when combined with persistence, did THAT.

The-Beautiful-Grand-Canyon-by-Michael-Matti

Constant. Steadfast. Relentless. Most of all, patient. That water didn’t wake up one day and obsess about carving the Grand Canyon by dusk. It just thought about finding a way downstream. Ok it didn’t think at all. It’s water. You get me though. We knew we wanted to get to Tahiti but the day we started tracking miles we just went on a run. Probably 3 miles. Then the next day we ran again. I know, it’s so simple. I’m sounding so prosaic. I told you I wasn’t equipped to talk about it yet. I’m really not. But I just want to tell you this one more thing. I’m going to sound like Bill Murray at the end of Scrooged but here goes.

Whatever it is you want in this world, if you really truly want it then you were meant to find it. If your heart truly dreams of something, you CAN have it and you should. I used to think it didn’t make sense for EVERYONE to fulfill their dreams because the world just isn’t set up for it. Some of us have to work the jobs that others don’t want to work. Some of us have to pick up the trash and flip the burgers and crunch the numbers. Some of us have to be unhappy. I was wrong though. I believe we all have a story to tell, a destiny. Maybe your destiny IS crunching numbers or flipping burgers. You have to listen very closely to your heart to find out. To find your purpose in it and your accompanying joy. It may be hard to hear, but listen more closely. We all were meant to tell a story. To be a PART of a story, a big story. Something is whispering directions to us. Listen and follow. Trust it. You can do whatever you want to do in this life and you can be whatever you want to be. It WILL NOT BE EASY. I can guarantee you that. It won’t always be pretty and you won’t always be happy. Sometimes the universe will appear to conspire against you. It’s not. It’s actually helping. I don’t know what those hard parts are really. Tests? Helping hands designed as obstacles? Maybe something more mysterious. I don’t know. I just know that you can do it. Be patient. Work hard. Don’t give up. Believe in yourself. Lord knows I’m not quite sure what my personal legend is yet, but I know this has been part of it. I feel that Brad and I achieved something huge together and now there’s an omniscient voice in this cosmic video game saying to us Congratulations, you may proceed to the next level.

So there you have it. Mental blogger mush, this post is, but I had to get it out. I didn’t want to let another day pass without announcing to my dear patient readers that we made it. 4,109 miles.

WE MADE IT!!!

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moon rocks

The Wisdom of the Hundred Acre Wood

I run the Walt Disney World Marathon in five short days. Many things seem to be conspiring against me, as they often do. I’m feeling very stream-of-consciousness like about the whole thing so excuse me while I regurgitate some thoughts bopping around in my head.

Two weeks ago I caught a nasty cold. Just two days before my scheduled 20 mile training run. I couldn’t run it.

The 20 miler got pushed back a week and I ran it in Kansas City over the Christmas break. It was 20 degrees outside. I was still getting over my cold. I hacked up a lung running that thing. I also think my body went into shock because of the cold. I’m a wimp about weather.

Because the 20 mile training run got pushed back a week, my taper period got cut short. I developed early symptoms of shin splints after that 20 miles and since my taper period is shorter, I don’t have as much time to nurse it and recover. I’m investing in KT Tape and I never take off my compression socks. My fingers are also all crossed.

My family is in turmoil. My brother is making life challenging in a way that is hard to put into words. It’s kind of private, although he is very public about the whole thing, so I won’t go into it. It sucks. Big time. I’m angry, frustrated, hurt, depressed, resentful, scared, and a few other negative emotions that don’t lend themselves to endurance running. I have to learn to battle these emotions when the running starts. I wish I was a Jedi.

But then there are things to look forward to…

AltraI have to be honest. I chose my running costume for the marathon because of how well it would match my shoes. Now that the marathon approaches I couldn’t ask for a more appropriate mascot. Piglet. The biggest heart in the littlest body. The most courageous in spite of danger, the most giving in spite of adversity, the sweetest little love to ever be written into existence. Piglet is scared and nervous most of the time, but moves forward anyway. Of course, he does so thanks to Pooh.

You can guess what I’ve convinced Brad to wear for the marathon. I know he humors me and thinks it’s mostly silly to dress up for these things, but I do see great meaning in it. In the most fundamental and pure of ways, Brad really is my Pooh, and I’m his nervous-nelly of a Piglet. He’s my best friend, my biggest cheerleader, my strongest support, and my love. When I don’t think I can do something he gently reminds me that I can. When I feel anxious about something he convinces me not to worry. And he’s the handsomest Pooh bear you’ll ever meet.

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Then there’s our Eeyore, who is also running the marathon with us and I’ve somehow coerced into a running costume. Our friend Neiman. He’s such an Eeyore. Everyone’s favorite little black rain cloud. Eeyore is such an interesting character in the Hundred Acre Wood. Milne is quite brilliant to include him when you think about it, because there’s no use pretending that darkness doesn’t exist. There’s no use ignoring the fact that some people can’t help but think “why bother?” Because once you accept those people, or donkeys, for who they are, you’ll realize what they have to offer you. Eeyore, despite his gloomy disposition, is a great friend to Pooh and the gang. Always saying yes to helping. Always there, even if he doesn’t feel like it. Sometimes you have an Eeyore in your life to remind you that sadness doesn’t blot out kindness.

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Photo on 1-5-14 at 2.01 PM #2Pooh and his pals in the Hundred Acre Wood practically raised me. I was obsessed. Something about the simple wisdom and whimsy of A.A. Milne rang so true for me. It nurtured my creativity, my friendliness, and my sense of poetry. I still have my very first Winnie the Pooh bear from when I was a little wee girl. I’ll never let him go. He’s funny looking and his red shirt never fit quite right, but I love him. I’m thankful for Pooh. I’ll try to be brave like Piglet. I won’t take Eeyore for granted. Now if only we had a Tigger. Any takers?

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Pooh & Piglet

And so in the spirit of Pooh-like optimism. Here are some things that HAVE been going my way lately.

I got sick three weeks before the marathon, instead of three days before the marathon. This makes me very lucky.

I get to go to Disney World.

I found a bunch of leftover KT Tape in our apartment last night to treat my shin splints.

I found the perfect Piglet running clothes. Photo preview coming soon.

I got a raise at work which means extra cash to pay for this trip which means less stress.

I have two working legs and two working feet.

I have support from my friends, my family, and from a slew of complete strangers. Go #teamRunDisney!

I got my new Driver’s License in the mail weeks before I was expecting it which means my airline ticket will now match my identification which means I don’t have to travel with my marriage license in the hopes they’ll let me on the plane which means I can breathe a huge sigh of relief.

I found out our niece will be in Orlando at the exact same time, and hopefully we’ll be able to share a celebratory beer on Sunday night.

In a strange twist of fate, I have someone to babysit our cats while we’re gone.

I managed to make dinner and Fast Pass reservations on Disney’s crazy new My Magic+ Experience without too much of a headache. Knocking on wood that that keeps up.

Oh and did I mention I get to go to Disney World?

Piglet Square

I’m scared, nervous, and trepidatious. I’m excited, eager, and bold. I fall asleep with anxiety in my heart that I won’t finish/will get sick/succumb to injury. I wake up with confidence that I can do this. I am Piglet! Hear me squeak!

“It is very hard to be brave,” said Piglet, sniffing slightly, “when you’re only a Very Small Animal.”

Behind the Scenes of a 17 Mile Run

Oh hi! So I’m training for a marathon. If you’re friends with me on Facebook or Instagram then you’re sick of hearing about it. If you’re exclusively a Running to Tahiti reader then you may actually be wondering “Is she still training for that marathon thing?” I haven’t written about it that much for ironic reasons. I don’t have time to write about marathon training because I’m too busy marathon training. I guess it’s a good problem to be too busy living your life to sit down and write about it.

Long story short, yes we’re still in training. The marathon is in approximately one month. I’m kind of freaking out. This is the furthest I’ve ever pushed myself to do anything. It’s hard. Really hard. I’m also surprising myself and making it happen, so it’s amazing. I’m also very excited to go to Walt Disney World in one month. Disney World!!!

Since we’re too busy running to write Brad thought we could kill two birds with one stone and record one of our long runs. We’ll let the run speak for itself. I leave you with this, a behind-the-scenes look at a run lasting almost 4 hours. That’s half of a full work day. Running. Just running. Think about that. Venice, Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Malibu. We had to hit 4 cities to traverse enough distance. This marathon stuff is not for the faint of heart, or the easily bored.

Enjoy!