Tag Archive | Walt Disney World

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!

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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cute-quote-quotes-winnie-the-pooh-favim-com-353061

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.”

The Big Announcement

I’ve been hinting at a Big Announcement for a long time. Sorry about that. I know those were all teases. Well this one is no tease. I made good on my promise. I have an announcement, and it’s probably what you’re expecting. I just can’t concentrate on anything else until I make it known.

Look what I did.

 

Announcement

 

And whenever I think about the fact that I’ve signed up for a full marathon, this…

betty-faint

or this…

Jimmy Stewart faint

 

or something like this…

totoro gif

 

But hopefully when I’m done I’ll feel more like this:

i did it

with a hefty dose of…

Mononoke did it

Ultimately what I’m hoping for is…

I did it Falkor

 

Though I might make my way to the finish line doing something like….

crawl to the finishAnd once I’m done, pretty sure I’ll resemble…

tired slime

 

Shock. Amazement. Wonder. Fear. All things I’m feeling right now…

shock

I’m at the beginning of a journey; and whatever happens, it’s happening!

 

Have you run a full marathon? Tips for a first-timer? Please share in the comments!

 

BIG announcement, like, big

Last weekend I watched my friend not only finish the L.A. Marathon, but kick it in the butt. Brad and I drove him to the starting line at 6:00 am. The sun continued to sleep soundly somewhere past the horizon while Dodgers Stadium overflowed with 20,000+ eager and excited runners. As we pulled into the drop-off area, inspiration filled my lungs. I couldn’t believe not only how many people took on the challenge of running a marathon, but how many of them were in the same physical condition (and maybe even a bit worse) than me. I couldn’t help but excitedly think if they could do this, I could do this. And I can.

With no further ado I have an announcement to make. I will run a marathon in 2015.

In case you weren’t sure, that’s 26.2 miles.

I’ve been toying with the idea since about one week after I finished my first half marathon. Immediately after finishing I thought that running that distance twice in a row sounded like the most insane idea I’d ever heard of, and I couldn’t believe ANYone actually did it. But it only took about a week to forget the pain before I started thinking not only of running another half as soon as possible, but entertaining the notion of greater challenges. I imagine it’s a bit like having children. During childbirth and immediately after I think most women curse their spouse’s name and swear they’ll never do this again. Doesn’t take long before that cuddly little bundle wipes away the memory of the pain and you start prepping another baby’s room. So yes, I’ve been thinking about it for years, (the marathon thing, not the baby thing) and I’m done thinking. The only way I’m going to find out if I can actually do it, is to just frickin’ do it.

So I’m going to do it.

Why wait until 2015 you ask? Well I’ve got this little thing called a wedding to plan. Brad and I are getting hitched in July 2014 (BRAD AND I ARE GETTING HITCHED JULY 2014!!!!!) and I don’t need to add to the stress of wedding planning by trying to squeeze in 15 mile runs on the weekends. 2014 is the year ‘o’ love. As soon as we get back from our honeymoon, let the training begin.

The goal right now (and I hope I hope I hope I can make it work) is to run the Walt Disney World Marathon. We’re talking about a marathon people. My FIRST marathon. It’s a big deal. You want your first time to be special, y’know? Whether or not we’ll have enough money leftover to fly to Florida for a running vacay after saving for a wedding and honeymoon remains to be seen. If it doesn’t happen, then it’ll either be the LA Marathon or the California International Marathon that takes my marathon V-Card.

So there you have it! You heard it here first. Accountability officially in print on Running to Tahiti.

I will run a marathon.

special idiots run marathon copy

new year, new RUNNING goals

Hello there faithful readers! Been awhile. I need to force myself to get back into the habit of writing more often because when I don’t, I miss it, and I feel all ooky and empty inside. Just like anything else it takes discipline to sit down and write everyday which is exactly what writers need to do if they are serious about their craft. I guess I just haven’t been feeling particularly inspired lately. The antidote to that problem is certainly not to spend hours in excess on social media while ingesting multiple episodes of The Walking Dead, although if you guessed my logic to curing writer’s block based on recent behavior, you may think so. Nope, the couch is a killer to creativity and I’m getting off of it. Today I want to talk about the opposite of laziness that is currently permeating the running community. Goal setting time!

The start of a new year brings a wave of eagerness and optimism. We runners sit down and set our running and racing goals for the year with enthusiasm and gusto. We reflect on goals missed and/or met in the previous year and make plans to either exceed those goals or to do better to accomplish them. It’s a time of high expectations and while it may be easy to write down in a journal that “I’m going to run 15 miles per week,” the reality sets in quickly that it’s far more difficult to actually accomplish. So how do we avoid this trap? How do we not only make running goals for the year but take action to meet them? Some runners simply have the discipline needed to do exactly that. They say they’re going to do something and they do it. I need more accountability or the couch and my favorite television shows slowly but surely suck me in to their grasp. May I offer my favorite tool for accountability as a tip to all you runners starting off the new year with a long list of goals? Sign up for a race. And one that happens soon.

Ideally I would have posted about this a few months ago and advised you to sign up for a race that happens in January. This is the first year I’ve done just that and man has it helped me to start the running year off right! Normally in January I’m slowly easing out of holiday mode and maybe getting in a few 3 mile runs a week if I’m lucky. This year I’m signed up for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon on January 20 and I need a lot more than 3 mile runs to get ready. Admittedly I’m behind on my training but I knew that coming into the New Year. I knew that I would need to make these three weeks before race day count. The challenge would be to put in enough miles to be ready for the race without injuring myself. So far, I’m kicking butt.

The reason I say either run a race in January or one that happens as soon as possible in the new year is because if you don’t, you’re not really avoiding the trap. Don’t get me wrong, taking that step to sign up for a race and challenge yourself is always a good thing but if the race isn’t until October then you’re not really lighting the fire under your butt to get out and run NOW. Don’t allow procrastination to present itself as an option. Immediacy is everything. Don’t get me wrong. I certainly don’t think you should sign up for a distance you’re not ready for. You can’t go from holiday slug to marathon runner in a month. If you’ve been sluggish the past few months, sign up for a 5k that happens in February. Not quite a slug but still emerging from a slow holiday pace? How about a 10k before March 1st? You know your limits and your abilities. The most important thing right now as we start the new year is just to get out there and run, and for me a countdown to a race that I’m excited about really holds me accountable to that.

There are other ways to hold yourself accountable if your bank account is a little dry after the holiday shopping season and those entry fees are just a bit too much. Why not get a running partner and schedule runs together? You’re more likely to get up out of bed when that alarm goes off at 6:00 am if your friend is waiting for you outside. There are many ways to creatively motivate yourself. The most important thing is to figure out how to make your running goals a priority. For me, accountability comes in the form of pixie dust.

I can state with almost certainty that I won’t be setting any PRs at the upcoming Tink Half. The relief is that I’m totally OK with that. This is another important New Year’s lesson. Not every race has to be a record-setter. Sometimes it’s more important just to finish than to finish first. That’s my goal for this Half Marathon. I want to have fun. I want to finish. I don’t care about my time. If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile you know that’s a strange thing for me to say. I’m just excited to get 2013 off to a running start! 🙂

Speaking of running at Disney, it’s an exciting time of year for we runDisney fans! Not only is the Tinker Bell Half Marathon coming up in just a week and a half, but bigger news is that the 20th Walt Disney World Marathon is happening this Sunday! I still haven’t found it in me to sign up for a marathon but I know that when I do I want my first to be the WDW Marathon. I love connecting with all of my runDisney pals on Twitter and it’s been very cool to see the feeds exploding in excitement for this weekend’s upcoming events. I’m thinking of all of you! Especially everyone running the Goofy Challenge. If you don’t know what this is, check it out: if you sign up for the Goofy Race and Half Challenge then you run the half marathon on Saturday AND the full marathon on Sunday. It’s called Goofy for a reason! Have fun out there and I can’t wait to read all of your race reports in the blogosphere!

One more bit of quick business about the upcoming Half Marathon. I need a costume. Now, it’s called the Tinker Bell Half Marathon so there is an obvious costume choice built right into the title. I’m certain there will be literally thousands of Tinker Bells running the race. My instinct is twofold. On the one hand I want to do something different to stand out from the crowd. On the other hand, HOW CAN I TURN DOWN AN OPPORTUNITY TO DRESS UP AS TINKER BELL? Yeah, I don’t care if I’m one in 10,000, I gotta dress up as Tinker Bell.

an afternoon in Neverland

an afternoon in Neverland