Tuesday, January 14, 2014

It Was Like the Movie, Groundhog Day

The alarm rang again at 2:15 am.  I hauled myself out of bed and put on a purple Team In Training singlet.  I got on the bus at 3:15 am.  I walked across the Epcot parking lot.  But wait, it was cooler this morning than the day before.  I was now in a long sleeve t-shirt and I had a Disney World rain poncho wrapped around my legs and shoulders to stay warm.  I made the same mile long walk out to the corrals.  I stood in the same long line for a port-o-can.  I stood at the same spot at the back of the corral and looked at the other participants and wondered if some of them had spent more time putting together their costume than actually training for this marathon.  Really, Mrs. Potts, what are you doing up in corral F standing near the Clif Pace Team member holding up a 4:00 hour pace card?  If Mrs. Potts, Cogsworth, Ursula the Sea Witch, and some strange pink and blue furry monster from Monsters University were going to be running faster than me then I was going to throw myself on Capt. Hook's peg leg.

Our Corral got moving fourteen minutes after the wheelchair division and unlike the day before when the fireworks did not go off for our corral start, they lit up the dark sky and sent us on our way.  I kept to my 5 minute run/ 5 minute walk interval and felt bad having to stop on the side of the road and start my walk interval while everyone was dashing around me through the grass. "SORRY!!!  I have to stick to the plan!"  I finally ditched my long sleeve shirt around mile two and had the cold air hit my sweaty arms.  If I wasn't awake before, I was after that.  I thought that I had taken all the pictures that I needed to for the first half of the race because I had taken them the day before and then I run into the Magic Kingdom and Cinderella's Castle was lit up with extra lights like I have never seen it before.
 AWESOME!!!  I made a much needed pit stop in the TomorrowLand bathrooms.  All I am going to say is that I have learned that I will avoid eating beets the day before a race.  Those of you that eat beets know what I am talking about.  I was only about 5 minutes off the half marathon pace when I ran through Cinderella's Castle, but that was the bathroom break.  I kept the fluids and salt delivery on schedule.  I was really feeling good.  I would always pull over to the far right to power walk.  Yes, I probably looked like a complete idiot with my arms swinging and my hips wagging, but I was passing other walkers.  At times I wondered when my Nike+ gal was going to tell me when my 5 minutes of walking was up and I could run again.  I always picked right up and fell into good form on the run intervals and passed people up.

Each year that I have run the WDW marathon, there have been small changes to the course and this year was no exception.  At mile 8, the course took us onto the Petty Speedway race track!  There was a local classic car organization or two that had come out and had their classic cars parked on the track and the owners were out cheering for us.  The cars took up more than a third of the track.  When we exited the track we headed out to Animal Kingdom and before we entered in the back I saw some of the keepers with goats, lambs, pigs, a miniature pony, and a donkey all on harnesses and leashes out to great us.  Very cool.  When we exited Animal Kingdom out the back of DinoLand, there was an aid station and I decided that I needed another pit stop.  At least I was staying hydrated.  There were lots of people cheering for us at Animal Kingdom and I took the opportunity to get a picture with the official Mousecot of the Marathon since there was no line at all for photos.

I sent out a quick Facebook update to let everyone know that I was at mile 14 and then I kept on walking and running.  I had a few people comment to me that I was really moving with my walk.  I was!  Sure, I was slower than if I was running, but I was still passing other walkers.  I was seeing more of them now and I was also seeing tons of people pulling over to the medical tents to slather on Biofreeze and Vasaline.  My chub rub from the 10K was ok, but I was keeping an eye on it.  At mile 16, I could see the runners on the other side of the road headed to Hollywood Studios and caught a quick glance at their mileage marker.  21.  Dang, ok, five miles until I get there.  Normally it is just an out and back past the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, but this time they took us into the complex, we ran past fields of people practicing soccer, ran on the New Balance running track and ran around the infield and past the scoreboard of the ball field where the Florida Marlins have their spring training games.  It was at third base that I ran into my friend Amy again!  I was so happy to see her.  We exchanged a few words and we both agreed to stay in touch about me heading to Kona, Hawaii in March.  She was on a walk break and I was on a run break, so I headed on.  I found another bathroom that was empty around mile 19 and decided to go, but nothing happened.  Well, stuff happened so that I felt better, but I am sure that is way too much information than I needed to give out.  Mile 20 clicked by.  Mile 21 clicked by.  I was still feeling strong on my run intervals and I was not experiencing any pain.  Right after mile 21 was a steep overpass that I had a run interval on.  85% of the people there were walking and the green Army men from Toy Story were going Sgt. Hartman on everyone.  "YOU CALL THAT RUNNING?!?" "PICK IT UP SOLDIER, HUP HUP HUP HUP!!!"  "I DON'T WANT TO SEE YOU WALKING."

As I made my way through Hollywood Studios, I picked up my little bar of chocolate that they hand out over by the Tower of Terror and stuffed it in my Fuel Belt pocket.  I have found that trying to eat chocolate at mile 22 of a marathon is like giving a dog a spoonful of peanut butter.  I would save that little gem for later.  I also was handed a package of Monsters Inc. fruit gummies that I stuffed in a pocket.  Park guests were inside the park by now and the crowds were going crazy.  I'm not sure it if was for us or that they were angry that we were blocking their way to get to the Toy Story ride.  Mile 23, now I'm down on the sidewalk that leads from Hollywood Studios to the Boardwalk area.  I pass my resort room.  It never occurred to me to just end there and head up to the room.  I was close to the finish now. Mile 24, I was around the Yacht Club and Beach Club resorts.  It was time to run.  No more walking.  Mile 25, inside the World showcase!
There was no way that I was letting that chick dressed as Ariel, the Little Mermaid, that I had been seeing off and on all morning long, beat me to the finish.  Lime green and turquoise blue tutu chick, you are not finishing in front of me either.  I had seen so many tutus and sparkle skirts over the past four days and they were getting on my nerves.  4:45 Clif Pace Team chick and your pace group, sorry, I have to get by you, NOW!!!  The Gospel Choir at mile 26 had an area that was big enough for me to swing around the pace group.  .2 miles to go and the photographers were all over the course.  I could see the finish.  I felt my throat want to close up and tears coming to my eyes. NONONONO, KEEP IT TOGETHER AND FINISH!!!  I gave Mickey a high five as I crossed the finish and I dissolved into a sobbing mess.  I pulled over to get out of the way and just let it all go.  A race volunteer asked me if I was ok and I nodded yes and tried to pull myself together.

I have been struggling over the past eighteen months with a personal goal that I missed, a shoulder injury that kept me from running for ten months, super low motivation to run when I could, and a serious case of negative self image as an athlete/runner.  I did not feel worthy to wear any of my finisher's shirts or gear from any of my Ironman races or past marathons within the last few years.  I did not tell new people I met what I did.  I told one guy at CrossFit who asked me if I was the gal who had done an Ironman to keep that information on the down-low and that I really didn't want people to know that about me.  I had worked with a therapist/life coach to try to figure out where this was all coming from.  When I registered for this crazy thing nine months ago, I thought I would get motivated and run. It didn't happen.  I was scared going into this thing because I was severely under trained.  My longest run was 12 miles and that was back in September or October.  And then, I was hit with a ton of bricks when my kid came home and told me that Josh had been diagnosed with leukemia.  I had lost sight of why I ran.  I had let running become about trying to qualify for a race, to get faster, to reach another goal.  When I started to run, it wasn't about me, it was about the person who could not run.

I am not able to donate blood or plasma because I have had open heart surgery, but I can run.  And running wasn't going to be nearly as painful as a bone marrow aspiration in the hip or sternum.  I had to run because Josh needed me to.  He didn't ask me to run for him, I just told him and his family that I was going to do it and see if I could get a few people to donate some money to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  Sure, no one has any money after the holiday bills have started rolling in and tax season starts.    The economy is bad.  The kids need braces, the dog needs to go to the vet, the car needs a new alternator, the home owner's association wants to be paid.  People get tired of always seeing the same people asking for money over and over again for some cause or another.  I get it, I am fighting an uphill battle to raise a few bucks.

But a $20 a week coffee habit can pay for almost a day and a half of parking expenses down in the Texas Medical Center and Josh's mom, Cindy, has to have him down at MD Anderson a minimum of three days a week.  A $100 evening out at the movies (3D) for a family of four with snacks and drinks can cover the cost of a bag of IV fluids.  Could you make your coffee at home this week?  Could you just go rent a movie from Red Box and buy a $1.50 bag of popcorn kernels and pop your own popcorn on the stove top or in your microwave?  We say we cannot give because we don't have the money, but what kinds of non-essential expenses do we have in our daily life that, for one week, we might be able to redirect towards finding a cure for blood cancers and helping a kid like Josh.

All it take is a few dollars here and there to make an impact in Josh's life.  Insurance doesn't usually cover the cost of teachers coming to the house or the hospital to keep kids with cancer up to date with their school work.  Insurance does not pay for parking garage fees.  Insurance does not pay for experimental protocols that have not been approved by the FDA.  Going to the link below will allow you to help cover some of those expenses and fund 16 research doctors in the Texas Medical Center.


If you are unable to contribute, you might know someone who would want to.  Please feel free to pass the link on to others.  I will continue to run for Josh over the next few weeks and keep you updated on how far I go.

Later Gators,