Monday, May 26, 2014

What do you do after a race?

After the race, I of course, changed clothes and showered back at the room.  I also knew it was best to keep moving. 

If you are at Disney, and you need to keep moving, where do you go?

I do not regret that particular decision.  Sunday night, I strolled through the Magic Kingdom, and rested when I needed.  It was a difficult walk through the park that night because of the ankle, which was completely swollen by this point.  I was wrapping and icing it every chance available. 

Throughout the next few days, I spent a lot of time in the room.  I watch a lot of old episodes of Law and Order, and it was this plus my early wake up call for the marathon that made me decide something:  never again would I stay at a Value Resort for a solo vacation.  I was bored out of my mind recuperating in the room.  I did, however, get out of the room some.  Here are some examples of the rest of the week:
 A quiet morning at Downtown Disney the day after the Marathon.
 Cloudy afternoon at Epcot
 I know many people aren't happy with Starbucks at Disney.  I'm just fine with it!
 Quiet lunch at Boardwalk Bakery
 This is about the spot where I bawled my eyes out during the marathon.
 My second favorite icon at Disney after my castle
 The animals were really out during the safari
 They look friendly. . .
 Go to Magic Kingdom. . .Turn LEFT
 Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, waving to the public
 I love this lighthouse
 New Disney Vacation Club Property.  Too bad I'd never be able to afford it.
 Lunch at Be Our Guest on the last day
 I love this view of Hollywood Studios
 Don't know how I managed those crowds. . .hehe
 By the end of my days there, it was getting colder.  Steam from the heated pools in January
The new, cram a million people in a bus, bus at Magic Kingdom

And before long, it was over.  I had run the race, relaxed at Disney, and was ready to return to real life.  Magical Express took me back to the Orlando airport, and I had a non-magical monorail ride and Starbucks there:

Luggage coming on the plane.  

My plane was delayed by an hour and I learned how much a sprained ankle hurts with the change in elevation on a plane.  It was enough to also decide to drive down to Disney from here on out.

Post trip, I was not willing to do another marathon again.  This has since changed, but that's left for another time.  Until that point, we'll look at three other races I've run this year and my training for my next big adventure. . .the 2015 Dopey Challenge.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

There's No Place Like Finish

So, last time, I left off just after my Nike+ GPS watch died.  I was heading towards Hollywood Studios and I also did something interesting. . .I turned off my SecondsPro app, that times run-walk intervals.  If I was going to do this thing blindly, I was going to do it without that confounded beeping.

No lie.

Now, here's something interesting.  Up until now, you can see that I've taken a picture of every.  Single.  Mile Marker.  So something may surprise you.

I missed 23.  I was told later it was behind the final sweeper bus.  I remember thinking it was taking forever to get to 23.  I was now running one song, walking the next.  Still on an ankle that felt as if it were going to fall off.  And now I had another thing to add:

I was starving.  Smelling the food going by ABC Commissary did not help matters much.

Heading to Crossroads of the World and my favorite spinning Mickey!

Yes, that dude is wearing a blue tutu.  Just roll with it.  I've come to appreciate it.

And soon. . .

I was on the Boardwalk and no longer in danger of being swept from the race!

It was here when I realized that, I began to cry.

Not a cute, princess-like cry.  An ugly cry.  

By now, I was just walking 19 minute miles, more or less.   I was attempting to get over the fact that my ankle felt like it was swelling out of my shoe.  It was a problem for later, because I was now at Mile 24!

In France, and see-19 ish minute mile.

But this sight was making it all worth it!

Having run  the Princess Half, I knew what was coming up next!

I clapped and sang along with them like a nut!

And by mile 26, I was limping

 But I was finished!!!!

Forget ugly cries.  This was the worst ever.

Back at Race Retreat, I had all the food my plate could hold.  I know lots of people who don't think Race Retreat is a big deal.  For the marathon, I would never skip it at Disney.  Having a place to change and sit for a while before boarding the bus was worth it all.  I then printed my live race results and watched the last person cross the finish line about 45 minutes after me surrounded by and cheered on by Team in Training.  No wonder I didn't see the balloon ladies or the sweepers.  They were 45 minutes behind me.

And it was all over.  At the time, I told the Princess Posse I was never doing another marathon again.  I told people to remind me of that.  For the next month, I was recuperating from the ankle.  But you know what?  I finished.  I had ups, downs, pains, ugly cry tears, laughter, and fears that I would not finish after all.

I'm reminded here of the lyrics of a little known husband-wife duo, Russell and Kristi Johnson from Conway, South Carolina.  (Seriously, look them up:)

I want to run the race,
Embracing every moment I'm given,
Whether mountains or valleys You're leading.
I want to fight the fight, keep the faith,
Trust in You day by day, 
Through the storms and the pain You stay the same,
You never change
It's only by Your power and Your grace
I run the race.
("Run the Race", Russell and Kristi; From the album, No Other Name)

I went through both valleys and mountains in this marathon.  More than any fun time, I finished.  I finished slowly, with fear of being swept, with a throbbing ankle, and with fear that I would not finish just because I'd never done 26 miles before.

But God does something interesting or really, amazing.

Every time I wanted to stop, I got a text or a phone call, or someone on the path handed me chocolate or pretzels.  The right song would loop through my iPod.  A race sign would make me laugh.  A fellow runner would encourage me.

I've known people who scoff that God can't even be bothered with those little things that are seemingly inconsequential, but I disagree.  His Word says:

"And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who are called according to His purpose. . .What, then, shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all--how will He not also, along with Him,graciously give us all things?"  Romans 8:28, 31-32

I believe wholeheartedly that because He calls me to His purpose, He gives me the strength to run the race.  He gives me every nudge along the way that brings me to a finish line.  It is by His power and His grace that I run and finish a race.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Ugh. . .

There are times during a race that are tougher than others.  

Miles 14 through 22 of the marathon were killer for me.  As you all know, I was struggling by this point with my ankle.  I had popped meds that were in my Sparkle Skirt pocket and kept going.  By the time I was here at mile 14, the sun was pushing down on us.

 Here, a random runner offered to take my picture.  Hey, I was at a milestone.  Mile 15.  I also still can't believe I was smiling here.

Notice a trend here?  I was finished with scenery and sticking mostly to the mile markers.

Before long, I was here, at Wide World of Sports.  It was also here I got a text from a friend and I called my husband.  It was also where we got the glorious wet washcloths that stayed on my back for a long time.  And we started an ascent to the rat race that is the Wide World of Sports.

Just a hint:  it lasts forever.

and ever

and ever

and ever

and. . . .

I'll just use ellipses here.  Where's that infinity sign when you need it?

Note the walkers here--everyone looks so defeated!

"Just keep swimming my foot"  Where's the monorail?

By now, we are feeling Goofy.  And still in the Wide World of Sports.

Baseball field.  We have to be close to the end, right?

 It was fun seeing us on the Jumbotron
 Finally!  We're coming out of there!

And somewhere between here, my Nike+ Sportwatch died.
And ever.
Never to wake up again.
Here's where the real challenge came.  I had no way of knowing where I was or my pace or anything.  At this point, I stopped my intervals as well.  I was just ready to be finished.  I hurt, I was hungry (next year, some type of protein will be eaten at mile 13), and I was ready to be done.  I was almost at Hollywood Studios and I needed to get to the Boardwalk so I would not be swept off of the course.

It was about here that I started worrying that I'd be swept.  The clocks were turned off on a couple of the mile markers.  I never, however, saw balloon ladies.  I did start looking behind me.

When you are stripped down to nothing, you learn the most about yourself. 

I could have given up.

I could have stopped and waited for the balloon ladies.

I hurt, I was hungry, and my watch had stopped.

It was here I stopped by a medical tent, slapped some more biofreeze on my ankle, took some Tylenol from them, and ate another Gu.

Call me determined.

Call me stubborn.

I don't care which one.

I was going to finish, come heck or high water.

Monday, May 5, 2014

I feel like I'm in NASCAR

Leaving the castle, I headed out of Magic Kingdom Park, but not before I got to another great picture in near Liberty Square with Louis from The Princess and the Frog, which remains one of my favorite all time Disney movies.  (I know that is probably blasphemy to all of you Frozen lovers out there)

Frontierland sees Mile 6. . .
 And just out of the park near Splash Mountain, the engineers and the WDW Train.  I love this ride, mostly because Walt loved it so much.

And then heading out and about towards Cone Alley. . .
 And in Cone Alley.

Cone Alley is the Grand Floridian Way, called that during the races, because there are cones that divide the runners from one lane of traffic.  It can be highly dangerous to travel on the other side of the cones, but it is also an area where there is a lot of congestion.  You have 26,000 runners in one lane.  Cah-Razy!
Something that was added to the marathon last year was a trip around the Walt Disney World Speedway.  I remember thinking, "huh, that might be cool."  What I didn't expect was the hill down and into the speedway.  Thank goodness for people telling me beforehand.  I was able to decelerate before I got there. 
 Oops. . .I guess they forgot about us pedestrians!

And the hill down and up!
 By the time you get here, you are so happy to be on flat land.
 Mile 9, I believe just as we are leaving the race track.

You'll note I'm getting tired by now. . .fewer pictures of scenery.
 Coming behind Animal Kingdom. . .
 Dottie, the amazing warthog!  She was so sweet!  There were plenty of animals here, but I got a picture with Dottie because my youngest child loves pigs.

 Mile 12, coming into Animal Kingdom. 
 And Rafiki!  He's been my Facebook profile many times!
 A little-known tidbit of information:  runners who time things right can ride Expedition Everest.  During the race.  Did I time things right?

 I entered the area at around 9:34.  Great timing. 
 And there I am, in the back, with all other people wearing race bibs, too!

Excited about being at the halfway point, I was already feeling a few pains.  One of which was in my left ankle.  It was just a little sore, but nothing to truly be worried about, until here.

I was so glad I had made it to this point, I stepped off a curb checking to make sure I got this picture.  I was also having trouble with my iPhone here and was turning it back on. 

My ankle?  Devastation.  It hurt to keep going, but go I did.  I had trained so long.  I ran 20-mile training runs in the rain with my husband coming to check on me throughout.  I had run 9 milers on the treadmill.  I had paid $200 in race registration and $125 for race retreat.  I was not giving up.

In hindsight, I probably should never have finished that race.  In a training run, I never would have kept going.  Throughout the last 13.2 miles, I took 2 Advil, 2 Tylenol, and put Biofreeze on my ankle three times.  I had sprained my left ankle and I'm lucky it was not broken.

People have asked me why I kept going, and the reason is similar to why I kept going after my knee started hurting in my first half marathon.  One may find it silly, but I certainly don't. 

The pain from that race is NOWHERE near the pain that Jesus felt on the cross.  Nowhere near the despair He must have felt when He said, "'My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.'" (Matthew 26:39)

You see, I knew I could finish the race.  I could fight the fight.  The pain I was feeling was temporary.  My suffering was no where near the pain Jesus felt on that fateful day.  I would heal.  And I was strong enough.

I won't lie.  The next 13.2 miles involved a lot of prayer.  I've found, however, that when I'm stripped down, that is when I'm closer to God.  When I'm running and I'm thinking there is nothing else in me, that's when I rely on the Creator's creation.  Isn't it wonderful that we have an All-powerful God who can giv eus the strength to finish when we don't think we can?