Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Suck It Up, Buttercup!

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend 2013

I’m a little worried I’m going to upset some folks with this blog, but just a little.

Although I had a wonderful weekend with my friends, I didn’t L-O-V-E my Disney Half Marathon experience and it’s all my fault.
I went in to this weekend unprepared physically, emotionally and attitudinally.

It’s simple.
I don’t love Disney races.   I know, you’re all gasping in horror! WHAT?! How can you not love the Disney race?

Running through the park!
Awesome T-shirts!
Multitudes of BLING!

This is all I can say; it’s not really my thing.

I will attempt to explain MY feelings about this knowing that how I feel is not indicative of the race or experience I could have and should have had.

What I should have done is sucked it up, instead I simply sucked.


There are a few key reasons why this race was not a favorite of mine and my sincere hope, dear readers, is that someone, anyone learns from my mistakes.

1.       Don’t sign up if you can’t afford it.

Disney races are expensive.  I’m a Grad Student in between jobs.  I didn’t know I’d be in between jobs when I registered for the race, but I still have no business throwing $300 at entry fees not to mention the costs of staying near the park and eating out in a tourist area for almost 4 days.

I need to be smarter about the races I choose. They need to fit in my budget in totality, not just the entry fees.  

Disney does give bang for the buck, but let’s be honest; once you’ve done one Disney race you’ve done them all. The shirts change, but the medals don’t. The speakers at the Expo are not varied and the finish line expo is the same.  Even the course through the parks is pretty much the same in all the races (sometimes you go in a different direction J ).  I’ve done the 2011 Disney 5K, Tinkerbell in 2012 and 2013 and now Dumbo’s Double Dare.  Not much has changed except for my resentment at the money I’m spending to do the same thing again and again.

2.       If you expect a certain OUTPUT your INPUT needs to match.

In the words of Fiona Apple, I’ve been a bad, bad girl.  I have been lessening my workouts (see next lesson) but not what and how much food I put in my body.  I’ve been neglecting the most important part of my desire to be a better athlete; nutrition.  I’ve simply ignored the fact that I have to fuel my body properly.  I’ve been tired and nauseous at workouts because I think it’s smart to eat a bunch of candy right before.  I haven’t been drinking enough water or eating enough vegetables.  I have been ignoring my pants getting tighter and my face getting rounder.  I’ve been neglecting ME!

I know first-hand how great workouts feel when I’m eating healthy.  I remember with fondness how great my body felt and wonder if I’ll ever feel that way again.

As if I don’t have any control over this.

I have all the control.  My goal is 2 marathons and an Olympic Tri next year.  This is doable, but I will be miserable if I don’t fuel my body properly.


3.       Sometimes you need to rest if it hurts.

I have a strained upper hamstring.  It comes and goes in waves, hurts most when I’m sitting and has been troubling. The Physical Therapist says he can rehab it in 2-4 weeks, as long as I don’t run for that long.

I haven’t NOT run at least once in a week since late 2010. 

I have races coming up.

I am still going to have to run, but I need to listen to my body.  I need to take it easy. 

I want to be an old woman runner.

Although I will continue to run to train for my last two events this year, I’m going to cross-train as well.

Walking and swimming and upper body/core workouts will become more prevalent as runs will become less.

4.       Going into something with a bad attitude will equal a bad performance.

In the corral on Sunday I said to my friends, “I’m going to get my worse time today” and I did. I let all the things I didn’t like get to me.  I was tired. I had to get up early. My leg hurt a bit. It was fixin’ to be a scorcher that day. I don’t like Disney races. Lo and behold…. I sucked!  Nearly 15 minutes slower than my worst half marathon time. 

I literally gave myself permission to SUCK. Who does that?

Take it from me; it didn’t make anything any better. My attitude didn’t give me more sleep, it didn’t make the day cooler, and it didn’t make my leg hurt less.

In fact, my bad attitude made all of these little things seem enormous.

Stuff’s not always going to be awesome, but really why make it worse?

5.       Find the races that motivate you.

The truth for me is that Disney races aren’t a motivator FOR ME.

I think it’s so wonderful that these races give people an opportunity to step out of their fitness comfort zone and doing something amazing because running and walking 13.1 miles is amazing. 

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a slow runner.  My goal is to get faster.  My injury is kind of making me start back at the beginning. I gained a lot early in the summer and pushed too hard, now I’m paying for it.

At most races, I’m a “back of the pack” runner.  Because Disney is rookie-friendly and many people do it for the Disney experience instead of the race experience, at Disney races, I’m a “middle of the pack” runner.   This somehow made me believe yesterday that I had no pressure to perform.  I don’t need to get better; I’ll be in front of people.

I know, I just got the middle finger from a bunch of you and I deserve it.  But think about why you run and what you run for. Maybe it's not the same for you and me.

I run to better myself.

Running has made ME a stronger, more patient, kinder, happier person.  Competition has done that for me.  Not competing against anyone else, but striving to be better and to catch people.

I know I could have done that yesterday.  Plenty of people were in front of me, shoot, plenty of people passed me! But I need to strive to be with the middle of the pack.  I will probably never win a race and I’m cool with that.

I just believe that other races are better for me.  I can change my attitude about it and I will try, but until then I want to pick the races that challenge ME.

That’s not to say I will NEVER do another Disney race, I think I just need to go about them differently.  I need to get a bunch of friends, sign up as a group, ensure we all want to stick together, find silly costumes and stop everywhere within the park to take pictures.  We could cross the finish line together, holding hands and laughing our butts off….that is how I think I need to do future Disney races.  THAT sounds fun!

I also got to experience a few things I already knew, but are worth mentioning.

1.       Great friends can make any experience worthwhile

I am LUCKY.  I must have done something right in a past life to deserve people like Heather and Cody and Neil and Ryan and Sue in my life.  I KNOW I made the right decision joining #Run3rd because Sean is so motivating and it helped me reconnect with Stephanie and I feel like I truly have new friends in #Run3rd Captains Tracy and Dawnley. 

It was so fun to pass Jason on the course and smack him in the buns and get the same treatment when he passed me.

It was so fun/funny getting horrible service everywhere (do we have a sign on our heads?) and reveling in the great service we finally received at Bubba Gump’s (Thanks Abe!!!)

I loved spending Monday at the parks with Vayden and Laura and celebrating Neil’s birthday! (See I don’t hate ALL things Disney, I’m a season pass holder!)

Despite my bad race ‘tude, I had a wonderful time and my great friends loved me despite my grumpy butt face!

Blessed indeed 

2.       Being proud is a really great feeling

Listening to Sean speak about inspiration was, well for lack of a better word, inspiring.  He can articulate how I feel about lacing up my shoes and hitting the pavement.  Becoming a runner is truly a life-changing experience. I know not everyone has a runner inside of them, but I encourage everyone to find their passion and raison d’etre and to be the best they can be. 

In my darkest time I once wrote, “I want to be inspired so I, in turn, can be an inspiration.”

Running inspires me and I feel confident and proud saying that I have inspired others.

Watching the #Run3rd video and seeing my face up there after a multitude of races warmed my heart and puffed out my chest a bit. 

Nothing wrong with that.

AND…I got the opportunity to be SUPER proud of a friend.  Kanika got a bib the day before the race and bravely weathered the heat and 13.1 miles to finish her very first half marathon.

Her guts and determination made me realize that the day wasn’t too shabby!

3.       A positive attitude at the right moment CAN change a day.

The very best part of the Disney Half starts around mile 8.5.  You run by a lumber yard and their sign out front read, “The time to quit is never.”  This made me smile. 

For me, this was the point of no return.  Even at my strongest I would not have been able to get a decent (for me) time, let alone PR.  My self-fulfilling prophecy was coming to pass, but the sign made me smile and remember to not give up.  Finishing 13.1 miles is pretty cool, so I went a little faster. Then we got to the classic cars.

Kudos to Disney for “dressing up” what could’ve been the most BORING part of the race.  The cool cars, the lovely people offering high 5’s, these things made.my.day.

And then you’re running THROUGH Angel Stadium.  I will admit, I came out of that tunnel and stifled a sob.  I felt so small and so HUGE at the same time.  I was so busy smacking people’s hands and getting their good energy that I missed myself on the Jumbotron.

This all led to a mid-race revelation.

“Heather, you may have started this race with a bad attitude, but you don’t have to finish that way. You’re performing poorly, but that doesn’t mean you have to behave poorly.”

I finished the race smiling and happy and accomplished.



I ran a 10K on Saturday (finishing moments ahead of Joey Fatone of NSync, I hope I can find a pic!) and a half marathon on Sunday. That’s a pretty big deal.

Go ME!

All in all, I wouldn’t trade my Disney experience (well, maybe my half marathon time alas….). I love my friends and I learned lots of great things about myself and that’s really the most important part, right?

1 comment:

  1. Oh Heather LOVE this post. Thanks for your honesty and congrats on your races. Wonderful to see you were able to turn it around mid race.