I am a Marathoner

Yes, you’ve read that correctly. I am a MARATHONER. Last, Sunday January 13th, 2019 I went to sleep a marathoner.

My Journey:

I went to Disney World and completed the Dopey Challenge.

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I have done other Run Disney runs, which are just over 3 days. I think the hardest thing of all was adding in the 4th day, which is also the Full.

I didn’t post anything on the journey leading up to go to Disney, if anything I just announced I was going to Disney because Mickey called me home. I love Disney and fully can relax amidst the chaos and magic.

But I was going to Disney to run the Dopey Challenge.

For anyone that does not know what the Dopey Challenge is, it is you run the following over 4 days; a 5k, 10k, a half marathon and on the final day you run a full marathon.

Koren and I went in with a plan, as best as we could plan.

The morning of the 5k the weather was Canadian weather, it was 5 outside. A lot of people thought we should have been able to tough it out without our teeth chattering, but I didn’t add in “standing outside in a Minnie Mouse running costume for over 2.5hrs before you get to run” into my training plan. When my corral went off, I couldn’t feel my toes.

Koren and I just went out in the 5k to have fun, smile for pics, thank all the volunteers and not stress our bodies.

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Friday the 10k I was dressed as Daisy and it still was cold. This time we had the mylar blankets and was able to keep warm. I met some pretty amazing people in the corral who just made us laugh to help pass the time. The 10k we just went out and had the same thoughts, slow, steady and no stress as time was not a factor, just saving our energy and bodies for the following two days of running.

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Saturday the half marathon, this course was the same as the Princess Half, the last time I did this exact course was when I wiped out and don’t have the memory of the route. So I enjoyed collecting memories of running up Main Street and running through the Castle, which was beyond magical.

After we finished the half our game plan kicked in. Go eat, bath (by the way we found these amazing bath bombs at the expo which are amazing with recovery… go check out…… need to insert website ), nap and get up and go to Disney Springs to just walk and keep our legs limber. I like Disney Springs as they have this amazing vegan bakery.

Our goal was to eat and drink during the day so we didn’t just do one large meal. I always said half the battle of this weekend is making sure you get rest and sleep. That is half the challenge in refueling the body. My water was full of nuun on Saturday as Run Disney sent out a warning that the weather was going to be hot on Sunday.

I figured my luck, I basically freeze on the first 3 runs that when I am attempting my second try at a marathon the weather would spike right up in to the 30’s with nothing but blue skies and sunshine.

Sunday arrived.

I can’t say I had nerves, maybe more a fear of the famous balloon ladies taking me off the course, but I knew my body could easily go 37.9kms without issues. I more just wanted it done and over with, the idea of just starting and getting it done was all I could think of. My running costume was based upon the unicorn theme, anyone who knows me (and seen my work desk) will truly understand, if I could believe in unicorns I knew I could believe in me.

Koren and I discussed a new game plan. As we would be shot off before 5:45amish we knew we had roughly a good hour before the sun rose. So our goal was to “break” the rules and go hard out of the gate to get as far as we could before my Asthma would kick it up. The game plan was to keep my puffer in my system so my lungs had the help always and should not struggle.

We started out strong as what we wanted. It was already humid and warm by the 5km mark. My body was fighting me and I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. We ran the 30/30 method, which is run for 30 and walk for 30.

By the time the sun was up, my body was screaming at me, my head hurt, my lungs felt like they had turned to rocks. But I was not giving up. By km 29, I was in pain, my left shoulder and side was killing me, my asthma had me slowed down.

I told Koren at km 33 to go on without me. I was not admitting defeat but I was not going to allow her not to be a marathoner, and complete the dopey challenge. I think it was the hardest decision she made as we stood there and I kept pushing her on, that I was ok to be left alone and I would still do my best. I couldn’t honest hold her back, it was unfair. It was an emotional moment that is for sure, I know she felt like she was leaving me behind, but I was holding her back.

After she left, my music died of all things so it was just me and my thoughts. I knew that I had to dig deeper than anything I’ve ever done in my life, to stay ahead of the balloon ladies if I wanted to completely this. When I hit the one ramp to go on to the next road, I realized I knew where I was. This was the finish from the Wine and Dine. I was so close to Hollywood Studios. I was being blinded by the pain and thought my head was going to explode, I was over heated but I hit km 37.9 and I was not giving up. I can’t even describe the words, thoughts and prayers I gave, but I was out there with these random strangers all over the place just cheering me on.

I made it to the boardwalk to get into Epcot. I had a medic come and tell me the Balloon ladies where about 5mins behind me, this just made me find strength I didn’t know I had and I just started back doing my run walk. I told myself I didn’t have time for my puffer and just was going to get it done. Epcot was another world, the people, the words of encouragement from staff, other runners who had finished was amazing.

I made it to the Choir and I knew at that moment I was going to become a marathoner. I did it. I was already crying and was thankful my glasses was hiding it. This moment was a moment I couldn’t even and still can’t comprehend.

I saw the finish and I just kept going. I remember the announcing saying my name and I just looked up and I was there. I crossed. I finished. I was a marathoner.

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So this is where it gets ugly. I needed my puffer, I had no feeling anywhere on my left side. I was able to get my puffer out and by this time these women were getting me in a wheel chair. I couldn’t breathe. I was taken into the onsite Mash style hospital set up, I was transferred to a cot and immediately given oxygen and Ventolin to get everything working again, once my stats climbed back up to a number they were happy with, they started feeding me salt to help with the swelling, it was at this point I was able to get the nurse to help me get my phone plugged into a battery back so I could let Koren know where to find me. The nurse was able to get me to walk a bit with my stats remaining in a “safe zone”.

They moved me over to the “PT” department which in my delirious state I thought I was getting a massage from Disney, on the way to this location I got Koren brought to me. I ended up meeting a nice orthopedic surgeon, which was not giving me a massage.

He broke the news to me that I ran basically my marathon with my shoulder and elbow dislocated. Which he was kind enough to tell me that if was in a real hospital I would have been given drugs and sedation, but I was on a runners high, so how much worse could the pain of been? Yup, he was right when he said lean right to vomit.

The one Run Disney rep went and go my medals that I needed to collect. So I missed out on getting the “I did it picture” and the thrill of having that medal slipped over my head, but again nothing can take away I am a marathoner and I completed the dopey challenge.

After everything was settled I was released with paperwork to bring back to Canada and got to wear a super cute sling. We got a golf cart ride to the bus to head back to the resort.

It was after I got back to the resort I finally posted that I was a marathoner.

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To this day, I still look at all the medals and I can’t believe I was strong enough mentally to complete the challenge and to finish my marathon. I don’t know how I did it and even explaining it here, it doesn’t seem real. But my heart got me to the finish.

Some facts I burnt over 14,497 calories just during the 4 runs. This is not including the walking, rides and other things I did while awake to burn off calories.

I used Endurance Tap as all my fuel for the run. I went through a lot as my own running plan has me fueling up differently.

I went through tubes upon tubes of nuun. People forget that even if it’s chilly and you don’t sweat like in the heat, you still need to replace those electrolytes.

 

Now to thank some people;

Koren – Thank you for agreeing to come along on this crazy adventure. Thank you for keeping it just as quiet as I did and not posting anything running related. Thank you for the random yelling at me during some of the running points. Also you did confirm to me Disney does not have medics dressed as runners as I’ve always believed since my fall. I’m glad I got to share this journey with you.

Aaron – Just thank you for believing in me from the start, finish and all the emails in between. I’m blessed our lives crossed paths.

To my co-workers (turned family) and those connected through work – Thank you for the facetiming, for the hugs of encouragement before I left, the support during and all the hugs after I returned to work, limping and barely able to go in and out of the office. You all are amazing cheerleaders and I can’t wait to do the Run Like a Diva in Toronto together!

To my Family, thank you for continuing to support me in this journey.

To the family at Endurance Tap – Thank you!

My nuun family and Legacy family members – Thank you as always for the support! Including you Andy who I told first before the world, I finally did it!

This accomplishment is about pride and I am still in awe of my own self, and my resilience in not giving up on me.

To anyone reading this, you can do anything you set your heart to, your mind will follow, even if you don’t succeed the first time, don’t ever give up.

 

Other pics from the runs:

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Closed – The book of 2018

I reflect back on the last 12 chapters of this book called 2018, I believe it went how it was supposed to. Sure it was not perfect, there was some awesome highs as well as some many lows, but the lows build the character and that just made me a stronger person.

I look at my best nine of 2018 and see so many different emotions. I see small victories that even most people don’t see, but I also see and went over those hurdles for each of these pictures. The smiles can hide the pain, the laughter is always in my eyes and my own pride is right there. The hard work of changing my life, losing weight, and continuing to find the best version of me. Seeing how the change slowly has happened.  Never giving up on myself in 2018 is shown in this picture.

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I started January still feeling completely bummed (well heart broken) over my experience in October, it took so much mental strength to find my passion in running again, to know one run didn’t break me.

February, I went to Disney for my 3rd Princess weekend, this time I knew I was going to finish, no asthma or anything was going to stop me in getting all 4 medals (glass slipper challenge). I did amazing the first 2 runs, even with the heat, it was during the half that I took a fall 5kms in to the half. I didn’t realize how bad the damage was, but it was bad. I finished the run by the Grace of Angels and the support of Koren. I had my shoulder in a sling, a horrible concussion, brain issues, whip lash and many things that kept me sidelined for most of 2018.

I was only cleared to do short distances and keep it to an easy pace as it was too simple to set myself back with the dizzy, pain and unable to stand the pain in my neck, shoulder and back. But I was determined.

In June, I did the Run Like a Diva half on Toronto Island. (I failed to mention this to the team of doctors, but I did it), it was a perfect pace and I brought in someone on their first ever half, which made my heart beyond happy.  Running is not always about a time on a clock, but the victory of crossing a finishing mat.

I trained throughout the summer just to keep my body limber and able to run. I had intentions at the start of 2018 to try another Marathon, which I had planned to make it the Niagara Falls International Marathon, with the fall in February, I kept thinking I could double up and double down and plan and still accomplish this, I knew in late July it was not going to happen. I had to alter plans and just focus on healing.

In October I did the Niagara Falls 5k, it was not my favourite course as I said earlier in a previous post. I did STWM the following weekend. I was proud of my time for STWM as I personally took 9 minutes off my first ever 5k time of STWM, so I had a new course PB.

The end of October took us back to Disney to run the Wine and Dine weekend, which was a first and a completely different experience over Princess. I loved it. I loved the weather, it actually rained at Disney. The course was completely different over Princess. I had fun. Although I learned the lesson the hard way, don’t do rides that can alter, hurt and bring back the pain of the whip lash before running, it makes doing a half a wee bit difficult.

I got to experience the joy of seeing Halloween at the happiest place on earth and leaving with Christmas in full swing.

In the last few chapters of 2018, I put my body back in touch with my favourite Chiropractor who has helped me deal with my hip issues. I also went back to my massage therapist, who kept telling me I am crazy to keep running and setting goals and dreaming large, but supports me nonetheless.

In 2018, through all these chapters, I met some amazing people who became friends, who supported me all without understanding the runner’s mentality. These people have been gifted to me by way of my work, and in forms of 6 degrees of separation, and mostly in general conversations of passing.

Some of my lows was hurting myself and not recovering fast enough. Having to give up runs, and see bibs pass by and being unable to run. I had to say goodbye to my running coach as he needed to move on, which sucked, but I knew I was strong enough to continue on with what he has taught me, and that I am capable of handling the mental game with running which at times its my anxiety in the high.

I finished the year with an ambulance ride, a mini hospital visit and spent closing the book of 2018, in bed well before the clock stroke the last ding in 2018.

I learned mostly this year take nothing for granted, don’t assume that everyone knows how you feel, and that tomorrow is never guaranteed. I learned to balance life, work and running. I learned I can’t rush an injury to heal. I learned to actually listen to my body, who cares what someone thinks if I know I can’t do something. I love me.

In 2019, I shall continue to dream large, love myself more and continue to be true to myself. Stay tune for what I’m dreaming about.

Disney – Wine and Dine

This post is beyond late, but much needed. Especially if anyone is thinking of running this event in 2019 – my advice…. DO IT.

I want to explain how different it is running from Princess to Wine and Dine. I loved Wine and Dine. I loved the food festival, even as a vegan; I ate. The fun to be had at the festival is amazing. Plus it is also Halloween when we arrived, so we did Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.

The runs were fun and unique. I loved the 5k even with the parking lot running. It still has narrow spots that you need to walk, but really running through Animal Kingdom was just amazing, with the lights, sounds of the animals waking up. I loved it. I dressed as Hei Hei and Koren dressed as Moana.

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The 10k started at the parking lot of Magic Kingdom, we ran alone the road and came into Epcot to finish, we had fun on this run just walking and taking our time. Never in a rush. We grabbed pics and finished in a decent time.  We finished at Epcot, and the last 5k is just pretty much close to Princess.

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The half was amazing. We started in the same parking lot at Magic Kingdom, ran back to animal kingdom, over to Hollywood Studios and finished at Epcot, yes there was a lot of road running, they had lots of entertainment, and the only down side was, I was hungry, they didn’t have the jelly beans in the normal 13k stop, it was more closer to 16/17km.

The course does double over with Princess, I did have to stop for one bathroom break, I swore I thought I’d make it, but it was not happening. I remember why I don’t stop, heat, sweat and running gear really doesn’t come off and on easy.

I think with the half the reason I was comfortable and ok knowing Koren was running with a horrible knee and well I may have brought on some concussion/whip lash symptoms riding rides before the run, I was in a better starting corral. I felt more confident that no balloon ladies would catch up to me nor did my anxiety kick in. I was comfortable, I felt safe, if that makes any sense.

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It’s amazing how much your mental health plays with you when you are running a run. I’ve had to take my anxiety meds midpoint of runs because I at times couldn’t shut it down.

That vacation I did Disney for Halloween and I woke up on November 1st to Christmas, it was amazing. I relaxed, had sunshine and my first ever rain while at Disney. Koren and I met people, had a good dinner out. Just in all it was what I needed.

I tell people Disney does not disappoint, even at 1am when you are getting up.

So bucket list this one, as I know I’ll be back one day.

Here are some pics from the vacation and running.

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