The running piece of my exercise came by accident. One day, after some really frustrating meetings and a lot of stress in general life, I got on the treadmill to do my miles required for my first half marathon. My trainer had been trying to convince me to run in addition to walking because to train there was no way I’d have enough time on the weekend to walk the mileage I needed, and I was on a treadmill that typically times out after 60 minutes – why do gyms make me share? I decided to speed up a notch at a time – well, more like he convinced me to speed up and wouldn’t let me see the treadmill display. He had me moving “fast” for 2 minutes, then I got to walk slower than my pace for 1. He upped the speed until it became clear I wouldn’t be able to keep up. Then he backed it up a little and increased the time I was running. As we were chatting about my day, I was getting angrier and angrier – soon I had run for 7 minutes straight. And guess what! It felt good when it was over??!! I was hooked.
At that point, I started running intervals. I didn’t ever want to run off the treadmill….my race goal was still to walk. And the thought of running and trying to keep up with my friend (even for a few feet) brought me to tears. I was experiencing a rough time in my life and I was terrified. It was all too much. I ended up doing a 5K to prep for my half – so I’d know what a race felt like. I ran. And I got a hairline fracture in my leg that postponed my first half for 6 months. When I finally got clearance to run and walk distances again, I was nervous but excited. No one who knew me when could believe I was hoping the doctor would tell me to go do it.
My first race where I ran, was Tinkerbell at Disneyland in January 2013. I was with friends of friends who were experienced. But I knew I could get through it – I had walked one and knew I had to survive only 3:25 minutes and I had the music in my iPod to keep me company. One of the ladies was a coworker and decided to stay behind with me. We chatted about everything and how my longest run to date was only 8 miles as I had gotten my bib for this race at the last minute. I told her it was all about the bling and I just want the medal because I covet shiny things. I told her I was imagining running through the mall to get the last size 7 Jimmy Choos for $100. Whenever I slowed down or looked like I was wanting to quit, I’d hear her say “bling bling”. I was slow by running standards and walked a lot, but had a blast! Disney was the perfect first race to do. Everyone in costume or inspired outfits. And glitter. And people wearing wings. It was more like an event where you happened to run and get exercise than a race. And did I mention the glitter?
Each race after that I improved and got braver. But every time I added a new element (like knowing no one on the course), I got a little braver. And when each race was over, I felt proud: Proud that I had overcome a fear or obstacle, proud that I had the courage to start, and proud of my overall achievement. I learned that racing is not against other people for me. It is only against myself and my mind.
In 2014, I added a new challenge – Disney has “challenges” in that you do a 10K on Saturday and a half marathon on Sunday – back to back. I never ran back to back before – always took a day off in between workouts. But when Glass Slipper Challenge during Princess Weekend was announced – a medal with a glittery shoe on it? Hello! – I had to sign up. Additionally, if I did Tinkerbell Half in the same year, I could get a coast to coast medal in PINK???? Yes, please! I was in for 19.3 miles over two days.
I went on a month later to complete Hollywood Half for the 2nd time and PR’ed – PR = personal record for those who don’t know.
At that point, I knew I would continue doing challenges at Disney and running the cool races with the good bling…….what happened after, I’m still not sure.