Recap: runDisney’s Princess Weekend 2016 Enchanted 10k

Well, a late recap is slightly better than never, right? Things are finally slowing down enough in life for me to write up the amazing weekend I had at Walt Disney World back in February.

A year before this, I ran my first 10k at the 2015 Princess weekend, and Aaron’s anniversary gift to me while on that trip was the promise that in 2016 I’d complete the Glass Slipper Challenge at Princess weekend. The Glass Slipper Challenge involves running the 10k on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday – sounds a little crazy, and it really kinda is.

I was also traveling to this race by myself, since three of us are coming back in less than two weeks for the Star Wars Dark Side Challenge. I booked a room at Disney’s Pop Century resort, found a roommate in a race group to help cover the expenses, and was ready to run these two races. Well…mostly. I’ll admit I was under-trained due to winter, and other commitments, and mostly being lazy. But I was still determined to finish both races.

Before the race, though, is the expo. I didn’t arrive until Friday morning, so I missed some of the craziness I’d heard reports of the day before, which mostly involved long lines and people fighting over official race merchandise. Friday’s version of the expo was still crowded, but more relaxed. I picked up my race bib and shirts, browsed the expo for any good deals, and then dropped everything off at my room before spending the late afternoon at Magic Kingdom.

Princess expoSee? No long lines on Friday!

The primary reason I was going to Magic Kingdom that evening was to carb load at my favorite WDW pasta spot: Tony’s Town Square Restaurant. I met up with an Ohio friend for dinner and stuffed myself with shrimp scampi before going back to my room to get a few hours of sleep before the 10k the next morning.

3am is never an easy time to wake up. Nothing about 3am feels natural or comfortable. And yet 3am is when I had to be awake to get dressed for the race, get out to the bus stop, and take the bus over to the race corrals for the 5:30am start time. Thankfully, race day adrenaline kept me upright, but I was also more excited to be meeting up with friends Jana, Megan, and Megan’s husband Al in corral D. This was Megan’s first 10k, and she looked awesome in her Ursula running costume, with her husband dressed as King Neptune.

Pre-race photoPre-race selfie!

As for me, I never miss a chance at a running costume for a runDisney race. My outfit was Vanellope from Wreck-it Ralph. My only regret on my costume was that I wore my visor so it wasn’t easy to see the candy charms in my hair.

Vanellope Enchanted 10kVanellope is a princess.

The weather was much warmer than 2015, but still cool and comfortable for the start. Just like the 10k a year before, it was a great countdown and race start.


I stuck with Megan for the first two miles, trying my best to provide motivation and support. She was probably sick of my thumbs up and motivational pep talks before the first mile. I’m not sure when I became “that cheery runner” but I can promise that I am not that cheery by mile four or so.

At her urging, I went ahead of her after mile two, and as I ran solo I quickly found myself remembering the route from the previous year and felt a surge of joy to be doing this race again. The skies were just beginning to brighten as we turned off the freeway and onto the off-ramp towards the back of Epcot.

One of the most awesome parts of running the Enchanted 10k is being able to run through the World Showcase section of Epcot. I’m slow enough that the sun is just coming up when I reach this area, and there’s a hazy glow to everything. It’s beautiful, and provides for more ideal selfie locations than you can imagine. Runners were pulling off to the side all along this area to get photos, and yes, I was one of them.

Epcot selfie

As we crossed the bridge from the France pavilion to the United Kingdom pavilion, we turned towards the exit to the Boardwalk. There’s a short area just outside of Epcot where a rope divides the path in two, with those exiting Epcot starting their loop around the Boardwalk area on one side, and those returning from that loop on the other side. This is such a high energy area as runners going in opposite directions high five each other across the rope and cheer on their fellow runners. It’s a great mental boost for mile four, when legs and lungs are starting to complain.

The second most awesome part of running the Enchanted 10k is the crowd that gathers around the Boardwalk resort. Lots of spectators are here, some with funny signs, some offering pretzels or Twizzlers (THANK YOU!), and all providing a lot of cheering and positive energy. Also? More beautiful views.

View from the BoardwalkNo filters here, people. Just a beautiful scene with Spaceship Earth peeking out in the background.

Unlike the previous year, I’ve run more than a 10k, so the distance wasn’t as challenging for me this time. But even still, that last mile does start to feel rough. Thankfully, much of that mile is spent back inside Epcot, winding past The Land and The Seas with Nemo and Friends, around Spaceship Earth, and then making the final turn for the finish line.

Spaceship Earth - Enchanted 10kThe finish line is soooooo close!

The gospel choir was positioned right before the final turn, and I remember they were singing something with the lyrics, “Thank God, thank God, thank God…” as I was approaching them. As I passed, I chimed in, “Thank God I’m almost done!” with my hands up in the air, then reached out to high-five one of the choir members.

And then there it was – the finish. Before I knew it, I was across the line, had my medal, my Powerade, my mylar blanket, and my snackbox. I spread out the blanket to sit down and guzzled my Powerade, all while gazing at the pretty medal I had just earned.

Enchanted 10k medal

The Enchanted 10k is packed full of fun things to see in only 6.2 miles that go by very quickly. I didn’t even mention the character stops along the way. I’m a slow runner, so I usually don’t stop to get photos with the characters because I worry I’ll fall behind. But it’s still fun to see the characters as I run by.

Of course, this was only race #1. I still had to do more than double that distance the next morning, but not before getting some photos with my medal.

Showing off the medalKylo Ren didn’t seem all that impressed.

Part two coming soon!

Yet Another Update On My Shoulder

It’s flu shot season, which means that the traffic has started to pick up on my first post regarding the shoulder injury I suffered as a result of my flu shot in early 2014. I’m sorry to see so many comments from others that they’ve had similar experiences and to see the same question over and over: will this ever get better?

I guess I’m overdue for an update on my own experience with SIRVA. When I last discussed this over a year ago, I had received yet another steroid injection for my shoulder when the pain returned. That particular cortisone shot left me feeling that I was finally done with treatments as my shoulder felt fine for all of winter and much of the spring.

But then in April of this year, I was again aware of that nagging ache coming from my left shoulder. I tried to be gentle with that shoulder for a week or two, hoping it would go away, but like before it only intensified and I noticed my pain-free range of motion decreasing.

When I visited my ortho doc in May, he ordered new x-rays to check for any calcification in the joint that could be causing pain. The x-rays were uneventful, and the diagnosis remained as a reoccurring bursitis. He gave me another cortisone injection, and we both hoped that this would be the final shot needed. After all, if the previous one lasted for eight months, maybe this one would last even longer…like permanently?

It wasn’t meant to be.

My doctor and I reunited in September when I had agonizing shoulder pain that was making it difficult to even get dressed each day. The pain was sharp with certain motions, and otherwise a low-grade ache the remainder of the time. Ibuprofen did little to help.

At this point, all I wanted was another cortisone injection to stop the pain. Which meant I was ready to cry when my doctor declared that it was time to stop the shots.


He said that over time the cortisone shots can begin to lose their effectiveness, and each injection can increase the risks of additional damage to the joint. Surgery was presented as the next step to clean out the shoulder joint and look for any scar tissue or damage to remove.

The bad news: my chances of having the pain resolved by surgery (and physical therapy after surgery, of course) was better than 50-50, but not by much. A high number of patients still have shoulder pain after surgery.

The bad news that related specifically to me: after surgery , there’s no exercise allowed at all for 1-2 weeks, and then no exercise involving the shoulder for another 2-3 weeks.

I was numb at this point. I quickly explained why surgery wasn’t an option for me at that time: I was registered for the Columbus Half Marathon on October 18, with two more half marathons in November. These were my first half marathons, and this was the start of race season; I couldn’t spend 1-2 weeks with no activity to risk or give up on races with a lot of time and money invested. But I also stressed that I couldn’t go on with the pain.

My ortho doc is part of a sports medicine practice, so he understands the needs of athletes. (HA! First time ever that I’ve suggested I’m an athlete. Writing that made me laugh!)

My pleas sunk in. We compromised and agreed on a cortisone shot that day, but that’s the absolute last one. The next time the pain comes back – whether in 3 months, 6 months, 9 months – it’ll be surgery time. I’ll be mindful of this in planning races for 2016, knowing that if the pain comes back right before a big race, I might need to ditch the race or endure the pain until after the race.

Wine and Dine medalAnd I did run those races – more on that soon!

The latest relapse happened after only four months, and even though I wish it would go away, experience tells me it’ll be back. In fact, I’ve started to have a sore shoulder this week, and I keep hoping I slept on it wrong and it’ll go away soon. I’m scared at the thought of surgery and even more worried that I’ll endure the pain and expense of surgery and it won’t work.

My frustration has turned to anger. I’ve previously considered filing an injury report to the federal government and then seeking compensation through the vaccine injury courts, and I may be ready to do it now. In less than two years, I’ve endured a lot of unnecessary pain, I’ve spent a lot of time and money on trying to recover from SIRVA, and now I’m facing surgery, which also won’t be cheap. Had I decided to skip my flu shot in January 2014 or waited to get it at my doctor’s office, it’s likely this never would have happened.

My First Half Marathon: Columbus Half Marathon

Ever since I ran the Princess Enchanted 10k at Walt Disney World earlier this year, I knew I wanted to train for a half marathon. It seemed like a distance that would be a challenge for me to accomplish, but wasn’t so far out of reach that it would be near-impossible.

I had originally planned for the Emerald City Half Marathon in August to be my first half marathon. However, I quickly accepted that I am not a summertime runner, and realized I had not trained enough during the summer to be ready for the Emerald City Half. I don’t like heat and humidity, and this summer was not lacking in either.

In early August, Aaron and I ran the Scioto 10-Miler race to help me build mileage for my half. That race went very poorly for me. I started out great, but by seven miles in I was hurting and my tank was empty. The last two miles were an absolute struggle, and my finishing time was terrible. So after that race I made the decision to drop down to the quarter marathon for Emerald City, which did result in a PR for that 6.55 mile distance.

Emerald CityEmerald City Quarter Marathon

I still needed to get a half marathon in the books, though. So I signed up for the Columbus Half Marathon, which is run as a part of the Columbus Marathon in October. I figured I’d have plenty of time to train for this half in the cooler early-fall weather.

The Scioto 10-miler was as far as I’d get, though. For nearly all of September, I had some strange GI health issues that caused nausea, stomach pain, and left me fatigued most days. I did get some training runs in during that month, but they weren’t as long as I needed, and I was generally wiped out afterward.

In early October I was feeling a little better, and I participated in the Run Like A Girl 10k. I felt great in the cold weather, and while I didn’t have a PR for this race, I did finish strong and felt like I could have kept going. That gave me some hope that the Columbus Half might happen.

October 18 was the big day, and it was COLD. Aaron was running this race, too, but we agreed that he would run ahead of me at his own pace. I think the reason I burned out so badly on the Scioto 10-Miler was that I was trying to keep pace with him, and while he was only trying to help by encouraging me, the result was that I went too fast for me. For this race, we agreed to meet at the end and each run at our own pace.

cold morningThe morning of the race – the very cold morning.

They say you shouldn’t try anything new on race day, but I broke that rule. On long runs, the two greatest problems I have are hitting a wall with my energy around mile seven, and a persistent swelling in my hands until I can no longer bend my fingers.

For this race, I had found a pair of compression gloves for crafters, and decided they could help keep the swelling down in my hands, along with drinking only the Gatorade on the course and not the water. (The swelling comes from hyponatremia from sweating out too much salt.)

I also realized that part of my energy problem was that I don’t have the metabolism of the average person. Most recommendations are to fuel up during the race with simple carbs (sugar) that can be quickly absorbed for energy and won’t upset the stomach. But the more I ate/drank, the faster I ran out of energy. I have hypoglycemia, which means my body overproduces insulin when it detects a sugar surge. This can leave me feeling weak and shaky. So for this race, I packed my usual sport gummies for energy, but I also included a baggie of nuts to eat along the route. The nuts provided fat and protein to slow the sugar absorption, and also gave me a little extra salt to help with the swelling.

We were wrapped up in layers and mylar blankets before the race, trying to stay warm as we waiting in our corral in the 28 degree weather. But then it was finally our time to run.

pre-half marathonWrapped up but ready to go.

I ditched my throwaway jacket before I reached the end of the first mile, finding that I was already warming up quickly. The hardest part at the start of the race was reminding myself to SLOW DOWN. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and run faster, but sticking with the intervals and pace I trained with was going to get me to the end.

I’m a Galloway interval runner, so I alternate timed running and walking intervals. I’ve learned that skipping walk intervals early on will only lead to skipping running intervals later in the race, so I forced myself to comply with each walk interval even though I wanted to run more during that first mile.

As we progressed out of downtown and into the Bexley area, I fell into a good rhythm while listening to my music. I could feel my fingers starting to swell and pushing against the compression gloves, but the gloves were keeping them from going any further. The gloves were working!

I also felt great along the course thanks to messages of support from friends and family. I recently learned about the Motigo app from my local chapter of Moms Run This Town, and asked everyone to please record some voice messages of support for me along the course. I can’t fully express how encouraging it was to hear voices of friends and family suddenly pop into my earbuds at certain points along the route, making me laugh and reminding me that I could do this. It’s a free app I highly recommend for other runners to use. (That recommendation is not sponsored in any way. I simply love the app.)

As expected, I reached the start of mile eight and started to feel some fatigue setting in. The nuts were doing their job and keeping me from hitting the wall, but not getting in enough training before this race was starting to have an effect on me. I wasn’t hurting, but I was slowing down a little and my brain felt a little foggy. We reached the Clif Shot Station (packets of energy gel), and I took one just to give it a try. Well…I can now say that eating something with a taste and texture you don’t like will snap your mind back into action quickly! It had the texture of frosting and wasn’t a taste I appreciated. I shuddered as I tossed the remainder away, my mind now fully alert thanks to my disgust.

At this point I accepted the slower pace that kept me comfortable and settled in for the next two miles through German Village. I did stop at the mile 10 flag to grab a quick photo and Instagram it, trying to humor myself with the caption of, “10 mile warmup complete. Time to crush this 5k!” I know, I’m hilarious when I’m half-delirious from fatigue.

Mile 10

Mile 11 was my slowest mile, but it wasn’t until I was in my final mile that everything started to hurt. My right foot began throbbing with each step, my right hip had pain shooting down it for each stride, and each step forward was made by pure willpower. I was back in the downtown area, and the crowds were growing larger the closer I got to the finish.

I had nothing left when I made the final turn. I walked part of it, but when the finish line was in view, I forced myself to run…or shuffle slowly in as much of a run as I could muster. Crossing that finish line, after traveling 13.1 miles, was amazing. Yes, I was sore, and yes, I was stumbling as I moved to the recovery area. But having that medal placed around my neck made me feel like I could do anything. I earned that.

Finisher medals

Everything came together that day to give me that moment of triumph at the end. The weather was good, the gloves controlled my swelling, the food kept me energized, the virtual cheers from friends and family kept my spirits up, and my feet carried me through to the finish. My first half marathon was a success.

Oh, how I hurt that afternoon. And the next day. But you know the crazy part? Not even 24 hours later, I thought to myself, “Let’s do that again.”

Getting Back into the Groove

Well, that was an unintended pause in writing. Let me catch everyone up on how things are going.

First, thank you to so many of you who left comments of support on my last post. I did visit my doctor, and we decided to help things along with an antidepressant. While I can’t say I’m feeling back to my old self yet, I do feel better, and I’m better equipped to sort through my feelings over the losses we’ve gone through this year. Tomorrow will probably be the hardest day to get through – tomorrow would have been my due date for the pregnancy I lost in February – but hopefully once that day is over I’ll feel more closure and can move past it.

Part of feeling depressed has included my unwillingness to be social. I feel some guilt for being a lousy friend over the past few months, but reaching out to others seemed too hard at times. I’m making a greater effort to get back in touch with friends and get out of the house more, even though it’s so much easier to stay home.

The remainder of the summer passed by peacefully here. Cordy and Mira finished summer camp, and we quickly fell into the back-to-school preparations. This year they’re both attending a new school together. Thanks to the enormous efforts of a workgroup of parents, teachers, and administrators (which I was a part of), plans were made last year to launch a new self-contained program for gifted students in third thru eighth grades, and that school was fast-tracked into creation for the start of this new school year. The idea was that it would help address some of different learning and social/emotional needs of gifted students.

Naturally, Cordy was very nervous about starting this new school. (Mira was less nervous, of course.) We visited a few times before the start of the school year to meet her teachers, including her special needs teacher who would be very involved in her daily activities. By the first day of school, she knew most of the staff she would be interacting with on a regular basis, she knew where to find her classrooms, and she was reassured that her teachers understood her unique issues and how they could work together to help her feel less anxious and be ready to learn.

So far? It’s been a fantastic success. Cordy’s teachers have been so sensitive to her needs, while at the same time gently pushing her outside of her safe zone to help her grow. Nearly every morning she gets on the school bus with a smile and – here’s the important part – she is smiling when she gets off the bus at the end of the day, too. I can’t remember the last time she’s been happy every day after school. Cordy is even telling me what they did at school! Again, this is all new, because usually the question of “so what did you learn at school today?” has always been met with, “I don’t remember.” I’m thrilled that she’s enjoying school again.

Back to school 2015First day of school

Mira was happy to discover that two of her best friends are in her new class. This helped her feel at home immediately, although it’s also resulted in some corrections for breaking the rules. She’s high-energy to begin with, but with her friends with her, it’s nearly impossible for her to not talk in class, or in the hallway, or stay on task, or not be too wiggly in her seat. She was recently diagnosed with ADHD, which comes as a shock to no one. Her behavior at school is getting better with effort, though, because she wants to make her teacher happy and be a good student.

The curriculum has also completely engaged Mira. They did a walking tour of the neighborhood around the new school last week, learning about building materials used and why certain styles were chosen. Yesterday, when I picked her up for a doctor’s appointment, she stopped and carefully examined the steps just outside the door. “I never noticed until now, but these steps are made of limestone,” she declared. Apparently they learned how to recognize different stone types while on their tour.

So it seems the school year is off to a great start, which makes me so happy for our kids. We’re all settling into the new routine and hopeful for a positive year ahead.

Going Through The Motions

I didn’t expect to take such a long hiatus between posts, and I can’t even put a lot of blame on being too busy. I have a few posts started and in various stages of completion, and yet I haven’t been able to click publish for any of them.

Truth is, I’m depressed. Or at least, I think I am.

I’ve battled depression before, but it’s hard to remember exactly how it felt many years ago. I remember a lot of sadness – sadness without any cause – when I was depressed before. This time, though, it’s very little sadness and more of a quietly growing sense of…nothing.

It’s been creeping up on me for a few months now, as my interests slowly became less interesting, time alone seemed easier than maintaining friendships, chores could always wait one more day, and feeling nothing replaced feeling anything at all. I want to see friends, but then realize I have so little to talk about with them. It’s as if everything has lost its value to me.

I think it started after my miscarriage in February. Pregnancy hormones mess with my emotions, but having them abruptly stopped midway – and without a fussy baby to keep me busy – seems to be worse than the short periods of postpartum depression I experienced after Cordy and Mira. Back then, I could find myself suddenly crying over a bowl of cereal, or a dish soap commercial, but at least I could easily recognize it and know it wasn’t normal. This new experience of losing interest in everything around me – no crying, no mood swings, just cold, paralyzing indifference – has been silently insidious and, when I really think about it, a little frightening.

That’s not to say that I’ve been a mopey lump all during this time. I’ve been trying to fight it off. I’ve participated in races, running just to feel something, even if it was exhaustion. I’ve smiled for photos, had fun at amusement parks and spent time with family, willing myself to act like everything was alright even if I had the urge to be home in bed a few times each day. I’ve had genuine moments of happiness, too – they’re just more short-lived. And I can absolutely still be happy for the good fortunes of others.

Still smiling with familySee? Still smiling.

But it’s the emptiness that is the hardest to cope with, because it results in a lack of energy to do anything. We all know joy can give you energy and motivation, but anger, sadness, and other negative emotions are equally capable of providing the motivation to power through each day, although arguably not in as healthy of a manner. Even if I was sad, that would be something to urge me into action. (Proof that I did learn something from watching Inside Out.)

Instead, I’m left feeling numb, and numb provides no energy or motivation at all. It’s a condition of stasis – you sit very still and watch the world go by around you, wishing you could be involved and wrap yourself up in the feelings of humanity, but you’re given none of the tools to get up and make it happen. It’s as if your willpower is being held hostage by the great, black Nothing.

SadnessA good visual of how most days feel – too hard to do anything.

There are still the responsibilities that must be done each day, though, and they are accomplished, although not always quite on time and without feeling the appreciation for a job well done. Work is easiest, since I can lose myself in code and spreadsheets easily. Blogging is hardest, since it involves sharing my thoughts and feelings, and I can’t seem to find anything worth sharing. Somewhere in the middle is child care, housework, and personal care, all with varying levels of difficulty depending on the day.

It’s so hard to write about this, because I hate admitting that I’m depressed. I’ve been trying to write this post for over a week and struggling with putting myself out there, but I feel like I can’t move beyond it if I don’t acknowledge it openly. I do worry others will think I’m looking for sympathy or attention, which isn’t the case. I worry more about making people feel uncomfortable around me, or being too boring and blank for others to tolerate.

In many ways, I’m lucky that I’m not experiencing the hopelessness that many feel in more extreme bouts of depression. This may have me down at the moment, but I know I’ll never count myself out.  I remain functional, even if everything takes a lot more effort. And I’m fighting my way through it, day-by-day, with the help of family and friends. Eventually I’ll find a way to bring this wall of apathy down and feel again, no matter how long it takes.

If there’s anything I could share as a takeaway from this post, it would be this: depression isn’t always dramatic and easy to identify, in others or in yourself. Sometimes it’s subtle: slowly chipping away at everything that makes you who you are, suffocating your feelings and suppressing your interests, until all that’s left is an empty person disconnected from the world. Yet on the surface that person still carries on. It’s no way to live, and anyone who finds themselves in that position should seek out help.

Depression can’t stop me, though. Somehow I will get back on track.


** Some geeky types may have read the post title and thought it was a reference to the musical episode of the TV show Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. (Season 8, Once More With Feeling) If so, you’re correct! That song sums up my recent condition very nicely. Sorry, no prizes to give out for guessing correctly, but I’ll throw in an animated gif for fun.


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