Race Recap – runDisney Princess Enchanted 10k (Part 1)

[Note: I tried writing this recap as a single post. It was nearly 3000 words. To spare your eyes, I’m breaking it up into two parts.]

Race Recap: runDisney's Enchanted 10k

It was after last year’s Disney Social Media Moms Conference, where I ran a two mile fun run through Disneyland, that I decided I wanted to run in a runDisney race event. I loved running through the parks, and wanted to do it as part of an official race, with a medal. I really hadn’t run anything more than a 5k, and the idea of traveling across several states just to run another 5k was not going to work. If I was going to do it, I had to challenge myself to something bigger.

I registered for the Enchanted 10k, part of the Princess Half Marathon weekend at Walt Disney World, back in July, so I was committed to this race months ahead of time. It’s a good thing, too, because I needed the extra time to get ready for it. An injury in mid-October led me to missing out on weeks of running as I rested my foot, tried to run again, injured it again, and then spent six weeks in a boot. When I was released to run again in mid-January, my orthopedic doctor recommended I take it slow and drop out of the 10k, because I wouldn’t have enough time to get ready for it. While I appreciated his opinion, I wasn’t letting this race slip past me. I got back into running, despite the cold weather, and did my best to increase my mileage again at a reasonable, but quick, rate.

A few weeks before the race, I had completed five miles. That was as far as I’d get before the race, due to needing time to rest and recover after losing my pregnancy. That moment left me emotionally raw. I lost one of the things I was looking forward to this year, and so when looking at this chance to run through a Disney park, I refused to lose this experience, too. I knew I could make it five miles, so another 1.2 was possible, even if it was just walking.

The Day Before the Race

We arrived in Walt Disney World on February 20, the morning of the Frozen 5k. On one hand, I wish I had done that race just because the medal was so cute. On the other, the 5k lived up to its name by setting a record low temperature that day – below freezing. It was – literally – the Frozen 5k. Perhaps it was a good thing that I missed it.

We skipped going right to our resort and instead went to the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex to pick up our race bibs at the Princess Half Marathon Expo. This was the second day of the expo, so there wasn’t as much of a crowd.

Enchanted 10k signGetting a photo in front of my race banner on a very chilly morning.

We received our bibs with practically no waiting, and the official merchandise lines weren’t that long, either. (Sadly, the Dooney & Bourke PHM purses sold out on the first day, so I missed my chance of getting one.)

The second area of the expo was a little more crowded, with lots of vendors to see, including my favorite SparkleSkirts. It was a run-nerd’s paradise of gear. I bought a new SparkleSkirt, and picked up the RawThreads hoodie that I had pre-ordered, while Aaron bought a new pair of sunglasses.

The kids were less thrilled to look at running gear all day, so we cut our time in the expo short, but not before spotting Jeff Galloway and stopping for a photo and an autograph.

Meeting Jeff Galloway

Jeff Galloway is the trainer for runDisney, and his run-walk-run method has helped many new runners cross the finish line. After I tried different couch-to-5k programs with little success (I almost always failed when I reached the 8 or 10 minute long running segments), I decided to give his method of interval running a try. It’s because of his method that I was confident that I could do this race, and I recommend him to all new runners I meet.

After the expo, we checked in to our resort, Port Orleans Riverside. We stayed at Port Orleans Riverside two years ago in one of the Princess rooms. This time we stayed on the other side of Riverside – Alligator Bayou. These rooms are decorated to have a more rustic look, but the bonus is that they also have a fold down bed.

Port Orleans Riverside Bayou Room The wooden box/bench on the left folds down into a bed.

We knew Mira was an active sleeper, but didn’t realize just how active until our stop on the drive down the night before, when sharing a bed with Cordy proved almost impossible. Mira woke Cordy up several times with her constant shifting around in bed. Having the fold-down bed in our resort room was perfect – now each kid could have her own bed!

My race was the next morning, and I was focused on drinking as much water as I could, stretching, and preparing myself. But I didn’t want to stay in the room all day, so we went to Magic Kingdom for a few hours, with the knowledge that I wanted to be in bed by 9pm and not do too much walking. That was still plenty of time to meet a couple of princesses, ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and eat dinner before going back to the room.

Cinderella Castle Seriously, I will never get tired of this view.

The Morning of the Race

My alarm went off just before 3am. Wait, 3am, you say? Yes, runDisney events start very early in the morning, and to be on the bus in time, it’s best to be out at the bus stop at 3:30am. I quickly got my running costume on (details on my costume will be another post), tried to do something with my hair and makeup, made sure I had everything I needed, and left the room to catch the bus.

10k race costumeThe “flat me” for the race – making sure I had everything I needed.

OMG it was cold outside. Not as cold as the people who ran the Frozen 5k endured, but it was still unusually cold for Florida at 39 degrees. I had leggings and a long sleeve shirt under my costume, but it still felt cold walking through the resort to the bus stop.

A bus was waiting and I enjoyed the short ride to sit and eat my bagel for breakfast. Once we arrived in the Epcot parking lot, I followed the thousands of people streaming into the race area. There were large clusters of people gathered around outdoor heaters. It was at this point that I pulled out my mylar blanket to help me stay warm.

Pre-race selfie Forget what you’ve heard, the cold did bother me.

It wasn’t long before we were sent to our corrals. I was disappointed to be in the last corral, worried that I’d have very little cushion to finish under the time limit, but I was still determined to finish. The corral was packed, and I worked my way up as close to the front of the corral as I could.

The corralLooking towards the front of corral E. (At least twice as many people behind me.)

Once we were in our corrals, we waited. I’m not sure how long we waited in the corrals. It was probably not as long as it felt to me. I refused to release my death grip on my mylar blanket and risk letting cold air in long enough to check my watch.

And then? Finally, it was go time. [To be continued in Part 2, which can be found here.]



Thanksgiving Day Race Fail

I realized I left everyone hanging about the outcome of my foot. My orthopedic doctor suggested an MRI to determine the cause of the pain on the outside edge of my foot, wanting to rule out a stress fracture of the fifth metatarsal. The good news is that there was no sign of any fractures. The bones looked healthy and strong. He said there wasn’t a lot of fluid or anything indicating a severe tendonitis, either, but that it’s still possible to have tendonitis without the swelling and fluid.

So the recommendation was that I wear the boot for another 2-3 weeks and do physical therapy twice a week. This meant missing out on the Hot Chocolate 5k that I was registered for, and it put the Flying Feather 4 mile race on Thanksgiving Day in jeopardy.

I just wanted to run again.

I called the physical therapist and set up twice a week appointments. The therapist found that my right foot didn’t have as much dorsiflexion as it should, and my right hip was really weak. He provided me with a list of exercises to complete at home, with a more rigorous set that I was assigned in the office.

I did my exercises without complaint, applied ice to my foot twice a day, and took my anti-inflammatories on schedule, focused on the end goal of running again. Anything that gets me closer to running again is a priority for me.

After a solid week in the boot, I was allowed to go without it for short bouts of walking. So walking around the house was fine. Going out to check the mail was okay. My foot felt better, probably because I wasn’t giving it a chance to flare up again most of the time. When it did start to hurt, I stopped and rested it.

By the second week, I wasn’t feeling any pain. I was given permission to go for longer stretches without the boot, told to keep it nearby and put it on if my foot began to hurt. I managed to walk around IKEA without it hurting, giving me confidence that the end was in sight. IKEA is not a small amount of walking – if I could walk around the store for an hour and a half, I could probably do anything else.

I still wanting to do the Flying Feather 4 mile race, though. Two days before the race, I was given permission by my physical therapist to do the race, but only if I walked it. I asked if I could try a couple of short run intervals (under a minute each), and he said I could try two, but only if I stopped immediately if it hurt to run. I agreed to these terms, since I had been walking without pain for days. I was sure it would be a breeze.

On Thanksgiving Day, I had second thoughts about the race. Not because of my foot, but because it was 28 degrees outside, with a strong wind, and it was starting to snow. I was determined to not let another race I was registered for slip past me, though, so I suited up in layers (finishing with a SparkleSkirt, of course) and stretched and stretched and stretched ahead of time, as ordered.

Flying Feather Four MilerNotice the gloves. I could have used two pairs, really.

When the race started, I wanted to take off in a run and never look back. But I walked for the first stretch until the crowd thinned out. I didn’t want to waste one run interval stuck in a pack of people shuffling along.

Near the back of the packIt was a little crowded at first.

Once I found a clearing, I started a slow jog. It was awesome! I was carefully controlling my speed, but it felt like I was gliding gracefully through the air with pixie dust trailing behind me. I’m sure I didn’t look like that – more like plodding along – but in my head I felt like a gazelle. It had been a month since my last attempt at running.

I switched back to a walk in under a minute – no need to force me there, since I was out of shape with cardio. There was no pain, everything felt good, and I continued on.

When I reached the first mile, I was thrilled to still have no pain. At mile two I mentally cheered that my feet weren’t failing me. I was doing this. I beat this tendonitis and could get back to my training.

And then half a mile later, I felt the first little shooting pain.

That little pain soon called in its friends, and by the time I reached mile 3, I couldn’t ignore the sharp stabbing with each step. But I was also way out on the course – with only a mile left, I didn’t want to be THAT person and ask the race staff to find someone to drive me to the end because all this walking had worn me out. I slowed my walking down and focused on the end goal.

During the last mile, I did have moments where it didn’t hurt. I’m guessing my feet were just numb from the cold and the effort. But just when I wondered if the pain was gone, it would come back. I was happy to cross the finish line and get my medal (and wine), but the smile was masking the pain I was experiencing.

Smile and wincesmiling thru the agony (and snow in my eyes)

I was utterly defeated realizing how much my foot was hurting again. After a month off, nothing had really changed, it hurt just as much as before, and I was left wondering how long it will take to get better. I spent Thanksgiving dinner limping around my aunt’s house, and applying ice to my foot.

My physical therapist was not happy with me for not stopping when the pain started. No surprise there, and I’ll agree I was a stubborn fool with that. But last Monday I also had a follow-up appointment with my orthopedic doctor. I described the entire experience to him, he looked at my foot again, poked around a little…and then determined that I needed to see someone else.

He’s sending me to the top foot specialist in their practice tomorrow. He knows my running goals, and said he doesn’t want to treat it conservatively again for another 4-6 weeks to then risk the injury coming right back again. The X-rays and MRI didn’t show anything significant, which makes it more of a puzzle, so he wants their top foot doc to have a look and diagnose the old-fashioned way: by physical exam. Apparently for many unusual foot injuries, an extensive physical exam is the best (and only, in some cases) way to get to the source of the problem when it’s done by someone with advanced training.

Then came the next surprise: no more boot, and keep walking on it all I want. In order for the new doctor to have the best chance at determining the problem, I have to still be in pain. Resting it makes it feel better – as evidenced by weeks of it feeling great when I was babying it – so I need to make sure it still hurts when I see him on Tuesday. This made traveling to BlogHerPRO last week much easier without a boot to bring along, but I still didn’t enjoy hobbling down the hallways.

I really just want to run again. The Enchanted 10K at Walt Disney World is two and a half months away, and I want to be ready for it. I even have an amazing running costume being made for me that I want to wear for this race.

I’m hoping for a solid answer and an aggressive treatment plan tomorrow so that I can get back to training as soon as possible.



Stopped In My Tracks

At the beginning of October, I had officially caught the running bug. I mean, I had been running for awhile, but had finally reached that point where I looked forward to lacing up my running shoes. I wanted to get out on the road and leave any stress behind for 40-60 minutes.

And then in mid-October, while out for a typical mid-week short run, I noticed a pain on the outside of my right foot. I usually have little aches during a run, and most of the time they go away after a few minutes. It wasn’t super painful, so I continued on for the last half mile or so. When I got home, I took off my shoes and noticed that the outside of my foot and my heel were still hurting, so I stretched as I usually do, and then grabbed an ice pack to ice down the sore spots.

The next morning, my foot still hurt. I decided to play it safe and stick with the RICE protocol until it was feeling better. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) I tried to run a couple of times in the next two weeks, but each time that pain came back.

Late last week, I noticed that I couldn’t even walk around much without my foot hurting more and more. I finally gave in on Saturday and visited an urgent care, where they took x-rays and recommended I see a specialist. In the meantime, I was to wear an oh-so-sexy black and white shoe and stay off my feet as much as possible.

Injured foot shoe

Yesterday, I saw the specialist. Even though the urgent care said the x-rays looked good, this doctor was less convinced. He saw a shadow on my fifth metatarsal that could be hinting at a stress fracture. To complicate matters, the area of my foot that hurts the most is the exact spot for a common type of stress fracture, but also a common spot for peroneal tendonitis. Which is it? We’re not sure.

X-ray of injury around 5th metatarsalSay hello to my inner foot!

I explained to the doctor that I wanted to run again as soon as possible. No – I needed to run again as soon as possible. The last three weeks have been torture. I finally settled into an activity that I really enjoy, and now I can’t do it. I can feel my legs tightening up, itching to hit the pavement. I put shoes on and I want to break out into a run.

And my mind is handling this poorly, too. I’m cranky. I’m short tempered. I’m depressed. I had found that running was a fantastic way to get rid of stress, and now that stress is trapped again. When I’m frustrated at the end of a long day, I want to go run to blow off steam. Oh wait, I can’t.

Recovering from an injury

We don’t know for sure if it’s a stress fracture or tendonitis, so the doctor recommended an MRI to get a better look at what’s going on and (hopefully) rule out an existing or imminent stress fracture. Once we have a better look at what’s going on, the doctor said he’ll put together an aggressive treatment plan to get me running again.

If it’s just tendonitis, I’ll likely go to physical therapy for several weeks, and could possibly be running again in a few weeks. Or maybe just walking. I’d even be okay with walking if my foot was strong enough to get me through the 4-mile race I have on Thanksgiving Day. I can keep up the required pace by walking. (Did I mention I’m registered for two races in the next three weeks? All that money may be gone now.)

If it’s a stress fracture…well, we’ll hope it’s not. The options for how to handle that aren’t pleasant, and most guarantee I won’t be running again for months. If that happens, I’m going to need an antidepressant prescription with my treatment plan.

My MRI was this morning, and we’ll go over the results on Monday. In the meantime, my footwear has received an upgrade:

Injury bootThis really looks like an early Iron Man boot prototype.

It’s too bad this couldn’t have been the left foot. I can’t drive in this boot, so any driving involves getting to the car, taking the boot off (which is a multi-step process), switching to a shoe, driving to my destination, and then putting the boot back on before getting out of the car. Which limits my desire to want to drive anywhere unless it’s absolutely necessary. But we’ll really hope this doesn’t require a cast, or I won’t be able to drive at all for weeks.

So for the first time in my life, I’m cheering for tendonitis. It’s the lesser of the injuries, and would be a welcome diagnosis compared to the hell of a stress fracture.

We’ll know more on Monday. Hope for tendonitis.



Running Sucks (But I Love It)

Had you told me years ago that I might actually want to go for a run, I would have laughed. I probably would have snorted from laughing so hard, too.

Even a few years ago, when I started running as a way to lose weight, I did it because it was a cheap form of exercise and it worked. But I didn’t love it. I’d wearily drag myself outside for each scheduled run, knowing I’d be proud of myself once it was over, all while fighting off the small voice inside my head telling me I was too tired, and maybe I should wait until tomorrow to go out when the weather might be cooler/warmer/it might be less windy/fewer people might be outside/I might have more energy/or have more time to think up new excuses.

And I’m not a pretty runner in a matching outfit with a slight glistening of sweat on my face, smiling and chatting as I run by. No, I’m more of the dripping in sweat, violet-red-faced, huffing and puffing, can’t even string two words together, pained grimace, slowly plodding, should-we-call-911? type runner. It’s not a pretty sight.

However, for all that I look like I’m being tortured, I’m finding that I like running more and more. There’s still no doubt for me that running sucks, but I’d probably feel the same about any form of exercise. Pushing your body outside of the comfort zone is not pleasant, no matter what you do. You’re going to ache, you’re going to want to stop, and unless you’re swimming, you’re going to be sweaty and smelly afterward. There’s no escaping the suck involved in challenging your body.

So how could I possibly love to run? Let me share a few of my reasons for lacing up my running shoes.

5 Reasons I Love Running

It really does get results. After only a month of regular running again (3x/week), I was already seeing more definition in my legs. After two months, I’m noticing I don’t get winded as easily when I’m active. I’m not losing a lot of weight, but my legs and butt are definitely starting to change in shape. However, I’ll say it’s not cheap like I originally thought. Good running shoes are a must, which can be pricey and need replaced every 300-500 miles. And if you’re in a northern climate like me, you may need to invest in a treadmill or gym to have an indoor place to run when there’s snow or ice in the winter, as well as cold weather running gear. But the cost is still minimal for the results.

Running is mental sorting time. Had a bad day? Run out your feelings on the pavement. Overwhelmed by too much to do? Use your running time to sort your to-do list in your head. I didn’t believe I could do these things at first – mostly because I was super focused on breathe, breathe, just a little further, don’t pass out – but as I learned to settle in to running, I found it was easier to ignore the panic messages from my body by occupying my brain with other things to think about. This is totally ME time – with my headphones playing music, there’s no one to interrupt me as I travel and think about what I need to do later that day or that week. And on those bad days, visualizing myself running away from any negative feelings, or putting the energy from a bad mood into pounding the pavement, is surprisingly helpful in resetting my emotions.

Signing up for races is like peer pressure with a t-shirt and medal at the end. I do sign up for races, and they serve an enormous role in my motivation to run. Why? Because I know that during the run, there will be a bunch of other people running, many of whom are faster than me. I don’t care that they’re faster, but seeing them motivates me to not be last, and knowing they’ll be there motivates me to keep training ahead of the race, too. It’s totally peer pressure that I put on myself, and I tend to run harder in a race than I do when running solo.

And sometimes there’s a prize at the end. Now, I’m part of the group that doesn’t believe that every kid should get an award for participation in school events. But when I’ve run a 5K or 10K distance? I’ll gladly accept the medal bling. Crossing the finish line is still an accomplishment deserving of a medal, considering the percentage of the general population who would be able or willing to do so.

You can be creative and run in costume – and people love it. Before this year, my favorite races were those that involved being covered in colored powder by the end of the race. It was fun, aside from having blue earwax for the next week. But then I discovered the joy of running in costume, and I may be hooked. It’s like Halloween year-round, and it’s completely okay to not look exactly like the character, because you have to modify most ideas to fit them into running-appropriate costumes.

There are also Facebook groups and blogs devoted to running in costume. Going along with this idea are the runDisney races – not only are costumes encouraged at these races, but you get to run through the Disney parks!

It’s inspiring to see how many miles you’ve run. There are moments when I feel like I’m not progressing fast enough in running. Or days when I feel fat and out of shape and wonder why I even keep bothering to work out. And then I look at my stats:

Running stats

I know that’s not a lot for some people. But 26.5 miles in August is HUGE for me! That’s the equivalent of running from downtown Columbus to Delaware, OH. When I see that monthly total, I’m motivated to keep going and challenge myself to go even further the next month. I love seeing my progress quantified in miles, and I am thankful for every mile behind me.

So that’s why I’m going to keep running, and continue pushing myself beyond the boundaries I had established in my head. I never thought I could run a 5K, and I did it. I’m now training to run my first 10K in February, and I intend to do it. Beyond that, I’m considering training for a half marathon – which still feels a little crazy to me, but maybe I need to try something crazy to see if I’m capable of it.

Fellow runners, why do you love running? Do you have reasons that I didn’t list above?



Finding My Motivation with runDisney

My motivation for staying in shape has been lacking so far this summer. I was hoping that the longer days and relaxed schedule would result in finding more time to work out, but it hasn’t happened so far. Being sick the first part of June didn’t help, but after I’d recovered I still didn’t feel like going for a run or doing any strength training.

Stepping on the scale at the end of June was quite a shock. I’d gained five pounds since May. How had I gained five pounds since May? While I haven’t been writing down everything I’ve been eating, I had a pretty good idea of it, and it definitely wasn’t enough to cause that much weight gain.

“You’re 38 years old now, your metabolism is slowing down,” I was told by more than one person.

What?

No way I’m going to let getting older tear me down. I put a lot of work into losing a lot of weight – 80lbs from my highest weight, 60lbs lost since having kids – and I hit my first goal weight two years ago. I’m not going to see it drift completely out of reach with five pounds gained each year. I was already five pounds over my initial goal weight earlier this year, so an additional five pounds puts this officially into HELL NO territory.

But working out for me is always a challenge. Inertia is strong in me. There has to be a reward in sight or it’s too easy to let it fall to the bottom of my to-do list and never get done. What I need is solid motivation.

So yesterday, I signed up for some solid motivation and registered for the Disney Enchanted 10K.

Earlier this year at the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, I participated in the runDisney fun run. It was only two miles, but I got a taste of what a runDisney event is like. And OH it was awesome!

 Fun Run Final Turn #DisneySMMomsrunning dressed as Anna at Disneyland for the DSMMC fun run

After I got back from Disneyland, I continued thinking about all of the runDisney events and how I’d love to sign up for one of them. Aaron had to listen to me talk about them so much that he started to get excited about the idea of running a race through the Disney parks. Suddenly he was the one saying, “Why don’t we do it?” Which then forced me to stop talking about the idea in the abstract and make a decision. And I decided it’s time to go for it.

The Disney Enchanted 10K is part of the Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend in February. Aaron signed up for the half marathon, and even the kids asked to try the kid races. While I’m up for a challenge, a half marathon is a little too optimistic for me at the moment. I’ve done a 5K several times, but I’ve never attempted a 10K. It’s twice as far as I’ve ever forced myself to run, which means it’ll be tough to step out of the zone I’ve become comfortable in and push myself to train further.

I think (hope?) I’m up for the challenge. I’m nervous I won’t be able to do it, but at the same time I’m unwilling to let getting older take control of me. I’d love to be in the best shape of my life when I reach 40 in two years, and this is a good first step toward that goal.

This might just be the biggest motivation to get fit ever for me. There’s a solid end date on this, with a well-defined bar for success. I don’t have to run for the entire 10K – walking parts of it is okay – but I have to keep up an average pace of 16 minutes per mile. If I fall behind, I’ll be out.

Spending all of the time and money to go to Walt Disney World for this race, and then not get the medal at the end, would be devastating. So I have to take this training seriously to make sure there won’t be any chance for that. I want to cross that finish line and add 10K to the list of accomplishments I never thought I could do. The location of the race, my love of Disney, and the costumed characters that will be cheering me on are all additional motivation to make sure this will be a success.

And I can make a running costume for it, too! Now I just need to decide what my costume will be!

 

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