Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Doing Hard Things

Here comes the rain….na, na, na, nah. Being prepared is half the battle.
     This past weekend The Doc and I embarked on what has become a November tradition. We ran the Epcot Food and Wine Half-Marathon. That's 13.1 miles if you simplify the math……even better is that it was a 10 pm start. Yep, you run 13.1 miles at…..ahem….bedtime. The really good runners (elite) get to start first then the other 14,800 entrants (real number here) have a staggered start over the next hour. Elite runners complete the course in 1:43 or shortly thereafter…..and the rest of the crowd over the next several hours. That means the last runners don't cross the finish line until well after 3am. Then Epcot Food and Wine Festival along with the rides and everything else Epcot has to offer stays open until 4am for your enjoyment. The Food and Wine Festival is a highlight of our year with tastings from countries all over the world. Yum. When it opens every year….we are there.
     Well, you guessed it…contrary to popular belief…..we were not in the elite group. Big surprise eh? The Doc is waaaayyyyy faster than me but being the kind soul that he is,  won't leave my side the entire time. Tradition. He is the 'pace car' and I just follow….tucked into a kind of 'race trance' that helps me log the passing miles without thinking about how much further there is to go or how far I've been. He is awesome.
     This year I was in much better shape than last…..but the end of October, the first of November are super crazy busy times for me as a wife, mom and em-ploy-ee. Lots going on that has prevented me from running/training as much as I'd like. I was worried we wouldn't make our goal of bettering our last year's time. I ran my first half marathon in my mid-twenties….and until last year hadn't done another. It's a daunting distance and training is critical. Hard to do while you have babies and toddlers around….which we've had for years:) However, we are firm believers of setting goals and 'doing hard things.'
Headed to the bus. Epcot right behind us….wondering if we were crazy.
     I am a planner…..I love to see lists crossed off and goals met. I love to run but at the same time I am not one to do something excessively to where it effects my family and interferes with day to day life. Last year I turned fifty. I have a hard time even typing that because it is just a number in my head and certainly the person I am today in no way identifies with the stereotype I have in my head of my gray-haired fifty something grandmother of yesterday. When I turned fifty…..I had an eight year old. I needed to prove to myself that fifty wasn't the end of life….but the beginning of wisdom. The Doc and I set the goal of 'hard'….because we feel hard is necessary to make the everyday trials we encounter seem what they mostly are….trite and trivial in comparison. Hard drives you to test your limits both mentally and physically……while proving to yourself and your adult children that as you gain wisdom with aging….you can also fight physical deterioration (no better way to say it) and slow the aging process by being a part of something physically that's bigger than you. We picked the half marathon to push our boundaries. (The Doc has done 3 Ironmen competitions just FYI. Out. of. my. league.) This  proves to ourselves and others that strength can be attained mentally and physically over and above what you conceived possible. I want our kids to know their mom and dad as tough, Godly stewards poised and ready to tackle any hard God brings them. Part of that involves self discipline, self motivation and a desire to honor God with every area of your life.
     With a crazy time schedule and not enough miles packed into the last three-ish weeks…..I was a little nervous about this race. I didn't want to disappoint The Doc by going SLOWER than last year. That would be a personal disaster in my book. I am not a late night person. We are usually in bed between 9-10pm and up by 5. So…..this race, as fun and awesome as Disney makes it STARTS at my bedtime and ends right before I have to get up. It tests all aspects and limits of my hard.
     Then we checked the weather. Understand that it NEVER rains in Central Florida in November and certainly not at night. Race night forecast= rain….and lots of it. On our way out to Disney we headed to our local sports store and got ready…..cause the worst thing you can do is not 'weather the weather.' We checked into our hotel and 'rested' and ate our last meal. With Disney races you are not allowed to park your car at the start. In this case the race started at the Wide World of Sports (fantastic venues) and you had to board special busses hired just to transport runners to the start. Mind you, we got a bus at 7pm. The race didn't start until 10. Early, early to the bus because 14,800 runners were all heading to the same place. We hung out in the pre-race field for another few hours. There is music, food, dancing, check-in's and all around fun going on there. We rested and talked to a few friends also running.
Getting in some R&R in the field hours before the start. I can sleep anywhere.
     About 45 min before the start they place you in 'corrals' according to your best half-marathon time. If you don't have a time you are placed in the last corral with several thousand of your new best friends. This year we were about halfway down the corral list from the start. We were happy with that. The rain started on cue right as we were lining up. Again, we were ready. At 10:30 the gun blew and the fireworks popped for our corral and we were off. The next 2+ hours we plodded through the rain, puddles and the theme parks smiling and waving as we weaved our way between runners. Everything went like wet, soggy, clockwork until mile 10. Always, always at mile 10 my right foot goes numb. I become the hunchback who drags his foot for the next 3 miles. At this point, we walked a little to help my foot find it's way back to my leg.
     Disney does an incredible job of having entertainment along all parts of their race routes. …..it's what makes Disney races so awesome. The characters are available for pictures and you are never without music of some kind. Disney does it right…..unless it's 50 something degrees and pouring rain. They they make cuts and don't want their costumes to get wet….or their equipment. We plodded on numb foot and all. Somewhere in here my phone with my music started shorting out because of the rain. It continued to work but kept repeating the same song and would fade in and out. A runners nightmare. Plod-plod, moving forward….still can't move foot….but doing well and happy.
13.1 miles through Disney World. 
The end of the race. It's a little before 1:30am, raining, and I am giddy. We made our time despite the rain and wet, soggy conditions (think wet feet for hours). I wear compression socks and shorts which aids in your recovery. Makes you look a little crazy but well worth the shortened recovery time.
     We did it. 17 minutes faster than last year. Boom. In the rain, cold temps and late night adventures we did hard. We made it back to our hotel at 3:15am…..feeling exhausted but exhilarated. People do all kinds of challenges these days but this one helps me stay focused the rest of the year…..and gives me hope that I can conquer other challenges that are thrown my way.  Fifty doesn't have to be old. Doing hard has made me calmer, more patient and has given me the spirit of perseverance in a way that gives me courage when new obstacles come along. What is your hard friend? I encourage you…. meet it head on….and conquer. Until next year…...
Got our medals! (and our coats were waiting at the finish line for us!!)
P.s. My phone which held my playlist didn't work for 2 days after this. It hung out in a bag of rice, miraculously came back to life and is now as good as new. Shameless plug for Apple and the Mophie that protected it from certain soggy death.



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