Thursday, May 4, 2017

Yoda was right.

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...

There was a Girl who was not an athlete.  She wanted to be, but she just wasn't. She and her partner won their first two high school intramural tennis matches...because the other teams didn't show up. The third match left them no doubt that they weren't going to be invited to Wimbledon. Her senior year, Girl went out for track.  It's just running, right?  One foot in front of the other, repeat quickly.  And basically, the team was small enough that they usually found spots for everyone who came out.  That year, only two people were cut from the final squad.  Yes, Girl was one of them.  Ouch.

Over time, Girl found active things she was pretty good at doing -- or at least not totally inept.  At one point, water aerobics was her thing.  It was a pseudo-athletic thing, and gravity didn't get in her way.  (And being underwater, nobody could tell if she messed up her left foot from her right!)  But life took its toll, and it got set aside.  Eventually, she tried to climb to the tops of two different mountains, and the only thing that got her there was the knowledge that her preschool aged child managed to climb them.  She had some pride! You could say that the girl hit rock bottom while gasping at the top of a mountain.

Clingman's Dome, SC

High Point, NJ
But then Girl had a friend who is a Runner.  A Runner is someone who runs for fun. Runner Friend not only thinks running is fun, she even does half-marathons, "just because."   One day, Girl and Runner Friend signed up for a virtual 5K and decided to run it together for the bling, despite living two time zones apart.  The plan was to set a starting time, text each other, "Go!" and start, then text "FINISH" at the end. Girl ran-walk-limped-gasped over the 3.1-mile finish, with Runner Friend texting her "Keep going! You can do this."  We won't talk about how long it took, but there was definitely a sense of awe:  "Wow! I did it, and I'm still alive."

Who wouldn't want a Flat Hat medal?

But even though Girl still didn't consider herself an athlete, there was a little voice inside that said, "You know, if you actually got your butt moving, next time, you might do better." And she found another virtual running group with cool bling and joined it.  (Girl decided that she liked seeing something tangible to remind her to run some more -- since for her, often "out of sight" is "out of mind.")  Little by little, she got stronger and faster.

She thought about running at Disney World's Marathon Weekend. She had been there during other Marathon Weekends and knew there were multiple distances.  The 2016 Weekend coincided with a trip already planned, so maybe the 5K...

But she was too scared. The virtual runs were fun, but the only "corraling" she had to deal with was getting the cat off the treadmill. Real runs meant risking other people seeing her flounder.  And the live ones have a "minimum time rule" -- what if she couldn't keep up?  Maybe it would be better to skip.  It would be safer.

Then Girl saw lots of runners with their medals in the parks, and she was mad.  She wasn't jealous of their accomplishments; she was mad that she let her fear get in the way.  This was supposed to be her year to try new things.  She belonged on the Moana float in the Main Street parade...she was a bigger chicken than Hei Hei.

Then she realized that she could get a second chance at Spring Break.  It happened to overlap with the Dark Side Half Marathon Weekend, and the Friday of the 5K was the family's last full day at Disney.  In a fit of pique, she took a deep breath, handed over her credit card, and signed up.  She was going to do this.  And really, she had no choice...Disney had her money!

She kept training. The virtual running medals kept her motivated.

Every medal that arrived in the mail brought her miles closer to her real run.  She slowly whittled her time down but was still awfully close to that 16-minute mile.  Her goal wasn't to be fast -- it was to finish upright and not get swept from the course.  Her Cute Son, thinking she was racing to win the whole thing told her, "Mommy, it's ok if you don't win.  I'll love you anyway, even if you're a loser."  (Thanks, kid.)

Days followed a pattern.  Live real life, put kids to bed. Corral the cat, run.  Repeat. Sometimes alternate "run" with "cross-train." Repeat. Plan a costume.

Disney runners often wear costumes...Girl wasn't quite sure that her butt needed the extra girth of a tutu, but she didn't want to stand out even further in her usual "whatever clothes are clean" attire.  Runner Friend even graciously went on a recon mission, since her weather was closer to Florida's climate.  She reported in how many layers at what time of day she needed to feel comfortable, capris vs. pants, and together they debated the merits of running sleeves.  Running tights and a themed T-shirt would do.  Girl decided to channel Ariel, one of her favorite Disney Princesses, and combine with a Star Wars twist.

 Finally, Girl packed her suitcase, with all her stuff, and texted Running Friend to double check she had everything.  She got sent off with a cheer!

(forgive the overlapping conversation...we were also debating tolerable scents of teen body wash. Life isn't all running! )

The day came for Girl to go get her race bib.  Girl stood on the floor of the Expo Center and was overwhelmed. So many people - people who seemed to know what they were doing.  The volume of people was dizzying.  And Girl realized that while couldn't be prouder of her Bambi sisters who had competed in that very arena and become National High School cheerleading champions, she thought back to her high school days where she was so obviously not an athlete, and everyone had finished their laps long before she did. Would she find herself passed by everyone again?  It seemed this race was going to be as mentally tough as physical.   Slightly embarrassed because she needed to brush tears aside, she put her game face on and dove into the melee.  Finally, bib in hand, she headed back to the hotel.

The morning of the 5K came, and the alarm went off in what felt like the dead of night.  She got dressed, found her gear, and headed off into the darkness.   The "Dark Side" takes on a new meaning when you're standing outside Epcot at 4 am.

What an experience!  It's a little hard to party at that hour, but the energy was infectious. Girl soaked up the atmosphere, took a picture with Darth Vader, and texted her husband that she was heading to the corral.

 The husband texted back that he was already at the finish line. She could only laugh. "Cheater," she teased.

Standing in the corral, nerves started to overtake her again.  Could she keep up? She had trained, even getting up extra early on vacation for a few extra training runs.  (Disney may be magical, but "Faith, Trust and Pixie Dust" isn't a training plan!)  Doubts and tears threatened again, but Girl was determined.  Finally, it was time. The elite runners began, and the horde behind them began to creep forward.

Husband-at-the-Finish texted "First guy crossed already!" but Girl still was nowhere near the front.  She guessed Cute Son would have to love Loser Mama. Finally, she texted, "Next wave. Bye!" She popped an earbud in and started her playlist.  Game on.


Trusting her training, Girl started off.  She managed to get off a few texts to update Husband.

Mile 1!  

She finally texted that she was in the park, and as much as she wanted to beat the clock, she forced herself to take it all in.  She was in the middle of a three-mile run, and she was in Epcot!  Cast members from Norway and Germany and Italy cheered the passing crowd, shouting and waving their countries' flags.  Girl turned her head and saw the sun rising over Spaceship Earth...the big sphere her kids affectionately called "The Magic Golf Ball."  It sure looked magical.

Her watched buzzed on her wrist as she chugged into the American Pavilion -- she was halfway! Japan, Morocco, France, over the bridge to England...she wove through the crowd, passing the slower moving runners.  Hey, when "Eye of the Tiger" plays in your ear, the only way for a Philly girl to maintain her self-respect is to run.  Rocky didn't walk, so Philly Girl didn't walk either.

Mile 2!

Girl (and crowd) headed back over the bridge from World Showcase and into Future World.   "Try. Try. Try!" became the mantra with every step as she kept her eyes on the glowing ball.

She thought she was close, and suddenly, the line veered left, into the western side of Future World.  Girl Disney to make you think you were really close...and then boom, the path turns, and there's a hidden queue!

Tiredly emerging back into the middle, she spied a topiary of Figment in the corner of her eye.  As she turned her head to look at it, a flood of memories of visiting Disney World as a child hit her.  In her mind, she saw a visit with her Grandmother that included a ride with Figment as the star.  As she sighed, "Oh, Gram!" the fatigue melted away.  A giggle began to rise. Girl started to think she just might make it.

(The sun is on the wrong side because Girl went back to take a picture later in the day.) 

Pulling alongside Spaceship Earth, she pulled out her phone for a (terrible, in-motion) selfie. She sent it to Husband-at-the-Finish, as it was their pre-arranged signal for "I'm almost there, start paying attention to the finish line!" and headed through the side entrance towards the finish.  

She again became aware of the music in her ear.  "Two by Two" from The Book of Mormon swelled, and the words "I pray I get sent to my favorite place...ORLANDO!!" caught her attention as she saw the next marker - Mile 3!

She picked up the pace one more time...

And Girl crossed the finish line, upright.  Husband-at-the-Finish managed to catch her (and a big mob - Girl has on a black headband) crossing the finish line.  

And as she stopped the timer on her watch, she saw her time: 48 minutes and 18 seconds, average per-mile time of 15:06.  And that's allotting for an extra tenth of a mile -- bobbing, weaving, and selfies! Goal time was 50 minutes, so more than a minute under.  Girl was thrilled.

When Girl and Husband returned to the hotel, the kids were awake.  (Their adult-child had been left in charge.)  Cute Son said, "You got a medal! I knew you would be a winner. I believed in you."

 The moral of Girl's story:

Yoda was right.  
Fear is the path to the Dark Side.  
Do or do not, there is no try.  

So Girl did.

May the force be with you!

(And with Girl.  She's signed up for Marathon Weekend 10K.  She might just turn into a Runner yet.)

©2012- 2016 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Pin It button on image hover