Monday, April 1, 2013

Running for the Mouse - Original Blog

Okay, so here is the old blog all in one place.  I understand if you don't want to read the whole thing as it is long.  But if you are interested, it is about my training for the WDW Marathon (the first time around), my time at Disney as a cast member, and some other personnal stories.
Running for the Mouse
May 5, 2011
I blame my brother for adding me to his Hood to Coast team this year, and my friend Becca for making me join her running club.  Okay, so neither one of them forced my hand, but it did take some coaxing to become...  a runner.  If I'm even really that yet.  I mean it wasn't until my friend Kristine made some comment about my PR (personal record) this weekend that I realized, whoa, I am becoming a runner.  It was also Becca who told me that with my love of Disney I should find a race that incorporates my love.  That's when I found runDisney and the Walt Disney World Marathon.  I had been trying to figure out a way to convince my husband to go to Florida with me, and I needed an excuse to get people off my back about having kids!  Why not train for the Happiest Marathon on the planet!?!  Sold.  On January 8, 2012 at 5:30am I will be running in the WDW Marathon.  I think it's the perfect way to celebrate 40 years of magic in Lake Buena Vista!  Now when people harass me about when Matt and I will start having kids I can say, “I’m training for a marathon right now and not really thinking about kids yet”.  But the truth is, I’m thinking about them, I’m just afraid that I am incapable of having them.
May 16, 2011
I know you should be just as surprised as I am.  So yesterday, I had planned to run 11 miles, but I decided why not push it and go for the full 13.1.  I can't believe I made it in 2 hours and 20 minutes!  Crazy.  Enough about the running itself, I want to talk about my running group a little bit.  My crew is made up of three beautiful skinny blonds, and me, the chubby redhead.  Okay, so chubby may be harsh, but I am the slightly taller curvaceous one.  These girls are my inspiration.  They drive me to be better.  A better teacher, better runner, better friend, and just plain better at enjoying life.  My time spent running with them after school flies by because their company is the best.  It was hard at first to train on my own.  I had to tell myself to keep going or speed up without someone giving me the encouragement.  I thought about them a lot yesterday, and they were the reason I kept going the last five miles.
During those 13 miles I thought of my runner girls, but I also thought of the fun I used to have with my cast member crew of ladies at Disneyland.  We were known as the fatties!  Oh yes, another pleasant description, but let's face it, Walt himself would have never hired us for our size alone.  And we would have never survived on the wafer cracker diet that Walt kept his original tour guides on.  But that's okay, I couldn't have been an original tour guide, yet I was still a tour guide.  There are days that I miss my plaid skirt and riding crop, but mostly, I miss my fatties.  Days when it was rough in City Hall because Fantasmic was canceled or the ashes from the nearby forest fires were ruining guests’ visits, we would head to church, Sephora in Downtown Disney, to buy ourselves something to make us feel pretty.  On really rough days, after church we'd head to the cathedral, Haggen Daz, hence "the fatties".  The best days were when we'd work the information phone room and call down to Candy Palace to find out what was being made fresh that day.  There was always a trip down when English toffee was made.  Dang it!  My fatty meter is off the charts right now, I could go for some Disneyland divinity and toffee.  Yum!  I guess it's good that I have moved on, if not for my health.  But I will always love and be married to the Mouse in spirit!
While both sets of these girls are so different, they were both there with me in spirit as I ran.
May 18, 2011
To keep me motivated on these long runs, my mind wanders to my time at the park, the original park that is.  The other night I was watching an episode of the Fantasy Factory, and Rob was doing a WWE event with Rowdy Roddy Piper for some Make a Wish Foundation kids.  It made me think of what Disney does with the Make a Wish Foundation and one specific time when I was involved in a wish.  As my stride continued I remembered being a part of a wish as a tour guide.  As a Guest Relations Cast Member, one of my responsibilities was taking care of Walt's apartment over the firehouse at Disneyland.  We had a special request from a little girl, no more than six years old, that her last wish was to have tea with Belle, and we thought it would be really neat for her to have that tea party with her family in Walt's apartment.  It was one of the sweetest moments I think I have ever witnessed in my life.  The look on this sweet little girl's face when she saw Belle waiting for her was priceless.  She was overcome with shyness and was so star struck that she stayed glued to her mom's side until her big brother went to Belle and introduced himself.  He was a doll showing his little sister that it was okay to come and give her favorite Disney princess a hug.  The three of them sat down for tea and a chat, and I gave the dad a mini tour of the apartment.  At the end of the tea party the little princess left with a giant smile on her face and a special message and signature from her favorite character in her autograph book.  Belle was drained.  I felt so bad for her.  I knew we had done something really special, but I had never thought about what it meant for "the star".  The magic of life backstage is so different from what guests expect.  Seeing Belle cry as she realized that little girl won't be with us next year was beyond painful to see.  These characters and all of us cast members do so much to make kids days, but the fairytale world very rarely is the reality.  But I think that's one of the main reasons why I will always stay faithful to Disney.  The point and message is always happiness, and it just makes me feel good knowing that one day, long ago, I was a part of it.  As I finish my run that pit in my stomach made me feel like I was running for that little girl, I know she is gone now but her spirit still lives on. 
June 11, 2011
Here it is, my first big run: the Helvetia Half Marathon.  In my mind this was my first major milestone of training.  While I had several friends running the same race, I was on my own.  The only way I knew how to get through the incredibly hilly run was to channel my running friends and to think of Disney.  I was so nervous that I needed a happy place, and there is no happier place to me than being on a Disney stage.  I immediately thought of performing in Flashback...
It was a crisp, but warm February day in 2001, and here I was...  Backstage!  I was finally getting to learn everything that was behind the scenes at the Happiest Place on Earth.  I'd been hired to be a stores cast member in Disney's California Adventure starting the week after the park first opened its gates to the public.  The first response by the public was mediocre at best, but I loved it.  The little park was special, and it showed off some of my favorite characteristics about my home state.  Besides, the best roller coaster known to man is there, California Screamin'!  But I am getting distracted, I was walking behind Greetings for my first shift over in Condor Flats and I noticed a flyer posted on a cast member bulletin board.  "Casting for Flashback at the Rehearsal Halls".  What?  I was not here a week and I can already audition for a Disney show?  I was beside myself.  My dream since graduation was to be a twirling yellow napkin in the Beauty and the Beast "Be Our Guest" segment of “Anamazement”, but I got to Southern California and the show was canceled.  Here was my chance!  I could dance in a Disney show!  I showed up next to the sparkling iridescent green Team Disney Anaheim building behind Mickey's Toon Town for the auditions.  The rehearsal halls were gigantic, I wanted to leap across the blue floors forever!  The mirrors showed every inch of the 30 foot ceilinged room.  I could feel tears well up in my brown eyes and an exciting shutter pulse through my body.  Had I arrived?  Being a part of DCA Stores I was put on the Blue Team, I just had to show what I could do to get a part.  We started with dance, yes!  Across the floor I put myself in front, from my days as a dance captain I was used to picking up the routines that were thrown at me quickly and was an example for others.  Again, I wanted to show what I could do.  I felt like Tinkerbell as I flew across the floor.  I had to beg to do leaps, since that is where I shine.  Then it was fuoettes in the center of the floor, and I don't know how many I did before I realized I was the only one still doing them.  I ended with a clean double pirouette, and people were cheering and giggling.  What a moment.  Sadly, we moved onto singing, which I love, but it is my number three of the triple threat.  Besides, I could have literally danced all night.  During singing, those of us who were considered for speaking roles went next door to a small room for table reads of a random script.  I did okay, nothing was like the dancing.  The next night we all came back for rehearsal and the cast lists weren't taped to the door; they had decided to announce our parts to the whole cast.  My name was announced as the main character's girlfriend and lead dancer, and I thought I was going to cry.  I was going to get to dance at Disneyland!  Three months later the performance was at the Hyperion Theater in DCA in front of a sold out 2000 seat crowd.  All the proceeds went to the Make a Wish Foundation and at the same time my wish came true.  As the years went on Flashback got bigger and I became a choreographer too, but nothing was like that first night in the rehearsal hall. 
This fantastic memory kept a smile on my face until mile 10 when the gravel road arrived.  I had been warned about the crazy hills of Helvetia, but no one said anything about gravel!  I had moved past thinking about my sprained ankle from my silly half marathon on my own a couple of weeks ago, and now I was focused on my bum right knee.  It had never been the same after the dance injury from high school, and gravel, especially loose, was the worst.  The gravel lasted a mile, and when it was done so was I but I still had two plus miles to go.  Gathering as much gumption as I could find I jogged the rest of the way to Hillsboro stadium, and then I was greeted by the best cheer ever.  “You got this Debbie, think of Disney World!” my friend Josh yelled as I rounded the corner.  I was finally across the finish line and my first real race was complete.  The burger after that race was the juiciest and most delightful burger I think I ever consumed.  I felt like I earned it.
June 24, 2011
Okay, so I am decidedly not good at this whole staying on top of running thing...  I can make excuses like it was the last weeks of school, and yearbook distribution took a lot out of me, bla bla bla...  Fact of the matter is I'm in lazy mode.  I don't know how to snap myself out of it.  I should be running, but I can’t find the motivation.  I should have that runner’s high I keep hearing about from completing Helvetia, but I just want to sit the couch and watch re-runs on TV.  I'm good at blaming it on the weather now being too hot.  I know that's crazy when all other Oregonians are saying, "finally" the weather is warming up.  Even with that, it's not that hot.  Fact of the matter is...  I'm being lazy.  Warning: this entry may get a little self-deprecating.  Yet again, I find myself in a place in my life where I don't like the way I look.  I have always struggled with weight, and even when I'm working out it's an issue.  It's in my face again now, every time I try to put on a pair of jeans or try on a pair of shorts, I am mortified by the muffin top and cottage cheese that ooze out of each direction.    Yes, this should motivate me to run, yes, I should have the strength to lose the weight yet again, but I'm tired of it.  I ran my first half marathon and I felt so great when I finished, only to receive the pictures via email of what I looked like in the race.  I wanted to yell at the chubby ginger in the pictures to suck in that gut!  Alas, it was too late.  My gut is out there for everyone to see.  I want the pictures of me finishing the WDW Marathon to be something I'm so proud of that I will frame them.  Where will I find the strength to put down the bread and cheese?  To think people want me to get pregnant and let my figure really go, hmmm, I’m just not ready to have something else take over my body.  I don’t seem to have control of it myself.  At least I have the summer away from those co-workers who constantly bug me about “making a friend” for their kid.  When did that become my responsibility?  I miss my dancer body.  Even though I was never small enough to get a paying job, I was skinny for me.  If I had that body now I could run so much faster because I wouldn’t be putting as much pressure on my feet and knees.
So really, how do I stay motivated?  I need to do myself, Walt, and all of my Disney and running friends proud come January in Florida.   Decision about running...  I must just do it when I wake up first thing, otherwise I'll make excuses and not go later in the day.  I should do at least 9 miles tomorrow to make up for my naughtiness.
June 25, 2011
I did it!  I got up. Pulled on my running tights.  Laced up my shoes.  I got going early enough to get in my nine miles before it got too hot.  My spirits were with me today.  I let the funk of yesterday go and during this run my stride had a particular spring with each step.  I’m fairly positive my happiness came from my running thoughts going to when I worked a summer in Fantasyland.
I had the pleasure of working the Storybookland Canal boats in the summer of 2003 after I married my first Matt and my fall from tour guide grace. I almost didn't get the chance to work them; I was scheduled to have training on the Explorer Canoes instead.  But I wanted to be in Fantasyland, so my friend, an Oregon State alum and Fantasyland attractions manager, pulled some strings.   I loved working the boats, and telling the stories of all the characters who lived there to the families on my voyages.  Of course my favorite memory was when I met the true love of my life, Steve Young.  Because I still had connections with Guest Relations I knew that Steve was going to be in the park, I begged my friend Edmundo (his VIP guide) to bring him by my attraction and he did.  My heart started racing as I pulled my boat around to pick up Steve and his family.  As we floated by London Park I made my usual joke about the giant ducks who landed in the park must be mighty ducks, but I added that they could not be 49ers (or something corny like that).  His wife turned to give me a smile.  I couldn't hate her for being with the man I wanted for myself; I was just jealous.  At the end of the tour, Steve stopped to shake my hand and thank me for a wonderful tour, to which I said to him, word for word, "no, thank you, for so many wonderful years in San Francisco".  Dork!!!  I helped him off the boat, and as he walked out of sight I began to cry.  My heart was still pounding and my adrenaline was rushing.  I could have cared less that some guests in the front row of the cue made fun of me for tearing up.  Another one of my long time dreams came true, here, at Disneyland.  If only I had stayed in Guest Relations a couple months longer, he would have been my guest.  Doh!  I still got to meet him though.
It seemed simultaneous… As soon as the thought of Steve was over I tripped on a lip in the sidewalk and almost ate pavement.  With my heart racing I realized that I had caught myself and all was well.  The damage had been done though.  The realization that I was tired set in and I began to walk.  At least I got out there this morning.
June 27, 2011
How did this happen?  I'm only 195 days away from running the 2012 WDW Marathon yikes!!!  While I'm so excited that I get to introduce my sweetie to one of my favorite places in the world, at the end of the journey I'm going to need to run 26.2 miles.  This is just crazy.  When I succeed with that goal I will treat myself to dinner at the California Grill, which I've always wanted to do (after a shower, nap, and swim in the pool probably).  As my pants have become tighter, I have bumped up the training again.  Saturday I ran 9.15 miles and walked 2, somewhat "Goofy" to try to make up all my miles in one day for the laziness of Tuesday-Friday, but that's me, Goofy.  Today I headed back to the gym after several months of avoidance.  Yes, I've been running, but the gym should be part of my regimen.  Today I ran on the treadmill, worked the elliptical, and attempted to strengthen my tummy and arms to boot.  Not bad for a first trip back.
During my slow grind on the treadmill I thought back to Fantasyland again.  After a couple of months working on the Storybookland Canal Boats, I was trained on the Matterhorn.  I have never been more scared to work a location in my life!  I still have the occasional nightmare about not moving a sled fast enough during a sled escape.  It's not scary because the ride is dangerous, but because if you don't align the returning sled, exit the guests, push back the gate, pull back the gate, and move the sled off the track in like 23 seconds the whole ride will break down.  I just don't enjoy that kind of pressure.  Trust me, the rats in the break room and the two deaths that happened on the ride (hi, if you are going to take your seat belt off and stand up, you will be decapitated, it just makes sense) will never detour me from enjoying one of the first steal coasters on the west coast.  Heck, Walt decided to take his first ride on the Bobsleds before there was a breaking system.  He had his imagineers pile up bales of hay for a softer landing.  Walt enjoyed the softened landing so much that he decided to recreate the feeling with the splashdown pools at the end of the ride.  Anyway, working the Matterhorn was just another cool thing I got to do when working for the Mouse.  Working there I got to take pictures with Harold (the abominable snowman), play horse on the basketball hoop above the ride, and take a peek out Tinkerbell landing all after hours of course.  Let me tell you, Tinkerbell definitely has the best view of the park for sure!  Oh sweet, my three miles is up on this stupid contraption.  The thoughts of Disneyland continue to get me through even the shortest of runs.
July 15, 2011
Bags aren't packed and I've got a long way to go, but the flights have been purchased for the WDW Marathon!  It seems fitting that before the marathon, I will actually stay on Marathon Island in the Florida Keys.  How cool?!  Running is going slow right now, but it's hot and I'm lazy.  I am fully back to training with just Disney music.  It's pretty rad.  I am heading up a dreaded hill and "Go the Distance" comes on and as I crest over that hill the music for Space Mountain starts.  It couldn't get better than that.  Today I was reminded of the not so pleasant back stage smell at Disneyland as I passed by an assisted living residence; sad to me that they have the same smell.  Trust me, there is a reason why we don't do a backstage tour at Disneyland, you might as well call it the "Ruin the Magic Tour".  It isn't back stage that you want to be; it's all about being in the park before the crowds or late at night after they have left.  This is the time when you could find me in Tour Guide costume doing my best Gene Kelly impression down Main Street a la Singin' in the Rain.  I love doing the up and down the curb move, and I love doing it on Main Street USA.  As you can tell, my brain is definitely on Disneyland today.  Maybe I'm just thinking about how it's Disneyland's 56th birthday on Sunday, and how if it wasn't for Disneyland there would be no Disney World.  I love the magic of it all.  With that little bit of Pixie Dust to inspire me I am off for a run.  Hood to Coast Relay is getting closer and I can’t hold back now.
July 17, 2011
Happy 56th birthday to Disneyland! 
I was good and ran today when Sundays are usually my day off.  But when I got up this morning there was a light drizzle, and I knew I needed to get my butt out the door.  I love running in the rain, so I guess it’s good I moved to the Pacific Northwest.  I struggle with heat stroke and exhaustion, but it's not a problem when it rains.  Don't get me wrong, I would have liked it to be sunny weather the rest of the day being summer and all, but the rain break did wonders for my running psyche.  I just felt faster.  I had Becca in my head cheering me on, and the Disney tunes were right there with me.  My favorite moment came when “One Little Slip” from Chicken Little came on after “He's a Tramp”.  It was right around the section of my run that several days ago I tripped and almost ate pavement. I giggled at the irony of the song's timing today.  When “April Showers” came on it started raining harder; again another coincidence?  I think not.  I was cruising until my music went out during “Colors of the Wind” in my fifth mile, but I pressed on only to find deep puddles and drenched socks in the sixth.  By the time I made it home I looked like I was wearing a wet suit for running attire; more of a drowned rat versus a smiling mouse.  Still a great run since I couldn't go out on the boat and wake board today.
July 21, 2011
During my eight mile run today I thought of receiving my Disney Insider email this week, I noticed something very cool...  My old friend Dean had a feature article all about him and his role as a VIP Tour Guide.  I was beaming with pride as I read the article, and I of course started to recall some of my experiences as a VIP tour guide and resort tour services lead.  One time in particular stood out in my mind...  The Aladdin Musical Spectacular Event.  Oh my.  I was paired up with Placido Domingo (one of the three tenors), who to me wasn't that exciting, but I was excited to be one of the first to see the new show in the Hyperion Theater (where we had Flashback).  I had loved Steps in Time, and was sad to see it go, but I was curious what they were going to do with the story of Aladdin.  We had a waiting area tent where they were also setting up for the after party.  Camels, snakes, musicians, carpets, tables, chairs, and hors d'oeuvres were all being set up.  I was steering clear of the snakes for sure.  One by one, our guests were arriving, but Mr. Domingo was running late.  He arrived with who I guess was his publicist, a woman who had no use for my existence, just before show time.  I was trying to rush him to our seats, but he didn't want to move quickly at all.  He stopped me before we went into the theater and said, "I do not care much about this show, I am here to meet Michael Eisner, and you are going to make that happen".  What?  Are you kidding me?  How in the Wonderful World of Disney am I going to introduce him to Eisner, elusive guru of the new Disney regime?  With this request, I was distracted through the whole show.  I kept trying to think of ways that I could make this happen.  I figured that I knew who Eisner had as a guide, so I would just find his guide after the show in the tent.  But the tent was huge!  Only certain VIPs had access to certain areas...  Yikes!  The show ended with a roaring applause; while Mr. Domingo and his assistant only gave half ass golf claps being quite unimpressed.  I overheard a comment of the show being a bit childish.  Are you kidding me?  Hello!  It's Disney!!!  And I'm supposed to care enough about this guy to introduce him to my number one boss.  As we walked out of the theater, standing on the red carpet next to a spitting stinky camel, Mr. Domingo was bombarded by the Mexican press; he is a hero to them.  Before I could pull him away and get him into the tent, his lady friend reminds me that I must make it happen that he meets Mr. Eisner, otherwise it has been a waste for them to come all the way down here.  It must be nice to be invited to premiers and treated like royalty, I mean what a burden.  We finally reach the tent, and I actually spot Mr. Eisner, wow, I can actually make this happen.  I walked right up to him with my back straight and butterflies in my stomach and said, "Mr. Eisner, I have someone who would like to meet you".  I introduced them and stepped back.  I looked at the assistant with so much pride and all she did was roll her eyes.  I had made it happen.  I was in the middle of basking in my glory when Mrs. Eisner snapped her fingers in my face and said, "Miss, we need more napkins".  Awesome,  I was no longer a tour guide I was now a waitress.  I retrieved some napkins with no thank you and five minutes later, after the conversation was over, Mr. Domingo asked me to take him to his limo.  He had achieved what he had come here to do.  Again, without a thank you I put him in his car, and he was off and I breathed a sigh of relief.  On my way back into the tent, I overheard Mrs. Eisner say to her husband, "I'm tired and getting in the car.  I expect you to be there in 15 minutes."  I guess it could be worse; I could have been their guide.  It was probably one of my proudest and strangest experiences as a VIP Guide.  Trust me, I loved all of my other experiences, this one was just hard to forget.  I think the frustration of feeling like a servant kept me going today, but my running still feels off.
I can't get out of this slump!  Mileage-wise it doesn't seem like I'm in a slump running 10.5 Tuesday and 8+ today; I'm just going about 1-1.5 minutes slower with my pace than I was two months ago.  Frustrating!  Hopefully I can pull out of this slump soon, I'm nervous about my race this Sunday.  It's only four miles, so I should do it in under 40 minutes.  At the rate I'm going, I don't know if that's possible.  I feel like I am letting my running girls down.  I have enjoyed running on my own with my Disney thoughts, but I need those girls to get me through sometimes.  We are all in such different places this summer, the occasional girlfriend run is just a dream.  And still I run.
July 22, 2011
I was a little worried about today's run, but it went better than expected.  I should be able to run my race this weekend in under 40 minutes since I did the same distance today in 40 minutes.  Granted it will be warmer on Sunday, but I always seem to go a little faster on race days.  Oh, and a note to you people trying to tell me what size shoe to wear because you know everything...  I'm going back to my true shoe size.  I'd rather deal with bruised toenails than massive blisters on my heels because my heel slides out of shoes that are TOO BIG.  But thanks for knowing everything.  By the way...  I've already run 30 miles this week.  Woo hoo!!!
July 26, 2011
Okay, so Sunday's race was a bit more hilly than expected.  Holy cow!  If it hadn't have been for the last mile, which was straight up, I would have done the race in my planned 9:30 pace no problem.  I should still feel pretty good though, I came in 190th of 479 finishers.  Even better I finished 90th of the 313 women who finished and 38th in the 135 in my age category.  Really though...  None of this matters.  I'm not really out to compete, so it's silly of me to even look at these stats.  I will say this though… I like not being the worst out there.  Petty maybe, but human I guess.  I am more proud that I ran 34 miles last week, and I'm still ready to go out for my run today.  I'm slower, but I'm still doing it.  I've signed up for another 10K and half marathon this Fall to keep me going after Hood to Coast is over.  The races are such great benchmarks for me to keep focused and training for my ultimate Disney goal.
August 26 and 27, 2011
Here it was, the whole reason why I started all of this running in the first place, Hood to Coast.  What an amazing experience.  Bonding with my brother and four other friends in a van for more than 24 hours, not to mention running three legs of a 200 mile race, it was one of my most treasured experiences in life.  My girls ran with another, faster, team, but I still thought of them with my “just out to have a good time” group.  I was in the right place.  Even though I had done three runs in a 24 hour period a week ago to prepare, I was still nervous of what to expect.  I was so excited that I couldn’t sleep at my teammate’s house the night before, but getting up at 2:30am to be ready at the top of the mountain doesn’t leave a lot of time for sleep anyway.  It was surreal watching our first runner head down the steep mountain road from Timberline Lodge at 4:30am, we were off and running, literally, for the next full day.  The next day was a blur of trying to sleep, cheering, and a lot of ringing cowbells.  I was in the third running spot of our team’s two vans.  I got the pleasure of following each of my brother’s legs.  There is something reassuring about having your big brother hand off the relay bracelet to you as you take off on your run.  Before he reached me I couldn’t stop pacing because of the nerves.  But in no time I was off down my stretch of the mountain.  I couldn’t hear my music though, so I started to panic a little.  The semi-trucks passing me made so much noise that my Disney tunes were drowned out completely.  I had to try my hardest to channel a happy memory to get me through, and I thought of my dad.  Again, even though I spent most of my time as a tour guide, I started in Disney's California Adventure as a stores hostess.  Exciting for me, during spring break I was allowed to pick up shifts in Disneyland.  My first shift was on Easter Sunday at Westward Ho in Frontierland.  I thought about my Uncle Art and how much he loves country western music, and I thought about my dad and riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad with him.  It was my first trip to Disneyland, I don't even remember how old I was.  I asked my dad if I could ride the train (as in the Disneyland Railroad), and dad said okay.  So he got me in line for Big Thunder.  Jerk!  I must have been just barely tall enough to ride it.  Every time the train would come around the mountain my dad would point and direct me to look somewhere else, and I fell for it constantly.  Once we were seated I was so excited, but as we rolled into the first cavern I immediately started to scream in fear.  I screamed and cried the whole entire ride.  The teenagers in front turned around to tell my father what a horrible dad he was to torture me like this.  He just cackled and laughed the whole time.  You would think this would turn me off of riding roller coasters with my dad, but quite the contrary.  He has become one of my favorite partners for speed.  Thinking about this made me giggle and I was speaking in Western lingo within no time.  I could not count the amount of times I said "howdy", "partner" and "buckaroo" in that day.  My first shift at the Happiest Place on Earth was a rip roarin' good time.  Not to mention once I got into the right mindset, my first leg of Hood to Coast was too.  It was exhilarating having the feeling of flying down the mountain that I had skied down a ton of times.  This was the mountain where I got engaged; Matt was with me too. 
My second leg was not nearly as exhilarating; it was all up hill in the heat and still on the side of a highway.  I didn’t stop, I didn’t give up, but I slowed way down.  I found a running buddy who liked my pace, so we helped each other to finish that leg.  That’s the cool thing about the running community; everyone is so positive and encouraging.
My third leg was euphoric.  Did I achieve that elusive runner’s high?  I think maybe I did.  I should have been scared out of my mind, but it was my favorite of the three legs.  It was pitch black and I was running in the coastal range with my headlamp and reflective vest as my only companions, and finally my tunes were back.  Without the buzz of the highway, Disney songs could get me through the rest of the race.  I passed by a guy, that looked like my runner friend Becca’s husband, who said to me, “Keep it up runner”.  “Runner”, he said it and I started to believe it.  Yes, I am a runner, I can do this.  As I continued to pass people, and add to my “kills”, I thought it even more and more.  I am a runner, and I will complete the WDW Marathon with no problem.  As I finished my run, I was excited, relieved, and saddened.  I was surprisingly bummed it was all over.  I’d never done anything like this before and it was the end of my summer all at the same time.  Next week I’m back to work, and back to the baby questions.  My heart sank, but I couldn’t let it get to me for long because my team had celebrating to do.
September into October, 2011
Would you look at that?  Captain Laziness is back.  School started and my running became sporadic to say the least.  I didn’t stop, but I was falling off of my routine and fast.  While that was going fast, my pace was getting slower. 
October 16, 2011
Oh no, I was not prepared for this.  The Girlfriends Half Marathon has come and I am not prepared.  Well, I guess this is the kick in the rear that I needed to get back out there.  I had only run a handful of times since my last 10K race at the beginning of September.  At the beginning of the race I needed to find my happy place and fast!  I thought of another VIP experience that included my fellow tour guide in crime Lenice and I having Brad Garrett and family on tour after Christmas in 2002.  He was impossible to hide!  The guy is like 6'8" and he brought his brother's family with him, so there were 4 adults and 9 children to maneuver the busy park with.  Now normally if a VIP is spotted in the park, a guide could quickly sneak them backstage, but if the VIP had kids you couldn't do that until after the second parade of the day.  Running the risk of a child seeing Alice having a smoke or Tigger with his head off was not an option.  Mr. Garrett was noticed everywhere.  He was the most gracious about it though; he knew how hard Lenice and I were working to try to keep his appearance under cover.  We were with him for 3 of the busiest days of the year, and while we navigated him around the parks, he treated us like family.  I loved that he gave me a look while we were waiting for our table at the Rainforest Cafe and said, "My first wife was a redhead...  Dangerous".  Ha!  He definitely kept us laughing.  On the last day, before I dropped him off with his car, we were riding the elevator down in the Grand Californian and he handed me a small cream colored box.  He said, "Here is a tampon from the hotel; something for you to remember me by".  I laughed and looked at the box and replied, "This is a toothbrush!  I'm worried about your dental regimen".  He laughed and told me to put the box away for safe keeping.  At their family car I waved goodbye and headed back to resort tour services with my toothbrush.  I showed my manager the gift and told the story, she immediately opened the box.  Sure enough, there was $200 wrapped around the themed toothbrush.  She laughed as she removed the money and handed the brush in its box back to me.  "You can keep the toothbrush".  Bummer.  This getting used to handing any tips over for tours was going to be hard to get used to, but I was not about to break the rules.  I still have the toothbrush!  Not to mention the memories of my first major VIP tour.  That memory got me through the first five miles.  Then I heard the clang of the cowbell, there was Matt on the side of the road, cheering me to keep it up in the race.  My spirit was soaring for the next three miles knowing I had a spectator.  There he was again, mile 9 came and Matt was cheering again.  The next mile and a half I could hold onto that feeling, but it would eventually fade as I hit my wall.  Just before mile 11 my pace became too much for me.  My time off from running was rearing its ugly head, I had to walk.  Walk!  I had to keep going.  This run was not difficult, why couldn’t I just keep my legs moving?  I crested the top of the hill and all I had to do was run down a long street and turn the corner to the finish line, but it seemed forever away.  Then I heard his voice cheering for me again, “Baby you’ve got this”.  As I passed Matt he gave me a high five and I rounded the corner with new found steam.  Much to my surprise I PRed too!  I finished the half in 2:15, but it only made me think of how good I could have done if I had kept up with my training.
October, November, and December, 2011
I just kept building my distances.  14 miles, 16 miles, 20 miles!  Oh my gosh!  I did it!  I made it to 20 miles.  With the additional miles came a soreness like I’d never felt before.  Not even dancing for eight hours a day made me feel this sore.  But I had to keep it up.  Back to 16 miles, thoughts of Disney, thoughts of will I really be ready to be a mom after all of this, or will I have to continue to find excuses for putting it off.  20 miles, 24.  Whoa!  I just ran 24 miles completely alone.  I can do this.  That 24 miles was my last long run before the marathon.
December 31, 2011
It was the last day of the year, and my last longish run before the race.  We left for Florida on Matt’s birthday, Christmas, and since then I had been doing short runs on the naval base in Key West trying to get acclimated to the heat and humidity.  Today I felt pretty good.  I left Matt asleep in the hotel room on Marathon Island and I headed out south towards the original Seven Mile Bridge for my last eight mile run.  Once I reached the bridge I was at peace.  I ran back and forth on the original bridge on the way to Pigeon Key a couple of times.  The wind was tricky, but the view was amazing.  Being over the water like that was mesmerizing.  I was as ready as I was ever going to be. 
January 8, 2012 - Marathon Day at Last
I couldn’t sleep.  Everything that I had been training for this past year was here now.  Not sleeping was to be expected.  I couldn’t sleep before any race, let alone the biggest one I had ever attempted.  My alarm went off at 3:30am, and after properly “lubing” up with sunscreen, Vaseline, and Body Glide I was off to the event shuttle.  I had no idea that I had to walk two miles from the shuttle to my starting corral just past the entrance of Epcot.  At the time, the walk didn’t bother me.  I was able to do a mellow activity that centered my nerves.  I found my corral, did some stretches and waited for the magic to begin.  With several blasts of fireworks into the dark Florida morning we were off!  I tried to stay to the left of the road hoping to catch a glimpse of my personal cheerleader, but it was too dark to see him.  Then there he was underneath the monorail station at mile 2, cowbell and all.  Matt cheered me on along with so many other spectators as I headed into the entrance of Epcot.  Running past Spaceship Earth I thought about how when it was all done I’d be passing by this same spot in the sunlight.  I paused to embrace one last look across World Showcase Lagoon at all of the countries lit up, again knowing that the next time I came through this section it would be sunny.  Then I was back out on the road.
I had what felt like a great pace going on.  This was so much fun, and there was so much entertainment and cheering fans along the way the miles flew by without me even noticing my music.  It was there when I needed it in the lulls though.  As I turned the corner heading out of the parking lot on my way to the Magic Kingdom, Matt was there at mile 9 to give me a big high five and keep my spirits high as well.  The Magic Kingdom was so beautiful in the morning light; I had to pause for a moment heading through Cinderella’s Castle trying to savor every last moment of this journey.
At mile 13 it was the last time I saw Matt on the trail.  It was about to get really hard and I could have used my special supporter.  Service roads through the swampland brought me to the back entrance of the Animal Kingdom.  Many of the animals were still asleep and I’m sure they could care less that over 20,000 runners were passing by their home.  The Animal Kingdom came and went too fast; all I thought about as I passed through the park was wishing I could take a break from running and ride the Expedition Everest one last time.  I am sure the yeti was watching all of us go by.
Heading out of the Animal Kingdom parking lot it happened.  I hit the wall.  I had been warned of this spot, but I was not immune to it.  Mile 18 marked the moment where I had to start running on the WDW highways, which also means running on and off ramps.  I never would have thought it before, but those banked turns are killer on joints.  Not to mention it was hot now too.  I was begging my knee to make it and hoping that heat exhaustion didn’t get me.  My pace became more of a jog at this point and the up and down of the next several miles took their toll on my body.
I couldn’t believe it but I had finally made it to Disney’s Hollywood Studios park.  I was 23 miles in and I still had 3 plus miles to go.  I knew by this point that I wasn’t going to make my goal of under five hours, but I was determined to finish.  My energy was shot and all of my gu’s and gels were gone, so I had to find strength from somewhere else.  I think the shear will to be done came over.  I walked a little in the Studios, but at least I was still heading forward. 
Out of the Studios and next to my hotel was the 24 mile marker.  I giggled when I saw it because I had notice it a few days ago, and that’s when the butterflies for the race really started.  I had made it to that point!  I was almost done!  Passing by the Beach Villas and into the World Showcase I was still stuck on that slow jog pace where I felt like I was just shuffling along.  As I came over the bridge I saw that the French Pavilion was just waking up.  My favorite drink cart was getting ready for the day, and I so badly wanted one of those Grand Marnier slushes right at that moment.  But I had to keep going.  Then going became the issue.  Yep, I had held it off this long, but in the 23rd mile I needed to make a beeline to the freshly cleaned restrooms in Norway.  Getting my running tights off and on was a bit of a challenge.  I had to ignore the blood that I saw wear skin had rubbed off on my leg and wash my hands and keep going.  I burst back into the action and soon I was passing Spaceship Earth for the second time of the day.  Spectators were lining both sides of the race path and cheering for everyone who passed.  My pace was still shot, but all I could think about was that I had less than a mile to go.  There was one last inspirational a cappella group and then I was out of the park again.  I turned the corner and before I saw the finish line I heard, “Dig deep baby, you got this, dig deep!”  And that’s exactly what I did.  Past the hip pain, bum knee, and burning heels Matt helped me find another gear.  I sped up, just slightly, and I slapped high five with Donald and Goofy and I crossed the finish line.  It was a little past the five hour mark, but I was done.  The smallest of tears found my eyes, I think I had sweat out all of the moisture I had in my body in the last five hours.  I got my medal.  It was surreal.  I had done it.  It was over.  Every thought of training, my girls, my Disney days, and the future flashed in and quickly out of my head.  I had done it.  I then received one of the best hugs in my life.  Not only was I proud of myself, but someone else was incredibly proud of me too.  I had run a marathon and survived to tell the story.    

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