Anyone who knew me as a child or a teenager knows I’m not an athlete. Scratch that….I was not an athlete. I was the kid who dreaded gym class and came up with any excuse not to participate. I got the Participaction pin year after year (if you’re from my generation in Ontario you’ll remember the program designed to encourage kids to exercise). The one year I tried hard to qualify for one of the patches, I was sure I got a silver but I was told I got a bronze. I was so disappointed….what was the point of trying?
In high school, I wouldn’t run to catch a bus; I’d rather wait for the next bus, even if it wasn’t coming for another half an hour.
From 2004 to 2005, I lost 100 pounds but during that time I didn’t really exercise. So what would possess someone like me to decide to do a half marathon? Well there was a period of time when I listened to a number of podcasts about visiting Walt Disney World. Several of the podcast hosts had run in half marathons and marathons at Walt Disney World and one of them, who was overweight at the time, was training to do a half marathon. I thought “I should try that”.
So in June of 2009, I went online to register for a runDisney race. I found out that the race I was aiming for – Walt Disney World Half Marathon (the Donald) – was sold out. I had no idea they sold out! I saw that there was a race I had never heard of – Disney’s Princess Half Marathon. It was scheduled for March 7, 2010 which was three days before my birthday. Perfect! A birthday trip! I registered.
Next to start training. I thought I had to run. I had friends who had used the Running Room to learn to run so I thought I would do that. I looked them up online and saw that they offered different clinics and one caught my eye – Half Marathon Walk. I remember thinking “you can walk a half marathon?”. So I emailed the company and asked if it was possible to walk a Disney half marathon which had a maximum pace of 16 minutes per mile. Someone from their head office called me up at work and did the math with me on the phone “that’s a 10 minute kilometre. That’s the pace we go for with beginners.” I didn’t have to be a runner! I was ecstatic.
It occurred to me I probably shouldn’t start with a half marathon so I registered for a 10k clinic with the goal race being the 10k Zoo Run in October. On August 7, 2009 I began my training journey. My clinic leaders were Tanya and Maureen. I was thrilled to learn that they had both done a half marathon at Disney World….so I knew it was possible!
I really enjoyed meeting people who loved walking and I quickly got addicted. It turned out that the goal race for my clinic was changed because the Zoo Run was meant to be a run. I was already registered for it so on October 17, 2009, I completed my first 10k race. I came in fifth last but more importantly, I finished. I also beat a runner. He wasn’t prepared for the hills. Since I was a volunteer at the zoo at the time, I knew there would be hills and I trained for them! My finish experience was kind of funny. There was a ribbon held by two people. I thought “cool, every person gets to break the ribbon”. No. The 5k leader was expected to finish any second! I was lucky I didn’t get lapped by him. Also there were no medals and I was disappointed so I took an extra bagel!!
Here’s where the crazy REALLY started. In November of 2009, having only completed one 10k race, I registered for two additional runDisney half marathons. One was the Disneyland Half Marathon scheduled for Labour Day weekend 2010 and the other was a brand new race that had been announced – Disney’s Wine and Dine Half Marathon – which would be taking place one month after Disneyland. I do not know what made me think this was something I might be able to pull off! I saw that my fellow walkers were addicted to races and I was jealous of all their medals. I figured if I hated the Princess race, I’d just sacrifice my registration fees. My fear was I would love it and I’d be disappointed if I missed out on the chance to do these other races. Well, it was the latter and the rest is history…..