A big welcome to Pamela, who will be sharing her runDisney story today! Take it away Pamela!
My running story starts almost exactly one year ago. Due to the fortuitous timing of the school calendar and Disney Marathon Weekend, my husband signed up to run the half and we took a week-long family vacation to WDW. Being around the atmosphere of the races, seeing people of all shapes and sizes walk through the parks proudly wearing their bling, and witnessing the sincere joy and congratulations from one stranger to another was very inspiring. I dreamingly said to myself (so I thought), “I wish I could do that!” My husband overheard me and said, “You can absolutely do this!” So he set out a challenge with a reward for me. He told me that if I could run 5 miles by June, he would take me to run any race I wanted, anywhere. He knows me well! I love a good challenge, and I especially love a good reward! :-)
I knew I wanted to run a Disney race, but which one? I looked over the races and evaluated each one. A 5K? Too short. A marathon? No way, I need to work up to that one! What about a half-marathon? Maybe, but isn’t there something in between a 5K and a half-marathon? Ta-da, there is! The Tower of Terror 10 Miler! I had found my race! What really sealed the deal was that the Tower of Terror is one of my favorite Disney attractions, and the race was very close to our 15-year wedding anniversary. We would make a celebration out of the event!
I started my training as soon as we got home. I found a 9-week Couch-to-5K program through Cool Running that looked ideal. I liked how there was flexibility in the schedule, requiring 3 training sessions per week but not dictating which days I had to train. With my very busy life, I embraced the flexible training schedule. All I had to do was follow the program on any three days during the week, and I was good. It was ideal. I usually did my runs at night after the kids were in bed. I found that I really enjoyed the quiet, alone time at the end of the day. I found running to be relaxing. The stress in my life slowly melted away whenever I ran.
About halfway through the program, I decided to publicly declare my intent to keep the pressure on myself to complete my mission. I joined a running team (WDW Radio Running Team who raises money for the Dream Team Project, which helps fund trips to WDW for children through the Make-a-Wish foundation) and introduced myself to the online community through their Facebook page. I was warmly welcomed into the fold, and was happy to discover that the team also had a running coach that gladly volunteered his time to coach anyone wishing to join the team. His name, most appropriately, is Happy. He introduced me to the concept of the Galloway program, which sounded great to me. We set a goal of running in a 5K shortly after the end of my 9-week training. My husband ran it with me in March, and the joy I felt after the completion of the race was indescribable and I was hooked!
Happy put together a running plan for me every week, which I followed to the letter. One day in April, I was scheduled to do a 5 mile run. My husband ran it with me at my pace and encouraged me the entire way. He counted down the last half mile, and when I reached the 5 mile mark, and said “Congratulations! You did it. You earned your race!”
I wasted no time in registering for the Tower of Terror 10 miler, which was a good thing because the race sold-out not many days after I registered. My mom agreed to come stay with the kids, allowing my husband and I to truly make our race the cornerstone of an anniversary trip.
Training continued as planned all summer long. Training in our hot, humid Indiana summer ended up being a blessing, considering the weather that would ultimately reveal itself during the Tower of Terror 10 Miler.
All was going according to plan until the middle of August. To this day, I still do not know what happened, but one day my foot just stopped working. I was in a lot of pain. I went to see an orthopedic specialist, who examined me and told me he could find nothing wrong. He advised me to take a week off before continuing with my running. After one of my long runs a week or so after I was running again, I found myself to be completely lame. I couldn’t put any weight on my left foot without a significant amount of pain. Our neighbor is a physical therapist, and I turned to him for help. He started me on a physical therapy program with the goal being to get me to a point where I could run in the Tower of Terror 10 Miler without causing damage to myself. Between his therapy and Happy’s advice, we got me to a point where I would be able to finish the race, not get swept, and be able to stand afterwards.
They designed a strategy for me to follow race weekend. I was to stay off of my foot as much as possible before the race. During the race, I followed a 20 second run, 40 second walk interval. My foot and ankle was wrapped and braced, and I used gel heel inserts. The weather, as everyone now knows, was brutal. Luckily, I was used to it. It was just like any training day I had all summer long. My husband and I stayed hydrated. At every water stop, he would run ahead and get me whatever I needed. He told me to just concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other, and that he would take care of everything else. There was unfortunately no time to stop for any pictures, as I was on a mission and needed to stay completely focused. I had to run through the pain, which peaked at about the 2 mile mark but never got any worse after that.
I finished in 2:38:44. I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face, running the whole way! Some members of my running team that had finished before me came running up to me and hugged me. What a wonderful, supportive group! My husband and I got our Finisher Photos taken, and then set out to find a place to sit and recuperate. After an hour off of my feet, replenishing fuel and fluids and getting cleaned up (as best as I could with babywipes and a fresh set of clothes!), I was ready to enjoy the after party. I had worked darn hard to get there, and I was going to enjoy every possible minute of it!
There is no way I could have done it without the support of so many wonderful people. My husband was my rock and foundation. He took care of me when the going got tough, and he continually inspired me. My running team and my running coach were my cheerleaders. They supported me, listened to me, and advised me. My physical therapist helped me when no doctor could. He strengthened me to the point that I knew I could physically complete the race and not cause damage to myself. I was proud of myself for meeting the challenge, but I was profoundly grateful for everyone who helped me to succeed.
I have since been diagnosed for my foot pain and am excited to get the go ahead to start training again. I would love to run Wine & Dine! In the meantime, I will continue to stay motivated by cheering on my WDW Radio Running teammates from afar!
Thank you Pamela for your fantastic runDisney story! We can’t wait to hear more about your magical miles! If you would like to have your runDisney story featured, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!