Mentally Overcome Your Obstacles
GA Marathon 2018
I recently ran the Georgia Marathon as part of a running challenge in the Atlanta. I had just completed a 48-mile series about 8 weeks prior so I felt that, while challenging, the race would be doable. The race had other ideas and it turned into one of the most challenging events of my life. At mile 14 I felt a little tired. By mile 19 both of my calves had severe cramps, both sides of my hips were burning and I had a pulled muscle in my lower backside. One of these can knock you out of a race and I had seven at once! I eventually went on to conquer the course and was reminded of some good life lessons along the way.
When you are holding someone back: Let them go.
I have a running partner that runs the vast majority of races with me. We have been through thick and thin together on and off the course. There is a difference between helping and supporting someone through their challenges and them dragging you down. I knew that day that I had turned from needing help to a liability. Finishing the last 6 miles was going to be even more challenging alone, but I had to cut her loose. It was a bittersweet moment with a few tears shed, but she eventually went on without me. In the business world, this may be holding someone back from a promotion because they are so essential to you. Let them go. In your personal life, it may be someone that continues to take from the relationship and offers nothing in return. Let them go. Have the self-awareness to know when you are dragging someone down and the courage to break away from those that drag you down.
When everything in your head tells you to stop: Keep moving.
We all hit rough patches in life and work. I was certainly in a rough patch mentally for those final six miles. There were times I just wanted to stop, call my wife and tell her to come get me. Instead of focusing on the mental battle and the physical challenges I was having, I chose to instead focus on just getting a little further. Let me get down this hill. Let me just get to that light pole. Sometimes you have to focus solely on whats right ahead of you. It’s too overwhelming to take in the everything at once and you’ll mentally break. The same mentality is often found in the first responder field. A firefighter doesn’t look at a highrise fire and take in the distance, the weight of the equipment, the heat, the danger, and pain. They focus on getting up the steps, then to the door and then clearing a room. When you are in that tough spot, narrow in your focus to just keep moving forward. If you become overwhelmed, narrow your focus to help you get an edge and get back in the game.
When temptation arises to take a shortcut: Hold to your integrity.
There were two out and backs on the course at the exact wrong time. One at mile 22 and another at mile 25. All I had to do to cut some length off of the course was to step over a cone and go back the other way. Extremely easy to do and no one would have stopped me. At the end of the day remember that how you got there is just as important as actually getting to the finish line. Avoid taking those tempting shortcuts in work and life if it means compromising your integrity or ethics. Your sense of accomplishment will be less and it lingers on you longer than the joy of completing the project.
When pain dominates your story: Remember why you are on this journey.
Sometimes physical pain, grief, depression, or hopelessness tries to dictate our story. Remember why you are there and why you need to push ahead and finish. My mind was trying to remind me of the pain constantly. I had to remember and hold on to the reason I was there: to finish this 50+ mile challenge. I only had 6 miles to go and if I didn’t complete it that day, I would just have to come back and do it all over again. I wasn’t coming back! You are the author of your story, not your pain, not your guilt, not your grief and not your hopelessness. Remember the journey.
Never give up on yourself. You are capable of so much more than your mind lets you believe…. and don’t forget to smile.
Make a better tomorrow.
Princess Half Marathon
The things you would do for your friends.
This all started out Marathon weekend when Danielle told me that she was going to run as Moana and that I was going to be Hei Hei.
Here is Hei Hei.
Do you know how many pictures and tutorials there are for making a Hei Hei running costume? 0. So while my friends are having fun on the weekend, this is what I am doing.
It’s going to be a warm costume, but that’s OK since it’s Feb. and it was freezing cold at the race last month. The top feathers consist of three t-shirts and multiple layers of felt. I had to brush up on my sewing skills.
It was a perfectly good hat.
It was very challenging for me to make. I wanted it to be a good effort, but it was stretching me in my imagination and problem-solving skills. (And I consider myself pretty good at those things!)
My Moana and Tafiti!
I decided that if I was going to be Hei Hei that I was going to fully embrace it. That meant in character for people that cheered for me or in any pictures.
Well, the idea for a warm costume turned out to be killer. It was blazing hot. I ran in a running singlet the day before and now my top half if carrying 5 layers of cotton and felt, but I had a plan just in case…
I was so excited to run into friends Jeff and Barb on the course. Since we are all from Atlanta, they thought I was a KFC known as the Big Chicken. We’ll hopefully be running together at the next series. I ran with Jeff last month but missed Barb. She’s fun to run with.
We had fun stopping at all the character stops! Also notice I’ve got my yellow chicken legs on here.
Once we get to Magic Kingdom, I now for the second time in row, drop my pants on Main Street. This time fully embracing the moment and shaking my tail feathers to the people cheering. It was just too hot for running pants. I was glad that Sharon brought me some shorts to change into.
It’s like Hei Hei has never seen the other side of the castle before.
This may be the best group pic ever. It even looks like its just missing the Runners World logo.
Louis the Alligator didnt really know what to do with Hei Hei.
I thought about trying to eat Woodys hat but they wouldnt let me sit on the rails.
At the end of Frontierland was Goofy in a costume that I haven’t gotten before. I was super excited to meet him!
We also found our Maui soon after. He was nice enough to stop for a picture with us and with a scenic background to boot!
After leaving the park we ran across this sign. How could I not stop??
The Genie and Adventurers Club gang were fun. The lady taking pictures was trying to help me out.
Her: “Sir, you can stand up, there’s room in the picture.”
Me: “I’m good. I’m a chicken.”
Me: *Chew on Mickey Mouse nose.
Her: *Takes picture.
We make it back to the pirates in the daylight. The pictures are always better and there is no line on the way back. I was beside Jack until he saw Moana. He then brushed me aside and made sure he was cozy for the picture.
After making it through the two cloverleafs to Epcot. We see our cheer team. They had some nice cold water for us. It was so nice! Around the bend was Mrs Incredible. She loved us.
Once in Epcot proper, it’s just a short out and back and then you are done.
One of my few “normal” pics. Love the composition in this one.
I feel that Hei Hei would eat the Powerade after the race.
We had such a blast! I didn’t want to be Hei Hei, but I’ll do some crazy things for my friends and it turned out great in the end.
Run your race. Run with friends. Make memories.
The Boston Marathon Weekend!
Princess Weekend: My favorite race Disney race weekend.
- It’s less crowded.
- The weather is more consistent and nice.
- The courses are great and match the Marathon Weekend.
- It’s got a very good vibe to it.
- Great unique characters come out just for this race.
The expo has changed yet again, but I feel like this will be the last major change for awhile. I believe their goal all along has been to create an experience similar to Disneyland. With the addition of another stadium, they now have the room to make that happen. The Expo was in the newly built building. Gone are the lines out in the weather! They have enough space to hold all of the line, plus an expanded area for the RunDisney Merch. They also took the opportunity to update their fixtures and displays as well.
The 5K !
I actually cheered instead of running the 5k. Beth and Sharon went as Dwiddle Dee and Dwiddle Dum. We had some great costumes on the team for the 5k. Everyone had a great time!
I decided to do the dead last start challenge again for this 10k. The running club in rundisneyrun was planning for a big group for the half, so I thought that I would be a good opening act for them. I won’t get into to much detail on what it is, since I’ll do a separate post on what it is and what it isn’t later. The short of it; you start dead last and see how many you can pass by the end.
I did it at The STAR WARS 10K last year to show that you can have a great race no matter your starting position. The fun is where you make it, not what coral you start in. I did it this year for a few reasons.
- It’s my favorite 10K on the East Coast.
- The likelihood of there being any new characters that I needed was small.
- It’s been a while since I pushed myself and this would force me to.
- I wanted to be an encouragement for one of our teammates that was looking to complete their first 10k.
I love the balloon ladies! It was fun to catch up with them and take pictures for them.
When I do dead last start, I’m truly last…..like medical bikes and cleanup crew last.
I’ll get into the etiquette and expectations on the DLS post, but here is the big one: If you ever do a dead last start, you never have the right of way. They are running their race and you are running yours. They should never have to yield space or move for you. You should encourage those along the course, not hinder their experience.
I was looking for a couple of people that day. I wanted to find my teammate who was looking for her first finish and I was looking to catch one Mr. David Thompson. I was so happy to find my teammate closing in on the 3-mile mark. I let her know how far she was ahead of the balloon ladies to give her a boost. It meant the world to me to be able to give her some encouragement. I also knew at that point that she was going to make it the farthest that she ever had. I wouldn’t have been able to give her that insight or encouragement if I didn’t start last.
Now that I knew that she was set to have a great race I moved on to my one target for the day. David is not slow and started all the way up in C, but I also knew he was out having a good time before and during the race. How hard is it to track down one person in a race of over 10,000? Not too hard when they are over 6ft tall and dressed as nerd Merida.
Got him at mile 4!
I also had to stop at my favorite pavilion.
This is probably my favorite picture, even when I look like a do-fuss. Our cheer team was on the boardwalk with our awesome group of matching 10k ladies. I saw them and ran as hard as I could to make the picture. This is the reaction just as I jump in as she takes the shot.
I love this gal. Jennalyn is one of the friendliest and kindest people Ive ever met.
I wasn’t trying to kill myself since I had a half marathon the next day and a ton of miles to go in the parks that day.
Oddly my only finish line pic. Its also a reminder that unless you are first, someone always finishes before you.
By the end, I ended up catching 62% of all the runners and passed 7597 people. I ran about 2 miles on grass so I wouldn’t get in other runners way.
Dead Last Start is a fun variation for a race if you are looking for a different way to challenge yourself. Just remember to be kind and courteous to your fellow runners!
The Princess Half Marathon
It’s day three of the Dopey Challenge. It’s still freezing cold out. The January race series has turned into a wildcard weather wise. The last three years have been consistent in their inconsistency.
The Half Marathon
I like this half marathon OK. I think I would like it more if I were just doing this race. There is typically one super rare character stop on the half route, so I was hoping to have better luck than the 10k the day before. This was also the first day that our little running group was fully together and without costumes.
The trip into the Magic Kingdom was your typical marathon weekend route. You get a couple of few characters stops in the parking lot area before you head towards the results. These are usually mid-level rare characters, If you’ve never run one of these races, you’ll want to plan to stop around the 5k mark.
There was a slight change to the route as it entered in the park. Instead of veering to the backstage area and then unto Main Street, you now come in through the bus drop off area. It made for a nice buildup as you crossed under the train station. It was great to see the cheer group and we got the crowd hyped up as we proceeded towards the castle.
Once you make it into Tomorrowland, you’ll typically find some characters from that area. As you turn into Fantasyland, you’ll get a second shot at mid-level rare characters. Typically an Alice theme, Ariel theme and Beauty and the Beast theme. They are always a good stop and only the Ariel theme gets crazy backed up. We turned the corner to go through the castle and I finally get my rare find! The mice from Cinderella! They are really hard to get a hold of but you can actually meet them in MK if you are lucky. If the Fairy Godmother doesn’t make it in the park that day for meet and greets, the mice will sometimes fill in. It’s always unannounced and the Fairy Godmother is the healthiest person in the park, so she rarely misses a chance to greet guests.
I love this picture of Danielle and I. Her and Chris are easily our favorite thing that we love about Atlanta. This picture does show a new tip that I need to add into the Tips for great pics at Disney. The lightning? Perfect. The background? Perfect. Both are uncontrollable though. The lesson is the importance or edge you get with a running buddy. As great as this picture is, Danielle wouldn’t have gotten it because her running belt covered up her number slightly. I can’t tell you how many times a picture has been saved because just one person had a bib that showed.
The sun always beats us to the finish on half marathon days. It makes for a good mix of pics but it also makes us look like we’ve been running forever. I took the opportunity to pocket for a few solo shots. Even when running in a good size group, you can get pics like you are solo.
The pace of everyone usually picks up on the backside of the ball. You’ve got the choir singing and you know that you are just a couple of turns away from the finish.
See there were a bunch of us!
Now that that’s done, we just have to double it the next day….
I was a little nervous about this day. My body crashing after the last time I did Dopey was ringing in the back of my head. Sharon and I had a plan to combat that though; I would build us an aid station and she would bring it to Animal Kingdom so that we could resupply halfway through. Now there was no need to worry about the 20-degree change in temp from beginning to end or worry about carrying too much stuff on us.
It was so cold that we got in the tightest ball that we could and used body heat to warm each other. It was ridiculus!
So everything is going fine once the race started. A couple of us start out with a friend of ours that is injured and let our group sweep us. Still, things are going just great. The same character stops are out in the MK parking lot and we eventually make the turn towards the Magic Kingdom. It’s cold, so I’m bundled up knowing I’ve got a clothing drop in 9 miles.
We go under the train station and there is our cheer team going nuts! Its a large group, so we are all spread out giving hugs to everyone. Then I hear a bunch of people yelling my name and see my wife there crying.
This can’t be good for anyone.
It turns out Ben is feeling really bad and she is worried. She’s also feeling like she is hugely letting me and my group down because the plan for the aid station at Animal Kingdom will not happen now. Two things immediately begin happening. Danielle is reassuring Sharon that we’ll be OK. She’s telling Sharon that as my running wife, she knows what my limits are and will make sure I’m taken care of and will finish. Meanwhile, I’m doing something that I would never have thought in my whole life that I would do.
I strip all the way down to my underwear on Main Street to change into my day clothes.
I was thankful for Danielle to help calm Sharon and I realized the humor in being just in my undies in front of hundreds of people and just had to laugh out loud as I changed. Changing clothes meant that I was going to severely underdressed for a while, but it would hopefully pay off once the sun came up.
People say that they have trouble hitting pockets for good pics in their particular coral. Let me encourage you that you can still get them if are aware of your surroundings. Main Street was packed, but I was able to find about a 3ft pocket for this one. It doesn’t look like I’m by myself like they typically do, but it still turned out good.
They had some good characters back in Fantasyland again, but I was actually thankful that I didn’t need any of them. I set the team back about 5 minutes getting changed and trading things out.
The sun came up at about the same spot that it did the day before. It’s at this point after MK that the course deviates from the half. You go down a service road that cuts straight to Animal Kingdom. Now there is nothing back here, so they will often load this with the best rare characters that you’ll find for the day. Jen and I stopped for the Adventurers Club and then we stopped at a spot where they had the rides from a bunch of retired attractions. Of course, our selfie covers them all up except the sub from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
At the end of the stretch, I see something glorious. It’s the #1 character off of my character hit-list! 38 races, years of going to Disney and I had yet to meet Hades. I was super hyped up about it. Pain and Panic were a great bonus.
Right around the corner was one of the worst things about the course. They set up a water station directly in front of the water treatment plant. I felt bad for the volunteers. It was like they were handing out water and free poop biscuits out there. This was also some symbolism for what we were about to go through. In the next 5 miles here is what happens.
- I’m worn down from hopscotching the team trying to play catchup after character stops.
- One of my best friends on the team, Luke, is hurting bad….and we don’t know why yet.
- Steve is feeling it. Sandra is feeling it. Everyone is feeling it.
- In Animal Kingdom, every photo pass person we ran by was messing with their cameras instead of taking pictures, so the guy known for race photos manages to make it out of the park without a single photo.
- The temperature is cranking and we still have 9 miles left.
Most people consider the ESPN area Purgatory. It’s over a 5k in distance where you are just weaving back and forth and it seems like you never get out of there. The first time I ran it, I stopped for all the characters which broke it up. This time we just barrelled through and it was brutal. Thankfully Beth was in the last stadium to give us a quick cheer and some treats. She was a lifesaver!
Things took another turn as we hit the 35k mark. Luke was definitely sick. We make it through Hollywood Studios which had a chocolate stop….that included candy corn M&Ms? Nothing like leftover Halloween candy in January!
After Hollywood Studios, you take a very small path over to the Boardwalk area. There is a transition that cuts a hard left, declines, and narrows all at once. Poor Sandra takes a spill, but gets up like a trooper and keeps going. At this point, I’m just trying to make sure that we all make it across the finish line alive!
We run across our cheer team again. I love them. They waited for everyone at MK and then picked up and moved to the end to cheer for us again. Cheering is not easy. If someone comes to cheer for you. Thank them, give them a hug and take them out to a meal.
Epcot is hard, but you know that you are close to the end at this point.
I think we are going to make it!!!!!!
We all make it across the finish line and evidently nearly murder this young man in front of us.
The girls and I cry for just a second (I’m secure enough in myself to say it) and then immediately take Luke to the medical tent. Final verdict: Kidney Stone.
The man just ran a marathon with a kidney stone.
I’ve said time and again how much I love this team. They have gotten me through thick and thin. they have been there for me when I needed it, and I hope that I’ve been an encouragement to them when they could use it.
We all went our separate ways, but my personal adventure was not over. Sharon couldn’t make back into Epcot, so I was stranded. I took the time to get a message. (Always get the message after the half or full!) and got on a bus with no line. I don’t even know what resort it took me to. I dropped my location to Sharon’s phone and set on a bench somewhere. I thankfully made it back to my real hotel a bit later.
So that’s it! Another race series in the books! If you are on the fence about doing the challenge, let me encourage you; you can do Dopey if you put your mind to it and train.
I wasn’t supposed to be here.
It’s well known that I will step up to just about any challenge, accomplish it and then I’m off to the next thing. So why am I dumb enough to do the Dopey Challenge twice? It really came down to three things.
- It was the 5th anniversary of Dopey and the 25th of the Marathon. Guaranteed that the medals were going to be top notch.
- I still felt there was a period to put at the end of the sentence to this challenge. I did it two years ago but came out really ill that cost me a trip to California and nearly put me in the hospital. You can read about that adventure HERE
- My friends. I’ll do just about anything for them….as you’ll see at Princess weekend.
The expo was set up differently this year as it was in transition. They were going for the experience of the DL Expos but scaled up to WDW size. Results were mixed at best this time. People reported waiting hours in the rain and cold to get into merch. My tips still are the same: Get there early on day one. merch, bibs, expo. If you hit the expo first, you are wasting some time. Also, go with friends if possible. They make it so much more fun!
The boys of the running team decided that they were going to dress up as 80’s and early 90’s WWF wrestlers. I got roped in later and although I did watch some wrestling and knew everyone as a kid, I didn’t live and die by it, but……I did love GI Joe. So I went as a Sgt Slaughter. It was fun because we all worked on our costumes separately and would tease them to each other, but no one had seen them all until we were together that day. It was a sight once everyone was assembled.
It was so cold that day that it altered several of our costumes. I was in and out of sleeves, Hulk added a layer and Luke… well he still ran in a jacket and shorty shorts.
We had a great time out on the course and became an impromptu photo stop while people waited in lines for the real characters.
Once we made it to the ball we had to stop and fight it out to see who was going to cross the finish line first….
After the brawl, it was a quick distance to the finish line.
I like how it looks like Im getting clocked in the face as we cross the finish. Fitting.
So no costumes today. Just a plain old run. There is typically one good rare character stop at the 10k. Donnie and I decided we would start out up front and get some characters. We see Darkwing and Launchpad which was the rare one from last year. My hopes were dashed that we were going to get anything good for this race. As we are closing in on our second mile, I notice a running cadence of someone and know immediately that it’s my good friend Jeff. We pull alongside of him and we run the rest of the race together. This was such a treat because we haven’t run a race together in about 8 months. Donnie played hopscotch the rest of the race around Jeff and I as he stopped for characters.
I can usually get us some good pockets for pictures and today was no exception. We had a great time catching up and enjoying each others company on the course. He typically gets stopped several times for pics, but not today. I think it was because it was so cold and he was harder to recognize all bundled up.
Jeff is a machine. About the only time I can get him to stop is when the WDW Radio Running cheer team is out. The only other times are for bathroom breaks and that’s mine and Barbs chance to get a character while he catches up.
After seeing the team, it’s a quick stroll around the boardwalk which is my favorite section. I love the scenery. I love the people out cheering. I even love the sound the runners make as they run across the boardwalk. It’s basically perfect.
Before you know, it’s the finish line!
I love that guy.
I find my family after the race and see that Ben is over the very cold temps and is sleeping in his mommy made cocoon.
He would eventually wake up and have a blast at the kids races.
The Disney Half Marathon and Marathon!