I have been more emotional in the past few weeks than I have been in a long time. As it seems we are slowly inching our way out of the COVID crisis, with the light at the end of the tunnel getting brighter every day, I am also barreling headlong into the ten year anniversary of my tumor surgery. Both of these things should be reasons to celebrate. I know deep down there is a part of me that wants to be throwing confetti and popping champagne. But that part of me is buried way deep down under a boulder of emotion so big it sometimes feels like I can’t breathe.
In my quest to clear away this boulder, to find a way to let that part of me that wants to celebrate life and all it has to offer, I have been reading more than ever, and in the process, I came across this quote:
No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear.
C. S. Lewis
Suddenly I had a name for what I was feeling; grief.
I feel grief over the fact that my daughter’s first year of life is enmeshed with all ofl the awfulness of my diagnosis, surgery, and recovery. I feel grief over my damaged facial nerves that make half my face constantly feel like it’s fallen asleep. And I feel grief for the fact that I can’t go back and not be that person who’s faced a health crisis; that the certainty in believing that my body wouldn’t, or couldn’t fail me at such a young age was taken from me.
I have grief for all that has transpired over these past 18 months as well. Like everyone else on the planet, I am grieving all that we didn’t get to do, all the family and friends we didn’t get to see, all the celebrations we didn’t get to have. And most of all, I have grief for the fact that my kids now know what it’s like not to be able to have certainty in their lives.
All this grief has been tumbling around inside me for so long, it’s grown and morphed from tiny little pebbles into one giant boulder. The aforementioned boulder of emotion that sometimes makes me feel like I can’t breathe.
Now that I have a name for my feelings, I can also start to work on dealing with all those feelings and emotions. I can find a place and a space to grieve. But I can also find a place and a space to remember all the good that has happened over the last ten years. The good that has come from the tumor, and the good that has come from our seemingly never ending lockdowns over the past eighteen months. And I’m certain that as I start to see more of the good and less of the grief, the fear and the sadness will start to ebb and the part of me that wants to celebrate this glorious messy life will dawn anew.
It’s hard when things don’t turn out the way you’d hoped they would; when you face defeat, be it big or small, not to feel defeated. My son faced, what felt like to him, a few big defeating moments one day at the start of the school year this year. In the grand scheme of things, these defeats were neither defining, nor were really that big at all. But in his pre-teen, post-COVID, new-normal world, these little bumps on the road seemed like major roadblocks.
While I employed all the usual parenting tactics with him – we talked about why the events had gone the way they had, if there was anything he could have done to prepare himself better, if there was anything he could do to prevent these sorts of things from happening again – it turned out that this wasn’t what he was looking for from me.
That night, as I was saying goodnight, he asked me to sit in his room with him; he wasn’t ready to put these events behind him and he wanted, not platitudes from me, but for me to listen to him as he wallowed in his feelings. And so we sat and talked about how bad it feels when we face defeat, and how it can be hard to move on. But then I asked him:
What is the silver lining?
This is a little trick I’ve been trying to use myself of late; when things don’t go the way I’d hoped, I try to find the silver lining in the situation. So I thought I’d try it out with my son. At first, he told me that there were no silver linings. That the situation, and his feelings about it, were all so bad, that there was no good to be found. But as we kept talking, funnily enough, we did manage to come up with a few little pieces of good, and slowly, the silver lining started to take shape.
Facing defeat is never easy. And whether those defeats are big, or small, it’s hard not to feel defeated and deflated. But perhaps if we start to look for the shreds of good in these defeats, and try to slowly knit these shreds of good together, we can create our very own silver lining.
As the school year has progressed, it’s safe to say that my motto has become “but what’s the silver lining”. It’s a catchphrase I think my kids are getting sick of hearing (as indicated by their eye rolls and other facial expressions). But I’m not! And If there’s one thing I’ll be glad to have taught them it’s that defeats will happen, and they don’t feel great, but that you can always, always, look for the good in the situation; you can always look for the silver lining.
Almost ten years ago, I sat in a doctor’s office with my five month old in her little bucket car seat at my feet and heard the words “They found something. You have a brain tumour”. It’s funny what I don’t remember from that day; I have no idea how or any recollection of how I drove home from the doctor’s office for example. But what I do remember vividly were the cryptic words of the doctor after I pressed her on what my likely outcomes would be: “It’s all possible” she said.
With a prognosis that ranged from you’ll be back to normal in no time to the possibility of paralysis, brain death, or even death, I was sent home to await an appointment with a specialist and eventually a surgery. Unfortunately, in the intervening three weeks it took for me to see the specialist, and four months it took to have the surgery, each day I was forced to face the vast uncertainty of how my life would unfold.
I remember several epic meltdowns during this period in which, through streaming tears and clenched jaws and fists, declaring that I just did not want to go through this. I didn’t want to have to face the surgery, the recovery, ad all that that might entail. That I wanted to go back in time to when I could wake up each morning and not contemplate my own mortality. That simply put, I wanted my OLD life back.
Fortunately, and with more gratitude than I can express in words for our healthcare system, I was placed in the the care of the most talented neurosurgeon, and after a gruelling 12 hour surgery, my tumour was removed, I didn’t suffer any of the “worst case” scenarios, and my healing journey began.
Fast forward to last weekend, when through streaming tears I declared, “I want my OLD life back”.
The irony of my words yesterday is not lost on me.
The “old” life I crave so much is the one I was so terrified of ten years ago.
As our lockdown has been extended for another 2 weeks, and we have been given no promises on when we may regain pieces of our lives as we knew them, the direction our lives will take over the next weeks, months, years, are clouded with uncertainty. Or, to quote my neurologist, “It’s all possible”.
Just like ten years ago, it is so easy to get drawn into the negative possibilities of what could happen over the next few weeks, months, and even years. But instead, perhaps it’s time to start focusing on the good. We’ve had twelve months to slow down. To discover what we really can’t live without (haircuts), and what we can live without (all that business that came in the from of extra activities for the kids and meetings for the adults).
Hopefully as we come out of this season of lockdown and look towards a brighter future as vaccines are rolled out and infection rates come down, we can distill from this past year that which is most essential and build a new, better “normal” for ourselves and our families instead of running back to our old ways of doing things.
Maybe then, ten years from now, we will look back and realize that this “new normal” that we’re all so scared of, isn’t quite as bad as we’re imagining it to be.
If you were to ask me to list my happiest things, after family and friends, of course, my first reaction would be to list the “big” things in life. Travel, whether it’s to a beach two hours from my house, or to a beach that’s a five hour plane ride away, makes me happy. Excursions with the kids, whether it’s to a new part of our city, or to a new city all together makes me happy. And celebrations with family and friends make me happy too. And under the gloom of COVID, thinking about these things seems like a torturous double-edged sword; not only can we not do any of them, we aren’t even sure when we can hope to do them again.
It’s easy then, to fall into the trap of focusing on the doom and gloom. And not at looking at the millions of tiny little happy things that happen every day.
While revelling in, or at least stopping to notice, the small bits of joy in a day aren’t going to do much about the absence of the big happy things we have taken for granted in the past, it does help lift some of the feelings of doom and gloom. And if nothing else, it helps to make the day pass in a slightly more pleasant manner.
As the end of December loomed, and we were placed into yet another lockdown, with school and sports and even outdoor visits taken away from us yet again, my word for the year came to me: Believe. With so much of my “normal” everyday life stripped away, more than ever I needed a word as a touchstone this year, something to ground me in the hope that things will get better.
1. Accept (something) as true; feel sure of the truth of, without absolute certainty.
2. Hold (something) as an opinion; think or suppose.
3. To have a firm conviction as to the goodness, efficacy or ability of something.
With today being the last day of January, I’ve had a month to live with my word. And it hasn’t been easy. Little beliefs that I had been clinging to were gradually dispelled of as case counts of the virus increased and restrictions on our movement and activities were correspondingly increased. And it all came to a head yesterday when I felt truly overwhelmed by the sadness of the reality to which we keep waking up. The irony that it is Groundhog day here on Tuesday is not lost on me.
But I digress. This morning, I woke up to an email announcing the start of the #The100DayProject. It was just what I needed to read this morning; I needed a call to action; something to stir me out of my doldrums and get me excited about what is to come when lockdown will inevitably come to an end and some form of normalcy will resume.
And so, welcome to Day 1 of my 100 Days of Disney quotes:
Why Disney quotes for 100 days? Well . . . I have been working on a project with the kids since the start of the year – every school day, we start the day by copying a quote into a notebook and illustrating the quote with chalk pastels while we talk about the quote. I started this project so that the kids could have a tangible record of the kinds of words and ideas and people that are most important to me. My hope is that they can refer back to their books when they need words of comfort, or inspiration, or wisdom. And that they will remember the cozy mornings we spent together in lockdown creating these books.
Anyway, this little project with the kids has reinforced for me my belief in the power of words. And that power, combined with the magic of Disney, surely will be the light and inspiration I need to climb out of the darkness of this particular winter and into a new season, in every sense of the word.
Everything about this year has been “different”. My kids remind me of this last least once day day. Usually in the form of a series of groans and grumbles followed by “But everything is just so . . . different”, where the word different is most definitely being used as a synonym for “bad”.
Yesterday, as both kids participated in virtual school, I decorated the house for Christmas. When they came down the stairs for their lunch break both kids were at first filled with excitement with their first real signs of Christmas.
It took a few minutes.
And then I heard it.
“Christmas is going to be so different this year”.
My reaction was swift and snappy: “DIFFERENT DOESN’T MEAN BAD”.
Since then I’ve been thinking about my reaction. As we entered a new round of lockdown where we live, different has meant my skating with my little one in the morning before school at the rink we created in our backyard instead of ferrying her to the actual rink for 7am each day. Different has meant family dinners followed by movies each night because homework is done right after school since there are no after school activities. Different has meant long family walks on the weekend, exploring trails and parks near our home that we’ve never had time to fully enjoy before since there are no weekend activities to rush out to. As far as I’m concerned, different this month has been quite enjoyable.
Of course, different has also meant visiting family is either virtual or outdoors and socially distanced – which isn’t the most fun in as we enter winter. And different is going to mean changing some of our Christmas traditions.
But none of these changes are inherently bad. They’re just . . . different.
What I hope, after this month when the differences in our current COVID-controlled lives are more starkly apparent than at any other time in the year as compared to our pre-COVID lives, is that my kids develop, if not a love for things being different, at least a deep understanding that different doesn’t mean bad.
“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good”
– John Stienbeck
I have always been drawn to the concept of perfection; the idea that something can be so good it is beyond reproach or criticism. Which is somewhat ironic as my fear never being able to achieve perfection in my life has lead me to spent a good portion of my life in, shall we say, less than perfect states.
The single clearest example of this is my “office” space in our house. When we renovated the basement, years ago now, I created a tiny office space for myself. This was meant to be a place for me to “create” – aka indulge in my crafty tendencies in a way that wouldn’t create a giant mess in a more visible area of the house. What my office actually became was a sort of dumping ground / graveyard for the detritus of our daily lives. My desk is generally scattered with old invoices, random items of clothing that need repair, a half finished sewing project of mine, the drawers filled with old tech that will certainly never be touched again . . . you get the idea.
However, the one critical item that does reside in my office is our desktop computer. The big screen, which takes up significant real estate on my desk, a modern relic of days gone past, when the idea of everyone in house having their own laptops was a laughable idea.
And then came COVID.
And with it the disappearance of all our available laptops into kids rooms and the Husband’s desk, forcing me to do all my “work” from the hoarder’s haven that my office had become. I have lived amongst the mess for months now. While there had been a few half hearted attempts to clean up along the way, for the most part, things remained, well, a mess.
Until last weekend. When I decided that I wanted to feel good when I came to get my work done. That I wanted to be surrounded by things that I love. And that I no longer wanted to live in mess. And that maybe my mindset would shift just a little bit if this little room of my own was in order.
And so I got to work. I actually put photos in the picture frames that have been stacked on the floor for years. And I even went so far as to hang them all on the wall. Having visual reminders of the things that make me happiest – family photos from our most loved trips and landscape photos of the places I love most – puts a smile on my face every time I come in this room. I cleaned everything up and I cleaned out everything that needed to go. And in this process, I came across a poster I had purchased years ago at the One of a Kind Craft Sale. When I saw it, I knew I HAD to have it. And then promptly shoved it away, forgotten about until now, as it is prominently hung beside my computer where I have no option other than to have it constantly in my peripheral vision:
These past few months have been a crash course in learning to let go of all of my delusions of perfection. I’ve been learning that my true joy doesn’t come from striving to be beyond reproach or criticism from others. It comes from doing what I love and creating a life that I love. And this was made oh so evident to me as I undertook this little office cleaning project. So now that I don’t have to be perfect, I can be good. And that feels a WHOLE lot better.
a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable
desire or be curious to know something;
Wonder was the word I chose for my One Little Word this year. I’ve chose a word for the year every year for the past few years, using words like Joy, and Love, and Magic as guiding lights for how I want to move through the year, and my reasons for choosing Wonder for this year were not different. I wanted to focus on wondering what the best case scenarios could be when faced with uncertainty or unpleasant situations instead of defaulting to my usual way of solving problems that involves creating lists of all the possible worst case scenarios and trying to mitigate them all. I also wanted to use my word as motivation to try new things, create new things … think new things.
Wonder bubbled along in the background of my life for the first few months of the year. I wondered about lots of things, big and small, like how on earth I was going to find a way to enjoy all the driving to and from school and activities (the answer was podcasts and audiobooks), and if I could start training in January and still be ready for the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend (I did train, and I was ready).
And then … COVID.
All of a sudden my wondering stopped being so trivial as we all were forced to navigate through life in lock down with the kids in homeschool and the Husband all of a sudden working from home. Like everyone else I wondered if we had enough toilet paper, enough food in the pantry, enough bandwidth in our wifi to support all of us at home. I wondered if we would all stay healthy, and what things I could do to ensure that we could stay as healthy as possible. And most of all, I wondered when things would go back to “normal”.
But as these past few months have ticked by, and lockdown has lifted, and things are returning to a new kind of normal, Wonder has taken on a much different tone for me.
Wonder has become less of a question of survival, and more of a soft invitation to try. I am finding that by “wondering” if I can do something, or try something, or experiment with something new, the pressure to succeed at whatever it is I am attempting is somehow lifted; while I can still have doubts about whatever it is I’m attempting, I can still make room to be curious and try.
And best of all, I am finding, that the more I open myself up to wondering, the more Wonder I find in my life.
And as if just to prove a point, as I embarked on a new workout regime yesterday that I had been wondering about for a while now, I was struck with Wonder at the beautiful sunrise that graced the skies above me.
Exactly how it is that the school year is just about over is baffling to me. Maybe its because spring never really happened here this year and the transition to summer is coming rather abruptly. Or maybe it’s simply due to the fact that I’m getting older and time is moving faster. Regardless, the imminent end to my kids’ school year has forced me to start thinking about our plans for the summer.
As much as I want to plan the most magical wondrous summer filled with excitement at every turn, I also realize, that after a year filled with busy-ness, albeit the best kind of busy-ness, we are all ready to slow down and really take a break from it all.
Rather than get wrapped up in planning each day of the break, I stripped my summer planning back to the very basics; what do I most want to do with my kids in the summers that I have left with them as “kids” AND what do the kids most want to do in their precious summer?
So what is it that I most want to do with my kids in the summers that I have left with them as “kids”? I want to teach them – teach them how amazing it is to have a love of reading, teach them how to take on more and more responsibility, teach them how to cook on their own, teach them how to grow things in the garden, teach them how to work towards their goals in sports, and of course teach them that hard work will, in the end, always pay off.
I also want to show them that life can be magical – that magic can be found in the routines of everyday life, AND that life can have magical surprises waiting for you when you least expect them.
What do the kids most want to do this summer? Well, that was a question only the kids could answer. So we sat down and compiled a list of everything they wanted to do this summer. This is actually an activity we do before every major school break. All of our lists are in one notebook, and it’s fun to see how the lists change as the seasons change, and as the kids change and grow up.
Some highlights from the list this for this summer:
Create a family band and make a song together
See the new Toy Story movie
Go on a road trip
Because I am a planner at heart, and feel ever so much better when I have a plan in place, I’ve come up with a way that I think will help us get everything we all want out of this summer.
So here’s how we’re going to get it all in. Each week will follow the same format.
Kids Make Dinner Tuesday
Field Trip Wednesday
Movie Mondays can happen either at a movie theatre, or in our house. Since movies also aren’t a huge time commitment, the kids will plan and make shopping lists, and likely even shop, for the items they need for the dinner they will be making on Tuesday.
Kids Make Dinner Tuesdays is fun for everyone; the kids get to choose foods they really want to eat and/or make, they learn to work together and they learn to cook. These days also often include the making of menus, and of course, setting the table and helping with the dishes. And of course, I get to teach them what I know about cooking and baking.
Field Trip Wednesdays, Adventure Thursdays, and Fun Fridays are how I am able to work in the “magic” part of the summer. Field trips can be educational (to the museum, the art gallery, or other cultural institutions) or they can be fun (amusement or water parks, or other fun destinations around the city). Adventures can be to explore new parts of the city (like Underpass Park, or the Harry Potter Store). And Fun Friday . . .well that can involve anything from a trip to a new ice cream store, to sleepovers to an amusement park visit, to creating that family band and writing a song together . . .
What I most love about this kind of schedule is that it can be changed on the fly (the kids don’t find out about what we are going to do on Wednesdays, Thursdays or Fridays until that morning), so I can plan according to how we’re feeling, the weather, or spur of the moment plans with friends. Some weeks can be busier. And others can be more relaxed.
I started this all by talking about how much I want to teach the kids this summer – and so far all I’ve talked about is having fun – not that teaching can’t be fun . . . but . . .
As the kids get older, I want them to take on more responsibility and to be held accountable for the things they do. Which means, that before we have screen time, or other forms of play time in a day, the kids are expected to compete a certain number of “must-dos” each morning. These include getting dressed and ready for the day, making their bed, and reading a novel for 30 minutes (I’ll talk more about our summer reading plans in a later post). I have found it is far easier to get all the chores done before screens make an appearance than to try and take the screens away when it’s time to get ready for the day.
And now that my plans are in place, I can relax and start enjoying what I’m certain is going to be our best summer yet! (Which is fortuitous as one kid is already done school for the year, and the other one is done tomorrow!!).
It’s no secret – I LOVE runDisney races! There are a million reasons why the Disney runs are so magical – the amazing community of runners in the races, the on-course entertainment, and all the fun and excitement surrounding the races just to name a few. And there are a million other runDisney fanatics that share my view – there’s SO much you can read and SO many communities you can join online focused on Disney runs.
But that being said, before I hit the starting line for my first runDisney event, even after all the reading and researching and community-joining that I had done, I still had loads of questions running through my mind. And so, as the runDisney race season starts up again for the new year, I thought I’d make a little list of things I wish I had known before my first race to maybe help any other newbies to the runDisney community at large before their first race!
1. You DON’T have to wear a costume
When you look up runDisney events, you’re going to see photo after photo of absolutely amazing costumes people put together for their runDisney events. There are whole communities dedicated to costuming for runs (yes, I’ve joined a few of them). And it can seem like you absolutely need to have a costume if you’re going to do a run at Disney.
I’ll never forget getting to my corral for my first ever run and seeing all the amazing costumes and feeling totally and completely underdressed! (I mean one woman was fully decked out in a crocodile costume – and she still ran faster than me!)
BUT, what I’ve learned along the way, is that, while loads of people love to dress up for their run, loads of people like to just wear their favourite running clothes.
I’ve also learned that there’s a happy medium too . . . a fun tank from vendors at the the run expo, like Raw Threads, or a cute skirt from Sparkle Skirts or Sparkle Athletic make for a fantastic and comfortable running outfit. Add in a big bow or cute headband – like the ones at Sparkly Soul to complete your “costume” (I still don’t know how people run in Mickey/Minnie ears – so I’m partial to a big bow I can clip in on top of my ponytail that I know will stay put for the whole race).
2. Stop to Take Photos Along the Way – and Have YOUR Photo Taken (and don’t be alarmed if some of the photos aren’t the most flattering) – and Splurge and get PhotoPass
One of the fun parts about Disney races is that you get to see “behind the scenes” as it were of some of the parks. AND you get to see loads of characters that aren’t always out and about in the parks. So stop and take photos – these are often the photos my family (the kids) like best.
And while we’re on the topic of photos, don’t forget to stop and have photos taken of yourself too. While there are often long lines for the character photo-ops along the course, it can still be fun to stop and pose with your favourite Disney friend – the wait can be a nice way to take a break from all the running. However, there are also tons of photographers along the course who snap away at all the runners that pass them by. Don’t forget to smile or wave as you pass by them. But don’t be alarmed if these aren’t the most glamorous shots you’ll ever see of yourself.
I know it’s not exactly cheap – but if you can swing it – splurge and get the PhotoPass. It will allow you to download ALL your photos from the race(s) you do for free, not to mention any other photos you take while you’re on Disney property. Trust me, you’re going to end up wanting to buy ALL your photos anyway. – and when you see the cost of a single photo download, you’ll be SUPER happy you bought the PhotoPass.
So used to driving under this sign . . . NOT running under it!
My favourite view of all happens when you run down Main Street.
Best photo op of the entire Princess Half!
My running buddy and I HAD to stop to take photos here!
3. Don’t Worry about Personal Bests at a Disney Run
Those who know me know that I can be just a tad bit competitive. So the idea of running a race for “fun” and not to try and earn a personal best just doesn’t see right to me. BUT, Disney is NOT the place to try for personal bests. Why??? Well, there’s so much to take in while you’re running, it’s nice to actually take it all in, instead of focusing on running as fast as you can. And as I mentioned above (see 2. Stop to Take Photos Along the Way – and Have YOUR Photo Taken) – it’s hard to run your best race if you’re slowing down to take photos or to have your photo taken!
But, it’s also important to keep in mind that since the races go THROUGH the parks, at times the race course gets quite narrow. Which means everyone has to slow down to make it through the tight spots – case in point – during the Princess Half, everyone gets to run trough the castle . . .not exactly the widest thoroughfare! So, even if you have the best of intentions, you may find yourself running into some unexpected magical obstacles that prevent you from getting that personal best.
4. Get to the Race Early – and Be Prepared to Walk a LONG Way to Get to Your Corral
I know – the runDinsey events start an an ungodly hour of the morning. And when you factor in travel time, and the time it takes to get to your corral, chances are, you’re going to be waking up somewhere close to 3:30 or 4 in the morning on race day.
I’ll be honest, I was prepared to wake up early, to leave my hotel early, and to get to the race early. And I did.
But what I hadn’t factored into my plan was the (seemingly) never-ending walk to get to the corrals and the sheer amount of time it took to get there.
On reflection, the walk to the corral was a nice warm-up, and since the walk there took so long, I didn’t end up waiting for ages in my corral. But, it also meant that I wasn’t at the front of the corral either (which is super important for some runners). So take that into consideration when you’re setting up your wake-up and departure times for race morning!
5. The Washroom Situation (See Also #4 – Get to the Race Early)
runDisney events are REALLY popular. Which means there are a LOT of runners in each race. Which means that there are REALLY long lines for the portable washrooms at the start of the race. Which means, factor in an extra 15-20 minutes to get in that last minute before-race bathroom break!
While there are ample portable washrooms around the courses, the BEST advice my friend and veteran runDisney runner gave me was . . . . use the restrooms in the park! During last year’s Princess Half, we ran into the bathrooms at the entrance to the Magic Kingdom. Let’s just say it was a MUCH more pleasant experience than having to use the portable washrooms . . .
6. The VIP Race Retreat is Worth Every Penny
I signed up for the Race Retreat before last year’s Princess Half. I had previously signed up for it at the Disneyland Tinkerbell Half Marathon weekend – and the ability to access the merchandise area there early was a godsend. For the Princess Half, though, I was motivated to sign up for it because I had signed the Husband and my kids up for the Platinum ChEAR Squad package (so they could be entertained and comfortable while waiting for me to finish the race) and I wanted to be able to join them in the tent after.
BUT . . . the SINGLE BEST PART about the Race Retreat is . . . the “Private Restrooms”. As a Race Retreat ticket holder you have access to the hospitality tent before the race (a great place to pick up a quick snack before the run) and just outside the hospitality tent . . . a series of portable restrooms reserved only for Race Retreat-ers. Meaning the wait to use a washroom was negligible, versus significant lines at the portable washrooms everywhere else before the start line.
I will say though, it was very nice after the race to be able to grab a drink and a snack, and have a place to sit down and re-group before getting on with the rest of the day.
And . . . the characters onsite were pretty neat too!
7. Take Your Own Music
I know, I know. RunDisney says not to use earphones while running in their races so you can hear course announcements as you’re running. Which totally makes sense. Except for the fact that large parts of the longer runs take place on the highway – yup – long stretches of pretty boring scenery – with little to keep you entertained other than then character sightings and checking out other runners’ costumes.
So, my runDisney buddy and I decided to run with just one earbud in – that way we could listen to the music we wanted to hear / needed to hear to keep us motivated – but we were also able to hear any course announcements – and of course to chat with each other!
8. Track Your Distance on Your Phone / Watch
While there are mile markers along the way for most of the races, during the Disneyland Tinkerbell 10k, there was only one 5k marker along the way. I had neglected to set any sort of distance tracker on my phone/watch for that race, so I had NO idea, once I was past the half way mark, how much further I had to run.
That being said, even with all the mile markers along the runs, it is nice, between miles, to know just how far you need have let to go to get to the next one – especially in the later part of the race!
9. Be Prepared for the Weather
Running in Florida can mean running through all different kids of weather – and it’s best to be prepared for any eventuality!
Obviously that means planning for high temperatures as well as the cooler temperatures that can hit, especially for the races in January and February. (Layers are your friend – and all the layers you discard along the way get donated to local charities.)
But it also means planning for the temperature changes WHILE you’re running the race. Even though the races start off in the dark, by the time you’re done running, hopefully the sun will be shining, and you may wish you had a hat or sunglasses to shade your eyes from the sun!
And of course, it means planning for chafing and blistering. I honestly never thought chafing would be a concern of mine . . . but heed the warnings you’ll see from veteran racers – use the anti-chafing product that you like best. You’ll be glad you did. And as for blisters – I found that double layer socks worked wonders in my shoes! I can run for miles without a single foot issue!
That being said, if you do happen to have a chafing or blistering issue along the run, there are lots of first aid stations along the way to help!
10. Spend Some Time Post-Race in the Parks WITH Your New Medal(s)
It’s true – the best way to recover after a long run is to walk – and what better way to get in a slow, leisurely recovery walk, than to walk around the park wearing your new hardware. Don’t forget to get lots of pictures of you wearing your medals (to make the MOST of your PhotoPass+ purchase) and lots of pics of your medals in front of your favourite Disney landmarks (like the Castle).
Oh, and eat ALL the food while you’re walking the parks too . . . post-race calories don’t count, so have that churro, get that popcorn, savour that Mickey ice cream. You deserve it!
Well, that’s all the tips I have for now. I hope to see you out on a runDisney race course soon – and I hope you love all your runDisney events just as much as I do!