Rediscovering running – in the USA

Karyn – 2017

For anyone who has spent anytime pounding the pavement with me over the last year, they would know (professed loudly and often), that I had lost the love of running. Injuries, work changes, teenage son issues had all left me without my usual running mojo.
So, I was looking for something to break this - and a holiday to the US - including chasing a couple of marathons seemed to be a good idea.
I would love to say that the booking of the trip and the forking over the cash for the runs turned my mindset around immediately - but that would be a lie. While I did train - even managed to fit a few back to back weekend runs in, unfortunately I continued to hate (is that too harsh a word?) running!
Move forward to early January, and we had landed in the US for the start of a 5 1/2 week holiday - a mix of road trip and plane zigzags across the country! The holiday took us to Orlando, LA, Las Vegas, Idaho, Seattle, San Antonio, Dallas and New Orleans. With runs scheduled for Orlando, LA and New Orleans.
First stop was Orlando - and we headed out towards the coast for a 5km run along Clearwater Beach, Florida. The drive was a four hour round trip, but hey what's that when it comes to the medal?? 🙂
Funnily enough, having done lots of runs in Australia, I had never seen smokers smoking right before doing up their laces to take on the 5km. Well, on that morning, I saw a whole group! Interesting to say the least.
The run was uneventful - although along the beach, so for me, always means a risk of leaving with a broken ankle. Thankfully that didn't happen and we managed to finish strongly and promptly made our way to Hooters to devour the chicken wings. Oh and my first US medal had me was so big and so heavy! Now, I don't want to make any disparaging comments about runs in Australia, but the City to Bay Committee could take notice!!
Next up was the Expo to pick up our bibs for the DisneyWorld Marathon Weekend.
My mate Jo was doing the 10km, and her husband, Andrew, and I had decided to take on the four in four challenge - a 5km, 10km, 21.1km and 42.2km over four days.
With such big events, there was a need to get into the race corrals really early...which meant that we needed to be out the door by 3.45am each day! And it was freezing! The days had been lovely in the lead up - 3.45am, not so much!
First up was the 5km event - and the night before Andrew asked me what time I usually run a 5km in. Um, I have never run a 5km event...but surely I could do sub 30mins? Well, with 10,000 people running, the sub 30mins wasn't to be - I think I ran another km just weaving around people. But it was such a great event - lots of water stations, but more importantly lots of cool Disney Characters out and about for people to get their pictures with. I was really surprised, and impressed, by the number of people who were not interested in times, rather they were interested in enjoying the event. These are my kind of people!!
The next day, we were up bright and early again for the 10km run - this time Jo joined us on the run, and we had agreed that we would all run together. It was a slower pace than either Andrew and I usually run, but again the experience was great - and I found it really nice to not have to worry about my run, rather focus on getting my mate over the line. The run was similar to the 5km, but of course with an added 5kms it meant we got to see more of the park - and running at sunrise - beautiful! 
Everyone had been watching the weather since Friday morning, with predictions of a major thunder and lightning storm expected to hit Orlando early Saturday morning. People were wondering what would happen - surely they wouldn't cancel the run, what happens to our medals! I was amused that medals was the focus, when the lightning strikes in Orlando are known to be deadly. It really was about the bling for some people!
At about 7pm Friday night, we got the email that everyone was dreading - the 21.1km run was canceled due to the expected weather and the need to ensure runner safety. So the question was - do we just take a day off, and claim our medals anyway, or do we still clock the kms - once the storm had passed? We decided to still run! And so did lots of other people.
At 7am the next morning there was a steady stream of runners running the loop of Disney Sports Resorts - a 1.6km loop that they would have to run way too many times! Andrew and I had devised a two loop run, which meant that we didn't have to go crazy running the same thing 13 times...but we still passed everyone, and therefore would feel part of the group. 
On this run, we had heat and humidity, thunder, lightning and hard heavy rain - but we got it done, so we could rightly take our medals when given the next day!
And then the marathon! Another early start mixed with 3 degree temps and arctic winds...I can honestly say, I have never been colder in my life. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to run after being frozen in a corral for 1.5 hours, but finally it was time. 26,000 people did the marathon - which meant that unless you were in corral one, you were not getting a PB! On a plus, you were never alone on the course. On a negative, having to dodge and weave around people even at the 40km mark was tiring. The run took us through three of the DisneyWorld parks - Animal Kingdom, Magical Kingdom and Epcot and it was pretty spectacular.
I had worn an Indigenous Marathon Project top and as a result spoke to a few Aussie's who were also running the marathon - that was really lovely and lifted the spirits a bit. 
Once we finally got over the line, it was a mix of happiness and my body telling me never to run that much conservatively again! I was going to say something about that distance not being much for some of you, but at the end of the day - your achievements are great - but so are mine, and for me, that was a big deal! I was pretty chuffed with myself, if I allow myself to admit it 🙂
And the medals!!
Usually, I give myself a week off running after a marathon, but we had a 10km and half marathon the following weekend, so I managed to push a few runs out during the following week - just to make sure that I could!
The Star Wars Rebel Challenge was a two day event - 10kms and 21.1kms over two days at Disneyland. Unfortunately I had come down with a chest cold after the marathon, so wasn't feeling great going into this event. 
Andrew and I finished the 10km in just over an hour - with me struggling to breath at the end and wondering how I was going to run the half marathon the next day. Thankfully I had already decided to run with Jo, so I didn't have to worry about a time too much - it was again, just about her getting through.
I didn't really love the course for this one - there was some in the park, but lots out on the roads surrounding Disneyland. One particularly cool bit though was a line up of storm troopers at the 18 mark.
There was a need for lots of support for Jo in this run, so I was able to once again focus on something other than me! But, it was during this run that I decided that when I got back to Adelaide that I would like to focus on my own running for a bit - which I am going to take as the first real step to my mindset changing...was I liking running again??
Once again, the medals for this event were amazing! I was starting to think about excess baggage just to get my medals and t-shirts home! 
The last event of the holiday - two days before I jumped on the plane back home, saw us take on the New Orleans marathon. I was feeling great - had finally gotten rid of the cold and was running well in all my training runs. But alas, this run wasn't for me - this one was me playing support to Jo in her first marathon. Andrew was hoping for a 3.30 finish (he ended up with 3.36), but our goal was to stay in front of the bus! 
I am not going to lie - there were times during the run when I wanted to just pick up some speed, but I pushed this aside and we worked through the heat, sore legs, cramps, swollen fingers...on the way to Jo completing her first marathon! A long way in front of the bus.  And I was so proud of her, that I forgot that I had finished it too! 
The medal and the finishers jacket were just a reminder that I had in fact done the marathon - not in a fast time, but it gave me something more than let me be there for a mate who has discovered the love of running.
And as a result I re-discovered it...and have a running goal in mind for 2017...and put the wheels in motion by getting off the plane on Thursday night and running in the heat with the Saturday morning group...! Some would call that crazy...I am going with determined! 

Karyn runs and trains with Running Domain

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