This weekend marks the last long training run en route to the Castle! Together, we share our thoughts on prepping for the final run and how it turned out. And as we post this, we are eagerly, excitedly and nervously looking ahead to next weekend:
THE BEFORE by Princess Alana
From all of the running boards, I’ve noticed that many runners get really psyched up for their weekly long run. And I can finally see why. Today, Jodi and I are about to do our last long run together before our big day at Disney World next weekend! And as I am racing around the house, getting one daughter off to morning hockey practice, folding laundry that was left in the dryer, locking down my 2 year old who is in full-on destroy mode, and simultaneously getting ready to fly out the door to first drive 90 minutes and then run 16K, I can’t help but take just one moment to laugh in astonishment at how my life has changed this past year.
Good thing that it isn’t the night before your big run that really matters. I tried to go right to bed after attending a wonderful birthday party with my oldest. So, we hit the sack at about the same time. Literally, I was tossing and turning all night long. I was totally psyching myself up (or out) for the big run – my longest to date.
You see, Jodi and I have done this a bit backward. Usually, training plans have you tapering at this point while we are about to embark on a 10 miler. While we both tried our hardest to stick to training plans, life intervened in a big way. Poor Jodi has done everything right with her training, only to be plagued by a foot injury and sidelined for a month. She was a total trooper and maintained her fitness with cross training and has recently worked herself back up in milleage. She doesn’t want to taper when she is just getting her groove back and, for her, this run is mental preparation more than anything as she was already trained up to the full distance pre-injury.
For me, while it is mental, it’s physical too. This will be my longest run yet. I could have done so much more training throughout the year and leading up to this race – but I realized something that really was my goal all along. When I started running, I wanted to find balance in my life, be consistent with my running and become healthier. I have done all of these things. So while the flu bug or a special family get-away or a busy work week may have tweaked my training plan now and then, I have managed to increase my milleage without sacrificing my family time.
So wish us luck today as we are about to embark on our culminating training run. And, if you are in the Kingston area and perhaps see a sparkle skirt run by – that just may be us – pounding the pavement as Princesses in Training!
THE AFTER by Princess Jodi
Our final training run had a happily ever after ending! We did it!
The last few weeks of my life could pretty much be called “the 3-week half-marathon training plan”. After losing a month and returning to running with band-aid fixes while still nursing an injury, I have pretty much had 3 weeks to train back up. My sports doctor promised that all I would need was 2 good weeks of running to get here, but that was a little difficult to believe at the time.
A month ago I couldn’t even walk without limping. I was not just sidelined; I was having a hard time even getting around. It wasn’t an injury that seems invisible so long as you aren’t running – it made itself known every day. Walking through the grocery store felt like a marathon outing. Driving, which required my cranky foot to take a starring role, was painful. Even getting up and down stairs took twice as long as my achy and swollen foot protested the entire way.
I had many people ask me about my upcoming race with concern and skepticism. Perhaps this was understandable. I wasn’t exactly in the best shape for someone about to run a half-marathon. Some people went so far as to tell me it was clearly not going to happen and say I should start the deferral process. My message to them? You don’t know me very well. Quitting was never, for one minute, even a consideration. Sure, that would have been the easy thing. I had a perfectly justifiable excuse to back away from my goal. But you know what? I don’t do excuses. I have literally invested blood, sweat and tears into this race. There is no way I wouldn’t see it through.
When I was first cleared to run again, and every step felt shaky and even a 6K run felt like a challenge, I had a hard time looking ahead to my new short term goal – which was to train back up to 10 miles (where many half-marathon plans culminate) before the Princess. I needed a smart and responsible yet aggressive plan. I knew that trying to train beyond 10 miles with the limited time I had was just asking for re-injury or a new injury. And I just hoped that if I could get that far, my body would remember the rest. But even climbing back to 16.1K felt next to impossible at times. I wasn’t sure it could be done with my foot in one piece. After anxiously looking ahead all year to the Princess, I suddenly needed time to slow down. It felt like last minute cramming for an exam except I wasn’t cramming because I had slacked off – I had done the homework.
Today as Alana and I set off on our run, knowing we both had to run at our own paces but taking comfort in being out there at the same time and on the same path, I thought back to all of my training runs over the last year. The soggy and windy spring training where I hit 10K for the first time, and the humidity of summer where I trained hard and never let up, increasing distance while temperatures soared. I thought back to the amazing runs of the fall which were all so enjoyable after the heat of the summer – when my splits kept dropping and mileage kept increasing and I literally felt like I was flying at times. I thought back to sitting in a wheelchair, unable to walk after my cortisone shot a month ago, desperate to do or try anything so that I could run this race that I have trained so hard for. I thought about the people who told me I couldn’t do it. And I thought about the people who cheered me on as I did.
You see, my training has had a bit of everything – the impossible goal, the thrill of victories (big and small), the agony of injury, the rise, the fall, the comeback. In the end, running never takes more than it gives back. Today, as I hit 16.1K feeling strong, I finished my run with the satisfaction of knowing I have done everything I can.
From here, it will take faith, trust and pixie dust. We have the faith and trust – in ourselves and in each other. As for the pixie dust? Well, luckily for us, this dream race of ours, which started as a funny conversation late one night over a year ago, takes place in Disney World – the most magical place on earth. We got this.