4 years ago… 

I just love these yearly reminders from Facebook. Mostly because I love to see how the girls have grown. But most recently… I have seen how I have grown as a runner. This popped up on my feed the other day and I couldn’t help but reflect and share. 
Wow… 4 years ago we signed up for our first “long” race distance (and 2nd race weekend) at Walt Disney World. 4 years ago that distance looked so terrifying. Running the Tower of Terror 10 miler seemed somewhat appropriate. It was the start of #teamspatulas with Christina Groom and Anthony Hamedl that would be later also become #teamsnugglyducklings 

Now… 4 years later… 12 race weekends later… we just finished our 7th (and 6th – Kevin Collins) RunDisney half marathon (with a marathon thrown in there). The 10 mile distance no longer terrifies me. In fact that’s usually just after I have hit my groove. I am so proud of the runners Kevin and I have become these last 4 years. The reasons why we run now are completely different. I will be forever grateful to that 10-miler giving us reason to keep moving forward through 2013 and beyond! I just wish we could run it again and really enjoy that amazing after party!  


A little reminder from 2016…

** This little memory popped up as I was preparing to run the 2017 Dark Side Challenge. As I read what I wrote a year ago after last years challenge, I have discovered how much I have changed as a runner in the last year. I still need to write about my Princess Half Marathon experience. But it’s nice to see where I was and where I am now. So now I give you…

1 year ago… April 20, 2016:

We finally had a moment to look at our pace each mile for the half this weekend… And I am still learning a lot about myself as a runner. And tonight I see… the self doubt that I put on myself is my greatest enemy. Had we not stopped and spent the 13 extra minutes to get these pictures we might have PR’d (3:05 Star Wars Light Side 2015) this race. I hadn’t really trained for these races since the marathon. I allowed my knee and it band to rest. These past 3 months I have worried about my ability to complete this challenge. I allowed my own personal doubt control me. But when it comes down to the big day… I’m so glad I put that to the side and just ran! And even though we ran a 3:20 half… I’m also kind of glad that we took these 13 minutes to get these pictures. Because… If you aren’t having fun, why do it?! I’ll get my sub 3:00 Disney half time. One day. It’s just Sunday was not that day. 
I don’t have any races in my future. Due to the major changes in Wine and Dine, there will be no races for us in November. But I am so looking forward to January. I am determined to take on the Full one more time. This time making sure I can stop and get that beer!

2 more weeks… 

Only 2 more weeks of this… doing something I love to do… it will be a long 8 months till I get back to this exact spot. But instead of being sad… I see these next 8 months filled with a passion and a drive I don’t think I have ever possessed. I’ve got my eye on 2 prizes. And I’m gonna work my ass off to make sure I give everything I’ve got to be seriously considered… so I can walk away at the end of this time… no matter the outcome… I did my absolute best! #lifeasanactor

My 17th starting line… 

I feel like I have said this before. Probably written somewhere on my blog. But everyone has a reason for stepping up to a starting line. Something that propels them to the finish. I have stepped up to the starting line 16 times. And when I think about it… I have had 16 different reasons that propelled me on each of those days. 
5 years ago my first reason was to just show myself that I could climb that mountain I had looked at for so many years. Then it was to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. Followed by a 10 mile race to pretty much give the middle finger to each of the prior 10 months of 2013. To be then given the simple purpose to Keep Moving Forward. After that day… each reason got a little more personal. A little more meaningful. 
I have never run just for fun. I have run to prove something. Usually to myself. I run to remind myself of something. Usually to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I’ve stepped up to the starting line 16 times… each time with butterflies in my stomach. I have been nervous. Excited. Determined. Terrified. All over the distance I was about to take on and what it meant to me to get to that finish. 
I’ve stepped up to those starting lines not trained and I’ve stepped up completely trained. I’ve stepped up to those starting lines with enough emotional baggage to go to Europe. I’ve stepped up in pain. And after the start… I’ve run. I’ve walked. I’ve run/ walked. I’ve laughed. I’ve cried. I’ve danced. I’ve prancercized. I have sung. I have quoted lines. I’ve shouted out about bathrooms, speed bumps, and huge water puddles. I have sped through a crowd like a Jedi on a Speeder Bike. I’ve read hundreds of signs. Thanked countless volunteers. Stood next to a vulture. Rode a rollercoaster. Gave the Free Hugs guy a hug. Twice. I have taken thousands of pictures. And I have crossed the finish line 16 times. 
But this time on Sunday. Time 17… this time is different. 
You see… this time I will run without Kevin. For the first time since my first race I will not be running with my running partner. As much as I love to say I am the driving force in our team… I see now… I realize… he is the one always holding my hand, offering me a smile, calming my nerves, and pushing my insecurities away. 
And for someone who is already feeling like they are stepping up to the starting line feeling incredibly under prepared. Like a kid that has sort of shown up for class and has somewhat studied to take the final exam. I feel even more lost because he won’t be there. 
I am in uncharted territory and all because I’m running with a friend. With someone whom I have never met. We have talked and become friends over these last 3 years thanks to social media and the running community. We have cheered each other on during many races. We have run “together” for the same races at the same time. Just with many miles in between us. And for the both of us we have always kept moving forward… no matter what road life has taken us down. And I couldn’t be more honored to run with her. Run a race I was positive would be my last one to mark off my RunDisney running list. 
And with all that…. I’m still nervous. Insecure in my abilities as a friend. Hoping that (even though we have already bonded over movies, musicals, politics, and more) meeting my quirky behavior will still have her running with me at the end of our journey and not running away from me.  
So… this time. Time 17. My 6th half marathon. I will step up to the starting line with a friend. To thank her for her friendship. For her support. For the first time ever… I will step up with the reason to just have fun. And my biggest hope is that 13.1 miles later we both will have an amazing experience of a lifetime. 

These past few days… 

A lot of “things” have happened this past week. A lot of things that I now feel are out of my control. I feel powerless to make a difference. And I can feel it effecting me… 
So I have turned to Kid President and The West Wing for inspiration. 

I found this image last night after watching the Pilot episode of West Wing for the 10th time since November. And I ask it you… to keep looking into the future. Because there are always things to do. Because “break time” is over… 

Mrs. Landingham… 

Trying to remember to remember… 

When I wake up in the morning before I open my eyes I just pray that it’s just been a nightmare. But as I open my eyes and see all the bins filled with Marcia’s stuff. I know I haven’t been able to escape.

I look to Her stack of Harry Potter books right next to my bed. As if something written in those books will magically pop out to help inspire me to get out of bed. 
I started re-reading Order of the Phoenix. I started it 3 years ago. But life and reading books with the girls got in the way. I am determined to finish it this year. 

Hello… again. 

It’s been a long time since I have blogged over here. I was sort of overcome by 2 kids, taking on a YouTube/ podcast show about traveling at Disney with my friend, and well… life. After we ran the Dark Side Challenge there weren’t any races I was signed up for. 
But then my life changed. 
My mother in law passed away. 
Just like that. Gone. And I struggle each day to find hope. To find a reason to keep going. I find myself in a need to spread love and kindness. Hope and motivation. Inspiration and confidence. 
I thought maybe I should just start a new blog… but then I realized… the whole reason for doing this blog was and is to Keep Moving Forward. 
So… here I go. There will be talks of runs as I am now signed up to run Princess and Star Wars in the next few months. But this will also be my place to keep moving forward…. I hope you will join me. 

Our WDW 26.2 mile journey…

 Well… We did it… And yet… days later I still struggle to find the right emotions of running my first full marathon. 

That Sunday I went through a wide variety of emotions. I feel like every character from Inside Out was in my head. There was joy, sadness, fear, anger, frustration, happiness… I was terrified. I was determined. And in the end I was victorious. 
Yet as I write this and look at my newly acquired medal… It still feels like a dream. Like… did it really happen? I still can’t believe we went 26.2 miles. It doesn’t feel like it. The only thing that constantly reminds we that we did, are the pictures we took with all of the mile markers. All 26 of them. 

Our goal was to go to one park at a time. And then another. 4 parks. 26.2 miles. 7 hours. Yet so much feels like a foggy dream. 
I am far from the “runners high” most runners have after a race. My prior running self included. Yet, it was one of my proudest moments in my life. Right up there with getting married, having kids, and graduating from college. But instead of basking in the glory of my accomplishments, I am deep in thought. It’s not as if I am disappointed in myself. With my performance. My goal was to simply finish… While riding a roller coaster. And I did just that. So why still so reflective?! That I am still trying to figure out. 
I know that if we were further back in the corrals, there is a strong chance we probably would have not made it. Maybe. We wouldn’t have been able to stop as much as we did. We would not have been able to ride that roller coaster. Yes, we technically finished a few hundred yards behind the balloon ladies. But we were safe 2 miles prior to that. 
I had just had a baby 5 months ago. And part of me is mad at myself for not accepting this as a reason. I am also mad at myself… Why couldn’t I give myself credit where credit is due. Maybe it’s because I was struggling with recovery right after the race. I was sore. My knee was killing me. We opened Jungle Book and I was physically (and mentally) struggling. 
To put it nicely… I had my ass handed to me. And I had a constant reminder of that daily. I haven’t felt that way (after a run) in a very long time. Well… Not since my first half marathon. I thought we could go :30/:30 the whole way. I was wrong. We should have started out with something like :30/1:00 for the first half and then :30/:30 for the second. That original :30/:30 pace tired Kevin out too soon. I would give him that extra :30 seconds to recover and then I felt like I could go forever for those next :30 seconds. I was bursting through the crowd. I felt great. But I could see he was struggling. 
My only complaint was right after we started (around mile 1) the constant feeling of needing to go to the bathroom hit. And I mean… I had to go. Where did this come from?! This wasn’t here 10 minutes ago?! If I could just make it to the TTC. To real bathrooms. That was my goal. It’s a horrible feeling. I was short with Kevin. I was frustrated. And then there it was. In all it’s wonderful transportation glory. The TTC! And there were the bathrooms. And a lady blocking the entrance saying more bathrooms that way. She blocked my way… So I kept going… I got separated from Kevin. And for 3 minutes I looked for him until I realized I should call him. He thought I was able to get into the bathrooms. Now I am even more frustrated. I needed to go and we lost precious potty time. I just needed to get to the Magic Kingdom. Now. 

Finally, after running down Main Street, I was able to go. In a way I feel robbed of that glorious moment. I wasn’t thinking about anything but that bathroom. And God bless the bathrooms in Tomorrowland. Just like our first half, they were my first stop. 
After that everything was great. We were feeling great. We were making great time. So as soon as we headed down the path in Tomorrowland and saw Lilo and Stitch we stopped for a picture. 

Then we continued on… Till we got to the tea cups… And saw Alice. Another picture. 

In a matter of 30 minutes we didn’t go very far but I didn’t care. This is why you runDisney. As we ran through the Magic Kingdom it was if I was reliving our first half. It was almost a dream and it was going too fast. Because this time… I wasn’t struggling. 
We continued out of the park and ran into Mary Poppins and Burt… Another pic. 

And then there he was… Richard. The little old man who has been greeting me and my family at the Grand Floridian since I was a kid. He was out there cheering us on and I just had to get a picture with him. I thanked him… And that’s when I realized I was going through memory lane. This entire day was going to be an emotional one. 

We made it to the Animal Kingdom and once again… I had to go to the bathroom. But I wasn’t gonna let this stop me from riding Everest. So we ran up and got in line. A 15 minute line. I started to panic. Thinking we made a wrong choice. But after riding it and coming off (and asking where the balloon ladies were) I felt better about our 15 minute detour. 

Once outside the park we had to drop back to :30/1:00 and that is when my IT band started acting up. It wasn’t until mile 14 it became a pain to walk that extra :30 seconds. I found the next medical tent and got some biofreeze and Tylenol. All the while praying my knee would let me finish. 

We finally made our way to the Wide World of Sports… Which I never want to see again… And twisted our way through that horrific 3 mile section. It felt like a nightmare. As we passed mile 17 we realized we only had single digits left. And a new countdown began. Every time we passed officials we got the “They just entered WWOS” or “They are 8 minutes behind you!”. And panic started to set in. I looked at the “Parade Bus” and said NOT TODAY! Mentally giving it the finger. As we exited out and headed back down a road where we had just run down previously (on the other side)… The disheartening reality set in… That road was now empty…. No matter how bad my knee felt… No matter how tired we were… We had to keep moving. 

I refused to look back. I knew I had to keep my eye on the ball. Epcot was only a few miles away. I remembered what that lady said those 2 years ago. I tried to channel the Wine and Dine half half from just a few weeks ago… To mentally get me Hollywood Studios. And it worked. My eyes focused on all the inspirational quote signs that were on the side of the road. “There will be a day that You will not be able to do this… But… Today is not that day.” No today… is not that day!!! 

And before we knew it… Another parade bus group… NOT TODAY!… Because we were entering Hollywood Studios. We wound our way around that park… Mesmerized by the random guests cheering. A girl telling her dad… I want to do that. High fives from kids…

 And before we knew it… We were heading out of the park. Past my friend Kim (who was cheering runners on). I gave her a big sweaty hug, took a picture, and headed right towards another group of Parade Busses. 

To me… This is when I had my marathon moment. I looked at them and asked that all important question “Are we safe now?” And the staff there all cheered and yelled “you’re safe!” and “today you will finish a marathon!” I stopped and took a selfie with a few cast members and that parade bus, celebrating that moment. 

We were safe. No medal can replace that feeling I felt at that moment. We were safe! We were going to finish. That Mickey medal we had our eye on these past few months would be ours.  

And then we took a few moments to reflect! We took our time walking around the Boardwalk and the Yacht and Beach. We stopped to take our annual anniversary picture by the gazebo. 
Then I saw it… A Peggy Sue sign. And the closer I got to it… I realized it was HER sign. And I just lost it. Another picture. I had seen her during both ToT and our first half. Both times I was unsure of what we were doing and if we would finish. And there her sign was… Peggy Sue’s legacy continues to shine down on me when I need it the most. It was the perfect thing to see going into Epcot. 

I thought I was all done with the emotions. But I was wrong. As we came into Epcot I saw Jessi and her mom standing there cheering. She was able to snag some really hilarious pictures of me seeing her. 

I of course ran over and gave them both a huge hug. I was so proud of her Mom. She just completed Dopey. And at that moment I was in such awe of her. 

Seeing them both gave me the extra boost that I needed to run to our next location. We ran our way to France and mile 25. Almost there. 1.2 to go. Then we ran to Japan. I could see Italy in the distance. Then we ran to Italy. We then stopped and got our picture taken by a photo pass photographer. While we were waiting for the group in front of us to take their 30 pictures… The balloon ladies started to walk by. Kevin and I looked at each other… Took a few pics and took off. Passing Germany and the Beer we had be so craving since 10am that morning. We were trying to keep up… Rounding the corner to Mexico… We were back in front of them… Last chance for a drink… But the lines were too long… We kept going… Then finally by the fountains, they passed us… “You’re safe. We have to keep up with pace. You’re safe!” But we were not far behind… Mile 26… 

The Gospel Choir… Tears… Balloons 200 years away… 300 yards… Finish line in sight… Mickey Mouse… A time clock… Hand in hand we took off for our final run and crossed the finish line. 

We did it! 

 They say running a marathon changes your life. And I could agree more. I see a change in Kevin since we crossed that finish line. He made a goal for himself and he made it happen. 
This first marathon reminds me a lot of our first half marathon. The first time tackling a distance that size. Insecurities if we would finish. Those balloon ladies. Not know how we would handle the whole aspect of it. And somehow… Once again… we did it. 

I made many discoveries that day. And after running 26.2, I will honestly say, I think the half Marathon is my distance. I was rolling through those first 13 miles. I was running well after my 30 second recoveries. 13.1 seems so doable right now. 

Since our first run… 3 years ago… I have learned many things. But most importantly I have learned… Each run is a journey. And what a journey it was. One I wasn’t sure I would want to do again. But today… It wouldn’t surprise me if I did. 
Our marathon goal was to finish. And we did. But as funny as it sounds it’s not the memory of crossing the finish line that stands out the most to me. It’s the 100+ pictures we took during those 26.2 miles… And riding a roller coaster. My only regret is not stopping for a beer.