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Star Wars The Dark Side Half Marathon Recap

Star Wars The Dark Side Half Marathon…


13043727_10154044665041788_450721686740233485_nThe name alone should tell you why I originally signed up for this race. I’m a geek girl at heart and almost every man I have ever dated was a Star Wars geek. This half marathon was sure to help me get my nerd on and really who could resist running in an event that allows you to dress up in a Star Wars running costume.


I’m not going to call myself a RunDisney veteran, but I have run quite a few RunDisney races in the last two years of my post weight loss journey. My first RunDisney event was the Tinker Bell Half Marathon in 2014, I ran the Wine and Dine Half Marathon in 2014 as well. In 2015 I repeated both of those events to achieve another Coast to Coast Medal. This year, I participated in the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend and completed the Dopey Challenge running a total of 48.6 miles in four days.

12994472_10154044665071788_9019052707649389380_nI had very high expectations of the Star Wars The Dark Side Half Marathon. I expected it to be one of the best half marathons I have ever participated in. I expected it to be even more amazing than any RunDisney event I had done so far and regretfully I have to say that I was a little disappointed.

Things seemed really unorganized to me this time around which is not something I am used to feeling at a RunDisney event. With as much as we pay to participate in these events I just expect them to seem almost flawlessly organized. When I am dropping nearly $400 in registration fees for the privilege of running for two days in a challenge event I have a few set expectations.

I expect the characters that are available for photos to be there for photo ops both at the before and after gatherings. Many people were upset about how quickly the characters had gone inside the morning of the 10K and the morning of the Half. We were able to get quite a few photos after the half on Sunday morning. But I really felt like we got lucky. We got everything in RIGHT before the lines closed. There was a lot of pressure to try to get those photo ops and that’s not a good feeling when you are at an event that is supposed to be fun.

I expect the opportunity to run by all the characters that are on the route and take a picture of them. I’m not saying I expect the lines to stay open and that I expect the ability to stop and pose with each character. If I am not a fast enough runner that I can afford to spend the time on stopping and standing in line to take a photo with a character without jeopardizing making the required pace time I understand that. Close the lines once it is too late to take photos. But I do expect that the characters are out there and I am able to take a photo as I run by. Pulling the characters off of the route early seemed awful unfair to me.

I was running with a friend that was an absolute Star Wars nerd. This wasn’t his first RunDisney event, he ran the 10K part of the Dopey Challenge with me back in January. But it was his first RunDisney half marathon and he was very excited about the photos of characters. We were counting on the fact that even though he might be very close to pace time, I had the ability to run ahead, snap a photo and then fall back into the crowd with him. But by the time the latter corrals got there, lots of the characters had already been removed from the route.

I ran the 10k that was held on Saturday by myself. My very dear friend Carrie Zavitz was running it as well but she wanted to run solo. So we started together and then planned to meet at the finish line. For me  this meant running at my pace rather than that of whoever I am running with. I had an overall time of 1:23:00 and managed to get a photo of every character that was there and stop in several places to snap a quick selfie with a few of the characters that were standing around.

I expect to be able to get a beer at the finish line. — Lot’s of runners feel the same way. I promise, there was a lot of complaining at the finish line when there was no beer available. Apparently we were suddenly in county where we were not allowed alcohol before 11:30am on a Sunday. — I’m not sure when this rule suddenly changed because I know that when running the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend just a few months ago there was plenty of beer available after the morning runs. The only thing I can guess is that somehow finishing the race at ESPN Wide World of Sports instead of at Epcot changed the rules somehow?

The Dark Side Half Marathon race route was different to say the least. There were some things that I really didn’t love about it. The slanted road was hard for a lot of people to deal with. Luckily I had experienced this part of the road during other races and knew to stay to the left where it was a little more flat. The dirt road leading us back into EPSN wasn’t great either.

I think the most disappointing thing to me though was the lack of energy that I felt at this event. RunDisney events are usually packed with people dressing up in cool costumes to run and have this amazing energy to them that just makes you want to keep coming back for more. I really didn’t see THAT many people dressed up this year and the overall energy to the crowd was a bit dismal.

13007136_10154044623781788_6617418167074683873_nWhether everyone else was dressed in a themed outfit or not, I was. I love dressing up for runs. I rocked a cut little Storm Trooper costume for the 10k and a cute little R2D2 outfit for the half marathon. I have to give a big shout out to my sole-sister, running buddy and dear friend Ronda Rhodes for making sure that our costumes were amazing. If it had not been for her and her amazing last-minute sewing and alteration skills I wouldn’t have looked nearly as cute as I did out there.

My best friend, partner in crime and the first guy I have ever coached and taken to run a half marathon beside me, Jeff Newell, of DefyingObesity.org matched my R2D2 costume with a Storm Trooper outfit that required he stay on my right hand side the entire time we were running with “I’ve found the droid I’ve been looking for” written on the back with an arrow pointing to the left. We got lots of compliments on our outfits along the route that day.

IMG_5538I think Jeff will be telling a story for years to come about how I had gotten a little ahead of him and suddenly there was another girl running next to him. She was dressed as C3P0 and she had run up  beside him so that her friend could take a picture of her running next to him and said “It looks like I am your new droid.” Her and her friends that were dressed as BB8 and R2D2 took turns getting their photos with his shirt and then ran off.

This is my third time now taking someone through an online and long distance 20 week training program that leads them to a RunDisney Half Marathon – I learn something new as a coach every time I do this. This time I had the ability to make sure that the person I was training had some opportunities to run with me during the 20 week training leading up to the event. Jeff ran his first 10k with me back in October when he was visiting Raleigh NC for the Obesity Help Convention and then he was able to run with me in December, January, February and March during my trips to Boston and when he ran the 10k next to me during the Disney World Marathon Weekend.

As a coach this was a big advantage to me. I knew his patterns, I had run with him a couple of times so I knew the difference between him losing steam and him truly needing to slow down. It was easier for me to tell the difference between a mental struggle and a physical struggle and to know when I could push him and when I couldn’t.

IMG_5869Jeff was dressed as a Storm Trooper when we crossed the finish line and I have to give this man a lot of credit because he had been quite a Trooper through his training. Our training schedule ran from the end of November through April and in January he had experienced a major set back when he had to have emergency surgery to fix an intestinal blockage. It is not easy to get benched in the middle of a training program, spend weeks recovering before you can exercise again and then rebuild your cardio stamina back in time to complete an endurance event like a half marathon.  I give him a lot of credit for coming off the bench and running not one but two half marathons within three months.

I may have ran the Star Wars The Dark Side Half Marathon at his pace instead of mine, but I have no doubt that someday he’ll be running a pace slower than his next to me. Of course that’s only because those long legs of his are going to give him a much bigger stride than mine.

I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do come October when it’s time to run the Jazz Half in New Orleans where I’m leading a group of my friends in the WLS community in to their first half marathon. But I have a few half marathons to run before then so I am sure I’ll be seeing you for another race re-cap soon. Plus I have another blog to write to tell you all about the milestone I hit in my weight loss journey during the Star Wars The Dark Side Half Marathon. I’m going to save that for another day though. But until we talk again… get out there, get moving and find your happy pace slender seekers.

DSSPostSig

Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is a  Cooper Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies and Motivational Speaker studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer.

Back To Being the BEST version of ME

DssButton2FB2-150x150Dear Slender Seekers,

Sometimes you just have to stop and write. I’ve been quiet for too long. I’ve gotten off track and felt guilty. But today, I fixed it. Today, my first day off since New Years, today I promised myself to fix it, and from here on out, I am going to keep my promise.

If you only knew how much weight that promise holds.

Here we go.

I’ve shared with you in the past that a wise man once taught me that part of our responsibility in our journey is to have the kindness of heart to reach back to those behind you in the journey and help them along.

He also taught me to have the courage to reach forward to those ahead of me and ask for help when I needed it.

Today, I lived that lesson.

I read a post from a friend on Facebook today that reminded me so much of where I once was in my journey; the day I created Desperately Seeking Slender. I was just coming out of bariatric surgery. I had decided I wanted to help others in their weight loss journey and found myself wanting a career giving people what I felt I needed most right then, someone who had been there and someone who could tell me what sort of exercise to do and teach me about nutrition.

I reached out to my friend and offered to send him a book that would help him in his journey. The extra Cooper Manual I had to buy when I didn’t have it with me when I got there for class.

This did two things.

I allowed me to give someone who is following a similar path as my own, a little guidance as to how I did it and what directions he might want to go in.

It also allowed me to reach out and ask someone who might be willing to help me with something I am struggling with; someone to study with me over the phone. I have this wild image of me running on a treadmill answering flashcards questions while panting and then reading off flashcards for my study buddy to answer during set reps.

Yeah. I’m a little weird.

I’ve also realized that once again I got sucked into my own emotional pit. (I also realized what it is that usually snaps me out of it.)

10314493_1015076241852179_6251278648778862597_nI have a really hard time dealing with grief.

Sometimes it sneaks up on me in placed I don’t expect it. It was really bad for me on Christmas Eve. Missing my Father in combination with my first holiday season away from Oregon, missing my PNW Family and Friends was really hard for me.

But the same friend I reached out to today had reached out to me on Christmas Eve. I was driving to the gym. I had managed to get myself off the couch and into the car but I just wasn’t feeling it at all. In fact, I was already having an internal conversation with myself about how I was only going to do a really short 2 mile run. I got a text from my friend encouraging me to get out of the house and go for a run.

Somehow just knowing that someone else was there cheering me on helped me. I got on that treadmill and put 5 miles on my shoes that day. Guess what? I felt so much better afterwards. I was so grateful to the friends that had helped pull me out of that slump.

I’m a big believer in the “Attitude is Gratitude movement.” as well as the “Pay it Forward” movement.

Today I was able to thank my friend for being there for me when I needed it by being there for him when he needed it and by giving him something I wish I had possessed a little bit more of earlier on in my journey, experience and guidance.

I need to get back to the ABC’s – Back to the basics.

First step, confess. – I got off track again. Guilty of taking on too much and not having enough time to do all the things for me that I need to do. I stopped doing the very thing I teach others to do. Even though I love my father I have a bad habit of letting old ghosts haunt me. Sometimes, it just takes that ghost giving you a little nudge and telling you it’s time to move on. (I do love the way my father can still teach me a lesson to this day.)

Next, reassess. – I can’t do it all but I can do most of it. My running time needs to get worked back in. I need to somehow combine studying and exercise to help make that work. I need to give my clients everything they need from me to help them be successful with this challenge we have going on while still maintaining my exercise and study goals. This is my number one priority. I got this.

Now, commit. – I need a plan.

I’ll schedule my days more carefully to allow for better time management. I will schedule in, travel, exercise and study time.

I will let go of the grief I’ve been feeling. I’ll write more often. I express emotions better in words. Even better if I am the only one reading them.

I’ll keep my promise to myself to not take on any other big projects until I have completed my goals. (This is a big one for me.)

I’ll keep my promise to myself to always use Sunday as a Celebration Day. Celebrating the things I am proud of.

Today is Sunday, and as I shared with you earlier I am proud of myself for the way I was able to live a lesson I believe in today. I’m also proud of myself for the ability to realize that I am not perfect and recognizing my mistakes. As one of my heroes, Heidi Powell would say “I’m Perfectly Imperfect.”I’m also proud of my ability to learn from people like her how to fall without failing and what steps to take to get back up.  Most of all I am proud of myself, for the person I am, the woman I’ve become, and the coach I strive to be.

Now since we’re talking about getting back on track Slender Seekers I have a challenge for you. I challenge you to do the same thing I am doing in the beginning of the year. Don’t make a New Years resolution that might not last past the first few months of the year and set goals you’ll be disappointed in yourself when you don’t achieve. Instead I challenge you to simply be the best version of yourself you can be right now.

Look at your current situation, confess anything you’ve fallen short on to yourself. Reassess the situation and decide what your priorities are and then commit to a plan to get yourself back on track. I’d love to share this journey with you and celebrate the steps you take to get to where you want to be along the way. In fact, why don’t you write to me and tell me what successes you are celebrating and I’ll celebrate them with you.

That gives me a whole new idea. But more on that later. Now, it’s time for me to get some sleep.

Sending you lots of virtual hugs,

DSSPostSig

 Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is a  Cooper Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies and Motivational Speaker studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer.
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Author: Pandora Williams

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

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