Believe it or not, when I woke up Friday morning this week, I had a moment of panic that it was Saturday. Then I remembered it was Friday, and I was relieved. Why? Because I knew that on Saturday, my Disney training plan called for me to run 11 miles, and in the same way that I follow recipes to the letter, I also follow my training plan, trusting that it will get me in shape for running a marathon in January, just like it readied me for the Princess Half last year. This particular running day ushered in Week 11 for me — just 18 weeks to go!
But Saturday morning eventually came, and I woke up super early, layered on lots of my favorite moisture-wicking fabric (another new lululemon tank*, a RawThreads 3-quarter sleeve shirt, a glittery purple running headband), and my favorite running shoes. I then proceeded to stall in every way I could think of until it was time to drive to the park where I like to get in my longer training runs. The weather was GORGEOUS – the trees cast a beautiful shade over the path, golden sunlight filtered through the branches, and the heat stayed away. (I wanted to take a picture, but my phone’s storage was full!)
I could tell right away that some sort of event was going on at the amphitheatre, but it wasn’t until about a mile into the run that I realized it was a memory walk called “Walk to End Alzeimer’s.” Here were my clues:
- Lots of vans from local nursing homes and senior living facilities
- Lots of very small, cute dogs
- An excess of wheelchairs, canes, and walkers
- Garden pinwheel favors for every participant to hold while walking
The event lasted at least as long as it took me to run my 11 miles around the park (each lap is 1.39 miles, so I did plenty of laps around this particular event, each time watching more and more people trickle in). There was a lot of setting up, bands rehearsing, and radio stations playing. Vendors abounded. It was not until I was on mile 8.88 that I realized all of the people were suddenly gone from the amphitheatre area – they had started their walk on the same loop that I was now headed. The walkers were a mixture of people – from young families with strollers to inspirational senior adults, some flanked by nurses on each arm to help them maneuver around the park, others walking their beloved pooches.
Flashback: I remember in the weeks and months after my spinal surgery, having to learn how to walk again. Dreading the process of getting out of my bed, putting on my body brace, and trying to walk the few steps to the bathroom, where I’d have to then take the brace back off, use the bathroom, put it back on, walk back to my bed, take the brace back off, lay back down, and repeat. Going to physical therapy 3 times a week. The torture of spasms during a massage, the reeling response to any simple touch to my back. Not being able to reach down to tie my own shoes. Asking friends for help at school. An OT who showed me how to use a device that put my socks on for me. Another “grab-nab-it” to pick things up off the floor. A plastic chair in the shower, a handrail in the bathroom, a backpack on wheels in crowded hallways. I was 17, relearning simple life tasks. Walking then was a great feat for me, just as it was for some of the people I saw today. I smiled at their tremendous courage.
Still, I did feel a little out of place when, around mile 10, I ran past their finish line, with lots of volunteers waving pompoms and cowbells, pumping posters that read “Thank you for donating!” at me. Here I am, a young 20something with headphones, a barely-there tank, and flashy blue running shoes, trying my best to look inconspicuous as I looked down at the pavement and ran straight instead of turning at their “right turn” arrow, directing the actual participants in their “We’re on the Move!” t-shirts back to the amphitheatre area.
After my run, my arms and legs felt like Jello, and my stomach felt out of sorts like it usually does after a long run. I was hungry, but slightly nauseaus. I lost 5 pounds in 2 hours and needed to restore myself quickly (I don’t run to lose weight; maintaining my weight is important to me, especially while I’m still nursing my 14-month-old!). I do feel great after running, but definitely need to refuel. So I ate a recovery protein bar, a banana, a hamburger, and drank 2 Gatorades (and later that day, a whole lot of pizza). The banana and Gatorade required a stop at the grocery store after the run (since my toddler ate all of our bananas), and I’m sure I looked like a MESS! The expression of the guy bagging my groceries confirmed that for me. After I got home, my husband and I drove over the mountain, toddler in tow, to help his sister’s family move. I knew that lifting boxes up and down the stairs would be out of the question, so I put myself on unofficial baby-duty with my MIL and SIL and spent time rearranging furniture and loving on two of nephews and my own itty-bitty – some much-needed baby time. It also gave me a good perspective on what having 2 or 3 babies close-in-age would be like. Way different than one, for sure!
And now I’ll relish in the fact that next week calls for a 4-miler, so I will be much happier when Saturday comes around again!