That's my favorite quote from "A League of Their Own." And it's true. Doing hard things makes the reward and feeling of accomplishment all the sweeter. No individual goal is ever truly individual. I would not have been able to chase – and reach – this once-in-a-lifetime dream without a lot of help along the way.
1. Random stranger spectators - My next goal is to cheer on a marathon with a clever sign. I’ll be out of town for the Atlanta marathon next month, but knowing how much spectators helped me makes me want to spectate for someone else. The signs were so creative. Some were topical – “Run like Southwest DIDN’T cancel your flight!” Some were Disney related – “We don’t talk about Balloon Ladies.” Some were motivational – “Remember when you thought you couldn’t do this?” My favorite stuck with me for most of the marathon. Sam saw it and commented on it, too. “One day, you won’t be able to do this. But NOT TODAY.” That brought me so much strength throughout the tough miles, that it might become my new running motto. So much of a marathon is a mental battle – pushing through the self-doubt, the pain, the nerves. Having crowd support or strangers, in addition to your friends and family, urging you on means so very much.
2. My employer, Deloitte - I’ve had the incredible privilege to be on a sabbatical for 17 weeks. I know not everyone has that luxury, and I don’t take it for granted. But I knew that work would win out over training 9 times out of 10. And if I wanted to finish this successfully – and healthy – I needed to dedicate myself to this endeavor full time. Between running, cross training, finding a solid post-race recovery routine, and unfortunately – resting and recovering from three separate illnesses – I needed that time to recharge, mentally reset, and physically get my body ready for the challenge ahead. My team sent me a lovely birthday card with words of encouragement, as well as a relaxation gift basket when I got home. My boss Kim, and my coach Saurabh, both sent texts of well wishes, as did a few of my clients! For Paulina, Marcie, and others who have taken on so much while I’ve been out, I’m so grateful.
3. Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program – From the first day I met Coach Kim, Coach Jen, and Coach Ed, I knew these were my people. They dressed in Disney costumes for our kick-off and had zero doubt I could finish - even when I doubted myself. There were other TNT coaches on the course as well, and they checked up on everyone wearing a TNT jersey - and a few that weren't, too! I met Coach Reem and Coach Les, and a few others that I didn’t catch their name. I passed other TNT runners and yelled, “Go Team!” if they didn't beat me to it. I hope I gave as much energy as I received from those shout-outs! What an amazing group of people from across the country – running to raise money for a cause that most have been personally impacted by. Turning lemons into lemonade; shifting tragedy into triumph; remembering and honoring those lost too soon. The entire Disney Marathon Weekend event raised over $1.7 million!
4. My friends – I remember Kristi and Shelley’s eyes when I told them what I was dreaming of almost a year ago. Like most, they were skeptical. But they were unwavering in their support and lending an ear for the ups and downs. They supported the individual fundraisers and sent beautiful flowers upon my return! Amanda is my Disney partner-in-crime and took a practice trip with me last February. I’ve roped her – and her daughter – into the Princess 5k next month, too! And Katie – for 36 years, we’ve been each other’s biggest supporters. She helped me name this blog. She had Mickey Mouse birthday cupcakes delivered, set her alarm for 5:30 on Saturday and Sunday to track my progress, sent me encouraging texts, and filmed a congratulations video (just before my phone died) that I didn’t even see until writing this post!
4. Sam – Clearly the more athletic one in this household, he ran my first 5k with me in May 2014. He knows a thing or two about betting based on the odds, and there's no way he would have bet I would not only run a marathon, but run it after a consecutive 5k, 10, and half marathon. But there’s something to be said for a partner who supports your wildest dreams no matter how wild they are. He went on long weekday runs with me, helped me fundraise, and – as the running joke goes – kept me hydrated by filling all my consistently empty water bottles around the house! (I seriously have 8-10 at any given moment.) I’m so thankful to have him by my side.
5. Dad – Twenty years of cancer hasn’t slowed him down one bit. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I’m so lucky I get to keep trying to make him proud. Dad, Donna, Sam, and I had a Capture the Moment photography session in Magic Kingdom. It was a little too sunny to keep my eyes open, but it was the perfect way to remember the feeling of accomplishment and magic after all the racing was done!
6. Honorable mention – KT tape and Oofos! I walked 20,000 steps in Epcot the Monday after the marathon, and another 19,000 steps in Magic Kingdom on Tuesday, and my feet felt pretty good in Oofos with my compression socks. And while I have no idea why KT tape works, I do know it’s magical! Zero knee pain and only soreness at the end of the marathon. Those two products definitely made the training and event weekend much less grueling! Maybe not fashionable, but definitely functional!
So, what’s next? Well, mere hours after the marathon I decided I would run another marathon. Another Dopey? No, I’ll pass on that. But another marathon? Sign me up. I can only imagine how amazing it might be to run on a full night of sleep and rested legs!!! I’m eyeing Marine Corp or Chicago this fall. But first, I have a half marathon in March and another in May. With a few months left of chill in the air, I’m looking forward to doing some shorter runs and working on increasing my speed a bit.
My Team in Training National Rookie Challenge campaign runs through June 30th, so if you haven’t donated yet, or you want to donate again, I’m still raising money for this incredible cause. You can donate here: Dorothy's Team In Training "Dopey" Fundraiser (lls.org)
Thank you for coming on this journey with me, supporting me, and cheering me to the finish line!