Turtle Power

Sunday runday and on my solo five klick shakeout I paused beside path to watch a turtle the size of a football basking in Florida sunshine.

Also, it was nearly fifty degrees celsius warmer than the last time I ran oudoors a little more than a week ago. I haven’t been that sweaty from running five kilometers since the heat of last summer. I could have taken a dip beside that turtle and …

The runaway train of vacation planning never actually found a means of slamming on the brakes and the next thing I knew I was boarding an international flight to Orlando with my face wrapped tightly in a N95 surgical respirator and wondering, sometimes aloud, at the bounds of my own sanity.

Back in the summer, when all things virus had seemed to be packing its bags and getting ready to move out of the basement like all uninvited houseguest should eventually do, we registered in a series of Disney World Marathon run events.

Then we eagerly booked a vacation around that … and waited.

It all went great from there, right? Well … no. We watched anxiously as a viral variant named Omicron washed a new wave of panic all across the world. Triple-vaccinated and packing a smuggler’s haul worth of PPE, we warily tracked the news and tripped over ourselves justifying taking the trip versus the stupidly high costs of cancelling it and just wallowing in pity at ourselves from the safety of our frozen house. A dozen times we came a turtle’s breath away from calling the whole thing off, swallowing the thousands of dollars of lost travel spends, and buying a big bottle of bubbly for new years eve to forget the whole thing and …

And.

And yet, here we are.

And here I am on a Sunday morning, looking out at a resort swimming pool after a five klick shakeout run, sipping a six dollar cup of takeway coffee, having spent the last four days wandering through the densely packed, pandemic-oblivious theme parks of Disney World and giving myself blisters and aches and pains and overwhelming anxiety and exhaustion in the process.

There are a number of smooth and flat walking trails just out the front door of our hotel, winding around lagoons and restaurants and wire-suspended gondolas, leading into and around and between Epcot and a make-believe Star Wars lands. As thousands of racers congregate here over the next few days for races starting later this week, I saw dozens of fellow runners out on the boardwalks and asphalts. I even saw some of the race crew flagging locations for aid stations and mile markers and marshalling points.

We have a couple days to cool off. A few more days of park-hopping and pool lounging. We pick up our race packages mid-week and run before the weekend starts in earnest. I’m wondering how I’m going to tackle a half marathon I didn’t really train for, on which I’m banking on residual fitness and sheer determination, plodding along at a turtle’s pace to finish the thing on pure willpower.

This morning on my tour of the hotel trails, weaving around families walking towards the park gates, and as I trotted by wearing my 2014 Disney Half Marathon running shirt, one of the race setup workers looked up, pointed and snapped a photo of me from his phone. I smiled. It was probably the only time I’ve been out in public this week without a mask so it took a moment to remember how. I guess if you see a sweaty forty-something guy smirking akwardly on the runDisney socials this week … maybe it’s me?

Or maybe I should have posed with my new friend the turtle. I’d bet we have more in common these days than we realize.

We Interrupt this Training Plan for …

Sunday Runday, and I woke up to a skiff of fresh overnight snow and a minus twenty world out my front door.

Yeah, you read that right: -20C. (Not even mentioning the “feels like” -33C wind chill estimate that accompanied the forecast on my weather app.)

As I was eating my breakfast, one of my running partners (who is a government meteorologist) texted me at 7am with the (I assume) professional advice of “stay warm, I will not be out this morning…”

And then I did the thing I’ve done too often this past year and a half…

What do you wish you’d done
less of this past year?

… I tried to get out of my run.

Sure, it was the coldest day of the season to-date, and sure, I’ve been feeling a little lazy since slowly nursing a sore heel back to health.

But the last twenty-one months has been full of countless excuses to curl up in a ball on the couch and ignore the realities of life, the universe and everything. Who hasn’t wanted to do exactly that? Sometimes multiple times per day.

This morning as I looked at the outside temperature, as stuck my barefoot out the back door, as I let the dog out at quarter past six in the biting cold, I immediately started thinking of additional excuses to stay home in my pajamas and curl up on the couch with a coffee and Netflix … y’know, instead of doing a training run.

I didn’t stay home.

I wanted to bail.

But the text message thread the followed left me feeling guilty that one of my other partners had already left his house and was en route to our meeting place. I complied. I layered up in my warmest gear, dug a fuzzy buff and an extra pair of wooly mittens from the cupboard, and made my way in my truck (switching on the 4×4 for the treacherous roads) over to the nearby parking lot from where we usually leave. Nine klicks later of slogging through the cold and snow and wind. The sun was barely cracking the horizon and as it lifted over the frosty treeline just to the side of the path a beautiful winter sunrise cracked a bit of the cold and offered a hint of apricity against the brutal, biting freeze. A cold run. A run at the limit of my cold threshold. Weather that literally hurts. We ran for nearly an hour with frost clinging to our lashes and ice crusting on the brims of our toques.

I wanted to bail, bail like I’ve done a few too many times this past span of time, but this time I did not. I ran. I froze. I kept running. And ultimately I returned to the warmth of a hot cup of coffee and some good conversation. But I wanted to bail nonetheless.

In 2021 I wish I’d done a little less of that wanting to skip the things that used to be the highlights of my everydays, runs, and adventuring, and getting out and about. I know there have been great excuses, often even mandates and strict rules enforcing those same reasons, but I wish I’d had less opportunity to slip into whatever pattern it has created for me and left me thinking first of a reason not to do something than the former excitement that launched me off that couch and into the world.

I don’t know for sure how to do that less, but I think it’s worth aspiring to.

Thirty one topics. Thirty one posts. Not exactly a list… but close. In December I like to look back on the year that was. My daily posts in December-ish are themed-ish and may contain spoilers set against the backdrop of some year-end-ish personal exposition.

Them Feets

Sunday Runday, and I didn’t.

For a whole week I’ve been sidelined by a heel ailment that I’ve self-diagnosed as a touch of plantar fasciitis, or runner’s heel.

Them feets!

The thing is that I’m supposed to run a half marathon in a little more than a month.

The thing is that I need to keep in half marathon shape while not exacerbating an injury that could take a couple weeks to recover.

Them feets!

The thing is I’m a stubborn guy and I’m having trouble sitting it out. Resting. Healing.

I have a stationary bike in my basement tho, so while my running crew plodded out on the winter trails I descended to my little exercise space and spun out twenty klicks of aerobic fitness.

Them feets!

Then I met the runners for coffee where we can actually, finally, go inside and sit for a bit at the local recreation centre, proof of vaccination required, and all in all not quite back to normal, but close enough.

The countdown is on to race day and I’ll cross that finish line, hell or high water. Right now, tho, it might be with a limp rather than a leap.

Travel Run: Dopey Disney Florida Whimsy (Part One)

Way back at the beginning of 2014 I found myself standing on a strip of asphalt road outside of Epcot center in Walt Disney World in Florida preparing to run a series of four consecutive races across four days.

How I had decided many months earlier to take on the Dopey Challenge, a four race series consisting of a 5k, 10k, half marathon and full marathon in four days, is a long, winding tale full of hubris and running confidence tangled up in my wife’s love of all things Disney.

In retrospect, and now knowing numerous people who routinely run eighty-plus kilometer single-day ultra races, my seventy-eight point two kilometers of theme park jogging hardly seems as epic in comparison.

Yet, for me, running through Disney World (four times) was probably one of the highlights of my running life.

A five kilometer run with my family around the walkways of Epcot.

A ten kilometer jog in the rain on a similar but longer path a day later.

A half marathon that led us all to the Magic Kingdom and back with poses in front of the castle and along roadways cluttered with a dizzying array of Disney decor.

And on the last day, a full marathon through all four Disney World theme parks, a race track, a ball diamond, taking dozens of photos, and crashing across the finish line to hang multiple finisher medals over my neck.

I rested with a much slower, much more meandering wander through Disney World over the following days.

Fast forward to early twenty-twenty and with no intention of running on another vacation, we had booked a two week Florida trip over spring break… due to leave just days following rumblings that a global panic had started to emerge around a novel coronavirus and a contagious outbreak was leaping from country to country.

Disney World closed the Friday before our flights were due to leave.

The Canada-US border slammed shut a few days later.

Our flights were cancelled for credits.

Our hotel was spun into a chaotic series of emails and phone calls and future stay vouchers.

Our park tickets were suspended indefinitely.

We obviously never went to Florida in spring 2020, and we have been sitting on a heap of travel credits for the better part of two years since.

Time definitely does not fly when you’re sitting around not travelling.

Registration for the 2022 Disney World Marathon series is pretty much full up now.

While I am in no shape anymore (thanks, COVID.) to run the Dopey Challenge, at least one of those races would be another exciting way to kick off 2022, right?

So, if, say, I had been on the ball and had registered for, for example, a half marathon in Florida in January… and, say, I found an excuse to use a bunch of those travel credits… and, say, I was fully vaccinated for travel across international borders… that would make a much more interesting part two to this post, wouldn’t it?

Just saying