On Disney World, Star Wars, and doing your best…

I needed a vacation.

I mean… I REALLY needed a vacation. I needed to get out from under the fluorescent lighting of my office, get on a plane, eat a bunch of food that was maybe not so good for me, and have an honest-to-God disconnect from real life.

Hence Disney World.

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It was delightful as always. I’ve heard before from friends and others that it’s a little strange how much I love going there when I’m such a fan of traveling to new places. I have a growing fund for a trip to Ireland next year and a nearly endless list of spots all over the globe I want to see.

Here’s the thing about that, though…

Aside from needing a vacation spot that is kid-friendly/family-friendly/my-picky-bosslady-five-year-old-friendly, and aside from desperately missing some dear friends in Orlando, I just like Disney, okay?

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It’s charming and magical and for a little while, you forget to take things so seriously. True, Disney has had some missteps, it hasn’t always gotten things right, but the joy they give is tangible. Some of my favorite memories are of my Dad’s impressions of Sebastian and Scar and Basil of Baker Street (and if you don’t get that reference, go watch “The Great Mouse Detective” immediately – it is an under appreciated treasure).

So yes, while I do have dozens, if not hundreds, of bucket list cities all over the globe, I spent my hard earned income on Disney World, and I don’t regret it at all. Deal with it.

What made this particular trip so unique for me, though, is that not only was it the longest vacation I’ve had since age fourteen (yes, really), it was the first time I’ve travelled for a race.

Which, to me, is a Very Big Deal.

It’s now May, so I can officially say that I have been running for a full year (I started in April of 2017), and my biggest milestone was my first half marathon back in September. It was exhilarating and exhausting and painful and incredible, and for weeks afterwards, I’m sure I irritated everyone around me with my gushing of just how excited I was to have done it.

I was really, really proud of myself.

So my dear friend Keebs and her Disney-fanatic husband were part of this vacay, and Keebs (of course) found a Star Wars themed race for us to run while we were there.

Um. Yes. 

It was her first half marathon and there was no way I would miss it.

Then when I went to register to run myself, I saw that if I ran two races, I could get three medals, so my inner masochist/materialist came out to play and forked over the fees for both…

Naturally.

It was great. I ran with the biggest bunch of nerds you’ve ever seen outside of Comic-Con.  With nearly every race I’ve run before these, I saw maybe 90% of my fellow runners in what you would think of as typical running gear and 10% in some kind of costume.

This, of course, is Disney World. The outsiders were the ones who didn’t have some kind of glitter tutu on. The number of camelbacks I saw with small, plush Yodas strapped to them was endlessly amusing to me. The array of dorky t-shirts (including mine) was positively precious.

I quickly learned, though, that the runDisney Star Wars Dark Side of the Force Half Marathon was not the race to knock my 13.1 mile time to below 2:30. The day before wasn’t even really the race to knock my 10k time below an hour. Both of which are times I achieved in training.

No, no. runDisney races are not intended for personal bests (even though I did end up knocking a few minutes off of my official race times for each). runDisney races are for the joy of it. Bragging rights and finisher medals and bib numbers aside, runDisney races are for running through the parks and getting to see the sun come up over Animal Kingdom. runDisney races are for taking pictures with your favorite characters and sweating in between.

And crossing a finish line in the shadow of Epcot’s Spaceship Earth.

Don’t get me wrong. Even in central Florida’s million percent humidity and even when bone-tired as the fireworks go off for the first corral at 5:30 in the damn morning (yes, really), I do feel like I did the best I could. Ducking and weaving through the maze of bodies in front of me lengthened the distance that I actually ran and pausing to wait for the non-runners to get their stride back made me take a few more breaks than usual, but I am glad I did it and so proud of Keebs.

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So maybe doing your best doesn’t always have to do with beating your mile pace or getting a flashy new time engraved on your medal. Maybe doing my best this time around was more about seeing my friends on the course – cheering them on and getting cheered on by them. Maybe doing my best was more about chatting with fellow nerds in Ewok hats or dressed as TIE fighters (no joke).

I’m glad I went and I’m proud of every person that ran.

And I’m holding out for another time drop at my next half marathon.

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