I’m a little behind on my update, but just a little over 2 weeks ago team “D.W.A.R.F.F. Awareness” participated in the Expedition Everest Challenge at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. It’s an experience I would highly recommend to anyone interested in a night of fun.
*Sorry for the photo quality on these. The only cameras we had were the one’s on our phones.*
The challenge consists of a 5K race with a few obstacles sprinkled throughout it and then a scavenger hunt throughout Disney’s Animal Kingdom at night. Once crossing the finish line you get to enjoy a few extra hours in the park to celebrate your accomplishment with fellow racers and a crazy cast of character friends.
Of all the races thus far this was by far the one that I was looking forward to the most (and not just because it was only 3.1 miles). It was a really exciting experience. Matt’s motivating pace managed to help me shave quite a bit of time off of my usual run times. We crossed the finish line for the 5K just a few seconds before the 36 minute mark and for me that is a HUGE accomplishment.
The medal was really cool. After running the Princess Half Marathon with me, I’m sure Matt was glad that this medal is a bit more manly. It has a fully functioning compass incorporated into it. He was like a boy scout playing with the medal while we waited in line to ride Expedition Everest. It seemed like the natural choice after conquering the challenge. I fully recommend this event to anyone just starting out with the Run Disney events. It’s fun, gives you a good taste of the atmosphere these events have, and you only have to make it through 3.1 miles.
Next up for us will be the Tower of Terror 10 Miler in September. Right now I’m adjusting to running in Florida in the summer. When I started training last year it was already starting to cool down, so running in the thicker humidity and higher temperatures has been a big adjustment. I’m bound to not let it deter me. Now that Matt’s helped me to decrease my per mile time, I’m really looking forward to seeing how my time improves for the 10 miler. This is where I cross my fingers and hope for my knee to hold itself together while I take on another longer race. I know I’ll have Matt there by my side cheering me on, or holding me up, so I’m eager to get back out there and take on another challenge. I’m fighting like hell through my Fibromyalgia challenges and refusing to give up!
The photos are in just in time for us to prepare for the next challenge. Crossing the finish line at our first half marathon was an amazing experience, but now we’ve got a new challenge ahead of us. For my birthday my amazing boyfriend surprised me with entries for us to run in the Expedition Everest Challenge in May and the Tower of Terror 10 Miler in September. It looks as if 2012 might possibly be the start of new running traditions for us.
Since I had problems with my knee during the half marathon, and we think it may have been due to over training, I am preparing for the upcoming Challenge in May by only running a 5K three times a week. I’m really looking forward to this event since it combines a 5K with a scavenger hunt inside Disney’s Animal Kingdom after the close of the park. The Tower of Terror 10 Miler in September should be exciting as well…as long as no one makes me ride the Tower of Terror as part of it. Let’s just say that ride and myself have decided it would be best if we agree to disagree.
I digress. Back to the fun! I’m excited that the photos and videos finally arrived. Although my mom did a great job of capturing the action that she could, the person who decided to jump for joy in front of her kind of added to a reduced number of usable photos in the end. It was exciting to also get videos of us coming down the castle ramp and across the finish line. I hope you all enjoy getting to be a part of the journey!
Despite looking like a healthy 28 year old with an active lifestyle, I wake up each morning facing a battle with Fibromyalgia. After being diagnosed in May of 2011 I feel into a bit of a FIbro-funk and started feeling like I had lost a part of my identity. After over 20 years of being a dedicated active dancer it was hard to face the reality that my pain would never completely go away. One day I woke up and realized I was taking precious days for granted. I needed to get my butt back in gear and take advantage of what I’m so very lucky to have, so I set a hefty goal for myself.
On February 26th I donned my Livestrong apparel from head to toe and obtained my goal when I crossed the finish line of the Disney Princess Half Marathon 3 hours, 10 minutes and 4 seconds after crossing the starting line hand-in-hand with my most amazing boyfriend. We were just two runners in the sea of over 19,000 others who were all there to support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). Paired with all of our fellow runners millions of dollars was raised for a cause that is near and dear to my heart. This amazing organization has helped my family directly and I couldn’t think of a better first half marathon experience than one that would benefit LLS. If the Disney volunteers weren’t motivational enough then the LLS volunteers and fellow runners were there to help push everyone across the finish line.
Despite severe knee pains starting around mile 6, I achieved my goal of not giving up and finishing all 13.1 miles with a smile on my face. It truly is a motivational run when you see how supportive all the runners are. Women cheered each other on, inspired each other and my boyfriend showed me just how much he truly accepts me for who I am and all that comes with that. My Livestrong shirt was stamped with the phrase “Fight Like Hell” and it became my motto of the day through the pain and slight rain. I watched cancer survivors run to raise money for the organization that helped them each step of their way without any hesitation. We ran as team “D.W.A.R.F. Awareness” in an effort to “Dance, Walk and Run for Fibromyalgia Awareness.”
Having Fibromyalgia, I knew there was a chance that my body would be pushed to its limit in trying to complete a race that lasted multiple hours with strenuous activity. Despite the few tears that popped up around mile 9 from the knee pain I knew I had a mission. I was there to walk for those who couldn’t right now. With each step the pain was more and more debilitating, but it reminded me of all that my loved one experienced during his multiple battles with Lymphoma. I watched him lose his hair and his mobility, but he never gave up and I knew I was meant to do the same. Each step closer to the finish line was for him. His strength to wake up each morning and continue to fight for another day kept me moving. I wanted to make him proud and complete the goal I set for myself when I told him I would finish no matter what challenge I faced.
For those who wake up to the daily challenge of cancer, know that you inspire those around you. You’ve touched our lives and we see your strength, even on the days when you might doubt it yourself. I was fortunate to have an amazing boyfriend by my side to lean on for strength. He is my rock like so many of the other runners are to those they love that are affected by cancer. He held my hand, reminded me that nothing could stop me when I put my mind to it, and pushed me forward so I would achieve my goal. His kind nature, acceptance and understanding of my challenges helped me give back to a loved one who has always been there for me when I needed him. Without a doubt I would do it all over again and I intend to do so while I encourage others to do the same for this amazing organization.
Today was the day ladies and gentlemen. Oh yes, we got up at 4:15 AM and prepared for the trek that was ahead. “What trek?” you might be asking. Well, as I mentioned in a blog post late last year, Matt and I agreed to take on our first 5K together and this morning was an amazing experience. It was on my 25st birthday that I ran my very first 5K after losing a bet. I ran it alone and although it was an interesting first experience I wasn’t motivated to do another one any time soon. Until now!
We rolled out of bed at an unnatural hour, but managed to pull it together and get to Disney in time for the Family Fiesta 5K. It was barely 40 degrees, which isn’t exactly something that my Fibromyalgia agrees with, but we toughed it out with 7,998 other people who were waiting to step up to the starting line. The music was blasting, the DJ was cracking jokes and I was excited to get going. Team “D.W.A.R.F.F. Awareness” sure lived up to their name (Dancing, Walking and Running For Fibromyalgia Awareness).
When we first talked about the 5K I told Matt I wanted to beat my run time from 2008 of 42 minutes. He agreed it would be possible and has been training with me to ensure that it happened. This morning I managed to run each mile in about 13 minutes and did squash my last run time! When I proposed this idea it was to get my head back into the game and remind myself that I’m can still do things. My diagnosis of Fibro was one that made me smile as I finally knew what was going on, but being an active person it made me feel as if I was losing myself. This morning was a reminder that I’m still me deep down inside. Although the recovery time is a little longer now then it used to be, I still had it in me.
In purple from head to toe for my support of Fibro, Matt and I crossed the finish line hand-in-hand smiling the whole way. It’s just 6 weeks from now that we’ll be facing the Disney Princess Half Marathon and this Sunday we start pushing our training so I’ll be able to get through that. I have no race time goal for the next run as just completing it is one of the biggest accomplishments in my world. The next six weeks will be tough, but I’m excited and ready for the challenge!
Did you ever play with string cheese as a child? The fun was pulling it apart and watching as the cheese tear into strips. The day I walked into my doctor’s office I used string cheese to describe what my muscles felt like every time I moved. My doctor has kids so I knew he would immediately get a mental image of what I was feeling. My joints were on fire, my muscles were paying me back for every dance step I had ever taken during my 2 decades of performing but felt like they were ripping apart every time I moved, the headaches were increasing, I was almost bordering on being narcoleptic due to how exhausted I was, suddenly I found myself having no memory at all, the increasing pain in my abdomen was just getting to be too much and it was starting to feel like breathing was too painful to be necessary; welcome to a day of living with Fibromyalgia.
Although I was happy to find out what I was up against, I was heartbroken to hear that there is currently no end to the pain and exhaustion as no one knows how to completely make it stop. However, I had a choice to make…sit on the sofa and let it take over my life or start the battle and refuse to give up. I chose the latter and the uphill battle has been challenging but very rewarding. Just recently I started to fall back into what I like to call a “fibro-funk” and slowly let the dark cloud try to pull me back in. It has taken me a few weeks to see through the fog, but I woke up today and realized that I need to remember why I chose to battle against this.
On the day of my 25th birthday I ran my very first 5K. I did it just to prove to myself that I could and told myself I would take on a farther run in the near future. Well here I am, three years down the road, and I never completed that challenge I gave myself. It’s time to shake off the fog and set my sites on a goal once again. I’ve decided that I am going to start training again so I can once again complete a 5K and now take on a half marathon this coming spring. I have no goal race time in mind as just completing the race in one piece is what I strive for. In my world, where there are challenges just trying to get up off the sofa to get something to drink, completing a half marathon is an amazing accomplishment. I hope this means that I’ll continue to push myself so that the year I turn 30 I can hopefully take on a full marathon or maybe a bicycle race.
I plan to raise money for Fibromyalgia research during my runs as they are still searching for what causes this and until they discover that the chances of finding a cure are slim and fleeting. There is so little they know about the cause, symptoms experienced and treatment. I know that October is the month that we all focus on “saving the ta-ta’s” since, as my mother pointed out in one of her blog entries, it has a much catchier slogan. However, I am a perfect example of how the awareness of Fibromyalgia is slim. It’s time for me to contribute to the answers I demand on an almost daily basis and this is how I have decided to do it. I’ll be donning my purple, the official color for Fibromyalgia awareness, both in my clothes and the color of my face by the time I finish these races but it will be worth it every step of the way. In January Matt and I will be taking on a 5K and debuting as team “D.W.A.R.F.F. Awareness” and then a half marathon in February. We’ll be “Dancing, Walking And Running For Fibromyalgia Awareness” in 2012 and I hope that you’ll chose to support us on our endeavors.