Post Half – Middle Race Done.

14 01 2012

As Patti & Roger dropped me off, my phone alarm started going off in the bottom of my check bag – Lt. Worf saying “Today is a good day to die.” Echoing off the ladies room walls!

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I was right to hit an early bus, but it was a standing ride to the start of the race. People were ok, but I felt sort of disconnected. I realized quickly that I was the only solo flier on the bus. Sigh.

I have five gels. Overkill, I know, but I am dealing with 80+% humidity. I also have a pocket full of coffee lollies and gum. I also have two sets of Hammer Endurolytes and Race Caps. Interestingly, I now know how this is to work. Thank you A and P classes! I separated the sets with one of those HUGE Perpetium chew things. If I need that, I am going to need the second set of pills!  Bottles are Perpetium.

I am wearing the yellow NF colors for my friend Melisa. The shorts are really comfy and I might buy another pair if they are on clearance on the USATF site.

Tony Horton was doing the pre-race exercises. Stretches all around. Really? Sigh.

Patti and I hooked up pretty quickly. Her amazing husband Roger took my check bag. He finds her on the route. That is so amazingly cool. And that is true love to me.

I was ok with the temperature. Patti was wrapped in a blanket. We walked up to the corrals and chatted. It was really nice. When we got there, I started the long process of warming up my legs.

I told Patti and Roger about my foot. Time to trust people. I am sick of powering through and limping over finish lines. Let runners do that. I want to finish strong with my head up.

As we were standing there, a huge guy walk directly across both my feet with most weight on my right
Oh my freaking God!  I tried to say nothing, but Patti was right there and saw it. The guy didn’t mean to do it – no harm/no foul – but Patti must have seen my eyes peal to the back of my head. I went from my level 5 pain to a level 8 with a bullet.

By the time we got to the front, I was unable to roll off the outside of my foot. Um – not good. I was close to the last corral, so there was a very real possibility I wasn’t going to finish.

Lis – put your head back in a good place! .This was really going to be a training walk with a lot of people.

The moment we started, I rolled to the outside of my foot and let Patti take off.  It isn’t like we were going to race together, but I didn’t think I would be in pain in the first steps.

One of my goals was to start out slowly … check.

Out of the two usual Disney races, the 1/2 is the most boring to me. A long time on the road, one park,  more road, Epcot traffic, home. This year was darker than I remember. I kept my heart rate between 150 and 160. Probably 14 minute miles with some bursts.

I kept my head, didn’t get too distracted, but realized just how much traffic I was stuck in. I also noticed how little endorphins I get. That will change, I hope.

Patti pops a gel before the race starts. I usually go with every 5K. I popped 1/2 a Hammer fruit gel at the start, and the other half at mile 2. Miles 5 and 10 got a Mocha Cliff. They are very different products in consistency and how they affect me.

I popped the caps around mile 7. And was nearly bottle dry by the time I finished.  There was a lot of traffic in the water stop, so I blew several off.

My biggest race specific goals were those hills. When I came out of the Disney park, I checked in with myself. People started moaning about the hill. I shut out their negative energy with thoughts of my friends who have thrived after brain tumors, cancers and other situations that, quite honestly, should have killed them. I thought about how I want to learn more about their lives.

It worked. I just spun my wheels. It wasn’t pretty, but I kept passing these guys and bruising their egos a bit! I gave myself goals to get to and hit every one.

I think I inadvertently irritated a few people motoring along and singing “Supercalifragiliaticespialidocious” with the tune being played. Cool. Checked off keeping a conversational pace.

I got to the golf course where I would be ending my leg of the relay and my foot felt funny. This time my left. Please!! Definately a blister. Not much I can do now.

Still trotting along. Happily present. Checking in. Knowing that damned curve is coming up. Ok – I can do it. I saw the off-ramp and negotiated it wide. I would have preferred the inner edge, but it was seriously banked. I didn’t need the budding blister to rip and my right foot still hurt.

As I hit Patti’s triple hills leading in to EPCOT, I kept rolling. I wondered what it would be like to have someone like Roger so supportive of what I am doing – not wanting to overshadow it. I am sure I will find a runner someday. I just have unique taste – and with my sense of humor …

Around the corner and down into the mass of humanity. I was flipping through Disney TV in my insomniac haze. They had a bedtime story channel about their newest character: a sweet curly Teddy bear. As we came in to the park, I saw Mickey’s Teddy Bear and he was all alone!! I stepped off the course to give him a big hug.

Back in the sea, walking ok. Down to the Christmas Tree, swing around and go to the choir. When I came around the corner, I knew my lack of training was working against me as was the sand pebbles I picked up someplace along the way. Head up – walk strong. Hit watch on the far side of the pads. Watch time: 03:02:59 Watch Distance: 13.28

After hanging with my friends, I went home to assess the damage.
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I have never had a blood blister before. this was the worst of the group.





Half Morning

14 01 2012

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Oh s*#t! Woke up with a headache and a really sore right foot. Hoping the headache will abate, but the foot is taking a little creative wrapping. I am simply making changes. As long as I don’t get my foot run over by a bloody stroller, I should be able to manage the pain.

Speaking of managing pain, I hope Art’s back is better and that the Dr Hoy’s keeps him glued together enough to get to the med station on the far side of the Magic Kingdom.

How pathetic is it that I know where the BioFreeze stations are?

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Since I break the “nothing new on race day” thing with reckless abandon, here are this race’s items:

√ Longest walk in the KSwiss KRuz bowling shoes. They are the one’s I wore with snowshoes for training. The rep wants my video sent to the company in California. I would if I could edit it!

√ Compression calf sleeves. It took forever to get them over my swim flippers (feet). Note to self: put sock on first. Nervous about this because if they are too tight they will become $50 rags.

Coronado Springs has full transport busses, so I have to get there early. I had such fun with Larry since we both fed off our morning person attitude. Sacramento found me sleeping on Nyle’s shoulder going to the races. I love to stare at the ocean in Huntington Beach.

Going to be a lonely walk to the front. Meeting Not-A-Morning-Person Patti at the race start.

Oatmeal was really mushy like cardboard. Banana from yesterday’s food bag. Coffee. Apple. Hammer Heed. Put Hammer Perpetuim in my carry bottles and mixed a Recoverite for post race. Can’t guarantee I am getting a water at the end of the race that makes it through finish.

Patti, Roger, and I are going out to lunch after. I have never done that.

First things first. Concentrate on today’s race. Keep it loose and easy
Conquer the long hill outside the Magic Kingdom. Master the curve between mile 10 and 11. Deal with the rolling hills. And have fun.

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Made A New Friend and Got A New Stitch!

14 01 2012

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I am tired, but I feel like I have put some good into the world!

The Bus Roulette found me trotting on the Expo bus. The gal who was counting people laughed because it was the third time she had seen me: going to/from the race and then to the expo. She said I could probably hop a Downtown Disney bus from there. I didn’t think so, but plopped my butt thinking I could take a shuttle to the Pop Century and check it out.

On the bus were a couple of TNT folks: a pretty blonde girl attached to her phone in front of me and a good looking guy in a ballcap across the asile. Usually, TNT folks travel with their whole team or in clumps, but these two were flying solo. Since they were both TNT, I figured I would point out the packet pick-up and maybe see them again in passing.

We all have our vanities. I have more than I would admit to in this forum. I have to face facts with my hearing. I have holes in it here and there. I know I am not in the business anymore, but it isn’t anything I want to accept. I bring this up because I realized as Art was telling his story, I was half depending on a bit of lip reading.

Lip reading gets me in trouble. In this case, I kept calling Art “Alex.” His story was fascinating. I won’t repeat it here because it isn’t my story to repeat. I can say that usually guys in ballcaps have a real problem with eye contact or eyes really being seen. In just the bus conversation, I realized he has absolutely no problem with eye contact! In fact, by the time we got off the bus, I didn’t see the cap anymore.

I think the reason the bus roulette had me going to the Expo was to meet my new friend Art.  He had aggrivated an old lifting injury and didn’t have his race paperwork. He was in more pain than he was admitting to, I think.

We lost the pretty girl to a phone call so Art was stuck with me on a second wind. Poor man! We got his waiver and he looked me straight in the eyes saying “Why do you call me Alex? My name is Art!” Oh crap!

Tomorrow is going to be Art’s first half marathon. He got his number and we checked to verify that it was him before we went to get his shirt. He had that look I get when I am hiding pain, but he kept going. He was meeting his TNT mentor at the expo, but had no clue as to what kind of zoo the second part of the expo was.

I got the feeling if his back was better, he would have wandered the expo, but it wasn’t an “a” priority. I was wondering on the race shirt fit because he is a big guy – but everything was going his way!

Wow! A nice person?! What a novel thought. Then I met Charlene and realized my race was made! I met two nice people – and they didn’t mind me being around! In fact, they invited me to stay!

Charlene had one thing she wanted to look at and I just had the drop in at the sock booth. I wasn’t dragging a new friend over to the Chiquita booth in hopes of bananas.  Photos and silliness, but Art was in pain. I had my Dr Hoy’s in my room and he needed it more than me. Charlene had to find the TNT booth. Before she left, I asked her to take a pinky promise — that Art would be smart in his first race … something hard for a guy … and probably harder for me!

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I have no dobt that this guy is going to hold to it. I hope he does!

So, we toodled off from the expo back to the resort. We have some similarities in our professional background and, for me, that is really rare. I also realized, again, how good his eye contact is. I have to work on that!

I dropped stuff off at my room and although I was feeling tired, I went to Downtown Disney. Sitting on the bus listening to conversations I saw a lot of race stereotypes which would have been fun to make quiet comments with Zach. He was funny that way.

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I wandered about feeling pretty good. I didn’t need anything. If something came to me, it would.

I didn’t remember the left handed store at Disney.  I saw my favorite Lego dragon. People watching was nice. I found my Travel Stitch and was happy.

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It was either take the boat floating up to the Port Orleans resorts or go wandering through the animation shop. Boat would be nice to share and I fly solo – maybe too much.

Most people laugh that I always have a book in my hand. I saw a poster that was waaaaaaaay out of my price range of Stitch reading a book in a drawer. Like I would find an affordable print.

I sit here content on a bus going back to Coronado Springs a lot richer than I left: two new friends, a travel Stitch, and a poster of Stitch in a tube!





Whichever Bus Comes First

14 01 2012

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Whenever I have stayed at this resort, I have had to search for a hammock. This time, I am around the corner from Hammock Row. As I was watching people arrive on Thursday, I slipped into a hammock that was damp. Erf!

Strength and conditioning coach and friend Brian Cooper said I was under orders to do a lot of hammock time. Gotta love it! Of course that time came with the order to eat every two hours!

I tried that last night before the 5k and eating is so far from my mind! I had one of my camping food dinners and a variety of foods. I brought the handful of honey crisp apples but couldn’t bring bananas. I definately was in potassium deficit. I didn’t see any bananas at the Chiquita booth, but if the bus lottery has me going to the Expo before Downtown Disney, I will check.
image The Expo wasn’t all that for me this year. The Chiquita booth is buried in there, but I should be able to find it again.

I must admit that I am slightly lonely this year. I am remembering a lot of things. Zach would have been in my face for not motivating my own training and for forgetting my duck cap for the 15th Donald!!

image I am more centered. I think it is because I am deciding that I am attracting good people into my world as I make the hard decision to close the door on some of the emotional vampires and drags of my life. I know that sounds bitchy, but when you are weighted down by people who want to camp out on their pity pot, hold you in a place they believe you should be based on their own skewed perceptions or your past, or just are not moving forward.

Fear keeps us all immobile for a variety of reasons. I know people can be limiting with the best intentions, but I see what it has done to me.

I have to trust my instincts because they nearly always are right.

image Goals for the races:

√ Keep head in a good place, even if I have to do 15 minute miles.
√ Walk at an all day pace between 150-160 heart rate.
√ Let people go at the start and pull it out at the end.
√ Cut myself some slack
√ Don’t worry about time. Working on racewalking entire race – no drills or tourist walking.

It really is pretty quiet here. I am exhausted still. I am so over-packed – especially in food. If I remember, I will post the photos. The “handicaped” room has pretty good shelving. The best part is the hooked sink spout. I can easily fill bottles

Oh yeah – I am using one of those shaker bottles with a ball for Hammer’s Recoverite. What was really nice was that they put post race food in little bags. That would be awesome if they continued that!

I had better get going. Time for Bus Roulette:

Where am I going:

Expo then Downtown Disney?
Or
Downtown Disney?

Let the Fates decide!





Being Bright in 5k’s of Darkness

14 01 2012

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Good Morning!

If anyone was awake at 3 AM on the hammocks side of Coronado Springs, you would have heard my cackling laugh as my costume test walk ended in a wardrobe malfunction! I was dared by reader Ollie to race in a swimsuit at Surf City 1/2 merrython next month. I decided to sign up for the 5k in order to trial the costume in high humidity. The bikini top was ok for an indoor trial, but not at speed.  The positive part of the trial is that I won’t embarrass myself wearing a truly hideous bikini top!  If the test had failed during the race, I would have been tossed off the course in EPCOT!

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As Patti would say “Lizzy – further proof you shouldn’t dress yourself!” Actually, pretty comfortable. I used a hand held race bottle with lemon lime Hammer Heed and a pocket full of coffee candies.

When the speech therapist was trying to help me with my vocal cord dysfunction, she had me sucking on sugar free candies. Do you have any clue as to how hard some of those wrappers are to open while racing? In Sacramento, Aussie friends got me hooked on coffee and hard caramel “lollies.” Trident gum and lollies.

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My friend Melisa races for NF and she gave Bailey a hat and race shirt that I wear with pride. I also know she loves my Stitch ears, so I made a 100% humidity race for a good friend who is a BK racer their last race. That is not to say I won’t ask sewing friends to make me a more weather resistant pair! 🙂

I was dancing about in the relative heat wondering how they were going to do this race when I ran into this guy with his whole family. He was freezing! Gloves, scarf, pants, long sleeved shirt and ear muffs!

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The cool thing about this 5k is that it is for families. There are three waves. The third is the “walker” wave where the strollers are. In the pre-race paperwork (where I read my wardrobe malfunction would have popped me off the course) it is clearly stated that strollers are to be walked only at the end of the race in the walk section. That is way cool! The stroller people I talked with said they had no interest in running with the stroller. This is the family race and the parents each have their endurance event.

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While I was trying to warm up my knee and feet a gal came up to me saying “I used to watch a really nice Chinese girl doing that. ” I smiled because I realized she was talking about my dear friend and elite race walker Susan Randall – who I had met only a year ago!

I inadvertently started with the first group, which was supposed to be out to 11 minute miles. The sign I thought I was following was 11-13 minute miles. Once I was slammed in the corral I realized I was in the first group – but after looking around, I knew they weren’t too hard on corrals.

I guess I have gotten sensitive about corral hopping because of the bad press tourist walkers and slow runners  have gotten because they have blocked those who belong in that wave.  Heck, when I am at speed, I am irritated by the traffic.

I guess I see my being able to move up in corrals as a “reward” for training and hard work.

The beginning of the 5k is where we walk up to the half marathon. See ya tomorrow!!

I am working by heart rate. I kept myself between 150-155 bpm, but the humidity killed me! I braced my knee but calves not right. I picked up a pair of compression calf sleeves, but they are the strongest compression. I might want slightly lighter. Will go back after I finish this post and a shower!

What was fun were the Dads and Daughters running together. I played a little leapfrog with a 10 year old. “Daddy – the tall lady walks faster than you run. Can I try?” Hey – next generation of racewalkers?

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In Sacramento I met my buddy Franz from Austria. He has been great about sending me photos of his world. I am fascinated. So, so the only stop I made in this race was in Germany. About as close to Vienna as I was going to get! Franz was cheering me on from another time zone.

There were some characters along the course but it was serious dark.

I had heat issues. The surf board covered shirt is regular fabric and didn’t wick anything. I will probably wear something else as a top. I love my new race hat, but the standard issue with overheating there too. I look terrible in the skull caps, but they wick better for me. I will miss the bill of the cap. Gotta figure that out – it covers more of my face. Maybe a visor?

Wow – how vane am I? I am horribly color un-coordinated and I want to cover my face!

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The finish line (photo is before the race) is in the same spot as the endurance races. Some of the stroller bragade said “I getta go across the same finish as mom and dad.”  What a cool thought! 

Cregh Kelly is a race promoter from Colorado and I have seen him after several races. I pushed the finish and crossed the course to say hi. He ended up interviewing me!! Ok – they need commentary.  I gave some props to the slower racers, Disney people and when he asked what I was going to do for the day I said “Eat and hang out in a hammock!  I got two more races this weekend!”

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I was happy with my 5k. Not fast. 00:41:05. I remember looking quickly at my Garmin when I was in Germany. I have a screen set with time, heart rate, and pace. Not as concerned about pace. Problem was that pace wasn’t reading. Happens.

Funny to see Cregh at the end because I won his Stadium Stampede for women’s racewalk with a far slower time. Ok – no fast female racewalkers were there. This was a far more satisfying.

So – shower — hammock — then either back to the expo to find out about the compression sleeves or Downtown Disney –> whichever bus comes first.

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Disney Expo & Memories

14 01 2012

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Wow – flight out with 90 people!  Yippy Skip!

Got on the bus to Coronado Springs fast. This is amazing!

Did I mention in my first post that I actually packed early? Miss Bailey Boo (dog) has been feeling poorly and had thrown a spanner into my mental works. I decided that instead of my usual “I leave in 3 hours, I probably should pack” situation, I would have more respect for my racing and pack early. I did ok, only to find that I had only 1 of the standard 2 Disney baggage tags. This meant that only one of my bags would be delivered – and I ain’t no fool – it would be my 52 pound food bag!

I carried race clothes and books on the plane. I realized just how tired I was when I got turned around in the Orlando Airport. I know that confusing place — actually, small airports cause me more problems. I got my other bag and rolled to the amazingly short lines for the transport to Coronado Springs.

Coronado Springs is NOT my favorite Disney resort. It is their business convention resort which is nice when I go on an Insomnia Wander, but it is … boring. And, just to sound like a whack job, I swear I am allergic to the resort.

I got sick my first year there and I was unable to get my food right or even sleep the second. The second was my first Goofy.

I had to meet my friend Zach at the starting chaos! He said that the budget resorts were more interesting – Pop Century and Movies.

I like my funky, still over-priced budget Disney hotels simply because they are budget. I stayed at the Movies resort for the Frozen Goofy and it worked for the most part. I wanted to stay at the Pop Century.

  This go, however, I had real problems with time and I didn’t get my reservations in. If it looks like I am going back, I am making them immediately!

My room is the handicapped room. Makes me laugh because of thinking of my pal Zach. He didn’t get handicapped rooms usually “because the view sucks, Lis!”

Off to the Expo:

I remember my first time going to the Disney expo. Back in the day it was all in one place – or at least I think it was. I got on a bus while I was still trying to figure out the TNT wrist band nonsense. There was no real “guide” and I hadn’t gotten close to anyone on the team.

So, I got off and followed the herd to get in line to get my Marathon number.

I remembered listening to the conversations on the bus and feeling completely out of place. I was in awe of everything, but I don’t like feeling lost.

I had my signed waiver and wallet. I walked into what I think was called The Milk House and was overwhelmed. Nothing, except going to Trekkie Conventions in San Francisco when I was a kid could prepare me for overseeing such mass craziness.

Don’t get me wrong, I have worked, crewed, and manned the booths in industry expos if many industries, but when I did that, I had a purpose. Now, I was one of all those skinny runners.

How did I end up here?

On a dare of sorts.  My friend Heather tried to get me back in to running so when I came to my senses and moved back to California from Colorado we could run together.

I quickly got my bearings and got my packet, “goodie bag”, and my “large” shirt that fits my very thin mother perfectly!

Flash to 2013. They split the number pick up from bag pick up. The races are getting larger, but also probably to have us “vets” have to negotiate the booth floor.

I am used to one stop Goofy bib pick up. This year, the 5K pick up was upstairs with Goofy. It was then I found out a sticker was given to put on the outside of the bag. I would have to find out from Patti if they did this last year. I also found out that the 5k was untimed. Sigh.

I had to go downstairs for both the 1/2 and relay numbers. I was so tired my dyslexia was operating in overtime!

There was this neat pin for the Donald (1/2 marathon) to say how many times you had done the race. I thought of my friend Zach, who would be laughing as I couldn’t remember the number!

The info people weren’t a lot of help as to the relay. I knew I was there before Patti and, being the protective logistics freak that I am, I wanted all information I could gather. We weren’t going to have to pass anything, but other than that – and the most confusing “bag check system” I had ever read – I was hoping that we would only do the relay this one year.

There is a sort of mystique still around the Goofy, even after they started opening it to more people. I felt a pang of inadequacy realizing I wasn’t going to race it this year.  As I walked to the second part of the expo, I had to remind myself that I have specific goals and am completely detr

ained!

Standard Disney race zoo. Lost people not realizing they had to go to the back. “I’ll show ya!”

Three different race bags. Bib numbers and bag stickers for each race. Timing for the longer races is hard attached to the back of the bib. No more folding them to size.

Picking up the relay bib, it turned out that the gal giving me my shirt’s daughter racewalks and she started asking me about people that only a year ago were names but are now friends.

I have been having knee problems, so the only thing I was interested in were compression calf sleeves. I think I did the entire expo in 20 minutes.

I started writing Patti with the answers I got and went back with a few of hers. When I got outside, the Disney locals were in mufflers and gloves.

Tomorrow is the 5k. I think I might be doing too much while tired.





DIA to Disney: A Trip To The Past

14 01 2012

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(My phone just downloaded an update to WordPress. If these posts look strange, sorry!)

I am on my way back to Disney after a year away. It feels like longer, but that could be because the Disney World Races are at the beginning of the year.  In this case, I am going to find out really how I feel about things. You see, Disney World was my first full Marathon.

I really didn’t feel like I belonged there. I probably didn’t! I had barely trained, was relying on my fitness from Pilates, and had just been fired from my job.

Although I was a part of Team in Training, my life and personality kept me from training with the team. Then there was the question of eating. Something most people dont think about with a “vacation.” I remember realizing that all that was guaranteed was a place to stay, one night’s dinner two days before my event and a post event meal. This meant that if I was going to eat, I would have to do as such at Disney prices.

I packed my bag the night before and I scrambled and put food into a second checked bag. I had the room to myself, so maybe I wouldn’t embarrass myself too badly. I could say I needed time to myself or something to skirt not being able to afford going out with the team.

A few things happened that I probably chronicled here, but what I never have told is the story of Zach.

Post-race, when I was waddling, slowly, back to my hotel room in Port Orleans, I was followed by a guy who called out: “Excuse me, Miss.”

I turned around to see a guy kind of hobbling toward me. He was the first BK (below the knee) blade runner I had ever seen, much less met. He was wobbling off his right leg and I was wobbling off my left. Instinctively, I went back to help.

“Miss – between the two of us, we make one person!” I laughed. “Well we need each other. If I could share your leg, I will show you where the elevator is.”

It turned out that he was in the room next to mine and had been watching me wandering, alone, about the resort. Not in a creepy way, he said I looked like I was taking in all the flowers and trees most people were taking for granted.

I got him up to my door and he started to fall over. No matter how beaten up I felt, I realized that this guy was far worse. I got the door open and over to the chair. I would have used the second bed, but it was covered in snacks!

“Oh my God you have a lot of snacks!” I handed him a gatorade and bounded off to fill the ice buckets (I took his key).  My soreness was gone. 

I found out his name was Zach and he had just run both the 1/2 marathon followed by the full. Something now called “the Goofy.”  I said it should have been called the Insane!! He had lost his leg in Afghanistan.

After sharing my snacks, I helped him over to his room and proceeded to subject myself to the nightmare from hell, otherwise known as an ice bath.

As I left for the “Victory Party,” Zach was dressed and wobbling toward the restaurant. It just so happened my thing was near there, so we walked – slowly and wobbly – together. The “bash” was really too loud for me. Ok – actually the “music” was badly distorting and set my teeth on edge!

I saw a few people,  thanked the Puerto Rican team, and felt genuinely out of place. I felt a bit alone. I don’t get out very much, so I figured I would enjoy my last night of fantasy before the nonsense of real life set back in.  I wandered past the pool tables and there was Zach.

“Lis – in honor of your first Marathon, I want to show you the town – or at least treat you to a cocktail at the Irish place on the Island.” I laughed.

I am not the girl most guys takeout like that – especially at 195 pounds!! “We gotta go back to the rooms first though. I want to wear my Dress Leg.” Ha!

I had to throw a few things in my bag then showed up in my funky long dress covering sunburn and chaffing. 

“Where the hell is your medal Girl?”

Standing in front of me was a guy in white pants and Hawaiian shirt, clinking away with huge gold medals. He also had a cane. “Ok – it helps!” He flew into my room and found my medal on my checked luggage. “Damn it – be proud of yourself!”

Clink – clink – shuffle – shuffle – laugh. “We are like a Hawaiian Mary Poppins and Burt! Where are the pengins?”

We got to the boat and floated under a really nice Florida sky down to the shopping island. People were out partying.

“Lis – I will never forget the look of wonder in your eyes!” He told me a couple years later. “You wanted to see everything. I thought I would have to trade in my cane for a fishing pole! But you wouldn’t leave me!”

He found out three of my favorite characters were Dumbo, Lady, and Stitch. His favorites were Thumper, the surfing turtle from Nemo and Mike from Monsters, Inc.  

“Have you seen Finding Nemo? ” No. “Well you should. You remind me of Dori. Keep on Swimming, Girl!”

Turns out we both like the old animation, Chip and Dale, Slinky Dog and Star Wars.

He wanted to find something for his nephew and I found the “clearance” area. In there, we found a fish he said was Nemo. Ok.

We wandered about and saw amazing Lego dragon, and more colored plastic blocks than I had ever seen. He laughed.

We did get a cocktail and fish and chips at the Irish place. I was afraid to order and he said to the waitress:

“My sister here just finished her first ever marathon. She walked the whole thing in just a hair over six hours. Not a step of running. Only walking. I am the proudest big brother there is.”

I nearly died but there were cheers around me. It was then I noticed he had hidden his medals in his bag! He did more mileage, but said it was my moment. I still tear up. Nobody had ever done that for me.

Zach was full of surprises. As we left the pub, he said “Oh! This is for you. Don’t worry, it is from clearance.”  A pair of blue Stitch ears. I had been able to get a post race photo on a very old disposable camera with Stitch and now I had his fuzzy ears!

Yes, peeps, this is where my Original Stitch ears came from. I have always told the wandering part and clearance rack, but my friend was private to me. His request!

Zach lived in Hawaii. He was there for my first Goofy (“Yeah, Lis, like you would never do something do silly! “) and then my second he was sick. “Got a cold, Sistah Mine! ”

In 2010 – aka “The Frozen Goofy” – Zach couldn’t shake a cold. He was in the hospital. “Go have fun and stop hurting yourself! Spread Lizzyness!” Whatever that means.

The races were terrible. Frozen, sloppy messes. There were silver linins. I did meet my morning bus friend Larry and his family. On the course, I met a gal from TNT named Melissa who was doing her first marathon as a Goofy and was ready to quit. Try again! We hung out and, for the first time, I got to really “see” the second half of the course. She also took tons of photos. I never really thought I would see them, but within a week, I was sending photos of Thumper and me and Mike and me to the hospital where Zach was.

I was in constant text contact with my race brother. Something didn’t feel right. I felt super lonely, even though I went to EPCOT for a frozen dinner in Morocco. I also got a photo of me and Dori from a diorama.

My phone buzzed as I was by the huge Christmas tree thinking of how much fun Zach would have had with Patti, Roger and me.  “Hey Girly. Did you get to see Stitch?” Said a very weak voice. Nope, but I did know who Dori was. “Next year, Lis, you and me doing the Goofy together. Ask your friend for better weather! You better train! Long distance Pinky Promise.” I don’t enter into pinky promises lightly. “Pinky Promise, Zach!”

I found out from his family that he died of an aneurysm with the photos right there with him.

I was standing in the Denver Airport going to a race when I got a call from his “gentleman friend”   “You meant a lot to Zach, Miss Shepard.” Yeah. Right. Whatever. I am just me.

I couldn’t face Disney again. Didn’t feel like training. Figured that I was only good for helping people. That isn’t bad in and of itself, it just is what it is.

When my pal died, I took a good hard look at what was going on and shifted hard. I also kept getting sick. Probably more to do with the ill effects of stress and life.

In 2011, my buddy Patti called to say “Lizzy – you coming back to Disney? They are doing a relay with Chip and Dale on the medal.” Patti didn’t know about Zach. She didn’t know how hard it is to go back. She did know my last Disney was rough. She just registered us while I was on the phone!

So – here I sit in Denver International Airport waiting for an 8 am flight to Disney World. Again, I truly cannot afford this trip. Again, I have not trained. Again, a lot of drama is swirrling about that I just need to sort out.  I am going for the 5k, 1/2, and first 1/2 of the full … and to make some decisions.