50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year – Thing #5 – Run Half Marathons on Each Coast in the Same Year

Coast to Coast

The Pink Coast to Coast medal.

The Coast to Coast Challenge

Given I basically haven’t travelled in the past 20 years except to Saskatchewan, Vancouver, and Victoria, trying to organize and actually follow through with two trips to the US for something as frivolous as running was truly insane – and very much needed. I used to travel a lot. I backpacked around Britain and Ireland for two months after university, and then I moved back to Ireland for six months the following year. In university I travelled to Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Windsor, Toronto, and other places for exchanges or disabled sporting events when I worked for sport groups. After university I travelled to Niagara to fly with Air Combat Canada, kayaked and sailed in Haida Gwaii, and drove down the Oregon Coast working as a travel writer.

Lately, though, I’ve found myself in a travel rut and that rut has been getting narrower and narrower. This whole 50 Crazy Things started with me on Pinterest (drinking red wine – never a good combination) seeing costumes for RunDisney. Less than a year later I was in Florida, where I had never been before, running with Amanda Cowell. In August I just decided I would run for a charity, and ended up registered in the Pixie Dust Challenge in California the following May. It still blows me away that I just stepped out of my travel rut.

I’m now a seasoned pro again with baggage, flights, and US and Canadian Customs handled. On that first trip to Florida, Amanda breezed through US customs while I looked like a babbling idiot. Of course, she had a hunky guy who was flirting with her and I had a woman who looked like she might have prison guard figure prominently on her resume. I noticed going to and coming from California my customs luck had changed and I had hunky guys in each direction. Perhaps that was because I wasn’t travelling with Amanda. Food for thought.

The Coast to Coast medal is a free option from RunDisney and I didn’t know what a big deal it was until I’d already registered for the Pixie Dust Challenge. To earn a Coast to Coast medal you need to do one RunDisney Half Marathon on each coast in the same calendar year. To earn the much coveted pink Coast to Coast you need to specifically run the Disney Princess Half Marathon and the Disney Tinkerbell Half Marathon in the same calendar year. Conveniently, I did just that. The regular Coast to Coast medal is blue. Maybe I need the set.

Why was this crazy?

I made myself leave the comfort of home, get out, move, do something unfamiliar. It’s been so long I forgot how to do it. I forgot how easy it was. And I remembered how hard it is. When you actually have a job and responsibilities it’s not always easy to just pick up and go somewhere, but for the most part, the rest of my world can adapt for a couple of days.

The Coast to Coast medal is more than a medal for running. To me it symbolizes travel that doesn’t really make sense – and that’s what makes it important.

Will I do it again?

Probably not the medal – but the travel…. ABSOLUTELY! There are places I want to go, places I want to take my mom. If I wait for the time to be right, it will probably never happen. The time is never right, and the time is always right.

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50 Crazy Things – Crazy Thing #1 – Run the Disney Princess Half Marathon

YKA Ready for takeoff!

With Amanda at the Kamloops Airport (YKA) ready to leave on our adventure!

Here it is. My 50 Crazy Things in My 50th year has begun. I, very much a non-Disney Princess, ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon at Disneyworld on February 22, 2014 – just two days before my 49th birthday. When I thought of it, it was the craziest thing I could think of doing. I was in a bit of a funk, annoyed that I was going to turn 50 next year and feeling like I’m not what I imagined 50 to look or feel like. I feel like I’m in my 30’s, in the prime of my life, like I have everything ahead of me. I needed to get out of the rut I was building around myself, the habits that were easy, making my life smaller

Oh yeah, Princess Vesta is real!

Oh yeah, Princess Vesta is real!

and smaller instead of growing bigger. When I told one of my library patrons, who is in her sixties, what I was doing she said I should do 50 Crazy Things in My 50th year to celebrate and hit that number head on instead of cowering from it. So, here I am. I am doing 50 crazy things that will help me get over fears and self-imposed limitations that keep me from living life 100 per cent. Some seem really easy and some are really hard, but all of them are designed to get me back in the game.

 It all started when…

Pinterest - Am I really going to run a marathon?

Amanda surprised me be decorating our window with images from the insane Pinterest board we used to plan the trip. I loved it!

All of this thinking started in the spring of 2014. I was drinking wine and surfing Pinterest, never a good combo, and I started coming across running costumes for races. I started randomly sending the Disney ones to my friend, Amanda, who loves Disney and had never run a step in her adult life. Long story short, she finally started talking to me again and then said, sure, let’s go for it.

We registered, a bit of a miracle there as it sold out in six hours, and then we started making plans that culminated in not only the run, but 5 days away from home, 3 days in Walt Disney World and one in Universal Orlando. I realized I hadn’t been to the United States in probably twenty years, and I hadn’t even been on a plan in six years. This trip was long overdue for me, even if it was to just shake things up a bit.

We had a great time staying at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, in an Ariel Room as a tribute to the fact that I was running as Ariel from the Little Mermaid. Amanda was running as Rapunzel.

Run wise – it sucked! I’ve felt much better during other half marathons – the time change, humidity, and crowds did me in, and the hip and foot injuries I had didn’t help. Aside from that, though, this was an extraordinary experience for me.

Why was this crazy?

Running out of the castle.

Ariel and Rapunzel coming out of Cinderella’s Castle – who gets to do that????

Although I used to travel when I was younger, I haven’t done anything different for a really long time. I hadn’t been on an airplane in about six years, and I hadn’t been to the states in about twenty years. This was the furthest east (in North America) and the furthest south I’ve ever been. I can’t remember the last time I did something that was just for me. The biggest thing was I said I wanted to do something… and I did it! This is me reclaiming my adventuresome spirit. I know my plans have inspired other people to try new things and step out of their comfort zones.

Huge thanks to Amanda Cowell for taking up the challenge, running her first half marathon, and planning the Disney part of our trip perfectly. I know it was an adventure for her too.

Check out our gallery for more pictures from our Disney adventure.

Oh yeah, we rocked it!

Oh yeah, we rocked it!

Registering for the Disney Princess Half Marathon (or 50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year)

After much stress and a ridiculous amount of trauma, my friend Amanda and I have registered for the Disney Princess Half Marathon which means we will be running through Epcot and Disney World on February 22, 2015 – two days before my 49th birthday.

forget the glass slipper

Now, much in that first sentence is significant. First, the trauma of registration. I’ll reveal our tips for surviving this unbelievably stressful activity at the bottom of this post. After the horrors of the registration process, however, running 21 Km (13.1 Miles) dressed as a Disney princess at 5:30 in the morning Florida time will be a piece of (birthday) cake!

What’s most remarkable about that sentence, though, is the phrase “Disney Princess” combined with “two days before my 49th birthday.”

Forty-nine is an age I’ve been backpedalling toward for the last couple of years because it is the day I start my 50th year, and I don’t feel nearly 50. I don’t feel, look, or act like an almost 50 year old would feel, look or act. I was dreading it and even cowering from it. It feels like I’m careening down a waterfall, bouncing off rocks along the sides, falling into a boiling pool with 50 painted on the bottom by some evil 25 year old. No matter how I cower or hide, it will still find me whether I admit it or not. My life doesn’t look like it should, or like any of us thinks it should at this point (ie relationships, established career, house, blah blah blah!).

So one night, while drinking wine and surfing Pinterest (bad combination! Nothing good can come of this!), I started to see Disney Princess running costumes. I thought these were hilarious so I started bombarding my friend Amanda with all of these running and Disney pins I was finding. She, a non-runner but Disneyholic, was completely baffled at why I was sending her these things. In my late night wine induced state I told her that I was going to run the 2015 Disney Princess Half Marathon two days before my 49th birthday – in Florida – in costume – and she was going to run it with me. After two days of radio silence I finally heard from her again.

Amanda: “You know I don’t run, don’t you?”

Me: “I run really slow, and you’ve got lots of time to train. Really we could walk it at a quick pace.”

Two more days of radio silence followed before she, much to my shock and surprise, jumped on board. Fast forward to months later, we are both obsessing about details and actually registered to run the Disney Princess half marathon.

Now, when anyone meets me, Disney and Princess are NOT the first things they think of. This is why it’s so great. I’m not just getting out of my comfort zone, I’m leaping out of it in full princess regalia and stomping on it with both feet! Working at the library, one of my favourite patrons came in and when I told her what I was planning to do and how I was dreading 50, she, who is in her sixties, declared, “You know what you need to do? You need to do 50 crazy things in your 50th year! Don’t cower from it, hurl yourself at it!” I picture myself like paint splatter being flung off a brush and onto a canvas that is my life. Hmmmm. She did get me thinking.

At that time I was also in the process of making a dress and some skirts from upcycled t-shirts (more on those in a future post). I realized at about this time that these pieces of clothing I was making had no labels. There were no sizes. They were fitted to me and that was the only label they would have – fitted to my size right now. I had an ‘aha’ moment then – 50 is a label. When I look at clothing, a 12 in some brands is not the 12 in other brands. Those are just labels that someone stuck on them. What if the same was true for me? What if 50 was a label I, and others, created years ago that has nothing to do with who I am now? What if I got rid of it like I do itchy and irritating clothing labels? It didn’t hurt that I saw shortly after that Sandra Bullock is turning 50 this summer. Suddenly it didn’t look tooooo bad! If she could do it, maybe I could too.

Thus, my plan to do 50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year was born and I will launch that year on February 22nd by running the Disney Princess Half Marathon, in costume, with Amanda and 26,000 other princesses. For the other 49 things I have a list, but it isn’t complete yet. My main rule is it will not involve jumping out of, off of, or onto anything (regardless of the paint splatter image)!

Amanda and I are now busy planning the details of our trip – good thing we both LOVE planning – I’m sure we’ll need a 12-step group when we get home and have nothing left to plan.

disney princess batman

Vesta and Amanda’s Tips for registering for a Run Disney run:

These events sell out fast and they are notorious for computer crashes and other terrifying obstacles to registration. Since the obstacles don’t seem to be going away, here are some tips for getting through the registration process with at least some of your sanity intact. Amanda and I were VERY prepared. We also took very helpful information from a number of blogs and postings from other runners.

  1.  Pee before the registration starts. Seriously! You’ll be stressed out, possibly over caffeinated, lacking in sleep and you could be sitting there for awhile!
  2. If you are running with someone else, swap registration information (Active.com log in info, name, address, birthdate, shirt size, name and contact info of next of kin, event that you’re signing up for, all credit card info including that number on the back, and also what commemorative souvenirs they want to purchase). Then if one can’t get through the other one might. ****This was EXTREMELY IMPORTANT FOR US! When we went to register I would get to the part where I submitted my credit card info and then the site would crash, I’d get an internal server error, and it would boot me out and lose all my info. It was happening to both of us but eventually it was Amanda who got me registered. It took 45 minutes but we were both in.
  3. If you have a previous race time you want to use get you into a better corral you could swap that info too but don’t worry about it if it’s going to slow down your registration. You can always send that info in after.
  4. Canadians (and other non-American residents) – don’t forget the exchange rate. The rate you see online will often be lower than the one the credit cards use so make sure you have enough available to cover all the costs. These are expensive races.
  5. Be prepared, we were ready with computers rebooted and the speakerphone on before registration started. Regarding the speaker phones, this leads me to another point. Wear a headset if the other person (ie me) is prone to swearing when they get stressed. Amanda needed that headset big time, and since I already accidentally taught her six year old son how to swear when he was visiting me in the library, she was well prepared for this possibly happening again… and it did! There were many f-bombs dropped in the name of Disney that morning!
  6. Limit distractions. Occupy the rest of your family so you won’t have any distractions. Again, this is her thing, I don’t have those kinds of distractions.
  7. Be patient! If the site crashes keep hitting refresh and trying again. I was watching the Run Disney Facebook page at the same time and people were giving up because they couldn’t get through. 30,000 other people were trying to get through as well! It took a little over six hours for the event to sell out.
  8. Try a different browser. I discovered part way through my nightmare that Google Chrome users were not crashing as much as those of us on Internet Explorer. One of the things that worked for me and Amanda was that we were in different towns, with different internet service providers, and she was on a Mac and I was on a PC. I had to humbly admit that her Mac kicked sand in the face of my admittedly cheap PC.
  9. Have an Active.com membership and remember your user name and password. Many of the problems seem to stem from Active.com, who Disney uses to process their registrations. I’ve heard other nightmares about the Chicago Marathon and other big events who use Active. Some people were able to bypass the Active membership by signing in as a guest, and a lot of people seemed to have good luck that way. I wouldn’t count on that though. It’s best if you have your account info and you can always sign in as a guest later if it doesn’t work.
  10. If you can, try a test run. The Disney Star Wars Half Marathon registration was about a month before ours. Now, we probably contributed to their problems because they were also crashing (sorry!) but we both tried registering for that event up to the point where we had to put our credit card info in, and then got out. This was just so we knew what the registration process looked like. Another way to do that is look at the events that haven’t sold out yet. I went through the process for registering for Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge during the Disney World Marathon weekend. I’m definitely not going to run a half marathon one day and a full the next, but neither are a lot of people so it hadn’t filled up yet. I got through the process AND discovered that Active.com charges a processing fee that Amanda and I didn’t know about, so we knew ahead of time to up our registration budget by about $20 (don’t even get me started on how they can charge that for a site that crashes like it does).
  11. Pay attention to social media. Part way through the registration process Run Disney posted a different link to try registering through on their Facebook page as it appeared Active was having ‘issues’ and they were trying to resolve them. This is a live feed of what people are experiencing and it’s very valuable. I didn’t look at the Twitter feed but I’m pretty sure it was similar.
  12. If you don’t get in, there are other ways to register. Amanda and I both had this in the back of our minds that it was an option. There are still spots available if you go through one of the Run Disney travel providers or if you raise money for one of the many great charities that participate and that’s a win-win for everyone.

After we registered Amanda (the extrovert) was energized and ready to rip through her day. I (the introvert) stared at the ceiling and waited for the world to stop spinning, which took most of the day.

 

Some of the many blogs we found helpful for the registration process:

http://www.glistenwhileyourun.com/2014/03/rundisney-registration-tips.html

http://www.werundisney.com/2013/04/tips-for-registering-for-major-race.html

http://makermothermarathonrunner.com/2014/04/15/tips-for-registering-for-the-2015-walt-disney-world-marathon-weekend/

 

Now I’m off to get my life handled before the race starts and before I turn 49!

eat my pixie dust