So last summer I did a thing, not knowing how it was going to work, without any details even semi-planned out, but still… I took the leap and did it. I registered for my first away road race, one that has been on my bucket list since I began getting into running years ago and not really sure if I would ever be able to run a half marathon.
That race was the Disney Princess Half Marathon down in Orlando, Florida, where you actually run through several of the parks, some place I had never been but dreamed of visiting. I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s so, HELLO…Disney Princesses are KIND OF a large representation of my childhood. I had the VHS movies, the dolls, the crazy amount of branded merchandise. You know, like so many little girls in my generation.
For those who know me, this spontaneity is a bit out of character. I ALWAYS want to have details and plans worked out in advance. It provides a sense of security, being in the know. But this race registration was about 6 months ahead of the actual event and who knows what all can happen in that time frame.
Regardless, I jumped in and completed the registration on rundisney.com with a sense of excitement and a hint of anxiety.
Whelp, as I said, the unforeseeable happened. I ended up going through a lay off at work due to a reduction in force and entering a new position where I would be required to work race weekend. I felt sick every time I thought about the race and how much money I may have thrown away. I refused to think about it much until a couple of weeks before the race, the non-profit I was working for decided to cut hours down past the point of it being practical to remain with them (daycare is EXPENSIVE y’all). I was told I could accept the reduction in hours or be considered laid off, which the executive director said he knew I couldn’t subsist on so few hours of work.
Two layoffs within one year. The stress seemed crushing, but at the same time I felt like I needed to look at this as opportunity versus adversity, and so I departed on good terms with the non-profit as I did with my previous employer not even a year prior. I launched into full job search mode and was thankful to be placed with a Fortune 500 company through my network of veteran groups.
I suddenly found myself able to attend the race. Mixed with emotions about finances and how to manage it, I filed my taxes immediately and was pleasantly surprised to find that I was estimated to receive my refunds in time for the race.
“I think I can do this. It might just work.”
I was suddenly unemployed and not required to be anywhere on such and such a day at such and such a time. My daughter is in preschool and ready to enter kindergarten this August, so there was no need for either of us to take time away from anything. It seemed like this was an opportunity and I needed to grab it. So I did, with about a week to plan.
I ended up renting a vehicle (yay to Enterprise for giving me an awesome veteran discount) for the week, opting to drive down with my 5-year-old (slightly crazy, but I’m living on the edge now, haha). I figured it would have better gas mileage than my own vehicle and if anything happens mechanically, support would be available to make sure we got back on the road, safe and sound. Easy peasy. Not to mention much cheaper than plane tickets for two people with all of the fees for luggage nowadays.
So on Thursday, here we are driving down to Orlando, Florida from Omaha, Nebraska, about a 22 hour drive not including stops, in a red 2016 Dodge Charger R/T, complete with a Hemi engine; just me and the mini, ready for sunshine, warmer weather, and a half marathon on zero training. Okay that last part sounded terrible, but I was just going to do it and pray I didn’t get stress fractures, or heat exhaustion, or something much worse. My Marine-ness was definitely showing in that poor decision-making, but oh well. Let’s do this!
We had a blast, singing songs, laughing together, enjoying the drive. At one point the terrible pain set in (the kind where my legs throb, then random numbness, tingling, and shooting pain down my legs), I knew I needed to get out, walk, and stretch, just take a break from sitting in the low-riding vehicle. I saw an exit for Metropolis, Illinois and quickly took it. If this town sounds familiar, it should. It is the home of Superman, which Olivia thought was just about the coolest thing ever.
We passed through Nashville, down to Atlanta, and on to Orlando, taking 2 days and a few hours to get there safely, stopping at a couple of hotels to get some sleep. Hotwire was an AWESOME resource for finding last-minute deals at really decent hotels based on star ratings. If it said a 3 star hotel, it gave you examples of hotels in that category and a shaded area where your hotel would be located. I checked these out to see where was close and convenient to our route and was pleasantly surprised with Hampton Inn and Clarion Suites, always asking for hot breakfasts, free parking, and WiFi. Truly an excellent site if you ever need them! I’m sold.
Early Saturday afternoon we finally made it to Winter Garden, Florida, a beautiful little suburb of Orlando, where I had arranged for us to stay with some family and them to watch her while I checked this road race off of my bucket list. After dropping Olivia off to play with the little ones, I jetted over to Disney World to pick up my race packet before the expo closed and I would then be out of luck as there was no day-of packet pick up available.
I made it to the ESPN World of Sports area of the HUGE theme park and found it quite easy despite the size to navigate where I needed to pick up my bib packet, then to the next building to pick up my tech shirt, and then quickly check out the expo before closing time. I was able to find a sweet “Beauty and the Beast” themed workout tank, which I will debut at a later date.
While hanging out with family after dinner that evening, Olivia began to say her tummy hurt. I asked her to try to use the bathroom as I had noticed a, er…uh…lack of use during the road trip. She did and said she felt a bit better. Later that night, she said she felt like she would be sick, and after being brought the family puke bucket, did in fact throw up. Poor kiddo, sick and away from home, but she didn’t seem to upset about it. No tears or fussing afterward, but again said she felt better. I prayed she would not be sick this trip, driving all this way to miss the race and taking her to Disney World anyway.
That night, while sleeping on the sectional couch with her on the other side, I awoke to the sound every parent fears…the retching noise of a sick child. Vomit went everywhere, covering their quilt she was using as bedding. I grabbed the quilt I was using as I sprung up, trying to contain the spigot that was once her mouth. We were both covered, in someone else’s home, around 12:30 am, not knowing where the cleaning materials let alone the laundry room was located, and I was set to leave the house around 3:00 am to make it to the park and my corral in time.
(When I started this blog I warned everyone I was going to be very real and raw about life-matters, and dealing with sick kiddos is one of the many joys of parenting. Therefore…you are getting all of the details. That’s life, it can be gross.)
“This can’t be happening.”
I managed to carry her to the tub, get her cleaned up and in new jammies, settled her in on a clean portion of the couch with our blankets from home, carried the soiled bedding to the laundry room, get that going, scrub the living daylights out of parts of the couch and ottoman that did not escape my child (she had a Cabi party the next day and was expecting company so this was a disaster), clean myself up, and finally lay down with about 1.5 hours to go until I needed to leave. I rested for about an hour, kind of sleeping but not really due to my alertness for any further signs of puking and my pre-race jitters, which usually keep me from getting much sleep anyway. Curled up on a small part of the couch that was unaffected by the chaos, I closed my eyes.
2:30 am came quickly, and so far, my little princess was sleeping soundly with the puke bucket nearby. No fever, no crying, no other symptoms.
“Please, GOD, let it be over!”
I was debating between going to the race and staying with her at the family’s house, really unsure of what to do. I started to get myself ready to go, still hesitant, not wanting to leave her sick in a new place.
I gently woke her up, asking if mommy should go run or if she wanted me to stay with her, which I would gladly do if she needed me.
“No, mommy, you can go run, I’m okay now,” was her sweet, sleepy reply.
If she wasn’t feeling sick and wanting me to stay with her, I felt assured she was over the hump and going to be just fine if I left. I was going to be back mid-morning anyway, right after the time she would most likely wake up. I went ahead, gathered my things and headed out the door.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Stay tuned for Part II to this story with more on the race and our trip to Florida!