Hey there Main Streeters! Today I’m going to do something a little different. I’m going to get really personal and share a bit about how and why I got into running and runDisney. Just as a warning, while I don’t do into a lot of detail, there are some topics present in this story that may be inappropriate for some audiences or be a trigger to some people.
I’ve never been a really athletic person. In elementary school I always dreaded doing the Presidents Physical Fitness test, especially the mile run. While my brother and sister were both double lettermen, I was in choir and on the debate team. So if you had told me at any time in my past that I would take up distance running, I wouldn’t have believed you. In fact, when I told my family that I had taken up running, the responses varied between laughter, disbelief, and doubt that I’d actually stick with it. Now, this is not to imply that they have not been supportive, just that this was a very uncharacteristic move on my part.
I’ve had clinical depression since my late teens/early 20s, but things got really bad a few years ago. I was in a severe car accident in which I broke my back. The police who responded to the accident say that I was lucky to be alive, and the doctors who treated me at the hospital called me their “miracle patient” because most people with the specific injury I had don’t ever walk again.
This should have given me a new lease on life and taught me to make every moment count and all that feel good inspirational stuff. But it didn’t. It sent me down farther into the spirals of depression, to the point where I was suicidal.
Even 2 years after the car accident I still was in a very dark place and would fall in and out of suicidal phases. I never actually tried anything; I just spent a lot of time without the desire to live. It was really only my newborn son that kept me from having anything other than suicidal desires.
I felt really alone. I didn’t have much in the way of friends. In fact, the opening of the TMSM Fan Nation was a huge blessing for me, as it gave me a place where I felt like I belonged. It was also the only place I felt safe being even slightly open with things I was struggling with (I had been attacked and ridiculed on my personal profile enough that I didn’t feel comfortable being open there), and the support I got from fellow Nationers whenever I needed Pixie Dust was sometimes all that kept me going.
Just over a year ago I moved to Florida. The move was incredibly stressful for me. I almost had a complete breakdown. So a friend of mine took my son and me up to Disney World for a week while my husband started his new job and got the house unpacked. Disney has always been one of those places that helped me feel better, as I am able to just forget about the stress and the sadness and just enjoy the magic.
As always, when the trip was over, I didn’t want to leave. So I started trying to figure out a way to have an excuse to go back. At the same time, because my son had gotten so used to falling asleep for his nap in his stroller while we were at the parks, I started taking him for a walk in the afternoons. After a week or two, I noticed that I was starting to get motivation to do things like laundry and unpack boxes (something that I didn’t have before we moved…my depression was literally so bad that I could barely get myself out of bed or off the couch every day). I remember one day I literally did a mountain of laundry, something like six or seven loads, which is more laundry that I probably did in the 6 months previous. That day happened to be the same day as the Disneyland Half Marathon. I saw a bunch of pictures from the race posted in the Fan Nation, and I found myself thinking that with all the costumes and stuff that it looked really fun; plus I also started getting a serious case of “bling envy” when I saw the finisher’s medals.
When I took my son on his walk that afternoon, I found myself thinking about the race and how I wanted to do something like that. It also caused me to remember something I had learned in a psychology class I had taken back in college: that running helps depression. So I started doing some research and found a study that Harvard had done that showed that running for 1 hour three times per week was as effective as medication for treating depression at the end of 16 weeks. This was significant because with the move and my husband’s new job we didn’t have health insurance and couldn’t afford medication. Plus, training for Disney Races allowed me to have an excuse to go back to Disney. So I set myself a goal: I was going to spend the year training to run the Wine and Dine Half Marathon.
I posted in the Nation that I was setting this goal for myself. And that was how I met Addie, who was training for last year’s Princess Half Marathon. I was able to pick her brain and she helped guide me through choosing a training plan and everything else a beginner needed to know.
Getting started was tough, because running was the last thing I expected to be enjoyable. But I was determined to stick with it. And the longer I did it, the more I loved it. So I modified my goal and decided to skip Wine and Dine and instead set my sights on running Dopey in 2016.
In the time I’ve been running, I’ve found it has made a huge difference in my life. It has not only helped me find purpose and a goal to work towards (something I haven’t had since I graduated college), but it has taught me a lot of lessons that I have been able to apply to the rest of my life. I’ve learned that even though it’s hard and may feel impossible, it is always worth persevering, even if you think you can’t do it. I’ve also gained a lot of self-confidence and have found myself pushing myself outside of my comfort zone in other areas of my life.
In the year that I’ve been running I’ve gone from being a couch potato with little desire to live and even less motivation to do anything, to regaining my zest for life, working 2 jobs, and actually being an active part of my family.
In short, running saved my life. And it wouldn’t have happened without TMSM and the Fan Nation.
TMSM is very excited to publish the “Racing Disney” runDisney series by Addie Clark and Tali McPike. Please keep an eye out for more of their amazing and informative articles! If you missed of the articles in this series make sure you check them at www.themainstreetmouse.com/tag/addie/ and www.themainstreetmouse.com/tag/tali/
If you are planning on running in a runDisney event and have questions, or have participated and want to talk about your experiences make sure you visit our runDisney Forum at http://goo.gl/RLB5ka
- Racing Disney: The Importance of Tapering - January 4, 2016
- Racing Disney: Running (But Not Racing) at Walt Disney World - November 30, 2015
- Racing Disney: How Running Changed My Life - November 23, 2015