Apologies for the lack of posting recently, I’ve been busy with work. I’m not going to lie, Harry Potter really oversold the magical qualities of September in the British education system…
As we’ve missed most of this month, I thought I would take a different route, and write about the RunDisney Disneyland Paris event I’ve been working towards over the last year or so.
Last year I was told by a neurologist that the frequent pain, pins and needles and numbness I was experiencing in my hands/arms/feet/legs wasn’t actually a physical issue at all, but a result of my poor mental health. Apparently this is a very common occurrence, which I guess is quite a comment on our society’s lack of awareness around mental health generally. I was given two suggestions to help, one being antidepressant medication, the other being to take up regular aerobic exercise to “override the negative hormones” as he put it. I opted for giving exercise a go!
Now, as I come from a family of fairly competitive people, obviously I couldn’t just take up exercising like a normal person. No, it had to be a challenge, something that would keep me motivated and interested. The perfect carrot appeared in the shape of Disneyland Paris’s annual RunDisney event!
Scheduled for September 2020, this meant that I would have plenty of time to train and ensure I could actually haul myself through a 10k run by the time the event arrived. I booked in September 2019, securing a room at Disneyland Paris’s Sequoia Lodge. If you haven’t been to Disneyland Paris, I absolutely recommend this resort. Not only does it remind me of the Wilderness Lodge at Disney World (where I did my college program), it’s gorgeous and within easy walking distance of Disney Village and the parks!
As my parents are among the aforementioned competitive people in our family, they decided to join me in the challenge, which was such a motivation! As they live in Australia and I live in the UK, it was also the perfect way to squeeze in another visit, and a fun thing to train for together.
There were a few vital pieces of equipment that really got me through this challenge, good shoes, hot baths, a good support network, and a Disney-packed Spotify playlist!
As I wear very large orthotics, finding shoes that fit them can often be a struggle, so I visited the big Sports Direct on Oxford Street, not really expecting to find much. Not only was the store assistant super helpful and patient with a first-time runner, but I walked out with these perfectly pink shoes that have been brilliant. I like to think they’re what Sleeping Beauty would wear on her runs! I also spoke to my podiatrist and ensured that 1) I got great new orthotics and 2) he didn’t think I was totally mad for attempting this. Both my orthotics and shoes have held up well, and I have had hardly any extra foot pain, which is amazing!
Aside from my family and partner, another great source of motivation and encouragement has been the Run Disneyland Paris Fans Facebook group. If you’re looking to do an event in the future I would definitely recommend joining, not only do they love running and can give great advice, they also love Disney!
2020 soon arrived and at that point I had managed to run my first 2 km runs, which to be honest, was an achievement in itself. I’d done a lot of walking long distances (while video-calling friends and family on the other side of the world to distract myself!) but I didn’t really have any great faith I could actually run those sorts of distances. I was determined not to give up anyway, and declared 2020 was to be the Year of Doing Things That Scare Me. I signed up for a workshop in body confidence, moved out with my partner, and decided that the song of the year was Try Everything from Zootopia (a great movie and song). Of course, you all know that 2020 was really the Year of Things That Scared Everyone.
Coronavirus hit and as my partner is of the Extremely Vulnerable persuasion, going out for a run super early in the morning quickly became the only thing I was able to do outside of the flat. The race was cancelled, a massive blow to my motivation, particularly knowing I wouldn’t be able to see my family after all.
Still, I kept running, determined not to lose sight of the fact that I had started the whole thing to help with my mental health, which obviously was under more and more strain. I managed to make it through 5 km, and eventually 10!
This weekend was supposed to be the race weekend, and Mum and Dad ran their 10 km together around their neighbourhood in tropical Cairns, in Far North Queensland (for the Pixar fans, where Nemo lives!). We celebrated together by watching Mulan on Disney+ and I set out confident on Saturday morning that I could finally complete my Disney challenge, even if Mickey wasn’t there to cheer me on.
Well, I’m not going to lie, 4 km in, I tripped and fell flat on my face! Wasn’t my finest moment, but for anyone who knows me, not an uncommon occurrence. Today however, I managed to make it through 10 km in one piece! I have already set my next September Goal, and having this one I think I have a decent shot of making the next.
I set out with a goal that I really didn’t think I would be able to achieve, I am not a fit person, I don’t like running, and honestly thought I would just give up. But I have to say that even though I didn’t get to run down Main Street, and I don’t have any Mickey-shaped food to celebrate with, Run Disney was a great motivation. I can’t thank my parents enough for being there every step of the way, even from the other side of the world, and my wonderful partner, for inspiring me.
As Walt himself said, if you can dream it, you can do it.