It seems like this past weekend was forever in the making, and while it was at times stressful with all the crafting, home shows, virtual run and overall fundraising, it was so worth it. I have so much to say, but I’m afraid you’ll stop reading if I mention every detail I can remember… but that’s ok, I will break it into sections so if you just want to skip to the end, you can, I’ll understand…
Getting to California, by plane, can be interesting to say the least! Actually all my flights had something interesting or disgusting on them, maybe it’s just me? I find people interesting in general – I am a people watcher in my spare time (which right now is none but beach season is coming so I will catch up). Airports are great places to watch people, and with 3 hr layovers in Atlanta, well, a girl can watch some people!
Flight One – Myrtle Beach to Atlanta
I must have been feeling giddy because I was all smiles and humor. After waiting about 10 minutes for quite possibly the worst cup of coffee, I sat at my gate. Unbeknown to the dude who returned to his unattended baggage (shhh) I felt chatty… I don’t know if I just was excited or why I felt the need to be friendly but I started asking him if he liked his iPad (not that I really cared). I eventually boarded my plane and was seated to the rear of a small business plane (like 48 seats total). I came to my seat, looked at the old guy sitting by the window, and blurted out “It’s your LUCKY day! I’m sitting here”… again, not sure what had come over me. Others laughed as I took my seat. He said, “I’d been lucky if you brought me coffee”, I replied “Don’t feel bad, it tastes like shit!”…seriously, on a roll… and for 545am, that wasn’t too bad. The flight took some bumps, and it reminded me that I hate smaller planes. The turbulence must have knocked something loose for this old guy in the front, he made his way back to the bathroom and then completely destroyed it (along with our air quality, and almost my will to live!) – all I could think was “Seriously? You couldn’t wait 10 minutes?”
Anyway, we landed, and I got out of the green fog as soon as possible, thanks dude. I then had 3 hours to wait. It’s fine, $10 in Starbucks and an outlet for my laptop, I am all set. Then I find out – there is NO free WiFi!!! Ugh, really??? So I anti up the $9.95 for a 30-day hot spot service, which is spotty at best. Great.
Flight Two – Atlanta to Orange County
Finally we board, and it kills me how they announce pre-boarding and everyone and their uncle stands just to wait. I get on, and find my seat. An aisle, yes perfect for the 5hr flight! Then a woman asks me if I’d change seats with her so she could sit next to her daughter (who was like 3) and of course I oblige, it’s the right thing to do. Little did I know what I was in for, and in this case karma was not working with me. As I snuggled into my middle seat, I found myself wedged between a rather large man (whose back rolls were infringing on my arm rest) and a woman who obviously had a hard night out reeking of booze and yes, sweaty feet (she must have thought she was home and took her boots off – yuck!)… She went on to order 3 bottles of Merlot and dominate the row with her abundance of electronic devices. After hour 3, I had no choice but to interrupt her work to use the bathroom…this would be the longest flight ever…
Finally the flight from hell concluded and I checked my phone – Heather was waiting at my gate! As I came through the door I scanned the crowd for my running PIC – there she was, as happy as can be – all smiles… we have arrived. We quickly looked for the exit and headed to our hotel. We checked into our hotel, found our room and then shortly after, meet up with our TNT Flex team in the lobby. They were heading to the expo, but Heather & I were doing that Saturday since we had plans to meet up with a running mom friend… instead we hit the bar to relax… after a little while we got our second wind and decided to head for Downtown Disney! We were starving, and began our carbo loading with Mexican food… oh I love Mexican food! The only negative about Tortilla Jo’s was that they took Queso off the menu!!! Who does that? Everything else was fabulous! After gorging ourselves, we decided to hit a few stores and potentially cause a scene with our shenanigans and what not. I am a dork, and so is Heather – so this was pretty fun.
Saturday morning we met up with our Flex team and just did a quick run, about 2 miles out and back… This was my first exposure to the hills I had not been expecting… Seeing the start line really made it all sink in, tomorrow I will be running 13.1 miles…eek!
After the warm up we had our team breakfast, we met Ivy, our team inspiration, it sucks to see cancer effecting children. We all signed her Tinker Bell wings and heard from another member whose son was undergoing a treatment the next day, it is really so unfair and it makes me think about my own kids and their health. There were also a few survivors running on our team, and more with family connections. I found myself almost out of place since I didn’t have a direct connection to blood cancer, I mean cancer yes, prostate and breast cancer, but nothing to share about this form… not that I am complaining, seriously, I feel blessed – it just separated me (or at least that is how I felt) from everyone else.
The Expo – time to pick up the packet!
After the breakfast, Heather and I headed to the Expo to pick up our race packets and do some shopping (oh man alive did I do some shopping!)…
We walked there from our hotel, it wasn’t terribly far, maybe 15 minutes or so. It kept getting more real. I had never been to Disneyland, and I had only ever run one half marathon, I was nervous and giddy at the same time! We made our way through the masses and scored our bibs… next stop, shirts! I can’t tell you how awesome this expo was, tons of vendors, tons of shopping, tons of people! I must have held a few things before I would say, “Maybe I’ll come back for that”, which I’d get so caught up in something else, I didn’t… which was a bummer because I wanted a sparkly headband and an iFitness belt!
Where I did stop (twice no less) was RunningSkirts! Heather and I had ordered our matching outfits prior to the expo but thought maybe we should get some sleeves, and then I later thought I should get my Belle outfit for The Princess Half (2/27)… I won’t say what I spent, but it was more than I should have… I do love these running skirts, I get the athletic ones (and the ultra in yellow with the shorts) because my thighs have a love/hate relationship – they love to rub and I hate the chaffing! I also picked up a skirt for the Myrtle Beach Half (2/18)… I found another obsession, luckily it coordinates with my running shoe fetish! It wasn’t long until we found ourselves hungry, tired and ready to relax… back to the hotel (after a pitstop at the gas station for snacks) to watch some t.v. and prepare for the Inspiration Dinner.
The Inspiration Dinner!
It’s hard to believe how much good people can do collectively. I know there are some skeptics out there, who don’t believe in donating because they feel the money won’t go to what it should. I am not a skeptic, and I am proud to be a part of a Flex Team, one that collectively raised $100k, and part of all the TNT Teams, which collectively raised over 1 million dollars for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It is amazing, the human race can do wonderful, generous, and astounding things, accomplish so much good, simply by working together (Congress, you could learn something here) for the benefit of others. Albeit my dress is not the most flattering, and oddly Heather & I coordinate (which was not planned btw), this night was filled with touching stories of survivors, as well as those who put up the fight of their lives, but couldn’t win. Of course my heart aches for all, but every picture of a child with cancer fills my eyes to the brim. While I don’t have a personal story, it’s the mom in me that made this journey important, for every mom who watched their own child fight for their lives before they even got a chance to really live it – that is where I came from – not even being able to imagine walking one step in their shoes and praying I will never have to.
After the Inspriration Dinner, we headed to the lobby with our shirts for a decorating party with the team. Heather & I have a special woman in our Running Moms group who inspires us all. Denise “Da Diva” Carter. She is a survivor, and recently found out that the cancer is back. So to honor her, for her strength, her tenacity, and her pure Diva’nass, we dedicated our shirts and our booties to her! She is a fighter, she is a marathoner even while on her “glow in the darks”, she is outwardly positive, and I’d run 1000 miles if she never again had to worry about WBC counts, or chemo, or anything but shoes and sunshine.
After completing our outfits the best we could, still being on east coast time, oh and having to be in the lobby by 4:15am, we headed to our room to layout our gear for the 3:45am wake up… damn that’s early! Of course genius here (me) couldn’t figure out how to get my iPhone to PST, so my alarm went off at 12:45am instead of 3:45, talk about feeling sick all of a sudden… I’d finally get it straight, the day before we were leaving. Anyway, the morning came quickly and it was time, the moment we’d been working for, training for (well sorta), waiting for, and were beyond excited about… Off to the Inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon! I was exhausted yet excited… this was it!
We were lucky enough to meet up with another Running Mom, Bethany! It was such a blast running through Disneyland (which I had yet to see in the daytime) and then through the city and finishing through California Adventure… I felt awesome (even with the hills!) throughout the race, stopping for photo ops with various characters (most of my pics are blurry…boooo!) – we walked through most of the water stations, and stopped at about 4 porta johns. This was never a race for time, it was a race for fun! Although around mid-way Heather stated that she wouldn’t own up to a 3hr Half so we needed to get moving (it’s ok we still love you) – Our pace picked up with the shear fact that we were out of the narrowed paths of Disney and into the streets. We weren’t stopping for pictures, just hearing the cheers from all of those who came to clap and yell from the curbs… it was quite motivating actually! If I could get them to do that for my long runs, long runs may actually happen more often…
Some of the pictures taken along the way…
and some after we completed the half, meeting up with another Running Mom, MC (center) and on the right, fellow TNT Flexer Run Kat who is a survivor – you go girl!!!
I’m going to Disneyland!!!
After completing one of the most exciting races I’ve ever been in, it was off to the showers, and then Disneyland!!! Have I mentioned I had never been to any Disney before? I know it’s crazy! 36 years old and FINALLY I’m seeing the happiest place on earth! Apparently there is no alcohol being sold there, which I asked Heather how is that possible? Parents are stressed, kids are crying and there is no alcohol – Happiest? Really? Huh.
I mean I was happy, I was taking it all in, riding rides, being reminded that there is no flash photography allowed in the Pirates ride by some snarky voice somewhere in the darkness… I even splurged for the souvenir cup, which I was reminded there were no free refills with this purchase (I mean, for $6.95 the least you could do is refill!) which is fine, I wasn’t getting through it all anyway! This cup would be the bain of my existence as I struggled to find room in my suitcase for all I had purchased! I had a blast even though rides that someone (Heather) had told me I wouldn’t get wet riding, I came out soaked… It was a pretty fabulous time.
Unfortunately, at some point it had to end… I was missing my family as was Heather… and while parting is such sweet sorrow – we will be seeing each other in a few weeks! Heather is coming to town and pacing me for the Myrtle Beach Half (even though I told her to just run it for herself!). I guess my goal is 2:20 or less… sounds feasible. Anyway, we took our last airport photo and she went on to board her flight. I gathered my belongings and transitioned from Gate 2 to Gate 3… Until we run again my dear friend…
Flight Three – Orange County to Atlanta
The girl next to me was about to laugh her ass out of the seat. Of course I had to know “What the hell are you reading?” – Chelsea Handler, My Horizontal Life… Carry on! I love that book, and all her books actually. She later went to show me a picture on her cell, it was a Starbucks cup in the toilet of the airport bathroom, interesting but even more interesting were the pictures of what I assume is her tatas… I wanted to compliment her, I, being a member of the IBTC, found myself slightly jealous… but I thought it might make it awkward, so I held back… I shouldn’t have, WWCD?
Flight Four – Atlanta to Myrtle Beach
|Seat 7D….We can see you!|
It was my last leg, I was so tired… I just want to crawl into my own bed, next to my hubby and visit snoozeville! I suppose this flight provided the most unbelievable passenger tale of the whole trip, yes, more amazing than the boozer with stank feet or the geriatric lavatory destroyer, it was – wait for it – the Chronic Nose Picker!!! Yeah, a grown ass man digging deep into not one but both nasal passages. Some endeavors proved fruitful as he examined (briefly) each find, and depending on his internal criteria (I didn’t ask for details) would either be consumed or discarded to his shirt sleeve. I was, as you can imagine, dumbfounded, appalled, and honestly, horrified. No mam, I cannot hand you his cup when you are clearing the service items… I KNOW where his fingers have been – I don’t want no part of that Dewey!
Needless to say, it was an awesome experience, and I am happy to have been a part of Team in Training, the Tinker Bell Half Marathon and most of all, happy to be home with my family. Of course the baby was up at 2:45am, and 3:45am, but I was okay with that, I got to snuggle with her… I missed her and I am looking forward to some serious quality time this weekend… If ever you want to be a part of something bigger than yourself, volunteer to fundraise with Team in Training, it will be an experience of a lifetime…