Use your senses to enhance your exercise, training and racing experience

21 Jan

Sometimes we get so focused on our end goal or destination that we forget to have fun and enjoy the journey along the way. When I decided to run the Walt Disney World Goofy Challenge (a half marathon on Saturday and a full marathon on Sunday), I wanted to make sure I embraced the joy and fun of Disney. I decided to run this race as my second training race for the 50 mile race I am doing in April. Because I was using this race to continue to get a feel for my long mileage endurance pacing, fueling and strategy; I decided this would be the perfect experience to take my time and enjoy all the sights and sounds of the Disney Goofy Challenge. I’m so glad I didn’t rush to get to the finish lines. If I had, I would have missed so much.

The half marathon starts at 5:30am. That means you’re running most or the entire race (depending on your pace) in the dark. There is something truly magical about Disney at night. The highlights of this course included the castle all lit up and Main Street Disney lit up and lined with cheering spectators. While I didn’t rush my pace on this race, I didn’t take my time either. The first eight miles of the half marathon course are the same as the marathon course, so I just wanted to get this race done at my relaxed goal pace and get off my feet to let my body rest for the marathon the following day.

The marathon started at 5:30am, just like the half marathon. The fireworks for this race at the starting line were fantastic, just like for the half marathon. I had planned to run this race with a friend, but we got separated when I went to make a pit stop prior to the race. So, I started the race “alone” with 25,000 new friends.

I was doing the Goofy Challenge as part of the Runner’s World Challenge. This was my third race with the RWC. One of the many things I love about the Runner’s World Challenge is that you have plenty of time to meet your fellow Challengers prior to the race. During the days leading up to the race, I happened to be in the RWC hospitality room at the same time as Garrett, a teacher whose wife, two year old daughter and mom were at the race to cheer him on. We talked about races we’d done, our finishing goals for the Goofy Challenge and lots of other things runners talk about with each other.

I ran by several of my fellow challengers in the first half of the marathon. About mile 14, I caught up to Garrett. We seemed to be running the same pace, so we decided to run together for as long as our paces matched. One of the great things about Garrett is that he recognized a lot of the Disney characters on the course…newer ones that I didn’t recognize. He and his wife are also big Disney fans, so he knew a lot of interesting history about the various parks on the course. It was great to have a “tour guide.” It really enhanced the experience for me. Also, because he was such a Disney fan, he stopped for some of the photo opportunities with the characters on the course. I have to say, that was a lot of fun and since neither of us was in a hurry to finish, I was glad we took the time to stop at a few places. I would never have done this with my friend because he is not a fan of Disney or the whole character experience, and I would have missed out on a lot of the fun of this course.

So the next time you’re training, racing or exercising, consider utilizing your senses more and really paying attention to all the “magical” things around you. You might just find the experience is that much more meaningful, and that might make you feel like you’re in the “happiest place on earth.”


One Response to “Use your senses to enhance your exercise, training and racing experience”

  1. Judy Thompson January 21, 2013 at 11:18 pm #

    Lauren — Great blog! But I’ve looked and cannot find any pics you posted with Disney characters. Did I miss those? Love the fact that you took some time to see / smell the roses along the path. Congrats again on a great race. See you soon.

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