Finishing What I Started / by PJ Monson

Our guest blogger today is Muffy Lavens, a current graduate student at NYU.  Muffy earned her MS in Public Relations and is a certified Zumba instructor and avid runner. You can find her every Saturday cross training with CentralSweat! 

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I don’t always take my own advice. If you sprain your ankle a month before a long race, you shouldn’t do it. That’s that. But, if you’re like me, you’re not going to listen to that advice. You’re going to be stubborn and determined. And that’s exactly what happened to me this past October when I ran the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler in Walt Disney World.

If you’ve read my blog or my past guest post with Central Sweat, you’ll know I’m no stranger to the runDisney races. The characters and environment usually make the distance seem more tolerable and even enjoyable...but this time it was different.

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Let me set the scene. The temperature was high and the humidity was gross. It was insanely hot even without the sun beating down. RunDisney had warned us ahead of time to take this race slower than we anticipated and not to go for our personal best.  I was running on a semi-healed sprained ankle so that wouldn't be a problem for me!  Because of this, I decided to start in the last corral with my mom who joined me for the race.

Our corral started at 10:27pm (the race officially started at 10pm) and I had a goal of finishing in under my half marathon time from last year. In all honesty though, I really just wanted to finish. I walked the first two miles with my mom. As we hit the second mile marker, I caught site of Jack Skellington and Sally the ragdoll from the Nightmare Before Christmas. That’s one of my favorite movies so I decided to run ahead to get a picture with them. They had a really long line and as I was waiting, my mom passed me. I figured I would catch up to her again at some point. When I finally got my picture with them, I heard the worst thing ever. The pacers had caught up to me and announced we had one minute to reach the third mile checkpoint or we were pulled. Luckily Jack and Sally were close to the check point so I made it without problem. I kept running as long as I could because I wanted to get as far away from the pacers as possible. I could not believe I came so close to being pulled out! I could only imagine telling everyone that my mom finished and I was picked up by the bus. In all honestly, it would have been a little funny, but upsetting.

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As I continued running, I could feel a little bit of pain in my ankle but nothing intolerable. I just kept telling myself, “pain is weakness leaving your body.” It was my way of taking the negative and turn it into a positive. Again, I probably shouldn’t have been running this hard on the sprain, but I’m stubborn and was determined to keep going.

Around the fifth mile I finally caught up to my mom. I was so glad to drop my pace and walk again. When we reached mile six, I could feel the pain building in my ankle even though I was walking. “Pain is just weakness leaving your body” I told myself again. I was so grateful to get to the medical tent at the eighth mile. I was able to slap on the Biofreeze on my ankle and numb the pain. It helped and I ended up running the last half mile finishing in 2:30:22. It was four minutes under my half time, so I guess I finished within my goal. It just didn’t feel that way...I wanted it to be closer to 2:15. BUT I had finished and that’s what’s most important.

After we finished we decided to head back to the hotel and skip the Villains Hollywood Bash party taking place in Disney’s Hollywood Studio. Although it sounded like fun, my ankle was extremely sore. That last thing I wanted to do was walk through the park. I’m sure it was those few sprints that did it in.

The good news is, I felt pretty good the following day. My ankle had very minor pain and that only surfaced after walking around Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival all day. I guess the pain really was weakness leaving my body.  Aside from the pain during the run, I’ve been feeling great. I know I should really listen to “the experts” and not push my body when it’s injured, but I’ve got to say, this is the best I’ve felt since the sprain.  I think everyone knows their own body.  I don't think the lesson I learned here is to always run on an injury, but rather to push past my own barriers.  Not to always listen to the 'experts,' but to listen to myself.  When I push myself I can always finish what I start.