I had never been to Florida before this trip, so I was completely lost at the geography of the state, the outline of the parks, even the characteristics of the people who lived here (who were all really nice and I was super awkward). I ate food that I am not familiar with, and heard “ma’am” more times than I can count, which I had never been addressed as before. “Southern Hospitality” is definitely different than I had experienced and once I started to get understand it (sort of), it was so genuine.
Other things about the experience of the 2021 Wine and Dine Villain runDisney Weekend: It was hosted by Aftershokz, a company that I absolutely adore. I’ve been wearing their headphones for years and got to check out the new models, although I didn’t buy one. There was also a vendor for G-Shock watches, which had a type I actually liked (I almost always dislike running watches) and got a new one which suited my needs (and budget). The staff for both vendors were cheerful and knew their product. I didn’t feel like I was just being a transaction waiting to happen for the next person to buy something. I also had all the time in the world after the races, so I could actually look at things rather than my usual walking into a store, grabbing the item I needed and leaving immediately.
One of the most amazing things was that I met someone who inspires me. I know they say “never meet your heroes” because they might not turn out to be the people that you admired, but I didn’t know he would be there and I certainly didn’t anticipate turning a corner at the Expo and nearly walking into him. Jeff Galloway is an Olympian runner, author, trainer and motivational speaker. I was completely blown away to see him, and both wanted to meet him and run away. I ended up buying one of the few books of his that I don’t already have and he signed it. He was unbelievably gregarious and kind. We spent time talking about upcoming races, experiences and some of his books. I follow very few people online (maybe half a dozen?) but he is definitely one of them. He is inspiring both in the published world and in real life. I totally teared up after I left his booth having met him.
There were a lot of things about the race weekend. Yes, it was a fun run and not about obtaining a PR. Yes, I ran with my phone and took selfies. Yes, I bought merchandise, both athletic-specific and runDisney-themed, which I don’t normally do. I didn’t go into the parks after the races, I just got to relax and go back to the Expo if I wanted or nap. There was no pressure to see and do everything. I got a chance to talk to people from all over the United States, Canada and even Europe. There was no rush to go anywhere. It was actually relaxing, something I don’t do a lot of. I woke up at three am, three days in a row, ran 36.1km and felt relaxed.
There were 5 people waiting for me at the finish line after the half-marathon. I know people back home were tracking my bib number in long-distance encouragement. I felt supported. I met someone who I look up to significantly and that person was amazing.
I’m sore, but I’m not that sore. The race weekend reminded me of what I can do and why I love it. The previous two races I have tried/done this year were great, but they were almost a desperate attempt to reclaim a time/distance/life I had before. This was running for the sake of running and for fun. I was tired after whole weekend, but it was a good tired. I am excited about the idea of moving forward and getting back into running at a higher level than I currently am. When I’m back home, I want to actually schedule a running plan, even if it’s raining. The reality comes down to that if I am able to love running in the rain in Florida (without rain attire because I heard a rumour that Florida is warm), there’s no reason why I can’t do it on the west coast. I’m happier when I run. Even in the rain, even for 5K.
Run for whatever reason you choose. My choice is because I just love it.