2013 Goofy Challenge – I run because I can and for those who can’t

I am sitting here at the airplane on my way home to Seattle, with very sore feet, couple blister on my pinkie toes, and the biggest grin on my face.

I just completed 39.3 miles in two days.   That’s THIRTY NINE POINT THREE miles.  Half marathon and full marathon, back to back.

That’s a milestone that I can’t even comprehend a few months ago.   Let me give you some background story for those who don’t know.    Last September, I had to endure three weeks of radiation treatment to battle pesky little cells that took over my body shortly after I signed up with Team in Training for the winter season of Goofy Challenge.   I was bummed and disappointed, but I didn’t let that discourage me.  In fact, I looked at it as a challenge and determined to make it happened.

So I had it plan.   I looked at my training schedule carefully and work with my doctor’s office to schedule the treatment.   I was lucky that I have the luxury to do that.   I did Disneyland Half Marathon a weekend prior the treatment and started my first round the Tuesday after for three weeks.   It was brutal.   It did wonder to my muscle, to my body and most importantly, to my mind.   I started to doubt myself and unsure that I am going to be able to do that.    I was so tired and fatigued and I wasn’t able to eat.  I lost 11lbs in three weeks, not in a healthy way.   I was weak, and I had a hard time to even walk, let alone run.

I am so grateful that I am surrounded by people who constantly lift my spirit up.   There are so many prayers, support, people rallied together to bring my family meals, encouraging notes and slowly but sure, my stubbornness were back.   I started to focus my mind to this race.   It was my distraction.   Whenever I felt really down, I imagined myself crossing the finish line and I picked myself up.   I forced myself to be out in the trail and just be there.   There were days that I can only walked for a very short time due to fatigued but I kept coming back to the trail until the end of the treatment.

That was 15 weeks ago.

Today, I looked back and can’t help but getting so emotional about the whole thing.   I have won, and this is why I run.

I run because I can, and I run for those who can no longer run because they are no longer with us (Tyler and Dawn, this is for you) or they faced serious health challenge that prevent them from doing so (Tom, this is also for you)

Someday is today.

I am Goofy!

I am Goofy!

Half Marathon Recap

My husband woke me up at 2am EST.   It was brutal because of the time different.   We were told to meet at the lobby at 3am and head out to the bus together with the Team In Training group.   By 4am, we were hanging out by the bag check tent to have last minute gathering.   Our coaches kept reminding us to hydrate and pace ourselves well due to the heat.   My teammate, Tim, and I are in the same corral and we agreed to stay together and did 2:30/1 run-walk ratio.   The gun went off at 6:03am and off we went.   The first 5 miles went by so quickly.   We were very conservative and pace ourselves well.   We got to Magic Kingdom about an hour or so after we started and I saw my husband right in front of the castle.   I literally leaped on his arm and gave him a hug.

Can you tell that I'm excited?

Can you tell that I’m excited?

We stopped for a few pictures and ran around the Magic Kingdom.   There were so many people that cheered us and it was a lot of fun.    I stopped in every water station and took at least one cup of water and one cup of PowerAde.

Around 7:30am – the sun was up and I could feel the heat was rising.   It was really, really hot.   The air was thick and it was very humid.    We slow our pace a bit but kept the same ratio.   Tim and I entertained each other throughout the course and before we knew it, we crossed the finish line.

I was dancing away as I crossed the finish line and high-fived Donald.   It took me 3:03 to finish but it was exactly where I want it to be due to the heat.

I got my medal, head out to the race retreat tent and met my husband there.   I hung out there for a while and ate before we hopped back at the resort.    I took the ice bath, stretched and napped.   It was a good day!

Marathon Recap

Second days in a row to be woken up at 2am really did wonder to my mood.   I was cranky.   I wasn’t happy and the blister on my pinky toes from yesterday’s run wasn’t really a big help either.   I slowly got myself ready and hopped on the bus.

It was already humid when I was waiting at my corral.   Tim and I agreed that we were going to stick together again and even did a bit lower pace from the beginning.   I can feel the thick air and it was really, really warm at 5:30am.


My friend Tim and I, in front of Magic Kingdom

The first five miles went by fairly quick as well.   I was drenched in sweat when I saw my husband in front of the Magic Kingdom castle again.   I leaped to his arm (again) and kept on running.   We took 10 minutes bathroom stop at Magic Kingdom for Tim as he wasn’t feeling all too well and I waited for him.    We took a few more pictures with the character throughout the park and kept on going.

Shortly before we enter Animal Kingdom, it was my turn to take the bathroom break.  The lines were so long, and I was drenched in sweat.   I splashed the water on my face and felt better afterwards and continued to run.

There were a lot of runners that stopped and rode the Everest ride at Animal Kingdom but we decided not to do that, as I was afraid that I would get cramp if I sat down.   Shortly after we left Animal Kingdom, I felt a sharp pain in my chest.   I slowed down a bit and tried to figure out where the pain came from.   Then, I breathed fast during my run which causes my chest to hurt even more.    I slowed down even more and eventually I told Tim to go ahead.   He didn’t want to leave me behind, but I knew it at the time that I might have to walk the rest of the course so he took off.

Me at Animal Kingdom

Me at Animal Kingdom

After Tim and I split, I walked for 15 minutes or so and my chest felt better so I started to run again, but the pain came back so I finally stopped at the medical tent around mile 18.    I had a suspicion on what caused my pain, but I wanted someone to confirm it.    I told the nice lady at the medical tent that I had ‘congested chest’ (way to play it down, I know) and she gave me a very cold bottle of water, and grabbed her statoscope and listened to my chest and told me that she heard crackled and suspected fluid in my lungs.   She also suspected that my ‘congested chest’ might turn into pneumonia and told me that I should probably go to the hospital so they can order an x-ray for further observation.    I politely told her that I don’t want to and when she went to get something at the other side of the tent, I quietly got up and walked away.

That was exactly what I suspected.   See, I had fluid in my lung cavity so many times as that was one of the side effects of my medication and went through the whole routine more than I want to count.  My body usually re-absorbs the fluid by itself.   In a few occasions that it didn’t, I had to undergo some procedures to drain the fluid.   I didn’t want to go to the hospital during the race and I had 8 miles to go.   However, I knew that running is no longer an option because of this.   So, yes, I was being stubborn, but I was within my boundaries (yes, this is me justifying my action – stop judging me)

I stopped at the next medical tent and took a couple Tylenol and kept on walking.  I texted my husband and told him what’s going on and told him that I was no longer running.   He told me that he love me and I kept on walking.

At mile 20, I started to get a bit worry about time because I knew that the sweeper would pick the runners up as they were closing the course.   I knew that I need to get to Hollywood Studio.   It was safe zone for all the runners because you were not going to get picked up anymore.

I looked at my watch, and I saw the 7:00 pacer run past me.  I decided to follow them.  They were doing 40/30 run-walk ratio.    It was very conservative, and I didn’t feel as much pain so I followed them.   I got to Hollywood Studio and was so relieved.   I made it thus far!  I was safe!   I dropped out from the 7:00 pacer group and started to walk again.   There were so many people cheered us inside the park and that lifted my spirit quite a bit.   The tweets from all my friends (thank you so very much for that, by the way) were a HUGE moral boost.   I was exhausted at that point.   The bottoms of my feet were very, very sore and I just wanted to be done.

That's me.  Crying.  When I spotted my husband

That’s me. Crying. When I spotted my husband

My husband was waiting for me by the boardwalk, which was a short walk after Hollywood Studio.   I spotted him as soon as I crossed the bridge and I started to cry.   I was so emotional and I was really, really tired.   He walked with me until the end of the boardwalk and I entered Epcot area and spotted my two coaches, Siri and Nadine.   They walked with me throughout the Epcot and all the way to the mile 26 which I broke down into tears again with both of them on my side.     I took a deep breath, and started to run the last 0.2 miles towards the finish line.    7 hours and 25 minutes later, I crossed the finish line.    I walked towards one of the volunteer who gave me the Mickey medal and proceed to the Goofy tent to get my Goofy medal.

I finished!!

I finished!!

I could care less about how long it took for me to finish it.   I FINISHED.

I texted my husband to meet me at the race retreat tent and as soon as I saw him, I leaped into his arm and I lost it.   I was bawling in his arm.     I made it.   I did something awesome.   I overcome my challenge and did it with the flying color.

Thank you SO very much for those who constantly cheer me throughout my race.   I had so many tweets and Facebook messages that in some point, it actually overtook my music.   It was epic.   I love it and it helped me tremendously.    There were so many of you to list here but you know who you are and I know who you are.  I am very grateful to have that much support and full with gratitude.   This is something that I will never take for granted.

Thank you!

Thank you!

If you read all the way here, I hope that I inspire you to dream big and live your life to the fullest.   I hope that I inspire you to overcome whatever challenge you have in front of you by perseverance and commitment to success.   The only thing that stands between you and your goal is yourself.

Dream big.  Smile often.  Make a difference.   Know that YOU can accomplish anything that you set your mind into.

Go you.

Until the next race.


2 Responses to “2013 Goofy Challenge – I run because I can and for those who can’t”

  1. Carol Robel says:

    All I can always say is, Yanni you are awesome and an amazing, beautiful woman!!

  2. Yanni,

    It was such a pleasure to meet you through Team in Training. Your perseverance and courage has been a constant source of inspiration as I pursued my own efforts to get healthy. Huge congratulations on completing the Goofy Challenge. An amazing accomplishment!



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