This week, I’m excited to introduce another new series here on Running at Disney and this time it’s from the West Coast! Anaheim Antics features John, an Orange county native and Disneyland admirer, who has recently began his running journey. He will be sharing his training leading up the runDisney events in Disneyland, some practical ideas for runners, and also just some fun Disneyland stories and updates! Take it away John!
Can one short year make a difference? It’s a question we often ask ourselves often. We make life choices based on how long it takes to see results. We weigh our educational goals, relationships, apartment leases, even our auto loans based on what’s in it for us over time. It’s a valid question. In the first year of an auto loan, most of our money goes to interest, and very little into principle. That’s what I thought about fitness. After all, how many of us dive into new diets which cause us to shed major pounds in the first 6 months, only to find most of that weight creeping back on a few months later?
Years ago, I remember being bored after months of mounting the elliptical at my local LA Fitness: same routine, same playlist on my iPhone, same time of day. I’d immediately start looking forward to the end of my 30 minutes. But then, one day, as I got on, I noticed an episode of “The West Wing” on the monitor in front of me. Having a serious interest in political science, I became hooked. I lost track of time, and before I realized it, I had stayed on the machine for a full 51 minutes, without even batting an eye. From that day on, you’d find me on the same night of the week, being the shining example of multitasking as I’d burn off an hour while watching my favorite new show. Nine months later, I discovered I was tone, fit, trim, and, more importantly, healthy. I wasn’t the Olympian ideal, but I was sleeping better, was finally able to buy “slim fit” clothing (yes, people of the opposite sex DO notice) and, most notably, my frequency of tension headaches had dropped from once a month to once a quarter.
Fast forward to one year ago. I had just gotten into running. Never in a million years did I think running would be for me. I was in my mid 40’s, after all, and running was a sport for the young. But when my daughter ran her first half marathon (the Rose Bowl), something in me just clicked. I wanted what she experienced (plus, the medal was cool). So I blindly registered for the Brea 8k. Not my most shining moment, since not only was there no medal, but the City of Brea isn’t flat like Anaheim is. My time was 10:48 per mile, below average for the other men in my class. But it got me hooked. “10k is just 2k more”, I thought. I had heard a rumor that Disney would be doing a 10k soon, so I thought I needed to get serious. Next up was the Angels 5k, which saw my per minute time drop to 10:39. Not great, but better. I need a “real” 10k.
So on Memorial Day 2013, I was at the starting line of the Laguna Hills 10k. By mile 2, I understood why it had the word “Hills” in the name. But I finished with a time of 10:07, a full 41 seconds improvement over my first race just 3 months earlier.
If you’re wondering, yes, I ran the Inaugural Tinker Bell 10k earlier this year, with a time of 9:55 per mile. But I’m saving that story for a future column. For now, I wanted to see what a year could do. It’s been one 5k after another: The Anaheim Beer Run, the Chapman University 5k, another Angels 5k, and the Santa Anita 5k, all keeping me focused on my goal.
Once again, I’ll be running the Laguna Hills 10k this Memorial Day, nearly a year to the day since my first 10k at that same race. My goal is to knock off a full 30 seconds off my previous 10:07 per mile time. Can I do it? What difference will that year make? I’ll keep you updated 🙂
John grew up in the Orange County area of California, always living in the shadow of the Disneyland Resort. Known as the consummate storyteller to his friends, he has had an admiration of Disney since childhood, and is most interested in the Company’s history and heritage. His favorite memory to date is setting foot in Walt’s apartment over the Main Street Firehouse. John lives by what he calls the three F’s: faith, fun, and fitness. Being healthy isn’t about adding years to your life; it’s about adding life to your years. Nothing sums that up more than making Disney races a goal in every fitness plan.