I’ve gone and done something rash and crazy: I signed up for a half marathon.
Now, I know that isn’t the craziest thing, since lots of people run half marathons—and even full marathons—all the time. But those people are called runners. I’m not a runner.
Sure, I supposedly “ran” one season each of track and field and cross country in high school. But the fact that I put the word “ran” in quotation marks should tell you something: I don’t really like running, and I’m certainly not used to doing it in any competitive sense.
However, I recently changed my mind about running because of three discoveries I made. I’ll get into them, since it might help motivate some of you to run, even if you don’t decide to run a half marathon.
3 Reasons Why I Signed Up for a Half Marathon
1. You Don’t Actually Have to Run!
Maybe this should have been obvious but as it turns out, for many races and marathons, you can walk part or sometimes even all of the way.
For some reason, I was under the impression that walking during any kind of race, especially a marathon, was frowned upon.
But perhaps that was just a lingering effect of my experience walking the Bolder Boulder with my friend Josh about 15 years ago. We walked during that whole race, and many people didn’t seem to take kindly to our walking. Then again, we dressed up like hippie cowboys (I wore some ratty old shoes and a bloody cowboy hat my dad had from the 80’s) and were smoking and eating during the whole race.
Actually, yes, in hindsight, the runners probably didn’t like the fact that two guys were smoking during a road race. But some of the spectators thought we were awesome!
2. You Get Medals!
This might be a newer phenomenon, but I didn’t remember people getting medals at races a decade or two ago, unless they happened to win. I know we definitely didn’t get any medals for that legendary Bolder Boulder, although they did give us a goodie bag and a Michelob Ultra, for some reason.
But ever since I started Fine, I’ll Run, an Instagram account to post pictures of my running and training, (@fineillrun), I began to notice that runners were posting cool pictures of all kinds of medals that they’d earned from running races. And not just for marathons and half marathons—they also apparently give them out for 5 and 10 kilometer races!
Which brings me to the next reason I signed up for a half marathon:
3. There’s a Star Wars-Themed Half Marathon!
Sure, I’d be happy with most any shiny piece of metal hanging from a ribbon, but a shiny piece of metal shaped like the Millennium Falcon? I’ve got a good feeling about that!
Bear with me for a moment, since this can get a bit intricate and dorky. But the gist is this: if you sign up for and complete a “virtual” half marathon (which apparently used to be called the Light Side Half Marathon when it was held in Disneyland), and if you also sign up for and complete an in-person half marathon at Walt Disney World (which is called the Dark Side Half Marathon), then you’ll have completed the “Kessel Run Challenge,” which entitles you to the Millennium Falcon-medal.
Photo by Brandi Bondoc, a runner who posts lots of cool pictures in general. On the left you can see the coveted Millennium Falcon-shaped Kessel Run Challenge medal.
In fact, I was surprised to find out that Run Disney is pretty huge when it comes to different races. I know that Disney isn’t for everyone, and that some people don’t like Star Wars. But I love Star Wars (possibly too much), and although I’m not a mouse-ears kind of guy, I’m still a fan of Disney, especially the quasi-retro and pseudo-international charm of EPCOT Center, so I was instantly tempted to sign up.
These particular races were pretty costly, but they’ve managed to do something that I would’ve thought impossible just a few months ago: I’ve started running again!
This blog is still very young, of course, but I’m imagining that running and health in general will play a fairly consistent role in its content, as will the aspects related to planning a family trip.
So, What Have We Learned Today?
Well, quite possibly nothing. But I know that I was surprised that once I got past some mental barriers that I thought were preventing me from running, I’ve actually gotten pretty consistent in my training to prepare for the race.
And if you’re a runner—especially if you’re planning on running the Dark Side Half Marathon in April—let me hear from you! I’d be happy to exchange some trip planning ideas or running tips, or even just say hi.
And who knows, I might even see some of you at the race—just look for the smoking Jawa in the tattered cowboy hat!