Princesses Never Give Up, Until They Totally Do

March 9, 2010

This past weekend was a weekend filled with tremendous, heart-busting joy. It was also one of the most personally disappointing weekends of my entire life. My head is spinning a little from the existential contradiction that this represents.

I took the brood to Disney World, and one of the objectives of the trip was, of course, to have a good time, and having a good time at Disney World is not a particularly difficult thing to do, what with the spinning teacups and fireworks and pirates and flying carpets and pixie dust and all, and so to say that we – and more importantly, our coterie of pixie-loving badgers – had fun is to understate things dramatically. But having fun was not the only objective of the trip, nor even the primary objective of the trip. The primary objective of the trip (which saw us drive from Toronto to Florida in a vehicle provided by GM Canada) was me tackling the Disney Princess Half-Marathon, aka the Tiarathon, as the first race in my year-long quest to run 100 miles for Tanner. I’ve been training since last year to do this run and all the other runs – runs that will cover a total distance, I hope, of 100 miles – to follow. I had my tiara and tutu packed and ready.

I never got the chance to wear them.

The night before the race I had a series of dizzy spells, the last resulting in a nasty fall while carrying Emilia – herself a little broken from falling on the monorail off-ramp – across the resort grounds. I wasn’t badly hurt by the fall – just sore knees and neck – but the fact that I’d been dizzy enough for black spots to distort my vision and skew my balance and send me careening to the ground, child in arms, was enough to sound the warning bells. “You’re not running,” Katie said, as she helped me back to the room. “I will stop you.”

So. I did not run the Disney Princess Half-Marathon.

In hindsight, I can speculate that my dizzy spells and my fall and my consequent failure to run was due to a lot of things that were more or less beyond my control. Doing a week-long long-distance road trip with small children who do not sleep prior to running a half-marathon is, perhaps, something that I could have controlled – simply by not doing it – but then we wouldn’t have had our adventure, and who’s to say that it was the seven nights without sleep that brought me down? It also might have been the Florida sun, or the food (Mickey-shaped waffles have been proven to cause light-headedness in tutu-clad lab rats), or the fact that I’m only about a month past a bout of pneumonia and have bad lungs and ignored all of that when I resumed training a few weeks ago and didn’t pay any of that any mind while carrying a 35 lb toddler through the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom and Epcot Center under the decidedly un-Canadian sun for two days. It could have been due to a lot of things, most of which were almost certainly my fault.

Which is why I’m having a hard time clinging to the joy from this weekend. The smalls had a deliciously wonderful time, chasing Space Rangers and splashing down mountains and racing race cars and goggling at pixies zipping through the sky, and their joy was contagious but still: we were supposed to do all this – we were supposed to be pursuing joy and chasing pixies and princesses – for Tanner. I was supposed to do this for Tanner. And I f*cked it up before I even got started.

It’s kind of hard to not hate myself for that.

(I ordinarily close comments for this kind of post, because I hate being sucked into the temptation to seek reassurance and back-pats from the Internets for my own twisted issues, but you know what? This shit sucks so bad that it is taking all of my limited self-restraint to not out-and-out beg everyone, everywhere, to tell me that I am not, in fact, all total fail and a disappointment to humanity. So. If you feel like telling me that I don’t suck, I will totally take that. Please excuse my neediness.)

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    Mary Jo March 9, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    Pfft you let a little pneumonia, bad lungs, road trip, baby carrying, passing out knock you down? Wimp! ;-)

    Honey you are CRAZY! If you had run, you could have ended up really hurting yourself. Take comfort in knowing you did what you could. You are awesome mama! YOU ROCK!! :-)
    .-= Mary Jo´s last blog ..Wedding Rings =-.

    kgirl March 9, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    Of course you don’t suck. You didn’t train for a year and drive down to Florida with the intention of not running. You can be disappointed, but don’t be disappointed in yourself.

    Coincidentally, we were in Disney World two weeks ago, and I fell in Animal Kingdom. I was holding Cassidy and landed on Mischa. They were mercifully ok. The bruises on my legs are impressive, as were the ‘do you need a walker?’ jokes that went on the whole damn day.

    Jana March 9, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Here is the #1 most important thing that I have learned about training for long distance runs: Go easy on yourself.

    Go easy on yourself.

    Did you hear me? I mean it. Go easy.

    That goes for your physical self AND (most importantly, IMO) your emotional/mental/soul self. Those were not the only 13.1 miles in the universe. Miles abound, love. Some miles are much, much harder than others and some singular miles are all that can be covered some days. The key is to just cover them– as many or as few as you can. But never, EVER when you’re feeling dizzy. And with much more lung capacity than is normally available after a recent pneumonia bout.

    I’ll say it again: Go easy on yourself. You still rock big time.
    .-= Jana´s last blog ..Scottsville Cemetery =-.

    Assertagirl March 9, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    You don’t suck. I will come over and hug you soon. xo
    .-= Assertagirl´s last blog ..Tips for Trimming Baby’s Nails =-.

    klcrab March 9, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    No suckitutde, I say whip out that Tiara & tutu and get on it. While the atmosphere would have been fun, the miles and where the feet go- do not matter so much!

    Take care of yourself and then run your 100.

    Jozet at Halushki March 9, 2010 at 11:39 pm

    I’m sorry for my comments out there on Teh Internets. I was being goofy and trying to make you laugh. Sometimes I miss the mark horribly.

    I don’t want to make you more sad. Please forgive me. You are, like, one of my favoritest people ever on the planet. Please don’t be sad. You are such a wonderful person. You’ll get to 100 miles. I know you will. xxxxxxxxxxooooooooooooooooo

    Jennifer Martin March 9, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    Hi Catherine, It’s been a while since I have read your blog (I am a friend of Katie’s (Mother Bumper). I am also a runner (I have been running for 5 years with 1 marathon, 3 halfs, 6 10k’s and 2 sprint triathlons under my belt)
    I know how disapointing it can be not run a race that you trained for, but your health is more important. Take care of yourself!! There will be other races that you can run in support of Tanner.

    Hey, if you want some people to run with, you can always join us at the North York Running Room. I run with some great gals (ages 35 to 45 and all mothers) -we are not very fast but we love to gossip -it’s certainly worth the trip from where you live. Take care, Jen

    Donna March 10, 2010 at 6:00 am

    There is plenty of time to get to 100 – as long as you stay healthy. You were wise to listen to yourself.
    .-= Donna´s last blog ..Schoolyard Bullies =-.

    Bridget March 10, 2010 at 11:41 am

    I’m sorry you didn’t get to race, but I’m also glad that you didn’t. When I saw your tweet about the dizzy spell, I couldn’t help but worry.

    But you didn’t fail Tanner. In this case, it really is the thought that counts. And I’m pretty sure that there aren’t many better ways to honor Tanner than celebrating the pure, simple joys of life at the happiest place on earth.
    .-= Bridget´s last blog ..Papa =-.

    KellyBurton March 10, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Road trip to Disney=Champion Mommy

    Training for anything like a half-marathon= Champion Woman

    Give yourself a big, fat break. And please try to get some sleep.
    .-= KellyBurton´s last blog ..Winter Bubbles =-.

    Hollie March 10, 2010 at 12:40 pm


    First you do not suck.Anyone who reads your blog knows how much you love Tanner and would do anything for him. You are one of his champions. Even Champions have hard days. Even Champions can’t run every race they want to even with all the training done..

    What do champions do they get up! They smile and encourage and then train again to run again and they don’t give up until they are done. You are the champion who will not let a little unrun race hold you back. You are a champion to many especially Tanner.

    Angie March 10, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    I am sure it feels like a failure but you have step back and look at what you created in your trip and it far exceeds the run that didn’t happen. The memories are worth more with a healthy mom to remember them with than if something had god forbid happened to you doing the run. Another run is always there to make up the miles lost but the trip couldn’t be replaced for any of you.

    FruitFly March 10, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Hey – at least you went there with a goal and your heart was still in it, even if your body wouldn’t let you. I actually thought of you last weekend, as I too was there for the Princess weekend! I admire you and all of the other princesses there with the courage to do the 1/2! I only went for the 5K, and decided to spend this next year training to run the half in 2011. I can promise you that I will always keep you and Tanner in mind during this next year. I hope you don’t get too down on yourself. Just keep positive… and next year you can put on that tiara and run run run for little Tanner!
    .-= FruitFly´s last blog ..Disney’s Princess 1/2 Marathon Weekend =-.

    FruitFly March 13, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    Just a follow up to my prior comment….

    although I do not know you, I enjoy reading your blogs and understand your frustration with not being able to run. I just wanted to let you know that next weekend I am spontaneously going to be in a race – and this one is totally for Tanner! I know I’m just a stranger, but I feel like its the least I can do!

    Kimberly March 10, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    I know exactly how you feel. Six years ago I trained for Team In Training to do the Disney Marathon to celebrate my five year cancer remission. While training in the winter in the Midwest, I found out I was pregnant, just weeks before the race. My OB did not want me to continue training, but I felt that I had to race, because of the donations from friends and family, and what it meant to me- beating cancer and all, getting pregnant so easily despite being a survivor that had both chemo and radiation treatment just five years before.
    I went to the race in Disney, with my husband and two year old in tow. Right before I left, I saw my Dr. who said “Do not run” and I said “ummm, ok” with fingers crossed.
    Got there, felt like crap, did not run. Felt even crappier because I did not run. Felt like a loser, and embarrassed, and not like a bad ass cancer survivor warrior mom at all but a big weak money-grubbing jerk.
    And a few weeks, I had a miscarriage.
    If I had run, I would have blamed myself for that loss for the rest of my life. Despite knowing that I would have not have caused it by running, it would have still felt like my fault (because what did my own mother say to me after the miscarriage? “what did you do to cause it?” nice.)
    But I didn’t tell all the people who gave me money to run about the missing of the race, or the pregnancy, or even the loss of the pregnancy, because it just didn’t feel right. I just felt like an ass all around.
    I sent out the thank you letters to those who gave donations while mourning the loss of my pregnancy.
    Weeks later I got pregnant again. I was super-fit during that pregnancy and had my easiest delivery of a very sweet boy.
    So, I know how you feel, and honestly it just sucks feeling like you let others down because we moms can do it all, and letting anyone down, even if it causes us harm, is just not ok.
    But sometimes, it is.

    magpie March 10, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    Of course you don’t suck.

    MommyNamedApril March 10, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    SO. NOT. A. FAIL.

    i’m in orlando…ish. wish i could’ve met you! maybe another time :-)
    .-= MommyNamedApril´s last blog ..Flashback Friday – The Land Before Kids a.k.a. The Orlando Shore. =-.

    statia March 10, 2010 at 11:51 pm

    It’s easy to be disappointed in yourself when things like this happen. But don’t be hard on yourself. You made memories this weekend. That’s worth more than any ‘ol marathon.
    .-= statia´s last blog ..Blades between my toes =-.

    Stephanie March 11, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    Darling, I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason regardless of whether we like it or not.

    You did what you could, you are NOT a failure, in fact that’s quite the epic trip that you took. Instead of focusing on the negative (although being the uber over-protective aunt myself I know how you feel) focus on the positive instead.

    Not only that, even though I am not a runner I will gladly sport a tutu for the simple fact that I need an excuse to wear one ;)
    .-= Stephanie´s last blog ..PLEASE VOTE! =-.

    domestic extraordinaire March 11, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    I think it is awesome that you went and seriously child wrangling for seven days on little to no sleep-that’s a whole different kind of marathon. Not one to take lightly either.

    I am sure Tanner is proud….I know I am.

    .-= domestic extraordinaire´s last blog ..Weekly Winners-My baby sister is engaged Edition =-.

    Janice @ Fitness Cheerleader March 12, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Why don’t you avenge that race and do the Mississauga Half Marathon with me on May 16th?
    .-= Janice @ Fitness Cheerleader ´s last blog ..If Trayce Can Do It, Then So Can You! =-.

    Sierra Black March 14, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    I am just now getting to read this, and let me add my voice to the chorus of congratulations, pride and admiration.

    A good friend of mine is a widow raising a child whose father died on the finish line of a marathon he felt he had to run.

    You totally made the right call.
    .-= Sierra Black´s last blog ..The Weekly Links =-.

    Candace @Bloganthropy March 18, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    You do not suck. You rock. Your blog is still one of my all time favorites. The kind I read for the insights. The writing. The humanity.

    What can we do to help? We, meaning your readers, including me, but also possibly the Bloganthropy organization?

    You run marathons every day.

    You don’t have to do it all alone.

    I wanna help.
    .-= Candace @Bloganthropy´s last blog ..Bloggers Make Valentines for Veterans and Provide Sew Much Comfort =-.

    Her Bad Mother March 22, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    I’m going to take you up on this. Can I do that? I’m totally going to do that. Because, everything that you say here? YES.

    Thank you.

    Zoey @ Good Goog March 20, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    I think the fact that you were willing to push yourself to the point of your body shutting up shop and saying ‘nup. not happening’ (by way of dizzy spells and the like) will be what Tanner (and everyone else remembers)
    .-= Zoey @ Good Goog´s last blog ..Stop Crying Your Heart Out =-.

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