Setting Goals for my First International Race

Earlier in the year, I laid out my running goals for 2017. I set out my overall objective, to make running a regular, consistent habit, and a series of short term, achievable goals like running a 5K without walking and joining a running group. I had no intention of including running an international destination race to the list, at least not yet. I’ve always known I wanted my first (and possibly only) marathon to be the Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris. But I was looking at 2020 as a timeline, so I could run it for my 40th birthday. Until then, I thought I might at best make it to a 10K in New York or maybe a half marathon in Philadelphia. But when a friend told me about Disneyland Paris‘ first half marathon I made a snap decision. Within 24 hours, my bestie Caitlin and I had booked flights to Paris, a hotel in Magny le Hongre near the park and were making plans for our 24 hours stop-over in Reykjavik on the way back. Obviously, I’d also started a pinterest board to get some outfit inspiration… because … priorities. This is a Disney Run after all! In any case, there was no turning back after that: an international destination race was now written into my 2017 running goals!
Turning a race into an excuse for a full-blown destination vacation is really not something I ever thought I would do. And I guess I’m not really… Don’t hate me for saying this, but Paris isn’t a destination for me. It’s home. Once the race is over in Marne-la-Vallée, I don’t have to navigate a foreign metro system to get home… I know exactly how to head back, especially since I used to work at Disneyland Paris and the RER A was a part of my daily commute for 6 months. I’m also hoping my parents might rent a car and pick us up 😉 Hint. Hint. And I don’t have to sleep in a hotel after the race, I get to be in my own bed…. well, at least my childhood bed from when I was a teenager. Most importantly, Paris isn’t a bucket list destination for me… there’s no pressure here. If I’m tired on Monday and feel like doing nothing but eat baguette and cheese instead of getting out and sightseeing… it’s ok. I might feel differently if the race were somewhere new.

Also, unlike my friend Caitlin who is a more advanced and serious runner (ie: she’s not a French escargot like me!), I don’t have high expectations for myself and this race. I run *really* slow and as a new runner, beating my PR is pretty much a guaranteed at every race. Well… this one might be the exception since I do plan on stopping here and there to snap pictures with Disney characters along the way. But Caitlin is a good runner, and I do want to keep up with her as long as I can so we can take photos together and really share this experience (and capture it for posterity!) And that’s my motivation in training for my first Disney Run and international race. Because it’s not just about the destination for me here. It’s about the company and running a race in Paris, with my best friend who I met when our high schools paired us for an international exchange program they organized over 20 years ago. There was no guarantees we’d even get along, but we did…. and she’s been one of my favourite travel gal over the years, whether we were way outside of our comfort zone riding horses in a dude ranch in Montana or more in our element sipping wine at a beautiful seaside vineyard in Greece. And I can’t wait to add this experience to the list of memories we have together. Adding it to my running goal list almost seems secondary….