April 25, 2013

I started randomly running marathons two and half years ago when a friend suggested that we run the Disney Half Marathon. I had no idea how far a half marathon was and had never run in any kind of race, let alone run two miles outside consecutively; so logically I registered for the race. Hint, this is not recommended.

As you can imagine, I ran too hard, too far and too quickly resulting in an injury. When race day came, my farthest run was six miles which made those two hours some of my most challenging, both physically and mentally, of my life. However, the entire experience was incredible. From the nervous feeling (that I still get before every race) standing on the starting line to the spectators, volunteers and characters cheering you on to the sense of accomplishment (and relief) you feel crossing the finish line, I was hooked. Running is a good kind of addiction, and all I wanted was to run further and faster.

Since that fateful first half marathon, I’ve run three full marathons, four half marathons, a 10-mile race, a warrior dash, a Spartan race and countless 5Ks. I am definitely addicted. The competitive side of me loves racing, probably too much. My most recent marathon I gave myself a “have fun” goal and had to write “slow down” on my hand so I’d be reminded of that every time I looked at my watch. The desire to get better every day is what drives me to keep running. But my favorite part is it relaxes me, as strange as that may sound. I can get away from editing, emails, calls, deadlines and just focus on putting one foot in front of the other.

Racing so often can add up quickly. Thankfully, JHE offers an amazing health and wellness policy that pays half of the registration fees to help cut back on the cost.

Traveling more than 20 weekends a year makes training consistently for anything a challenge. We work long hours at the racetrack and on our special events so I’m flexible in finding ways to fit in a run. I’ve run 20 miles from 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. then worked a 12-hour day, because I knew this was my only opportunity to squeeze in a run that weekend. Or have run 18 miles on the treadmill because there is nowhere nearby to run. Those are the not so fun parts of training and traveling. But it also has its benefits. Running is an amazing way to explore new cities; I’ve run around the Mall in D.C., along Lake Michigan in Chicago, down the strip in Las Vegas and across the Golden Gate Bridge. One of my absolute favorite runs is the 5.5 mile stretch between our hotel and the beach in Daytona.

Even when I’m not traveling, it can be a challenge to stick to a consistent training schedule. Between travel, work and life, every training plan I’ve ever made has been torn to shreds within the first month. Not to mention, it is easy to skip a run if you aren’t feeling it one day. Even as someone who loves everything about running, getting out the door is sometimes the hardest part. I’ve started finding time during the day and running at lunch to keep myself in the mindset.

My proudest competitive moment so far has been finishing third in my age group at the Daytona Half Marathon this past February. It was a big, unexpected moment for me. However, the Disney Marathon this past January is my favorite memory from both a running and spectator standpoint. It was the little things like getting pictures with Disney characters during the race to high-fiving my dad at mile five to seeing my family and friends screaming at the finish that made all the difference. But the proudest moment came the previous day when my sister, cousin and one of my good friends ran their first half-marathon with maybe a little push from me. It was my first opportunity to cheer on friends and family during a race and I had a blast seeing all their hard work pay off. No matter how you look at it, 13.1 (or 26.2) is a long ways. Whether you run it in an hour or four hours, it takes a lot of work and preparation to do that. And I was incredibly proud of them for pushing themselves to accomplish something that many people are willing to try.

As I look towards the rest of 2013, I’m determined to stay healthy and continue training. My two biggest goals for the year include running a 1:30 at the Vancouver Half Marathon on August 10 and qualifying for the Boston Marathon in October at the Chicago Marathon which means completing the race in three hours and five minutes. As the saying goes, “if goals don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.” These goals definitely scare me but I’m up for the challenge!

– Dan Mott

Dan Mott, Disney Half Marathon, marathons, Spartan race, Lake Michigan, D.C., Chicago, Las Vegas, Golden Gate Bridge, Daytona International Speedway, Vancouver Half Marathon, Chicago Marathon