To All Who Come To This Happy RACE, Welcome

      Hello and welcome to the first of many blog posts. Is that too aggressive? The first of several?  The first of an undetermined amount of blog posts. That works. Before we get too far, here's a little info about me and what I hope to provide to you, the reader.
   
     My name is Patrick Kozicky. I'm 37 years old. Born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where I currently live with my wonderful husband and two usually wonderful dogs. We also have a cat, but only when she decides to be recognized as part of the family. I'm a sometimes actor for local theatrical productions. I'm also one of two co-hosts for a Disney themed podcast called Gays Do the D. We chat about all things Disney, with an LGBTQ+ perspective. And that's all there is to know about me. What if I ended it there? That would be very punk-rock.

     I imagine more about my life and history will come out through more blog posts, but lets get to what we're all here for. Or what I'm here for anyway. It's anyone's guess what you're here for. On April 22nd, 2018 I ran my first runDisney half marathon. It also happened to be my first half marathon ever, and only the second registered run I'd ever participated in at the time. Words can't describe my experience...but here are a few, just in case you'd like a description. The pure physical and emotional roller-coaster of running 13.1 miles, mixed with the magic of Disney is both overwhelming and comforting at the same time. I would list my decision to register for my first runDisney race, in the top 5 best choices of my life. I often use hyperbole; this is not one of those times.

     Since that run, I've participated in the 2018 Wine and Dine Half Marathon, the 2019 Star Wars Rival Run 10k and Half Marathon (on consecutive days) and three runDisney Virtual 5ks. I'm also currently registered for the 2019 Wine and Dine Half Marathon, this November, the 2020 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Half Marathon, next January, and the 2020 Star Wars Rival Run Half Marathon, next April. In addition to all of this, I've also participated in a handful of local runs, here in Minnesota and one in Chicago. (brag much?) I plan to incorporate the non-Disney runs in future blogs, but true to the name Patrick Runs Disney, this will mostly center around my experiences with runDisney.

     So how did I get here? Such a good question. I'm so glad I asked it for you. On November 25th 2017, two significant things happened. One: I turned 36 years old. Okay, that may not be significant to you, but every day I wake up is a miracle. Am I right? Two: I ran my first 5k; the Mustache Run. (an annual run in Minneapolis, benefiting prostate cancer research). After the run, I felt two things; incredibly accomplished, and severely out of shape. I had started the run with confidence and maybe a little hubris. But I ended the run with a pain in my side and little dry heave.

     I went home and took stock of my morning. I had just run a 5k. It was a respectable time of just under 40 minutes. (I will never judge anyone's run times, and I encourage all of you to follow suit...more on that later). Though I was proud of my accomplishment, I knew I wanted more. I wanted to be able to finish a 5k and not need be concerned that I would pass out. I wasn't wildly out of shape (what does that even mean), but I wasn't where I wanted to be. I wanted running to feel good, both emotionally and physically. I laid out my medal, took a picture for the 'Gram (without me in it...more on that later too), and I came up with a plan. From that day, my 36th birthday, until my 37th birthday, I was going to train for and run in as many registered runs as I could. And if at the end of that year, I didn't love doing it, I would stop. I felt okay with that resolve, because at least I was going to try. It would be my Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes situation. If you haven't read that book, what are you doing with your life? Stop reading this, read that, and then come back to me. Deal?

     As an already avid Disney fan, I had heard of the runDisney events that happen every year. I decided to do a little research to see if it would be worth the investment. I came across a YouTube channel called RezRuns. It features a man named Gerald Reznick. Gerald has Stargardt Disease, which in a very unofficial, very non-Doctor nutshell, is a degenerative disease in the retina that affects your sharp, or straight ahead vision. Though Gerald has this disease and is legally blind, he still participates in runDisney 10ks and half marathons. Check out his channel. If you want some inspiration, you'll get a lot. After watching his videos, I was in. The joy he got from runDisney was unmistakeable. Here was a man who was losing his vision, and yet he loved being involved with runDisney so much, nothing was going to stop him from participating. I opened the page to runDisney.com and was faced with a brand new decision. Do I register for the 5k, the 10k or the half marathon. If you know me...and I think you do, because it's likely only my Mom is reading this...it was a "go big or go home" situation. Technically I was already at home...but I think you know what I mean. I clicked on the half marathon, registered and shut my laptop. Well, I first checked my bank account to make sure I could responsibly afford this, and THEN I registered and shut my laptop.

     As you read above, this was one of the best decisions of my life. I plan to write more in-depth about my first runDisney experience in another post, but know that beyond this run, I can't remember the last time I cried harder and happier tears as I crossed the finish line. On the bus ride back to the resort, after the race, I couldn't stop smiling. I knew I was hooked, and I knew I was home. I was determined to keep running, and runDisney would be my goal to run toward.

     That year, I registered for and completed 11 runs. I got something out of every run...beyond the awesome medals...which are addicting. My confidence grew. My strength increased. My interest in running, evolved into a passion for running. And most importantly, I have met the most amazing people through running and through my involvement in...specifically...the runDisney events...but also through running in general. But because of my trips to Walt Disney World for multiple runDisney events, I've had the opportunity to meet runners and non runners who have become close friends of mine. People who support me, and who I love and support very nearly and dearly.

     I should wrap up this post. You have many important things to move on to, and I have chicken in the oven that will burn soon. Here's what I hope you and I both get out of this blog. I hope we both learn something about ourselves. I hope you learn that, yes, you can participate in a 5k, a 10k, a half marathon a marathon, or even a one mile jog if you want to. I hope I learn exactly what it is that I love about runDisney. Why does it make me feel so happy and at peace? What is it providing me that I haven't found elsewhere? Here are a few promises I'd like to make us: I will never judge another person's ability. Your speed, endurance, commitment, etc. are none of my business. I will be open and honest with you. If I'm having a bad experience, I won't hide it...hopefully we can both learn from those times. If I skipped out on some training, I'll tell you. I have nothing to gain by painting a perfect and false picture...and let's be clear, that would be boring to read. And I will never claim to know all the answers. I am not a professional runner (is that a thing? that would be cool). I am not a perfect runner, by any stretch of the imagination. I know what works for me, and what keeps me going, and what seems to be keeping me healthy. I can share my opinions with you, but you should never assume that what works for me works for everyone...or for anyone else for that matter. Who knows, maybe I'm doing it wrong. Everyone runs with sharp rocks in their shoes, right?

     In closing, thank you for being here. Thank you for your interest. Thank you for showing up. I hope to show up for you. If you have questions along the way, let me know. If you have suggestions that could help others...get your own blog! JK...JK....let me know, I'd be happy to share them. I love you, and I believe in you. You can go the distance.

-PK

(the picture in the post is from the first time I crossed a runDisney half marathon finish line. that face is full of pain and happiness...but mostly pain)

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