As I write this article, my right leg is propped up and I have ice on my knee. I’m coming off of Marathon Weekend, where I ran the 10K, and I’m not sure if I injured my knee during the race or maybe the miles I put in walking around Epcot afterward? Regardless, I have a running injury and I’m completely taken back by it. Why? Because I’m not a runner. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.
But the truth is, I am a runner and it happened when I wasn’t even looking. It’s been almost a year and I’ve competed in 3 runDisney weekends. I started with the Princess 5k last February, where 5 minutes in I completely regretted that I didn’t sign up for a longer race. A few weeks later runDisney opened up registration for Wine and Dine weekend, where I was still running on such a high from my first race, that I decided to skip right ahead to the Half Marathon. Yup, I decided to turn 3 miles into 13.1. While I was training for the Half, I received a call with an offer to run the 10k Marathon Weekend. My response was; “Yes, but let me see if I make it through the Half Marathon in November first.” I’m happy to say, I not only made it through my first half marathon, but I also made it through a 10K months later.
For those of you reading this who are contemplating participating in a runDisney event, allow me to be your inspiration.
Before the Princess 5K, I had run two other 5k’s in my life and aside from those races, I never ran more than 3 miles- ever. If I ran a full mile on the treadmill, I considered it to be a good cardio day at the gym. You should also know that I use the term “run” loosely, I have more of a fast-paced jog and at best it’s taken me 10 minutes and 30 seconds to complete a mile (At worst, which was during the Half Marathon, I was 13 minutes and 30 seconds). I was a professionally trained dancer my whole life and although I consider that to make me an athlete, I was never a traditional athlete where I competed at running or played a sport on a track or field.
Another thing you should know about me is, I’m no Spring chicken. I’m just going to put that out there, you’ve seen pictures of me and the jig is up. I’m a 35-year-old mother of two, but I used that as motivation and the fuel I needed during my training to not only run a 5 and 10K but to run and complete my first Half Marathon. Because if there’s one thing I learned through my training, it’s that running is just as much mental as it is physical. The mental side of training required me to find my “why.” My “why” is and always will be, my children.
My whole life I wanted to be a mother, and I was blessed with two little boys (17 months apart, yes- I have my hands full). They have their father to look up to. He played sports his entire life and was a Division 1 athlete where he played football at The University of Connecticut. I couldn’t help but feel like I was just the one who made lunches, did laundry, dropped and picked them up from school, etc. I know, mothers are much more than that. But ask any mother at any point in time and she will tell you she often feels the same way. I needed to show my boys that there was more to me and that they could look up to me too.
Over the past year, as I trained for a total of 22.4 miles (not exactly a “Dopey,” but I’m getting there), I accidentally stumbled upon my old self. I found the girl who once had enough stamina to perform a two minute tap solo on stage and not miss a beat. I found the girl I was before I had children and my life became catering to two little ones. While trying to prove to my boys that you can achieve any goal you set for yourself, I proved it to myself as well. I could talk to the talk- but until I was in the situation where I was crossing that half finish line, I wasn’t yet walking the walk. I had this attitude where in my head I just kept telling myself, “Listen, you gave birth to two kids, you can do this. 13.1 Miles? Please! This body went through 9 hours of labor, I got this!”
I think as mothers we give and give until there’s no more left for us. We live in a society where if we do one thing for us, we’re considered bad moms or called selfish. How is it Dad’s can still have a life, but it’s not okay for mothers? I’m here to tell you- take this moment for yourself! You have my permission to be selfish. Last year, before my Princess 5K, I decided to make runDisney my “thing.” We all have things and runDisney was going to be mine. It’s also something that’s just for me, but my family can still be apart of it. My husband and kids accompanied me to the expo where I picked up my Half Marathon bib, and they were in the stands to watch me cross the finish line. The 3 of them being there, waiting for me, is what pushed me (especially at mile 9, where my legs were ready to give out from under me). Moms, when was the last time your husband children cheered for you? I mean, actually, cheered for you by yelling your name? Listen, we all deserve our own little cheering section every day of our lives, but let’s be realistic here. I can tell you that the first time my family really cheered for me (not just because I found their missing sock) was Nov. 3, 2019 after my first Half Marathon.
If you’re thinking about running a runDisney race, do it. Don’t let fear get the best of you, don’t keep overthinking it, just do it. I’m living proof that no matter your age, no matter what point you are in your life or if you’ve ever run before or not- you can do it. You can run every magical mile and through it all, you will surprise yourself. After my 5k in February, I made a video saying that one day maybe I would run it again, or do a 10K, but never a half marathon. To me, those people were crazy- who wants to run for 2 and a half plus hours? Apparently, I did. The magic of runDisney had me hooked and it was my driving force to actually sign up, train, and fulfill a dream of running 13.1 miles.
The best part of runDisney is that you are never alone. I don’t just mean in your corral or during the race, I mean even when you’re at home training. There are several online communities you can join, with other runDisney runners, where you can ask questions, be inspired and find the motivation you need. I was also fortunate to have our Kingdom Insider readers and followers. In some of my darkest days and moments when I didn’t think I could pull off any race, my fellow Insiders pulled me through.
After the past 3 races, I still ask myself- “wait, am I a runner?” Just two days ago I committed to running the Star Wars Rival Run Half Marathon in April and I think I can answer that question now- YES! I am a runner! I’ve also signed my kids up for the kid races because runDisney is a place for families. It’s a place for runners, first-time runners (warning: you will get hooked and no race will ever be as magical as Disney), and families alike. It’s just as inclusive as the parks you run through, and it’s an amazing feeling to be apart of the runDisney community.
Because of runDisney, this mother found herself. And we all know, a happy mom is a good mom. Now, my family has one more Disney thing to bond over and our vacations to Walt Disney World have gotten that much better. I owe so much to runDisney, and the runners in the community who continue to inspire me. Who knows, maybe this half-marathoner will turn full-marathoner before the end of 2020? And to all my running mommas out there- keep running like the mother you are! You got this, we got this!