How did I become a runner? I mean, really! This time last year, I couldn't run a half of a mile without stopping, and last weekend, I ran 13.1. Now, if you've ever been skeptical about the power of pixie dust, I hope this helps prove my point that Disney is way more than some (world renown) theme parks and a few (Oscar-winning) animations. For me, it's about people coming together in the name of courage, commitment and creativity to make life a little better for everyone along the journey.
|Jeff Galloway, US Olympian runner and marathoner, designed a plan for novice runners to train for Disney's Princess 1/2 Marathon. I began following it last summer and crossed the finish line on Sunday with NO PAIN and NO REGRET. My goal for the weekend was to finish like that and to meet him to tell him so. Here's proof positive that fairy tales really do come true...one mile at a time!|
The Disney Princess Half Marathon was just that for me. In fact, I got emotional several times watching mothers and daughters running together knowing that my dear mom will never run again; witnessing cancer survivors overcoming the odds and running to celebrate life; seeing first hand the agony and despair of some that simply couldn't finish the race (or finish when they thought they would). Yet, I finished! Nothing could've made me endure a hardship like that nor made me enjoy it along the way more than Disney. (Yes, I said "enjoy!")
I flew down to Walt Disney World last Friday (by myself) and joined some friends already there hosting a travelingmom.com retreat at Animal Kingdom Lodge. I had dinner with them and my new blogger friends from the travelingmom.com site. This site is all about moms written by moms traveling with or without families -- tips, deals, offers, products and advice. Its founders, Kim Orlando (@kimorlando) and Cindy Richards (@cindyrichards), are amazingly talented and intelligent women who are ambitious yet equally concerned about promoting the interests of others. It was such a pleasure to spend the evening and part of the day on Saturday with this creative group of women, and I appreciated their hospitality. They are all wonderful communicators and so well traveled...yet, I loved showing them a different side of Disney. Whether with fabulous food, good wine, amazing experiences or little known facts, I get such a kick out of spreading the pixie dust and showing others my Disney World.
|Enjoying Jiko courtesy of the hostesses with the mostesses: Kim Orlando of TravelingMom.com and Leanne Jakubowski of Walt Disney World|
If you're thinking of running with me next year, I took a little video of the race packet, some race day tips from my friends who coached me and my Disney Princess 1/2 race day costume:
The race started (at 5:45 a.m.) in the parking lot of Epcot; to and through the Magic Kingdom; and back to Epcot. Along the way, there were photo ops with Disney characters, DJs, tumblers and acrobats, stilt walkers, cute firemen, high school bands, choirs and various other entertainers. Even "Sarge" from Toy Story was there to encourage us up a hill! And there were food, water and medical stations to keep everyone hydrated, energized and patched up.
As a novice runner, I was impressed with how the race was organized, and I was thrilled to have access to the VIP tent afterward where I met my running hero, Jeff Galloway. Yet, I was equally thrilled to see my new buddy, Monique Rubin (@monique_rubin), who traveled all the way from The Netherlands. She is a blogger for travelingmom.com and also can be found on her blog at motravels.com.
|Monique and I are still smiling even after 13.1 miles -- tutus and tiaras intact!|
After brunch, I made it back to Saratoga Springs and took a quick shower in time to check out and make a few phone calls to my admiring fans back home. (Some of my friends and family virtually followed me by receiving updates on my time splits and texting me with encouraging messages along the way.) I then threw on my swimsuit and ordered a yummy turkey and brie sandwich from Artist's Palette to eat by the pool. And this was pretty much my position until it was time to change in order to catch Disney's Magical Express back to the airport on late Sunday afternoon.
|If you look close enough, you can see the blisters on my toes.|
If I had it all to do over again, would I do it and would I consider doing it again next year? Yes and yes! The only thing missing was having you come with me. So strap on those running shoes and get to movin' -- you can't slap that 13.1 sticker on your car unless you've trod the miles! Good luck, princesses, and I hope to run with you in 2012!