Most runners are very supportive of other runners regardless of ability or speed. The important thing is you are out there trying! I have especially found this to be the case in the runDisney community. This is why I run Disney!
After I had my fifth child last August, I was in a slump. I had been fairly active through the pregnancy using the elliptical machine, some cycling classes, and an occasional mile jog. But putting on some weight after each of 5 babies is discouraging and sometimes depressing. I was happy to have another sweet baby, but at the same time I felt overwhelmed, a little gloomy, a little Eeyore-ish. I’ll admit sometimes being a stay at home mom is not what I imagined it to be, but I chose it, and most of the time I love it. Some of the time I feel unchallenged, redundant, and like a pooper scooper.
It was in one of these moments that I thought, ‘How can I get to Disney, back to my happy place?’ Hmm, I’ll run a half marathon. I mentioned this to my husband, and he was very supportive! He even said he would run with me. So a couple of weeks after I gave birth to my last daughter, I started running. I was feeling good during 3 or 4 mile runs. When I started getting to 5, I lost my nerve and my mojo. Now this was starting to get really tough, and the doubts came creeping in. I ran cross country in high school, but I didn’t like running then either. I was one of those who ran to a friend’s house and watched Oprah during practice. Or to Partlow’s for a soda. Or to a park…
The 2013 Walt Disney World Half Marathon sold out, and I almost felt relief, like I could quit, because the race we were going to run was sold out. I surely was not going to make my husband run in a Princess race, and I surely was not going to run it alone. Then I felt like a big baby. And I remembered all the lectures I had given my kids about trying new things and doing your best. So I registered my husband and I for Disney’s 2013 Princess Half Marathon. Honey, get your tutu ready, because we are running in costume!
Things were serious. I was not going to back out now that I had shelled out the money. I started investing in running, in myself. I went to a real running store to get fitted for shoes. (Umm, what was I running in before?) Then I invested in some good winter gear, because things were starting to get chilly in Virginia. Since I started to look the part, I started to feel the part. I was turning into a real runner; I was no longer a wannabe runner.
My husband and I were following Jeff Galloway’s plan on runDisney’s website. I remember when my husband and I had our 8 mile run. 8 was a daunting number. That was my next hurdle. I remember finishing that distance and feeling so proud. I no longer had any doubt I was going to cross that finish line come February. And cross that line I did! It was an incredible feeling! One that I had worked for, a goal I had set and accomplished.
Now when I tell people about my race (because I will always find a way to fit it into a conversation), I am greeted by two types of responders. The first is a very positive, encouraging one. Thank you! The second is a naysayer, bring you down, non-runner type. These non-runners scoff and say, “What? There were characters there?” “You stopped to take a picture?” “16-minute-miles? I could walk that.” Of course you could, for 13.1 miles, with no training, because you are so awesome. No you’re not, so don’t disrespect those that train for these miles.
I am approaching my one year running Anniversary and I get a little teary-eyed thinking about it. Here’s a little love letter to runDisney.
You are not perfect. But you decided to create races that have character entertainment along the course. I live for that stuff. You also decided to create some women-centered races that are non-threatening and make beginners feel like winners. My medal is the same size as the first person who crossed the finish line. I get fireworks for my corral, too, even though I’m not in Corral A. You keep adding races so that I can earn more medals and push myself even harder. I never thought I would finish one half marathon, let alone register for 3 more and even consider running a marathon. So what if people dress up for your races? That’s why we come back! That’s what makes it fun! That makes me love it, and it made me fall in love with running! I never thought I would love to run or need it for sanity. Running down Main Street and through Cinderella’s Castle is magical and addicting. Whoever thought of that deserves more money. These rocking leg muscles I now have, I owe to you. I feel good about myself and have made positive changes in my eating and fitness habits. We now run as a family. So thank you, thank you, thank you! But don’t let your ego grow too big from my adoration, because you’re still not perfect. But I love you.
So to you naysayers, watch out, because in your next pretend race you’re not running, this princess will pass you in her princess costume. And my Princess Posse has my back.