Running Full Circle With Run Disney
How did I get involved with run Disney? Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed of running……um NO! Honestly, I don’t really even like running. The races are fun but the training is definitely tough and requires discipline. Ok, so let me back up.
So I decided on a whim in November of 2011 to sign up for the Family 5k, or 3.1 miles, during WDW Marathon Weekend 2012. Having never trained before or participated in a race, I decided to join up with other runners on a “team” so I wouldn’t have to do the 5k alone. Being familiar with Lou Mongello and the WDW Radio Show, I knew they had a running team so I signed up for the WDW Radio Running Team. Who knew that one simple 5k and click of a mouse would completely change my life? Arriving at the Epcot parking lot at 4 AM that first morning was scary. I didn’t know these “teammates” I was searching for in the vast crowd. All I knew was that we were all wearing WDW Radio blue….did I mention that the official 5k shirts were blue that year too? So it’s 4AM, chilly and I’m staring at a sea of blue shirts looking for my team. Finally, after a mild panic attack fearing I was going to have to run this race totally alone, I spotted Katie McNamara and Mike Beckerman who I recognized from the facebook page for the running team. I walked over and introduced myself and immediately was welcomed with open arms. The three of us along with Deanna Mongello and Steve Drew ran the race together and honestly, as we neared the finish line we were all a bit sad that it was over. Yes! I actually wanted to keep running so that we could all be together. They all got me through that first race and I knew then and there, these were friends for life. They even humored me by waiting in line to get an official race photo taken with our medallions. Jokingly at the end of the race, Steve and Deanna said, you’ll be doing half marathons before you know it.
I tentatively agreed to do the half in 2013 but first I came home and immediately called my best friend Jaimee Dietz and asked her if she’d run the Royal Family 5k with me in February of 2012. She agreed and we began training together which was infinitely better than running alone. I couldn’t wait to get back to Florida and introduce her to all these wonderful friends that I had met the month prior. Princess Weekend 2012 cemented my addiction to running, my love for Florida, and my adoration for all these new friends. I was also introduced to the amazing Shelley Caran and Shalon Given during this weekend proving that you never know where life is taking you. More on that in a minute! Jaimee and I met people that weekend who are truly our best friends for life. The Royal Family 5k was so much fun; we got to wear tutus and tiaras which totally distracted us from the running aspect of the event.
My next event would be my biggest and scariest challenge, the Tower of Terror 10 miler. This race was tough, it was a night race, and extremely warm and humid. It was a special night though as the race started on Jaimee’s birthday and ended on my birthday. Thanks to Shelley and Shalon for helping us make some cute running shirts to celebrate this. It was also very exciting to get my first real race bling, an actual medal. The 5k medallions are nice but nothing compares to getting your first real medal. I also knew that having completed the 10 miler, I was totally capable of running and finishing the 2013 WDW Half Marathon. So now here we are, January 2013 and its been ten days since I completed my first half marathon. I won’t say it was easy because it wasn’t, but I had amazing teammates to pull me through. I can’t stress enough how much a running buddy can help you when you think you have nothing left inside you. I ran with three guys who had all previously done half’s or full’s so they were very helpful in explaining what and when I needed to eat, how to pace, and just what to expect in general. I’ll always be grateful to my Coral F running buds, Charles Stoddard, Nathan Mauldin, and Mike Beckerman.
So here we are, January 2013 and I have four 5k’s, one 10 miler, and one half marathon in the books. Whew….it’s been quite a year. This year I’m already registered for the Princess 1/2 next month and the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge, a 10k followed by the Disneyland 1/2 marathon, in August.
So why do I keep doing this? What started as a whim turned into a totally new life for me. I lost weight, I raised money for the Dream Team Project benefiting Make-A-Wish Foundation, I made lifelong friends, and I moved to Florida so that I could be with them all the time! Without all that, I wouldn’t be writing for this blog, operating my own handmade tutu and hair bow company, challenging myself daily to new things, and living a new life that I couldn’t be happier with.
So why Run Disney? Like most things, Disney exceeds your expectations when they put on an event. The races are filled with so much fun. There’s music, character meet-n-greets along the course, fireworks, after parties, and the BLING! It’s definitely not an inexpensive hobby but I’ve never once felt like I wasn’t getting my money’s worth in a Disney race. Another favorite aspect of race weekends is the camaraderie among runners in the parks following the races. Everyone wears their new bling, from the 5kers to the Goofy participants (those who run a 1/2 followed by a full marathon in one weekend) and congratulate each other as they pass in the parks. Even as I was cheering during the Full Marathon, wearing my 1/2 marathon medal, runners were going by congratulating me! They’re on mile 25 out of 26.1 and they take the time to tell me good job on my accomplishment as they are running by! I can’t forget to mention the amazing volunteers that make these races possible. They hand out water, drinks, biofreeze, and the medals.
Big thanks to On The Go’s own Aurora McBride for personally giving me my very first 1/2 marathon medal this year.
If you’re considering joining the Run Disney family, do it! You won’t regret it. You’ll gain so much more than you can even imagine. So join me, and follow along on my Run Disney journey this year as I go Coast-to-Coast! Happy running!Follow us for more updates: