Running in the Happiest Place on Earth

Today and tomorrow, I’m running in the Glass Slipper Challenge, back-to-back races (10K on Saturday and half marathon – 13.1 miles – on Sunday) that are part of the 2014 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend.

Both events are at Walt Disney World and are part of the Run Disney race series. These two races will be my seventh and eighth Run Disney events, respectively. Since I already ran the Tinkerbell Half Marathon in January, I’ll also (hopefully) get a special Coast-to-Coast medal for running races in California (Disneyland) and Florida (Walt Disney World) in the same calendar year. (Why do I do this? Well, I am a huge, shameless sucker for bling and love a challenge).

The first race I ever participated in was the 2006 Walt Disney World Marathon. I’d always wanted to run a marathon, but never had the time or confidence to train.

In June 2005 I finished my OBGYN residency and moved from Colorado to Texas to start my fellowship. Before leaving Denver, I’d been running a lot with my friend W, who first invited me to run a half marathon with her.

Even though I’d been a runner since my high school cross country days, the longest distance I’d ever completed was eight miles. But W and I started running together several times a week, and the miles would fly by. Soon we were able to churn out nine miles, then ten, then twelve. We ended up finishing two half marathons before I moved.

Fast forward to Texas, July 2005: I was awed when a new acquaintance casually mentioned that she’d done the Disney Marathon four times. She highly recommended it for a newbie, as there is a lot of support along the course and plenty of novelty to keep your (fatigued) spirits up.

I signed up the next day. 

The Disney Marathon takes place every January, usually on the second Sunday. It winds through four of the WDW theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. Disney characters line the course and many runners stop for a photo op with Mickey, Goofy or a favorite Princess or Villain.

My goals for my first marathon were fairly straightforward:

  1. Finish the race
  2. Finish the race without humiliating myself in some way
  3. Just keep running

And I did it! I was so happy. I finished in 4:24:24, which isn’t setting any world records but was plenty fine with me.

Since then I’ve done the Disney Marathon two more times, plus four other marathons and about 15 half marathons. I like to always be training for something, because I really need that tangible goal to look forward to. And did I mention how much I love the bling?

Friends, please keep me in your thoughts and mentally send best wishes for fresh legs, fast feet and good races this weekend!

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