Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Disney Princess Half Marathon

Sunday morning I woke up at 2 am to get ready for my ball. I had a date with 16,000 others who were going to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon. I got into my Belle costume: sequined skirt, gloves, rose and all.  I chose Belle because she was my sister's favorite princess and since she died about a year ago I wanted to run this in her memory!  Once I was ready, I made my way to the bus, and hopped on board, by now it was 3 am. 

It was a bit of a wait until the race started at 6 am, but I filled the time with meeting up with some online running moms from around the country, and even making friends with some random strangers.  Then at 6 am when the fairy godmother shouted 3.... 2.... 1.... And fireworks went off, I started my race.  13.1 miles through the Disney World roads, including Magic Kingdom and Epcot.

My favorite part of the race was running up main street in the magic kingdom, and seeing cinderellas castle.  The streets were lined with crowds, and even though I didn't know a single person, it didn't matter.  Their cheers got me excited, their signs made me laugh, and when I made it around the castle and began to run underneath I wanted to cry.  What girl doesn't want to be a princess and live in a castle, right? Well sometimes life isn't a fairy tale.  Sometimes you face hard situations. Sometimes you lose loved ones.  Sometimes you feel like the evil one is winning, but at that moment, as I ran under the castle I  was winning! I didn't need a prince or a carriage, or even a castle. I was a strong independent woman, discovering something I love, living and enjoying life.  I was a princess!

My goal was to finish the race in under 2 hours and 30 minutes.  Based on my training this was a reasonable goal.  Having only run one other half marathon this past fall, at 2 hours 48 minutes, I was confident I would break that and set a personal record.  3 miles into it I realized I was about 3 minutes off and the 2:30 time was unlikely.  At that moment I made the choice to do my best and if I didn't break it, it was okay.  That was a huge deal for me to be okay with, as I usually set very high expectations of myself and get very disappointed in myself for not meeting them.  Perhaps the struggles of losing a spouse and dealing with his addictions have helped me to relax and enjoy life more than I did before. 

I am very proud to say that I had an amazing run! I finished in 2:33:38!  I set a personal record and took almost 15 minutes off my previous time! While it may not have been my initial goal, I am pleased and I have no regrets.  I am sure that as I crossed the finish line, my arms raised in victory, that my sister karrie, my late husband Jonathan, and my father were all watching from heaven.  Cheering for me when I was tired, and celebrating with me as i finished.  I know they would never have thought I would do this! And if they were still here, who knows if I ever would have.  
Words can not express how grateful I am to have found running.  It has become not only my stress reliever but my grief reliever.  It's my healing process.  Each race I accomplish, each celebration I have is a way to celebrate my new life, my new adventure.  Just like this race, I've had expectations for my life, and a few years back I realized those things may not happen right away.  But I've decided that i am just going to run it my best, enjoy each mile and celebrate... whatever the result may be!


  1. Amazing, girl! Love your "no give up" attitude and the fact that you are taking your tragedies in life and becoming better not bitter... you are for the first time discovering the princess you were born to be! :) Great job, Jenn!

  2. I love your outfit for the Disney run! Where from? You're very inspiring!

  3. Jennifer, loved your article! I'm training for this race next year and you gotta give me more motivation!!!! May you have many, many races, can reach your goals and be very happy!!

  4. Jennifer, loved your article! I'm training for this race next year and you gotta give me more motivation!!!! May you have many, many races, can reach your goals and be very happy!!