My journey to a Disney Princess Half Marathon

I remember the moment I decided that I was going to run a half marathon. The idea was something that had been percolating in the back of my mind for some time. I had trained for a half after my daughter was born and weeks before the race fell victim to shin splints. Years passed, and the notion that I would cross that finish line also disappeared.

Until it didn’t. 

I was sitting in a living room with my sister, who was six months into chemotherapy and fighting for her life. An avid runner and athlete, she had to give it all up when she was diagnosed with cancer. I remember looking at her, and blurting out to my family that I was going to run a half marathon to ring in my 40th year. 

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Why did I do this? Because I knew she couldn’t, and she would have loved to. This may not make sense, but I had an overwhelming desire to push myself and appreciate the health, body, and physicality I was so lucky to have. I never truly appreciated my health until I saw it taken from loved ones at a moment’s notice.

If I was going to do this, you can bet your lucky stars I was going to at least make a trip out of it. I signed up for the Disney Princess Half Marathon and thus began nearly a year of training. Here’s what I learned along the way:

No cheat codes for this video game

So, you know those video games where you desperately search for cheat codes to skip levels? Well, running a half marathon is not one of those games. It took a good eight months of pounding the pavement, starting with two kilometres and gradually inching my way to 20 kilometres. No shortcuts here — just the slow, steady progress of a determined runner.

I laced up twice a week and went on long runs every weekend. Sometimes these were enjoyable; most times they weren’t. Sometimes it was raining, sometimes snowing, or sometimes it was simply a beautiful day. The only constant was my schedule and the need to ‘get the kilometres in.’

From running hater to pavement pounder

Confession time: I used to hate running. Like, really hate it. But somewhere between dodging puddles and convincing myself that the neighbour’s cat was my personal cheerleader, I found joy in the rhythm of my feet hitting the pavement. Turns out, running is a bit of an acquired taste, or maybe I just needed the right playlist. Whatever the truth is, running became ‘my time,’ where I couldn’t check my phone, clean the house, or run around for someone else. It became sacred, and I started to look forward to those early-morning runs.

Spousal support

When I told my husband I was going to run a half marathon, he didn’t just nod and say, “That’s nice, dear.” No, he decided to join me in this wild venture. Picture this: two adults, neither particularly graceful, attempting synchronized jogging. We may not have broken any land-speed records, but the running commentary was top-notch.

But in all seriousness, my husband showed up and ran right beside me. Actions always speak louder than words.

Race day: where Disney does magic and marathons

Disney knows how to throw a party, even at 5 a.m. The Disney Princess Half Marathon was not just a race; it was a spectacle. With mile markers adorned with characters, pit stops with snacks, and fellow runners in tutus, it was like a fairy tale on the move. Race day was fun and seemed like the cherry on top of all the training. I leaned into it and enjoyed all (but one) of the 21 kilometres.

Bodies: the unsung heroes

Our bodies are capable of so much more than we give them credit for. I have never appreciated my body more than in this past year. First of all, it’s healthy and can move.  Secondly, I saw what time, discipline, and consistent effort did. While I don’t want to sound preachy, please, if you have the luxury of health, move your body and take care of yourself.

Running a half marathon taught me that life is a bit like a Disney movie — there’s hard work, laughter, and most importantly, the triumph of the human spirit, or in this case, the triumph of a slightly clumsy runner with a newfound love for pavement pounding and princess-themed races.

Who’s joining me next year? Get your tutu ready.


The honest talk