My Run Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon Story #PrincessHalf

Everyone runs road races for different reasons and everyone has a story behind their reason.

In 2012, when I ran my very first 1/2 marathon, it was to raise money for Dana-Farber’s Cancer Center in Boston, MA. That was the reason for me, I wanted to try and raise as much money as possible. The story behind my reason was very personal. My husband had been diagnosed with a cancerous GIST tumor in his abdomen earlier that year, and I needed something to focus on and capture some of my attention during that time in my life. Training and running and being accountable to a race, to a running race date… it was what I needed. That training period for 3 months was beyond difficult for me. I had NEVER trained for anything more than a 5K in my life, but each week… I checked off what I needed to do on the training front and I did it. Running that race was very emotional for me. I was running for me, but mostly for my husband. Every time I started to get tired, I just kept thinking of him and I kept going. My older brother ran the race with me that year and he kept me going throughout the full race. It was wonderful having him next to me, pushing me when I needed to be pushed and just being there for me.

Finishing that race was the best feeling ever. I grabbed my husband and just collapsed in his arms, both of us truly knowing the reason and the story behind those 13.1 miles.

I told myself that I would never run a 1/2 marathon again. It was too much for me. It was too difficult for me. I actually put running to bed after that race.

Well… until this past summer, something magical (quite literally) happened – it’s funny, everything in life does seem to happen for a reason. I was invited to the Disney Youth Sports Media Event in Orlando. I had the opportunity to visit the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and learn about Youth Sports and Training and Run Disney. I sat there listening to all this amazing information and advice and tips for our youth in sports (which, as you know, we’re VERY into with our sons), I couldn’t help but think about how I don’t do any of this for myself. Here I am, advocating the importance of youth sports because of all it brings our children on an emotional, mental, physical and sportsmanship level… and I don’t do any of this anymore for me.

Running. Swimming. Hiking. Tennis. Biking.

All things I used to do pretty consistently, but had just stopped doing after that last 1/2 marathon.  I was an athlete throughout my youth, swimming was my sport of choice. I swam from the time I was 5 years old through the age of 19… the pool was my heaven, it was my zen, my peace, my life. I started running in my early 20’s when I moved to NYC after college. I had never really taken up running before that, so it was all new to me… but I loved it. My husband (boyfriend then) and I would enter races in Central Park on the weekends and it became a fun thing for us to do together. Even when I started having my children, I still found the time to workout and keep myself active. I never did anything over 3 miles, but my body was used to the movement, the flow, the feeling of it all. Signing up for that 1/2 marathon in 2012 was out-of-the-box for me because of the mileage length… 13.1 was a stretch for me, but I did it. I also knew that training was going to be difficult because I was taking care of my husband and well, we had 4 kids at the time. But… my body was used to working out and I knew I could do it if I set my mind to it and trained.

And then nothing.

I just stopped doing anything for myself after that race, but that trip to Disney ignited the fire in my belly again, it gave me that ah-ha moment that I was looking for, probably waiting for. Here I was, someone who loved to watch my sons compete and workout and loved giving advice to other moms about youth sports… and I wasn’t doing anything for me, for myself. It was an eye-opening moment for me. My husband’s journey had just taken so much out of me emotionally and mentally and physically, that I think working out or trying to do something for myself… I just didn’t have the energy. I was just too laser focused on his well-being. Not to mention, we had an extra beautiful delivery in 2013, our baby girl. So between my husband’s health and having a new baby, working out – it just wasn’t on the horizon.

Until this past summer. Until that Disney Youth Event.

I left there with a renewed sense of self. I left there was a sense of needing to get back into something. I left there with a craving to do something for me, for myself… that was good for me, that would nourish me from head-to-toe on so many different levels. Run Disney spoke to me… it was the kind of race I needed, something fun, something memorable, something exciting, something I would never forget. I wanted to laugh and smile and cheer throughout a race… and I knew a Run Disney race would do that for me. Two of my blogging friends, Nadia from Childmode and Natalie from Hot Moms Club joined me on the journey and adventure of Run Disney and we focused on the Princess Half Marathon. Each of us with our own stories and needs for running, but all with the same goal… to finish this magical race.

Training for the Princess Half Marathon wasn’t easy. With 5 kids and working full-time, finding the time to get every run in was something that I knew wasn’t going to be easy. I trained as best as I possibly could over the last few months. Not every week was filled with running and I was worried about that, but I knew that if I kept working at it and kept focused, I’d be OK. Training for the Princess Half was a lot different for me than the last time I trained. I had fun through the training process. Every time I hopped on a treadmill or ran outside, I knew I was doing it for ME. It was for my health. It was for my well-being. As a mom and a wife and an everything else, I put so much energy into everything for everyone… I needed this race to be about me. I needed each mile trained to be something important to me.

When I arrived on Friday night in Orlando and met up with Nadia and Natalie… the Princess Half became a reality. It was going to happen! The excitement. The energy. The people. The EVERYTHING… it was contagious! I was there and there to RUN!

On the morning of the Princess Half, I woke up at midnight SICK AS A DOG. My stomach was killing me, the flu had been raging through our house all week and I was devastated to think that it got me! Around 2:30AM, everyone was up and getting ready to head to the race… I wasn’t sure what to do. I knew I didn’t feel good, but I also didn’t want to miss the race. I made the decision to get dressed in my Princess outfit and head over with the girls. I kept saying to myself… even if you do 1 mile, it’s something. When we got to the Princess Half… I can’t put words to it, other than to say it was PHENOMENAL. The music. The singing. The race outfits. The laughter. The happiness. The magic of Disney. This was no ordinary race… this was EXTRAORDINARY. I wanted to be part of this. I NEEDED to be part of this. I lined up at my corral and got ready to roll. Each mile I ran and/or walked… it was for me.

Princess Half Marathon

Around mile 7 or 8… I started to cramp up, I literally Facetime’d my husband for inspiration. I needed it so badly. Just seeing the looks on the faces of the ones that I love, it kept me going.

Running Princess Half

When I saw Epcot and knew I was almost at the finish line, I started crying. I cried happy tears. This race for me was about challenging myself and doing something for ME, not in a selfish way… but in a healthy way. It was beyond incredible to cross that finish line and look up to see that I had done it. I had done it.

I learned a lot about myself throughout the race. I dug deep, I kept going… I didn’t stop. I feel like it was the perfect way to jump into this new running world, feet first!

Thank you Run Disney for the opportunity to be part of this incredible Princess Half. It was an experience I will never forget and cherish forever… and I couldn’t have asked for better friends and training partners in Nadia and Natalie, they were my glue!

I created a video of our experience throughout the weekend…

Run Disney xoxo

About Audrey

Audrey McClelland has been a digital influencer since 2005. She’s a mom of 5 and shares tips on her three favorite things: parenting, fashion and beauty. She’s also a Contemporary Romance Author.

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