What a weekend. Actually, what an amazing five days that started with a mother runner party at Fit2Run in Orlando and concluded with wearing so many medals around our necks, it kind of felt like a workout.
We were lucky enough to play multiple roles at the Disney Princess Half-Marathon Weekend—and thankfully, as mothers, we have the multitasking skills to handle it. (And it was so, so much easier than simultaneously helping with 5th grade math homework, cooking a dinner that everybody will at least tolerate, and sweeping dog hairs and crumbs off the kitchen floor.) We manned the mother runner booth on the expo floor and got to meet so many badass, interesting, hilarious mother runners; we spoke daily, giving tips and tricks for race day; we ran the Princess Half-Marathon on Sunday; and I—Dimity—added the inaugural Enchanted 10K on Saturday so I could go full-on Disney and run back-to-back race and collect a special medal, the Glass Slipper Challenge.
Our mother runner booth was a hive of laughs and inspiration. So many women taking on their first 13.1, so many women telling us how important running is in their lives. (And so many women there without their families! Love the freedom of traveling solo, no? Especially as I sit typing this in the Orlando airport, so grateful my biggest concern is filling my water bottle before the flight.) We received lots of congrats and women telling us how excited they were to see we are officially a part of the runDisney family, which only heightened our excitement for the upcoming races.
After two days at the expo, I was ready to race—even if that meant a 2 a.m. alarm, if I adjusted for Colorado time. (Which I will do right now: Just heightens the drama, right?) I was especially ready to run because we had a small army of mother runners committed to taking on the 10K together. Our only goal: Assume an easy pace, spend some time bonding with the tribe, and take a bunch of pictures. Turns out, we had one other goal: Totally soak our shirts, even with our easy pace. Probably not news to anybody who lives in the southeast, but Holy Humidity. Somebody said it started at 96% that morning—and went up. No mind: We laughed and chatted and Instagramed our way through a lovely 10K course.
I must interrupt this race post to just wax for a sentence about how instant and special the connection of mother runner is. Although a few women came with their pals, we had a couple solo runners and we immediately fell into step with one another. By mile 3, we were discussing vasectomies and by the end, we were trading emails. (Ok, the group email was mostly to grab pictures from each other, but the morning had a glow about it that would've been present even if we weren't trotting through Magic Central.)
The funniest part of the race for me? Carissa, the effusive runDisney announcer, noticing our mother runner posse crossing the starting line. "Where's Sarah of another mother runner?" she asked, "Oh yeah, back in bed, still sleeping." Sarah, a West Coaster whose body clock was an hour earlier than mine, choose to skip the 10K—then she let me nap after the race so I could grab back a little of that lost sleep. (Thank you, sister from another mother runner. Much appreciated.)
I needed as much rest as I could muster because Sunday morning required a 3:00 am alarm to get dressed, grab a bite, hit the bathroom multiple times, snap a couple shots, and be ready for a 5:35 start with 26,000 other runners—and a few characters along the way.
I won't lie: The idea of covering 13.1 miles after a pretty epic couple of days felt pretty daunting. Especially because the humidity hadn't really relented; the air was thick and our sports bras were soaked after about a quarter of a mile.
On the bus over, we talked about how we'd run this race like we ran Tinker Bell: with enjoyment as a focus, but still maintain a steady pace. We had spent enough time on our feet at the expo. I felt surprisingly good from the outset. (Not PR good, but definitely better than I did at the start of Tinker Bell.) Sarah had a tougher time breathing through the thick air, so we just found a doable groove and kept our eyes out for good picture opps. I decided I would let Sarah set the pace, more or less; I had a few moments where I let my inner jackrabbit out, and she wisely reigned me in. My jackrabbit is best matched for 5K's, not half-marathons, but I have a hard time remembering that.
We hit the halfway point, and it didn't feel downhill, but it didn't feel impossible either. I was also following Sarah's lead on fueling. She religiously takes a GU at mile 4, 8, and 11, so I mentally divided the race that way: 4 miles + 4 miles + 3 miles + 2.1 miles. Those bites felt perfect for the day, and I liked that the segments got shorter towards the end.
Sarah, I'm guessing, divided the race into pre-mile 7 and post-mile 7; mile 7 is where there's a special Princess Power Song. "If it's not 'Let it Go', I'm just going to super bummed," she admitted. When we heard "The cold never bothered me anyway," she immediately sang all the lyrics, and I joined in for the chorus. (Phew. Thanks, runDisney, for keeping Sarah's spirit high.)
On we went. When I'd fall into a tough spell where running just felt hard, I asked myself, "How can you make this easier, Dimity?" Usually that meant shortening my steps, making them more frequent, standing taller, and unclinching my fists and jaw. I kept the same pace, but dramatically downsized the effort.
We ran into a multitude of mother runners—loved the mother runner in the hot pink Tough Girl Tutu who dotted it up, Minnie-style—and that, of course, is always a highlight of any race. We met Kelli at the beginning of the race, who told us she was following our Train Like a Mother Half-Marathon: Own It plan. She got ahead of us when we stopped for pics, but we saw her again right after mile 12, when we urged her to Own It and to finish strong. We hit the last drag of race, and I think I had sweated out every.last.drop of energy I had left. "I just want you to keep your chin up and look proud and smile," Sarah told me, and that was what I needed to hear. Check and check, so here's another thanks, SBS.
She'll also be very bummed if I don't print our finishing time, so it was 2:06:58. (Note: I did not round up to 2:07.)
It's hard to Let It Go when you've been looking forward to this trip for so long—and it's hard to sum up such an incredible weekend with one witty paragraph, especially when sleep was minimal and sweat, maximal. So I'll take the easy way out with another picture. Mother runners bookended this memorable weekend, and Kelli bookended a memorable race. Thanks, all. xo