In the past year, sole sisters and Canadian BAMRs Jodi Snowdon and Alana McGilly Lamain took up running and decided to not only train together for a Disney race – the Princess Half Marathon Feb. 24– but also to chronicle their fitness journey online. “We started blogging to ‘scrapbook’ our race to the castle,” says Jodi, a.k.a. Princess Aurora for her upcoming 13.1-mile race. “We share how we’re doing it while juggling families and careers, and what we’re learning – warts and all. We talk about everything from motivation and time management to injuries and costumes. We’re not training for the Olympics; we’re just two moms on the run. If we can do it, anyone can do it.” In the final weeks before Race Day, we caught up with Jodi, 36 and mom to two girls ages 8 and 6, and Alana, also 36 and mom to two girls, ages 4 and 2. (They’re not kidding about being “sole mates!”)
Once Upon a Time…
Alana: My running journey began by setting a seemingly impossible goal of running a half-marathon. I had an extremely difficult time beginning a family. For each of my four pregnancies, I was on mandatory bed rest and limited exercise from about 18 weeks onward. My weight fluctuated like a yo-yo. During my last pregnancy, I could not even walk for the last four months without severe debilitating pain in my hips. Two of my beautiful babies live on only in my heart as they were both born too small and too soon. Luisa, 4, and Luana, 2, are my shining lights on earth who motivate me to become a healthier version of who I am. Jodi was my initial inspiration to begin running seriously for the first time in my life. And, while my goal is to beat the balloon ladies at the Disney Princess Half Marathon, I know now that my journey is about more than just crossing the finishing line. I’ve managed to find balance as a teacher, a wife and as a "mother runner."
Jodi: I never thought I would be a runner but, after having kids and focusing solely on them, I realized that I was neglecting myself and not setting the best example for them. They deserved better, and so did I. I decided to make a dramatic change. I am a busy, working mom of two and did not think I had time for exercise or eating beyond whatever was quick and convenient. But I realized that no one has time – you have to make the time. So I did. That was then and this is now. “Then” was three years ago; “now” I am now 65 pounds lighter and I am so proud of the healthy lifestyle I am modeling for my daughters. I want them to grow up believing that strong is always better than skinny. I run to show them that there will always be someone faster and someone slower, but the real race is against yourself and the goal is to be the best you can be. It took me 36 years to realize this, but it has been the most transformative life lesson.
Deciding on Disney:
Jodi: I thought the idea of doing a destination race was exciting and I was immediately drawn to the Princess Half Marathon in all its sparkly splendor. Just as I was pondering the idea of this race, Alana called out of the blue to tell me she wanted to start running, too, and to ask how to begin. It seemed meant to be. We instantly connected over this idea of girl power, dreaming big and setting lofty goals all while wearing tiaras! Within a week, we had started training for our first half marathon. This sounds crazy, given that we had never even run a 5K, but it felt right. We knew we were embarking on something that would be unforgettable.
What to wear, what to wear (at a Disney race):
Jodi: Every princess knows that it is all about the gown and tiara! Both need to be perfect. Marrying the practical needs of running 13.1 miles with the fun and fantasy of a costume is a challenge, but it is more than that. Race day will be OUR day. We want to be wearing something as special as the moment, something that makes us feel both fast and fabulous, something that makes us feel like the perfect princess. Running can empower you like nothing else so our advice is to own that confidence and celebrate it. Women shouldn’t have to choose between being feminine and being athletes – we can be both. And there is nothing wrong with looking cute while chasing a dream! Especially when there is a tiara on the line.
Alana: Jodi will be running as Princess Aurora – given her injury and recent cortisone injection that caused her to faint, she takes comfort in knowing that if she needs a rest or passes out on the course, it will look to be in character! My costume will be inspired by Princess Merida because of our shared Celtic roots and love of plaid. I run to “change my fate”!
Best Recent Run:
Alana: After what seemed like an eternity of battling ailments from my 2-year-old’s teething and running nose to the flu in my house and even a hospital trip confirming my severe strep throat, I was finally feeling well enough to run 5K. The first 5 minutes were tough as I wasn’t just recovering, but was running on one of the coldest winter days. Surprising, my body was quick to return to its pace. What made this run even more remarkable was that it was the first run with my colleagues. I am a teacher and every week now, you can see the teachers at my school hit the pavement. It is AWESOME to see the look in my students’ eyes as I run through the local neighbourhood.
Everyday Running Must-Haves:
Jodi: Running has encouraged our shopaholic tendencies – it has introduced us to a whole new world of shopping! We now have more running-wear than regular clothes and get so much more excited about running purchases. I am shamelessly addicted to Lululemon, while Alana champions the more affordable Costco line: Paradox Merino Blend. We both love our Team Sparkle skirts which we own in almost every colour between us. We also love our pink knuckle lights for running in the dark. But our hands-down, must-have tag team running partners are Garmin and iPod – we don’t leave home without ‘em.
Jodi: My injury took me away from running for a month, which was more painful than the problem being treated (morton’s neuroma). I craved the run daily. It made me realize what a huge part of my life running has become. I have never taken it for granted, but that hiatus will make me appreciate it even more. I am now slowly and cautiously returning to running. What kept me going was keeping my eye on the prize: I want that tiara medal! I have done the work. I have trained my butt off. I have earned that tiara and I want to prove it. The running (and princess-in-training!) community is so supportive – I have been so surprised by the many kind words of encouragement that have come my way. I have needed them. They helped me to stay positive and see that this setback is just positioning me for a comeback…princess-style!
Alana: I simply tell myself: RUN! I discovered quite by accident that the song “Pumped Up Kicks” motivates me through crucial parts of my run. During my first 5K race not even a year ago, I didn’t know how to change the play list on my new iPod and subsequently listened to “Pumped Up Kicks” for 37 minutes! On long runs, I reflect on my year-long transformation as I truly appreciate the ability to even be able to run. I run to feel fit and strong. I run so that my daughters may develop a positive healthy body image. I run to free my mind of life’s clutter and chaos. I run because it makes me a happier and healthier partner. And I run to inspire my students.
Jodi: Race days are so special for many reasons, including the fact that we can eat whatever we want afterwards with no guilt about calories! We can’t wait to indulge at Disney World. Our celebratory meal after the half-marathon will be at Cinderella’s Castle. We’ll be the ones in tiaras and medals drooling over the dessert menu! Our daughters are so excited to dress up like princesses and dine with Disney royalty. It will be a fabulous night and I’m sure we’ll see many other running princesses doing the same thing. We’ll have earned it!
Jodi: We have learned that the only limits are the ones we impose on ourselves. It’s like Glinda the Good Witch says in The Wizard of Oz: “You had the power all along, my dear.” We only wish we had realized this and started running years ago! During this journey, we have “trimmed the fat” and not just from our waist lines. We have figured out what is really important and learned not to let anyone dull our sparkle. I think we both stand a little taller these days – which is funny considering we have traded our high heels for running shoes!
Happily Ever After ...
Alana: A major goal is to continue to maintain a balanced healthy lifestyle as a mother of two. I cherish the memories made surrounding race weekends both in terms of our friendship and the fun times had by our families. I would love to discover new races that are family friendly.
Jodi: We are just getting started! The Princess will be our first half-marathon, but there will be more to follow. We are running the Toronto Women’s Half in May, and we would like to run Niagara in the fall. 2012 was all about quantity – lots and lots of races to get our feet wet and keep us moving in the right direction. 2013 will be all about quality – fewer races, longer distances, family-friendly destinations that our girls will enjoy. After earning our tiaras in Disney World, I think it might be a good idea to earn our wings in Disneyland…Tinkerbell 2014 is calling! (That last one is news to Alana – SURPRISE, sole sister!)