I have officially earned my wings! I ran the Tinker Bell Half Marathon at Disneyland! This is something I have been working towards for the last 2 years and I am over-the-moon with joy!
My Tinker Bell Half Marathon journey started several years ago when I would go on walks with my youngest daughter in her stroller. I loved to hear her squeals when I would run a bit and the wind blew her hair. “Faster, mommy! Again!” Sometimes it really took everything out of me to help my little one feel like she was flying, but I loved the exercise. My little one grew and graduated to being able to ride her bike on our walks. We never went far, but her little legs sure could pedal and that left me trotting along to keep up with her.
I have been a runner for several years and when I first heard of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland I squealed like a little girl! I couldn’t believe there was a race at Disneyland where you could actually run in the parks, meet characters and get a really cool medal. Thus began my Tinker Bell race journey in 2013. I had full intentions of signing up for the 2014 race, but due to knee and ankle injuries, I had to pass. I was really sad and friends asked why I didn’t just run a local half marathon. My response was simply, “If I am going to complete a half marathon, it is going to be at Disneyland!”
With much rest, tenderness and therapy, my injuries healed and in 2014 I was back to training and feeling very excited that 2015 was going to be my year to complete a Disney half marathon. It was even better that the races were being held over Mother’s Day weekend!
I showed my family photos of all the amazing costumes and videos of past races. They loved the race start with fireworks and Tinker Bell flying overhead. Soon everyone was on board with the idea that we would run the 5k as a family.
Registration opened for the 2015 Tinker Bell race weekend on August 12, 2014. There was a lot of social media hype about how these races fill up within a matter of minutes sometimes, so I made sure I was on my computer and ready to go before 12:00 noon EST. Thankfully, I had no problem registering the 5 of us for the 5k and myself for the half marathon.
So that left us nine months to train, prepare and get even more excited. I joined the Facebook group and took in as much information as I could from veteran runners. Every time I took a training run through my neighborhood, I couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like when I actually got to run through the parks! I would even tear up with excitement. Two years is a long time to wait and train!
Overall, my training went really well. I did have some set backs with my ankle and knee, but was able to keep progressing. My husband even learned to experience the joys of running and has become quite the athlete! My three girls, however… that’s a different story.
At race time, my girls were ages 14, 12 and 9. I knew this was a “family fun run”, so there was no pressure for us to set any records or even to run the entire distance. I also knew that completing 3.2 miles was going to take some effort. My girls, being the ever-wise tweens, “knew” differently. “Mom, I dance three days a week. I am in shape!” Yes, my girls are very strong and athletic. Yet, running is an entirely different sport than dancing. I wasn’t going to force anyone to train, but really tried to stress the importance of regularly getting out for a walk/run session. I shared the Jeff Galloway run-walk-run method with them, put great songs on their playlists and hung a count down calendar.
After several months, we decided to go for a 1 mile walk/run as a family. “Mom, that’s so easy!” they said. My girls quickly discovered the need for good posture and calm, regular breaths. A few more weeks of regular family runs and all 5 of us were going the distance, plus some, with shrieks of excitement as they too began to imagine running through our Happy Place and getting pictures with characters. Soon enough, the countdown calendar showed that our Tinker Bell races in Disneyland were right around the corner.
Concierge Agent with Wishes Family Travel, Authorized Disney Vacation Planner Agency
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