Guest Author: Danielle Swanson
Waking up at 2:30 in the morning to go run for over 13 miles never sounded like my idea of a good time. The fact that I got to wear a tutu made it a little more bearable. Knowing I’d be running all over Walt Disney World turned it into the stuff dreams are made of.
In one month, runDisney will be opening registration for its signature event, the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. During race weekend, scheduled for January 9-12, 2014, more than 25,000 runners will descend on the parks with ESPN Wide World of Sports becoming race headquarters. Along with Olympians, celebrities, and a few thousand other characters, I’ll be registering for my fourth Marathon Weekend, signing up to run 39.3 miles over the course.
I wasn’t a runner as a kid or even for a long time as an adult; to be honest, after having babies, just thinking about the treadmill about made me pee. And I’m never going to be one of those tiny people, the thin, sinewy type that everyone thinks of when they think of runners. I have chunky thighs that jiggle when I run in those cute short shorts real runners wear, and my arm fat waves with the wind in my tank tops. Even though I’ve always done some sort of physical activity, when I started running, twenty seconds seemed like an eternity. Now, here I am, crazily planning on taking on two hours one day and five the next, chunky thighs, arm fat and all.
However, a couple years ago, one of my friends suggested we register for a Disney half marathon, and my life hasn’t been the same since. It’s been a lot of work. Some days, my program has required me to run for four or five hours; others I’ve had to find a way just to squeeze in a short speed run. Like the postal service, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night” has kept me from putting on my trainers and running. But the work has been worth it. At Disney, I’ve been able to see things that only a number of visitors ever get to see: Cinderella’s float up close, the Pirates of the Caribbean boat, Everest at night (the wee hours of the morning, actually), all the villains lined up, a car show on the Disney speedway, and my face up on the screen at the ESPN stadium. When I cross the finish line and a volunteer puts a medal around my neck, I feel like a real athlete, like I’ve accomplished a great feat.
While my running started as a goal to run at Disney, it has turned into so much more. I’ve made friends at home and abroad, traveled to other locales to pound the pavement, and become a healthier, better me. I know that 39.3 miles is going to be no easy task, but I have faith that knowing I’m doing them at Disney will make the training – and the actual race – that much easier.
The Relocated Tourist is sponsored by “Magical Mouse Plan Travel”