As I get ready for my next runDisney race next weekend, I can’t help but think of my first long distance race that I participated in, the 10th annual Walt Disney World Marathon in Janury 2003. This race was so different than all the later runDisney races I have run. It didn’t involve dressing in costume, no fear of time limits and no real training, just getting out there to have fun.

I signed up for this race as part of the Train to End Stroke program. In 2002, I lost my grandfather to stroke and did the marathon in his memory.

Prior to this I had walked many 5Ks and a few 10Ks but had never ran a race. My plan was to walk the entire race. I barely trained and when I think back, I can’t believe I thought I’d be able to just go out there and walk 26.2 miles.

The temperature that morning was 28 degrees. Being that I was living in Florida at the time, that was beyond cold to me. I was so cold that this girl who never ran a step in her life ended up running the first 4 miles of the race just to warm up. The things that happen when you hate being cold!

By the time I got into the Magic Kingdom, I was so ready to be over with the race. I kept going knowing that my sister and her friend would be at the castle to see me. After that I was definitely ready to just be over with it especially when I ran into a friend doing the half who was almost at the finish. I really wanted to finish with her instead of continuing on but she convinced me to keep going. When I left her, I spent that next 4 miles asking every volunteer when they would take me off the course for being too slow.

Finally after going through Animal Kingdom, there was a bus to pick up those of us who fell below pace. I think I was the only happy person on that bus.

I may not have finished, but I did accomplish way more than I ever thought possible. I made it 17 miles which is quite the accomplishment. This race started my love of running and specifically runDisney races. And Disney is also kind of enough to give those that aren’t able to finish a great “participant’ medal, which I’m still proud of all these years later!

For this race I stayed at the Animal Kingdome Lodge. This is a one of the Deluxe resorts at Walt Disney World and it’s absolutely beautiful!

One of the things that makes staying on Disney property is the beautiful theming of every resort. Disney did a wonderful job with this resort. It makes you feel like you’re in Africa complete with a savannah full of animals right outside your room. Below are some photos from the resort lobby and the view from the hotel.

Disney World has become my absolute favorite racecation destination. I’m looking forward to heading there again for the 2019 Wine and Dine Half Marathon weekend later this week. If you haven’t done a Disney race yet, I highly recommend it. There’s just something magical about running at Disney!


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