On Becoming a Disney Princess… or some such nonsense…

Posted on | February 26, 2013 | 31 Comments

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past three days wondering what I’d say about three days ago. I’ve turned and twisted it in my mind, looked at it from every angle, smiled and nodded and turned it again, hoping that somehow I could capture the essence of what happened from 2:00am until just before 9:00 on Sunday morning.  But here’s the thing… there’s no way I can do that.  There’s no way I can paint for you, the feeling of waking up twenty minutes before your alarm with every muscle in your body pulsing with excitement and fear and angst and wonder.  There’s no way I can give you the smile that runs from the base of your spine all the way to the nooks and crannies of your smallest tooth just from hearing the first note of your alarm and knowing that yes, it is finally time.

My alarm went off and, no lie, my feet barely hit the floor. It was like I was floating across the rough blue carpet, in a daze, hardly believing that it was time to lace up my shoes and do what I’d been talking about doing for almost five months.  I’d laid out my outfit the night before, making sure to have everything carefully planned and placed. (Of course, I did NOT plan on forgetting to give my parents J’s pacifier and waking up in a cold sweat of realization at 10:45, then running barefoot across the hotel to their room at just past 11:00, three hours before I’d need to wake up, only to find that he slept quite well without it… and has ever since.)  I was dressing as Rapunzel, complete with a ridiculous child-sized hair piece that wound around in a circle and then pinned down the side of my running shirt. I worried that the hair piece was too much, worried that it would fly off mid way through and injure me or someone else… but hell, it was a Princess race so yes… I would be a princess.

I met up with my teammates in their room and we got ready to catch the bus out front.  Everything was glistening, from the too-much tulle and glitter scattered across the crowded bus, to the squinty-eyed sleepy haze of our fellow competitors.  We moved in a trance, pushed like wide-eyed does down the steps of the bus and out onto the cold concrete.  Each step carried us closer, each motion almost rote… mimicking the steps and stops and glances of the women (and men) around us.  It was 3:30 in the morning and we were up and moving.

The farther we moved, the more the world lit up around us. Ahead were the flashing car-lot tractor beams and the loud, fast-paced chatter of a DJ playing only the jumpiest of beats.  All around us, people started moving, at first subtly then as a group, bouncing in time to the music.  Some sang along, some flat out broke it down… but all were moving even if it was just step by boring step across the parking lot.  Finally we reached our corral, in our case lovely “E”, and we settled in to stretch and wait some more.  It was 5:15 in the morning and we were taut and anxious.

Just before 5:30, the loud-voiced announcers on the jumbo-tron somewhere in the distance, moved aside for the warm-milked voice of an older woman… a fairy godmother.  She purred out the “magical words” and counted down from three, signaling that the first round of runners were off.  As she hit “one”, the night erupted with brightly colored cheers… fireworks bouncing up and around us with each new flight of runners.  Corral A, Corral B, Corral C and D.  And then it was 6:00 in the morning, and it was our turn.

With a pulsating “Firework” by Katy Perry, we were off… foot after foot of rubber soled shoe hitting against the pavement.  There were 26,000 runners; every where you looked you saw another set of elbows or knees or swinging ponytails.  By the end of the first mile, everything smelled of wet heat and sweat and people were using the grassy median of the highway as extra jogging space.  It was impossible to run, even if I’d wanted to… I was at the mercy of the people around me, limited to their pace and the pace of the people before and beside them.  Some walked four across, making it impossible to safely pass.  Some stopped immediately when their watches beeped, yelling out “WALK NOW” to their run/walk partners who also jerked to a stop causing stubbed toes and jostled knees for those behind.  The hair piece made it across the start line and then I ripped it off and carried it in my hand, hearing the calls of “Hold your hair, Rapunzel!” from the people we passed.

But oh was it all worth it when the world opened up to the sunlight and we runners poured through the mouth of a tunnel and tumbled into the sweet charm of Main Street Disney.  There were cheers and signs and inexplicably cowbells ringing out a tune of “Keep it up, you’re doing great” and suddenly it felt like, yes, we were doing great.  The curves and turns ran through Tomorrowland and up the incline to Cinderella’s castle and there, just as my feet felt as though they would curl into themselves, two men perched on the second level played a fanfare and my steps were my own again.

Curving back amongst the princes and villains, princesses and brightly clothed characters, it was clear that the worst was over.  All around me a buzz grew, gathering steam and force and propelling us up the ramp to the highway and into our last three miles.  It was 8:10 in the morning, and I was still running.

The last mile ran through the entrance to Epcot and looped the fountain.  On every side there were people… spectators, cast members, telling us all we were so close, so very very close to what we were looking for.  I was numb from the waist down, my knees still lifting, my feet still touching down but it had ceased to make any real sense until I spotted a sign at toes of someone’s sneakers.  She was a spectator, probably tired of standing, and she’d propped the sign up against her.  It was handmade and simple but it was inexplicably the one thing I needed to  push me forward “Keep Calm and Oh Em Gee!” it said and OMG indeed.  I grinned at her, gave her a faux high five and found my stride again, adrenaline pushing me forward. Just around the corner was a gospel choir in saintly robes swaying and singing and suddenly it felt like heaven, this pounding in my soul and I knew I’d come too far to give up now.  And then, just past the choir, just when my quads and calves and spirit felt cramped and contained… just up ahead… the swaying purple arch of victory.

My face exploded.  My pace exploded.  Every ounce of happy I’d ever felt in my life exploded out onto the pavement, pushing me forward with the rush of runners sprinting towards the finish line.  As first my right foot and then my left hit down against the raised line I started to cry… just a bit at first and then the sweetly broken cry of knowing I had done something amazing…. I had done something I had never thought I’d be able to do.

It was 8:54 in the morning and I had just finished my very first half marathon. 602113_786998931114_493785876_n

For the rest of my life, I can say that I did this… even if I never do another one. (But I will. ) For the rest of my life, I can say that I am a runner, my son can say that his mother is a runner.  I can’t put into words what crossing that finish line meant to me.  I can’t even tell you how empowered and strong and fearless and brave I felt when I came out of that chute with my Princess Medal.  I can’t begin to describe the heartfelt, cleansing, rebirth of tears that washed over me as I ran my tired and swollen fingers across the raised metal letters.

But what I can say is simply this… I am healed. I am strong. I am a fearless single mother. I am a runner.  And yes, unexpectedly..  I AM a princess.

And I can do anything.



31 Responses to “On Becoming a Disney Princess… or some such nonsense…”

  1. Wendy
    February 26th, 2013 @ 7:12 pm

    Sounds like an awesome experience. I remember feeling the exact same way…except there were time where I HATED it like miles 9-12. I ran labor day weekend so I think I would enjoy a cooler race.

  2. Law Momma
    February 27th, 2013 @ 7:38 am

    It was HUMID. But the energy was amazing… It was virtually impossible to lose motivation.

  3. jana
    February 26th, 2013 @ 7:23 pm

    Oh shit. Crying again. And now I’m feeling like my words will be inadequate. Love you.

  4. Law Momma
    February 27th, 2013 @ 7:39 am

    I love you so hard! 🙂 thanks for doing this with me… Or making me do it with you! 😉

  5. Alena @ Simply Complicated Lif
    February 26th, 2013 @ 7:40 pm

    Crying. I am so happy for you and proud of you! You are a princess AND YOU DID IT!

  6. Law Momma
    February 27th, 2013 @ 7:39 am

    I just want to wear my medal FOREVER

  7. Lauren
    February 26th, 2013 @ 8:09 pm

    You made me cry. I don’t often cry at blog posts. But this one.. I cried when you saw the finish line. And I’m still crying. But we’ll blame the ninjas with the onions. 😉

    I’m so proud of you.


  8. Law Momma
    February 27th, 2013 @ 7:39 am

    Definitely the ninjas. 😉 thanks, lady!

  9. Applegate
    February 26th, 2013 @ 8:28 pm

    You rock my socks. Seriously. I am so proud/ in awe.

  10. Law Momma
    February 27th, 2013 @ 7:40 am

    You’re next, Applegate!

  11. Andrea B
    February 26th, 2013 @ 8:34 pm

    You are amazing. INCREDIBLE. Powerful beyond words. You killed it and I thank you for sharing it with us all. Beautiful. Love.

  12. Law Momma
    February 27th, 2013 @ 7:40 am

    Thank you so much!!!! I can’t wait to do it again!!

  13. Jackie Henson
    February 26th, 2013 @ 8:42 pm

    you rock! this gave me chills

  14. Law Momma
    February 27th, 2013 @ 7:40 am

    Awww thanks! 🙂

  15. Jackie Henson
    May 10th, 2013 @ 1:55 pm

    one day I want to be where I can run a marathon, I have you to thank for the inspiration 🙂

  16. Stacie Haight Connerty
    February 26th, 2013 @ 11:07 pm

    Wow! Congrats. This makes me want to sign up

  17. Law Momma
    February 27th, 2013 @ 7:41 am

    DO IT!!!! It’s so much fun!!

  18. Maija @ Maija's Mommy Moments
    February 27th, 2013 @ 10:29 am

    My eyes are brimming with tears reading this. I am so very proud for you. Thank you for inspiring me today!!!

  19. Law Momma
    February 27th, 2013 @ 11:50 am

    Thanks so much!! It was so much fun… well worth catching this nasty bug I’ve got now!

  20. ChiMomWriter
    February 27th, 2013 @ 10:09 pm

    Remember what that finish chute felt like, that adrenaline and joy. That “victory tape” in your mind can get you through any bad day. Congrats! You’re amazing.

  21. Law Momma
    May 24th, 2013 @ 8:52 am

    So true. I come back and read this post on bad days and remember that I am strong. 🙂

  22. Lola M.
    February 27th, 2013 @ 11:10 pm

    Goosebumps! Yea!

  23. Law Momma
    May 24th, 2013 @ 8:52 am

    Thanks! 🙂

  24. Mary
    March 5th, 2013 @ 4:08 pm

    Wow, great job! very happy for you. Keep it up! Mary IN NY

  25. Law Momma
    May 24th, 2013 @ 8:52 am

    Thanks so much!! I am looking forward to doing it again!

  26. Jess
    March 18th, 2013 @ 5:50 pm

    That is SO SO SO awesome. I want to do this now! I love it!!!!

  27. Law Momma
    March 19th, 2013 @ 10:18 am

    YOU SHOULD!!! Come do it with me next year! 😉

  28. Law Momma
    May 24th, 2013 @ 8:52 am


  29. If you’re going to run a half marathon, why not run two?
    May 23rd, 2013 @ 3:28 pm

    […] gets to me so I really didn’t know. Still, I was SO inspired by this recap of a woman’s experience at the Disney Princess Half Marathon and my good friend Ginger who ran the WDW Marathon this year that I started to ask […]

  30. Lois
    June 16th, 2013 @ 6:53 am

    Such an inspiration!! I am running the Princess Half in Feb 2014 with 2 other friends 🙂 I’m hoping I will feel all the emotions that you did. Actually, I cried when I finished my first 5K, so I’m sure I will during this. Now I can’t wait!! Thanks for sharing!!

  31. Law Momma
    June 17th, 2013 @ 11:30 am

    YAY! All these people running it are making me want to sign up again!

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