A few weeks ago, we participated in the 2016 Disney Princess Half Marathon with a group of our closest friends.
This race was especially memorable for me because it was my first half marathon ever and also because I ran it 4.5 months pregnant (major disclaimer: my ob said it was ok!).
My girlfriend Lindsay had the idea in early 2015 to run a half marathon and picked one that would be fun to train for as a group and would also result in a fun vacation: enter the Disney Princess Half. When it comes to exercise, our group of friends in Charlotte is extremely active, spanning the many boutique fitness studios here in the QC to distance races and Iron Mans. One of the things that my husband and I love about our group of friends (and the broader social scene in Charlotte) is the combination of fitness + social activities. Gone are the days of just “drinks after work” – here its meet up, run 4-5 miles, then eat, drink & relax. Charlotte is a growing, thriving city of 30 something professionals and many with young families, so these fitness + social scenes have become something that the entire family participates in, even toddlers & dogs.
With this background, our group training for the half marathon evolved into an opportunity for us to keep up with both our fitness & social lives. Lindsay started “Sunday Runday” in the early part of 2015, where the “host” for that week picked the time, meeting place & distance and posted it on a Facebook page of 150+ members, with about 20-30 regulars. These have become some of our best friends over the past year and ones I was honored to share both the road & race.
When I found out in November 2015 that I was pregnant with our first baby, one of the first things I did was talk to my doctor about doing the race. Her advice? First and foremost, the mother & baby’s health is most important so not to do it if I ever felt it was too physically demanding. Otherwise, since I was already an active exerciser and had been training for it already, she saw no issue with continuing to do the race as long as I felt good. I have been extremely lucky to have had a very easy pregnancy, so I decided to continue training for the race and set a goal of “completion” for the half marathon. No time goals. No pressure. Just do it for fun & fitness.
I asked my husband to run the race with me and he kindly obliged, being the wonderful and supportive person that he is. I know the slower pace was tough for him but he knew that doing this race was important to me, so stayed by my side the entire 13.1 miles, carrying a beltpack of sugary snacks and energy gels to get me through it.
What happened? I finished, accomplishing my goal. I took many walk breaks and ended up with a good combination of jogging/walking that resulted in about running 9 miles out of the 13.1. After about 6 miles, it was not fun. I repeat: it was not fun. Although I never felt myself getting too tired or too breathless, by mile 7 my feet & legs were hurting from the repeated pounding and I was just ready to push through and be done.
The race itself was extremely well organized, with many Disney characters and entertainment along the way. Running through Magic Kingdom and people watching with all the crazy costumes were highlights.
We capped off the race with a celebration at Epcot, eating and drinking “around the world”. I’m so proud of my best friends, several of whom had done other Disney races (5k & 10K) that weekend. We want to raise our family that fitness & health is extremely important and our active group of friends is a big part of that. We hope to continue what friends with small children are already doing and teach them that exercise is an important part of our lives.
As for the half? I’m glad I did it. I will have amazing story to tell this baby one day. He knew it too, as the night before the race, I felt him kick for the first time. Or perhaps, was it a tiny fist bump to say “we got this, Mom!”.