During the summer of 2016, I decided I HAD to go back to Disney again and wanted the challenge of completing the Glass Slipper Challenge (5k, 10k, half marathon) for Girl Power 2 Cure! Little did I know… I’d be pregnant in February of 2017. I received permission from my OB to go and have fun but to be sure to listen to my body. I had been running throughout pregnancy so far and had had no issues… so onward we went!
My friend Becky decided to take on the adventure with me, because DISNEY!! Plus we are both HUGE Harry Potter fans and planned to spend a day visiting Harry Potter world. She’s also been a huge asset and support in fundraising for Rett Syndrome and Becky truly has a heart of gold. AND it was going to be her first half marathon! We could think of no better way to celebrate that than at Disney and running for others! Of course we had to get ready to head to the airport at 4 am. Plus every race start at Disney is early… so many early mornings right in a row! But totally worth it.
Our first day in Florida we hit up the expo to grab our goodies. Then we checked into the hotel, rested a bit and headed back to the expo to work the Sparkle Athletic booth! If you don’t know about Sparkle Athletic, these ladies are pretty amazing! The owners (Carrie, Elise and Kelly) are also big in the Rett Syndrome scene and are part of the SoCal Ultra Ragnar team I’ve ran on since 2015.
After the expo we headed back to the hotel, where my Aunt Vanessa had arrived. We settled in and tried to get a little sleep because I had the 5k the next morning!
The only Disney races I’ve completed have been the half marathons in Florida in 2014 and California in 2014, both were for Rett Syndrome. I didn’t stop for any character stops in those races and while I had fun, I knew there was more fun to be had if I stopped for pictures! Also being pregnant, I figured I should focus on having fun versus running hard.
After the 5k ended (still at zero-dark-thirty), Becky and I got ready to go to Harry Potter World! I won’t bore you with all the pictures, but we did everything we could in our power to see and eat everything there was. We bought wands at Ollivander’s, we went to Florean Fortescue’s ice cream shop, rode the Hogwarts Express, drank pumpkin juice and warm butterbeer and listened to the choir sing with the giant toads. Seriously an amazing day to be had! Back to the hotel for naps!
Saturday morning was going to be another early one for the 10k start time. I had told Allison (also an awesome Ragnar lady and Rett momma!) that I’d run with her during the 10k. She was planning to push her daughter, Emma, through the race! Disney has a rule that once kiddos are 14 they can run the race, but since Emma has Rett Syndrome we were able to get a running jogger approved. Now Allison is FAST. Like… REALLY FAST. Then we found out that she and Emma would be starting before the A corral, and about 2 minutes later the A corral (where I was) would get to go. Two minutes doesn’t seem like a lot of time, but remember when I said Allison was fast? I took off sprinting and it took close to a mile to catch her!
Once I caught up with Allison, we had so much fun running together! We stopped at quite a few character stops for pictures, and traded pushing Emma through the race. It was so neat to stop about 10 minutes from the finish line and get Emma out of her jogger so she could walk across the finish line. Emma is a very lucky girl in that she can walk, if she’s already been standing. Once she’s seated she cannot stand up by herself. Emma has been crossing finish lines (many at Disney) for years. I love that the Disney race announcers always highlight Emma (and other Rett girls) crossing the finish lines!
After the 10k Becky, Vanessa and I went and worked at the expo for Girl Power 2 Cure. Working with them can be so moving… raising awareness for Rett Syndrome and letting others know just what it is. Most people I talk to about Rett Syndrome have never heard of it (just like me, before I married into my husband’s family) so it’s truly moving to talk to them and have them ask questions, show concern and compassion. We have been able to spread so much awareness which is just amazing!
Sunday morning shows up… final race day! The half marathon! What we’ve all been waiting for! If you’ve never ran a Disney race, prepare yourself for the 3:30 am alarms. If you do a challenge, prepare yourself for this DAILY. By the time Sunday rolled around, I was tired! But we woke up and headed to the start line anyway. Becky and I headed up to our corral and made a game plan to stop at character stops and have as much fun as we could! Her longest training run was 10 miles and I knew she was a little nervous about adding the last three, so we knew we’d do what we needed to do (which turned, for me, to have 3 potty stops and eating cheez-its along the way). The sun, heat and humidity made the last few miles really tough, and unfortunately that’s where all the character stops are DONE. But Becky and I powered through and ran the entire race! I’m so proud of her… she did amazing!
After the race finished, Becky and I hung out at our finisher’s tent and cheered in other GP2C team runners as they finished. It’s amazing to see all the flowers and purple race shirts out there on the course, and so many people said hi and that they stopped at our booth at the expo and learned about Rett Syndrome because of us. Even better… they said they were going to share our story and join the team next year. Rett Syndrome, we will defeat you!
Even though I really, truly love running and would run these races no matter what… it’s nice to remember WHY I run a lot of these races. Rett Syndrome affects so many families, including my own. My cousin has Rett Syndrome, a neurological disorder that has stolen her ability to walk, talk, use her hands in a functional way and has given her many things to fight against. So when my aunt Vanessa told me about this race back in 2014, I learned all I could about Rett Syndrome and Girl Power 2 Cure. I love running for Martilee and all the other girls with Rett Syndrome and will continue to #untilshecan because I truly believe that someday she will run with me!
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