In September of this year, Colin and I joined my sister Jennifer to join in our first ever runDisney event – a 5K through the Disneyland Paris parks. We were also there as moral support, cheering on my sister as she ran the half marathon the next day (she’s running ANOTHER one today – go Jenny!).
I am not, by any means, a runner. In junior high and high school, I only got through the mile runs by wearing two sports bras, dreading them for a day in advanced, and running with my friend Emily. By the end, I always felt like I was going to die. I was active in other ways in high school, ask me about the wide world of competitive jump rope, but running was really, definitely, one hundred percent not my thing.
So when my sister hinted that she would like to come out to Europe to visit and oh, there happened to be a race to run in Paris, I surprised myself by giving an enthusiastic yes. We’ve run an ‘official’ 5K before, but on the day of the race, Colin and I both had fevers and a horrible stomach bug. It was raining. We walked most of it. So yah, in a lot of ways, it doesn’t count. But we were determined this time, we were going to do the 5K and have trained properly for it and have a grand time.
I have a really physically fit extended family. It can be exhausting being among them. I don’t like talking about working out (it’s boring), and I feel judged every time they mention it. Yes, I gained weight since college. No, I did not become a sedentary slug who ate all the time, but weight has and always will be a really touchy subject for me. I even had a close person to me ask if I really liked the way I looked on my wedding day.
So, I made the following goals when we started the training:
- This was not a competition. I do not care that other people run much more or much faster, all that matters is that I do it and I feel good.
- This was not about weight. No scales would be stepped on, nothing would be measured.
- I was doing this to prove to 16 year old me that running isn’t the absolute worst, and I could do it.
- We’d do this thing together.
If you’re thinking about taking up running, I really suggest make a similar list. It’s really hard not to let the superficial, stupid stuff get in your way, and it takes real work to remind yourself that your value is not attached to how slim you are.
I also really recommend runDisney.
Seriously, we had the best time!
Serious stuff first: We spent about four months gearing up for the race, using the C25K program. When we completed it and I could run for 30 minutes straight, I was absolutely floored and totally awed by my body (my thighs have the might of the gods in them, I swear). From there, we moved on to doing the intervals my sister would be doing for her marathon so we could keep up with her.
But, training aside, the most fun was knowing we’d be running through Paris Disney and in costume! The three of us brainstormed and came up with the perfect group costume. Colin and I were dalmation puppies, my sister was Cruella De Vil. We really enjoyed painting puppy spots and planning for the run.
Being at Paris Disney was totally awesome, especially if you’re a hard core Disney nerd like myself. We arrived Friday morning, and spent the day exploring the Magic Kingdom park. It’s a little shabby and could generally use a fresh coat of paint, but we had a great day in a pretty empty park, exploring and enjoying food. My sister had arrived the day before and was slightly less jet-lagged, which was good. Our favorites from the parks include Crush’s Coaster, the many walk-throughs (the Alice in Wonderland one is adorable!), the Phantom Manor, and Space Mountain II. The park was all decked out for Halloween, and we were a bit sad to miss out on the villain-themed shows, which began the next week.
We had a great day exploring, and ate a light dinner at the Earl of Sandwich (SO GOOD, especially for these Berliners who don’t get proper sandwiches often) before hitting the hay at the Newport Bay Club (which was supposed to be the closest to the race, but due to closures from the race, ended up being quite a walk away).
On the morning of, we woke up bright and early, got dressed, had a light breakfast at the hotel (provided for racers) and headed to line up! We were in Corral B, so we couldn’t see much of the opening ceremony for our Ratatouille-themed run, but we saw the fireworks and enjoyed the company of other racers, many who traveled from the states. So many cool costumes!
Then, we were off! Our course took us first through the Magic Kingdom, and we got to see the castle at dawn, which was pretty incredible. One of the cool things about the races is that there are rare characters along the course. You can stop at any point, get in line, and take a picture with them. And who should be the very first character but Cruella herself!
We had a great time in line. She was calling for Pongo, and I barked back in response. When she spotted the three of us, she started cackling and sending threats our way. We played along, it was really amusing! We skipped a few characters, including Chewbacca, as we ran through the parks. Adrenaline really kept us going. None of the three of us were interested in switching to intervals for pretty much the whole time.
It was really fun going backstage and being enthusiastically cheered on by the many staff members. Quite a few of them yelled warnings to us, “Run puppies, Cruella is right behind you!” to which Colin and I would sprint ahead and Jennifer would mime trying to grab us.
By the time we were done, we were all smiles, having run through both parks and a sad bit of land at the end (seriously runDisney, that finish line location needed some fun music leading up to it or something). We headed back to the hotel, showered and iced ourselves, and spent a little more time in the parks and in the hot tub.
On Sunday, we cheered Jennifer on as she ran her first half marathon, dressed as Sorcerer Mickey (seriously, she was so adorable). We got up around 5:30 and headed into the main park. We had gotten wristbands the day before that let us line up on Main Street with other spectators. We took some pictures, came back to the hotel for breakfast, and snapped a few more shots of Jennifer running by our hotel.
We then met her at the finish line and spent the rest of the day celebrating, concluding with a great meal at Bistro Chez Remy, which fit the theme of our weekend. It was lots of fun – themed so that everything is rat-sized. We highly recommend it, but get reservations first!
By the end of the weekend, we had determined it. We would be back next year, and this time, we’d run the half marathon, too! So here we are, planning and training, and running in the pretty cold Berlin fall. But it’ll be all worth it next year! (And yes, I still don’t love running, but I love my body a little more, and that’s worth it).
My sister will be joining us (hopefully) with her tips and tricks about running the half marathon in a guest post, so keep your eyes peeled! Who knows, maybe you can join us next year! We have some big costume ideas planned!