Alana: Okay – like, I love your posts about running and am so inspired – I need to move my butt!
Me: If you want some real inspiration, google Disney’s Princess Half-Marathon! I am totally thinking of planning our next vacation around this event. Wanna come?!?! We can dress up and win medals!
After I posted some motivational pictures about my new love affair with running on Facebook, the above exchange took place with a dear friend from university and, before we could say “bibbidi bobbidi boo”, a plan was hatched. Two old friends on a quest to redefine the meaning of our glory days and train for a half-marathon. Not just any half-marathon, but one where princesses reign supreme, runners wear tutus and finishers earn tiaras. We were sold!
But how to get there? It’s a great plan, but let’s face it – 13.1 miles is a long way to run. Don’t get me wrong – between the two of us, we run a lot of things: households, boardrooms and class rooms not to mention carpools, play dates and little leagues. But a 21K race? We didn’t know much about that one. But one thing we knew for sure was that you don’t run a half-marathon without a plan so our training includes a series of races throughout the spring, summer and fall to get us ready. We’ve been logging many miles between us and holding each other accountable along the way, but these races are our milestone check-points en route to our destination race event where we are promised every mile will be magic (we are hoping this adventure might include our own personal fairy godmothers and some pixie dust too?).
Fast forward a few months and suddenly it was the eve of our first race, a local 5K. This whole concept had sounded pretty cool in theory but, as the reality of lacing up beside real runners set in, so did the pre-race jitters. Our conversation the night before the race may have resembled one between teenage girls the night before a high school dance…nerves, excitement, doubt and anxiety were running high, yet our priorities were firmly focused on our outfits. Hey, if all else failed, at least we would look cute!
Alana arrived bright and early at my house with a special surprise to remind us why we are running. Tutu time! As you can see, the princess spirit was alive and well. (Don’t worry, we didn’t wear the tutus to the race…we will save that for Disney World!)
Fast forward to the happily ever after: we both crossed the finish line, having met our individual goals for the day – I ran a sub 30 minute race and Alana ran the full 5k without stopping (and despite her fears, she was certainly not last either!). So now we have de-mystified the racing experience by doing it, owning it and even enjoying it. We weren’t there to win. We weren’t there to break any records. We were there to prove to ourselves that we could do it. We could set a goal that seemed impossible and slowly but surely makes strides towards it. We can feel the momentum building towards the Princess Half-Marathon!
So what advice do we have to offer new runners or runners who are new to racing?
1. Bring a cheering squad – how many opportunities do you get to feel like a rock star? Own the day and bring your family or friends to cheer you on. If you have little ones, let them make signs – not only a great rainy day craft, but they will get lots of attention on race day too!
2. Wear something fun and flattering – unless the race t-shirt is out of this world, wear something you have run in comfortably before the race. Preferably something cute that makes you feel good about yourself!
3. Grab a girlfriend – whether you run at the same pace or not, it is really fun to have a running buddy. On race day, the actual running part flies by pretty quickly – but it is so much fun to share the pre-race nerves and post-race celebrations with a “sole sister”! A training partner will also keep you honest and accountable.
4. Remember why you are running – maybe you are training for a special event; maybe you are committing to an active, healthy lifestyle because you are worth it; or maybe you want to be a positive role model for your daughters. Maybe it is all of the above. Whatever it is that gets you moving should be celebrated on race day!
5. Have fun! Once you make it to the start line, you have already done the work. You are as prepared as you are going to be. So this is the time to enjoy the experience and, as any true princess does, believe in yourself.
*This blog was originally written for and published by Running With Sass in May 2012.