Lessons Learned on the Way to the Castle

What fairy tale is complete without a lesson or moral?

Both Princess Jodi and I have experienced so many life lessons this past year.  It must be the fact that I am raising two girls, 4 and 2 years of age (the terrible 2’s and independent 4’s are testing even my patience), and I am approaching a 30-something birthday, that I find myself so very nostalgic and reflective of what are really the important lessons of life.  I now fully understand my mother’s saying that often it is the journey that is far more rewarding than achieving the end goal.  Not that I am trying to put an old head on young shoulders (that’s still a few weeks away!), but the following are some bits of wisdom gained this past year.

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You cannot put a value on unconditional friendship.  Unconditional is the key word.  And, by that, I don’t mean glued to your hip.  You see, Jodi and I first became acquainted by working alongside one another at a student job on campus during our university years.  Our friendship formed fast as we truly represented the yin and yang of each other.  And, although we are both admitted Type A females, we worked so very well together.  Our one major similarity was that we both had positive, no-nonsense attitudes.  As true collaborators, we had a lot of success in our roles that led to other things for the both of us.  Ironically, some of the things that worked for us in our job then works for us now in our running: I, who liked to jazz up the place with construction paper and sparkle, will only consider a race dependent on the bling at the finish line while Jodi, who was all about the stats and trends, keeps us on track by always remembering where we started while looking to the future to determine the next impossible goal.  (Please dear Lord – not cycling!)

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Our friendship has not always been perfect.  Both Jodi and I went through unbelievably difficult times in our lives.  And while you may wonder why that didn’t bring us even closer,  the trauma that we were both going through happened at exactly the same time.  We were both so devastated by life’s unfair blows that maintaining our own sanity one day at a time was a challenge. This only makes our reconnection that fateful night in February 2012, when the idea of the Princess Half-Marathon was born, all the more miraculous.  We are both so thankful, more for the journey to the Castle than even for crossing the finish line.  Reconnecting and watching our girls become like sisters is so much more precious than any race bling.  And, perfection, after all, is rather boring anyway!

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Slow and steady wins the race…or at least gets you to the start line!  I learned a lot from that turtle!  Getting to the Castle was no easy task.  As a teacher, it is tremendously difficult to get time off during the school year.  Fortunately, I was able to use one personal day to my advantage and had to settle for a much shorter stay, but was able to make it work.  Jodi had a huge setback dealing with her injured foot (which also allowed her to stage a comeback, Princess-style!).  Also, the everyday challenges of motherhood (finding alone time, dealing with mommy guilt as you force yourself out the door for a run,  taking care of sick children, that pile of never-ending laundry…) can be overwhelming.  No matter what life throws at us, we problem solved our way through it.  We both had so many people tell us, for varying reasons, that realizing our dream of running the Disney Princess Half-Marathon was impossible.  By persevering, and surrounding ourselves with positive thought, we not only made it to the start line, we both finished with our heads and hands held high!

The power of positive people is infectious.  What we both have come to realize is that runners are naturally positive people. They have to be in order to run any long distance with that nagging Nellie left brain.  You know the one – that voice in your head that perpetuates self-doubt, especially at mile 10!  We have met both online and in person hundreds of amazing, strong, infallible runners who inspire us more than they know.  We love reading the comments on our blog and truly appreciate it when someone takes the time to read our story and let us know they were moved by our journey.

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Some of these great runners are local – for example, the Canadian Princess Meet Up at the Toronto Women’s 10K was inspiring when we met likeminded women in our backyard who we have stayed in touch with since.  Some of the people who have inspired us are far-flung and famous. Meeting and talking with Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell (founders of Another Mother Runner) at the Disney Expo was a dream come true.  They have no idea how much their stories and training plans have positively propelled us forward this past year.  Reading their advice, hunched down in my front seat right before my first 5K race, gave me that extra push to believe that even I, a newbie runner at 36, could accomplish my goal.  I will forever thank Jeff Galloway (as I did in person) for making me feel that my accomplishment of completing a half-marathon is no less just because I run intervals. There are too many names to mention for fear that one will be forgotten.  Please accept our sincere thanks for your positive support this past year.

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Family IS everything! Any mother runner will tell you that she can’t do it alone.  It’s literally impossible to train for a half-marathon without some sort of assistance.  For us,  we are both so fortunate to have an amazing support network that made it possible to log all those miles to the Castle.  Pre-race carbo-loading at Chef Mickey’s and celebrating at Cinderella’s Royal Table after the race were culminating moments we will never forget!  So, a very special thank you to our families for all of your love and support on our Race to the Castle (the photo below is just some of our team…many others were cheering from home!).

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Young people have the power to change the world.  This past year has also made me realize the power that I have as a teacher.  I began this journey because of a dare from my students.  They dared me to set and achieve an impossible goal.  I hope that my example of the importance of daily physical activity and role modeling in setting and achieving dreams will inspire them to make a difference in their own lives.   I have also made special bonds with a student who is a runner himself.  Little does he know that it is his encouragement and interest in my races that inspires me to run faster and longer.

Teach our daughters to love themselves as they are.  As a mother, I adore the fact that Luisa connects carb loading pasta nights with a long weekend run.  More awesome was seeing our girls complete the Disney Kids Races with bright smiles and hands raised.  Can we keep the negative body image that comes from media pressures away from our girls?  Probably not, but we can arm them with the tools to battle those demons fiercely.  For them, running is a fun passtime that symbolizes pride in a personal accomplishment.  We want our girls to not only love the skin they are in, but always keep a positive and healthy approach to life. When you are running, your body is a machine and a tool, not just something to be dressed up to look pretty. (Although, we must admit we do love the sparkle skirts!).

kids dress up

With optimistic attitudes, paired with determination and fortitude, 2 princesses on the run were able to prove that the impossible can be made possible. So it is fitting that we are now growing our wings and heading to the second star to the right to check off yet another impossible goal at the TinkerBell Half-Marathon…because as we have tackled this huge goal, we have not just succeeded. We have soared.

Princess Alana

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3 thoughts on “Lessons Learned on the Way to the Castle

  1. This is a beautiful post. As a substitute teacher who has been trying to find a full time position for three years now, I’m always taken aback at the yin/yang there of gaining one’s own classroom (and full time salary) but losing schedule flexibility, but…the grass is always greener! Tinkerbell is a great time. You’ll have a blast!

  2. I loved this! I’ve so enjoyed getting to know you and Jodi. You made Princess amazing and just wait till tink!

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