4 Lessons From Running 19.3 Miles at Disney World –

I turned to the runner beside me, my stomach full of anxiety.

“Why am I so nervous?? I’m not trying to get in first- there literally nothing to worry about.”

It was 4:55am on a Sunday 🥱, and I was standing with 25,000+ runners on the highway right outside of Epcot, all of us getting ready to run 13.1 miles through the Disney parks.

You may not know this about me, but I am *very* competitive person.

I don’t like losing. And even when there’s no competition to be had, I tend to create one.

The half marathon I ran last weekend was a CLASSIC example- for weeks, I was really stressing 😫 about my mileage, worried I wouldn’t break last year’s time.

And in the process, I forgot to enjoy the race that was in front of me.

Disney races are FUN – that’s why they’re so popular! You didn’t run the Disney race because you were trying to qualify for the Olympic tryouts- you chose the Disney race because it’s fun to run.

<< But I almost missed it, because all I could think about was not losing.>>

Luckily, one of the announcers aimed my head just before the gun started shooting- “You’re not competing with anyone but yourself- not with the runners ahead or behind you. Only you.”

And that’s it. It was just what I needed to let go of my nerves, have a good race and enjoy the ride.

Some other lessons I remember, courtesy of runDisney:

1. Stop looking left, right, and back- You compete with no one but yourself, and looking at the growth of others to see how you measure up would be a waste of precious energy.

>> I spent YEARS as a business owner checking in on my progress with other photographers- all it did was distract me and keep me looking over my shoulder, robbing me of valuable time + attention I could devote to honing my craft.

2. Know what the “finish line” looks like to you– what *actually* qualifies as success in your book? If I set my sights on winning the entire race (even the slimmest of odds), I’d be sorely disappointed.

>> But how often do we play this “all or nothing” game? If I’m not the first, somehow I’m… last? Impossible! you can be the best without needing to be best. So, what does that mean the best looks like?

3. Pace yourself. I ran a 10K (6.2 miles) on Saturday and a half marathon (13.1 miles) on Sunday, meaning if I ran the first race at full speed, I would walk to the half marathon in pain, and with less than -full tank.

>> As you plan your annual goals, it may be tempting to squeeze all the big stuff into Q1 & Q2… and then feel tired of doing too much in too little time, or disillusioned by the fact that you couldn’t do it all. Before you step your foot out the door, know where you’re going today AND tomorrow – this will help you divide your time & attention more realistically.

4. Little by little, it adds up. I didn’t decide to do a half marathon the week before- I signed up last June. And I started training in October. There are 100+ opportunities for me to get my running shoes on and get my body used to the increasingly long distances BEFORE the glitzy, glitzy race day.

>> Some days I feel like crap, and other days I feel great, but every daily run, whether 3 miles or 10, is an opportunity to train my body to be ready for the big show. Don’t miss the little things- it adds up.

5. There isn’t any is to measure your progress as closely as you can. We have a tendency to think that people pay MUCH closer attention to our business than they really do- “I haven’t posted on social media in weeks- people must think something is wrong!” In fact? They may not have realized it yet.

>> I emphasized wanting to finish in a certain time (under 2:15:00), but realistically? NOBODY asked me what my finish time was. Not a single person.

I crossed the finish line in the time frame I was aiming for. I didn’t beat last year’s time (lost it by 1 minute, 12 seconds!), but I finished the race feeling Goodand injury free (unlike last year).

Am I best? Not too long.

But did I do it the best?

Really weird.

And also, some self-indulgent snaps from the weekend, because I have a lot to think about in my wardrobe and want to show it off :).

Each race has a specific Princess as its theme, and 10K is Belle! I love going less clear, more hazy street when it comes to running costumes, so I went with the Mrs. Potts! The top is from my favorite sportswear company, Crowned Athletics (code ABBY gets you 10% off), and the skirt is from RunSewSweet on Etsy!

Lessons from the 2023 Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend |  Abi Grace

The next morning was the half marathon – the official theme being Moana but my heart has been wanting to run as Rapunzel ever since I saw this top+run score at Crowned Athletics. I also have leggings + a sports bra, and they 100% make running more magical. And I know what you’re thinking- “there’s no way he’s carrying a frying pan for the whole race.”

Oooh yes I do.

Lessons from the 2023 Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend |  Abi Grace Lessons from the 2023 Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend |  Abi Grace

See? Toldja. Frying pan – who knew?

Lessons from the 2023 Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend |  Abi Grace

If I was just going to stop for one official Princess photo of the day (because they’re dotted along the trail!), it’d have to be it!

Lessons from the 2023 Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend |  Abi Grace

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