By Rebecca Toon

I started, well, let’s just call it running for lack of a better word, about 6 months ago. Personally, I blame my daughter. She’s graduating from high school next year and wants to celebrate this milestone, as we have so many others, with a Disney memory. So, she chose the 2016 Glass Slipper Challenge. And then she asked me to run with her. After much thought, and much wine, I agreed to run the Enchanted 10K with her. I mean, after all, it was 18 months away; surely I could be ready in 18 months, right? By the way, did I mention I’ve never run a day in my life? Unless you count running to the store to get a bottle of wine…

A few weeks later, while doing research for the Princess Half Marathon, I read about the Wine & Dine Half Marathon. Let me repeat that – slowly. Wine…and…Dine Half Marathon. Ok fine, yes, there’s running…but there’s also food, and more importantly, wine! And EPCOT stays open until 4AM just so you can enjoy all the food, and more importantly, the wine! But wait, there’s more! I also learned that the course for the Wine & Dine Half takes you through the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights in Hollywood Studios, which just happens to be one of my favorite Disney attractions of all time. Mind. Blown. I went from, “If I’m running you should be running too, because there’s something bad chasing me.” to, “Wine & Dine Half Marathon: Proof I will do ANYTHING to go to Disney World!” Two weeks later, I registered for the 2015 Wine & Dine Half Marathon in November.

Interesting fact, registering for a race doesn’t make running easier. Training has been challenging, and there have been more than a few times recently when I’ve thought my goal was virtually impossible. But each time I keep moving forward, because as Walt said, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” (Fun being a relative, and in this case, snarky term, of course).

A few weeks ago, my training schedule called for my longest run to date – 6.5 miles. Skeptical, but determined, I set out “to do the impossible”.  An hour and a half later, as Wishes blared through the tiny holes of my earbuds, my running app announced that I’d hit the mark. Between the music and the mileage, I was undone. That moment was about so much more than the run or the distance – it was a lesson in learning to let go of the limitations we place on ourselves. Six months ago, a 10K (6.2 miles) was an end goal I set for myself – something I hoped to reach someday because I thought it was the best I could do. And now, 6.5 miles was a training run for a goal I never thought possible – all because of Disney.

And that my friends, that is the transformative power of Disney. It makes us believe in magic and miracles. It tells us that anything we wish for can come true – if we only have the courage to pursue them. Disney not only has the power to remind us of who we are, but of who we can become. And for that reason alone, Disney will forever have my heart.

Last weekend, I ran a 15K (9.3 miles). It was my first real “race” (in quotes, because let’s face it, I wasn’t “racing” anyone – except maybe the voices of doubt in my head).  Although it was a slightly longer run than my Galloway training schedule called for, I trusted that I could endure for the additional mile and a half if it meant a decent Proof of Time to submit for my Disney race (and move me out of reach of the “balloon ladies”).

At around mile 8, as I was approaching the final water station and contemplating my own insanity, I noticed a Disney refillable mug on the water station table ahead. As I came closer, I shouted, “Disney World in the house!!” The owner of the mug, a volunteer, looked up, smiled, and quickly grabbed the mug and ran a few steps alongside me singing Zipadeedoodah. As he trailed off to head back to his station, I shouted my thanks to him. He waved me off, replying, “Hey, you’re ‘Ohana!”

I crossed the finish line humming Zipadeedoodah.  I even improved my pace by a few seconds. But more importantly I was reminded that, just as in life, there’s a difference between merely finishing and finishing happy.

Stay Disney. Finish Happy.

Rebecca Toon

Rebecca is a Disneyphile, Technophile, and would-be Foodie. She loves food, wine, and motherhood – not always in that order. She lives in Connecticut with her better half and two miniature adults that insist on calling her mom.