I NEVER pictured myself as a runner, let alone someone who could run a half-marathon. I love taking dance classes throughout the week and doing pretty much everything at the gym; except running. About two years ago, I was leaving my yearly cancer checkup as my pediatric oncologist Dr. Sutphin ran out to talk with me. In our brief conversation, he mentioned how he had always wanted to run the Disney Princess Half-Marathon with one of his patients. Shortly thereafter, I became involved in the Miss America's Outstanding Teen Organization, which has an incredible partnership with Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. As I did further research into the Disney Princess Half-Marathon, I learned that a portion of the funds raised would go towards Children's Miracle Network. This was even more reason to participate in the run! During my yearly cancer checkup in October, I brought up running the half-marathon once again. Everyone was for it!
I learned very quickly that I couldn't run a half-marathon without having the proper tools and training. I began training three days a week at the end of November and continued that routine up until the race. At first, it was tough. However, once I began consistently running, my endurance and time improved. Throughout the training process, I learned how to listen to what my body needs and push myself beyond my limits.
After months of anticipation, the race arrived! I had been in Gainesville, FL for Miss Gainesville the night before the half-marathon, so I didn't get as much sleep as I had wished. My Mom and I woke up at 2:30 am to arrive at Disney for the half-marathon an hour later. I was greeted with Disney music, signage, excited racers, and my amazing doctor along with some of his nurses. At 6:00 am our team crossed the start line; 13.1 miles to go. As a team, we made sure to pace ourselves and encourage one another. We ran through the main roads, Magic Kingdom, overpasses, and ended up in Epcot! On the last mile, Dr. Sutphin and I decided to speed it up even more. As I crossed the finish line, I felt a sense of accomplishment. My months of training paid off in that moment. The coolest part of the morning was receiving my medal. On the way out of the park, I started looking up more half-marathons to run. I cannot wait to finish my next race!