In March of 2013, in what would turn out to be my last phone conversation with my mom, I told her of this crazy idea I had to run a race at Disneyland. I am a lifelong Disney fanatic and I had just learned of RunDisney. I had never run in my life, but I was beyond intrigued about this opportunity. Her last words to me on the phone were, “You are made of tough stuff.” A month later she died of complications from pneumonia. One month after that, my breast cancer returned after 14 years in remission. My life felt like it was spinning out of control and I needed something to ground me. Running with my mom’s faith in me that I could do it became the anchor I needed. I had to defer my first Disney race (the 2013 Disneyland Inaugural Dumbo Double Dare) on doctor’s orders, but a year later, I crossed that finish line and saw my husband holding a sign that said, “Tough Stuff.” Needless to say, a few tears were shed. I have had challenges in the years following, but I have kept running, always feeling my mom by my side.
Do you walk, run or run/walk, swim, cycle, do obstacles?
I run/walk. I’m a Jeff Galloway girl and attribute any success I have had to following his program.
What distances do you do?
5Ks, 10Ks, and half marathons.
What do you feel is your greatest race accomplishment?
The Boston Athletic Association 2015 Half Marathon. I was clearly out of my comfort zone there and will never forget walking to the starting line, passing the Kenyan team warming up. To say I was intimidated would be an understatement, but I stuck around and ran it. I ended up beating my PR by 45 minutes. Now, I basically couldn’t walk for the next couple days, but that’s another story.
Favorite race and why?
Probably the Disneyland Dumbo Double Dare because of the emotional attachment, but I just participated in the Walt Disney World Princess Half Marathon Weekend and really enjoyed the camaraderie.
Do you travel for races?
Does your race schedule become expensive? How do you afford to make it happen?
Yes. I know a lot of tricks to save money and use them all. Even so, destination racing is expensive and I’m hoping to do more local races going forward.
Must-have gear on race day:
My hydration belt. I struggle with dehydration issues, so I need my water “on me.”
Do you prefer to run in warm weather or cold weather?
Cold. Most definitely COLD. Living in New England has its advantages in this regard.
Favorite pre-race meal/snack:
My ritual is cereal with blueberries before leaving for the race and a GU at the start line. It works for me.
Worst experience during a race:
I’m going to call this the worst experience that turned into the best. Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend during the half, I was struggling mightily and had hit my wall. Members of my running teams, Mickey Milers and Team Shenanigans, were cheering in the seven/eight mile area. When I reached them, I went down the line high fiving them avoiding eye contact because I knew my emotional state at that point and it wasn’t good. I almost made it, but then I saw some of my closest friends at the end and I lost it, collapsing into their arms. That’s when it turned to good. They took me off the course and gave me exactly what I needed to get back out there. Some oranges, some “famous caramels,” and most importantly, “power hugs.” I left that spot with my faith restored and went on to finish strong.
Most awesome moment you’ve ever had at a race:
Your favorite part of participating in races:
I have made some wonderful friends through this experience. Friends that I hope I will have for life. I also like crossing that finish line.
Do you wear costumes? If so, what’s been your favorite?
I always thought that was a line I wouldn’t cross. Running is a big enough challenge for me and the thought of adding a costume was overwhelming. However, some of those friends I was talking about above kindly asked me to join them in some costume fun for the Princess Weekend Enchanted 10K. It was so much fun and I think I’m hooked. I’m hoping to get in on more group costumes in the future.
How important are awesome medals to you?
They are pretty important to me. I love getting the bling.
Best medal you’ve earned so far:
Donald Duck is my favorite character so I think I would say the Walt Disney World Half Marathon, because that is Donald’s race and the medal features him.
Do you prefer to run alone or with a buddy?
I train alone, but I enjoy running with buddies at races very much!
Favorite song on your playlist:
“I Lived” by OneRepublic.
Who is your race hero and why?
I’m going to have to go with race heroes and that would be all the people on my running teams that have supported me and inspired me to keep at this. Special shout out to Eddie McCoy, host of The Marathon Show. He believed in me every step of the way and was there to inspire me to keep going when I was unsure if I could. “Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.” You know what? It works!
What is the top race on your bucket list?
I really want to do the Disney Star Wars races on both coasts next year. My first date with my husband was to go see “A New Hope” on the first night of its release. We were hooked and we passed on our obsession to both of our sons. My dream is to run the Disneyland race with my LA based son and the WDW race with my Boston-based son. That would be very cool.
What has been the best physical side effect of your participation in races?
Running has helped me physically by just getting me moving after a fairly sedentary life, but the mental benefits for me have been immense. As anyone who has faced the cancer monster can tell you, it is hard to control “the thoughts.” As a two-time survivor, running has provided me with a sense of control over my life that I needed very badly and continue to need.
Your advice for others who might be intimidated by signing up for a race:
Just do it. Runners are some of the nicest people around. A wise man once told me that when you cross that first finish line your life will be changed forever. He was so right.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I hope my answers encourage someone to try this running thing out. As I often tell people, if I can do it, you can too!