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Disney World marathon a dream come true

If you had asked me 15 years ago what I wanted to be when I grew up, it never would have been a journalist. I probably would have said I wanted to be just like my girl Pocahontas, Ariel the Little Mermaid or Belle because she wore a pretty dress and had brown hair like me. While none of these have quite panned out for me yet, I’m working on them.

Cinderella said that a dream is a wish your heart makes, and I believe that. However, this weekend a dream was more like something I would be willing to run 26.2 miles to achieve. So I did.

This time last year, my dad told me he wanted to run a marathon and I knew he could do it. He’s never been much of an athlete and is definitely not a runner, but I knew if he said he was going to do it, he would make it happen. The only thing that has shocked me about my dad’s year of running is that he wanted to run the Disney World Marathon; my father hates Disney. We came to Disney World as a family when I was younger, and for years after that he wouldn’t take us to any Disney movies, telling my brother and me that Walt Disney had thieved him of enough of his money already. He used to tell me, his Disney-loving, four-year-old daughter, that my dear friend Mickey Mouse was a cash-eating rat. Like I said, he wasn’t a fan.

But after he ran a half marathon over the summer, he decided he was ready to try out a full, and he wanted to do it before he took a break from running over the winter because of the difficulties that come with running for hours in the bitter cold. Because marathons are typically in May or October, the options in the dead of winter are pretty slim. The only race he could really do was the Disney World Marathon on Jan. 8 in Orlando, Fla.

He told me about his plans in early October, about two weeks from when I was set to run in the Columbus Marathon. I knew I wouldn’t want to run another marathon 10 weeks after Columbus, but the opportunity was too great to pass up. A parent-sponsored-and-paid-for, overpriced marathon entry and a weekend getaway in Florida? Count me in.

So there I was, 10 weeks later, after waking up at the painful hour of 2:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning, when many Ohio State students hadn’t even gone to bed yet, putting on my meticulously prepared Cinderella costume: white gloves and all.

My dad and I, who had decided to run the race together, had to arrive at the starting line by 5 a.m. and since we were in the very last group to start, it was another hour before we got going.

Now I had assumed that because I typically run 50 percent faster than my dad, and because I had run marathons before, that this race would be a piece of cake. This was so far from the truth that my body hurts just thinking about my ridiculous ideas of the week before. This race might not have been the hardest I’ve ever done, but it was the hardest to get through. We ran for seven hours straight, slow or not. It doesn’t feel good to be in motion for that long.

After being passed by what seemed like endless streams of overweight, elderly and mobility impaired people, stopping to use the restroom four times and stopping for my dad to throw up once, we finally made it to the finish line just before 1 p.m.

My dad wasn’t happy with how he competed; he hadn’t been feeling well for the majority of the second half of the race, and is now contemplating whether he will ever again attempt a marathon (which believe me, is typical post-race behavior). I’m proud of him, because I was contemplating never running again at all.

Runners always say that regardless of how you finish, you did better than everyone who stayed at home, everyone who was too afraid to go after their dream because they were afraid they wouldn’t succeed. This brings up a valid point. My dad and I might not have been the fastest people in Disney World, but we were still there and running our best, and that’s all I care about.

Cramped hamstrings and flashy medals in tow, we made our separate ways back to Columbus. Unfortunately I had to leave soon after the race so I wouldn’t miss class on Monday (extra credit please?). During our time in Orlando we got to experience Disney World in a unique way we weren’t able to 15 years ago, but I can’t say that my dad’s feelings for Mickey Mouse and the Disney sphere of influence have improved.


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