Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Disney Princess Half-Marathon: Coming Full Circle

I started running to get away from an unhappy life. It was my escape--literally--out of "that house" and gave me an excuse to be by myself, to do something for me. I had never been athletic. I was one of those kids who got straight A's in every subject but begged the PE coach to "give me a D and just let me sit out." It wasn't that I couldn't do the things they wanted me to do; it was the discomfort I felt being watched while I had to do them. (I will not even get into the horror I felt whenever I'd come out to phys ed and see the Shuttle Run set up.)

But running was easy...not so much physically, since I literally couldn't go longer than 2 minutes at first without feeling like I was going to die...but emotionally. All I needed was a pair of sneakers and my headphones, and to just go: put one foot in front of the other. The results came quick and were easy to measure: At first, I just went around the block, running the corners and walking the straight-aways. Within a few days, I could run the straights and just walk the corners. Before I knew it, I was running 10 minutes straight. And then...my first 5k. Up until that moment, when I crossed my first-ever finish line, I had never ever been so proud of myself. A year or so later, I started toying with the idea of a half marathon. When I mentioned it to my nears and dears at the time, most of them scoffed, pointed, and ridiculed outright. "13 miles? You? There's no way."

Another year (and one divorce later), I crossed the finish line at the 2001 Walt Disney Half-Marathon.

Although there was no longer a need to escape my life, I kept running...although my distances rarely went over 3 miles.

Then in 2004, after nearly 2 years of trying to get pregnant and 13 weeks of a joyous pregnancy, Hubby and I had a miscarriage.


After a few weeks, I knew I wasn't getting "passed" it. Rock bottom was starting to feel pretty damn close, and I realized that if I didn't "do" something, I was going to drown.

So out of nowhere, I decided to go back for another Disney Half with the goal of improving my previous finishing time. Over the next 4 months I focused completely on this race, my training, and my fitness. It gave me something to do. It gave me an outlet for my stress, my thoughts, my emptiness.

At the expo held the day prior to the race, one of the vendor booths was set up for little kids to make signs to hold up during the race. I stood by and watched little girls and boys making banners with puffy paint and sticky letters and markers: "Go Mommy!" "You can do it, Daddy!" "We love you!" Surprisingly, I didn't break down then. I turned to Hubby and said, "One day, I'm gonna come back to do this race, and my kids are going to make signs for me."

The next day, I ran a good race and did beat my previous time, in spite of having a very upset stomach and a lot of nausea the whole way. When we ran through the Magic Kingdom and passed the Dumbo ride, the tears finally came. I mourned, right there on mile 9, for the loss of this little spirit, this baby that wasn't to be, this dream that had been shattered.

I came home and found out a week later that I was pregnant. Ben Kincaid was born on September 16, 2005.

A couple of years after having him, we decided to try again, hesitant and fearful that we'd have to go through another difficult time.

We got pregnant with Aidan Kai on the first try. He was born August 8, 2008.

* * *

Now, I'm going back.

I registered for the Walt Disney Princess Half Marathon, February 2011. A decade after my first big race, and 7 years after crying at mile 9, I will be running for my kids and for myself. We'll go back to the expo and watch Ben and Aidan make "Go Mama!" signs. And when I cross that finish line, this time by myself, I'll run into the arms of My 3 Men: the one who has run along beside me literally and figuratively, and the 2 little ones who came to join us, the ones who made me Mama.


  1. I do believe that tragedies can harden us and make us shrivel up or they can be the platform we jump off of that motivates us to want more. Running gave you focus and helped you visualize the future you wanted. And it came to be. That is awesome.

  2. I ran my first (and so far, only) half-marathon 11 weeks pregnant with my third child. I ran it to honor a friend who had died from cancer eight months earlier. I know the catharsis that running brings, the peace it offers, the solitude it promises, the healing it begins. Run, Liz, run, and hug those boys tight. What a beautiful post.

  3. Liz, You made me cry (a rare occurrence for me). It is a sweet mixture of sadness and happiness for you. I can't wait to see the pictures after the race...especially the ones of the posters your boys are going to make for you. Good luck!

  4. This is such an unbelievably sweet story, and one that gives me so much hope. A huge congratulations to you--your strength and fortitude are inspiring.

  5. Had me in tears, girl...I guess our writing does that to each other...I will see you at the finish line...Maybe a picture together? Two elementary school PE flunkies finally making good?

  6. Wow. I'm so touched by this I don't even know what to say. I was terrified my entire pregnancy because I have a higher than average chance of miscarrying. I don't know how I would have managed. I'm so proud of you for finding a way to push through it. You are such a strong person.

    I do know what you're talking about with the first finish line. I just did my first 5k a few weeks ago and given my traumatic past history with PE, I knew running in front of people would be a big deal but I really couldn't conceive of how proud such a seemingly simple thing would make me feel.

  7. Good on you!

    I discovered running this past year - after 4 months of bed rest I needed to do something to get back to fitness and running seemed easy (and cheap). I now find myself missing my running time if I don't manage to get out and do it - its a great escape and thinking time

    Good luck with the race

  8. Good luck. So inspiring! Love that your little guys will be there cheering you on. Just as it should be :)

  9. Tears. You totally got me with this one, lady. I'm so excited for you - I can't imagine how amazing it will feel to see Ben & Aidan holding those "Go Mama!" signs.

    Wonderful post! xo

  10. What a beautiful post - my eyes are full of tears.

  11. I am new to your blog and what a story. It definitely brought tears to my eyes. You are so wonderful and strong. You are an inspiration.


  12. What a journey you have been through.
    I felt such emotion reading your post.
    I miscarried our first bub and have gone on to have 4 beautiful little ones.
    This post is so inspiring.
    I bet that this race will make you feel you have come full circle.
    Good for you. You go girl, do your best and feel proud!!

  13. I'm not really a crier. It takes many minutes of exposure in order for my emotions to jump up and be noticed to the point of tears. This post did it - I don't know you, but I'm so proud of you!

  14. So beautiful and I want to wish you lots of luck. My friends do this race and I believe it is their third year. After I do some reconstructing of myself I will be taking up running and plan on someday doing that half marathon myself.
    Good for you!


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