I turned to the runner next to me, my stomach a ball of anxiety.

“Why am I so nervous?? I’m not trying to come in first- there is literally nothing to be nervous about.”

It was 4:55am on Sunday 🥱, and I was standing with 25,000+ runners on a highway just outside of Epcot, all of us gearing up to run a 13.1-mile course through the Disney parks.

You may not know this about me, but I’m an *extremely* competitive person.

I don’t like losing. And even when there’s no competition to be had, I tend to invent one anyways.

The half marathon I ran this past weekend was a CLASSIC example- for weeks, I’d been legitimately stressing 😫 about my mile times, worrying I wouldn’t break last year’s time.

And in the process, I was forgetting to enjoy the race set before me. 

Disney races are FUN- that’s why they’re so popular! You don’t run a Disney race because you’re trying to qualify for the Olympic trials- you choose a Disney race because it’s a joy to run.

<< But I almost missed it, because all I could think about was not losing.>>

Fortunately, one of the announcers set my head straight just before the starting gun went off- “you’re not competing against anyone but yourself- not the runner in front of or behind you. It’s just you.”

And that was it. That was what I needed to let go of the nerves, run a good race, and enjoy the ride.

A few other lessons I was reminded of, courtesy of runDisney:

1. Stop looking left, right, and backwards- you’re not competing with anyone but yourself, and looking at everyone else’s growth to see how you measure up wastes valuable energy.

>> I spent YEARS as a business owner checking my progress against other photographers- all it did was distract me and keep me looking over my own shoulder, robbing me of precious time + attention I could have devoted to honing my craft.

2. Know what the “finish line” looks like for you– what would *actually* qualify as a success in your books? If I’d set my sights on winning the entire race (not even a remote possibility), I’d have been sorely disappointed.

>> But how often do we play this “all or nothing” game? If I’m not first, I’m somehow… last? No way! You can be your best without needing to be the best. So, what does your best look like?

3. Pace yourself. I ran the 10K (6.2 miles) on Saturday and the half marathon (13.1 miles) on Sunday, which meant that if I ran the first race at full speed, I’d walk into the half marathon sore, and with a less-than-full tank.

>> When you’re planning out your yearly goals, it can be tempting to stack all the big stuff into Q1 & Q2… and then you find yourself either exhausted from doing too much in too little time, or disappointed by the fact that you couldn’t do it all. Before you ever set foot out the door, know where you’re going today AND tomorrow- it’ll help you ration your time & attention more realistically.

4. Little by little, it adds up. I didn’t decide to do a half marathon the week beforehand- I signed up last June. And I started training in October. There were 100+ opportunities for me to lace up my running shoes and get my body used to longer and longer distances BEFORE the glitz and glam of race day.

>> Some days I felt like crap, and others I felt great, but each daily run, whether 3 miles or 10, was an opportunity to train my body to be ready for the big show. Don’t skip the small stuff- it adds up.

5. No one is measuring your progress as closely as you are. We have a tendency to think that people are paying MUCH closer attention to our businesses than they actually are- “I haven’t posted on social in weeks- people must think something is wrong!” In reality? They probably haven’t noticed.

>> I was stressing about wanting to finish within a specific time (under 2:15:00), but realistically? NO ONE  has asked me what my finish time was. Not a single person.

I crossed the finish line within the window of time I’d aimed for. I didn’t beat last year’s time (missed it by 1 minute, 12 seconds!), but I finished the race feeling good, and free from injury (unlike last year).

Was I the best? Not by a long shot.

But did I do my best?


And also, a few more self-indulgent shots from the weekend, because I put a lot of thought into my outfits and want to show them off :).

Each race has a specific Princess as its theme, and the 10K was Belle! I like to go the less obvious, more obscure path when it comes to running costumes, so I went with a Mrs. Potts look! The top is from my very favorite activewear company, Crowned Athletics (the code ABBY gets you 10% off), and the skirt is from RunSewSweet on Etsy!

Lessons from the 2023 Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend | Abby Grace

The next morning was the half marathon- the official theme was Moana, but I’d had my heart set on running as Rapunzel ever since I spied this top + running skort on Crowned Athletics. I’ve also got the leggings + sports bra, and it 100% makes runs more magical. And I know what you’re thinking- “there’s no way she carried a frying pan for the entire race.”

Ooooh yes I did.

Lessons from the 2023 Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend | Abby Grace Lessons from the 2023 Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend | Abby Grace

See? Toldja. Frying pans- who knew?

Lessons from the 2023 Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend | Abby Grace

If I was only going to stop for one official Princess photo all day (because they’re dotted along the course!), it had to be her!

Lessons from the 2023 Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend | Abby Grace

4 Lessons From Running 19.3 Miles at Disney World

March 2, 2023

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