How Run Disney Got Me to Run Again

By May 20, 2013Disney, Travel

This is a story about me, but it could be about you too.  It could be about running, or something else you want to do but just haven’t.  Let’s just get up off our tushies and get ‘er done.  This is also a story about Disney, and how that magic can get me jazzed about sweating while it is still dark out.


My father Tony ran across the country twice with his brother Joel. They ran for the first time as seniors in college in 1971 and the second time in 1976 as married men starting their lives. They ran 27 miles each day the first time and 42 miles a day the second. I cannot even imagine completing a task like this. Currently there are 279 tracked journey runs since 1909 across the U.S. My father is listed as the 90th and the 96th runner.

At the end of their second journey, they met with President Gerald Ford. Here is one of the official White House Photographs. That’s my dad shaking the President’s hand!

Tony Ahlstrom Journey Run

You might imagine my life was filled with running. Well, it was, but only for a short time. My father was a pastor while I was growing up and ran to pray and to have time alone with his thoughts and with God. I can’t remember us ever having run together. In junior high and high school I ran track. Like my dad, I was not a sprinter. I ran the 800 meter, the 1 mile and sometimes the 2 mile. I remember finding my breathing pattern and matching it to my steps like it was yesterday. I make a unique sound while I am running longer distances, though I suppose we all do.

At some point I stopped running.  I played soccer and was awarded best hustle more than once.  I just really didn’t run again, but I felt the pull.  I wanted to get back into this sport that has become both uber social while remaining intensely personal.

I kept saying I was going to run, and then I didn’t.  The sport is perfect for me, being practically free and having no commute to speak of.  I see races I want to participate in all the time, but I am not in good enough shape to run them.  I still didn’t run.

Then, a few months ago, I got invited to the Disney Social Media Moms Conference.  As part of the conference, we were invited to participate in their first Run Disney 2 mile fun run.  I almost didn’t sign up.  I was afraid of being too slow or too tired or embarrassing myself.  Then I kicked myself.

I dream of running the Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World and someday the Disney World Marathon.  I also would love to be a Mud Runner and do the Warrior Dash but I am nowhere near ready.   Note that all of these events involve the funner side of running.  I want my picture with Minnie or my body covered in mud.  I want to Color Run.  It all sounds fantastic!

You have to start somewhere and I had a chance sitting in my inbox.  I signed up.  If anyone could make running feel like magic, it is Disney.

When we got to the race we could choose to run the whole thing or run/walk, the fantastic program from Jeff Galloway that he created so he knew he could run his whole life.  I originally went to the combo and then thought abut the number of times I had run two miles in my life and I went for the run.

When you have not run in a long time or ever – 2 miles is no easy thing, though it certainly starts that way.  At 5:30 in the morning and after almost a week in Mexico and a 9 hour drive down with the kids the day before, I felt exhausted…and then exhilarated. And then I finished.  I don’t look purty but damn, I am smiling.

It felt good.  No. It felt great.  Run Disney got me back my running and I can’t wait to see where it takes me. It didn’t hurt to run through the ESPN Wild Word of Sports.  There was so much to see!  Tip – mix up your routes.  Look around.  Don’t get bored!

Brittany Finishing

So, how did Run Disney get me off my ass? Well, they presented a challenge that was fun and doable.  People of all abilities were welcomed and the support from my fellow bloggers and both the staff at ESPN WOS and Run Disney was fantastic.   They say

When you Run Disney, every Mile is Magic

and I believe it.

There are races of all lengths and for all abilities.  Run Disney will turn your fantastic accomplishment into a family vacation.  There are activities planned for the whole family to enjoy. Run with fun should be another one of their mottos.  The same can be said for the ESPN Wild World of Sports, where they organize sports events for teams all over the country and make your soccer tournament into an event for the whole family.  The Disney team is committed to helping families be healthier and helping WOMEN cross that finish line and cry tears of joy.  Seriously.  I don’t make this stuff up.

One word of caution when running with bloggers or really running and Disney event…we bring our phones and are easily distracted by all of the sights around us.  I was lucky I didn’t run into the wall!

Bloggers Run with Phones

Hats off to Run Disney and the fabulous bloggers who completed the Fun Run with me.

Finish Line

We got back to the hotel and took a whole group shot – a little less sweaty and a whole lot of ready for a shower!

Disney Run Finish

We were offered inspiration, tons of smiles and big hugs from Ali Vincent, who won the 5th season of Biggest Loser.  She might be the most likeable person I have ever met and she oozes happy and well, her show is Live Big with Ali Vincent.  People, that is actually in my tagline!  If anyone needs encouragement, she’s your girl.  I hope I can encourage you too, whenever you need it.

Brittany and Ali

It was an incredible morning filled with joy and accomplishment and the magic of Disney. And of course, I hope I made my Papa proud.

With that, I hope we can all

Live Big, Learn More and Love Much.

That’s what it’s all about!

Is there anything new you are starting?  What is your running music?

p.s. I am looking for really upbeat music that I might not listen to in front of the kids.  Seriously, I can run and pretend like I’m in a club.  No prob.

Disclosure: I was honored to be invited to the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration.  We were provided with discount park tickets and accommodations as well as fantastic opportunities like this fun run.  We were not asked or required to write any posts.  All of this sloppy love for Run Disney is my very own.

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