Courage

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Over the past few years I have done quite a few distance races. At each race at a minimum I get a new race shirt. I browse the expanse of vendor booths set up at the expo and might pick up a few more things. From when I started running to now, I’ve had to develop a new strategy for shopping at the expo. When first started running, I wanted everything and my shopping reflected that. I would pick up far more than what I needed. The result, my dresser drawers are bursting with shirts, shorts, and other running gear. Now I go into an expo knowing what I need to pick up and quickly breeze by the other booths on my way to the necessary stops like packet pick up. It’s been a pretty successful strategy.

 

This year at the Disney Princess Marathon expo, I knew the places I wanted to hit, Official Merchandise, Sweaty Bands, Packet Pick Up and we were going to done. As I was cruising past the vendor booths I spotted a shirt that jumped out at me. Jim had decided to check out sunglasses so I double backed to really check it out.

 

It was a Kelly green shirt with the word courage printed on the front. The back of the shirt was a definition of courage that really resonated with me because it read, “to persevere with humility” and “falling in love with the person you were meant to be”.

 

Courage was word in my vocabulary but it wasn’t that important to me until I started working with the Navy. I am Coast Guard, and about a year and a half ago I started working with the Navy at their Senior Enlisted Academy. The core values for the Navy are Honor, Courage, and Commitment. During each class we discuss what the core values mean to the students. Listening to the students definitions made me really explore what courage means to me.

 

In the military, the word courage is often synonymous with courage in battle. Showing bravery when the enemy is near. While that is an important facet of the word, for me courage is much more than physical courage.

 

My definition of courage is still evolving, but here is what I believe courage is. Courage is when you are not afraid to be vulnerable, totally exposed to criticism. Courage is putting it on the line, risking it all (especially when the outcome is uncertain). Courage is trying something new. Courage is doing something that others tell you it is stupid. Courage is staying true to you. Courage is looking for the truth, even when the truth isn’t pretty. Courage is doing what you believe is right and not about always being right. Courage is treating everyone with respect, even the people many others don’t want to see. Courage is standing up to bullies.

 

Fellow Flowers (http://fellowflowers.com) makes this shirt. Their story is just as inspiring as the t-shirts. In 2011 a group of women started training for a half marathon together. Over the course of their training, they discovered that running is much more than just running; it is a journey of mental and physical struggles. It is a journey where you face your own fears and adversity and hopefully in the end, when you cross the finish line you will have learned something that you can apply in other areas of your life.

 

My courage shirt is now one of my favorite shirts because it reminds me what courage means to me. But more importantly it reminds me to live my life in a courageous way. Now if Fellow Flowers would only make a shirt defining honor and commitment, then I would have a complete set of Navy core value shirts.

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It’s not you, it’s me.

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The Princess Marathon was not part of my running plan until my friend Trish asked if I wanted to run it. My initial thought was no. I had just done my first half marathon and I didn’t see the point of doing another, but a few days later I signed up. I enjoyed the inaugural Princess Marathon so much; I did it again the next year.

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Running 5 consecutive Princess Runs never occurred to me until Jim and I went out to Disneyland for the half marathon. It was the 5th year for the race. Something during that weekend clicked. I made it a goal to run the first 5 Princess Marathons.

The 2013 Princess half was the 5th year of the race and I reached my goal. I am one of 324 runners deemed a perfect princess for running all 5 races. I’m not sure what I expected this year, but the magic that kept bringing me back to this race seems to have run out.

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This year the emphasis seemed much more on stuff and excess than on fitness and running. The expo was cram packed with people who needed to buy everything they could get their hands on. I freely admit my husband and I bought our max allowable Dooney & Bourke purses with the plan of keeping one and selling the rest. (However that plan changed when we sold one to a friend who didn’t get a chance to shop at the expo and gave one as a birthday gift.) And I bought the Disney Princess sweaty bands because sweaty bands are part of my race traditions. But watching people stand in excessively long lines for New Balance shoes, running to be first to get a purse, and grabbing handfuls of official race merchandise left me with an odd feeling.

Social media was the other big difference. I got the impression posting pictures to instagram, sending tweets, and updating facebook status during the expo and the race was a priority for many runners. The goal was less about running and more about documenting every step along the course. One of the perks of doing a RunDisney race is the entertainment and characters. I stopped twice during the run to take a photo with a character because there was no line and Mehgan didn’t get any pictures during the run last year. I guess I think the run should be the main attraction, instead of the entertainment being the main attraction.

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While the race has grown and evolved into something very different than just a celebration of women, fitness, and running, I recognize I have changed too. I am not the same runner who started doing this race series in 2009. The moment I recognized it was when I was really excited to see mile 7. We were no longer in the Magic Kingdom and we were on the road. In the past I dreaded the back half of the course because we left all the fun, but this year I felt like the fun was just about to happen.

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I didn’t PR this year, but it was one of the best races I’ve run. We managed negative 5k splits. I also helped Mehgan get a new PR.

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In a way this feels like a break up. The Princess Marathon Weekend was one of my first running loves. We grew together, but after all these years we ended up growing apart. I guess I always hoped it would last forever, but the magic is gone. I guess I’ve grown into a different kind of runner and the Princess Marathon has grown into a different kind of race. I really hope we can stay friends. It’s not you, it’s me.

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