A Triumph of Spirit

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While I still have at least one review left to write from a December race, I felt the need to write this post at this time. This past weekend was the WDW Marathon races at the Walt Disney World Resort. While I didn’t run any of the four races this year, I took part in some of what the weekend had to offer. Living in Central Florida does have its advantages when it comes to Marathon Weekend.

Cooking up some tofu at the Cigna Blogger Cook-off.

Cooking up some tofu at the Cigna Blogger Cook-off.

On Friday, I was invited to a Blogger Cook-off meetup put on by Cigna. It was an awesome experience, one I hope to be a part of again. About 40 health and fitness bloggers were invited to a cooking experience like no other. We got the opportunity to cook a variety of healthy food alongside top Disney chefs. I was a part of the vegan team, and we cooked up an amazing, colorful stir-fry with plenty of fresh vegetables. As someone who definitely doesn’t cook nearly as much as I should be, I felt inspired and motivated by the event. Our Chef, Jersey was great. She helped us along the way when we had questions or advice on the best way to prepare something. The end result was a great meal that I know I can make myself at home. I also had the chance to meet new blogger friends and catch up a bit with old friends at the same time. I can’t thank Cigna more for the chance to be a part of that fun experience.

On Saturday, after a short run in the morning, I headed over with a friend to check out the WDW Marathon expo. It’s always one of my favorite expos of the year. So many great vendors like Brooks, Bondi Band, Good Sense, Team 413, Beecause Charms, and Life Your Sole have booths. We had a great time checking out the merchandise and fun that was there and of course said hello to Jeff Galloway and Bart Yasso who were in attendance. After the expo, we spent a bit of time walking around Downtown Disney before ending the day with lunch at Chipotle.

Dopey and Goofy medals

Dopey and Goofy medals

Sunday was the most rewarding day for me, one that I had been really looking forward to. It was the day that I was volunteering at the WDW Marathon at the bonus medals tent. I had volunteered a couple of years prior doing Goofy medals, and really loved the experience. There really isn’t anything like “medaling” a fellow runner who has just finished running 39.3 or 48.6 miles through the parks. To see the mixed emotions that come through that tent is like nothing else. That for me is a triumph of the human spirit shining through. These people pushed through all sorts of odds, pains, and much more to cross that marathon finish line on Sunday. As a marathoner I know some of those emotions and feelings. But, I can’t imagine how amazing it must feel to run two or four days in a row for that many miles. Those runners push themselves through to accomplish such amazing feats. Sure, maybe they are a little crazy, heck Goofy and even Dopey, but in my mind, they are just super rock stars.

Volunteering at the WDW Marathon with Katie.

Volunteering at the WDW Marathon with Katie.

Being able to be there on the other side of the fence so-to-speak as a volunteer, is an experience every runner needs to have. I spent time giving out medals, cheering and high-fiving runners as well as greeting them as they came in for those bonus medals. It’s something that I feel keeps me balanced as a runner. Running a half, full marathon or longer distance takes so much out of you. But, you cannot see or experience the “spectator” side of things until you allow yourself to do so. When I run a race, I am so centered on that goal, finishing the race. Volunteering gives you a “full-circle” sort of experience of a race day. How motivational and inspirational it truly is to be a part of the running world!

To all those who ran at the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend event this past weekend, congratulations! You are all winners and should be proud of what you accomplished!

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