what’s better than doing a long run through a pretty park on a Spring morning?

doing one for a great charity and running with a friend the whole way, that’s what. i felt really blessed to be able to do so on March 24, when my friend Hanne & i ran the New York 13.1 series half marathon in Queens to raise money for the international relief organization World Vision. it was my first charity run, and it was a true honor to wear a jersey in support of such a tremendous cause and know that so many people — friends and strangers alike — were supporting me  because i was part of something bigger than myself. i was surprised by how many fans came out to cheer on all the World Vision runners, and it was so encouraging to see them waving at us and yelling “Go Team World Vision!”, as well as exchange encouragement with other runners alongside us who were running for the same reason we were.

it was an ideal race, really, with a 9:30am start time (a welcome change to my 5:30 gun in Disney!) and set in Flushing Meadows Park in Queens. the weather was perfect for running (60ish), the course was almost entirely flat, and the spectators were energetic. this was only the third year this race has been in existence and they said it drew about 5,000 runners, which was more than double the turnout from last year. the results showed 3,367 finishers and i was number 1,112, so i’m happy with that.

truth be told, i was simply glad to finish this one in one piece! despite the great conditions and the fact that i should be a pro at these “halvies” by now, having run 3 in the past 6 months, i really struggled with this one from the get-go. it was a combination of factors, really: muscle soreness from refusing to take enough rest days off of Zumba, boot camp and salsa that week (whoops); having not completed any long runs in my training (unless you count the Disney princess half exactly a month prior); barely any stretching or foam rolling; my recurring knee issues that i left unattended; and most importantly, i believe, the fact that i didn’t ask as many people to pray for me this time around! those prayers really carried me through my first two, and i won’t make that mistake again.

the knee pain kicked in much earlier than usual — maybe around mile 5-6 — and twice i had to stop for a quick stretch and some necessary whining. it was Hanne’s company, constant conversation, and support that really helped me buck up and pull through this race despite my constant pain and discouragement at myself for feeling so lousy and not training more or taking care of my injury. thank God for a great friend and running partner!

despite how i felt, i actually achieved my best time and had a PR in this race! who would have thought? 1:57:32. rock on, i’ll take it.

thanks to all my friends and family who supported me and encouraged me — i couldn’t have done it without you. i’m proud to have helped raise money to support World Vision’s relief efforts, and i hope to be able to complete more charity races in the future. if i’m going to continue to be a runner, i want to use it to give back to more than just my own personal success stories.

because in the long run, well…i’d like to be running this race for more than simply myself.

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if you’re female, and you have any aspirations of ever running a race that allows you to showcase your love of all things girlie while simultaneously achieving a great physical accomplishment, i advise you to seriously consider signing up for this one:

trust me on this. it’s an absolutely incredible, once-in-a-lifetime (or however many times you decide to run it in a lifetime) experience. i’ve never seen so many people run like girls.

and the best thing is, we all did it on purpose.

photo: runDisney
photographer: Preston Mack

by “we all,” i mean about 20,000 of us (5% whom were males!) Disney-crazed lunatics who signed up for a 5:30 start time for the sheer girlieness of running Disney’s Princess Half Marathon on February 26. i was more nervous about waking up at 3:30am and being able to function like a normal girl (let alone a PRINCESS!) than i was about running 13.1 miles, but as was the case in my last race, God put his little angels on my shoulders and made sure that everything went better than i could have ever expected.

i can’t lie — i was realllly excited to finally be running this race.

i’d recommend running this even if you’ve never run a half marathon before, or doubt that you can. it’s an ideal first half for a girl to choose. the energy and enthusiasm is incredibly infectious, as women of all ages, athletic abilities, & backgrounds flock from all around the country/world to run like princesses through Cinderella’s Castle (yes, that’s part of the route!). it was such a FUN race, my cheeks were sore from grinning so much.

as you’d expect from a Disney event, the race was extremely well-organized. i mean, do they ever do anything poorly? as if the energy and enthusiasm of 20,000 women wasn’t contagious enough to keep us all peppy throughout 2 hours of running, they set up entertainment for us at every mile by having various Disney characters staged to cheer us on and serve as photo opps. some were hilarious, like the barrage of Disney men (Eric, Aladdin, etc.) who posed with the runners as the song “Whatta Man” by Salt n Peppa blared in the background. (you can bet that photo line was looooong.)

if i run it again, i think i’d forgo running for a time goal and instead bring my camera to take advantage of every character photo opp i could. what a cool collage this race would lend itself toward!

sadly, i dropped the ball on procuring a costume and failed to dress up as a princess (although they ask you your favorite princess and print it on your bib! any guesses as to who is mine??), so that’s a goal for next year. i was surrounded by thousands of women in costumes — wings, tutus, glitter, tiaras, you name it — and i felt sadly unfestive.

next year, i will princess it up. anyone with me?

remember the time you let me run ahead
and Summer chased me down,
burned me bright and shook me up
sudden as a sunshower, soft as a baby’s breath

and how you tucked some in my hair
& said “let’s stay this way forever, you and me”

back when the world would spin for us
like tireless tops on magician’s plates
and whether it was flat or round,
we vowed to never mind

for when you’re young and in almost-love, baby
there’s no fear of falling, no true land’s end
that doesn’t thrill & sparkle with the delicious notion
of a death-defying attempt at flight.

(don’t blame yourself —
once i believed this, too.)

and sometimes, i run for a good reason.

lucky me — i have two of those very good reasons coming up in the next two months!

after all the fun and the incredible self-discipline and personal lessons i experienced running my first half marathon, i decided that’s a nice race length for me to continue pushing myself to achieve. so i decided to continue focusing on training for some more halfs (halves?), and i found two that totally tickle my fancy.

one suits the “fun” side:

 

and the other fits the “help people while doing something i love” bill:

 

does that look like a great lineup or what? yeah…i’m stoked.

so i’ve been dreaming of running the Disney Princess half since its inaugural race, and this year, that dream will finalllly materialize in all its girly, princessy frivolity. yes, i will dress like a Disney princess, and yes, you’ll have to wait until post-race to see the pictures and discover which one i’m choosing. a princess never reveals her secrets…

 

and who doesn’t want a medal shaped like a tiara to hang on her wall?


this girl certainly does.

so, that’s my fun, girly race, and i’ll be weaving through the Magic Kingdom and other such parks on Feb. 26 with a whole mess of other women who all harbor not-so-secret dreams of being Disney-rific as well. and you know what? i don’t remember the last time i’ve been this excited about being a girl.

the other half i’m running is for a much more serious reason than tiaras and tulle. i’m running the 13.1 Queens half marathon in Flushing Meadows Park on March 24 in support of World Vision,  “a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.” this is the first race i’ve ever run for a charity, and i’m so honored and blessed to be able to participate on such a great team of people and run for a reason other than personal satisfaction and finish-line fever.

if you want to support me, either monetarily (all donations go to World Vision 100%) or through prayer and encouragement, i’d be absolutely thrilled.

please visit My Personal Fundraising Page to donate or find out more.

and if you happen to be in NYC on March 24 (or Orlando on Feb. 26!), i’d love the in-person support! signs and t-shirts are always a nice little touch as well….

just sayin’.

xoxo,
Shawna Marie

you sit with your guitar cradled like a first love,
held the way i wonder if you’d ever hold me
and strum me “blackbird,”
quiet as a daybreak,
blinds slowly lifting to expose a stream of newborn gold
at which i grapple to harness in my morning fingers
as you close your eyes and slip into your darkroom
of music and shadows

and this is when i love you most
& when i lose you,
every time.

we lay quietly in the silences preceding pre-dawn secrets,
reinventing each other from the ashes of muted truths and liar’s swords
and i said the only thing i thought could make you stay
as the snow began to fall:

“tell me a story”

relief fluttering your voice like a breeze through a stifling room
as you fell into fantasy with such practiced ease:
dragons and far-off lands
where fair-haired girls who look nothing like me
fall terribly in love with the hims they just can’t live without
(and all i ever wished for was a silly paper crown)

& come tomorrow or once upon a time,
we will speak nothing of this
as you slip into the gray day like a faded knight
and i drink coffee with my mother and she hands me the truth,
simply as a child’s prayer:
“if you can live without him, do.”

i don’t even like dragons.
(true story.)

 

 

this was the season we’ll look back upon
and say, “something just never felt quite right,”
likely placing blame upon the easy culprits:
global warming and shocks of skin, scarfless and exposed,
our Winter throats pale as apple flesh
against a thinning sky,
against inclement eyes

so we went ahead and fell when the snow refused to,
shooting down such a warm December like an injured dove
a Wendy-bird
a child’s paper love,
feverish hands buried deep in pockets
where our secrets thawed and ached
& when  you said “i could get used to this” and promptly lost your gloves,
i prayed for snow and knew
we’d already frozen over.