Running with My 14-Year-Old Daughter in Her First runDisney Half Marathon

2013 walt disney world half marathon

Amanda Tinney Jeff da Runner Disney MarathonWe’ve been waiting two years for this moment to arrive!

In January 2011 my 12-year-old daughter and I voluntEARed at the Walt Disney World Marathon. The first day…or should I say night…revolved around us tearing mylar blankets off big rolls from 2am to around 7am…right about the time when all of the the elite athletes had crossed the finish line for the WDW Half Marathon. As non-runners, we both watched in awe as the first place winner arrived and was barely out of breath giving an interview at the finish line.  The real inspiration was to come the next morning.

On Sunday morning we headed back to the Finish Line, but this time had a different role. We were going to be handing out medals for the Walt Disney World Full Marathon Finishers. You know those moments that you can look back on that change your life? This would be one of those defining moments.

As runners crossed the finish line, we hung medals and offered words of congratulations to each. It was a bag of mixed emotions for every athlete. Some laughed and threw their hands in the air. Some cried and hugged us. Some hobbled over to Medical immediately. Some looked stunned that they had finished and some looked like they ran marathons as their jobs. With each medal hung, I thought in my head “This is the most amazing thing EVER! I think I might be able to do this!” Six hours later the real inspiration arrived in the form of runners who didn’t look like runners. The “back-of-the-packers”. All had been pounding it out for over 6 hours…and they were FINISHING! That was it! A new runner had been born. Right there in the Epcot parking lot. I signed up for the 2011 Wine & Dine Half Marathon shortly thereafter and the rest they say was history.

Disney half marathonFast forward to 2013. January 5th, 2013 my daughter Alexus finally turns 14, the minimum age to runDisney Half Marathons.  We had participated in almost every runDisney 5K from the time we handed out medals until this very moment.  I had watched her complete a 10K , a 15K and a the Tower of Terror 10 Miler so I knew she had it in her to finish her first half!

My family and I were staying at the Yacht Club Resort. We set our alarm for 3AM and we headed down to the lobby to board a van and head out to the starting line. Banana in hand…doesn’t she look excited? My child is NOT a morning person.  She was about to really perk up.

Fireworks! And we were off! I can not tell you how much I love running with this kid!  We keep the exact same pace for the most part (slow and steady). We made our way from the start and took the turn onto World Drive. Actually, she decided she was going to “go for it” and had run ahead of me and then had a change of heart and waited for her ole mom. Mile 2 and we were keeping a 15-minute-mile pace.

Mile 2 Walt Disney World Half Marathon 2013

Excited to be passed by our good friend Kevin!

Walt Disney World Half Marathon 2013

Just before the 5K point heading under the Magic Kingdom Toll Plaza! “Caution Runners…Speed Bumps Ahead!” and there’s that smile!

Walt Disney World Half Marathon 2013

Best spectator sign at the Transportation and Ticket Center…

Walt Disney World Half Marathon 2013 best spectator

If you asked her, she would probably tell you this was her favorite spot on the course. Running under the water bridge right before passing the Contemporary Resort. What my camera failed to capture was the fella with the humongo Mickey Mouse gloves clapping at the top of the overpass.

Walt Disney World Half Marathon 2013

Excited! Mile 5! About to head into the Magic Kingdom for our run down Main Street USA! At this point we have been texting our friend Marc who is apparently right behind us. Will we hook up in time to run through Cinderella Castle together?

Walt Disney World Half Marathon 2013

She did it! She made it to the Magic Kingdom! First time running thru the park! Such a treat to share this special moment with my kiddo.

Walt Disney World Half Marathon 2013 Alexus Tinney

Loads of runners heading into Tomorrowland…

Walt Disney World Half Marathon 2013 tomorrowland

And we found Marc!

Walt Disney World Half Marathon 2013

The next mile Marc stuck with us. We got to run thru Cinderella Castle together as a trio. Something we had never done before. It’s so much fun to be able to run with friends during these events and the runDisney community is so amazing that we never feel like we are running alone.

After exiting the Magic Kingdom and heading past the Grand Floridian we heard a familiar voice coming up from behind. Our good friend Carrie! Her and her hubby Kevin (pictured in one of the photos above) have become great friends of ours because of our runDisney connection.

2013 walt disney world half marathon

Miles 7-11 are pretty uneventful. Just a straight shot back down World Drive and then the turn back into Epcot. We knew we were going to have to get a shot of her in front of the Mile 11 sign. This was a new record of ‘farthest distance run’. Up until this point, the Tower of Terror 10 Miler had been the longest distance run. #ProudMama

2013 walt disney world half marathon

Right after Mile 11 we were passed by another good friend to us…Katherine!

2013 walt disney world half marathon

Mile 13…Time for her photo finish!

2013 walt disney world half marathon

AND SHE DID IT!!! Officially a half marathoner at 14 years of age!

2013 walt disney world half marathon

runDisney…you changed our lives! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

To find out more about any of the runDisney endurance events please visit runDisney.com

For more on our 2013 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend experience check out My Story of Struggle and Enlightment in the 2013 Walt Disney World Marathon

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A big thanks to Disney for hosting our stay at the Yacht Club Resort and providing us with meals. I was not required to write this post and all opinions are my own.

15 Comments

  • what an awesome experience to share with your daughter. i’m a runner, almost daily, but aside from a few odds & ends of 5k’s, i’ve never taken the full jump into marathons/half marathons. i’d love to do a disney one, and would love even more to do one with one of my munchkins when they’re older! great post!!!

  • Angela says:

    I have loved watching, following, and reading about your experiences in Disney! Especially your runDisney journey with your daughter. So inspiring and it really makes me want to get out there and run! If only the weather would get warmer here in New England 🙂 congratulations!!

  • Oooh…If I can have any part in encouraging you and your family to sign up for a runDisney Half Marathon I would be SO HAPPY! They really are the best and once you do one, you’ll be hooked!

  • I hear ya. I do a lot of treadmill miles here throughout the year in Central Florida because of the heat. That, or running at like 10 o’clock at night. Thanks so much for your comment!

  • Michelle says:

    This is awesome! Congrats to your daughter for accomplishing something so amazing at such a young age! Hope I run into you two at some future runDisney races!

  • Will show this comment to her =) Ditto…hope to see you at a future event!

  • Diana says:

    Awesome story! Thanks for sharing. Congrats to both of you on such an accomplishment. I just started for my first RunDisney (not sure if it will be for Nov or next Jan) but my daughter and I have already talked about doing one when she gets older. She is only 6 1/2 now, so we have a little time to train. Reading your story I can just imagine us doing it in 8 years or so! 😉

  • I hope you decide to bring her down for your first runDisney race. Most race weekends have “Kids Races” on the days leading up to the main event. It’d be a good primer for her =) best of luck on your training and see you out on the course!

  • Abby says:

    Congrats to you and your daughter on such an inspiring journey! I would love to volunteer at a finish line of a marathon one day. That sounds awesome!

  • Beth Barbara says:

    i loved reading this! My daughter is 5, and i hope when she turns 14 we can run together. So wonderful to read about your experience running together!

  • If you ever feel like you want to volunteer for a runDisney race…Here’s the link http://www.rundisney.com/volunteer/disneyworld-marathon/

  • Thanks Beth. She really is the best running partner I could ask for. You may want to start out running a 5K with your daughter. Those usually have lower age limits =)

  • It must have been amazing to run with your daughter…congratulations to her on her first half marathon! I also loved hearing the story of how you were inspired to run after volunteering to handout medals, it’s so interesting to hear how everyone got their start running!

  • Thanks! I’m hoping its something she decides to do throughout her life

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