I’ve mentioned before in my running blog about my DR friends, but for those of you who’ve never made friends on the Internet, it may seem a little strange. Total strangers from all walks of life and all parts of the country getting together and wearing identical shirts and hats does sound a little bizarre, I realize. The reality, though, is that people are always united by their common interests and it’s easy to be friends with people who are both runners (all those endorphins, you know) and Disney fanatics (it is, after all, the Happiest Place on Earth) because we’re so happy all the time!
The Royal Family 5K and Kids Races took place on Saturday, March 7. Sarah Kate was signed up for the kids’ race and I decided to do the 5K this time – a first for me, as I usually only take part in the endurance races. I set a new 5K PR, but not in a good way – as it was a fun run only, I barely trotted through the course that wound through EPCOT and ended up with a time in the vicinity of 38:38 (fully 7 minutes slower than my previous slowest time). I got a photo of myself with Cinderella and Her Man with the finish line in the background, though, so how awesome is that?
A short time later, Sarah Kate and I lined up at the back of the kids’ corral, and another DR mom, Caly, was there with her daughter, Tara. She and Sarah Kate hit it off and after a little bit they were off, with Tara and the other kids quickly disappearing out of sight. Although Sarah Kate was still way behind, I was remembering her pace from last year’s Minnie and feeling good about the progress she had made since then. As we were turning the corner, Tara and Caly reappeared – Tara had wanted to come back to check on Sarah Kate. Caly and I encouraged Tara to go on ahead to the finish, reassuring her that Sarah Kate was just slower than she was and that we were fine, so Tara turned back toward the finish.
As we approached the bleachers, the orange glow of our DR friends came into view – the entire group had stayed to see the kids race, even though none of them had brought their own children. Sarah Kate had fallen and her knee was bleeding, but she began to beam when she heard the cheering. The announcer stated that a very special princess, #393, was coming and encouraged everyone to clap for her. I began to get emotional as I realized that not only were my DR friends cheering for my baby, but so were many other total strangers. As difficult as the race was for me (it’s tough to have your baby have to work so hard and be so far behind), it was worth it to see the smile on her face as she waved to the spectators.
I looked toward the finish line and realized that Tara and Caly were actually coming back toward us. When they reached us, I thanked Caly for coming back and told her how much it meant to me, but she said that it was Tara’s idea – she didn’t want to finish without her friend – and had stopped short of finishing to come back. They crossed the line together and got their medals, and I began to think about what a beautiful thing I had just witnessed. First, the support and camaraderie from the women (and a few men) of DR, and then the devotion of a young child to her new friend.
In the words of Thomas Fuller, “Friendships multiply Joys and divide Griefs.”