The Casual Runner

My First Mile: Laura Eaton

My First Mile

Guest Contributor: Laura Eaton

Laura joins the growing collection of Casual Runners
sharing their First Mile Stories.
If you want to be inspired by so many who achieved so much,
check out our First Mile Series Now!

Laura, a Casual Runner in her own right, is a good friend of Casual Runner and Casual Adventurer.  You may think you already know Laura from her husband, Jason’s, First Mile, but get ready to hear about HER First Mile.  She is a contributor of Disney Good Eats, which makes her quite the Disney foodie.  You can find her enjoying the theme parks or crafting her next race costume.  

Be sure to check out Disney Good Eats by following them on Instagram & Twitter.

Various Races

My actual first mile, to me, is not that inspiring of a story: I found out upper management at my job ran and did races, so I started to do races too for the networking. The End.

So, instead, I am going to tell you about my Love/Hate Relationship with Running and the      experience that could have brought any runner down, but I used it to raise me up.

I started participating in races way back in 2008. I was running Disney before there was an actual RunDisney, which is a fact I hold near to my heart. (Trust me though, the bling was subpar compared to today’s standards!) By the end of 2009 I had done countless 5ks, 10ks, a Mud Race and the amazing 13k that once was at Hollywood Studios. I was at my peak physically and felt better health wise than I ever had before.

About to cross from Asia to Europe in a race!

Then…life happened…personal life to be specific. I let areas of my personal life take over the time I had spent on my healthy habit of running. I stopped running- Completely. Between the end of 2009 to the end of 2012 I had only attempted one race. A 10k in my town, which I could barely finish. I was literally the last runner.

In Fall of 2012 I said “enough is enough” with not taking care of myself and I signed up for the Jingle Jungle 5k at Animal Kingdom that November. I trained as much as you can for a 5k, which was much tougher than it was before. I finished the 3.1, but definitely felt the pain all over my body from being so out of shape and edging on 300 lbs. I didn’t let that stop me though! The same day of that race I signed up for my first Half Marathon ever, the 2013 Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World. I remember thinking I was crazy, but I was going to do it!

For the next 4 months I trained harder than I had ever before. I got shin splints, lost toenails, and learned the importance of correct footwear. I trained and trained and when the time came for the race, I was nervous, but sure that I could make it.

2013 Princess Half Marathon… still the calm before the storm

I remember feeling good at the start, I remember seeing the character photo stops, and stopping for them. I remember entering Magic Kingdom and being overcome with emotion at what I was doing and how I never thought it was possible. I remember stopping and talking to my Mom who was so proud of me. Then I remember turning the corner in Tomorrowland just in time to see the “Balloon Ladies” pass me. I remember running with all my might to keep up with them. I remember the bikes starting to pass telling me how far behind I was. I remember passing the halfway mark….and that is it; that was the end for me. Disney doesn’t mess around if you get behind their “Balloon Ladies”. I was swept from the course at mile 8; a huge bus pulled across the road and anyone behind it had to load on and ride it back to the Runner Reunion Area.

I was ashamed. I had to call my Mom and tell her the news, but she did what any mother would do: told me how proud she was of me. I cried the whole way back to the parking lot where they gave me the finisher’s medal but I refused to let them put it around my neck. I went home, wallowed in self-pity and started the blame game. Saying it was the race organizer’s fault and they should be more understanding. I was never doing another race again.

That went on for about a day, then I snapped out of it. It was me who was completely at fault. I should have been more aware of time spent on photos and the six minutes I stopped to talk to my family. (I still can’t believe I did this) I decided then and there that I was not going to let that happen again. That I still had not completed my goal. I still had a Half Marathon to Finish.

That whole next year was spent running and training. I worked so hard and when registration opened for the 2014 Princess Half Marathon, not only did I sign up again for that race, I decided to do the Glass Slipper Challenge. I was going to come back stronger and exceed my goal I set a year earlier.

2014 Enchanted 10K, my Mom’s first 10K

The week of the races came and I was more prepared than the year before and I was so happy to have my Mom there with me doing her first 10k ever! That 10k was smooth sailing; no issues, no worries. Same can’t be said for the half marathon the next morning: I was a nervous wreck!

My adrenalin was pumping and I was full throttle for the first half of the race. My Mom, my lifetime supporter, was once again on Main Street to cheer me on. Though this time she was just a blur, as stopping was not an option. I felt good as I literally kissed mile 8 goodbye! Then…the ramps and hills came, which I was not prepared for since I had only trained in Flat Florida. By Mile 11 I was swearing like a sailor under my breath and could not wait for the torture to be over. I entered Epcot and gave it my final bit of energy to run through Future World and make the U turn back to Spaceship Earth. With the end so close, there was no stopping me!

Finish at the the 2014 Princess Half Marathon: Mission Accomplished!

I remember hearing the cheers and screams and music. I remember trying not to cry as I entered the finishers chute. I remember finding my Mom in the crowd and seeing nothing but beaming pride on her face as her Baby Girl crossed her first Half Marathon Finish Line. I remember the joy and sense of accomplishment that came from knowing I finally did it.

Since then I have casually run a few more Half Marathons (getting engaged at the end of 2016 Donald Duck Half Marathon!), an arsenal of other varying length races and I have run across 2 continents.

So, moral of the story: Don’t let the bad days, or bad runs get you down. Don’t let them win. Use them to empower yourself to get back up and do better next time. You may surprise yourself at what you are capable of.


Be sure to check out Disney Good Eats by following them on Instagram & Twitter.

Laura joins the growing collection of Casual Runners sharing their First Mile Stories.
If you want to be inspired by so many who achieved so much,
check out our First Mile Series Now!

Enjoy the freedom of going wherever your feet, imagination, & determination take you!

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Enjoy the freedom of going wherever your feet, imagination, & determination take you!