It was coming up to my one year anniversary as a Nurse at Ty Hafan when I saw an advert for a ‘RunDisney’ fundraising event on their website. The races took place in Disneyland Paris and you could enter a 5K, 10K or a Half Marathon. I’m not athletic in the slightest and I had never entered a race before but I immediately thought to myself ‘I could do the 10K’. I had fallen in love with my new role and was already thinking of ways I could help raise more money for our hospice.
The next day I asked my cousin, Abi, if she wanted to join me. Not only was she on board but she convinced me to enter the Half Marathon, ‘you’ve got six months to train’ she said. Well, six months became four weeks then four weeks became two days. To cut a long story short, at 06.30 in the morning on 22nd September I found myself at the start line for a thirteen mile race thinking to myself ‘yeah... I should have trained for this’.
Over the next few hours I experienced every possible emotion there is. To begin with it was exhilarating, we were running through the parks being cheered on by Disney characters and staff members. We even ran through Sleeping Beauty’s castle whilst the fountains were on, it was truly magical and I felt like I could run forever - until I got to the 9K marker. I wasn’t even half-way and I was already contemplating giving up, I had never felt so defeated - but then I reached the 12K marker. There were different Disney characters for every marker and this one was ‘Lilo and Stitch’. A young lady we recently cared for loved Lilo and Stitch and I had promised her I’d keep an eye out for them on my trip. Whether it was a sign or not, something clicked and I remembered why I was doing this and who I was doing it for. I was doing it for all the families I had met over the year, all the children I had fallen in love with.
Just before we left for Paris the family of this young lady had thanked us for everything we had done for her, but the truth is, it’s us that feel thankful. She was an incredible young lady and it was an honour to be a part of her life. Our motto at Ty Hafan is ‘making a short life a full life’ but it’s our lives these kids touch and change forever. Running a few more miles didn’t even compare to the battle these families faced daily.
By the 13K marker I had vomited and was starting to feel very lightheaded but I came across yet another sign. The father of a little girl we cared for earlier in the year had given me her bunny rabbit to run with, as I passed this marker a runner appeared in front of me with the name of this little girl on her t-shirt. I became even more determined than ever and by some miracle I eventually reached the 19K marker. This was when I started getting emotional, apparently this is normal but I couldn’t hold back the tears and cried solidly for a good ten minutes until I reached the 20K marker! Suddenly I had half a mile to go and I couldn’t believe it, I had one last burst of energy and ran as fast as I could, all the way to the finish line. I felt euphoric.
It has been a week since and I can honestly say it was one of the best experiences of my life, they were lying when they said ‘every mile is magic’ but I already can’t wait to do it all over again! It was so well organised and when we weren’t running we were exploring the Disney parks and watching the parades or fireworks. Myself, Abi and my colleague Layla (who ran the 10K race) can’t recommend this event enough, not only did we get medals that put all other medals to shame but we have raised over £3800 between us.
Abi has convinced me to run 36K next time, which is all three races in one weekend. I’ve got over a year to train she says...