This weekend I got a new tiara – and ran my personal best time in the Disney Princess Half Marathon, cutting out 15 minutes from my last race. Everything about this experience was wonderful, from spending time with my team, to Cinderella and Jasmine and Belle along the course, to my friends cheering me on at the end. It was truly wonderful.

The Disney Princess Half Marathon was full of pink, sparkle, and magic. I think that’s what Disney is so good at – creating an experience. I honestly couldn’t help but feel the magic of this weekend, everything was so perfectly set up and beautiful. The race was full of whimsy. I ran the entire race wearing a tiara, a pink, sparkle skirt over my running tights, and sparkly fairy dust in my hair. And I felt beautiful, too!

The course itself was set up to be fun. We ran through Epcot and the Magic Kingdom, and then all around Disney property before making our way back to Epcot. There were fireworks at the starting line, before each corral, which was a really exciting way to start. Water stops occurred at about each mile, and in between each water stop was some exciting form of entertainment, including a band (which played Journey as I ran by), characters in costume, exhibits (hello, Pirates of the Caribbean ship), drum lines, and a gospel choir at the very end. As I ran through Cinderella’s castle, trumpeters on the balcony majestically announced my arrival. The best part was the very end, where my friends from university were waiting to cheer me across the finish line. They even made me a sign!

Now that I’ve run two half marathons this year, I know that I can do anything. This race was all about feeling empowered as a woman – empowered to train hard and achieve a feat of extreme difficulty, to believe in the astonishing power of my physical ability, to love my body, to make changes in my life and to really live the way I want. As much as Disney World is a constructed experience, there is one thing that transfers back into reality, and that is: if you really want something, and you practice and dream, anything is possible. I am a woman who has come unbelievable distances this year – and I don’t just mean miles – and who has many more steps to take. And just knowing that I can accomplish what I set out to do, well, that is enough to take me just about anywhere. It’s easy to doubt and question, but all it takes is a moment like this to remind me just how strong I can be.

– Hannah