Relishing my race, and all the prep

Summer Sanders

Summer Sanders, flanked by princes, thoroughly enjoyed her race weekend at runDisney.

Summer on the Run is a 12-week blog and video series that follows former Olympic swimmer and avid runner Summer Sanders on her journey to train for Disney's Princess Half Marathon on Feb. 24.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, she will share training tips, and a little inspiration, as she gears up for the main event. Use hashtag #GoRun on Twitter to follow Summer and be part of the ongoing conversation.

Once you cross the finish line, everything else disappears. Your expectations, your tiredness, your doubt; they're all gone. They are replaced by pure elation and a sense of accomplishment that can't be beat.

Seeing all the smiling faces at Disney's Princess Half Marathon in Epcot on Sunday put it all in perspective. And it put me in the best mood! There I was, in the happiest place on earth, and there was nowhere else I'd rather be! Spider was right there with me, too.

This story began months and months ago when I decided to sign up for the half. But that seems so long ago, and I can hardly remember what was going through my head then, other than this might be fun. I'm just so glad I followed through and got to run in Walt Disney World on Sunday.

I had so many good days while training, and occasionally, an off day. My love of running kept me sane and my family kept it real with me. When I missed a long run -- yes, I didn't hit every training mark, who does? -- I let it go, and moved on to the next day. There was no sense in harping on anything negative when I had three months of training to do.

I kept it up (and so did many of you!) through the holidays, throughout the freezing Utah winter, and throughout the sports seasons of each of my two kids. I trained smart, maybe a bit light, and I enjoyed nearly every run. In fact, my kids loved many of them, too, since they came along with me for sprints around the block, laps in the pool, and bike loops around the neighborhood.

All of those days and moments added up to make this past weekend so special. It was finally time, and everything came full circle. On Friday, before I left for Orlando, I went to Skye's gymnastics meet. She was competing on the beam for the very first time, so there was no way I was going to miss it. She was so nervous that she didn't want to do it. It was the perfect time to tell her that you always have to get though those firsts -- they're the scariest -- and then each time it gets easier. Once she got over her fear, she competed with that drive I admire and that huge heart that I love so much. I had tears in my eyes; it was another proud mama moment for me.

After the meet, Spider and I took off for the airport -- we had our races and a whole lot of fun ahead of us. It felt so good to be heading toward something else magical after Skye's big day. I knew Spider would have a blast in Disney, so I didn't tell him how early the 5K would start on Saturday. There was no point in bringing that up when he was so excited. Once we were out on the course, he would be distracted by everything Disney, including all those characters and all the sights of Epcot. I myself couldn't wait!

Summer knows how great it feels to cross that finish line after training so hard. Have you crossed yours yet? If you're about to run your race, hold onto each moment, and enjoy everything from bib pickup to your post-race photo. If you just finished like Summer did, sit back, admire your medal, and give yourself a moment to rest; it won't be long before you're planning again… it's going to be a great year!

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