Mental Health and Addiction Treatment for Teens and Adults

Magic in Every Mile: Danielle’s Disney Half-Marathon Journey

Many of you know Danielle DeMarco, one of our lead therapists here at Elevate Health and Wellness. What you may not know however, is that Danielle is an avid runner and she recently completed another race at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. We took a few minutes to catch up with Danielle to learn more about her inspiring journey to becoming a runner!

When did your running journey begin? What inspired you to begin running?

I began my running journey in 2016, never running a day in my life. During this time period in my life, I struggled with anxiety myself. Someone encouraged me during this time to try getting into running as a way to focus on my breathing, and working on controlling my breath. Little did I know this hobby would become a new passion of mine. That year, I made a goal to run my first half marathon, to continue to promote breathing and building healthy habits, and completed that half marathon in 2017. Fast forward 6 years later, I have completed four 5ks, one 10k, four Half Marathons, and one Marathon.

What motivates you to run?

I have always been a very competitive person, and one thing I adore about running is not being competitive with others, but rather racing against myself, while supporting and encouraging other runners to continue to the finish line. Running has always motivated me to promote healthy habits, as well as my own coping skill to promote staying present in the moment. I am blessed to be able to say I have done multiple races with family members, who often inspire me to continue with these crazy distances.

What is it like running in Disney?

Disney has always held a special place in my heart, through the nostalgia of the movies, as well as being able to experience going to the parks as a child with my family. Running these races in Disney has and will always hold a special place in my heart, and has built so many memories I will always remember. The community on ‘race day’ has always been so warm, welcoming, and supportive of each other. Whether you are the first person or the last person to cross the finish line, you truly feel all the love from everyone in the community cheering for you until the event is over. Disney truly makes running 19.3 miles in a weekend feel magical!

What advice do you have for someone interested in running their first race and aren’t sure where to begin?

I wish there was a secret to share, or a ‘magic potion’ I could give everyone that could turn you into a runner overnight. The biggest secret is being patient with yourself, holding yourself accountable, and challenging yourself to do anything you set your mind to. Allow yourself to become your biggest cheerleader throughout the process, and most importantly, just have fun with it. Make this decision for yourself, and enjoy every moment that follows.

One of my favorite quotes is from Walt Disney, and he stated “If you can dream it, you can do it”. Since a young age this quote resonated with me, and I have carried it through adulthood as determination to challenge myself to do the impossible. I believe anyone with a goal of achieving a race has the potential of doing so. The biggest challenge you will experience is yourself. Races are such a huge mental game; no one talks about the mental stress you endure, whether you are running 1 mile, 26.2 miles, or anything in between…Allow yourself to challenge those thoughts.

It is so rewarding crossing the finish line, you forget about all the challenges you endure throughout the race or training process. Remind yourself of the potential you have. No matter what the distance is, whatever your completion time is. Remind yourself of the accomplishments created, and prove to yourself that you truly can do anything you set your mind to.

* * *

“Faith, trust, and a dash of pixie dust” — Congratulations on another successful race, Danielle. We are so proud of you!