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This weekend has been one I have anticipated for a long time. It started two years ago, when scrolling through Facebook posts. One of my friends from undergrad was sharing pictures of her running the Glass Slipper Challenge at Disney World. It looked like so much fun, and I was hooked.

What is the Glass Slipper Challenge (GSC)? Well, as it’s now called, the Fairy Tale Challenge (FTC) is a challenge event in the Princess Half-Marathon Weekend in which participants complete a 10k on Saturday and a half-marathon on Sunday, and then receive an extra awesome-looking medal in exchange. At this point, I was gearing up to do my first half-marathon in about a month and the challenge sounded like fun (I was so naive).

After that first half-marathon, I did not walk normally for at least a week (my ankle did not appreciate crowned roads it appeared) and let the idea of the GSC/FTC go. I was not fully trained for that one, due to prelims preparation and my research that was ramping up in the month or two leading up to the race.

Over time, my enthusiasm for the FTC returned. (I quickly forgot about my vow to never do another half-marathon). I decided that I wanted to participate during my M4 year, as the more-flexible-than-M3-year schedule would allow me to properly train and complete the blockbuster event.

Training started off shaky, mostly because I was supposed to start thrice-weekly runs during interview season. I dutifully packed my exercise clothes and running shoes in my already bulging suitcase. I worked out once at my first interview. Oops.

Thankfully, I was much more diligent about my training once interviews ended and felt much more confident about my success. In this case, I defined success as the ability to continue touring the parks even after finishing the half-marathon. I was able to achieve that, even if my walk looked a little…off… for parts of Sunday and Monday. And, best of all, I was able to get a picture with Belle (my favorite princess) while wearing my Belle costume after the 10k!

My family and I had so much fun sampling Disney World’s newest rides and revisiting our favorite blasts from the past. I am so grateful for the medical school environment that allows me to pursue my goals, even if they are not medically related. I am also happy that the medical tent did not need to be a stop on our touring plan 😉

Training for a half-marathon can be similar to medical school – both involve a significant input of time and effort, and can sometimes make you wonder whether you want to keep going. But that’s what makes it even more exciting and rewarding when you push through and achieve more than you had previously thought possible.

This past weekend has been amazing, and thankfully helped me forget (occasionally) that rank lists are now finalized and all that’s left to do is wait. Fingers crossed for all the graduating med students out there anxiously waiting, too, and congrats to those who already learned their fate!

Sara is a fourth-year medical student at UMMS. When not in the hospital, she can usually be found on the golf course or at a Michigan sporting event cheering on the Wolverines.