We all have our reasons of why we want to run at Disney. For Kimberly Markey, it is a way to keep her motivated as she beats breast cancer! She has graciously offered to answer a few questions about her remarkable journey – which includes running in the midst of cancer treatment. Talk about an inspiration!
How did your running journey begin?
I am a working mother of two and a lifelong Disney enthusiast. At age 36, I took up running to cross “running a marathon” off my bucket list and fell in love. Running has become my release and therapy. I pass on my love of running by volunteering for the Hartford Marathon Foundation coaching run/walk/run first-time marathoners. Since finishing my first 2009 Walt Disney World Marathon, I have run 24 half marathons and 15 Full Marathons, but my favorite, and those I plan my life around, are the runDisney weekends.
Tell us a little about your cancer diagnosis.
On July 8, 2013 (coincidentally my 5-year runniversary), I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was 41 years old and since I have the BRCA2 breast cancer gene I decided to have a bi-lateral mastectomy with reconstruction. Recovery was tough, but I had the goal of getting to the start line of the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend. 30 days post-op I was given the okay to run the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend events with my family.
We know you are a runDisney fanatic – especially lately! How many runDisney races have you participated in?
I have participated in 35 runDisney races and currently have 47 runDisney medals. In 2014, I ran the Dopey Challenge, all the races at Tinker Bell Half Marathon and Princess Half Marathon Weekends. I plan to run all the races at Disneyland Half Marathon, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler, Wine & Dine and Avengers weekends.
- Walt Disney World Marathon: 2009
- Goofy Challenge 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
- Dopey Challenge 2014
- Walt Disney World Family Fun Run 5K: 2011, 2012, 2013
- Disneyland Half Marathon: 2011, 2012
- Disneyland Dumbo Double Dare Challenge: 2013
- Disneyland Family Fun Run 5K: 2012, 2013
- Disney Princess Half Marathon: 2013
- Glass Slipper Challenge 2014
- Disney Princess Royal Family 5K: 2013, 2014
- runDisney’s Castaway Cay 5K: 2013
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler: 2013
- Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run: 2013
- Wine and Dine Half Marathon: 2013
- Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K: 2013
- Tinkerbell Half Marathon: 2014
- Tinkerbell 10K: 2014
- Never Land Family Fun Run 5K: 2014
The treatment for your cancer was tough enough, what made you continue to run and race throughout it?
Chemotherapy is hard because you can’t plan how your body is going to react to the treatment. Before my diagnosis, I had already secured my race entries for the fall season. My medical team allowed and encouraged me to continue running through treatment because exercise tends to help the body tolerate the chemotherapy drugs. Running also aided me in keeping my sanity. I’m proud to say that I was able to run all but two of my scheduled races including two World Majors – the Chicago and New York City full marathons.
With Dr. Nerenstone, my medical oncologist, showing off all my medals earned while undergoing breast cancer treatment up until my final chemo “therapy” (Aug-Jan). That’s 3 full marathons (including 2 world majors), 5 half marathons, 1 10-miler, 3 10Ks, 5 5Ks, plus a Dumbo, Goofy, Dopey and a Coast to Coast! (Total medal count – 21)
With a chemo treatment just days before the Dopey Challenge (followed immediately by Tinker Bell), how did you train and approach the races?
I have been following Jeff Galloway’s run/walk/run method since training for my first Goofy Challenge back in 2010. I spoke with Jeff during the 2013 Wine & Dine Health and Wellness Expo about training to Boston Qualify once I recovered from surgery. Jeff wanted to begin training right away and coach me through Dopey, Tinker Bell and the Princess Races. He put together a plan that allowed shorter run/walk/run ratios. I followed his plan and when I didn’t have the energy to run, I walked. His coaching and the base of millage and endurance I had built prior to my diagnosis allowed me to get through these events.
We heard that you had a special visit from the runDisney team as part of the Why I runDisney campaign! What was your favorite part about this?
Yes, I was selected to be one of runDisney’s featured stories during Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend for their irunDisney website. I am anxiously waiting the video release which should be unveiled shortly. My favorite part of the experience was sharing my story – every moment is precious and to live life to the fullest. If you have a goal you can do anything as long as you believe in yourself.
What runDisney race has been your favorite?
I was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a bi-lateral mastectomy on July 30, 2013. My family had already registered for the Disneyland Family Fun Run 5K during WDW Marathon Weekend and there was no way I was going to miss it. It was my goal to get well enough to run the race with my family on August 31, 2013 as well as the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge. Crossing the finish line together plus celebrating my 1st race back from cancer made the entire Disneyland Half Marathon weekend my favorite.
When it comes to the course, I would give the Tinker Bell Never Land Family Fun Run 5K my top ranking as my favorite runDisney race. This race begins in Disneyland’s central hub with Tinker Bell and fireworks starting the race!
What runDisney races are you looking forward to?
Wow! That’s a tough question. I would have to say – ALL of them! And that is why I register for all the runDisney races because I look forward to each one of them equally. I really enjoy the planning where we are going to stay, eat and wear – all this makes the events special to me.
A big thank you to Kimberly for taking the time to chat with us. We can’t wait to continue to follow your amazing journey as you kick cancer!
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