Every runner has a story about how they started and what motivates them to keep going. Taylor Thompson recently shared her personal journey with the Shokz team, reflecting on her first marathon with Girls on the Run, completing runDisney, and taking on the Dopey Challenge. Her words are filled with confidence and positivity and we hope it inspires you to chase after your goals, whatever they are.
Could you walk us through how you initially got into running?
My Running journey began a long time before I had heard about runDisney. I was 10 years old and my mom signed me up for an afterschool running program, which is now one of the biggest organizations in the country- Girls on the Run. Girls on the Run taught me I could be uniquely me in every part of my life but that I could also do anything that I set my mind to.
My very first 5K race was with Girls on the Run in the Fall of 2004 and it will always be one that I will remember. I actually fell about halfway through this race, tripping over some tree roots. I sat for a second, but only for a second because I got RIGHT BACK UP and kept going. I could’ve stopped. I could’ve given up. But Girls on the Run taught me there will be highs and lows…and my gosh that was definitely a low and so embarrassing.
I’m glad I got up though, because I have been running ever since. I first heard of runDisney in 2014 while I was in college. I knew one day my first half marathon would be at Disney and told myself I would NEVER run a Marathon. Well… that of course changed in 2022!
What kept you motivated to keep running?
In every single race I have ever run, family has always been my motivation to get to the finish line. In nearly every race either my mom, my dad, my stepdad, my stepmom, my husband and now my daughter have been waiting for me or cheering me on at the end.
What inspired you to take on the Dopey Challenge for a second time in 2023, and how did your motivation differ from the previous year?
Putting in the work during my first Dopey in 2022, my biggest motivation/motivator was my husband. We had signed up for the Walt Disney World Half Marathon 2021 that got canceled and we were looking to sign up again for 2022. I remember it clear as day - him asking me if I just wanted to do it all…aka do Dopey. I looked at him like he was crazy and we spent the next 3 hours in the car discussing if we could physically do it. I was only 5 months postpartum at the time but by the end of the car ride, I had somehow agreed to doing Dopey. Me? A Marathoner?
I questioned myself every long training run, but knowing my husband was going to be there with me was my motivation to keep going. He was also my motivation for Dopey #2, the following year in 2023; however, this time it was my idea. The minute I crossed the finish line in January 2022 I knew I wanted to do it again. We crossed all 8 finish lines together and I knew again at the end of Dopey 2023, it would not be my last time. I was fortunate enough to secure a bib with Girls on the Run for Springtime Surprise this past year and it truly was me coming full circle, giving back to the community who got me to where I am today. Now I am signed up to do Dopey again in 2024. This time, my motivation is the runDisney family. A different type of family that I have gained throughout my years at runDisney.
My husband after multiple injuries opted out of Dopey for this year and after a ton of thinking, I decided I wanted to do it just one. more. time. I see the people on the course who have fought bigger battles than me, the rollDisney athletes, and those a part of the athletes with disabilities and I think, wow, look at these amazing people completing these amazing things. Their strength is what has kept me going during each race.
This next Dopey will be the hardest not having my husband running with me, but when I think about why I keep running Disney- it is because the people I have surrounded myself with in the community are truly my family. Every single runner has a different journey to get to that finish line, but we all cross the same confetti filled line at the end. That is the motivation to keep going.
What aspect of the runDisney community and its support drives you to keep pursuing these challenges?
My giant runDisney family. I do it for them. I do it for the people who can’t. I especially do it for my husband and daughter. Most importantly I do it FOR ME. I may not be able to always run or do marathons or do crazy things like Dopey. Life is too short to not do the things that make you happy. Life changes in an instant and I want to make sure I live every day proud of what I have done.
I want to show my daughter that you can get past every obstacle, which includes gruesome training miles pushing her in the stroller. When she looks at me and says “Emmy go running with Momma” I know that I am making an impact on her and sharing something I love with her.
Do you have any advice you would like to give to other runners?
I feel like I have so much to say to fellow runners but I feel like the biggest thing I want to say is don’t let anyone control your journey. You are in the driver’s seat. If someone tells you that you can’t do something, prove them wrong. So many times people have come to me and said that someone told them they couldn’t run a half marathon or a marathon, and it is in my competitive nature to prove them wrong. My favorite question to ask when someone says “they can’t” is “why can’t you?” The end of the universe is the limit. So if you want something enough, you can make it happen.
Put in the work, and don’t ever give up. Training and running has highs and lows. There are good weeks and there are bad weeks, but the bad weeks are the life changing ones that we need to come back stronger than ever from. Those are the important ones. Always believe in yourself and you can do anything you set your mind to. If runDisney has taught me anything it’s that every mile is magical in its own special way and to surround yourself with the people who are going to be at that finish line with you every time!