Saturday, March 2, 2013

Disney Princess Half Marathon - 2013

I had high expectations for the Princess Half Marathon.  This was THE RACE that made me start running!!  I didn't really know if I was going alone or with family until about 3 weeks before the event.  In the end, my mom and two children flew down with me and my friend Chris came in from California.  We came in Friday night and I had been reading all day Friday on FaceBook what a mess the expo was - three hour waits to get your race shirt and impossibly long lines just to get into the official merchandise area!  I decided to get to the expo ASAP on Saturday morning and was prepared for the worst.  Fortunately, I was able to get my bib, race gear and a few things at the official merch area in about an hour.  I will say that we had to wait in a looooong line just to get in since we got there before it opened.  As we left, that line outside was even longer and the lines inside had gotten crazy long as well.  Compared to the Tinkerbell expo, this WAS a disaster.  I was happy to get in and out so quickly.
Me with my sash and tiara at the expo.
We spent Saturday at Animal Kingdom - trying to take it easy, but it was still more heat and walking than I probably should have done.  We did leave at closing, so I was in bed by 9pm.  I set my alarm for two times - the first was 2:15am so I could get up and get ready.  The second was for 3:15am, which is when I needed to meet Chris and get to the buses.  I was dressing up as Merida from Brave in her royal dress, complete with giant, puffy, ridiculous wig.  I was a little self-conscious about the wig and didn't want to look like a dork, but I was going to figure that out in the morning and ditch the wig if I didn't feel good in it.  The weather was calling for 70 degrees and 100% humidity at race start, so ditching the wig as definitely on the table.

So, I sleep peacefully and the alarm goes off.  I had built in a 9 minute snooze to the plan, so I hit snooze and let myself wake up slowly.  But then my text message goes off.  It's a text from Chris asking if I'm ready to go.  What?  It's 2:15, right?  NOPE!  My 2:15am alarm was set to WEEKDAYS ONLY, so the alarm that just went off was the 3:15 one.  I absolutely FREAKED OUT.  I had come all this way and had such big expectations and I wasn't even going to make it to the bus!!  I had thankfully laid out all my race gear the night before and threw it on like a crazy person.  I put on the wig and some quick make-up, but not the original eye rhinestones I had planned, and was out the door by 3:40am.  I also had no time to debate the ridiculousness of the wig, so on it went and my dorkiness factor just shot through the roof!
Annnnd ready to go in 20 minutes!  This photo has no indication of the STRESS I was feeling!!

We caught the second bus from All Star Music and after what seemed like a long bus ride, got dropped off at the staging area.  My adrenalin was still pumping through the roof but I did manage to calm down on the walk to the corrals.  It seems like people were already walking toward them when I arrived so I followed the herd.  The corrals were pretty damn far away.  I waited in Corral C for about 45 minutes before they started letting the earlier corrals go.  At Tink, it seemed more like people wanted to socialize, but no one around me really seemed too talkative or friendly, so I just watched the big screens where they interviewed the gal that came in last at Tink and Sean Astin. We got nice fireworks each time a corral was let go and finally it was our turn!

You know how they say not to run too fast the first few miles of a race?  Well, no problem because it was literally elbow to elbow people.  I started my run/walk and had a terrible time trying to navigate through the walkers, and meanwhile was getting bumped pretty badly by the runners behind me.  It certainly wasn't ideal racing conditions.  The first 4 miles were kinda miserable.  It was warm and humid.  I couldn't get a good groove with run/walk due to the crowded conditions.  I was not really having fun.  I don't even remember much in the way of entertainment along those first few miles.  I never thought I wasn't going to make it to the finish line, but I was a little sad that this experience was going to be something to "get through" and not really ENJOY.  I was basically walking at this point because I just couldn't make running intervals work.  I was discouraged at my pace and sweating my beetonk off in that wig.  I just wanted to keep it on until the castle and then I was seriously thinking of taking it off and tying it to my quiver.  And then, like Disney magic, we were entering Magic Kingdom and I started getting emotional.  How many times when I trained, did I think about this moment?  Running down Main Street!!  It was happening!!  And I did get to run because suddenly, it seemed everyone started running too. 

Running down Main Street was the highlight of the race!
We passed lots of photo ops before the castle - Buzz Lightyear, Alice & the Mad Hatter, Gaston, Belle, Minnie & Mickey at the back of the castle - but the lines were simply INSANE.  I mean, like 40 people deep.  Knowing my pace was a little slower, I just didn't see any photo op that was worth the wait.  Especially when I had just done so many at the Tink.  So I ran through the castle (and I did get to run again - I heard many people had congestion through the castle, but my trip through was smooth) and stopped for a photo out in front.

Yay!  Now I can take the wig off, right??
We went through Frontierland, again passing long lines and no one I really wanted to wait for.  In truth, I wanted two photo ops: Stitch and Merida.  I never saw Merida (I later found out she as in the Race Retreat only), but I knew Stitch had to be along at some point.  So we exited Magic Kingdom and went back to the long, boring roads.  At the half-way point, they played that dreary Alicia Keys song about being on fire.  I don't care for that song and it's not particularly a good running song, IMO, but it was nice to know I was half-way.  I was having more fun since going through MK and now I was looking for Stitch with a comfortable amount of time to wait in line.  It was still pretty crowded, but I was able to run/walk a little more and I was happy about that.  Then, after Mile 7, I saw Stitch!!  I got in a 3 minute line and was one away from my turn when Stitch left in a golf cart?  WHAT??  I must have made some kind of noise that indicated I was crushed, because the Cast Member said Stitch would be back in 10 minutes and I could wait.  So I did.  I watched at least 1000 people run by, but I was getting this photo!!  When Stitch came back, they let me go first since I had been waiting (another lady waited too) and I was pretty excited about my photo op with Lilo & Stitch!

The photo op responsible for a 26 minute mile!
By this point, I was having fun and forgot my wig was hot.  Since I had a Bondi Band on underneath it, sweat wasn't running into my face at all, so I decided to leave it on to the end.  I also decided I was far enough ahead of the sweepers, that I was going to stop at every photo op on the last half of the course.  Which I did!  It was a lot of people that weren't at the Tink, so I was jazzed about that.  I got pics with the Princes, Cap't Jack (He was at Tink, but I didn't stop), Pocahontas, Mulan, Mrs. Incredible, the Genie from Aladdin, and Princess Atta - as well as a giant banner with Princesses (but no Merida).  The last half of the Half flew by!  I was looking for this "hill" that everyone talks about and I was confused to see the Army Man because I thought he was part of it.  I then looked back and realized the "hill" was so gradual that I didn't know I was going up.  The hills in Raleigh definitely prepared me for this!!  I laughed to myself and when I got to the top of the "hill", I could see the Epcot ball not too very far away.  I could also see at least 1000 runners (or more) behind me.  I got the best surprise at Mile 12 - my family was there!!  I ran over and hugged them - immediately starting to cry, because seeing the people that mean the most to you when you are physically and mentally exhausted is just the best feeling ever.  That gave me the energy to push on to the end, for sure!  I heard the gospel choir and I cried again!  It was another one of those moments I'd envisioned during training and here it was!!  I saw the finish line with Minnie & Mickey on either side right before you cross.  I was closer to Minnie, so I stopped for one last pic.

The clock time was 4:16, but my chip time was 4:00:11.
I was pretty unhappy with my time, but due to the humidity and heat, I'm going to give myself a pass.  I wanted to check my average moving time, but for some reason, my Garmin didn't save my run.  At Tink, it was 3:19 with cool temps and no humidity.  I can only imagine that it was a little longer this time.

Did the Princess live up to the hype?  Well, the beginning was a nightmare because I woke up late and had no time to mentally prepare myself.  The middle part with Main Street and the Castle was everything I wanted it to be - just absolutely magical.  The last half was a blast!  And the best part was that I got my Coast To Coast medal and completed a goal I had set for myself more than a year before, as I sat on the couch.  For those reasons, I'm going to give the Princess a thumbs up.  Yes, the expo was kinda a mess and yes, there were too many people on the course, but as an experience I had dreamed about, it was all I wanted it to be.  Even in my big dorky wig, I felt like a fierce princess!

Me with my three medals!!  Yay!!  Goal completed!!


  1. Loved reading your recap! We've added your link to our post of recaps, too! :-)

  2. I'm thinking of running Tower of Terror 10 miler in a wig...(Cruella)...any tips? You looked fantastic btw!