Category: Princess Half Marathon Weekend

Lessons Learned at the 2016 Princess Half Marathon

Another first timer at this year’s Princess Half Marathon! Adrienne is here today to share her experience as a first time runDisney runner at the Disney Princess Half Marathon, as well as some very valuable lessons learned while there.  Get ready to take notes!

***

2016-Princess-Half-Marathon-Race-Recap

The crystals of sugar lingering on your lips after biting into a warm Disney churro.
The chill of a smooth scoop of Dole Whips on a hot day.
Nostalgia taking over when you board one of Disneyland’s originals like Peter Pan, ridden by Walt Disney himself.

Who doesn’t love Disney?

I will shout it from the rooftops that there is no better place to do your first race than the Happiest Place on Earth!  Training for a half-marathon was the perfect thing to get me back in shape after having a baby and gave me a boost of self-confidence.

Knowing that I have the propensity to – let’s just be real here for a moment… chicken out – I decided to register for an out of town race with a higher price tag.  This may sound counter-intuitive to some of you, but I knew that if I had invested the money in airfare, hotel, etcetera, I wouldn’t back out.  When I came across the runDisney Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend, I knew I had found my happily-ever-after.  Every year, thousands of women (and a few good men!) flock to Orlando in tutus and tiaras. There is a strong mix of newbies and experienced runners.  Princess Weekend is HUGE. In the Women’s Half Marathon open division alone, there were 18,090 finishers with clock times between 1:22 and 3:30.

After hearing the horror and chaos of what is known as day one of the Expo, I decided to arrive on Saturday when the crowds had died down (This strategy will work if you’re ONLY running the half marathon; however, if you or your family are participating in the Kid’s Race, 5K, or 10K, you’ll need to get to the expo the day prior to your race: either Thursday or Friday).

I flew into Orlando International Airport where Disney Cast Members await your arrival and direct you to your courtesy shuttle.  After dropping off my bags at my Disney resort, I hopped on the shuttle to ESPN Wide World of Sports for the Expo (again- a free shuttle! Can you tell I am a fan of staying at the resort?).  The Expo is a shopper’s paradise and a critical pre-race stop not only for your bib and free race t-shirt, but any last minute items or memorabilia you may need.  There are vendors with the expected tutus and headbands, but they had everything from photo stations to electric foam rollers.  My favorite quote of the weekend from my husband: Princess Expo: Because who doesn’t want to win a box of instant rice? It’s just crazy nonsense, but was fun nonetheless!

2016-Princess-Half-Adrienne-Ramser-8

Between the resort restaurants and food courts, the parks, and Disney Springs, there are plenty of places help you carb load before your big race.  I chose to eat a late lunch/early dinner to ensure I got the carbs and protein necessary without waking up feeling bloated the next morning.  Remember, this isn’t your typical 8:00 am race; the fireworks go off at 5:30 am and you want to give your body time to breakdown those carbs.  Nobody wants to have to go to the bathroom during a race. Porta-potties. Enough said.

With my costume pressed and my bib attached, I went to bed around 7:30 and finally fell asleep around 8:30.  I woke up every hour thinking I was late. Alas, my alarm went off at 2:15 and it was time to get ready. Yes- you read that correctly. 2:15 am.

Don’t princesses need their beauty sleep? 

2016-Princess-Half-Adrienne-Ramser-3

The busses ran from 3:30-5:00 (there’s that free shuttle again!), but with the race starting promptly at 5:30, I wouldn’t risk taking anything later than 4:00 am.  When you get to Epcot where the race begins, the lines start at security and continue for just about everything. Photo ops. Bathrooms. Medical. Corrals. Everything.  I will say that I’ve never seen that many porta-potties in my entire lifetime let alone in one place, but it still wasn’t enough.  I was doing the dance waiting for my turn in line after what felt like an hour. This is a massive race, so I expected myself to get lost in a sea of princesses.  While it felt as if we were being rounded up like a herd of cattle to enter our corrals at 5:00 and some corrals not starting until after 6:30, I quickly gained leg room once the race began.

You may see on Facebook or some blogs about the massive amount of people and let others get in your head about the balloon ladies, but don’t let that dissuade you…the Race. Was. Amazing.

Adorable costumes. Beautiful friendships. Determined women.  Everyone was encouraging one another! The first female finisher was coming back on the other side as my corral was around the 2 mile mark and we all cheered and whistled for the princess flying on the other side of the median.  I didn’t realize the majority of the race is outside of the park, but it still felt Disney! Every mile or so, there was a different character on the side of the course available for photos.  While I stopped for a few of my favorites, I had the mentality that as fun as this race is, it’s still a race, so I couldn’t afford to stop for longer lines (I opted for the oh-so-classy “sweaty selfie” for those I just couldn’t completely skip over).

2016-Princess-Half-Adrienne-Ramser-5

Every mile has a marker and you have the ability to have updates sent to friends and family via text or Facebook with your pace and estimated finish time.  There is music at each character and mile marker and there were a few different marching bands that lined the course to lend some encouragement to those of us in need.

Around Mile 3, I crossed under the Magic Kingdom archway that gains you access to Magic Kingdom parking and about 30 minutes later, I was running down Main Street USA towards the castle.  Spectators raised banners of encouragement for loved ones and strangers hooted and high-fived.  There was a truly magical energy and it was emotional running towards the castle!

2016-Princess-Half-Adrienne-Ramser-6

After running a loop through Tomorrowland, we ran through the castle and past several characters.

2016-Princess-Half-Adrienne-Ramser-9

Miles 8-10 were definitely the toughest.  They were “dead miles” without much as far as music and runners were stepping off to the side to stretch and catch their breath. Toy Story Soldiers gave a much needed cadence around Mile 10 where all the women around me gave a spirited OORAH! going into the last 3.1 miles.

2016-Princess-Half-Adrienne-Ramser-7

Between the crowds cheering, the hallelujah choir, and Goofy waiting to high-five me as I ran by, I was on cloud nine! After crossing the finish line, I was sprinkled with pixie dust by a cast member and guided to an area where volunteers handed out drinks, mylar blankets, snack boxes and pointed us towards medical as necessary for things like ice and Advil.  My husband met me with roses and a tiara for his Disney Princess and my training partner and I caught up for a toast at the champagne tent.

2016-Princess-Half-Adrienne-Ramser-1

There are several runDisney events that take place each year at both Disneyland in Anaheim, CA and at Disney World in Orlando, FL.  I know Gaston says it’s not good for a woman to read, because “she’ll start getting ideas and thinking,” but I will tell you to read up! Do your research.  Each race has a different theme and each park (Disneyland and Disney World) has different accommodations and perks.

2016-Princess-Half-Adrienne-Ramser-4

Here are a few things I learned for my next runDisney event and some tips I thought would be helpful for yours:

Keep the End in Mind: Remember to have comfy shoes waiting for you at the end.  I’m definitely investing in a pair of Oofos before my next half! Stay somewhere with a hot tub! This would have been amazing after my race.  I am glad Disney World has affordable on-site options for the budget-conscious (check out the All Star Hotels here), but be sure to choose somewhere with the amenities that suit your needs.  On the subject of pools, don’t stay near the pool.  I am so glad we got a room in the back of the hotel, because the pool area was loud and busy from sun up til after 10:00 at night! Super fun, but way too loud for those trying to get to sleep by 8:00 for a pre-sunrise race.

Stay on Site:  Disney World provides a free shuttle to and from the airport and each park in addition to a luxury liner bus to get you to and from the race.  Several roads are closed and traffic is horrible on race day, so eliminating the stress of travel is priceless.  Disneyland has a few good neighbor hotels within walking distance, but let’s be real, who wants to walk further than they have to before a race?

Save Some, Spend Some: ChEAR Squad isn’t a necessity.  My husband was able to see me at 1.78 miles and was in the bleachers a couple hours later, watching me crossing the finish line.  There was also free spectator viewing around 5.3 miles inside the Magic Kingdom.  ChEAR squad is fun, but not necessary.  Save your money for the churros and Dole Whips.

Dress the Part: Have fun and dress up! Where else can you get away with dressing like Belle? With that being said, be reasonable with your costume.  I didn’t have any issues at all, but I did see several costume malfunctions that resulted in tutus and t-shirts sprinkled along the path.

Rules of the Road (Read up on Running Etiquette):  Other than long bathroom lines, the only thing that annoyed me was walkers on the left. It didn’t even frustrate me for the first 10 miles of the race, but at the end when I knew if I stopped I would have a hard time getting going again, I needed to keep going, but it was difficult if someone started walking on the left in front of me.

Mentality:  It’s easy to get frustrated with walkers on the left or anxious about the crowds, but if you’re excited and happy, it will be a great race! Furthermore, believe in yourself!
You don’t have time to be timid. You must be bold. Daring! –Lumiere, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

You, too, can complete your first runDisney event! After all, “all you need is faith, trust, and a little pixie dust!”

*****

2016-Princess-Half-Adrienne-Ramser-2Adrienne R. lives in Indianapolis, IN with her husband, baby boy, and two dogs. She is motivated by her faith, family, and friends to be the best she can be and is already dreaming of her next runDisney race!
Follow Adrienne on Facebook and Pinterest!

2016 Disney Princess 5K – A Family Affair!

A 5K is a great way to experience runDisney if you are just starting out running or if you want to just have a new, fun Disney experience.  Krista Wenzel is here today to share her experience at this year’s Princess 5K with her mom and sister…it was a family affair to remember!

***

2016-Disney-Princess-5K

The shortness of breath I was experiencing from the Disney Princess 5K on February 19th was not from running. The running had not even started. I was standing at the start line, very front in line, with my mom and sister waiting for the countdown. For so many months we had planned outfits, timing, and dreamed, and here was the moment. We were about to begin.

Rewinding a little, in July 2015, I decided to tackle my second Glass Slipper Challenge. Working with a travel agent, after having a near stress attack of not getting a slot online, I was asked which races I wanted. The Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend coincided with my mom’s 60th birthday week and my sister had been running for a couple years. Therefore, I made an executive and spontaneous decision to sign all three of us up for the 5K, as well as the Glass Slipper Challenge for just myself. It would be a first race for both my mom and sister, and what a fun birthday party I thought!

So after breaking the fun news, which both were a little shocked and hesitant, the Disney magic began to take shape. Because what would a runDisney event be without dressing up? It actually was pretty quick decision on who we wanted to dress up as: Minnie Mouse! For many years, we have all shared a love for Mickey and Minnie Mouse! So for a triplet idea, we all wanted to match as Minnie Mouse! A little homemade and a little bibbidity-bobbitidy-boo from the internet, we had our ensembles ready!

2016-Princess-5K-Krista-Wenzel-1

Race morning wake-up alarms came early, but our excitement got us up even before our alarms, SO excited were we!  So we all got into our ensembles and realized the magic that was going to be headed our way for the next few hours! Since we stayed at a Disney resort, we were very blessed that we didn’t have to worry about traffic or anything beyond just getting to our bus stop at a timely manner.

2016-Princess-5K-Krista-Wenzel-2

Once we took our short bus drive over, we realized being with other people who were as excited and nervous as us only got us more into the moment of it all! Once we finally arrived we took the short walk over, stopped for a photo, and were soon in the excitement of thousands of people getting ready for the 5K! There was music and so many fun costumes to admire all around! But we were ready to get over to our corral.

2016-Princess-5K-Krista-Wenzel-3

Apparently so ready we were first in line in our corral C! This year’s theme for the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend was Little Mermaid, so it was so fun to watch the corrals all around us fill with Sebastians, Flounders, Ariels, and yes, even, the evil sea witch herself, Ursala. So many fun interpretations made the 45-minute wait fly by! We even had some random racers tell us they had “liked” our photo we had posted on social media with the #Princess5k!

Suddenly, we were told to start walking to line up! This was it! The moment we had been training for! We lined up next to the start line and waited those painful moments of anticipation! And then, just like that! It was go time!

2016-Princess-5K-Krista-Wenzel-4

Running along side my mom and sister I couldn’t ask for a more fun experience. We do everything together, but this was a whole new level!

The first mile or so was pretty low key, not many characters or photo stops, mostly runners finding their stride. So we talked a lot, mostly pointed out different outfits and how creative people are in their interpretations of Disney characters like Donald and Daisy Duck or favorite Princesses.

At mile marker 1, it was time for the real fun to begin as we came into Epcot casting area and then World Showcase! Our favorite place to explore at Disney as a family has always been Epcot. We travel internationally, so a big pull of the Disney Princess 5K was running through our favorite area.  As we curved our way around World Showcase, we enjoyed favorites like Germany lit in a purple hue or Italy with its skyline in a romantic lighting. Of course, this picturesque run was set to the tunes of the Little Mermaid echoing across the park.

2016-Princess-5K-Krista-Wenzel-5

Mile marker 2 brought more fun as we came into the back-lot area of Epcot and into the Future World of Epcot. As we ran past “Turtle Talk with Crush,” we hit a milestone for my mom: she had now ran further than she had ever ran in her life at one time! It was pretty amazing to share that moment! The final half-mile was pretty much just a blur of excitement and fun running under Spaceship Earth and to the final push to the finish line!

2016-Princess-5K-Krista-Wenzel-6

Once we saw the finish line, I’ll never forget my mom saying, “I actually did it.” She was never a runner, and never one to join me for a run, but she just pushed herself and did an amazing job! My sister finished her first race and 5K, as well!! We decided to finish together at the same time, all with huge smiles! We did it!

2016-Princess-5K-Krista-Wenzel-7

2016-Princess-5K-Krista-Wenzel-8

My older sister was waiting for us three for a photo finish, and we gathered our medals, had some fun time at the after-math, and then headed to Magic Kingdom for coffee and rides! It was truly a magically fun time!

This was my second runDisney experience after my first Glass Slipper Challenge from last year, and it was truly more fun and exciting to share it with my family. Even as I did the 10k and the Half Marathon the following days, it was a bit of a downer to now have memories not to share. What an amazing birthday party for my mom and memories we will share for the rest of our lives!

2016-Princess-5K-Krista-Wenzel-9

 ***** 

Krista is a Disney enthusiast, loves to run, and has a passion for travel. Her multi-faceted career includes a professional tour guide in Washington DC and New York City, has worked in Congress, and works in agriculture business for her dad. In her free time, Krista loves to read, do anything active, and has been to over 30 countries and counting.

2016 Princess Half Marathon Weekend Health & Fitness Expo

All runDisney race weekends start with a trip to the Health & Fitness Expo.  Kristin Cooke is here to take us on a tour of this year’s Princess Half Marathon Weekend Expo and fills us in on all the ins and outs…including some stories from the craziness at opening!

***

2016 Princess Half Expo

I heard lots of stories from opening morning of the Expo. One girl had a wine glass taken out of her hand and the person ran away right after. A man stood in the checkout line with 3 different boxes of merchandise. Some girls were throwing wine glasses at each other and they broke. Apparently, there was a crush at the jacket table.

2016-Princess-Half-Expo-1

Luckily, I didn’t get in town until later Thursday night. So, I headed over to the Expo first thing Friday morning. My sister drove from the resort and we had no problem getting in and parked. We ended up in a gravel lot to the right of the main area.

2016-Princess-Half-Expo-2

2016-Princess-Half-Expo-3

We walked to the HP Field House to get our packets. The set up was slightly different this year. All packet pickups were on the ground floor. Since I was doing the Glass Slipper Challenge, I picked up my bib and immediately got my picture taken.

2016-Princess-Half-Expo-4

2016-Princess-Half-Expo-5

I also got my pre-ordered necklace and GSC pin at the same place. In a separate area, I picked up my race retreat bracelet. My sister got her 10k packet in a second area. The shirts for the Glass Slipper were also in this area.  After picking up everything, we followed the directions to the Dooney & Bourke pre-purchase area. I had ordered the shopper purse (the largest one) before they even showed the pattern. They dressed up the hallways with princess silhouettes and topiaries. There was no line for the pre-purchased items at all.

2016-Princess-Half-Expo-6

The Dooneys were in their own location. I walked right up and got my bag. I think it looks great. I love this pattern. It’s close enough to the original but not too childish to take to work. I had not pre-purchased any other items. There was a tape queue line on the floor. However, no one was in line.

Next to the pre-order area was an official merchandise area. It had a nice selection of items. The only thing that was completely sold out that I noticed was the Princess wine glasses. They had runDisney ones, but no Princess ones. Next to the Official Merchandise was the Dooney & Bourke area. I was surprised to see there were still Dooneys for sale. Either they had a lot more stock this year, or a lot of people disagreed with me about the pattern.

2016-Princess-Half-Expo-7

2016-Princess-Half-Expo-8

 

After we finished browsing the official merchandise, we went over to the Jostens Center to the main Expo area. I love browsing Raw Threads and Sparkle Skirts for their latest offerings. They always have a large selection at the Expo. We kept going to the back so my sister could pick up her 10k shirt. The non-challenge shirts are all picked up here. They also had a shirt exchange. There was another section of official merchandise in this area. The offerings we almost identical to what was in the HP Field House.

2016-Princess-Half-Expo-9

Right outside the official merchandise was Jeff Galloway. He was promoting his half marathon in Atlanta and the virtual option which could be used while running the Princess half. I had to stop and get my picture with him. He really is a nice guy.

2016-Princess-Half-Expo-11

We also tried the samples of different Luna bars. Most of them were really tasty. We saw some other booths doing wheel spins and other giveaways, but didn’t stop. While my roommate picked up some socks from Fit2Run, I wandered back to the New Balance area.

2016-Princess-Half-Expo-15

2016-Princess-Half-Expo-10

2016-Princess-Half-Expo-12

2016-Princess-Half-Expo-13

I knew there was a virtual queue for shoes. I was hoping to pick up a pair for my daughter. I bought my son a pair a year ago at the inaugural Star Wars race. After talking to a man at the entrance, he went to the back to look for my daughter’s size. If I had wanted them for myself, I would have needed to register for the queue. Luckily, he found the Ariel shoes for my daughter. I also got the flounder clip-ons at the register. The New Balance area wasn’t too crowded. I think the virtual queue has really helped with that.

2016-Princess-Half-Expo-14

I went back to find my roommate and sister. The one other thing I wanted was the discount from MarathonFoto.  After consulting the map in the event guide, we realized we would have to go back to the HP Field House. Last year, they had booths in both places. I guess they consolidated this year. As we made our way back, we noticed the crowd was starting to build. Luckily, I was able to go right up to a tablet and purchase the certificate. It was not as good of a deal as last year, but $75 for a $100 certificate is still good. They did have a wait when I was finished as they only had 3 working tablets.

2016-Princess-Half-Expo-18

We decided to grab a bite to eat at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Grille. I ended up with chicken nuggets, fries, and a Coke Zero in a bottle as the fountain wasn’t working. They did have a pasta special for the runners which my sister ordered. They were not crowded this year. We were slightly earlier than normal lunch crowd at 11, but there were only 4 other tables in use. Last year it was packed and overflowing. The food was pretty good. The staff were wonderful and cleared our empty plates for us. When we were finished, we went back to our car.

2016-Princess-Half-Expo-17

Leaving the ESPN Wide World of Sports, although slightly confusing, was not hard. They had officers directing traffic at the exit. It was frustrating watching them talk to people in vehicles while we waited, but overall it was not bad.

Having not been to the Expo on Thursday morning, I did not see the worst part. In my experience, the Expo was better than last year and the merchandise (aside from the Princess wine glasses) seemed to be well stocked. There were even Dooneys left! I hope they learn from the Thursday fiasco and make changes for next year. Although it will never happen, having the first day for runners only might help. (RAD note: This is a really good idea!) Also, allowing runners to pre-order more items could take some of the pain away. I truly believe most of the bad behavior comes from resellers. Thursday’s issues aside, I think it was a well-run Expo with lots of good vendors.

*****
Kristin Cooke Bio PicKristin Cooke is a running mother of 2 who loves Disney. She is a Database Administrator by profession and started running in 2012 to get in shape after her second baby. Running has become her social activity and stress relief.
You can read about Kristin’s races on her blog and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

2016 Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap From A First Timer

The Disney Princess Half Marathon is the PERFECT race for a first time half marathoner.  It was my first and it was an amazing experience.  I’m happy to welcome Emily to RAD today to share her story of her first half marathon at the 2016 Disney Princess Half Marathon.  While reading her experience, I couldn’t help but notice all the similarities in our stories!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and let’s welcome her to the half marathon family!

***

2016-Princess Half Recap First Timer

I can’t believe I can officially say I’m a half-marathoner. 48 hours before I sat down to write this post I crossed the finish line at Disney’s Princess Half Marathon. This is a huge feat for anyone, to be sure, but I’m the girl who took online P.E. in high school because coordination and athleticism were SO not my things. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being outside, walking, swimming, kayaking- but competitive athletic events and Emily go together like oil and water.

However, I knew I needed some new motivation. I LOVE Disney, and I mean I LOVE it. Having seen a friend finish this half marathon before, I decided on a whim, without telling almost anyone, that I would sign up. So I did. I waited at the computer and somehow managed to navigate the crazy registration and secure a spot in this race. I read every blog post imaginable, joined every Facebook group for support and advice, and scoured the runDisney website for information. I started Jeff Galloway’s training plan (though I could have done better with the follow through), booked our hotel, planned my outfit, and got ready for what I hoped would be my biggest accomplishment to date.

2016-Princess-Half-Early Wakeup Call

Sunday’s wakeup call came EARLY. We were staying at the Pop Century on site so that I could catch a bus in the morning and not deal with road closures and traffic. I planned to wake up around 2:15 to get ready and eat some breakfast, but I was up by 1:50. At 3:15 I was out the door to get on the bus. I knew I was starting at the back of the pack and was slower, so my husband slept in and made it to see my about halfway and at the finish.

2016-Princess-Half-Line for Busses

2016-Princess-Half-Bus Selfie

As luck would have it, a friend from Tallahassee and I both wound up at Pop Century, so we took the bus to the start together. We got to Epcot by 3:45 and had a bit of a walk to the security check and holding area. We chose to sit and stretch until it was time to head to the corrals. We didn’t want to waste any energy being on our feet!

2016-Princess-Half-Pre-Race with Friend

About an hour or so later it was time to get moving, right around 5 AM. My friend Ashliegh was also doing the race, so we all met up for some pictures and headed to the corrals. We stopped to use the port-a-potties first, as we did not want to have to stop during the race. I will say, bring tissues and hand sanitizer for that experience!

2016-Princess-Half-Walk to Corrals

We finally made it to our corrals after a LONG walk and had to separate- they were in I, I was in M. Corrals went A-P, and the faster you are, the closer you are to the front. You MUST submit a proof of time from a 10K race or longer to be placed in the appropriate corral. Luckily, M gave me a buffer from the balloon ladies, which was nice. The balloon ladies keep a 16 mm pace (the pace required by the race), and are the LAST people to cross the finish line, in Corral P. You must stay ahead of them in order to not be picked up (swept) from the course and driven to the finish line, unable to finish. Each corral leaves anywhere between 3-5 minutes apart, so I had about a 15 minute head start, which I was grateful for!

2016-Princess-Half-Balloon Ladies

The Dreaded Balloon Ladies!

Anyway, off the corrals went, with fireworks for each one. Finally, I was off! My only goal was to finish, and I planned to walk most of the course. I am a fast walker, and when I tried intervals, my jog was so slow that it didn’t help my time much and just wore me out quicker.

2016-Princess-Half-Fireworks

2016-Princess-Half-Start Line

I went up a small overpass and was on the way to Magic Kingdom from Epcot! The monorail drove by and honked at us. I saw the Mile 2 marker.

2016-Princess-Half-Mile 2 Marker

Then I was at the parking entrance for Magic Kingdom! The part of the course I looked forward to the most was being on Main Street, so I was motivated at this point. I crossed over the 5K timing mat, texts with my pace being sent to all my loved ones.

2016-Princess-Half-Hot Air Balloon

2016-Princess-Half-TTC

Through the parking lot, by the Transportation and Ticket Center, past the Contemporary and into the park. I won’t lie, I had goosebumps and held back tears. I was actually doing this!

2016-Princess-Half-Main Street

Up to this point I had seen spectators, a hot air balloon, Jack Skellington, Buzz Lightyear, the Queen of Hearts, and I was about to go through the castle. So much to distract me! I went through, underneath Anna and Elsa, and gave the photographer a thumbs up.

2016-Princess-Half-Castle with Frozen Characters

2016-Princess-Half-Castle Selfie

We headed out through Frontierland, seeing Woody and Jessie, and passed the 10K mark. We went past the Grand Floridian, Polynesian, and golf course. There were some characters here and there but the sun was blaring and I was so hot, I didn’t pay much attention. I had less than halfway to go. I saw the set of busses waiting to pick up any stragglers, but I was still doing fine. I had some of my Honey Stinger gummies to keep me going, and grabbed Powerade and water at every station. I won’t lie, I was thinking, “What the HECK did I sign up for?” But then a princess next to me read my bib and said, “Way to go, Emily! You’re doing great! Woo! Good luck!” and ran off. (RAD note: This is the BEST thing about Disney races!!) It kept me going, as did my mental fortitude. It really is 60% mental…your feet will keep moving when you will them to!

Next thing I knew, I was at Mile 10. I saw more busses waiting, but I escaped those, too. However, I knew the overpasses and bridges were coming- 3 of them. Up we wound around a banked overpass, to see Toy Story’s Green Army Men yelling at us to get moving. So we did. When I was up on the bridge I looked down to see TONS of princesses still going, and I still didn’t see any balloons. I kept at it. I had slowed down a TON by now. I had done 11 miles and it was in the 70’s. As I was on the last bridge into Epcot, I looked further down the road and saw the balloon ladies behind me. I was still ahead of them, and I was almost inside the park. I knew I had made it. Again, I got choked up. I went into Epcot, did an out and back to the start of World Showcase, and left the park.

2016-Princess-Half-Gospel Choir

I saw the gospel choir I had read so much about and knew I was almost done. There was the Mile 13 marker, and there was my husband. I snapped a picture, gave Joel a smile and a wave, and turned the corner to see the finish line.

2016-Princess-Half-Mile 13 Marker

2016-Princess-Half-Mile 13 Picture

2016-Princess-Half-Finish Line

2016-Princess-Half-Donald and Goofy

I saw Goofy and Donald, I heard announcers calling out names. I had finished! I averaged a little over 16mm, but I had finished, and before the balloon ladies (who are actually just very nice women who volunteer to keep pace). The girl who hated the mile run in elementary school, who hadn’t walked more than 4 miles in a LONG time before starting this training, had crossed the finish line with more than a thousand people still behind me.

2016-Princess-Half-Finished!

I got sprinkled with Pixie Dust (glitter), received my medal, called my parents, and grabbed my goodies. I waited for Joel in the reunion area. I wanted to sit on the pavement, but knew I wouldn’t get back up. He found me, and we went off to grab the bus back to our hotel. The line was LONG, and I was ready to sit down. My feet hurt, my fingers were swollen, and I just needed a minute to soak everything in.

When all was said and done, we got back to the hotel and my phone said I had walked 16.4 miles. I showered. I rested. Then we grabbed lunch in Downtown Disney and enjoyed a few pictures and rides in Magic Kingdom. We had a celebratory dinner at a Japanese steakhouse and I slept GREAT that night.

2016-Princess-Half-Castle Medal Pic

And just like that it was done- time to head back home. I hadn’t spent as much time in the parks as I wanted. It was crowded, with over 22,000 runners. I was sore. I was hot. I was tired. But I was SO happy. And SO proud. I saw the most creative costumes (that’s the thing about these races, TONS of people dress up). I got to race in my happy place. I finished 13.1 miles, the biggest feat of my life, something no one (including me!) ever thought I would do, and the one thing I have had to work the hardest for, ever. When asked on the bus ride back to the hotel if I would do it again, I said no. I had crossed it off my bucket list. Now that I am home again, I can’t wait for registration to open this summer. If you want to try a half marathon, do this one. The support, the atmosphere, and the sense of accomplishment are real and so worth it. And if you’re worried about being swept- don’t be. Try your hardest, train, and believe. Disney WANTS you to succeed. And always remember, whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right!

2016-Princess-Half-Medal Pic

*****

Emily-Keough-Bio-PicEmily Keough lives in Tallahassee, Florida and works for her alma mater, Florida State University (Go Noles!). She is an avid Disney fan, being an annual passholder for years, and loves taking trips to Orlando with her husband and friends. She picked up training for the half last year and plans to continue to runDisney with the support and help of her faith, husband, family, and friends!
Follow Emily on Facebook, Instagram & Pinterest!

A Princess Half Marathon Weekend Easter Egg!

Princess Half Marathon Weekend Easter Egg

There have been some rumblings around the interwebs over the weekend about how runDisney is dropping hints about the theme of the next Princess Half Marathon Weekend out on the course.  I’ve done some digging and it seems that this is in fact true and I LOVE IT!

Where is this royal Easter egg you ask?? It’s on the Mile 13 marker!  Check it out…

Princess-Mile-13-3-years

As luck would have it, I have a tradition of taking a photo at the Mile 13 marker when I run a half marathon.  I did it during my first half marathon (Princess 2012) out of pure joy for making it that far, and have continued to do it at subsequent races.  If you notice from the photo above, the mile marker is the same in 2012 and 2013, a general finish line image with all the princesses.  This makes sense as there was no exact theme for the first 5 years.

But look…in 2014 the marker changes to Anna & Elsa.  Guess what the theme for 2015 was? Frozen!  Then in 2015, Ariel was on the Mile 13 marker and low and behold, The Little Mermaid was the theme this year!

2015 Mile 13 Marker Photo Credit: Robin Schiltz

2015 Mile 13 Marker
Photo Credit: Robin Schiltz

So what Princess was on the Mile 13 marker this year??  Snow White!

2016 Mile 13 Marker Photo Credit: Adrienne Ramser

2016 Mile 13 Marker
Photo Credit: Adrienne Ramser

If this theory is correct, this will be a fun new theme for 2017 Princess Weekend.  She’s not my favorite Princess, but Snow White doesn’t get much love during this race weekend so should make for some fun medals.  The dwarfs are perfect for the kids races!

Have you noticed this little Easter Egg?  What do you think of Snow White being the main character theme for the 2017 Princess Half Marathon weekend?

RAD Signature 100x75

« Previous PageNext Page »