Category: Race Recaps

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!

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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 Look at the 2015 Glass Slipper Challenge

With registration for the 2016 Princess Half Marathon Weekend opening today for DVC Members and Annual Passholders, I thought it would be a good time to take a look back at some of the festivities from this past year.  Kristina is a runDisney veteran…you may remember her from the great tips she provided on conquering the Dopey Challenge.   However, this year was her first experience with Princess Half Marathon Weekend and she decided to take on the Glass Slipper Challenge.  Hopefully you can keep up with her recap…she’s a speedy runner!! 🙂

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Thank you so much to Sarah for letting me detail my experience as a first time participant in the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend! But this wasn’t my first runDisney race. I ran in the Marathon Weekend in 2012, 2013 and 2014!

As the registration date for the 2015 Marathon weekend came and went without me signing up, I started to strongly consider the Princess Half weekend. Two of my best friends AND my parents and sister were also heavily interested in running one of the races, so we all registered. My one dear friend and I decided to kick some glass slipper in the Glass Slipper Challenge, while my parents, sister and other friend were enchanted by the Enchanted 10k.

Glass Slipper Challenge and the Little Mermaid!

Glass Slipper Challenge and the Little Mermaid!

Me and my friend Libbie with the Coachmen

Me and my friend Libbie with the Coachmen

Enough of the back story, let’s get to the recap!

There’s nothing quite like hearing an alarm sound at 3 a.m., especially when you’re in Florida with a less than seasonal outside temperature. But the pure excitement of doing a race in DISNEY where my parents, sister and friends are also participating lessened the pain of being awake so early.

Prepared race outfit.

Prepared race outfit

Ok, the early wakeup call is one thing, but the 39 degree outside temperature was a completely different beast. I am kind of a wimp when it comes to the cold, even though I live in Ohio. I decided to wear two long sleeve shirts, capri running tights and gloves. I was very happy to have all those layers!

Ready to run!

Ready to run!

My sister and I left for the monorail at 4:00 a.m., a little before my parents, since we were both in Corral A. We made it to the EPCOT parking lot by 4:40, with just enough time for a bathroom break.

Me and my sister Alexa getting ready to head to the Corrals!

Me and my sister Alexa getting ready to head to the Corrals!

Pretty soon, we were waiting for the fireworks to signal the start of the race. For the 10K there are fewer corrals. I believe just A through E. My sister and I were a little late getting into Corral A, so we were toward the back. In order to save energy and not weave through people, I ran in the grass once I crossed the start line. There is no doubt in my mind that I looked silly, but in less than a quarter of a mile I was out of the largest crowd.

The first two miles of the race take you out of the EPCOT parking lot and onto the highway. We were greeted with Elsa and her snow, which added excitement to what could be a boring portion of the course. The course continues on roadways until a little after the 5K mark. This is where you enter the EPCOT countries by Norway! Oh what a beautiful sight to see! The countries are illuminated and there’s music playing! It gives a second life to my feet. You run past France, up the little hill, turn left down the hill toward the back exit, then make your way to the Boardwalk. Running on the Boardwalk makes me nervous since it could be slippery, but I didn’t experience any issues during this race. I also didn’t hear from my parents, sister or friends that they had trouble on the Boardwalk.

The course takes you up the hill by Swan and Dolphin and past the Yacht and Beach Club. A general observation: it’s so nice to see resort guests out there cheering for the runners!

By mile 5, you enter back into EPCOT, through the countries, making your way to the finish line. That last mile went by in a blur since I was tired and cold. However, I was overjoyed to see the clock read 43:xx! My true finish time was 42:36. I finished 21st overall, 8th out of women and 3rd in my age group! But, the most exciting part was getting to see my sister finish shortly after and then my parents crossing the finish line hand in hand!

Me and Alexa after the 10k

Me and Alexa after the 10k

Loving that mylar blanket

Loving that mylar blanket

The rest of the day was spent relaxing, spending time with my friends and eating a hearty dinner of pasta and chicken to prepare for the half.

Picture courtesy of my friend Libbie

Picture courtesy of my friend Libbie

Picture courtesy of my friend Libbie

Picture courtesy of my friend Libbie

Sunday morning I woke with a sore throat and runny nose. I went back and forth trying to decide whether I should run this race “hard” or take it easy. The answer came to me after hearing all the wonderful women discussing children with Rett’s Syndrome. They cannot walk let alone run, so no minor sore throat could keep me from giving this race my all. There was some exciting news that morning, too. Disney announced a half marathon weekend at Disneyland Paris for September 23-25, 2016!

After the half marathon with Merida, one tough princess

After the half marathon with Merida, one tough princess

Before I knew it, the countdown was on for Corral A. Those fireworks at the start line never cease to amaze me! They provide additional adrenaline for the 13.1 miles ahead! Off we were to Magic Kingdom; the miles to the entrance ticked by. We ran through the Transportation and Ticket Center and made our way past the Contemporary. Reaching that area always brings Disney Magic to my feet because I know that Main Street in Magic Kingdom is quickly approaching. No joke I did a princess wave the entire way down Main Street. I was overcome with happiness and couldn’t hold back those princess-y feelings!

Tomorrowland and Fanstasyland are fun, too, as they lead to running under Cinderella’s Castle. I treasure those moments in Magic Kingdom. Even though this was my sixth time experiencing Magic Kingdom in a race setting, I promise each time is just as, if not more, magical than the time before it.

After Magic Kingdom, it’s back to some roadway running. You pass by the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian, as well as one of the golf courses on Disney property. Just past mile 8, you get back on the road to head to EPCOT. You’re able to see runners heading into Magic Kingdom at this point. It’s fun to offer each other mutual support.

The temperature the morning of the half was much nicer than the 10K, but I needed to put my gloves on running back toward EPCOT; a cool breeze gave me the chills.

Major focusing on putting one foot in front of the other occurred during miles 10 through 12. This is the “hilliest” part of the course. Luckily, they’re rolling hills and with determination they are manageable. For the final mile you make it back into EPCOT. During the half marathon, runners don’t visit the countries. Rather, cones are set up to create a path. Like the 10k, the last mile of this race was a blur for me. I focused entirely on breathing, pumping my arms and moving my feet one in front of the other.

Approaching the finish line I heard the announcers shout my name, “Kristina Drnjevich from O-H-“ and I responded “I-O”! I finished in 1:34:25, 33rd overall, 23rd out of women and 9th in my age group. I was greeted by my mom who was kind enough to wake up early to meet me at the finish line! The Princess Half Marathon Weekend was my favorite runDisney event so far. Every step was filled with Magic and Disney makes sure you feel like a Princess, or Prince ☺

2015-Princess-Half-Kristina-Photo 11

2015-Princess-Half-Kristina-Photo 12

2015-Princess-Half-Kristina-Photo 13

2015-Princess-Half-Kristina-Photo 14

Pictures courtesy of my mom, capturing the finish line.

Additional observations: There are fewer runners during the Princess half, so the expo and, in my opinion, the transportation are less crowed. The character stops for the 10K seemed to be slim, but for the half marathon there were a number of stops. Even the princes came out! I did not stop during either race for pictures with the characters, but I noticed the half had a significant number. Also, there were plenty of water stops during both races and plenty of port-a-potties. It was a blast of a race weekend that I will easily recommend to anyone looking to run a Disney race!

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Hi there! I’m Kristina Drnjevich, an assistant prosecuting attorney in Northeast Ohio. A longtime Disney and running lover, it has been a joy experiencing races in Disney. The Glass Slipper Challenge was my fourth time participating in a runDisney race weekend. This April, I ran in my first Boston Marathon, and a mere six days later, I headed to California to complete the Big Sur Marathon for the Boston to Big Sur Challenge. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram at @KDrnjevich!

2015 Princess Half Marathon Race Recap

This was the first time in 3 years that I haven’t run the Princess Half Marathon.  It was definitely tough to follow along from home, but when I read these wonderful race recaps, it’s like I was there!  Robin’s story is not just a wonderful overview of the race, but it is incredibly inspiring to see how far she came in one year!

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This time last year, if you had told me I would be participating in a half marathon at Disney World, I would have asked where the hidden camera was! At the time, I was a 55 year old couch potato with a little-used treadmill sitting in the basement gathering dust. But, my daughter, Taryn, wanted to get in shape and had a marathon on her bucket list, so she asked if I would do one with her. I told her that maybe we should aim for a little less mileage the first time out and we agreed to complete a half marathon together. But, which one?

Her friend had just run the 2014 Disney Princess Half Marathon and told her how much fun it was. I’m a dental hygienist and, coincidentally, I’d just had a favorite patient come in and entertain me with stories of what a great time she’d just had at the same race. So, we got really excited about doing the Disney Princess Half together! Then, my son-in-law, Geoff, decided to run in it (although he was emphatically against wearing a tutu which we thought would have been hilarious). And, my niece, Arielle (guess which Princess she was in the race?), heard about our plans and wanted to go with us, so our quest quickly became a family affair.

Fast forward to the half marathon weekend… It started out by meeting Taryn and Geoff at the race expo at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. We headed straight to the Josten’s Center building (per the runDisney website) to pick up our race packets, only, it turned out we were supposed to get them at the HP Field House instead. Minor detail! So, off we went to the Field House and, thankfully, it was pretty empty.

Packet Pick Up

After grabbing the race packets, we headed back to Josten’s to get our race shirts and other goodies and to check out all the cool items designed to make a runner feel like a Princess. This is where the crowds are!

Expo

We spent some time looking at the merchandise (we had sparkle skirts, sweatbands, and tiaras on our list), and then snapped a pre-race photo before going off to enjoy the theme parks.

Let's do this!

The night before the race, I was too excited to sleep very well even though I was tired because we’d spent all day in the Magic Kingdom. I went to bed at 10:00 p.m. but kept waking up throughout the night until my alarm finally went off at 2:15 a.m. Since I had laid out everything just four hours before, I was able to get dressed quickly, kiss my sleeping hubby good-bye, and meet the rest of my family outside the hotel in record time.

We were on the very first bus from the Shades of Green Military Resort where we were staying because we had heard about the nightmare traffic and didn’t want to be late. By 3:30 a.m. we were dropped off at Epcot and we headed to the pre-race area to wait until it was time to go to the corrals.

Morning Epcot

There was a fun DJ to entertain us and he got everyone dancing to warm us up since it was a slightly chilly morning (happily, though, there were no freeze warnings like there had been for the 5k just two days before!).

DJ

Some of the Princesses were posing for pre-race pictures with the runners who were waiting in really longgg lines to see them.

REALLY long lines to get pictures taken with the Princesses!

We felt very lucky to get a picture with Princess Merida from Brave.

Princess Merida

Even though we were there so early, the time flew by and soon the DJ was directing us to go to the start corrals. I’d heard it was a very long walk to get to them, and it’s true. Plus, the corral line is huge and takes up both sides of the street. So, once you get there, you still have to actually find your corral (we were in Corral N) and then get past the cast members who are very serious about being sure you are in the correct one.

Corral N

Finally, the fireworks went off and the race was under way! It took just under an hour for our corral to move up and cross the start line but it was fun to watch the other corrals go, each accompanied by their own fireworks. And, at last, it was our turn.

And, we're off!

Start Line

We were off and running! Taryn I wanted to experience the race together, but Geoff and Arielle had decided to run for time so they took off through the crowd. At that point, though, no one could run very well because there were so many walkers on the narrow road. We had to run on the grass to get around them which was difficult in the darkness.

Right around the first mile marker, cheers started going up from the runners ahead of us. Suddenly, we could see the first elite runner coming down the other side of the course on her way to the finish line. It was amazing to think that we were just starting out and she was already almost at the end of the race! I read later that she’d broken a hip just a year ago, so her win was even more impressive!

12.1 to go!

 

Morning Runners

Mile 2

Not long after, we saw The Black Pearl alongside the road. Captain Jack Sparrow was posing for pictures, but the line was so long, we just took pictures as we ran by. (We ended up doing this throughout the whole race).

Black Pearl

A little farther down the road, the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) came into view. Awesome! That meant the Magic Kingdom wasn’t too far away.

TTC

$RX179I9

After we ran through the TTC and across a huge Magic Kingdom parking lot, we saw the Queen of Hearts and Cruella deVille posing for pictures. Queen of Hearts and Cruella deVille

And then, we were running past the Contemporary Resort and into the Magic Kingdom!

MK Entrance

The MK streets are pretty narrow and they were lined with people cheering us on.

MK Street

We looked down Main Street and saw the castle up ahead. Knowing we were going to be running through it in just a few minutes was pretty emotional for me. I kept thinking of how hard I had worked to get here, of all the soreness (and some physical therapy after problems with my IT band while training), and how it was all coming down to this moment.

So crowded!

Castle_Robin and Taryn

When we got around to the rear of the castle, the princesses from Frozen were on the balcony talking to the runners.

We're about to shuffle through the castle

Elsa and Anna

At this point, it was impossible to get any farther. People were crowding in to see them and take pictures and we literally couldn’t walk through the castle walkway. We were barely shuffling along in the congestion.

After a few minutes, we finally made it through to the other side and we took off through Frontierland, pausing only to get a picture in front of the Mile 6 marker with Elsa and Anna on it (since I was dressed as Elsa).

Mile 6 with Anna and Elsa

After that, the course went through the back lot of the theme park. I’d always wondered if the back lot was as “magical” as what guests see, but it’s just warehouses and parking lots. There was some magic there for the race, though – we turned a corner and there was Snow White posing for pictures with her Prince and her castle.

Snow White and her Prince

We passed them, heading out of the back lot and down the road toward Epcot. Within a half mile, there was a stage set up and the DJ was telling us we had reached the half way mark! Yay!

Further along, we passed the Grand Floridian Resort and the Polynesian Resort. At this point, I was busy scanning the crowd of spectators, looking for my husband and our friends who were on the sidelines cheering for us (found them!). Our friend, Richard, got a picture of us, lost in the crowd of runners.

Robin_Taryn in the Crowd

After that, miles 8, 9, and 10 just clicked on by. We saw the Disney Heroes (handsome!!) and had another view of Capt. Jack Sparrow and his pirate ship as we doubled back on the course.

The handsome Heroes

Capt. Jack Sparrow and Capt. Barbosa

Then, we got to the dreaded overpass that I’d heard so much about. Sure enough, there was the soldier from Toy Story, telling us to get moving up that hill (“No walking or I’ll make you do pushups!”).

The first overpass

Soooo many runners!

I thought that was the only overpass, but then we found out there were two more to go…acckkk! Thankfully, they weren’t too bad and soon we could see Epcot in the distance.

Epcot in the distance - almost there!

The Fairy Godmother was in Epcot to sprinkle us with some fairy dust and help us finish the remaining mile.

The Fairy Godmother helping us out

Just one tenth of a mile to go!

Mile 13

All too quickly, the Finish Line was just in front of us and our adventure was over.

Almost there!

Our reward? Bling! (And some PowerAde and a snack box of goodies)…not to mention an overwhelming sense of pride and lots of great memories. We did it!

It's all about the bling!

*****

Devoted mom and non-runner Robin Schiltz took up the sport just to be able to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon with her daughter, Taryn. Since then, she’s been bitten by the running bug so much that she is now co-owner of Triumph Virtual Racing with her daughter and son-in-law. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Star Wars Rebel Challenge – Running Two Races Back to Back

I don’t know about you, but it has been SO exciting to watch John’s running journey over the past few months as he has become quite the experienced distance runner.  In January, he took on his most difficult challenge yet, the Rebel Challenge!  Let’s just say that it was an accomplishment of galactic proportions! 

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When I first signed up for the Star Wars Rebel Challenge, I wasn’t thinking about the distance, duration, time, or training. I was thinking “lookie, cool medals!”.   The logistics of running a 10k followed by a half marathon hadn’t really entered my mind. After all, I had already run several 10k’s, and had completed my first half marathon (Avengers). And my time was pretty good, coming in at roughly 9:30-9:45 per mile. Needless to say, I was starting to feel a bit smug. In fact, I didn’t even get too serious about training until about 4 weeks prior. After all, I kept telling myself I was in good form from the Avengers Half Marathon. What could possibly go wrong?

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It didn’t help that I was feeling pretty good the day of the Star Wars 10k. The weather was cold and brisk, which I new could help keep my core temperature down. There were also several other Cast Members, family, and close friends running, which made the morning a welcome homecoming.

Before I new it, we were off!   I’ve seen backstage many times, but experiencing it with lights and music cheering runners on was invigorating. Cast donned Mickey Mitts cheering us on, while big screen boards flashed messages of encouragement. Transitioning to onstage areas was even more exciting: passing by the Sleeping Beauty Castle, running down Main Street, through the Esplanade, and Buena Vista Street were all accompanied with a sense of excitement and wonder, with Star Wars characters such as Stormtroopers and Jedi in strategic photo spots.

Before I knew it, I was crossing Disneyland Drive, nearing the finish line, the course lined with cheering Cast and Guests. An announcer called out participant names as they crossed. I picked up my speed, crossed the finish line, and heard the name of … Sean Astin! We ended up finishing the race at the same time. If I was going to be upstaged, it was nice to be upstaged by a Goonie. And my finish time? 54:16, for a pace of 8:44 per mile. A new personal record for any event!

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The next day came the Half Marathon. Same start location, same excitement. This time, just after starting, a runner clipped me and I did a graceful tumble into the plants along Disneyland Drive. With just a scraped knee, only my pride was wounded, I instantly jumped up to get back into the race. Even though I had just experienced the backstage and onstage course, it was no less exciting.

This time, after winding through the Parks, the course emptied onto Harbor Blvd, headed due south, took a turn on Garden Grove Blvd, wandered through Old Towne Garden Grove, and then turned back north on Harbor. Just before turning left on Katella (about mile 9), the previous day’s run finally start to take its toll, as aches began to kick in. Although slowed, I wasn’t deterred, as the course continued down Katella and right on Disneyland Drive, finishing in Downtown Disney just past ESPN Zone. I crossed the finish line at 2:07:19 (9:43 per mile). I felt slightly dismayed, since my Avengers Half Marathon time was two seconds faster at 9:41 per mile. But my dismay was short lived when I received the Rebel Challenge medal for a total of 19.3 miles run.

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There were a few lessons I learned:

1 – Rest after the 10k. Don’t go home and do gardening or chores, just because you feel invincible. It’s just the adrenaline talking.

2 – Eat plenty, but eat right. Sure, you just carb loaded, but your body just burned off all those calories. Replenish that stored energy, but also give your body protein.

3 – Rest. Yeah, you just got a spiffy medal, but you’re not done. You’ll still need to rest and decompress. You can’t party quite yet.

4 – Don’t compare. This was a big one for me. Running a half by itself it not the same as running a half after a 10k. You’re not going to perform the same way. Be okay with it.

5 – Enjoy it. Even if you’re like me, and run for time, there’s so much more to a race than getting to the finish line. Enjoy the Characters, the Cast cheering you on, the bands, the police offers, the spectators, and the countless volunteers that you’ll see along the course. They’re there because they’re supporting you. Let them.

Next Year: the runDisney Coast to Coast Challenge. Who among you will be joining me?

RADically Yours,

John

*****

John grew up in the Orange County area of California, always living in the shadow of the Disneyland Resort.  Known as the consummate storyteller to his friends, he has had an admiration of Disney since childhood, and is most interested in the Company’s history and heritage.  His favorite memory to date is setting foot in Walt’s apartment over the Main Street Firehouse.  John lives by what he calls the three F’s: faith, fun, and fitness.   Being healthy isn’t about adding years to your life; it’s about adding life to your years.  Nothing sums that up more than making Disney races a goal in every fitness plan.

The Inaugural Star Wars Rebel Challenge

Well if I wasn’t jealous about not being at Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend prior to the race, I’m SURELY jealous now.  At first it was due to the killer medals for the races, but after seeing all the characters, costumes and fun…the whole weekend was just too cool!  Kallen ran the Inaugural Rebel Challenge and did it in some amazing costumes.  So come along and be jealous with me of her super rad time!

***

I just got back last night from an amazing runDisney event, the Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend.

Photo 1-Star Wars 10K-Kallen

After running the Tinker Bell Half Marathon last year, I knew I wanted to do another runDisney race, but it wasn’t until they announced the Star Wars event in late May that my hubby and I knew which one we had to do.

With such a great theme, I took the plunge and registered for my first challenge event.

The Rebel Challenge— never has an event inspired so much foreboding. During many training runs, I thought, “I have a bad feeling about this.”

But fear is the path to the Dark Side. Come race weekend, finishing the challenge was not a matter of trying, but doing. Or do not.

For me, the best way of overcoming pre-race nerves is to watch a runDisney event.

 

— Kallen Dewey Kentner (@KallenKentner) January 16, 2015

My hubby and I enjoyed spectating the 5K, where the short distance means the costumes are outrageously fun. 

We loved seeing the StarSpeeder 3000 from Star Tours during the race and spotted him again after the race in the Family Reunion Area

We loved seeing the StarSpeeder 3000 from Star Tours during the race and spotted him again after the race in the Family Reunion Area

The Expo is another amazing way to get excited. I love listening to the speaker series. I attended the expo two days, Thursday and Saturday. Arriving about noon on Thursday, I found packet pick-up extremely well organized with minimal wait. 

What an epic entrance to packet pick-up!

What an epic entrance to packet pick-up!

For recognition purposes, all Rebel Challenge participants had their photo taken at the expo after picking up their packet. This system replaces the wristbands they’ve used at previous challenge events. Even though I didn’t wait for the mad merchandise rush at opening, the official merchandise line was a short wait and well stocked. I managed to score a really nice Rebel Challenge Jacket, which later sold out. However, even by the last day of the expo I saw plenty of Dooney and Burke purses left, which tells me that runDisney is working hard on their supply-and-demand models.

Pictured are the three race shirts that come with Rebel Challenge registration, the Rebel Challenge jacket, pins, Star Wars Half Marathon shirt, my bib, runDisney Vinylmation and the event guide. Between us, Hubby and I had quite a lot of stuff after leaving the expo.

Pictured are the three race shirts that come with Rebel Challenge registration, the Rebel Challenge jacket, pins, Star Wars Half Marathon shirt, my bib, runDisney Vinylmation and the event guide. Between us, Hubby and I had quite a lot of stuff after leaving the expo.

I was up bright and early Saturday with the alarm going off at 3:30. I donned my Star Tours running costume and headed to the race. Running a runDisney race solo for the first time, I was a bit bored in the corrals, but soon enough they were playing clips from the original Star Wars trilogy. 

There's nothing like AT-ATs at 5 a.m.

There’s nothing like AT-ATs at 5 a.m.

After a Darth Vader cameo, a visit from C-3PO, R2-D2, and an opening crawl, the race started. All of a sudden, it was B Corral’s turn and we were off! I loved the way the course was set up. Because we ran down Disneyland Drive, up Ball Road before turning onto Harbor to head to the parks, runners had a chance to spread out on the wide roads (including the incline on Ball Rd) before turning into the parks. As expected, there were plenty of aid stations along the course. Excitement will do you in every time so I did a really stupid thing for a challenge event. I ran my heart out in the 10K. I just felt so amazing and it was so wonderful being in the parks that I just ran.

Outside the Animation Academy in California Adventure

Outside the Animation Academy in California Adventure

By the time I got to many of the character stops, a long line had formed. I skipped Chewbacca (who had the longest line by far), Darth Vader and some of the Jedi, but I had to stop for a quick photo with Boba Fett. 

I'm suspicious of this bounty hunter.

I’m suspicious of this bounty hunter.

I was surprised that only Star Wars characters were on the course. I would have liked to see a few Disney characters thrown into the mix. 

Every mile marker was different for the 10K, which was really cool.

Every mile marker was different for the 10K, which was really cool.

As we ran past the Disneyland Hotel toward the finish, I could feel an incredible grin on my face in response to the cheering crowd. Stormtroopers watched as runners crossed the finish line. First part of the challenge, done! 

Snapped right after crossing the finish line, you can see the euphoria on my face.

Snapped right after crossing the finish line, you can see the euphoria on my face.

It was over too fast and I had a brief moment of sadness before remembering I was going to do it again the next day! Wait. I was going to run again the next day? Maybe running so fast wasn’t a good idea. After breakfast at La Brea Bakery and a quick clothing change, I went to the Expo for a second time. I mostly came for the speaker series so I didn’t wander around the expo too much. I also made sure to put on my compression socks and take it easy. After all, the half marathon was the next day. Although I went to bed around 7:30 p.m, that 3:30 alarm was still an unwelcome sound… that is, until I remembered that I was going to Disneyland!

I had the privilege of running the half marathon with my mom. We did the run-walk method with about a minute of walking to a minute of running. Because of the crowds, sometimes we missed the bell, but we did our best. 

The required corral selfie.

The required corral selfie.

My hubby also ran the half, but as he was in A Corral, I didn’t see much of him. He also got a better view of the video screen. 

Every race had a slightly different opening crawl but I wasn't close enough to read the one for the half marathon.

Every race had a slightly different opening crawl but I wasn’t close enough to read the one for the half marathon.

In the middle of C corral, we couldn’t see much of the video screen, but the fireworks during the national anthem were fantastic. After a bit of waiting, C Corral was off! For the first 2 miles, I could feel the effect of the 10K, especially on the walking portion where my hip flexors were so tight I couldn’t powerwalk effectively. It was pretty crowded, especially once we entered the backstage areas, so we couldn’t do much running. Going into Disneyland, we had to stop by some Jedi, who asked “What planet are you from?” It was the first of many references to our Pigs in Space costumes. “Koozebane” I cheerily threw out before we kept running. 

Jedi were stationed in numerous places along the course for both the 10K and Half, encouraging the runners.

Jedi were stationed in numerous places along the course for both the 10K and Half, encouraging the runners.

We waited in line for Luke and Leia, who were stationed in front of an illuminated Mark Twain. While in line, I saw a text message from runner tracking: hubby had already passed the 5K point a while ago. Because he is so much faster, Jason was able to fully enjoy the lights of California Adventure. The sun was already coming up by the time we got there. 

Mickey's Fun Wheel dominates the view at Paradise Pier and looked amazing at night.

Mickey’s Fun Wheel dominates the view at Paradise Pier and looked amazing at night.

As in the 10K, running through fantasyland was one of my favorite parts. Some of the rides were going, and the cheerful sounds of the Mad Tea Party kept us going. All too soon, we were leaving Disneyland and heading to California Adventure. I was very excited to spot the very piglike Gammorean Guard on Hollywood Blvd. We had to stop for a photo.

— Kallen Dewey Kentner (@KallenKentner) January 18, 2015

We left Disney property around mile 4. I dreaded the long straightaway, but I shouldn’t have. Fans and spectators were out in force and we were never too far from the next band.

The 501st was a special treat and worth stopping for photos. We stopped for a photo with C-3PO and had a better character interaction than inside the parks.

"Oh my, could this be Pigs in Space?"

“Oh my, could this be Pigs in Space?”

We even crossed Newhope St and plenty of people were stopping for pictures.
I was still feeling good around Mile 10, although feet were a bit sore from two days of running. But after mile 10, there’s only a 5K left, which is a huge boost for me. I know I can do a 5K.

When it was still dark, the lightsabers on these mile markers were lit up.

When it was still dark, the lightsabers on these mile markers were lit up.

A shout out to Mouse Planet and other people who were handing out Redvines to runners. It made me so happy!

Nearing the finish, I caught my first glimpse of Disney characters on the course —Jedi Mickey, Leia Minnie, Darth Goofy, and Chip & Dale Ewoks. I wish I could have stopped for a photo, but right at the finish, I would have caused a pile-up.

After crossing the finish line and receiving the beautiful Star Wars Half medal, there was a short and fast moving line to receive the Rebel Challenge medal. They very quickly looked up my bib number and then gave me my medal.

Photo 16-StarWarsHalf-Kallen

I had completed the Rebel Challenge!

runDisney does a great job organizing such a large event. Add the amazing fans and runners and this is an event I hope I’ll do again.

*****

Kallen is the content and marketing manager for GeekyLibrary and calls herself a half-hearted runner but a full-fledged geek. She blogs about her running at KallenInMotion.wordpress.com. Follow her adventures on Twitter or check out her running boards on Pinterest.

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