Posts Tagged by Princess half marathon

2016 Princess Half Marathon Race Retreat

This year I was lucky enough to have not one but TWO contributors attending the Race Retreat over Princess Half Marathon Weekend!  Today Deborah is sharing why she loves Race Retreat and all of the benefits you receive.

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2016 Princess Half Marathon Race-Retreat

Why I Love Disney’s Race Retreat

My name is Deborah and I love running Disney races.  My most recent races were the 5k and Glass Slipper Challenge during the Princess Race Weekend 2016.  While I had many great experiences during this trip to Walt Disney World, this blog will focus on the race retreat at the half marathon.  This is the second time that I have used the race retreat and it cemented for me my love of race retreat.

First, the facts:

  • What: Race Retreat is an additional purchase option during some runDisney events where you have access to a large, heated tent along with a number of amenities before and after the race
  • Purchase: Through the runDisney website
  • Cost: $120US plus processing fee
  • Includes:
    • Bagels, fruit, beverages before the race and a breakfast buffet (eggs, sausage, etc.) after the race
    • Tent with chairs and tables, private port-a-potties and bag check
    • First aid station after the race
    • A character meet and greet
    • Internet and computer stations to check results
    • Massage for purchase
    • Big screen with live video of the finish line
  • Controlled access: You pick up a wrist band at the Expo

Expo Floorplan

 

The morning of the 2016 Princess half marathon was chilly, not cold like in 2015, but certainly fresh.  After getting off the bus before 4:00 am on the morning of the race, I could see other runners heading to the corrals or waiting in the staging area; many were huddled together or clutching their runDisney Mylar blankets from the 10k the previous morning.  I, however, walked with purpose, following the signs to the race retreat.

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After showing the race retreat guards (really, just a couple of nice Disney cast members) my wrist band, I was allowed to enter the race retreat.  The warm tent was a delight after the long, cold, dark trek from the buses.

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There were round tables with chairs sprinkled around with tables of food in the centre, and stations for gear check, the character meet, and other services were lined around the outside of the tent.   My first task was finding a table to serve as base camp for all of the different tasks and activities that went on for the next hour.

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These included eating (a bagel, cream cheese, jelly) drinking (hot chocolate and water), visiting the port-a-potties, and getting a character photo.  Had I brought a bag, I could have left it at the gear check in the tent.

 

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Shortly after 5:00 am, announcements were made asking all runners to head to the corrals.  It was tough leaving the warm tent, but sitting in a proper chair for the hour before the race was so much better than sitting on the cold ground.

After the race, I headed back to the tent.  This is where my first of two criticisms of the race retreat comes into play:  you have to find the tent!  Looking at the map, it seems very clear.  However, the signage after the race was seriously lacking and it took some time to find the tent amongst all of the people.

 

Map

The race retreat wrist band was required to re-enter the tent.  Once inside, there were again a number of things to do.  My first priority was to find something to drink and there were lots of choices, both hot and cold: Powerade, Coke products, water coffee, and hot chocolate.   I made two trips to the buffet for eggs, surprisingly delicious potatoes, yogurt, fruit and sausage patties.

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The First Aid station was handing out Tylenol, ice, bandages and staff were there to help anyone who needed assistance.  The characters were back and were meeting with the runners, and the gear check staff were handing out Princess towels.  There was also an area where runners could pay for a short massage.

 

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If you are going to the race with a group of family and friends but not running together, the race retreat is an excellent place to meet after.  Those who finish earlier have a warm, comfortable place with chairs and tables, and they don’t have to wait to enjoy a good, hot meal.

Family and friends can purchase access to the Race Retreat tent for after the race, to meet up with their runners.  An area with bean bag chairs and a television playing Disney movies was set up for the children.

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I mentioned above that I have two criticisms of race retreat, the first being the difficulty finding the tent after the finish.  The second is the expense.  At $120US, it is undoubtedly expensive.  I, however, find that it is money well spent and I will continue to purchase Race Retreat whenever it is available.

 

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A Prince’s Perspective on Princess Half Marathon Weekend

I was so excited when Brian reached out to do a review of his experience during Princess Half Marathon Weekend.  With only 11% of the participants male, this race weekend definitely caters to the ladies and it is interesting to get the male perspective…the good, bad and the ugly.  I hope you enjoy his journey from the Expo and through all the races as much as I did!

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Glitter, tiaras fit for royalty, light blues, pinks in every shade and every kind of tutu imaginable, including my devilishly proper yellow tutu, I knew this was going to be a fun weekend.  I wasn’t off the plane an hour before some of my clothing had glitter on it, Princess Weekend at Walt Disney World was about to begin with style. My wife Jenny and I were running our first runDisney Princess Weekend. My wife had wanted to run these races for the longest time, and I was along for the ride.  But what I was in for, I had no idea. Through all the estrogen and pixie dust, this guy had a grand time.

We have learned to arrive at the runDisney expos extra early to avoid the massive crowds that tend to develop around 11am. Our mission was get to the ESPN Wide World of Sports (WWoS) about two hours early.  Officially the expo was scheduled to open Thursday at 10am, however,  recent expos have unofficially opened the doors to the Jostens Center around 9:30am.  At 8:30am we were greeted by a royal red carpet and were about 100 or so back from the main doors. We have done this strategy three times now and haven’t been disappointed yet.  In fact, we saw some of the same people in line at this expo that we had at previous expos.  The one topic that kept coming up: ‘how busy this expo is compared to the others’.

By 9:20am the line was around zig zagged through the red carpet and around the corner.

The doors opened early at 9:30am letting the swarm of princesses into the Jostens Center where most of the official runDisney Race merchandise is showcased and sold. For the most part, people were calm walking at a brisk pace past most of the expo dealers on the way to the main merchandise area, although some actually ran past us.

We arrived in the madness of the merchandise area, full of people swarming around, grabbing, pulling things off of racks, and even taking entire shelves, I had never seen this kind of sheer madness outside of black Friday.  I met another prince running that weekend, and he was on a mission for his wife to find a certain wine glass.  We both noticed the same thing, we were in a sea of women who were on missions that dumbfounded us men. I saw Jeff Galloway standing all alone at his booth watching the madness, and I quickly escaped, to head over and meet him. Mr. Galloway has been an exceptional motivator for me on my quest to start longer runs. He is one of the nicest people I have ever met, and he truly cares about your successes in running and health.

Entering back into the madness of the merchandise area, it was even more chaotic and frantic, with a couple people just grabbing things to trade amongst the other princesses. I actually felt bad for Steven and Ray, both cast members at WWoS complex who were pinned in the corner getting yelled at for certain sizes of the pink ‘Princess Up’ jacket.

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It was something you would witness at the stock exchange. For the most part it was pretty civil except for a few shoving sessions. I was so fascinated with this chaos, I had to become apart of it, so I went straight into the hoard of people yelling for these jackets.  Ladies were yelling sizes out as the two cast members pulled them out of boxes as quickly as they could. “SMALL”, “TWO MEDIUMS” sizes were being yelled out, so I thought I’d insert a joke, I yelled “Xtra Xtra Large for ME”, which received quite a few laughs. Cast member Steven received a new box, it was a medium, a very popular size request, he knew I needed one for my wife, and I had been pushed to the side by some ladies, he quickly handed me one, and said “only dude crazy enough to battle this.” Thanks I think. 

Being a prince surrounded by princesses I was personally looking for something to commemorate my race weekend too.  I found a cast member, and asked him if they had anything for the gents. He quickly said “No, we tried that in years past, but it failed miserably.” (RAD Note: This is VERY disappointing on the part of runDisney. Even just one shirt for the guys would be nice.) I was a little disappointed since the race tech shirts were teal and fuchsia, not exactly manly colors.  It was then I decided to escape to the checkouts.

The line looked bad, but it progressed along nicely. Just an FYI, we were down in November for the runDisney Wine and Dine Half (half ;-)) and I had my sweatshirt given mistakenly to someone else in all the commotion.  Make sure you watch your items go inside your bag at the cash wrap area, things can get very hectic and items can be easily missed.  I was lucky the cast members at my resort were nice enough to rectify the situation for me.

One word for the fellas – Don’t look at the receipts, please.

So we decided that since we had to come back to the Jostens Center to pick up our race tech shirts anyway, we would just head over to main registration across the way (HP Field House). We walked out into a situation we have never seen at any runDisney expo.

The line for the HP Field House was way back in the parking lot, which we had to walk from the exit of the Jostens to the parking lot in order to enter the line back to HP. We were not happy about this, but oh well.

Usually at expos there are ample cast members there to guide you, I personally found there to be a lack of them at this one.  Within twenty minutes time we made our way back to the main courtyard ofWWoS where Jostens and HP are centrally located.

Finally we snaked around (Mine Train style) to the entrance of HP Field House were you pick up your race bibs.

We entered and found a nice treat, my wife Jenny and I both loved being greeted by the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique ladies already to glitterize you for the upcoming weekend. These ladies were the same that made me a princess with glitter on Sunday, but more on that later. 

We noticed how quite and civil race bib pickup was, this past January at the Marathon Weekend had been much busier and chaotic compared to this one. We actually forgot our freshly printed out waivers at the resort, no problem, it took less than 90 seconds to print out all of ours.

Glass Slipper Challenge pick up was a breeze for Jenny, they even gave the tech shirts at this location.

The rest of us (5k, 10k, Half Bibs) had to go to the Jostens Center to pick up. It took 25 mins to grab (different lines) the 5k, 10k, and the Half bibs. We stopped to take a few personal photos, Jenny was disappointed the Glass Slipper Gentlemen from years past were not at the expo for pictures (they were found at mile marker 12 in Epcot during the half).

We started to make our way back outside to head over to Jostens. We entered into complete chaos in the central courtyard of WWoS. You had people trying to enter HP Field House, you had people trying to get to Jostens from 3 separate lines, those three lines were combined by one cast member, utter chaos. Once combined the line lead down stairs and out to the track and field area, a far distance away were thousands of people were lined up to enter Jostens.

My wife and I kept a positive outlook, since it was 73 degrees and gorgeous, while back in Boston it was 21 degrees.

The line actually moved quickly despite its its length.

Most people thought this would take 4 hours, it took all of 40 mins.

Heading back up to the main court yard.

Back in the Courtyard – Cast members wait to lead you to the red carpet line in front of the Jostens.

Zig Zagging the line. Very Civil.

The Expo was swarming with race goers.  My wife had to pick up shirts she ordered online at the Raw Threads booth, great idea and it was painless.

The New Balance area was insane as always, and felt even busier than it has for previous expos.

No flippers needed with these.

Finally exiting the expo. Jenny did exceptionally well with merchandise, while I did not.

Disney Princess 5k – Day One of Three 

We have found that Disney’s Pop Century Resort is an optimal location for the races.  It is located next to ESPN Wide World of Sports and very close to Epcot (where most races start and end). We woke up at 3:15am and made our way to the buses at 4:00am for the 5k start time of 6:00am. We got to the bus area in front of the resort to find a large line, 2 hours before the first corral would go off, pretty early for a runDisney race. The bus situation at Pop Century was exceptional, and even though the line was long, it moved amazingly fast.

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At the Start line, everyone was in high spirits, and before I knew it Rudy announced “30 seconds” and then we were off in typical runDisney style, with magical fireworks.

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My wife hand made three epic tutus that were amazing compared to the store bought ones, like the amazon special I got. I decided to wear it so I would match my wife, since it was her weekend, and I was just a sidekick along for the ride. I received tons of complements, followed by “I wish my husband or boyfriend would of done that for me!” Most of the ladies out there on the course would of loved their fellow prince to have joined them it seemed.

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Something other races that go through Epcot do not have is pink lighting to all the pavilions. Pretty cool.

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The Princess 5k was a fun run for us, so we decided to run from character to character. 

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Sunrise was just coming up as we made our way towards the finish line. It was a special race as I got to run next to my loving princess.

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We received our medals, and headed over to get our pictures taken with Ariel and Sebastian.  What a great way to wrap up the race.

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Disney Enchanted 10k – Day Two of Three

Saturday Morning we woke up at 2:45am to ensure we had ample time to arrive at the race with time to position our selves in our corrals with better placement. Again Pop Century Resort provide exceptional bus service with buses arriving ever couple mins, we were ushered off to the race with ease   A very cold morning, but at least there was no rain like we had during the Walt Disney World 10K in January.

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The Enchanted 10k was started by the Fairy Godmother magically counting down and of course, fireworks.

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Anna and Elsa said hello from their overpass. Typical race pullover.

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One thing that I was pretty negative about – was the amount of people in this race that dumped their race heat wraps or old warm clothing on the ground and didn’t toss it off the course as a courtesy for fellow runners. Also, people just stopped for Anna and Elsa and mile marker photo ops, which caused several collisions.

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I love the 10k course and always have found it to be rewarding without being too challenging. The guys stuck together in little packs, mostly to pass clumps of people walking 5 across. With being less than 10% of the course, guys would pound fists and high five each other in support, and we were all part of a special fraternity of prince’s.  I did find this 10k to be a little light on the support side from crowds in both Boardwalk and Yacht and Beach Club Resorts compared to the other races I have participated in.

After completing the 10K, we did some park touring.  What better way to celebrate your race, than to go to your park of choice.

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Disney Princess Half Marathon – Day Three of Three

Sunday Morning we woke up at 2:40am and we headed out of the room at 3:30am to meet a larger line for the buses then we did the previous morning. Once again, Pop Century was prepared and executed perfectly, we were very impressed.

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We arrived at the race around 4:00am which was good, since my nerves were on edge. This was my first attempt at a half marathon since January 2014 Marathon Weekend were I was so sick, I disqualified myself at mile 8. So I was NERVOUS and had to force myself to eat, and I drank water like a fish.

We started to make our way to the corrals, that 3/4 mile walk down the same path the 5k goes, seemed cold to me.  Jenny was on cloud 9, she looked like nothing could hinder her path to completing her 5th Half Marathon in the last two years. Her first Half was in 2014, the same one I was too sick to finish.  She had her cousin Jamie there who is a seasoned runner, and she calmed her pre race nerves. That morning, Jenny was my soothing blanket, she was great. Every step down to the corral split, my heart raced faster and my grip on her hand got tighter. I knew eventually I would have to let go. The split came, and I started to tear up, my nerves on complete edge. I desperately held on for additional seconds, Jenny told me “you got this, you trained for it, enjoy it” She smiled and we hugged and gave a good bye kiss, and she and I headed to our separate corrals.

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I made it to my corral with about an 45 minutes before the start. I counted 5 men in my corral. In previous races, both Marathon Weekend and Wine and Dine, inside the corrals people usually start to chit chat, and make small talk. This corral was all business, no talking, no nothing, felt very cold compared to the others. Luckily I was texting my wife for last minute advice.

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Before the blink of an eye, Rudy and the Fairy Godmother were letting Corral A off. In true Disney fashion the fireworks were magical. Odd thing, the new digital start line was absent at these races. Wine and Dine along with Marathon Weekend both utilized it, hopefully it comes back.

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We were ushered up the start line, and let loose to 13.1 miles. I didn’t get too excited at the start, I stuck to my training pace and pressed on like a trooper.

This hot air balloon was fantastic and photo doesn’t do it justice.

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A very cliché picture, but a one I love.

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Captain Hook is my favorite and it was a refreshing sight.

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Entering the Magic Kingdom was so motivating and it can’t really be described. The support from the cheer squad and cast members was amazing, Thanks to all who supported us.

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Fast forward to mile 7, I started to choke up, my sunglasses started to fog, and tears started to form, I knew mile 8 was coming up, this mile had haunted my thoughts for two years. There it is, Mile 8 maker, along with three “parade buses” (these are the buses that sweep people up if they fall behind pace). I stopped for a picture, and away I went – Strong.

Just like in the 10K, the guys would fist bump each other in support for the 9% of us on the course. One thing I didn’t like on the course, that really made me mad, was a fellow guy ran far off the course to relieve himself in the woods.  Women passing started to boo, which surprised me as this is typical in other races and usually not an issue, guess that’s not the case for this race. I made it to a port-o-pottie for  quick stop, however, I was cut off twice, which made me feel like a second class citizen to fellow princess racers. Other than that, the race was extremely pleasant and up lifting.

Between water volunteers, volunteers in general, random cheerers and my texts from my wife, I was able to make it to Epcot with ease.

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Epcot was kind of a joke since you barely skip through it. Finish Line time, I thought I’d tear up, but I powered through like a pro.

Finally got a Half Marathon medal, and the funny thing is I want more of them. Addicted!

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After the race we went to 1900 Park Fare for breakfast. Lady Tremaine wanted my bling for herself and I smiled and handed them off with no dismay. I didn’t need a medal to show my worth, I had proven to myself that I could do it, and for that I am so grateful for this weekend. On to the Star Wars ‘Dark Side Challenge’!

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Visit Brian Meljac’s personal blog, Dark Side Challenger, where a true star wars geek takes on 22.4 miles of Star Wars Races in April 2016.  You can also follow Brian on Periscope (@LiveatDisney).

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!

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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!

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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? 

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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).

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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!

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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*****

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!

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