Posts Tagged by race recap

2016 Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap From A First Timer

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

***

2016-Princess Half Recap First Timer

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

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

2016-Princess-Half-Early Wakeup Call

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

2016-Princess-Half-Line for Busses

2016-Princess-Half-Bus Selfie

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

2016-Princess-Half-Pre-Race with Friend

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

2016-Princess-Half-Walk to Corrals

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

2016-Princess-Half-Balloon Ladies

The Dreaded Balloon Ladies!

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

2016-Princess-Half-Fireworks

2016-Princess-Half-Start Line

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

2016-Princess-Half-Mile 2 Marker

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

2016-Princess-Half-Hot Air Balloon

2016-Princess-Half-TTC

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

2016-Princess-Half-Main Street

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

2016-Princess-Half-Castle with Frozen Characters

2016-Princess-Half-Castle Selfie

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

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

2016-Princess-Half-Gospel Choir

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

2016-Princess-Half-Mile 13 Marker

2016-Princess-Half-Mile 13 Picture

2016-Princess-Half-Finish Line

2016-Princess-Half-Donald and Goofy

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

2016-Princess-Half-Finished!

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

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

2016-Princess-Half-Castle Medal Pic

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

2016-Princess-Half-Medal Pic

*****

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

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!

***

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.

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Recap – A Story of Strength and Solidarity

We’ve all had those races that are a struggle.  Either we are not prepared or the weather is bad or we are just not mentally in the game.  Jenna went into the Disneyland Half Marathon not feeling so great, but ended up persevering and finding new friends along the way.  I first met Jenna during the 2013 Princess Half Marathon Weekend and we have remained friends since.  Her positive attitude, infectious smile and ability to laugh during the difficult times make her a joy to know.  All of that is what got her and others through a difficult race. I dare you to not tear up by the end of this race recap…CONGRATS JENNA!

***

Before the 2014 Disneyland Half Marathon, I had a pretty strong feeling that this was one race I would not be finishing. I was undertrained, overweight, and had half-healed injuries. Two weeks before the race, I made one last attempt to get in a 10 mile run, but got a blister 6.5 miles into it, so quit after 8 miles. All of this left me extremely worried as race day got closer. I studied past results and run blogs obsessively. My one goal was to get to the other side of Angel Stadium, where I knew I would see the last sweep point.

I did the 5K on Friday and had a nice, fun run around the parks to settle myself down and enjoy the scenery without worrying about my timing chip. On Friday night, I watched the Magical fireworks show at Disneyland and heard the words “Wishes make your dreams come true.” No, I thought. Hard work makes your dreams come true. But if I had one wish, I knew what it would be.

On Sunday, I got to the race start just after the corrals opened. I was in Corral I, so I had plenty of time, but I wanted to get as close to the front of the corral to squeeze out as many extra minutes as possible.

2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon-Jenna-Petrosky-1

I had met a cast member in my corral on Friday night and Christina and I spent the endless time before our start chatting with her and trying not to worry.

2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon-Jenna-Petrosky-2

And then we were off!

I felt pretty good at the beginning, though I kept thinking about the 20 ounces of water I drank in the corral. My calves felt tight and my shoes felt loose, so as soon as we were in California Adventure, I stretched one and snugged up the other. One quick bathroom break in Cars Land and it was back to sticking to my intervals as much and for as long as I could.

2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon-Jenna-Petrosky-3

Along the way, I settled into a pack and chatted with people around me a bit. I got a piece of advice from one runner that would prove to be invaluable in more ways than I knew.

She advised me to breathe more deeply, from my diaphragm and gave me some techniques to help. It was great advice and just what I needed. I remember thinking, she knows what she’s talking about and she’s going about my pace. If I can keep her in view, I will finish this race. She was easy to spot in a mermaid patterned Sparkle Skirt, purple shirt, white ball cap and CamelBak. And this plan absolutely worked. There were times when I’d pass my mermaid runner. There were times when she passed me. But we were usually pretty close.

2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon-Jenna-Petrosky-4

Through the middle third of the race, I was acutely aware of my blister. Though it had healed in the week prior to the race, walking around Disneyland for three days before the race had brought it back and made it… angry. I’m pretty sure it broke sometime around mile six. So while I remember the Mexican folkloric dancers on Cerritos Avenue and the step dance crew on Lewis Street, I was way more focused on the pain in my foot.

2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon-Jenna-Petrosky-5

Soon, I’d reached the halfway point and the sea of signs cheering on runners (mostly from MousePlanet). I knew I didn’t have a sign there, but it didn’t stop me from making a muscle for Parker or cheering for the real men who were running in kilts. I was just so happy to see that spot! I was also happy to see my mermaid runner making a beeline for the Team MousePlanet support tent. Got a hug from Ken the Free Hugs (to end racial discrimination) guy, and I was off and trudging along again.

2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon-Jenna-Petrosky-6

Mile 7 found me totally distracted by the sheer number of flooring, kitchen and bath stores on State College Rd. A little voice said, “Drop out! Buy tile instead!” I think I was delirious.

Angels Stadium… Angels Stadium… It became a mantra for me. And at one point, I could see the top of the A. I tried to take a picture of the A. And then my music stopped playing and I couldn’t get my phone to work again. So I had to be stuck in my own head for the rest of the race. That is not a happy place to be when you’re rapidly approaching the furthest distance you’ve run in 18 months. (Unbeknownst to me, it started working again two miles later and took pictures from inside my pocket.)

I didn’t even notice when we passed the Honda Center, even though I was looking for it. I said out loud, “My feet feel like water balloons.” A passing runner said, “That’s really… That’s a really good… I know just what you mean.” My feet were so swollen within my shoes that I could feel the fluid in them and later discovered that my pinkie toenail sliced right into the swollen piggy that didn’t have roast beef.

I could see other runners struggling. There were the sisters dressed as the Potato Heads. There was the woman who was literally pulling her friend up the hills. There were all the people telling each other how much they hurt, as they kept walking, running and moving forward.

When we got on the Santa Ana Trail, I heard the dreaded sound: balloon ladies calling out, “We’re behind pace! Pick it up! Don’t slow down!” They were right behind me! I did what I could to get back to intervals whenever possible, but the trail was getting narrower and the pack was getting more confined. When we approached the bridge underpass and people realized that Angels Stadium was still on the other side of the Orange Freeway, you could actually feel people slow down in disappointed shock. Then the balloon ladies yelled again and it sent us scrambling down the hill.

The tunnel into Angels Stadium was wet, downhill and gritty, but you could hear the roar of the crowd on the other side. All of my exhaustion and soreness was no match for a stadium full of cheering Scouts! I high-fived every kid in reach! In the melee, I didn’t notice precisely when the balloon ladies passed me, but by the time we emerged from the tunnel out of the stadium, they were in front of me. And so was some guy running with a small broom. Oh, no! No, no, no! I didn’t come this far to get swept! I could see busses at the far side of the parking lot. I could see security guards.

I ran past them.

I don’t know how long after that they closed the last sweep point, but I was past it!

About a half mile later, I caught up with my mermaid runner, thanked her for the breathing advice way back in Disneyland and we fell into chatting. She said her name was Janna and she told me the story of her Tinkerbell Half experience. At some point on the route, she was shoved by another runner, stepped into a pothole and twisted her ankle. She didn’t finish. She was doing Dumbo this time, after months of loss and illness.

2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon-Jenna-Petrosky-7

Janna’s Feet From Inside My Pocket

“I just don’t want to get swept again.”

“Janna, we’re past the last sweep point.”

“What?! Where is it? Never mind, don’t tell me.”

“It’s almost a mile behind us. We are finishing this race.”

“I’m not getting swept? I’m finishing the race?”

She started crying in relief and I gave her a sideways hug as we kept walking.

“You are crossing that finish line if I have to human crutch you across it.”

From then on, the race was all about sheer stubbornness and solidarity. We stuck together the remaining two and a half miles: keeping an eye out for mile markers; keeping our feet going; keeping each other’s spirits up. At some point, when we were finally back on Disney property back behind California Adventure, a couple of high school cheerleaders danced alongside us chanting “WE’RE! SO! PROUD OF YOU! WE’RE SO PROUD OF YOU!” I grinned like an idiot. I was proud of us, too!

Finally, we were into the finish line viewing area and I could see my friends, F.J. and Andy cheering for me. They were in Corrals A and D and were showered and changed already! I hugged them and got them sweaty again. They told me how proud they were of me. I ran back to catch up with Janna. “There’s no time for hugging our people!” Janna said, right before she ran over and hugged one of her people.

I saw a sign that said “You look hot when you sweat!” and said “Darned right I do!” and started strutting down the approach to the finish line. The remaining, die-hard crowd went wild!

Then I turned to Janna and said, “You ready to run across that finish line and end this thing with style? Gotta look good for the pictures! “

“You know I am!” she said. We ran the rest of the way, dodging people going in for the hug with Mickey and Minnie.

Across the finish line, we had another tearful hug and got our medals (Half for me, Half and Dumbo for Janna!), then went our separate ways. I was off to gear check and medical (dry socks and ice packs were all I could think about), and Janna went to find her husband. We are now Facebook friends and I think of us as foxhole friends. Shared strength and solidarity are vital pieces of running gear!

2014-Disneyland-Half-Marathon-Jenna-Petrosky-8

2014 Expedition Everest Challenge Race Recap

Today Sarah from Running for Inspiration is here with a really fun recap of the Expedition Everest Challenge.  After reading this post and seeing all of the fun photos, I am even more disappointed that I didn’t take part in the event this year.  It is definitely on my runDisney to do list for 2015!

***

Have you ever ridden a roller coaster at 1 in the morning?

It’s pretty awesome.

Not so awesome? Rain. Especially in 60 degree weather. Especially for Floridians who have been training in 70 and 80 degree rainless weather.

The Expedition Everest Challenge weekend kicked off on Friday with the expo which was at ESPN Wide World of Sports. Unlike the last expo I went to there (for Princess Weekend), this was all outdoors and pretty small. Packet pick up was in the inside part of the baseball stadium, as was the official merchandise (where I spent wayyyyyyy too much money).

Packet pick up

The vendors were all outside which was unfortunate since it was threatening rain. There were only 6 or 7 vendors there but I picked up a new shirt from Raw Threads, a couple of shoe charms from BeeCause, and I gazed longingly at the Garmin Forerunner 220 that I’ve been pining after for the last month. After grabbing some free yogurt (I love free food!) I headed back to my resort to beat the rain.

My sister-in-law Lackey and I stayed at Caribbean Beach Resort which was one of the host resorts, so the day of the race we caught the bus, and arrived at Animal Kingdom around 8:45, which left us plenty of time to go to the bathroom and get situated in our corral. We spent a good hour or so just people watching and looking at everyone’s great costumes.

Wampa

There were a bunch of people dressed as Elsa and Anna who committed! Full costumes! We just did the shirts and braided our hair.

Me and Lackey

We also saw Robin Hood and Maid Marian along with the vultures and 3 men dressed like Indiana Jones. Which was perfect because I love Robin Hood and Lackey loves Indiana Jones.

Robin Hood

Indiana Jones

We were in Corral I, which was the second to last corral and with 6 minutes in between each wave we had to wait a loooooooooong time. Add to that the rain and then the breeze and Lackey was a very grumpy Elsa. But by the time we started running the rain had stopped and we were itching to go.

Grumpy Lackey

The first half mile we ran with no problem and no walk breaks and we came to the first obstacle around .75 miles in which was hay bale hurdles. I jumped about 4 of them and then went around the rest. I’m not breaking an ankle on a hay bale less than a mile into the race! Lackey loved it, wanted to do it again even. I put the kibosh on that though.

About a mile in we entered the park and we saw Donald Duck so I made Lackey stop for a picture because Donald is my soul mate.

Donald

We looped through the park and saw people already working on the scavenger hunt. Around mile 2 we saw Mickey and then went behind Expedition Everest for the out and back portion of the race and through the second obstacle which was tires. I stepped daintily through (again, I don’t want to break an ankle) and we continued on. Once you get to the end of the road there was FIRE! and you turned around and headed back.

Mickey

My favorite part of the race? On the way back, we passed the tires again and a dude dressed as Iron Man said, “Obstacles! Yes!” and then tripped over the first tire. He was ok! Iron Man just forgot how to fly. Let’s blame Jarvis for that one.

After that we were just on the back road behind the park until mile 3 where the final obstacle was located. You had to crawl under netting and come out the other side. Not going to lie, we skipped it. Super lame, I know. But we just wanted to cross the finish line which we could see! So we sprinted! And then began the scavenger hunt.

Animal Kingdom Sign

There were 5 clues of varying difficulty. We got the first one wrong. And the second one wrong. But the rest we got right! And I might be biased because we got it wrong, but that second question was hard! You had to find letters spelled out in the previous clue and then add them together; it was weird and not what I would have thought of. But I guess that’s the point of a scavenger hunt, to make you think differently. Plus we got cool Sharpies/Flashlights so that soothed my battered pride. Back through the rest of the park, collecting and solving clues as we went and across the finish lines to get our medals! So pretty and shiny. It opens up into a compass but my compass didn’t know how to compass. I’m always going north. But I’m not planning on taking my medal through the wilderness where I might get lost so that’s ok.

After the race

Back through the park again for the party! This was my first time going to Animal Kingdom and I rode Expedition Everest for the first time and it was the Best. Roller. Coaster. EVER. Not even exaggerating. We also rode Dinosaur where I felt like I was about to be thrown from the ride and left 65 million years ago. That would have been ok with me though because I had a backup plan. I think I would find one of the herbivores to befriend and ride him around like an elephant. I’d name him Frederick, I think.

After that I had to feed Lackey because she is always hungry (I think she has a tape worm or something) and then she got scared of the Yeti on stilts and we had to leave.

Moral of the story: Always ride roller coasters in the dark; don’t worry if your college education let you down during a scavenger hunt because you’ll still get a medal; always have a backup plan in case you get left in the past; and if you see a Yeti on stilts, run away.

Also, if you’re able to, definitely do Expedition Everest next year. I had a blast.

Me!

*****

Sarah Simpson. Alabama born, Florida raised. Florida State University alumna (Go Noles!). Perpetrator of harebrained schemes foremost of which is running a half marathon in 6 months. Some people call me Gonzo. You can call me Gonzo the Great. No, wait, don’t do that. My ego will explode. Just call me Sarah. And read my blog. And follow me on Pinterest. You can follow me on Instagram or Twitter too but that’s not as much fun as the others.

Blog: www.runningforinspiration.blogspot.com

2014 Tinker Bell Half Marathon Race Recap

I’m so excited to have Kinnereth back for her second recap!  If you remember, she recapped the 2013 Wine & Dine Half Marathon with her fiance Andy and since Disneyland is her home park, I knew she had to do a Tink recap for me as well!  Take it away Kinnereth!

***

Hi RAD readers!  This is Kinnereth, I am happy to contribute a second time to Sarah’s blog.  I know that reading all the race recaps helps me before a race.  I like to know what to expect and how to prepare. I consider the Tinker Bell Half Marathon “my race”. My very good friend ran it with me.  It was a first for both of us when we ran in 2012.  We have since participated in many races together, including Tink each year.  It has been something we look forward to running and we try to beat our time each year. We drove down Saturday from Northern California with our fiancées, leaving at 2 am!  We arrived at the park at 7:30 am and watched the 10K finishers before trying to check-in to our hotel.  It was exciting to think the next day we would be running too!  Both of us felt a little twinge of “I wish I had signed up for the 10K as well”.  We hadn’t because there was no challenge offered and those registration fees add up quickly 😉 The expo didn’t open until 10 am on Saturday, so we headed over to Disney’s California Adventure park for a few hours.  We had lots of fun riding a few attractions before taking a break to pick up our race packets.

2014-Tink-Recap8

Thankfully the expo experience went very smoothly.  We quickly went downstairs at the Disneyland hotel to grab our bibs then headed back upstairs to get the goodies.  I loved the shirts they gave this year, much more silky material than previous races!  Plus they are a pretty magenta color.

2014-Tink-Recap5

We spent about an hour wandering around the expo, getting some KT tape questions answered and stocking up on Cliff Shot Blocks.  I was VERY tempted to buy the NB Cinderella shoes…  The only drawback to the expo was the lack of official merchandise left.  We were there shortly after it opened Saturday and we didn’t see much Coast to Coast merchandise and there were no “I did it” shirts left.  Definitely get to the expo early if you want to purchase souvenir merch.

2014-Tink-Recap3

After the expo we spent more time in Disneyland and ate some pasta at Pizza Port in the park.  Then it was early to bed for us 3:45 am was a very early wake up call come Sunday morning. We woke up, quickly dressed and headed across the street to the corrals.  I highly recommend staying close for the CA races, other hotels provide shuttles but I would think there are long lines.  We stayed at the Anabella Resort and were able to walk 2 min to the start line!!!  Both of us started in Corral C and we wanted to be up at the front to avoid as many crowds as possible.  It seemed like seconds before we were sprinkled with virtual pixie dust and we were off!

The course between miles 2 and 6 is in the parks and some parts are very narrow.  I liked the changes this year; instead of running into the park and to the right where Tomorrowland is, we ran left through the castle initially.  Some may not realize that the back of the castle is what you see on Main St. USA so I guess we were running the correct direction this year! Ha! It was about mile 3 that my friend had some tummy trouble.  She said she was going to just take it easy and enjoy the race and that I should go on ahead.  I was feeling great and hoping for a PR so I took off.  As I passed It’s A Small World the clock was striking 6:00 am and the characters were out.  I love this part of the race and I’m so happy that practically half of the race is in the parks. When we got out to the streets of Anaheim I was able to jog/run the whole 13.1, I took water about every other stop.  It seemed to me that there weren’t as many cheerleaders and bands as in years past.  I also noticed the new “Shhh… neighbors sleeping” signs.  I wonder if residents complained?

2014-Tink-Recap4

Miles 8 – 11 were more monotonous, we entered the back lot of DCA at mile 12 and I texted my fiancée that he should start looking for me. Plus, he is an expert photographer and managed to snap a pic as I flew ran by.

2014-Tink-Recap1

I was so happy when I crossed that finish line and got my text with my time!  PR by 6 minutes – the rest of the day I was grinning.

2014-Tink-Recap2

We waited for my friend to finish and by that time it was almost 8:30, so we figured we could head over to Disneyland park for opening at 9.  The Fantasyland rides become so crowded after the initial park opening and we wanted to ride Peter Pan and visit Tink with our medals.  We lined up for rope drop with many families who asked us what in the world was going on that morning!  We assume everyone at the park was there for the race, not so!

2014-Tink-Recap6   2014-Tink-Recap7

Despite a change of plans for her, we both love this race and we are so thankful that we can run it together each year.  See ya’ May 2015 Tink!

Sarah’s Note: I want to congratulate Kinnereth & Andy on their wedding next week!!  You two are a great couple and I wish you a lifetime of happiness!

*****

I’m Kinnereth from sunny CA. Currently living and working in Napa with my fiancé, Andy (we’re getting married in 11 days!!!). I teach high school Spanish and work at a winery on the weekends. Both Andy & I love running Disney races, I’m also training for my first full marathon. I’ll be running the Napa Valley Marathon in March. Other than that our little Doxie keeps us busy.

Next Page »