Posts Tagged by Starting Line

2013 Dumbo Double Dare Recap Part II – Disneyland Half Marathon

050-DLHalf-Medals-Header

For the 3rd day in a row, I was up before the sun.  Oh the things we do to run at Disney.  I ran through the same morning routine as the morning before for the Disneyland 10K, jumped on the bus and walked through Downtown Disney in the dark to the start line.  It’s oddly peacefully at that hour…

001 DLHalf-Downtown-Disney

I happened to look to my right as I was walking towards the Disneyland Hotel and saw a very empty starting line…oh the calm before the storm.

002 DLHalf-Empty-Start

I met up with Amanda at what was becoming our “usual spot” at the Sorcerer’s Hat. We were both a bit tired, but excited to take on the 2nd have of the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge despite the warm temps.  You know it’s hot out when she shows up to run in a tank top…

003 DLHalf-Amanda-Sarah

We met up with Ashley who we ran with the day before and all headed to the corrals.  We had such a blast during the 10K that we all wanted to run together again!  Even though we were all tired we were determined to have a “PR IN FUN” for this race, which became our motto along the way.  The road to the corrals was a bit different this morning as these long chutes were put up leading to different corral areas.  It kind of felt like a cow being led to slaughter…odd.

003 DLHalf-Walk-to-Corral

But thankfully we made it to the other side unscathed and headed into our corral with time to spare.  Look we even ran into our friend James!

004 DLHalf-CorralD

005 DLHalf-Corral

An interesting thing about Disneyland races vs. Disney World races are the lack of fireworks.  In the World, each corral goes off with their own fireworks which adds to the excitement.  But in Disneyland, they can’t do that because we are technically in a residential area and there are noise restrictions.  Booooo.  But I was excited to see some super quiet fireworks during the National Anthem.  How do they get them so quiet???

And before we knew it, we were walking towards the start line.  There is a lot less waiting around in Disneyland and I like that!  It was great to see some spectators already out and cheering on the runners.  Seriously, how cute is this dog in the Tinker Bell costume?!?

006 DLHalf-Spectators

It was our turn to be counted down and we were off…well, slowly…

The course had the same start as the 10K, but we turned a block earlier this time down W Katella Aveneue where we got a glimpse of the sun just beginning to rise.

007 DLHalf-Katella

Before I knew it we were about to enter Disneyland just after mile 1.  This is also where the mile 12 marker which we came across at around the 41 minute mark. Here is where we saw an amazing site….the lead wheelchair competitor came zooming through.  Unbelievable!  I got the chills seeing this and couldn’t get my camera out fast enough.  It just goes to show that you can do anything with determination and drive.  On days where I’m doubting myself, you better believe I will be referring back to that moment.

Unlike the 10K, the half marathon enters the park in Paradise Pier and loops around into Carsland, so you get a completely different perspective from the morning before.

008 DLHalf-Fun-Wheel

009 DLHalf-Carsland

I of course stopped for a bathroom break while I had the real facilities available and told Amanda and Ashley I would catch up. Little did I know they were speed demons that morning!  I was able to catch up with them right on Main Street USA, but I had to run WAY faster than my usual half marathon pace to get there.  But I’m glad I did so we could take our picture in front of the castle!

010 DLHalf-Sarah-Castle

011 DLHalf-Ashley-Castle

I also met up with my favorite green army men in Toontown where I promptly dropped and gave them 20…nah, more like 2 🙂 Definitely my favorite photo op!

012 DLHalf-Pushups

And before we even reached mile 4, we were out of the parks.  It was kind of a bummer that there was such a short time spent in the parks, especially since the majority of the 10K was spent in there.  We headed out onto the streets of Anaheim and we greeted by an enthusiastic group of cheerleaders…the first of many!  These girls were awesome.

The sun had just come over the horizon and we spent what seemed like eternity running directly into it.  This made me realize that I really need to invest in a pair of sport sunglasses!  Even though it was bright…it sure was gorgeous.

013 DLHalf-Anaheim

014 DLHalf-Anaheim

With the sun comes the heat and we were starting to feel it.  We found any shade we could on the course and wove across the road to try and stay cool.  Thankfully it wasn’t as oppressive as the day before, but with more than half the race to go I knew I had to try and stay cool where I could.

The entertainment on this race was much different from the other Disney races because there weren’t any characters outside of the parks.  Instead there were TONS of local entertainment!  This was pretty cool…check out these amazing dancers!

And Micheal Jackson was there…actually he was running and dancing at the same time!

015 DLHalf-MJ

And an awesome group of signs and spectators…

016 DLHalf-All-the-miles

017 DLHalf-SIgns

018 DLHalf-Signs

019 DLHalf-Signs

020 DLHalf-Signs

Somewhere around mile 6, RAD reader Hanna came up and said hi and we talked for a bit as we ran.  We also ran into Colin (@ParadisePeer) who went flying past us in an awesome Dumbo costume!    I seriously LOVE chatting with you guys on the course…it’s probably the next best thing after cats!

Next came the classic cars!  This was SUPER cool and was just like the cars on the WDW Speedway during the WDW Marathon, but better!  There had to be at least 300 cars along the course all with their owners cheering us on. They must have had to get there at by 5am at the latest to be set and ready for the runners…so RAD!

021 DLHalf-Cars

022 DLHalf-Cars

One of my favorite spectators!

023 DLHalf-Cars

024 DLHalf-Cars

025 DLHalf-Cars

Apparently the wake up call was too early for this woman, but at least she had the Disney spirit!

028 DLHalf-Cars

After the cars, we came upon the Honda Center where the Anaheim Mighty Ducks play.  Being a huge hockey fan (Go Rangers!), this was an unexpected surprise.  Plus there’s that whole Disney angle to the team 🙂

026 DLHalf-Ashley-Civic-Center 027 DLHalf-Mighty-Ducks

The course turned down the Santa Ana Trail, which was actually a dirt trail that created quite the dust storm with all the runners. Some volunteers were even sporting bandanas around they face to not breathe in all the dust.  Not fun while trying to run.

029 DLHalf-Trail

I’m assuming the trail used to run along the Santa Ana River that now seemed to be completely dried up.  Nonetheless, it was quite beautiful despite the dust.

030 DLHalf-TrailWe were coming up on mile 9 and off in the distance we could see Angel Stadium.  I had heard that this was one of the highlights of the race and it also meant we were in the home stretch.  What I didn’t expect was the crowd…wow.

031 DLHalf-Trail

032 DLHalf-Angel

In the parking lot there was a HUGE gathering of Boy Scouts.  I can’t even begin to tell you how cool it was to see all those kids out there screaming and jumping for us.

033 DLHalf-Angel

And there was this lady…wha??

034 DLHalf-AngelThen we entered the stadium and the stands were FULL of spectators, once again putting the trip around the Champion Stadium at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to shame.  Not only were the spectators amazing but the stadium was beautiful and we got to see ourselves on the Jumbotron!

035 DLHalf-Angel

036 DLHalf-Angel

037 DLHalf-Angel

Back on the road, we were making our way back to the Disneyland Resort.  I have to say that this stretch of the course was pretty boring, but we were met with more cheerleaders and even a color guard team to liven things up a bit.

038 DLHalf-Cheerleaders

039 DLHalf-Color-Guard

I was feeling pretty good considering that I had run the day before and it was unusually hot out.  My legs felt fine and I had a ton of energy.  The only issue I was really dealing with was chafing from the excessive amount of sweating that was going on.  TMI?  The girls and I were keeping our spirits up by reminding ourselves that we were having a PR IN FUN and actually managed to keep laughing through these long 2+ miles.

041 DLHalf-Mile12

As we got back to the parks right at mile 12, I witnessed a wonderful family reunion where a runner was beyond excited to see her parents and grandparents.  There were hugs all around and they were clearly so proud.  This made me smile from ear to ear 🙂

040 DLHalf-Reunion

The road to the finish line took us through a backstage area of Disney California Adventure where we were able to see some of the disabled ride vehicles…I always love that stuff.  Who knew those rafts were so deep??

042 DLHalf-Raft

043 DLHalf-Backstage

Seeing the Paradise Pier Hotel was an incredibly welcoming sight.  We were almost there…just under a mile to go and I was about to complete my first back to back race challenge!  As I’m writing this, I still find it a bit unbelievable that I even attempted this, let alone finished it.

044 DLHalf-Paradise-Pier

And then I saw this guy…dressed as Darth Goofy!  Kudos on the costume but DAMN he must have been HOT!  He had gloves on and all…insane.

045 DLHalf-Darth-Goofy

We turned the corner towards the Disneyland Hotel and there was another HUGE crowd there to greet us.  The home stretch is so exciting…you can’t help but pick up the pace and really give it your all for that last half mile or so.

046 DLHalf-Spectators

047 DLHalf-Mile13

I found my own personal cheerleader Cindy (read all about her awesomeness in my 10K recap!) and of course had to get another photo…

048 DLHalf-Cindy-Sarah

And there she was…the finish line!  I grabbed Amanda’s hand and we finished together like we have every race we’ve run together since my first half marathon a year and a half ago.  So emotional and I wouldn’t want to do experience all of this with anyone else.

049 DLHalf-Finish-Line

Again, not our fastest race by any means (3:25:31), but we did manage to get that PR IN FUN!  Running with friends is so different that running for time.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again, this is what makes Disney races so special and I will NEVER be ashamed to be a slow runner here.  We crossed that finish line and we crossed it with a smile on our faces 🙂

B was in the family reunion area waiting for me and I couldn’t wait to see him.  It’s always great to see his smiling face after my races.  Amanda had to leave to catch her flight so I gave her a sweaty hug and headed to the photo area to get a few pics.  I had B bring all my medals so I could do this…

053 DLHalf-Medals

052 DLHalf-Medals

WEAR ALL THE MEDALS!!  While I was waiting to take my photo, I ran into a woman who I met on the plane out there…crazy!  She had run Goofy earlier in the year and was also waiting to take her photo with all of her medals!

051 DLHalf-Medals

And the fun didn’t stop there…  After a shower and a quick nap, B and I headed to Downtown Disney for lunch at Uva.  Ever since my first half marathon when I had Fish & Chips as my post race meal, that is something I now crave after most races. Unfortunately it was really hot, so it wasn’t as enjoyable as I would’ve liked, but a nice cold beer definitely helped 🙂

DLHalf-Uva-Beer

DLHalf-Uva-Fish-Chips

After lunch, we jumped on the Monorail and headed into Disneyland.  I LOVE that you can take the monorail from Downtown Disney into Tomorrowland and the ride is so fun how it winds through the trees and above all the attractions!  What would be nicer is if it had air conditioning, but like many things in Disneyland it doesn’t. HOT!!!

DLHalf-Monorail

I was hoping to get in some of my must do attractions like the Matterhorn and Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin, but the combination of long lines and heat prevented that from happening.  But I DID have more fun with my medals!! 🙂

054 DLHalf-Medals-Castle

055 DLHalf-10K-Medal

056 DLHalf-Dumbo-Medal

The day (and the trip) ended with an incredible dinner at the Chef’s Counter at Napa Rose.  Expect a full review of this meal soon!

DLHalf-Napa-Rose

What a crazy few days.  The Inaugural Dumbo Double Dare Challenge was a lot of fun and something I would definitely do again.  However, traveling out to California is VERY expensive and I don’t think it is something I will be able to do every year unfortunately.  Living on the East Coast it is much easier (and economical) for me to go to WDW even multiple times per year.

I also prefer the races in WDW. Maybe it’s because I’m more familiar with the roads there and I know exactly where I am at all times.  Or maybe it’s because they feel more “Disney” to me.  Running through Anaheim was nice, but I could do that in any local race.  There wasn’t much about it (except for the 2 miles through the parks) that made it feel like a Disney race.  I love seeing characters throughout the whole course and it’s definitely something I missed here.  I’m not sure what my future for Disneyland races holds, but I do know I would love to go back…just maybe not next year.

Do you want to run a race in Disneyland?  Have you done so already?  What is your favorite part?

2013 Walt Disney World Marathon Race Recap – Part 2

Part 1 of my Walt Disney World Marathon recap left off just outside of Animal Kingdom.  I was halfway through the race and still feeling really good.  My friend Katherine (KO) found me just as we were leaving the parking lot at Mile 14.  It was really great to see her and have someone to talk to.  My iPod decided to die right when I turned it on, so I had been running with no music and no one to talk to this whole time.

We made our way onto Osceola Parkway and began the trek to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex (WWOS).  I had run Osceola during the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler and the Wine & Dine Half Marathon so I knew I was in for a long haul.  What I didn’t expect (since those 2 races are run at night) is how bad the sun was going to be during this stretch.  It was almost 9:00 am and the sun was at full blast over the trees and there was barely any shade.  We continued on with the 3/1 run/walk pace for a while, but I found that I needed to walk for longer periods of time.  Osceola also has a ton of overpasses which means hills…not fun!

Traffic on World Drive from Osceola Parkway

Traffic on World Drive from Osceola Parkway

B and my mom were meeting me on Osceola right before we made the turn into WWOS and I couldn’t wait to see them!  Just knowing they were there was making it easier to push through the heat.  B took some fun photos while he was waiting…those cups are quite the sight!

Mile 17 Water Stop...cups, cups and more cups!

Mile 17 Water Stop…cups, cups and more cups!

Seriously awesome costume That hat must have been hot!

Seriously awesome costume
That hat must have been hot!

Oh...here I am!

Oh…here I am!

I immediately dove into the bag I packed and grabbed more body glide to lube up under my sports bra (TMI again??).  I was trying to avoid chafing at all costs…I have no shame and did that right on Osceola Parkway in front of thousands of my friends.  I also switched out my sweaty headband, gave B my dead iPod, restocked my Gu, filled my water bottles and grabbed some crackers.

Diving into my bag of goodies

Diving into my bag of goodies

Look it's Katherine...in the cutest Aurora costume I might add!

Look it’s Katherine…in the cutest Aurora costume!

B said I was looking good at that point…totally the opposite to what I was starting to feel.  I really wanted to just jump in the car with them and go grab a beer, but no…KO and I took off into WWOS.  As we entered the complex there were sponges…ooohhh sponges!  VoluntEARS were handing out sponges soaked in water that were the most amazing things EVER!  I have to admit that when I first saw there were sponges on the course, I was a little grossed out by them but I was totally wrong…the cold water was perfect in that heat.  I just wish I would’ve kept it for later in the race.  Fail!

I won’t go into much detail about WWOS because the whole 3 miles spent in there was my demise.  I really didn’t enjoy this part of the course.  There was barely any shade, it was hot, humid and most of all it was boring.  Around mile 18, my legs started getting sore and I was mentally starting to break down.  This was the farthest I’d ever run (we won’t get into my lack of training here…that’s for another day) and the heat was beating me down.  At least this guy was here to cheer me up a bit…

32 Sign

We ran through Champion Stadium and on to the mile 20 spectacular we heard so much about.  I’m not sure what I was expecting but I felt like the spectacular wasn’t all that spectacular.  Yes, the giant sized puppets were very cool, but I was more blown away by them when they were out during Wine & Dine when they were all lit up.

Mile 20 Spectacular

Mile 20 Spectacular

34 Mile 20 Puppets

Giant Tigger!

Don’t get me wrong, it was great to see Goofy, Mickey and Donald waving and greeting all of us and the 20 mile banner was pretty cool.  I just think that between the heat and the oncoming exhausting I was looking forward to a SPECTACULAR and I just got a small party.

Look who made an appearance!

Look who made an appearance!

Mile 20

Mile 20

Ok, all that was left was a 10K…I could totally do that.  It was a mental battle from here on out.  Yes, my quads were screaming and I was starting to feel some blisters forming on my feet, but I could push through that.  My goal was to just get through the next 2.5 miles to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and I knew that I could easily get through the rest.

These 2.5 miles sucked.  You know that wall you always hear about…well I hit it here.  I had nothing left in me.  There were buses set up at mile 21 for people to get on who couldn’t go any further and I seriously considered hopping on, but I sucked it up and kept trucking.  I had people counting on me to finish…I was counting on me to finish!!  I need to thank my friend Cindy who was virtually cheering me on for the entire race…her encouragement really helped here!!  How awesome is she?!?!

Thanks Cindy xoxo

Thanks Cindy xoxo

I was glad to see my favorite green army men on the on ramp to World Drive…they always make me laugh.  Some runners were doing push ups with them which was awesome…I would’ve loved to partake and show off my hard work from CrossFit but I just didn’t have it in me.  My friends Jenn & Danielle did though…bad ass ladies, bad ass!

Yes sir!

Yes sir!

Our friend Carrie caught up to us here and it was so great to see her!  She was struggling as well, so we all tried to motivate each other to get through this last stretch of HOT highway!  At the mile 22 water stop, I really slowed down to refuel.  I don’t normally drink Powerade, but I knew with this heat that I had to make it a priority.  From the beginning of the race I was taking a Powerade and a water at every stop and mixing them together.  Early on I also took a salt packet at the recommendation of my CrossFit coach (thanks Jay!) and I think the combination of all of that really kept me hydrated through the race.  I just had to force myself to keep drinking.  Carrie & KO were a ways ahead of me and I motioned for them to keep going….I didn’t want to hold them back and I really needed to get my head back in the game.

Finally, my favorite hotel was in sight, the Hollywood Tower Hotel 🙂  This meant we were entering the Studios, this meant we were in the home stretch!

The Studios!

The Studios!

Just as we entered, there was a food station with chocolate!  Normally I would’ve loved this, but I just couldn’t bare the thought of eating that in the heat.  I would’ve loved an ice pop or something!  We weren’t in the Studios for long, but it was just what I needed.  Running down Hollywood Boulevard was amazing!  The park was open to guests and they were cheering us on!  We hadn’t had a good cheering squad since Champion Stadium and the energy here was perfect.

Running down Hollywood Boulevard

Running down Hollywood Boulevard

As I was leaving the Studios, I got a text from B checking in on me.  People were coming across the finish line severely dehydrated and he wanted to make sure I kept drinking.

Awesome hubs :)

Awesome hubs 🙂

Apparently, I wanted to die because that’s the second person I told.  Ha!  Well something happened after this text…I got some sort of second wind!  I popped my last Gu and headed down the the pathway to the Boardwalk.  At the mile 24 water stop, the volunteers were giving “Dasani showers” by just pouring the bottle over our heads.  BEST!  This must have rejuvenated me because I picked up my speed and started really running again!

2.2 to go!!

2.2 to go!!

Love this guy!

Love this guy!

I was shocked to see Carrie and KO again as we passed the Beach Club…someone really lit a fire under my ass!  I think they were just as shocked to see me too.  KO decided to start running with me and Carrie just encouraged us to go on.  We passed the last water stop and finally, we were in Epcot.  This was it…I was almost there!

Entering World Showcase

Entering World Showcase

We had run into our friend Todd just before Epcot, who is part of the WDW Radio Running Team and he said the whole group was right in the UK cheering.  And man were they cheering…that was awesome!  My friends Jillian and Kelly were also there…I’m sure I looked to be in a very different state from when they saw me earlier in the Magic Kingdom.  I almost ran over and grabbed Jillian’s beer, but I had to focus on this last mile.  I was very close to the 7 hour mark and was determined to finish under that.

World Showcase was horrible.  If you’ve ever walked around there on a warm day, you know it can be like the Bataan Death March.  Now try doing that after running 25 miles…WORST!  It felt like it was going on forever and ever and ever.  But finally, we made it to Future World and I knew what was in store…my favorite gospel choir!

A beautiful sight!

A beautiful sight!

As I rounded the corner towards the Epcot parking lot for those last .2 miles, I was in shock.  The amount of people who were there cheering was insanely overwhelming.  It was nothing like I had ever seen before.  It literally stopped me in my tracks and I became overwhelmed with emotion.

Look at all those people!!

Look at all those people!!

Even MORE people!

Even MORE people!

And there she was…the finish line.  I had made it all 26.2 miles.

The Finish Line!!

The Finish Line!!

I crossed strong with tears in my eyes.  I couldn’t believe I actually just did that and to be honest, I still find it hard to believe.  Running a marathon never seemed like a possibility to me.  I’m an ex-smoker, I have ulcerative colitis, I’m clearly overweight…people like me don’t run marathons.  Well guess what…I DID!!

26.2 DONE...BOOM!

26.2 DONE…BOOM!

I staggered over to the medal area to find my friend Aurora who was giving out medals.  She actually found me first and put that beauty around my neck.  She gave me a huge hug and I just started balling.  Aurora had given me my first half marathon medal at Princess less than a year before and now she was giving me my first marathon medal.  Couldn’t be anymore perfect than that.

I grabbed my food, a Powerade, 2 waters and set off to find my family.  People were dropping like flies all around me from dehydration and the heat.  They had a health official right after the water making everyone who passed her open up a bottle and take a drink or she wouldn’t let them pass.  It was a little scary so I just kept on drinking to be safe.

I found my Mom first and she gave me a huge hug.  I can’t say enough how important it was to me that she was there supporting me…it really made what I just did worth while to see the smile on her face.  And then there is B…sigh.  I can’t write this without tearing up because he has been the most amazingly supportive husband through this whole journey.  He listens to all my craziness about running and travels with me to these races.  He listens to me complain when my legs are sore and pours ice in my recovery bath even when I protest.  He’s my #1 cheerleader.  Oh and the best part, he had a beer waiting for me after the marathon 🙂

Post race beer...hellz yeah!

Post race beer…hellz yeah!

Thoroughly enjoying my beer...I look exhausted!

Thoroughly enjoying my beer…I look exhausted!

The family reunion area was hectic, but I did manage to run into Andy from Attractions Magazine.  We had been talking a lot before the race since it was a first marathon for both of us, so it was great to see him!

50 Post Race_2

Hey Andy!

We got on the bus back to the hotel and all I wanted to do was get in an ice bath and a shower!  My official time was 6:55:13, almost an hour longer than I had hoped.  But with all the challenges I faced (being sick, heat, humidity, etc…) I am just happy that I finished!  I’m not sure I will ever do this again.  The distance was just too long for me, but we’ll see.  All I know is,  I can officially say that I’m a marathoner and that’s pretty awesome 🙂

MARATHONER!

MARATHONER!

 

Disclosure: I was invited to attend the entire weekend as media.  My hotel expenses, meals and park admission were provided by Disney.  As always, all opinions are 100% my own and I am 100% obsessed with runDisney events.

2013 Walt Disney World Marathon Race Recap – Part 1

So I left of in the days leading up to the marathon recovering from a cold and nervous as hell about this race.  Oh…did I fail to mention that?  Yeah, I was NERVOUS!

01 Marathon Tattoo

My alarm went off at the oh so lovely hour of 2:30 am and even though I only had 5 1/2 hours of sleep, I popped right up.  I didn’t sleep very well and I think I was running purely on adrenaline.  I stuck with my nutrition plan and made an english muffin with almond butter and a cup of green tea.  I also downed one last cup of Emergen-C and took some immune system booster vitamins.

I was happy I took the time the night before to lay out all of my clothes and the supplies that I would need to get ready.  It made getting ready much less stressful.  I taped up my legs and hip flexor with KT Tape, slathered on a ton of Body Glide (TMI?) and got dressed.  I made sure my fuel belts were stocked and recheck the bag of supplies I was having B bring me later in the race.  I was as ready as I was going to be…let’s do this!

Amanda & I ready to race!

My partner in crime Amanda & I ready to race!

I met up with a bunch of other media folks in the lobby of the hotel and we hitched a ride over to the Epcot parking lot.  We were given the unique opportunity to catch a glimpse of the starting line before any of the runners arrived.  It was so cool to see the event staff getting set up and ready for those 25,000 runners to arrive.  I’m a logistics geek…what can I say?  We were also able to watch many of the pre-race interviews (sadly I didn’t get to interview Joey Fatone 🙁 ) and see the wheelchair racers get set up.

An empty starting line...

An empty starting line…

The Road Ahead...

The road ahead…

OMG what am I about to do?!?!?!

OMG what am I about to do?!?!?!

Marathon Joe interviewing Bob Hitchcock of runDisney

Marathon Joe interviewing Bob Hitchcock of runDisney

I found Joey Fatone again!

Joey Fatone going for Goofy!

The runners started piling into the corrals and what was a ghost town one second was FULL the next.  This meant it was time to get going.  We were brought back to the starting corrals and patiently waited for the race to start.

Runners at the start line!

Runners at the start line!

In the corrals...ready to race!

In the corrals…ready to race!

Before I knew it, the National Anthem was being sung and the 20th Walt Disney World Marathon was minutes away from starting.  The most moving thing I saw during the day happened during the National Anthem.  Just behind me a man stoically raised an American flag and quietly stood there as the Anthem was being sung.  I have no idea if he was a war veteran or just a very patriotic citizen, but it was an amazing show of patriotism.  I was wondering what he did with the flag after the Anthem.  Did he run the entire marathon with it?!

10 National Anthem

Before I knew it Mickey began the countdown, the fireworks went off and the marathon was underway.  Please forgive the foul language in the following video…I couldn’t contain myself!

Mickey, Donald & Goofy counting us down!

Mickey, Donald & Goofy counting us down!

Before I got sick, my goal time to finish the race was 6 hours.  I knew that this might not be a possibility now, plus I knew the weather was going to slow me down a bit.  The forecast had been saying it was going to be in the low 80s with high humidity, which are less than ideal running conditions.  I decided to go at my steady 3 minute run/ 1 minute walk pace for as long as I could and then just go with the flow.  My goal on that day became to just finish.

The first 5 miles went by incredibly fast.  I kept a steady 13 minute per mile pace and I was feeling really good!  Call me crazy, but I actually enjoy that first stretch of World Drive after the first mile of the race.  It’s flat and a great place to really get your stride.  Oh and you have this great sight straight ahead, which always makes me run faster!  (I apologize in advance for any blurry photos and video…I was movin’!!)

Going through the Magic Kingdom toll booths just before mile 3.

Going through the Magic Kingdom toll booths just before mile 3.

I was so excited to see Jack & Sally near the TTC, but the line had at least 20 people and I didn’t want to waste that much time.  I decided that I wasn’t going to stop for character photos if the lines were long (most lines were very long!) because I knew I was going to need all of the time I could get on the back end.

Jack & Sally!

Jack & Sally!

The 5 mile marker was just outside of the Magic Kingdom and I crossed that at 1:07.  I was feeling awesome and was so excited to get into the park!  This was my favorite part of the Princess Half Marathon.  When you enter Main Street USA and see all of those people cheering from you, you can’t help but get a little emotional.  It’s quite amazing…

Entering the Magic Kingdom

Entering the Magic Kingdom

I was so excited to see the WDW Radio crew right ahead of me cheering like crazy!  My friend Suzannah saw me and called out my name…it is so amazing to see a familiar face, so thank you Suzannah for that!

WDW Radio Cheer Squad!

WDW Radio Cheer Squad!

As I turned that corner to see Cinderella’s Castle, I couldn’t help but smile.  They had kept the holiday lights on the castle just for the races…what a beautiful sight!  Further down Main Street, I also saw my friends Jillian and Kelly.  Jillian just ran her first half marathon the day before (congrats girl!) and it was so great to see her out there cheering all of us on 🙂

Running down Main Street USA!

Running down Main Street USA!

Look at that castle :)

Look at that castle 🙂

The course winds through a lot of the Magic Kingdom.  From the hub you head right through Tomorrowland and through New Fantasyland where there are a TON of character meet and greets!  Of course the best part of the Magic Kingdom is running through Cinderella’s Castle.  And what better way to do it than to be greeted by trumpeters!!

I just ran through the castle!!

I just ran through the castle!!

From there we wound through Liberty Square where I saw this guy with the best costume of the day…full on Snow White!

Yes, that's a dude

Yes, that’s a dude

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but the best thing about Disney races are the real bathrooms!  When you go through any of the parks, all of the bathrooms are open so make sure to make a pit stop here instead of at one of the Portalets.  My favorite restroom in the Magic Kingdom is the one between Frontierland and Adventureland.  It’s very large so you have less of a change of waiting in line.

The next few miles were fairly uneventful as we left the Magic Kingdom and headed toward the Walt Disney World Speedway.  The course did get very congested here as we were down to just one lane, so I had to stop and walk more frequently than I would’ve liked.  People were actually going on the other side of the cones, which was very dangerous because of oncoming traffic.  Don’t do this during a race…

The Speedway was a new element to the marathon for this year and was just after mile 8.  To get into the Speedway, there is a very steep downhill and uphill that proved to be a bit difficult for some runners.  But when we entered the track, we were greeting to the beautiful sight of the sun rising.

The sun rising above the WDW Speedway

The sun rising above the WDW Speedway

I’m not a big car person, so I didn’t think I would enjoy the Speedway all that much, but it was actually one of my favorite parts of the entire course!  It was a completely different experience from anywhere else I have run before.  All along the track vintage  and race cars were lined up and their owners were out there cheering…it was really cool!  As you could expect, various stars from the movie Cars made an appearance here as well!

Walt Disney World Speedway

Walt Disney World Speedway

Runners along the race track

Runners along the race track

Mile 9 came at the end of the race track and I knew we were now in for a long boring 3 miles up to Animal Kingdom.  The course goes up Bear Island Road which is pretty secluded (were we still on WDW property?!), but runDisney did a good job of placing various photo stops and entertainment along the way.  Santa’s reindeer and the toy soldiers were even out…they must be on their post Christmas vacation.  We also ran past the water treatment facility, which was just a gorgeous sight 😉

At this point in the day, the sun was starting to peak over the trees and the heat was creeping up.  We made the approach into Animal Kingdom and to my surprise there were a ton of animals out!  Now I’m a big animal lover and I have a small obsession with goats.  So of course I bee-lined for one of the goats and asked the handler to take my picture with him….he looked at me kind of funny due to my excitement and how I hugged the goat, but whatever…

GOAT!

GOAT!
I look totally crazy here

I immediately regretted this because now my hands smelled like goats.  Kind of gross when you want to wipe the sweat off of your face.  As soon as we entered the park, I stopped at the bathroom just outside Expedition Everest to wash my hands and splash some water on my face.

I made it to Everest!

I made it to Everest!

I had seen in prior marathons that runners have stopped to ride Expedition Everest during the race and I so wanted to do this!  This is one of my favorite attractions and where else can you ride a roller coaster during a marathon?!?  I was sad to see that the attraction wasn’t running yet so I had to just keep going 🙁  I know that is was open later in the day because I say ride photos.  But looking back, it’s probably a good thing that I didn’t ride because I’m not sure I could have gotten up afterwards!

Good Morning Animal Kingdom!

Good Morning Animal Kingdom!

As we exited Animal Kingdom, we reached mile 13.  I had reached the halfway point in the race in 3:08 and was really happy with that time.  It was a little over my original goal of 3 hours for the half and I was still feeling good at this point.  No major pain, no chafing, still had energy…yeah!  Oh how things were about to change…

Stay tuned for Part 2 of my Walt Disney World Marathon recap!! 

 

Disclosure: I was invited to attend the entire weekend as media.  My hotel expenses, meals and park admission were provided by Disney.  As always, all opinions are 100% my own and I am 100% obsessed with runDisney events.

 

Princess Half Marathon: Pre-Race

Well I don’t even know where to begin.  The entire half marathon experience was exciting, emotional and just beyond amazing!  I would do it again in a second.

The morning of the race, my alarm went off at 2:45 am.  Seriously, 2:45 am.  That’s insane.  After the food poisoning scare from the night before and my nerves being on edge, I didn’t sleep very well and I think I was mainly running on adrenaline.  Luckily, no one else in the house got sick and Katherine seemed to be feeling much better.  It is still amazing to me that she got up and ran the race.

Best tea ever!

I got dressed, packed some clothes for after the race, and made a quick breakfast.  My pre-race meal consisted of half of a whole-wheat bagel with natural peanut butter, a banana, and a cup of decaf green tea with Kombucha.  I took all of this to go as Amanda and I were quickly out the door by 3:20 am.

We headed over to the Boardwalk to pick up Tiffany and then it was off to Epcot.  With all the traffic on the road, you would’ve thought it was 8 o’clock at night, not 4 in the morning.  Quick tip for future races, stay to your left after you enter the Epcot gates and try to park in the Create parking lot.  It’s closer to the entrance and also closer to the finish line, which you will be very thankful for after 13.1 miles.

We met up with Marc before we entered the pre-race area, which is where we got a glimpse of the best shirt of the race.  I love that he had this made!

Tiffany, Amanda, Me and Marc

Tiffany and I headed to check our bags, which was much more orderly than I had imagined, and when we exited from the other side of the tent I couldn’t believe all of the energy and excitement!  There was a dance party going on with a live DJ, lights, etc… and remember it was around 4:30 am!  This was a scene I was familiar with from my early 20s, but I had been up the whole night before and was ready for bed…this was a whole different ball game.

Among the dance party was a sea of port-a-potties, which was quite a sight.  I have never seen so many in my life!  But even with so many available, there were still long lines.  Keep that in mind if you’re running a Disney race and allow extra time for bathroom breaks before heading into your corral.

At around 4:45 am we began the long ¾ mile trek to the corral area.  The road is narrow and when you have 20,000 people trying to get to the same area, it can be just a tad crowded.  Actually, I felt like I was in a herd of cattle…sparkly princess cattle.

Moooooooooo

Walk to the corrals

Once we arrived at Epcot Center Drive where corrals were set up, I couldn’t believe the scope of it all!  The corrals were set up on both sides of the highway: A – E on the left and F – H on the right.  Marc headed off to his super speedy corral C, while us ladies went right to our slower corrals.  Tiffany and I were in F and Amanda was in H.  We tried to have Amanda join us, but they are VERY strict about checking your bibs and only letting the corresponding letters in each corral.  You can however go back a corral if you choose.  I decided to stay in F since it was my first race and I wanted as much of a time cushion as possible.  Plus, I knew Amanda would catch up with me at some point.

Corral F and more port-a-potties

Since we arrived early, we were luckily able to get right to the front of our corral, which was good for two reasons.  1. We had even more of a time cushion than the rest of the corral and 2. We could see everything that was going on up at the starting line.  It was chilly and breezy that morning at only about 53 degrees, so standing around was not the most comfortable thing.  We still had about an hour until our corral was set to go off.  Our friends Kristin and Megan also met up with us and we laughed so much that the time seemed to go by fairly quickly.  This was the first half marathon for all four of us and we all had some great stories about what lead us to this point.

Our view from corral F

Me, Megan, Kristin and Tiffany...ready to race!

Just before the official start time of 5:45 am, the National Anthem was sung and the Fairy Godmother welcomed all of us princesses (and princes) to the race.  All wheel chair racers took off first (I think there was only one) and then a few minutes past 5:45 corral A was off amidst fireworks and fairy dust.  What I didn’t know was that when corral B was ready to take off 5 minutes later, they were counted down and got fireworks as well!  Which meant we were going to get our own fireworks all the way back here in corral F!

Starting fireworks!

It was at this time that runDisney officials began to slowly walk our corral closer to the start, and this was the point where my nerves started kicking in.  The whole time leading up to this race I was surprisingly calm considering my injury the month before and sequential lack of training.  I was really doing this.  I was about to tackle 13.1 miles.  Was I crazy?!

Fairy Godmother

Starting line!

After of sea of endless people passed us from corrals A – E, we were taken to the starting line.  Holy. Crap.  My adrenaline was pumping and that lack of sleep didn’t seem to matter any more.  I was ready to do this thing and finish.  Party Rock Anthem was playing and we couldn’t all help but dance in excitement.  As we were counted down by the Fairy Godmother, it was like we were the first group to take off and conquer this course.  The fireworks exploded and we ran…and ran…and ran…

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTiQSfH20qA&w=560&h=315]

Princess Half Marathon Videos

I’m still working on my race recaps for the Tangled Royal Family 5K and the Princess Half Marathon.  Since this is my first half marathon, I have a lot to say!!  I’m sore, tired and hungry, but more importantly I am still on the top of the world for finishing!

I wanted to share some fun videos I took from the race with you for now…ENJOY!

Here is the start of Corral F.  The Fairy Godmother is counting us down!
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTiQSfH20qA&w=560&h=315]

Trumpeters welcoming us into Cinderella’s Castle!
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ub3CCMnTHTY&w=560&h=315]

Amazing Gospel Choir right before finishing the race!
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPjbiGvtflY&w=560&h=315]

Such an INCREDIBLE day…more to come!