Of all the runDisney races I have completed in the past year, I think that I was most excited to return for Disney’s Princess Half Marathon. This was the anniversary of my first half marathon and this event holds such a special place in my heart. Unlike the bundle of nerves that I was prior to last year’s race, this year I was full of excited anticipation to get back out there again!
My roomie Amanda and I woke up at the oh so lovely hour of 3:00 am the morning of the race. I need much more time than her to get ready, so I
fell out of bed popped up first to tape my legs, put sunscreen on, get dressed, make breakfast, blah blah blah. I have this whole crazy pre-race routine and Amanda simply gets dressed and pins her bib on. I should take a lesson from her 🙂 We were still half asleep when we headed down to meet our group before getting on the bus around 4:15 am.
We were so lucky to have Jeff Galloway and his wife Barbara sit behind us on the bus. Not only are they incredibly knowledgeable about running, but they are genuinely two of the nicest people I have ever met. We had an amazing conversation with them which ended with me telling Jeff about my running journey. I almost broke into tears a few times and after receiving some encouraging words from Jeff, I was pumped up to run this race!
We got to the start line and I was so excited that I could barely contain myself. I wanted to record a little video thanking my family, friends and all of YOU for being so supportive of me this past year, but I only managed to get through a few seconds before getting all sorts of emotional and tearing up…sigh, I’m such a sap!
As you can see from that video, I was already sweaty because the humidity was so thick you could see it in the air. runDisney had issued a heat advisory a few days before the race, so we knew we were in for a hot and sweaty run.
Before we knew it, the National Anthem was being sung and the Fairy Godmother took the stage to count us down. Princess 2.0 was about to begin…woohoo!!!
I’m a little bummed that I cut that video off where I did because there was a waterfall of fireworks that went off just after it!
Anyway, we were on our way and keeping a 1 min run/ 1 min walk pace. Amanda and I had originally gone into this weekend with the goal to sub-3 hours for the race, but with the heat and humidity we decided to scratch that plan and just have fun! This worked out well for us 🙂
After doing the Walt Disney World Marathon only 6 weeks prior, that experience was still fresh in my mind. I can’t begin to tell you how different the vibe is for this race. Everyone is smiling and having fun…it just felt like the pressure was off (maybe that’s because it was half the distance) and we were about to have an epic time.
The first 2 miles flew by and before we knew it we were on World Drive and heading toward the Magic Kingdom toll booth…one of my favorite sights!
(As usual, I apologize for all of the seriously blurry photos, but what can I say…I was movin’!!)
We passed over the 5K mark and I was disappointed to see that I hadn’t received a text message with our time. I had signed up for runner tracking, so I was hoping that something wasn’t wrong with my B-Tag chip. We asked around to a few other runners and they weren’t getting anything either. Seems like there was just an issue with that reader.
The character lines were LONG, so we bypassed all of the ones on the way to the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC). I just love running through here because it is the first time you come across the race spectators. This always gives me a boost!
As we left the TTC, we got back on World Drive and were on our way to the Magic Kingdom. I love that there is a DJ set up on the water bridge that you run under…those GIANT Mickey hands just crack me up. This is one of the hardest parts of the race because of the steep downhill followed by a tough incline so it’s good to have that bit of entertainment.
As we came up the hill, I noticed that the giant puppets from the 20 mile spectacular during the Walt Disney World Marathon were up on our left. These are SO much more impressive when it’s dark because they light up. Maybe that’s why they were a disappointment during the marathon…
We hit mile 5 just outside the Magic Kingdom in front of Space Mountain. We had been texting with our friend Marc and knew he was just about to catch up to us. Perfect timing so we could all run through the park together! This is by far the best part of the race.
We were so lucky to find a ton of our friends and I made it my goal to get as many pictures with them as possible! First we came across Lou and the WDW Radio cheer squad. They are always right at the corner when you make that turn towards the castle, so make sure to stop and say hi during the next race! I also found a ton of other friends along Main Street. Big thanks to Cindy (my #1 cheerleader!), Aurora, Kristen, Kim, Shalon, Steve, James, Jim and everyone else who came out to cheer….it just means the world to me!
We made it through Tomorrowland and into Fantasyland. Amanda was getting tired at this point, so she stopped to take a little rest… 😉 She managed to get herself up so we could get an obligatory castle shot.
And now for my favorite part of the race…running through the castle. I just can’t help taking a video of this every time!
As we were heading into Liberty Square, we caught up to Ali Vincent of The Biggest Loser. I had just seen we speak at the runDisney meet up a few days prior and she was so inspirational…it was great to see her out on the course.
We headed through Frontierland passing mile 6 and out of the park. I was feeling really hungry at this point and realized that I hadn’t taken a Gu since the start of the race….I was just having too much fun! I try to have one every 45 minutes or so, so I was way over due. I threw that sucker down and immediately felt better.
I knew there was a medical tent up ahead so I ran ahead of Amanda who was taking so fun backstage photos to get some Vaseline to avoid any chafing issues. This was something I did during the marathon and it was a life saver, so I made sure to take full advantage during this race. The medical stops also have Biofreeze and Tylenol available.
The next mile or so is very tight and you really just need to be patient and expect to walk a bit. Runners are confined to one lane and must stay inside the cone. I heard that a women went on the other side of the cones and actually got hit by a car in this area. Apparently she got up and finished the race, but come on…the cones are there to keep us safe.
A few weeks before the race, runDisney asked people on their Facebook page what song they would like to hear during mile 7. The winner was “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys. I like this song and it has a great message, but it was a little sloooooow for this stretch of the race. Let’s pick something more upbeat next time ladies!
We passed the Grand Floridian and checked out the new DVC resort (this was my first time seeing it in a while and was shocked at the progress!) and also past the golf courses. My favorite picture (and my Dad’s favorite) from last year’s race was me with golfer Donald. Sadly, there were no golfer characters out there, so I snapped a picture in front of the sign for my Dad…total bummer. This is also where our friend Katherine (my Marathon running buddy!) caught up with us…she had a killer Merida costume. How she ran in that wig is a mystery to me! I’m sure she’ll let us know in the comments 😉
Around mile 8.25, a very cool thing happened. A woman yelled out “It’s my daughter’s 35th birthday and she’s running through the castle! Can we all wish her a happy birthday?!” To which all the ladies around screamed HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! She had her daughter on the phone and I can only imagine how that made her day. This led to someone else saying that it was her daughter’s 6th birthday and another woman saying that she was going to be 31 in a month and a half…which gave us all a good laugh 🙂 This just showed the fun spirit of the Princess Half Marathon…what a great memory!
As we came upon the next water station, we saw these super fun cup targets that someone put up. I’m not sure if it was one of the volunteers, a spectator or a runner who put them out the night before, but thank you to whoever did! So clever!
We were back on World Drive and making our way back to Epcot. Two incredibly memorable things happened here. First, I got to meet a RAD reader! Greg from South Jersey stopped to say hi, which was just beyond cool! He was running the race with his wife…I hope you guys had a great time! Then after he took off to catch up with his wife, a wonderful woman in a pink tutu came by and was just telling everyone that they were doing a great job and to keep going. The camaraderie of all the women in this race is simply amazing!
Before I knew it, we were at mile 10 and about to go up the dreaded hill to the overpass to Epcot. As we started up the hill, I started feeling what I thought were rain drops which were a relief from the heat, but I really didn’t want to run the next 3 miles in the rain. I quickly realized that it was not rain, but just Han Solo shooting everyone with his water gun. Ha!
If you have run a Disney race, you will know that this is where the Green Army Men from Toy Story are positioned. After seeing my friends Jenn & Danielle do push ups with them during the Marathon, I knew I had to put my CrossFit training to the test and give it a try. Yes, my form sucks, but hey I just ran 10 miles…give me a break!
We were in the home stretch and we were actually feeling GREAT! I remember that at this point last year I wanted to die. It’s amazing what a year can do for your fitness and how your perspective can change after having some races (especially a marathon!) under your belt.
As we entered the Epcot parking lot, we saw that the WDW Radio cheer squad had moved there! It was great to see some familiar faces again.
Yes! We were now entering Epcot feeling strong and knowing that we had this thing in the bag! We were still having a blast and managed to get some great pics.
A fun thing about the Princess Half Marathon is that you can register for the race as a team. As a team, you get a 2nd bib to wear on your back that has your team name…how cool is that?!? During last year’s race, Amanda and I decided that we were going to run 2013 as a team so we could run the whole race together. We were Team RunningatDisney.com this year. Next year, I think we’ll be Team DisneyEveryDay.com 😉
Heading out of Epcot, we came across another favorite thing about Disney races…the Gospel Choir! Are you sick of seeing these videos yet? It never gets old for me…
Mile 13 was upon us and I had to get another of me in front of mile 13 just like I did on my first race 🙂 Told you I was a sap!
Another sight that never gets old for me are the crowds of spectators at the finish line…I am always just blown away by this!
With the finish line in sight, Amanda and I grabbed hands and crossed that line just like we had before. It was pure awesome. We both broke into tears and just hugged. It’s one thing to complete a half marathon, but it’s another to complete it with your best friend. This race is all about strong women and damn were we strong!!
Now what do 2 princesses do after finishing a half marathon and getting some pretty awesome bling?? Drink mimosas of course!
Probably the coolest thing post-race was getting to meet Sean Astin. Check out the tiara he ran the race in…pretty cool!
We took some time to watch people cross the finish line, which was insanely inspiring. To see the determination, anguish and pure joy on the faces of these athletes (yes you are ALL athletes!) brought me to tears once again! I will leave you with this video of their final moments of the race. If you’re not inspired by this to get out there and start moving, I don’t know what will do it!
Did you run Disney’s Princess Half Marathon? Is this on your list of must do races? It should be!
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.