Sarah Norris is back for her fourth and final 5K recap of this runDisney race season. It’s been great to follow her journey since October when she ran her first 5K ever and to see how much she’s improved. What makes this recap even better is that she shared this race with her family…wait til you see how her brother joined in on the Princess fun!
I can hardly believe that this is my last race recap for the 2013-2014 runDisney season. Thanks again to Sarah for all of her words of encouragement and for letting me share my race experiences with you all. It’s been an exciting year, and I’m already signed up for races in the 2014-2015 runDisney race season.
The Princess Half Marathon Weekend was an extra special one for me, as my family members were also running the race. Both my brother & my stepdad were running the Cinderella Royal Family 5K with me, and it was exciting to share the race experience with them. It was even more exciting to see them dress up…more on that later!
Like the Family Fun Run 5K during Marathon Weekend in January, the Royal Family 5K race course was at Epcot (in fact, the same course). Running through Epcot is a really cool race experience and this one proved to be no different.
Before the race, we had to head to the Fit for a Princess Expo at the Jostens Center to pick up our race bibs and shirts. Packet pickup for the race was in the HP Field House, as it has been for most of the races I’ve participated in this year and really easy to find. I also did the race pick-up for my stepdad and that was the first time I’ve ever done that. Disney really makes it easy, and I got his bib faster than you can say “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo!” I was nervous to see what race corral I was in because my number was a little higher, but I was thankful to see that I scored corral B.
Once we got our bibs, we headed to the expo, and I have to say, Disney really pulls all the stops out for this one! I loved the photo ops with the handsome footmen and the red carpet that lined the path to the expo. Fit for a princess was certainly a fitting name for this expo!
This expo was really busy and packed with great vendors. I have to say that I think this race expo might have been the busiest of any that I have attended this race season. Kinda crazy! We made sure to pick up our t-shirts first (which were my favorite of the season) and then look at the official runDisney race merchandise. I loved the tutus that you could purchase. I always make sure to visit a few of my favorite vendors: Sparkle Athletic and Sparkly Soul. A girl’s gotta have some bling when she runs! I had originally planned a Merida themed costume but not all of my gear arrived in time, so I went with a purple sparkly outfit and needed to pick up a purple sparkle skirt and purple sparkly headband.
If you visit the expo, definitely take your time to wander. There is so much to see and do at them. And make sure to also check out some of the seminars. You can hear some great tips on running and nutrition from some of the world’s top experts including Jeff Galloway.
Once we finished exploring the expo and getting all of our official gear, we took the day to relax and chill. My brother and I hit the Animal Kingdom Park for a few hours and just took it easy. Dinner was low-key at the Mara, and I even saw runDisney announcer Carissa! Bedtime was early because I had a very unpleasant 4 a.m. wakeup call. One tip that I always tell people is to get their race gear around and ready for the race the night before. It helps so much when you wake up early and are groggy. I pretty much just throw on my clothes, down a protein shake and go.
Getting to the race was easy but we got there a little later than we should have (around 5:15 a.m.). So, it was definitely packed at that point. Again, this felt like it was even more packed than the Family Fun Run 5K which is weird given how many people run those races. One of the fun parts about this race was the “flash mob” style dancing that was happening before the race. I’m pretty sure I’m not going to think about “Thriller” “The Fox (What does the Fox Say” the same way again!
Oh and remember that outfit I mentioned about my brother? Well, he was all sparkly and blinged out too! Check out this great photo with his sparkle skirt & headband (which he borrowed from me!)
Before we knew it, we had to rush to our corrals. My brother was in corral A and he was literally in his corral for about 10 minutes before they started staging. Corral B was released soon after, and I just love how festive the race start is. They shoot off fireworks during each heat and that’s just such a magical touch.
Having run this race course a month earlier, I had it in my head to PR this race. I really wanted to improve my time and pace. There were a lot of people walking, so navigating through everyone was challenging but manageable. I’ve learned a lot of strategies for making sure I have a clear path or where to run in case of crowding. The first mile is really the only crowded time and then it levels off. It also wasn’t raining this race (like the Family Fun Run 5K) so it made the experience a lot more enjoyable. It was a bit humid though!
My favorite part about the race is running through the World Showcase. It’s just so beautiful and relaxing. I admit, I didn’t stop at any character spots because there weren’t very many, and they weren’t that appealing to me. I really wish Disney would do more race entertainment at these smaller races. It seems like it wouldn’t be that hard given what they provide at the other races. I was pretty jealous after seeing what was at the 10K! (and yes, I’ll be running that next year!)
I pushed hard during this race, and I have to say it paid off. When I got to that finish line I was so excited to see that I had PR’d my race! I improved my pace time immensely (by 1 and ½ minutes from the previous race) and had beat my best race pace by 30 seconds. Pretty exciting! Of course, you can tell by my photos I ran hard!
Overall, I was really pleased with this race experience. Sure, I would have liked to see some extra atmosphere but having family and friends running the race made up for that. runDisney races are so much fun and this one was extra special. I can’t wait for the next season, planning my race costumes, and achieving some new running goals!
Sarah Norris is the owner of Gluten Free & Dairy Free at WDW. She began her firstrunDisney races in 2013 with the Happy Haunted 5K and has had the runDisney bug ever since. She writes about her experiences as a newer runner, as well as running with Crohn’s and a special diet.