Ahh that 2:30 am runDisney alarm… Slightly a bit more rested than the day before, Amanda and I went through the motions of getting ready in the dark and getting all of our running gear in order. Would you believe that 2 days in a row I forgot to put deodorant on for the races?!?! My apologies to everyone around me… We headed to the bus, bleary eyed, but ready for Part 2 of the Glass Slipper Challenge!
This was the 3rd year Amanda and I ran this race together and it really has become “our race.” I have to admit that with my recent miscarriage and other health issues, I was really considering not running this year. I hadn’t been training and I just didn’t think I was up for it. But a few weeks prior to the race Amanda convinced me that it was just what I needed to get myself back in gear and if we had to walk the whole thing we would. So with that added determination we took on our 3rd Princess Half Marathon together 🙂
Before I knew it, the countdown had begun and we were off! There’s the start line in the distance from the haze of the firework smoke hanging heavy in the fog…
Oh the fog? Yeah the humidity was thick that morning, just like ALL Disney races. We started off doing the Galloway run/walk approach with 60 second runs/30 second walks, which is what we did most of the the day before for the 10K. Right off the bat, I was struggling. I had no energy and was having trouble catching my breath. I was getting very frustrated and couldn’t figure out what was going on. Then just before mile 2 it dawned on me…I didn’t take a Gu before starting the race. I was running on very low fuel, as that half bagel with pb and banana over 2 hours ago was clearly running low. Well that was dumb! I think between the combination of exhaustion and excitement, I forgot about the basics. So I popped a Gu and in about 10 minutes was already feeling better.
My favorite part about runDisney races is “running” into friends along the way, and as we made our way to to the Magic Kingdom we ran into some great friends!
We ran into our pal Shaene in the parking lot of the Transportation & Ticket Center (TTC). I was SO excited to see him because it was at this point in the TTC parking lot where 3 1/2 years ago that we all took off on Mickey’s Halloween 5K, our first 5K ever! At that time were were just a bunch of Disney geeks looking for a new way to experience our favorite place on earth…look at us now 🙂
One of my favorite parts about being at the TTC for a race are the amazing drummers. They come just after you reach the Mile 4 marker and the energy is amazing!
Another mile and we made it to the best part of the race…the Magic Kingdom! The sight of that castle in the distance with hundreds of cheering spectators NEVER gets old.
Now I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I need to reinforce it. One of the BEST things about Disney races are the real bathrooms. Not only is it due to the lack of hot, stinky port-a-pottiness, but being about to wash your hands and splash some water on your face is so refreshing mid-race. Look how happy Amanda is about real bathrooms!
The best bathrooms to stop at are between Liberty Square and Frontierland. They are large and never have a line. Skip the first few you see and head here.
After a quick pit stop we hit Mile 6…
Then had the worst photo taken at one of the best photo ops on course. Choose your photographers wisely people!
Then we got a good backstage look at Splash Mountain…
And then I hit the wall…
Making that left onto Floridian Way meant the loooooong road back to Epcot and I was getting tired. My lack of training was setting in, my feet started to hurt and I just didn’t want to go anymore. I said to Amanda “I think this is my last half.” I had completely lost all motivation. She didn’t say much, but stuck with me and I sincerely thanked her. Then I heard just what I needed…”Who else would I do this with? This is our race.” Sigh. After all the crap I’d been through the weeks before I basically lost it. I had to hold myself back from ugly crying at mile 8 and I could hardly breath.
That’s what it took me to realize why I was there. I needed this race, I needed to struggle, I needed to wipe away all the hurt. It finally felt great to just let it all go. Damn I love that girl. And that was it…for the rest of the race I had a blast.
I stole Mickey’s golf cart…
Got to see my friend Nicole…
I banged out 5 full push-ups!
And then we finally made it to the home stretch…Epcot!
I have a few favorite photo ops that are now becoming a tradition for me at the end of this race. It’s actually really fun to get the same shot and compare it to the prior year! First is this crazy Fairy Godmother, who shouts jokes to all the runners. I love her!
Next is a tradition I now do during all of my half marathons since I did it during my first…take a photo at the Mile 13 marker. I remember being SO EXCITED that I had made it 13 miles and that excitement never seems to get old 🙂
We crossed that finish line and I started balling (queue the ugly cry!) because I really didn’t think I would be able to accomplish this challenge. My body was not ready for 19.3 miles, but I managed to squeeze it out. I don’t know how, but I did! I had done this challenge before with the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge, but this was so much harder and meant so much more to me.
After getting both of our medals, Amanda and I headed to meet B and watch the rest of the runners cross the finish line. I love doing this and encouraging everyone on.
We also got to see something I’ve always wanted to see…the last person cross the finish line. What I love about runDisney is that they celebrate those that come in towards the end as much (if not more!) than the leaders. We found out that the woman who was last to cross had just lost her two children in a fire. She was arm and arm with her two friends dressed in rainbow tutus and Mickey, Minnie and Goofy joined them for the walk to the finish line. Well if I wasn’t emotional enough…this just put me over the edge. I yelled and cheered for her and I, once again, ugly cried for her…
And like that my 3rd Princess Half Weekend was complete, but this time I had some extra bling and some extra pride to take home with me. Those 2 days were HARD, but I’m so glad that Amanda pushed me to do them. Sometimes you just need that cheerleader to get you over that slump. I’m not done with running, but I will definitely be scaling back this year. However, I do actually think I will continue to do Princess every year…it is our race after all.
Did you run the Princess Half Marathon or take on the Glass Slipper Challenge? Do you have any race traditions?
Disclosure: I was invited to attend the entire weekend as media. My hotel expenses were provided by Disney. As always, all opinions are 100% my own and I am 100% obsessed with runDisney events.