Countdown to Disney Princess Half Marathon

Monday, March 4, 2013

Princess Half Marathon 2013 recap

Our starting line
Looking back at the Princess Half Marathon, I feel like I am looking back on my wedding.  I planned a whole year for this big day, I threw my all into planning for the Princess, I planned a running outfit, a vacation, and trained nearly everyday to be a Princess for the day.  The day flew by so fast, it feels like it was just a dream.
  When my alarm went off at 2:45 am, it was probably the first time ever I didn't hit snooze. Fortunately, I put all of my stuff together the night before so I wouldn't feel so rushed in the morning. The only dilemma, was whether or not to bring our rain ponchos, since the forecast called for thunderstorms at 6am, the very time our corral was scheduled to start. We decided against the ponchos figuring we would be drenched from sweat anyhow.  We were headed down to the bus stop by 3:20 am and we were greeted by a HUGE line of fellow princesses.  Much to my surprise, our seven dwarfs were already in line.  My husband and brother got all 5 kids up and semi ready at 2:30am to catch the bus to watch us run.  We were able to catch a bus right away, good thing, because traffic was a nightmare.  We sat in traffic for close to an hour, I was starting to get nervous about whether or not we were going to make it to the start line in time.  We arrived at EPCOT pretty close to 5am and headed straight for the port a potty, while the "dwarfs" headed to the monorail for the Magic Kingdom.  There was a sea of tutus and tiaras.  They even had the red carpet rolled out for us!

Minnie Mouse, Cinderella, and Ariel
Sign for Corral D
We dropped our bags at the bag check and then headed for our corral.  It was about a 20 minute walk to our corral.  As we got closer to the corrals, we could hear the Fairy Godmother talking about getting ready to start.  The volunteers were saying if you are in corral A, you better run.  (Note to self, next time get up earlier and be on the 3am bus, so you don't feel rushed.) We were in Corral D, so we didn't really have to rush, but the sooner you got to your corral the closer to the front of the corral you were.  Corral placement at Disney is pretty important, besides safety reasons of the faster people being in the front, so they aren't trampling the slower runners, the closer to the front you are the more time you have for potty breaks and picture stops. Disney gives you a time limit to finish the race, so they can open roads and parks.  They have sweepers who will escort you to a bus if you are not keeping up pace.  From what I understand there were almost 4,000 princesses swept this year. A couple princesses tried to be sneaky and hide in bushes and sneak between the buses.  A few even got arrested for refusing to get on the bus.  There are "balloon ladies" who are the very last to cross the start line, they keep the pace, they let you know if you are falling behind pace and how long you have to get in front of them before getting swept.  Disney has runners submit an official time from a 10k race or greater to figure out where to place you.  My mom and I ran a 10k back in October and we submitted those times for the race.  Sindi submitted our Turkey Trot time, which was not as fast, so it put her a corral or two behind us.  Since we all wanted to start together, Sindi and I ran a 10k at the beginning of February. Sindi was able to turn that time in at the Expo and she was moved up to Corral C, but she stayed back with us in D (you can move back in corrals, just not up).  We were happy with Corral D, it put us right in the middle of the pack, corrals were from A-H.  
 Disney, by far, had the best "on your mark, get set, go", each and every corral got a magically firework send off by the Fairy Godmother!  Before we knew it we were off (5:58am).  This was one of the several times during the race that I told myself, to slow down and enjoy the moment, something I wish I had done on my wedding day.  The first mile was very slow and congested.  It was so slow that the Fairy Godmother actually said "Corral D, I am happy you are having a good time, but get moving".  The first 3 miles are kind of a blur to me, good thing I took pictures. I remember a marching band around mile 1, and there were a few tight spaces were there were way too many princesses and not enough road, so we had to walk. It was also still dark out, I never knew I could have so much fun before the sun came up.  We got our first glimpse of a character around mile 2, it was none other than Captain Jack Sparrow and the Black Pearl all the way from the Caribbean just for us.  The line of Princesses waiting to become Captain Jack's wench was ridiculous, so I snapped a picture as I was running past.  After the Black Pearl there was another crazy long line.
The Black Pearl

All of the Disney Princes in one place with a never ending line of Princesses waiting for pictures with them.  This was a stop I originally wanted to do, but I knew they would still be there on our way out so we opted to wait.  Within a few minutes we could see the entrance to the Magic Kingdom parking lot, the excitement level grew for me at this point.  I have driven through these arches several times as a guest and even more times as a cast member, but never had I run through them.  Once inside the Magic Kingdom parking lot we took our first potty break along with a hundred other princesses.  Just after the potties was the 5k mark, only 10 more miles to go. We were in the parking lot just near the Richard Petty driving experience, and who did we see?   Lightening McQueen himself, we had to stop for a picture for our boys. Fortunately, not many princesses were in line to see a car.  While we were in line we took the time to stretch and relax for a moment.  Then we were off, back to our intervals of running and walking. Somewhere around this point we realized that it was no longer dark and the rain was holding off.  There was so 

much to see everywhere, it really kept our minds off the fact that we were running.  It was the longest it ever took me to complete a 5k, but it went by the fastest!  Still inside the Magic Kingdom parking lot we came across some of Disney's Villains. I am not a huge Villain fan, but this was a must stop for me, since I was dressed as Cinderella and Cinderella's stepmother and stepsisters were there.  This was one of the longer lines that we actually waited in, it was moving fast and we felt like we had plenty of time.  While in line, my mom noticed someone ran by with a Corral H bib on, which kind of made us all nervous. So, we knew when we left the Villains we needed to pick up our pace some.

We took off running away from the Villains as if they were chasing us, excited that we were getting closer to the Magic Kingdom.  We made our way through the Ticket and Transportation Center (the TTC is where you catch the monorail from the parking lot to the Magic Kingdom), where there were tons of spectators lined up to cheer us on.  As we were leaving the TTC there was some musical entertainment, all of this brought us to mile 4! The next stretch of road got narrow and steep.  We were on the road near the Contemporary Resort and we had just a two-lane road for thousands of princesses.  It was impossible to run, so we walked fast while weaving in and out of the sea of tutus.  But, once again there was some neat stuff to see to keep our minds off of the course. 


Mile 5 was right around the corner, and somewhere between mile 5 and mile 6 is where we enter the Magic Kingdom!  
My favorite Mile marker
We entered the Magic Kingdom from backstage between the Fire Station and the Emporium and Main Street was lined with Spectators.  As we rounded the hub to run toward the Castle I kind of got choked up,this is the moment I imagined on all of those long training runs that kept me going, and it was finally here.  I told myself take it all in and enjoy the moment.  On our way down Main Street we spotted our family, the kids were holding signs that they had made while they were waiting.  I was super excited to see them out there, and even more excited for my kids to see me doing something as awesome as this!   We ran past our family  with a wave and a high five, since it was too crowded to stop for a picture. We turned toward Tomorrowland and stopped for a quick picture with Buzz Lightyear.  After seeing Buzz we found a real bathroom, so we took advantage of it.  After leaving Tomorrowland we heading toward the castle through Fantasyland, where we saw our first person down.  There was a lady on the ground passed out.  I felt so horrible for the lady.  It was really humid and she probably wasn't use to training in the heat.  I kept thinking if only she passed out after the castle, the castle is the highlight of the run.  Medical help was on the way so we kept on our way.  We passed by the lines for Alice in Wonderland with the Mad Hatter, Jessie and Woody, and Belle with the Gaston, because all we could think about was "running" through the castle.  Right outside castle was a crazy long line for Mickey and Minnie, which was one of my must do stops, but we passed right on by. 

 As we were approaching the castle we could hear the trumpets welcoming us into the castle.  Another really exciting moment, one that I had been imagining for the past year.  Once inside the castle, there wasn't any running!  The inside of the castle was the same type of crowd you encounter leaving a concert or sporting event. Nevertheless, it was still magical to me.  After leaving the castle there were professioanl photographers taking pictures of us running with the castle behind us, and even a stop out in front of the castle.  If you would like to see those pictures you can go to and type in Parent or Kelp in the last name and select Disney Princess Half Marathon.  Sindi has more photos in her folder than I do, because her bib # was easier to read than mine.  I have to search 66,441 pictures to find the rest of mine.  

We left the castle and ran toward Frontierland to head out of the Magic Kingdom through backstage.  Backstage we came across Cinderella and Prince Charming and I just had to stop.  While waiting in line the "clock struck midnight" for Cinderella and Princess Aurora took her place.  We decided to wait since we hadn't seen any princesses yet. While we were waiting we saw what seemed like a ride grave yard. Just passed Sleeping Beauty we came to our 10k 
Sign declared our Half Way mark
and read "Girl you are on Fire"
point, and to me a let down. Not a disappointment by any means, but a let down. The point of the race that I had been looking forward to for 13 months was over, we had left the Magic Kingdom and we had reached a boring stretch of the race. Not too long after, I realized I still had the Bling to look forward to and we had reached the half way point. They blasted "Girl on Fire" which was then stuck in my head for the next 7 miles.  There was very little excitement on the course for the next few miles. We had a another potty stop and Sindi even got have her picture taken with her childhood favorite, Mary Poppins.  Mom and Sindi decided to take another potty stop, but I really just needed a drink, so I ran ahead to a water stop and waited for them there.  After their potty break they came running up to me yelling, the balloon ladies are right there, we have to get in front of her by mile 8 or we are gone.  We ran most of the next mile or so to guarantee we were well in front of the dreaded balloon ladies.  We felt like we had enough of a cushion and that we decided to try for that picture with the princes at mile 9.  We waited in line for a few minutes, but those pesky balloon ladies had almost caught back up, and we wanted a medal more than a picture with some wanna be princes.  So we took off running like Cinderella when the clock struck midnight.  At this point, Sindi was feeling lightheaded and mom admitted her knee had been hurting since mile 5.  We got well enough ahead of the balloon ladies that we could walk fast enough and still keep on pace.  Sindi busted out a pb&j sandwich, which seemed to help her continue on.  But, we really needed some entertainment to keep us going and out of our own heads. I even decided to yell a "Yahoo" and the lady next to me, asked me to warn her next time so she wouldn't pee herself.  Then we arrived at the dreaded incline around mile 10, I told Sindi we only have a 5k left, we do this several times a week as a short run, we've got this.  We worked our way up the hill as one of the Green Army Men from Toy Story encouraged us.

  Mom decided to keep going knowing that we would catch up.  Just pass the hill, we were at Mile 11, and could get a glimpse of the EPCOT ball.  At this point we were sure we were going to finish, they do their last sweep around mile 11.  Nothing real eventful happen between 11 and 12 except a medical tent stop for some Biofreeze for Mom's knee along with a Tylenol 500.  I think there Mulan and Pocahontas were there, but we had a one track mind, FINISH LINE! We made it to backstage EPCOT and another crowd of people to cheer us on to the finish line.  Here we met the lady who cheers at every Disney race and right before we heading into EPCOT we were greeted by a gospel choir.  

We ran into EPCOT, basically right around the fountain and back under the ball, and out backstage toward the parking lot.  We had made it to Mile 13 and only had .1 to go.  We could hear all of the noise of the finish line and I felt pretty emotional all over again.

We stopped for one last picture right before the finish line, we had to get our picture with Prince Mickey. After our final character stop, we grabbed hands and crossed the finish line together!  What an accomplishment! 
After the finish line, we headed to get sprinkled with Pixie Dust, which I think we should have gotten before the race, not after. 

It was finally time to receive the BLING we had earned.  This is my second medal, but the first one came in the mail after the race, since the Detroit Turkey Trot had run out.  Looking back, I am happy that this is the first medal that was ever placed around my neck at a finish line! 
After the race, we just wanted to find our family, shower and eat!  We didn't really take the time to see everything they was happening at the finish line.  That just gives us something to look forward to next time!  
 Looking at my finish time, you may not think this was a huge accomplishment, since anyone could walk 13.1 miles in 3:56, but the fact that I had the courage to start this journey was the accomplishment.  Not many people are motivated to ever make it to a start line, let alone a finish line, and from where I was a year ago, this is a huge accomplishment.  I will be running a half marathon in April, to prove to myself, that I can "run" a half marathon.  It will be a real mental challenge without all the fireworks and entertainment, but I have learned that I can do anything I put my mind to. 
I have been asked a few times, "what next, what is your next goal?"  Immediately after the race while waiting in line for the bus, I told Derrick he could sign me up for the WDW full marathon.  Not sure I would ever want to do a regular marathon, but I would like to try Disney's version of 26.2.