Disney Princess Half Marathon

Growing up, I constantly watched the Disney classics like Beauty and the Beast or The Little Mermaid and always fantasized about being a princess. Fast forward to this year, I finally had my chance; I was running the Disney Princess Half Marathon.  And what was even better? I was doing it with my prince by my side.

The weekend started with the packet pickup. Due to a scheduling conflict with ESPN Wide World of Sports, the packet pickup was to be held at Disney’s Coronado Springs. Guests were to park at Downtown Disney to take a shuttle to Coronado Springs. While it was fun to see another side of Disney, this location was not big enough to hold the number of people coming through. Since we were driving in from Southern Florida, we were not able to make it until 6:00, which in turn made a long wait for the bus. As soon as I picked up my bib and crossed on to the vendor side, there was an announcement that the expo was closing for the day (that was seriously disappointing as I just had spotted the cutest running tank from Raw Threads).

Packet Pickup

After a fun filled Saturday spent at Magic Kingdom, Sunday had finally arrived. The alarm went off at 3:00 a.m., alerting Danny and me that it was time to go. I threw on my awesome running outfit (thanks Mom!) and I was ready to race! The entire weekend I had been checking the weather forecast and which told me it was supposed to rain right around the time of the race. Not that I was going to let that dampen my spirits, but in true princess fashion, I was just worried about my hair! So I decided to wear my hat in case I would need it.

Ready to Go

Ready to Go

 

Once we reached the Epcot parking lot, we had about a twenty minute walk to our corral. I was in Corral A, but since the Disney Princess Half is a woman focused race, the Princesses have the first two corrals all to themselves. This put Danny in Corral C, so I dropped back to be with him (You are allowed to drop back, but not move up a corral). The excitement (and tutus) filled the air. At 5:30, the Fairy Godmother waived her magic wand, and the first corral was off!  Now, Disney knows how to spend off runners in style. With each corral sendoff, there was a beautiful burst of fireworks. We had weaseled our way to the front of Corral C so right about 5:47, my glass slippers hit the ground running.

Photo Credit: Preston Mack, Disney Sports

Photo Credit: Preston Mack, Disney Sports

The first miles flew by. At the 5k marker, I actually turned to Danny and asked if we had really already run three miles. The course was just so fun, there were marching bands and characters galore! Before I knew it, we had reached the Magic Kingdom parking entrance. It was a great trick by the course directors as there were about 2 ½ miles before we actually would reach the castle. My anticipation carried me to the backstage entrance of Magic Kingdom and on to Main Street. The feeling of running through Magic Kingdom was amazing. The crowds were cheering us on with every step. The only downside? It went by way too fast.

Around mile 8, I hit my wall, my legs were starting to feel like jelly but I still had 5 miles to go. I wasn’t going to quit, though. I powered through as the miles kept ticking by. My second challenge hit me with the infamous Disney hills. There is about a two mile stretch of running up and down these hills, a reality check compared to the otherwise flat course. Just as I was about to start my hills run up an exit ramp, my ipod started blasting my “YOU CAN DO IT” song, Anything Can Happen by Ellie Goulding. These hills were going to be a thing of the past.

At mile 12, we had reached the entrance of Epcot. At this point, Danny wanted to start sprinting, but I wasn’t having that. I wanted to save that for the last ½ mile. With one quick lap past Spaceship Earth up to World Showcase Lagoon, and we were well on our way to the finish line. This is where I gained my burst of energy and where Danny felt like he was going to die. We split the difference and ran our way to the finish line, hand in hand.

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Photo Credit: Marathon Foto

We crossed the finish line at 2:09, a very respectable time for our first half marathon. A fairy sprinkled waived her wand of glitter over me and it was official, I was a Princess. I even have the hardware to prove it!

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Without hesitation, I can say that Disney races are such an incredible experience that I would recommend to anyone. I can’t imagine running a race without the on-course entertainment that Disney provides. They are just so much fun! And everyone is so supportive and encouraging, the feeling is contagious.

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Hopefully, we will be running the Disney Half Marathon during the Disney Marathon weekend in January. This time, the costumes are coming back! Danny and I have set a goal of under 2:00 hours (closer to 1:50!) for the next half, so let the training continue!

Running Down a Dream

Is there something that you have always wanted to do, but seem to come up with a million excuses not to? Today is the day to change your way of thinking. Take 5 minutes out of your day and figure out how to get it done. You may be asking, “Where is this coming from?”.  Well, this past weekend, I crossed off one of those “In my dreams” items, I completed a half marathon. And not only did I complete it, I ran the entire thing without stopping in 2 hours and 9 minutes.

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About four years ago, I causally mentioned to someone that it was my goal to complete a half marathon. Their response was less than encouraging. They shot a doubting look my way and said “A half marathon? Are you kidding me? Do you know how far that is?” (No, Mom, this wasn’t you).

Although this was not the response I expected, I understand where they were coming from. Growing up, I was by no means athletic. I have tried just about every sport and was somewhere between horrible and laughable in each and every one. In high school, I accepted the fact that I would never be going to the Olympics and joined the girly girls on the Pom Pon squad. I finally was able to put 15 years of dance class to good use.

I started running during college, when I was too cheap to buy a gym membership. At first, I would run a mile or two. As the years passed, I worked my way to three miles, which I have been comfortably running for about three years. Then this year, Danny and I decided to run the Disney Tower of Terror Ten Miler, so the long distance training began. After completing that race, I was determined to run the additional 3.1 miles and signed up for the Disney Princess Half Marathon.

Now, Back to that naysayer… At the moment that those discouraging words left her mouth, two things happened. First, I was overcome with doubt. Maybe she was right, 13.1 miles is a heck of a long way to run. Maybe I wasn’t strong enough and I would be left as roadkill on the course. But then, my determination kicked those thoughts to the side. I decided then and there that I would do whatever it takes to run that marathon. I was going to prove to myself and to any doubters that I COULD.

I promise I’ll break the race down more in another post, but let’s just say it was amazing. I teared up at three times during the race. During the first mile, I realized that my dream was coming true, I was running a half marathon (and qualified for the fastest corral!). At the fifth mile, the tears were there again when I saw a sign that said “It’s hard to beat someone who never gives up”. It was like someone put that sign there for me! Then, about five minutes after I crossed the finish line and was able to breathe without seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,  I realized how proud I was of myself.

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If there is one thing you take from this post, let it be this: There will always be someone or something that tries to get in the way of your dreams.  It was Walt Disney who said it best when he said “If you can dream it, you can do it”.

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Go Get It.