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).
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!