Disney Princess Half MarathonChip Time: 2:07:02 Overall Place 1373 / 13091 Gender Place 1373 / 13091 Division Place 299 / 2365 # of porta potty stops: 2 # of character photo op stops: I lost count after 15! Half Marathon # 10 Disney Princess half marathon #2
While I'm thrilled to see my family, the first day back home post a weekend in Walt Disney World is like a big fat slap in the "welcome to reality" face. Like the crash after a sugar-caffeine binge. Ahhh it was soo good while it lasted. So please excuse me if I type this entire blog post with the race medal around my neck and Mickey ears on my head. I've got to squeeze every last ounce of magic out of this trip that I can.
And MAGICAL hardly begins to describe it. For sake of not having the longest blog post EVER (I'm talking so long there might be a pop quiz and/or review summary due at the end), I'm breaking this up into two posts: the race (this post), and all of the other fun I had in Disney (tomorrow) . And since I've had A LOT of ladies email me about the race last year, I'm going to give you a lot more race details than just my specific race experience. Because quite frankly, as far as running goes, it was a training run, steady as she goes. It still blows my mind that I can say "hey, let's just go run 13 miles, yeah no biggie, " haha. But that's for another post on another day. Back to the magic...
Saturday morning, after two very uneventful flights (no worries, the return trip would make up for that) I arrived at the Polynesian Resort . I had stayed here about 24 years ago with my family, and walking into the lobby it all came rushing back to me. The Polynesian makes you FEEL like you landed in Hawaii, and not the middle of Florida. There's even a greater at the door who welcomes you with an Aloha and places a lei around your neck. I was also welcomed with a wonderful bag full of goodies from Run Disney, including my packet for the race. Ahhh, anyone who knows the slight anxiety that comes with picking up your race packet/bib knows what a relief it is to see that someone already did it for you! Run Disney had my heart, right then and there. After taking in some scenery, and a few excited phone calls back home ("MOMI'mInDISNEYWORLD!!!) I met up with the other ladies from the BlogRoller's Get Moving initiative (HUGE shout out to Lorraine and Christie !) Disney Princess Media Mixer hosted by Walt Disney World , and we hopped a bus to the Fit for a Princess race Expo held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Expo. As I've mentioned a zillion times, I'm only a girly-girl when it comes to running, and this expo was the place for me. Hot pink, glitter, skirts, and all things running as far as the eye could see. All the benefits of your typical marathon/half marathon expo, but with princess flair. I was a huge fan of the race shirt this year, a bit of a style change from the previous two Princess Half Marathons, and it actually fit! And a neon green bag, heeeeyyy someone must have forwarded the memo to Disney that it's my year of the green (Go Team Trakkers!) haha! Picture taken post race, obviously. No, they don't give you the medal until you cross the finish line. You've gotta earn it. After an amazing carb loading dinner at Mama Mia's in the Hollywood Studios (more on that next post) we all hit the hay for the early wake up call. I think my ONLY complaint about Disney races is how early you have to be there to line up in your corral. My alarm clock went off at 3:00 am, and I boarded one of the last buses to Epcot at 4:00 am. If you are staying on Disney property at one of the race's many host hotels, transportation is something you NEVER have to worry about. They have a steady stream of shuttles for both the expo and to the race start. We got there without any delay.
One of the amazing perks of being on the Media team this year was access to the VIP tent. Seriously after being treated, quite literally, like a princess, I'm never going to be able to race among the "minions" again. Haha. We dropped our gear off at the Media tent, took a few pictures, and headed over to the start. Having done this race last year as a mere-mortal (lol) I can assure you that VIP credentials or not, the start is a very smooth process. PLENTY of porta potties, a large, smoothly running baggage check, thousands of wonderful volunteers to help you get to your corral at the start, and even a DJ rocking some tunes to get you pumped before your race.
One of the most exciting thing at this race is checking out the outfits. Tutus and tiaras as far as the eye can see, as well as princesses, villains, and even a prince charming or a frog thrown in there. Yes, while this race is predominately women, men are certainly not left out! Last year, 400 of the 13,500 runners were men.
There is a bit of a walk from the holding/bag check area to the start. Probably close to a mile. But, you have PLENTY of time to walk there, and it's a great warm up for your legs. Disney does a corral wave start for this race, as is almost always necessary for larger races. This year, with over 13,000 finishers in the half marathon, it was definitely corral worthy! You may submit a previous race time for corral placement, and my 1:51 Myrtle Beach Mini time gave me a ticket to Corral A. Tonia (TMB) and I met up with Steph ( Steph's 50 marathon challenge ) chatted a bit, and before we knew it, it was time to run! I love the magical start as the Fairy God Mother wishes us well on our adventures ahead. (And don't worry if you aren't in the first corral, she does this for each and every wave start, approximately 6 minutes apart, so you will have a front row seat no matter where you are placed!)
Now, I will admit, I fully take advantage of corral A. Because I have no intentions of running a PR half marathon while in Disney. Nope, I have every intention of the most photo ops possible, and when most of the ladies in the first corral are gunning for a fast time, it seems hardly any stop to take pictures with the characters. Which means, NO LINE FOR ME TO HUG ON CAPTAIN JACK SPARROW! Woooo!
Race start is early, I'm not going to lie. 6:00 am. It's still dark. The first mile is lined with a lot of spectators, a DJ fist pumping you through that first slight hill (no really, that tune was totally Jersey-Shore worthy and he encouraged the fist pump) and then the magic begins. All along the race course, your favorite Disney princes and princesses are out cheering you on and available for photo ops. Didn't bring a running buddy? No problem, Disney has a cast member (sometimes two or three) available to hand your camera to. Didn't bring a camera? No problem! Not all of the characters, but some, had a race photographer there to record the special moment. As I mentioned, I took advantage of this like the great big kid that I am.
Somewhere around mile 5, as we started to near the Magic Kingdom, I was overcome with joy. I love love love running. God, my family, friends, and running, they complete me. Really, I am so blessed to be able to have these amazing opportunities, to run, AND to run in such an amazing place, AND to be able to do with with 17000 (ish) other people who are also out there to celebrate how kick a$$ running is. I was having SO MUCH FUN!
The absolute highlight of the race, as I am sure 99% of the runners will tell you, is running through the Magic Kingdom, particularly Cinderella's Castle, at a little less than halfway through the race. As soon as you turn into the park and down main street, you get an instant view of the castle and hundreds of people and Disney cast members are there cheering you on. Talk about a runners high (sprinkled with fairy dust!). I think I stopped for about 10 different pictures in the, oh, probably less than a mile that you are in the park! It was so fun!
The character sightings continue through the remainder of the course, along with aid stations, volunteers, and spectators. Here are just a few (really, I have a ton) of my pictures with my Disney pals out on the course!
The last two miles of the race include three pretty significant overpasses, but the volunteers and the music really get you through them. The course ends with a winding loop around the front half of EPCOT and finishes with a spectacular finishers chute. Right at the corner before the chute is an amazing gospel choir. Every year, their words and singing just shoot chills right up my spine. Once you see that 13 mile marker and round the corner, HUNDREDS of spectators are lined up to cheer you in. There are characters in the chute (Mickey and Minnie when I came through) awesome music, photographers, videographers, and announcers welcoming you back in. After you cross, you are given one of the most beautiful medals, just fit for a princess, and then bipiity bopity booped with fairy dust glitter (if you wish).
From there you continue through the finishers area, where they stuff you full of yummy food, drinks, take finishers photos, and even have some more finishers gear for sale. We were lucky enough to be able to hang out at the VIP/Media tent, with the most AMAZING view of the finish line.
It was so awesome to be able to stick around and watch the other ladies (and a few gents) finishing the race. To see the expressions and emotion on the finishers faces was priceless. From joy to excitement to exhaustion and everything in between. Tears, cheers, and even a baby!
We were able to spend a little time talking with Pirate Jeff Galloway while watching the finish. This man and his outlook on running is amazing. Any newbies out there, you need to check out his beginner advice . I am absolutely convinced that ANYONE can finish a half marathon, and probably even a full marathon using his training techniques of run/walk Furthermore, if you have always wanted to run a half marathon or marathon, and have felt intimidated by the prospect, you need to consider Disney. Approximately 40% of Disney marathon runners are first timers! They give you ample time to finish (7 hours for a full and 3.5 for a half, so walking is a-ok), and the atmosphere is like no other, supportive and entirely magical! VIP tent or one of the 17,000 runners registered for this weekend (which included a family 5k and a kids fun run in addition to the half marathon), Disney will treat you like roylaty every step of the way. Their customer service and the experiences provided are just above and beyond. Believe me, I had a harsh wake up call when I reached customer service at the airport at the end of my weekend. Those people need some Tinker Bell pixie dust, haha!
So, there you have it, another Disney 13.1 in the books. I've decided this needs to be my birthday present to myself EVERY year, since it just happens to fall on my "birthday week". Who is in for next year?!?!?
Run like ROYALTY!!!
(*note* The Federal Trade Commision says I have to let you know Disney provided me with accommodations and VIP/Media access for the race free of charge, however, the opinions expressed are those solely that of my own. And they are, I freaking LOVE Disney!)