Sunday, February 21, 2016

My Disney Princess Half Marathon 2015 Experience

It's hard to believe that it's been a year since I ran and finished the Disney Princess Half Marathon. I decide to sign up for it because I used to enjoy running during high school and wanted to do something different before I turned "40," so I signed my self up for it.

 It couldn't have been worse-timing because my grandmother died just a few days earlier and I left for the race right after her funeral.  My aunt was supposed to come with me, but in the aftermath of my grandma's death, she stayed behind to take care of my grandfather.

I decided to stop by the Expo and pick up my race packet before heading to the hotel.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but there was a ton of excitement in the air and it was hard not to catch it-despite the circumstances of my late arrival.

After picking up my packet and walking around a bit, I decided that it was time to get to my hotel--The Boardwalk.

If you ever get the chance to stay on Disney property, I highly recommend this one!  The room was amazing and everyone was so understanding.  It's within walking distance to MGM/Hollywood Studios and Epcot.  You can also take a ferry over to Epcot, which was my saving grace after the race.

The day before the actual half marathon I decided to go back to the Expo and "hang out" for awhile just to take it easy and get my mind ready for the race the next day.  I found this cute sign and decided that it fit because my favorite princess is Sleeping Beauty, and let's face it, I LOVE sleeping.

I returned back to the hotel early for dinner and set out my flat Audrey for the run.

I woke up extremely early--roughly 1:30AM, to start getting into character for the run.  Trying to put my long hair up into one of those cute buns was next to impossible, but by the power of bobby pins I was able to make it happen.

I finally left the room and headed out for the bus to get to the starting line.

One of my work friends was running it with her sister, so we met up at the staging area before going to our corrals.  My friend hates running as much as I do, but she was excited because--it's Disney!

This was one of my new friends.  She's actually friends with one of my Texas friends, but we decided to meet up and send a picture to show our Texas friend that we actually met.  She's really neat and was running several of the races to meet the Coast to Coast criteria.

After waiting for what seemed like forever, we finally started the race.  They had fireworks for each corral and by the time my corral started, 45 minutes had passed since the first corral had left.  It was pretty neat to have the fireworks, but it turned out to be poor planning on the Run Disney staff because a lot of people were disqualified because they were running over an hour behind, through no fault of their own.  (Thankfully, I wasn't in that group, although it was pretty close.)

As you can see, there were thousands of people running so trying to get a clear path to keep on pace was pretty hard.  I stopped to take this picture because we were just starting to enter the Magic Kingdom toll booths and if I had looked to the left, the top runners were already headed back to Epcot!

 The five mile mark was just as we were entering the Magic Kingdom and headed towards the castle.  We had to run down Main Street, head through Tomorrowland, ran back towards the castle, through Frontier Land and then out the side to start back towards Epcot.

As we started through the back of the castle, the characters from Frozen were on top.  The crowd was at a dead standstill and it felt like cattle being herded through the opening.  Definitely, NOT what they show on the website and the brochures for the race.  I was extremely disappointed because I wanted a decent castle picture, but it had already taken 15 minutes to get through here and I didn't want to be swept, so I kept going.

As we were betting ready to exit the Magic Kingdom, several of us stopped by the side to get our "princess picture" instead of standing in the really long line.  Most of the people who stopped to get in the line were swept, so I'm glad I didn't really stop.

After the Magic Kingdom, we were back out on the road to head back towards Epcot.  Run Disney had not expected the race to go on as long as it did, and they had to start preparing the roads for all of the visitors coming to the parks.  Try mushing 24,000 people from two crowded lanes into one.  It was like move cattle down the road.  I gave up trying to get my time back on track because I couldn't get around all of the people to set my pacing again.

Thankfully there was a little bit of Genie magic and I was on my way again...

I took this picture because I was originally wanting to run as Belle from Beauty and the Beast.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find any running gear that would work for the outfit, so I decided to go as my own favorite-Audrey.  This sign was right before the on-ramp, which was a huge obstacle for mile 11 and this Florida girl who ran primarily on flat surfaces.

At the top of the on-ramp for mile 11, one of the green army guys from Toy Story was barking orders.  He's one of the first ones to clue me in that I was close to being disqualified by the balloon ladies.  Yikes!

 The balloon ladies were just starting up the on ramp!  Oh no!  If the balloon ladies catch up to you and pass you you're disqualified from the race and have to get on the bus as the people above are doing.

 Thankfully, through pure determination and a new friend, I was able to finish the race ahead of the balloon ladies by about two minutes.  It's one of the hardest things I've ever done, which made it such an accomplishment.

 Even after all of the training and sheer willpower, my knee still  decided that it didn't like my running and it was hard to walk afterwards even though I iced like a fiend.  That and pure laziness on my part has kept me from running in the year since.

Just seeing everyone's pictures and posts on social media has helped me to relive my own moments and makes me want to do them again.  So, here's to hoping I can sign up for it before the website crashes again this year.  It's extremely expensive and I'm not sure how I'm going to pay for it, but I do want to accomplish this goal again--hopefully with a better time and maybe even a few actual pictures with the princesses.  Let me know if you decide to sign up too.  Maybe we can meet up like I did with some of the others.

Until next year!

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