I have heard about the Disney Princess Half for years and have dreamed about being a part of it, but never thought I would actually be lucky enough to run it. That dream came true this weekend and I have to tell you – it lived up to (and exceeded) my wildest dreams!
But let’s start at the beginning, shall we? My sisters and I woke up at 3:20am (yes, I typed that correctly) to get ready for the race. We headed down to the buses in the lobby of the Animal Kingdom Lodge and thankfully didn’t have much of a line at all to board. They dropped us off at the Epcot parking lot and we made our way over to the start of the race.
We got down to the start of the race and I grabbed a quick photo with my AMAZING sisters who came to spectate the race. Don’t you love my sisters’ shirts? (Made by my super-crafty sister Shannon – she’s the one that designed and made my race costume too!)
I rode into the race on the bus with the two of them, and these lovely ladies, Meghann and Theodora!
We were lucky enough to get a chance to enjoy the Race Retreat this morning at the race.
The Race Retreat is an amazing experience that runners can purchase for an extra fee. It offers a climate controlled place to gather before the race complete with a pre-race breakfast buffet, bag check and port-a-potties! The life of luxury as far as a runner is concerned. We found Heather at the Race Retreat – apparently Belle was a popular costume choice this year. 🙂
We headed out toward the corrals just before 5am. A quick word of advice for anyone running the Princess Half – it is a LONG walk to the corrals! We also ran into quite a bottleneck. People were stopping at port-a-potties along the way and the lines were blocking the line going to the corrals. Too bad they didn’t know that there were PLENTY of port-a-potties right by the corrals – without lines!
I headed into Corral B and got ready to run!
I decided to run this race “solo”, but quickly realized I would be anything but alone out there. There is an amazing sense of camaraderie out there on the race course and I’m planning to tell you about some of the amazing people I met along the way in a future post. You will be inspired!
Before I knew it, Corral B moved to the starting line and we were ready to go. With an amazing display of fireworks, we were off!
I didn’t really have any time goals for this race – I really just wanted to enjoy it. (See me in the middle of the pack in the gigantic tutu? One pro of dressing in costume – it sure helps your family find you out on the course!)
I had planned to stop for all the characters, but really felt in the groove for those first few miles so I just kept going. There is a sense of anxious excitement on the race course over those first few miles – I just wanted to get to the Magic Kingdom!
Before I knew it, we were entering the park. There is NOTHING like running down Main Street in the Magic Kingdom. Absolutely amazing!
There were characters through the park but the lines were long and I didn’t want to stop. But how cute are Cinderella and Prince Charming?
And then came the epic moment I’ve heard so much about – it was my turn to run THROUGH the castle! There is nothing like it.
See the guys up on the balcony? They were playing the horns and it just added to the atmosphere. What an amazing experience! Just after running through the castle, we passed the 10k mark. I still felt great!
As we exited the park, we saw Sleeping Beauty, her prince and the fairies.
Before I knew it, we were at the halfway point – where they played Kelly Clarkson’s song “Stronger” – one of my new favorite songs. Such a perfect song for that moment.
Around Mile 8, I saw Belle and knew I had to stop and get a photo. I waited in a pretty long line for the photo, but it was worth it. I LOVE this photo.
But standing in line wasn’t easy on my body. I started to run again and WHOA. My body couldn’t quite figure out why in the world we were running again. It took a little while to get back in the groove.
I saw my sisters again around Mile 8. I’m hoping to get my sister to write a recap from a spectator’s point of view because I have NO idea how they saw me so many times. Apparently they ran quite a race of their own getting from point to point. I can’t thank them enough for their support out there!
Around mile 9, I found my new friend Lori who is the RunDisney mom on the WDW Mom’s Panel. Such a sweet girl! She pushed me through that mile because I just wanted to be done at that point. And then suddenly, I saw these two girls come up behind me:
Yep! Meghann and Theodora came flying past me – they had stopped in just about every character line out there. You’ll have to check out their recaps for some fun photos. Meghann shouted some words of encouragement on her way by and I pushed through.
Shortly after I saw them, I came across Jack Sparrow who blew me a kiss as I ran past!
And then Mile 10 happened. Ouch. I had heard about the overpass (the Florida equivalent of a hill) but it hit me pretty hard. This is also the time I realized I had a chance to PR so I tried to pick up the pace and push it.
It wasn’t easy. In fact, it was downright hard. I wanted to just give up and walk the rest of the way, but I forced myself to keep running. I pushed as hard as I could.
My sisters found a spot near the finish line and saw Meghann come through first – love this photo of her. 🙂
And then I came through, a few minutes later:
I have to admit, I just wanted to be done at this point. Like at the Rock n Roll Half Marathon, my hips were starting to scream and some of my pains from pregnancy were come back. I knew I had to be close to the finish line, so I kept pushing on.
About this time, we ran through a back parking lot and came across something that had me bawling like a baby. I’m not going to tell you what it was (because I don’t want to spoil the surprise for any of you running the future) but it absolutely gave me the inspiration and drive to kick it in gear to the finish line.
We entered Epcot and did half a lap around the park. We ran back into the parking lot and then I finally saw it – the finish line! I sprinted to the finish line, but missed PRing by just about 30 seconds. Blast! I tried not to let it get to me – I enjoyed my race and that’s all I wanted from this race. But being soooo close makes me wish I had pushed just a little bit harder in the middle of the race. I hate playing the “what if” game – what if I hadn’t stopped for as many photos? What if I had run just a little faster? I’m willing to let this one go – but you better believe I’ll be PRing at my next half marathon!
Official time? 2:36:31. I’ll take it!
I had a lot of people ask me about my costume and I plan to do a whole post on that, but I have to tell you – it didn’t bother me AT ALL while I ran. My sister did such a great job putting it together! Anyone interested in a tutorial? I might have to have her work on one of those for me. 🙂
After the race, we returned to the Race Retreat where we were given free flip flops (it felt SO good to get out of my running shoes after 13.1 miles!) and had quite a spread for breakfast – including mimosas!
Don’t worry – I am completely aware that I been absolutely spoiled this weekend. THIS is the way to do a Disney race! I really recommend the Race Retreat – we had perfect weather, but I can’t even imagine how incredible this place would be if the weather were bad. Like a little bit of Heaven for someone running a race!
We boarded a bus to ride back to the Resort and thankfully didn’t have to wait in line AT ALL to get back to the Animal Kingdom Lodge. The runners staying at the All-Star Resort weren’t so lucky – their line seemed to be a mile long!
I still can’t believe I had this amazing experience. I honestly had to pinch myself several times over the weekend – I felt like I was dreaming! I still owe you a full recap of the 5k, not to mention the awesome day we had touring the parks on Saturday – but Meghann’s recap really hit all the high points of that day.
I cannot thank RunDisney and FitFluential enough for this unbelievable opportunity. I have a few more posts planned around this weekend, so if you have any questions about running a Disney race, please ask in the comments! I’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have!