I haven’t blogged in a LONG time, but really felt a strong urge to blog about the Disney Princess Half Marathon. The main reason being that before the race I searched for other blogs about the race to try to find inspiration or information about the course so I figured I would throw my two cents in, for what it’s worth.
Prior to the half I had at least 15 people tell me that “you can’t PR at a disney race” or “just enjoy the race, stop for pictures, you pay a lot to run the race”. I searched for blogs that said someone had PR’d at Disney however each one said the exact same thing. I felt a lot of negativity about it and talked to a fellow IG friend @mittenrunner who had done it last year and had the same thoughts as me about the race going into it. She told me to ignore what people had to say and go for it. I was spending 5 days ate Disney with my family so I had plenty of time for character pictures with them, it was not on my bucket list for the race to stop for pictures.
That being said, after the first couple days of being on vacation with my family I was questioning whether I would be able to pull out a good race. Taking a racecation to Disney with your family is hard. On Friday alone I walked over 12 miles in the Magic Kingdom- Saturday I walked 8 miles at Animal Kingdom- and Sunday morning was the race. Sleeping was hard with my two year old and eating resort food is not exactly the best pre-race fuel. My husband kept lovingly saying “this is what you signed up for” and he was right. I was first there to be with my family and did not want our time to suffer on vacation because I was doing a half marathon.
Race day morning I woke up around 2:30, moved my son to his side of the bed, and quietly got ready with my iPhone light in the bathroom because I did not want to wake them up. I chose to have my husband and kids stay back due to the early time they would have had to be up to catch the bus as well and I wanted them to be fresh for the day ahead.
I put all the things I needed in my checked bag and walked to the bus stop in the dark. The buses were running great at my resort. I was lucky to walk right on a bus and did not have to wait. When we pulled in to Epcot there was a flood of women walking towards the park. Finally you come to the area where you check your gear and many women were sitting strecthing while a DJ played. I sat down, drank my pre-run drink and had my banana that I had got from the resort the night before. At this point it was around 4:15 am. Gear check was great- simple and easy. After that I started the long walk to the corrals. It really is a long walk, people were not kidding about that! There is a large amount of porta-pottys before you get to the corrals so I tried going to the bathroom here thinking it would be my last chance. I then walked to my corral(Corral C) and sat down and chatted with some women. On the way to the corrals between F-G there were more bathrooms so I decided at 5 to go back and go once more. Once I got back the corral was much more filled but I worked my way up to the front and starting talking to some ladies and listening to the entertainment. Figuring out the whole skirt plus shorts plus my running buddy pouch was a little bit of a debacle but at that point I had to just go with it!
After A and B were released I felt a strange feeling of calmness that I usually don’t feel before a race. I was ready for this and ready to run disney! The first few miles you run on the highway and it was dark(my kind of running) so I just got in my groove and settled into a pace that felt good- but honestly was way too fast for the first miles of a half. When we come up to around mile 5 the crowds were lined up before you reach the park and I was cheering and enjoying the crowd, honestly not paying attention to my time and it felt great! When you reach the park and you turn on Main Street it is seriously a beautiful site! You can see the castle and it looks beautiful lit up at night. The energy was so great and I was definitely riding that high.
Funny side note- when I was running to the castle “Highway to Hell” came on my playlist. I had mixed feelings about having that on while I was running through Cinderella’s castle but it obviously pumped me up!!
Coming out of the park around mile 7, I knew from what I read I had little crowd support until the finish and that it would be all me against myself. Only a couple times did I feel like I was crowded but never to the point where I couldn’t maintain pace(like some people had told me). The sun started to come up and it started to get hot. I took my first fuel(my sports beans) a little before mile 8. This is normal for me- I don’t usually fuel before mile 7 because of my sensitive stomach. My pace had started to slip a little but I pushed myself and never stopped. In my mind I kept saying “you can rest your feet at the pool later, don’t stop now for rest.” Everyone said the overpasses were tough and I took it with a grain of salt because I run a lot of hills around where I live so I figured it wouldn’t be too bad. However at the end of a half marathon, they hurt. I personally had a hard time finding my footing on these, I felt like I was running sideways and up a hill at the same time. It took energy just finding where in the road was the best place for me to run. I felt a huge surge of relief when I saw Epcot but once you are there you have to go a mile or so once you get into the park! I dug deep and finished with an official time of 1:57.57 and I high fived Mickey at the finish!!! A 5 minute PR over my first half marathon in October 2015. I cried tears of joy and I think the volunteers thought I was hurting but I was just so thrilled to finally break the sub 2 mark. After you finish you follow a line where they give you a personal box of food and goodies with a nice clean tote! I thought this was a cute touch! I picked up my gear and was back at my resort by 8:30! I didn’t feel like I missed much with my boys and I was just on a runners high all day!
Looking back I wouldn’t have done anything different. When you sign up for a vacation run you forget about all the variables that can hurt you- the warmer temperatures, the exhaustion of traveling with two young kids, the pre-race food, and the little to no sleep in a place that is not home with a two year old sleeping next to you. I think though because of this I “let it go” I let myself run for fun and enjoy the moments while I ran instead of putting the pressure of the PR on myself like I have for every other half marathon. I do not regret at all not stopping for character pictures because I got plenty of those with my kids. Run Disney really does put on a great race and it’s very organized- I would highly recommend it to anyone! I had a great vacation with my family in Disney World and was able to get a new PR! What’s better than that?!
Division Finish (30-34) – 105/ 3264
Finish Overall (Women) – 697/18,499 (it’s definitely a huge race!)
Have you ran a Disney race before? What’s your favorite?