Hi everyone! It’s been a while since I posted but I’ve been busy nonstop! I am so excited to be writing this race recap right now! After all the training and obsessive hydrating that I did for this race, I was pretty nervous all day on Saturday. I worried about all of the “What Ifs” that could happen during and after the race and probably drove my husband crazy! But 2:30 am came around sooner than we thought and by that point there was no turning back! We left Andrew’s uncle’s house around 3:45 and took a little shortcut to Epcot. Unfortunately there was a lot of traffic since there were so many people going to the race! Parking was pretty easy and we ended up being close to the finish area.
The race was set up so that everyone started out in the finish area. There were thousands of people standing around and saying their last goodbyes before entering the runners only area. They had a DJ, tons of flashing lights, and even some food trucks! Andrew and I hung out in there for a while because I was too nervous to leave him, but eventually the DJ made an announcement to start moving to our corrals. The walk to the corrals took about 20 minutes and I kept drinking my water the whole time because it was HUMID! So obviously before the race started I had to use the porta potties…along with like 10,000 other girls! I waited in line for about 30 minutes and just made it to my corral about 10 minutes before my corral was set to leave! It kind of helped me deal with pre-race jitters since I wasn’t standing in there waiting for an hour. The fairy godmother gave a big “bibbidy boppity boo” to each corral and then set off fireworks to send us on our way!
The first mile was great – we ran past the spectators (who were set up along the opposite lane so I wasn’t able to see Andrew), ran past a marching band playing the Rocky theme song, and heard the fireworks from all of the corrals behind us. I had a great pace and was happy that I wasn’t starting out too fast, although I attributed that to the fact that it hadn’t thinned out yet (I had no idea at that point that it would never thin out!). We were running along the highway from Epcot to Magic Kingdom and every so often there would be some kind of entertainment along the side of the road. This varied from kites shaped like birds with “Let’s Go Fly A Kite” playing in the background (which was awesome because everyone started singing along!) to characters such as Jack Sparrow and the Heroes, and some music! By mile 2 I realized that I was completely covered in sweat (TMI I know, but I want everyone to understand how humid it was even though it was only 6:00 am) but I was still feeling good. What really helped keep me excited was passing through the entrance to Magic Kingdom! So awesome!
It was around this time that everyone started screaming and cheering. I looked up and realized that the lead runner was already passing us on her way to Epcot! I found out later that she finished in 1:10, breaking the course record! So crazy! As for the runners in corral G, we kept on going along at our much slower pace. I was trying to stay anywhere between 12-13 minutes per mile because my main goal was just to finish the race, hopefully in under 3 hours. I knew with the humidity and crowding I wouldn’t be able to run a fast time and since it was my first half I was fine with that. Just being able to run 13.1 miles without dying during or after the race was a big enough goal for me! Even though I was carrying a water bottle due to the heat I stopped at every water stop for a fresh cup of water because I was terrified of dehydration. Between water stops I didn’t stop to walk at all except when I had to take some sport beans, which I did during miles 4, 8, and 11.5. I waited until I saw a water stop up ahead and then walked while eating and then grabbed a cup to wash it down. There were water stops almost every mile so it was a great motivator to keep myself going strong between stops.
I was loving the first half of the race and enjoyed running before the sun came up, mostly because no one could see how sweaty I was! But really I was just so excited to run down Main Street towards the castle. Andrew had texted me to tell me that he’d taken the monorail to Magic Kingdom and was waiting for me at the end of Main Street, and I was so excited to see him! So when I realized that we were finally running into the park I started to get really excited. When we ran out of the backstage area and onto Main Street I got chills! There were so many people cheering us on, and when I turned the corner and saw the castle up ahead I got really teary eyed! It was an incredible moment that I had been dreaming about all throughout my training. I saw Andrew and gave him a huge high five, and then started taking pictures of the castle. A really nice princess runner offered to take my picture, but it came out kind of blurry (although that’s how the castle looked with all the fog). Still an awesome memory!
We ran through Tomorrowland and I was so excited to see real bathrooms off the side of the course! I took a few minutes to wipe my whole body off and fix my hair before my big moment of running through the castle! I actually used the mens’s room since there was no line and I wasn’t even using a toilet, and found it full of girls 🙂 After leaving the bathrooms I was momentarily tempted to wait in a very long line for a picture with Mickey and Minnie, but once I saw the castle entrance I couldn’t resist running through it!
On our way out I stayed to the left because that’s what other girls had suggested doing, and was really happy I did that because there were tons of photographers taking pictures! I felt like a celebrity! I made sure to smile a lot but it wasn’t hard since it was basically the most exciting part of the race! We then ran through the side of Magic Kingdom and out through the backstage area. We were right around the halfway point and I was worried that I was going to lose steam going into the last miles of the race. There seemed to be less entertainment during these miles, but there were a couple cheer zones (including one where a DJ was playing old school Will Smith which pumped me up so much!) and a few character stops that I wasn’t too interested in doing. While I was never mentally ready to give up I did begin desperately praying for each water stop so I could stop for a few seconds and refuel. I was so sweaty and the air was so humid that I couldn’t get comfortable and just hoped that I wouldn’t look too gross at the finish line. Plus I had heard about all the hills at the end and I was worried they would tire me out. I kept waiting for the hills to come, and as we ran on an exit ramp and everyone started walking I realized that I was on what was considered a “hill” in the race. There were 2 or 3 more “hills” but I barely noticed them and was pretty happy about that! I later found out from a lot of other girls that those “hills” were really tough for them so if you live in a flat state and plan on doing this race you should definitely find some kind of incline to train on. Once we were back at the starting line we took a right and finally started towards Epcot. It was too humid and foggy to see the giant ball until we were running into the park, but it was such an exciting sight especially since it happened right after mile marker 12! I wasn’t super tired but my legs and right foot hurt and I just wanted to cross that finish line so bad. We ran through Epcot with crowds of cheering employees and had our final turnaround right before the lake. People kept screaming “you’re almost there!” and I was just so impatient to get to that finish line! I realized I should probably start trying to speed up but I was too nervous to do it! We ran past the gospel choir and mile marker 13 before turning right towards the finish line. I waved and screamed when I saw Andrew, and then began to cry as I crossed the finish line. I couldn’t believe I’d done it!
The finish area was kind of crazy – the first thing we got was a cooling towel, which was super tiny but definitely felt good on my neck. We then walked through ladies who were sprinkling glitter on us and finally reached the medals!
After I put my medal on I realized that I should probably get some water and food, so I kept walking down the chute. I grabbed a bottle of water and Powerade and luckily volunteers were handing out mesh bags for us to store all our post race snacks! I then grabbed a box of food and a banana. Andrew called me while I was struggling with all my stuff and I ended up dropping and stepping on my banana which seriously made me upset. I think I was just so mentally overwhelmed and that dropped banana made me want to cry! I then couldn’t find Andrew for about 10 minutes which made me crabby, so by the time I found him I was ready to leave. It didn’t hit me until we made it to the car that I was officially a half marathoner! After showering and foam rolling we went out for the yummiest breakfast ever, and then we hit up Magic Kingdom for the rest of the day!
I think it was the best thing for me because it kept my legs moving and helped me heal pretty quickly. I was feeling kind of nauseous all day so we only went on a few rides and I spent the rest of the time taking pictures with my favorite Disney characters!
We also stayed for the fireworks which was nice because I’ve never seen them in Magic Kingdom before!
After the fireworks we decided to get a massive hot fudge sundae at Ghirardelli in Downtown Disney. This decision, mixed with the fact that I’d gotten barely any sleep the night before and had run farther than I’d ever run before caused me to throw up as soon as we got back to Andrew’s uncle’s house. Not the best way to end my day, but overall I recovered pretty well considering that this was my very first half! And I learned my lesson on sleep/hot fudge sundae ratios for future races.
I also received my race results pretty quickly and totally squealed when I saw my results! I was almost in the top third of finishers which made me so happy! These results don’t include men’s results so hey, there’s still a chance I’m in the top third 🙂
So what did I think of my first Run Disney event? I loved it, but I don’t know if I would do Princess again.
- Amazing energy from other runners and spectators
- Lots of distractions in every mile
- The opportunity to take pictures with characters if you didn’t care about time
- Getting to wear a costume! Many girls commented on my tights and my dinglehopper (aka a fork for all of you non-Disney lovers) and I loved seeing all of the amazing costumes on the course
- Mostly all girls which made for a really fun atmosphere
- Tons of Disney music
- Running down Main Street and through the castle! I’m not even the biggest Disney fan and that still made me cry a bit!
- Flat course
- Real bathrooms in Magic Kingdom!
- Tons of water stops
- And of course, pretty bling 🙂
- The price – I think I spent $170 on race registration alone and didn’t even get a discount to the parks.
- About 75% of the race was done on highways. They tried to keep us entertained but it definitely wasn’t as magical on the highways as it was in the parks!
- The early start time. I’m a night runner so the 5:30 am start time was pretty rough.
- The crowded course. I started in corral G and was able to run the entire time (unlike many girls in the corrals behind me – I think the corrals went to P) but I did have to weave around a lot. My GPS said I went farther than 13.1 due to all the weaving! The biggest problem was that many girls were doing walk/run intervals in large groups and when they stopped to walk they would stop all together and block up the entire road which made running difficult.
- The humidity! I get that it’s Florida but I thought for sure that it would be way cooler and less humid in February. I was drenched by the end!
- The finish was kind of anti-climactic since I couldn’t even get to Andrew for like 15 minutes and by then I was so mentally drained that I had lost all my excitement. This is the first large race I’ve done so they might all be like this, but it was tough since I’m so used to running right over to him and celebrating right away.
- I didn’t like being a solo runner since it seemed like most girls were running in groups and I felt kind of lonely. This is definitely a race to hang out and have a good time.
Overall I thought it was a really magical experience for my first half marathon and I’m so glad I did it! I don’t know if I would run another Princess Half, but I might try out another Disney race or two in the future. I hear that Wine and Dine is awesome! And I even hinted to Andrew on the drive home that maybe I’ll be running the Walt Disney World Marathon someday! I mean, who knows what the future holds! All I know is that I’ve got this shiny new medal and my awesome new half marathoner status. Congrats to all the other princesses who finished the race! We did it!
Did you run the Disney Princess Half? What’s your favorite Disney race?