Monday, March 10, 2014

Disney's Princess Half Marathon Recap (part 1)

Back in July 2012, I decided to sign up for Disney's Princess Half Marathon.  I was not a runner and could not run for more than 30 seconds in a row.  What made me sign up?  Insanity?  Maybe.  I was inspired by how much fun my daughter and I had during the Royal Family 5k in February 2012.

I started the Couch to 5k program and did about 3 weeks of it.  But it was July Florida.. and it was freaking hot.  So I didn't train much.  Then October came and that was the start of the official Jeff Galloway training plan.  I had no choice then.  The weather was slightly better and I was running out of time.

For months, I read every Disney Princess Half Marathon recap I could find on the internet.  I learned all about the Balloon Ladies and being swept.  I also continued to train.  I decided early on to do Jeff Galloways intervals of 1/1 - run for a minute then walk for a minute.  I knew this was something I could do.  My training times hoovered around 14 - 15 minute miles.  

On Thanksgiving, I ran the Tampa Bay Times Turkey Trot 10k hoping to get a good time to submit to runDisney for corral placement.  It turns out, it was not a chipped time race.  I still wrote to Disney and told them about the race and my finish time.  

When corral placements were released by Disney, I was elated to not be in the last corral.  Every bit of cushion from the Balloon Ladies was great.  On my second to last long run, I experience horrible pain in my right foot, right by my second and third toes.  I was devastated.  I finished the training but was in horrible pain.  The walk breaks made it a bit better.  I made an appointment with a podiatrist.  The good news was nothing was broken or fractured, the bad new was I have Morton's neuroma.  Doctor said I could still run.

My last long run was a bit painful (and only 1/2 the distance scheduled) but I managed to keep under the required 16 minute mile.  Going into race weekend, I knew this was not going to be a race to run for time but one to enjoy as much as possible while staying ahead of the Balloon Ladies.

While I live relatively close to Walt Disney World, it's not close enough for us to not find a closer room to the parks.  We got one on International Drive because my mom works for a large chain and scored the room for free.  It had plenty of room for all four of us and it wasn't too far away.

The day before the race we, my hubby, daughter and mom,  drove to Orlando, checked out the Expo for a little bit (I had picked up my race stuff on Thursday when I volunteered), checked into the hotel and ate an early dinner.  We all went to bed early.

2am wake up call came quick.  I jumped out of bed like I had just slept for 12 hours.  I was nervous and excited.  It was easy to get everyone ready and out the door.  We were even 7 minutes ahead of schedule.  I had read so many reports of traffic issues, I wanted to get there early.  I also wanted to get to the front of the corral.

We arrived at the Epcot parking lot a little after 3am, parked and went to the bag check area.  I was overwhelmed with the magnitude of the set up and the number of people there already.  They had a DJ playing upbeat music.  There were also lounge chairs for people to set up and sit on.  We grabbed one for my mom and daughter to sit on and then I ate my Cliff Bar.

I met a wonderful lady, Kim, during my volunteer shift that was also in my corral so we agreed to meet up and at least start together.  She didn't run intervals.  It was her first half marathon as well.  We quickly found each other and hung out for a little bit.  Around 3:45am, I said good-by to my family and made my way to the pre-corral area that was on the other side of bag check.  I was so paranoid about being at the front of the corral.  Shortly after 4am, they finally allowed us to go to the corrals.

When they say it's a 20 minute walk, it's no exaggeration! We decided to count it as warm up.  We got up to corral M and sat down.  We were very close to the front, about the second or third row.  Sometime before the start, I took a picture of the corral.

Corral M was the first corral of the second row of corrals so we could see everyone headed to their front corrals.  It seemed like a never ending sea of people.   

Almost at start time, I had to use the facilities. There was a row of port o potties on the other side of the fence.  Others were jumping to go so I followed suit.  By that time the sea of people had stopped so volunteers were allowing us to cross.  Soon after it was time to move up to the start line. 

The excitement at the start line was overwhelming.  I could not believe I was actually doing this.  All the months of training, all of the nightmares about being swept, it was all for this.

The announcers on stage were hilarious and kept the mood light.  We got to sing a song and then they started the countdown.

And we were off......

To be continued.................


  1. I'm interested to read your race review. I did this race last year and found it horribly over crowded. I hope you had a great race!

  2. There were parts that were super crowded. I have nothing to compare it to since it's my first one but I heard that the earlier corrals had much less crowding.

  3. Can't wait to read about your race! I agree that the walk to the corrals was super long. O well, it made for a good warm up!

  4. Can't wait to read the rest! Your first Disney Race is oh so magical and they remain that way after too, but the first..... so much fun!

  5. Thank you ladies! part 2 will be coming up tonight.

  6. I really want to run the Tinkerbell Half down the street at Disneyland, but I just can't ever seem to get myself off that darned couch!