I can still remember standing on the “beach” in front of the Magic Kingdom, looking across the lagoon at the Grand Floridian, waiting for the start of the Orlando Danskin and hearing the race director tell us about a new race coming to WDW next year – the Princess Half Marathon. At that point, I was still early on in my “racing” journey (if you could even call it that) and had only done one half marathon before swearing them off completely and was barely running. Hearing about a Princess race and another opportunity to not only visit WDW but run through the castle piqued my interest. For whatever reason, I was hesitant to commit to that first year but I knew one day I was going to run in the Princess Half.
In 2010, I “ran” my first ever Princess half marathon and really my first ever half marathon (my previous one I had only walked).
In 2011, I was on the sidelines recovering from my torn MCL.
In 2012, I was back for more as part of my year of half marathons.
Which brings us to now. My third running of the Princess Half. I do have to say, as much as I love the Tinker Bell Half, Princess is my favorite.
Friday morning we were up early and ready to get our expo on. About an hour later, we finally got on a bus and were on our way to Coronado Springs, the site of this year’s expo.
The expo was insanity. Even more so than normal. The space probably could have been utilized *slightly* better. I waited in line after line after line, starting with the shuttle to the expo. It took us over an hour just to get to there. In fact, the only thing I didn’t stand in line for was the bathroom, which for being a women focused race cracked me up! I think the worse line was for the official merchandise (30 to 45 minutes just to get in followed by another 30-ish minutes to check out) but I was able to pick up my “I Did It” shirt, a mug, and a pin, along with a few other things. I was almost to the mugs when the last one was taken before my eyes. Boo! I grabbed a plastic cup instead and got in check out line. But lo and behold a cast member brought out another box of mugs! Score!
I debated heading over to the New Balance booth for the fancy, new Minnie shoes, but I was sooooooo done with lines that I skipped it. Maybe the madness will have died down by the Disneyland half…
The other interesting thing at the expo were all the heat advisory signs. Oh great. I kept that in mind and tried to keep hydrated. I was even more glad I had already decided to throw time goals out the window.
Sunday morning dawned way too early and before I knew it I was heading to the bus. I was on one of the first busses and walked right on. What I have found is, the earlier you are, the more likely you will not have to wait for a bus, and you will not have to deal with as much traffic on the way over.
The bus dropped us off and I began the long trek from the parking lot to the main race area. I bought a race retreat again this year. Overpriced? Probably. But a place to chill, relax, sit and be able to use a somewhat private port-o-potty area is worth it to me.
While I am shy, an introvert, and not good at meeting people, there were two people I was excited to “meet” in real life. I ventured out of the race retreat and literally ran into Abby!! Even more fitting was the fact I was dressed as Ariel and she was dressed as Flounder! We chatted, took a picture and went our separate ways (although it wouldn’t be the last time we would run into each other).
I finally decided to make my way over to the start area and began the long trek. I was starting in Corral C this year.
The wheelchairs started, followed by A and B. And then it was time for C! Fairy Godmother informed us that C stood for courageous! She counted us down (after saying the magic words of course) and the fireworks went off! Go!
So remember the heat advisory signs? It was sooooo humid!! (I think the humidity was upwards of 90%.) Granted, I am a PNW girl at heart and we have mild weather, so I might be exaggerating to those who are used to the humidity. But the air felt so heavy and I was pretty much drenched in sweat before even hitting Mile 1. I made the decision to take in water and Powerade at every water stop, which I did. Sometimes I even had two waters.
While I expect it to be super crowded at the beginning, and in a few other areas, I thought it never really spread out. I felt as if I was constantly dodging people and weaving to and fro.
I finally found a decent rhythm as we were nearing the Magic Kingdom toll plaza. I passed by the princes (even though I promised myself I would stop for them). Their line was huge and I knew I could catch them on the way back.
Around the bend by the speedway, I spotted Abby!! I waved to her, complained about the humidity and how I wished it would rain, and kept going.
Coming up the hill by the Contemporary, I saw these big puppet-like things (not sure how else to describe them), the last one being Sebastian. I hesitated for a second, then got in line because I’m Ariel. I really need a picture with Sebastian. And guess who got in line behind me? Abby! So we got a picture of all three of us Under the Sea creatures!! How fun!
Another curve later and I entered Main Street and saw Cinderella’s Castle in the distance. Seriously, my favorite part of any runDisney race. I didn’t see until too late there were photographers lining Main Street on the other side. There was no way I could fight my way through the crowd so gave up on a Main Street picture.
Heading into Tomorrowland I spotted Buzz Lightyear with a short line! Score! But of course, as soon as I got in line, it was time for him to take a break. Onward. To the real bathroom and beyond! Yes, one of the best parts about being in the Magic Kingdom is the ability to use a real bathroom! All that water I had been taking in was having a not so pleasant effect on my tummy.
Past the Teacups, past the construction on the Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train and New Fantasyland, towards the Carousel, where I spotted Gaston!! Oh, I’m stopping. I don’t care what the line looks like! Ha!
And then I was at the castle! Royal Mickey & Minnie had a humongous line. I debated for a nano-second and decided to skip it. (I would regret this later.)
It was quite congested in the castle, but I tried to keep off to the side (so to be in a better position for a picture!). I posed for another picture in front of the castle, before making my towards Frontierland.
To continue the characterpalooza, I stopped for Princess Tiana and Jessie before winding my way out of the park. It was time to say goodbye to the Magic Kingdom.
Mile 7 was looming in front of me and I was realizing that my hamstring was actually doing okay. (I had gotten taped at the KT Tape booth.) There was still a twinge, but not nearly as bad. I got my picture at Mile 7 and kept on.
During this stretch it was really crowded, and I ended up running on the grass several times.
It was also during this stretch that my iPod decided it was done working correctly. It started skipping, stopping and then restarting, and all sorts of other weird stuff. I spent waaaaay too much time trying to get it back on track (I think I lost a ton of time here).
I am not one of those people that can run without music. Well, I can for short distances. Not for long. I tried, I really did, but I had lost my mojo. My intervals were somewhat shot at this point (partly also due to the humidity). But the good thing about my iPod malfunctioning during a race is at least there were other things around to entertain me. I tried to just enjoy my surroundings. (I still have no idea what happened – maybe it was the humidity?)
While the humidity sucked the casbah, it remained overcast. Hallelujah!! And every once in a while there would be a beautiful breeze!!
Finally the princes were in sight! This time I did stop (and the line, while long, was much shorter than this morning).
A few other character stops and I was heading up the overpass. I had planned on stopping for the Green Army Man, but guess what? Yup, as soon as I got in line, he went on a break. Oh well – there is always next time.
This was probably the hardest stretch. I knew I was close but the humidity and no music had taken its toll and I was ready to be done. Finished. Complete. But the closer we got to Epcot, I started to find my magic again. Thanks to the honking and yelling cars, thanks to the spectators, and even thanks to other races who were calling out encouragement. Each cheer propelled me forward.
I stopped for a few more pictures (Mrs. Incredible & the Fairy Godmother herself) before turning the corner and hearing the amazing gospel choir. Hallelujah!! I was going to finish!!
I high-fived Minnie and ran across the finish line!!
It was my slowest time to date at 3:21.03 (but hey I finished in under 3:30!!). Good thing I threw out time goals!
And can I just say a huge thank you to the volunteer who opened my water for me? My fingers were giant and not working correctly.
I collected my medal and my coast to coast medal and met up with Jessica.
We hit up the race retreat before walking over to see what Princesses were available for pictures. As we were walking we ran into Sara – the other person I was hoping to meet up with! How’s that for coincidence? We chatted for a bit about the race and how amazing it was we literally ran into each other.
Ariel was one of the Princesses available and I got in line. My fear was that she would leave before I got to the front. But I made it!! She loved my outfit and my hair! I was so happy to get that picture.
Then it was time to get in line for the bus back to Art of Animation. The bus line was ridiculous!! Note to self: maybe next time stay at a different hotel.
And that’s that! My third rendition of the Princess Half. Stay tuned for park fun!!