Race Travel

Princess Half 2013 Race Recap (Part 1)

My Princess Half Race Recap is turning out to be longer than I had planned, so I’m breaking it down. I’ll also have separate posts on the expo and the rest of my vacation to Walt Disney World.  What can I say? I’m verbose. 

Sunday, I ran in runDisney’s Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World.  It was my fourth runDisney race, but my first half marathon.  If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know my training didn’t go as planned (thanks to an injured knee and horrible winter weather), but I felt confident I could finish.  I had my amazing sister-in-law by my side (the woman can run, y’all) and I was excited.

That’s not to say I wasn’t nervous.  I was super nervous, especially where the weather was concerned.  I had been training in 20-30 degree weather and race day temps would be in the 70’s with 90% humidity.  The Tower of Terror 10 miler was even hotter last year, but I wasn’t used to 20 degree weather at that point.  I started to think I’d need to walk the majority of the Princess in order to finish strong. I adjusted my original goal to 03:25:00 due to the heat and humidity warnings.  It was 35 minutes longer than my original goal, but I didn’t want to end up passed out on the side of the road.  I was VERY thankful to see the cloud cover Sunday morning.  It was a definite blessing not to have the sun beating down on us.

The night before the race, I made sure to lay out all of my race gear, packed my checked bag and set my alarm for o’dark:thirty.  I surprisingly fell asleep around 10 and slept until  my alarm rang out at 2:25am.  We all got up and dressed and headed down to the buses around 3:10.  The bus line at Port Orleans: Riverside was very efficient   We didn’t wait long at all and we were on our way to the staging area in no time.

runDisney Princess Half Marathon Leia Running Costume

Once we arrived at the staging area, I checked my race bag and we decided to just hang out and listen to the DJ for a little while.  I also took this time to eat my breakfast (a “Runner’s Box” we purchased at our resort bakery the evening before for $6.99).

runDisney Princess Half Marathon Runner Breakfast Box

Well, I ate some of it. The bagel was pretty nasty.  Next year, I’ll just make my own version of the box with a better quality bagel.  We snapped a few photos, used the facilities and then headed on over to the corral area.  I found the staging area to be very well organized. I breezed through bag check and we made it to our corral with plenty of time to spare.

And, of course, I have to show off my costume, right?

runDisney Princess Half Marathon Costume Princess Leia Running

Unfortunately, I was assigned Corral H (the last corral) for this race, despite registering with a pretty decent expected finish time.  The rest of our group were in corrals B-G, but everyone decided to at least start the race together and they all dropped back to H with me.  We got a spot pretty close to the front of H and sat until it was time to walk to the start line.

And wait we did.  Corral A took off at 5:35. I believe we finally started about 45 minutes later.  I’ll put it this way, the winner of this year’s race finished in 1 hour, 14 minutes.  She was almost to the finish line when we were around mile 2.

But we started. And I was pumped.  It was crowded with a lot of walkers (expected in the last corral), so getting a rhythm was a little difficult at first.  Two members of our group kept going while three of us started our run/walk/run pace.  My sister-in-law and her friend made a pit stop at the first portolet. I decided to keep going and figured they’d easily catch up.

At this point, my run/walk ratio of 1min/1min was getting to be too much.  The heat and humidity were taking their toll and I figured if I slowed down, it would be easier for the rest of our group to get back together.  Little did I know, this slowed pace would end up being a blessing in disguise.  I started doing a 2min walk/1min run and before I knew it, I was passing through the parking gates for Magic Kingdom Park.

runDisney Princess Half Marathon Course Photo

Mile 4 brought us inside the Transportation and Ticket Center where an amazing drum band was playing.  Mile 5 brought us in front of Space Mountain and finally around backstage and inside Magic Kingdom Park.

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My smile must have been a mile wide when we ran out onto Main Street, USA.  The scene was way more crowded and chaotic than I had hoped for, but again, being in the back of the pack to start will mean a more crowded course.  I was able to get my photo snapped by a Cast Member in front of the castle and continued on my way through the park.  All I could think of was running through Cinderella Castle.  It was the moment I had been waiting for ever since I registered for the race.

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First, I needed to find a restroom.  The few park restrooms I passed had long lines, so I decided to keep going.  Then, while running through New Fantasyland, I spied someone sprinting from a bathroom way back off in the distance.  I decided to sprint back and was happy to find a clean, empty bathroom and I was back on the course in a matter of minutes.

Finally, the moment was here.  The trumpeters were heralding us to Cinderella Castle.

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Unfortunately, the moment was far from magical.  Instead of running through the castle, I shuffled, pressed against hundreds of other hot, smelly bodies.  People were stopping to take photos and looking around.  I can’t blame them.  It just made it hard to really enjoy the moment.  I know people in earlier corrals had a much different experience than we did and I hope to work my time up to earn a spot in A or B for a future race so I can get that experience as well.

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Photographers weren’t even stationed on the outside of the tunnel at that point.  Anyone who wanted a photo in front of the castle had to wait in line at the bottom.  I was too nervous about my time to stop, so I walked down the castle ramp and finished my run through Magic Kingdom.  I added four minutes to my pace during the Magic Kingdom mile.

Before I knew it, I was at the halfway point.  Little did I know, the second half of the race would be completely different from the first.

Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow!

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25 Comments

  • Reply Lori February 27, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    Wow, now I see what people mean about crowding! I was in B and going through the castle was nothing like that! 🙁 I’m sorry to hear that it was less than magical.

    • Reply ashley February 28, 2013 at 5:37 pm

      It’s ok! It was still a magical race, even if I didn’t get my castle moment. And it’s more motivation to earn my spot in a higher corral next time!

  • Reply TWINS RUN (@TwinsRun) February 27, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    Love it! 🙂

    • Reply ashley February 28, 2013 at 5:37 pm

      Thank you!

  • Reply Emily February 27, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    Love your costume!! That’s too bad about your run through the castle. Can’t wait to hear about the rest of the race!!

    • Reply ashley February 28, 2013 at 5:38 pm

      Thank you! As soon as the Lucasfilm/Disney merger happened, I just knew i needed to be Leia for the race!

  • Reply Crystal February 27, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    Looks like you had a great time! I had a few friends run in that race!

    • Reply ashley February 28, 2013 at 5:38 pm

      It was an amazing experience. runDisney events are always incredible, no matter which distance you choose.

  • Reply Hanan February 27, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    I love your costume! Sorry you had to deal with some bumps, but I bet it was still worth it!

    • Reply ashley February 28, 2013 at 5:39 pm

      It was completely worth every step. And now I have motivation to earn my spot in a higher corral next race.

  • Reply Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell February 27, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    I am so excited for you. I got all fired up about these runs from the twitter party and now you got to do one. AWESOME!

    • Reply ashley February 28, 2013 at 5:40 pm

      runDisney is truly like no other. From kid’s races to 5ks and half/full marathons…it’s really a magical experience.

  • Reply michelle February 27, 2013 at 10:25 pm

    WOW, congratulations! It must have been so inspiring to be running at Disney! what an accomplishment!

    • Reply ashley February 28, 2013 at 5:40 pm

      Thank you! It really is inspiring!

  • Reply Tesa @ 2 Wired 2 Tired February 28, 2013 at 1:45 am

    Wow, what a race! I can’t believe you had to wait 45 minutes before your corral could leave. But what an amazing experience. I love your play-by-play it makes me feel like I’m right there with you and I can’t wait to read tomorrow’s post and now I want to run this next year!

    • Reply ashley February 28, 2013 at 5:40 pm

      It really was incredible. runDisney races are always amazing. It makes me not want to race any other way. Thank you!

  • Reply ClassyMommy February 28, 2013 at 3:58 am

    Congrats! Love reading your step by step of the race and I’m excited to see part 2 tomorrow. Bummer on Coral H and the crowds but I’m sure it was still super magical. Loved seeing the race in daylight too – castle was dark when I ran through last year since I didn’t have the 45 mins lag time with the start. At least it was warm when you were waiting to start vs. frigid. The heat is tough running but the cold is brutal waiting too! My favorite race ever and I am 100% running in 2014. already planning our trip!

    • Reply ashley February 28, 2013 at 5:42 pm

      Thank you! I was so used to training in the cold that I would have welcomed the lower temps. it’s easy to layer and shed clothing, but it’s hard to cool down. It definitely was magical, despite the crowds. And it gives me a goal to work towards next year.

  • Reply #PrincessHalf Race Recap (Part 2) - Fiddle Dee Me February 28, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    […] You may want to start here: Princess Half Race Recap Part 1 […]

  • Reply Carrie with Children February 28, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    I’ve always wondered what it was like to run a race at Disney – loved hearing about your experience. Sad to hear that the castle area was so crowded 🙁

    • Reply ashley February 28, 2013 at 5:42 pm

      It’s ok! I still had a magical time and I’ll work even harder to get a better corral placement next time. thanks for reading along!

  • Reply Andrea Kruse March 1, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    Yay! I was so worried I might miss your recap. This looks like such a fun experience. I can’t wait to see the second half, but you have plenty of memories to keep forever from just this. Oh, and LOVED your costume.

  • Reply What's Next? - Fiddle Dee Me March 4, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    […] that Princess Half has ended (see my race recaps here and here), I am shifting my focus to the next events on my race […]

  • Reply Kerri @SavvyMomNYC March 5, 2013 at 2:17 am

    Seems like so much fun! I love Disney and one day I would love to do this!

  • Reply A Breakthrough and Goals for 50 Yard Finish Half - Fiddle Dee Me June 10, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    […] during the race.  And yes, I looked mighty silly running around my neighborhood dressed up as Princess Leia, but at least I knew the costume […]

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