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.
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).
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!