Back in February Amy and I snuck (literally snuck, did not tell the kids 😳 exactly where we went) away to Florida. I was there for a little over 48 hours and Amy was there a few extra days for a Universal Studio training. Today we are doing a joint post on our trip. I am going to give a recap on the Disney Princess Half Marathon 2017, and Amy is going to talk about the training she attended so stay tuned.
Literally moms (and a dad) on the run.
Disney Princess Half Marathon 2017 Recap:
First of all, all the photos we took were with our phones. I was there such a short time, I did not want to carry gear. I did end up purchasing the Disney photos that were taken by the course photographers. I honestly never love my race photos and they can be crazy pricey BUT when they capture you running through the castle and spaceship earth, you kind of have to. 😉 I also made it a point to smile at every photographer I saw, I wanted to at least try to have some great photos around the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Not sure why I had jazz hands too 😂.
Unfortunately my spectator photos did not turn out great. I was so bummed because I was able to get a few good ones in the 2016 Chicago marathon. The jazz hands make up for it though.
I was lucky enough to be joined by an amazing cheer squad of Amy’s mom, Aunt, and my Mom and Dad. We had a blast day one at Magic Kingdom despite the crowds. It was nice being there without kids and an agenda. We just walked around, ate dole whips, and went on the rides with the shortest lines. Peter Pan, Pirates, It’s A Small World, and Seven Dwarfs were our highlights. Not really sure Seven Dwarfs was a highlight for Gina but oh was it ever for me! 🙂 I HATE roller coasters but suck it up at Disney. Oh, and did I mention the Dole Whips. DOLE WHIPS are a must! Night one I crashed at the Wilderness Lodge with Amy and her family. Love it there and the new outside bar/restaurant area, Geyser Point. You sit ourside at a beautiful bar and seating area with a cozy fireplace, TVs, and beautiful views of the resort and lake.
The next day Amy and I headed early to the expo. It was fun, but we wanted to get to the parks instead of linger around. Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney movie, so I had to get the photo by the rose. I still can not express how fun it was to do all this with my bestie by my side. Just recapping this makes me appreciate the time with my bestie even more. The rest of the day we met up with my parents and Amy’s mom and aunt at Epcot. We carb loaded (literally, we must have thought we were running a race too) in France Les Halles Boulangerie and Mexico at the La Hacienda de San Angel. I can not recommend that restaurant enough! Delicious food and margaritas, plus the ambiance is relaxed inside compared to the hustle and bustle of the park. Night two I stayed at the Dolphin with my parents. Being a good neighbor resort, it is close to Epcot, the Boardwalk and one of my family’s favorite places to stay.
Race morning: First of all you have to be on the bus no later than 4am. Shuttles start at 3 or 3:30. I do not remember, I was delirious. All I know is that I think I got on the first bus close to 3 am. When I got to the drop off near Epcot, I wished I had someone with me. It was dark and not many people were there yet. I could not tell where the start line was and saw people lining up by the stage and DJ. I got in line. After some time I stepped out of line to see what this line was for (I assumed to go to the corrals). No, it was to take a pictures with Belle. I got out of line and started stretching out of the way of the crowds coming in. Let me tell you the people watching is amazing. The costumes and outfits people wear for this race is outstanding. I wore a tank Amy had made for me that I loved. I did not want to wear anything that may irritate me like a tiara or tutu while I run. I feel I would rip it off within mile two.
As spectators, some of us weren’t sure what to expect. Luckily Aunt Judi had done it before and mom and I followed along. Although we didn’t have to get up quite as early as Gina, we were on the boat to Magic Kingdom by 5:30. We were the only 3 on the boat and the first mate was a real comedian that early. Walking into the Magic Kingdom is so magical but the anticipation and excitement of waiting for Gina to turn down Main Street was really something. I kept thinking over and over what an amazing experience.
Eventually it was time to start walking to the corrals. I am happy to say that Disney races have a surplus of port-a-potties and they are CLEAN. It was so nice to know I was the first in the ones I went into. There was plenty on the walk to the corrals. The walk to the corrals had to be a half a mile…through a forest. It was weird and unexpected and the random d.j. with a joker hat did not help the situation. When we got to the corrals on the highway there was a ton of entertainment and excitement. I was in corral C.
Side note: I was prepared for this race in terms of training to what I thought. My goal was to run sub 2 hours. The first half marathon I ran in 2015 my time was 2:02. For those of you who do not know, I am currently training for the 2017 Chicago Marathon to hopefully get a Boston qualifying time. I was running for time on this race which I learned quickly was not a race to run for time, it is to run for fun. There was more hills then I trained for and even though I saw the course map, I was not mentally prepared for all the time on the highway.
When the fireworks go off you are pumped and ready. Quickly after running after a little bit you realize you have A LOT of highway to run in the dark before you get to the Magic Kingdom. Along the way there will be random D.J.s, large posters to take pictures by, and characters to take photos with. I did not stop to take photos, although it did look like fun. The lines were nothing when I started but on my loop back to Epcot the lines were very long.
I did want to grab a shot while I was running under the gates. I love and have so many amazing memories of driving through every time we went to Disney.
Not going to lie, my motivation was not as high as I wanted a couple times during the run to Magic Kingdom. I had a lot of dark road to think and get into my head about how I expected it to be a little different. As I got to the transportation station, the crowds were showing up. The energy level was getting higher and the sun was starting to rise. I knew my way and that we were getting close to the Magic Kingdom. We ran in through a side entrance and popped out onto Main Street and OMG!!! The crowds, the street lit up, the cow bells and then running towards the castle. This made it worth every dark highway mile prior. Amy, her mom and aunt were to my left right before they stopped letting crowds go any further. I saw them and tears. Yes, there were tears, but if you know me…it happens. All these years of going to Disney and I was running through it after hours. You make a right and go through Tomorrowland. The ground is no even, the course narrows, and gets curvy here. So your pace has to slow and this is the only time I felt close to any other runner. Up until now we were pretty spaced out. Before you know it you run through the castle. I tried to soak up every second of it, though I did not want to slow my pace much more than I had to to get through the park. We entered the park after mile five and exited around mile six. This is where my head space got a little goofy again and I realized now I was running that same highway back to Epcot for sixish miles.
The sun was coming up and I was able to take in the spectators now (even though they were volunteers on the highway and not family and friends of runners) There were the DJs and characters. I was able to see the other later corrals as I ran the other direction. So I tried to focus elsewhere. As I approached mile 11.5 I could see Epcot, and the blinding sun in my eyes ( I need to get sport sunglasses) My motivation re appeared. When you enter Epcot there are no spectators allowed so the workers were there to cheer you on. You run in by Space Ship Earth then straight back to World Showcase Lagoon, switchback towards Space Ship Earth then out a side exit you go to the finish line which seems to come out of no where.
I did not realize my parents and Amy were at the finish line. Chicago races have a pretty tight security at races and no one is usually at the finish line. I did not look for anyone and sprinted in. I was fairly confident I ran sub two by checking my pace throughout the race. I checked it right after and I was right 1:54 was my time.
I was yelling and walked along where I thought Gina would be coming out. I didn’t want her to come out and nobody be there. We hugged and waited until the others made there way to the family area.
All in all, would I recommend this race??? Heck yes! Especially if you are a Disney fan. I immediately said after that I have to do the marathon now. I was told you run through all four parks for the full marathon. What I will do different though is run it for fun, maybe even stop and see a character or two or take photos by the rides and landmarks) and run with friends. I know I had the best cheerleaders there, but at times I wish they were with me on the course. I watched all these groups of girls laughing and running together and it just looked so fun to have your girls there with you.
Maybe some day….at a 5k or 8k, for fun!
After we met up and I was so happy to see my Mom, Dad, Amy, Carrie, and Judi. I know spectating and navigating a race is hard, plus the early morning. I can not say thank you enough to them all for all the support for all my crazy races.
Amy had to take off quickly after to head to her training at Universal and I wanted to grab lunch (and a celebratory cocktail) before flying back home. My parents and Amy’s mom and aunt had lunch at the Wilderness’s fun and comfort food restaurant Whispering Canyon Cafe, which was delish and that sangria was to die for.
Anyone have any tips or comments about running a Disney race?
Stay tuned for time at Universal.
Stay tuned for Part Two where Amy gives you all the details of her Universal Training!