Disney Princess Half-Marathon: Part IV

I was getting tired.  I had passed double digits, there were no more characters on the road, and I was overwhelmed that I had less than a 5k to go.  Many, many people were walking at this point, but I kept up a slow jog.  I was still feeling good (I had to use my inhaler again around mile 9, right when I passed the Central Florida Accordion Club playing Disney tunes (it’s a real thing).

Careful spectators (or Disney workers?  There were people with camping chairs cheering runners on, including little kids.  High-fiving a little girl lifted my spirits) had placed pine cones in a YOU ROCK formation.  Hehe.

Mile 11!  I was overwhelmed.  I’ve always liked the number 11, and I was especially glad to see it here.  “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” started playing on repeat in my head….

Right around this point, there was a turn and we headed (slightly) uphill.  Now, I go to college next to the mountains, and I didn’t think it was a big deal, but it was definitely an incline and we were all tired at this point.  There was an announcer with a video camera and microphone, and as you ran by, he asked you where you were from.  It was pretty cool (I said my college town, not my hometown, because I had already heard someone say my hometown).

I knew I was going to finish with a smile on my face.  I was so, so excited….

And they must have heard me humming, “I’ll Make a Man Out of You,” because I got to pose with Mushu, too:

I was so tired at this point.  I remember passing an older spectator in a wheelchair with a sign that almost made me cry…I just wish I could remember what it said!  I was too tired to take a picture…if anyone remembers what it said, it would be awesome!  She was after the characters, but before entering Epcot.

I see the ball!  I was grateful that it was almost over, and was feeling really tired.

Chip AND Dale?!  Awesome, awesome.  I knew the finish line was close and I was excited to run through the World Showcase…or so I thought.

I consider myself a Disney enthusiast, but I’m still puzzled as to whose Fairy Godmother this was.  The fairy godmother of runners?!  Maybe….

I was really, really looking forward to running through Epcot and finally finishing! Yeah!

Just kidding…you don’t really run through Epcot.  You just run slightly under the monorail, into a little turnabout, and run right back out the way you came.  I was sad (note to self: CAREFULLY READ course description!).  It wasn’t a big deal (I had most been looking forward to running through the MK, anyway), but at this point in the race, it was a let-down.  I did, however, hear tons of things about the gospel choir that was coming up near mile 13!

Right before the gospel choir, it started to drizzle.  I whipped out my camera to take a photo of mile marker 13, and my lens got a little foggy.

But then I saw the finish! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

There weren’t too many spectators at this point, but it was still really cool.  One of the spectators I saw throughout the race must have been following someone close to my pace, because I saw his just keep swimming sign several times.

I picked up my speed to run through the finish line.  Then I did a double-take and ran in the OPPOSITE direction from the finish. I almost missed THIS:

The perfect photo finish!  Now only if my lens hadn’t been foggy…I still think it’s pretty cute, though.  (Do I look like I just ran a half-marathon?!)

After I waited for my parents (unfortunately, they got stuck on a monorail when it broke down, and missed me finishing by minutes), we took the bus back to the hotel and showered.  I was too revved up to sleep and I was dying to go to the parks to show off my medal.  So we headed to Hollywood Studios.  On no sleep, pretty much, having been up since three am.

I’m exhausted, but happy.  We grabbed something to eat:

Then we went on Star Tours, watched a parade, and I started to have a gigantic headache.  It’s hard to fight your body, even if you really want to have fun.  We headed back to the hotel for some much-needed snooze time.

Then later that night, around 7, we headed back to Hollywood Studios!  Even though I know it’s not MGM anymore, sometimes I still call it that….

We caught my favorite Disney show in the history of Disney shows…Fantasmic!  I bought a giant Mickey rice krispy treat (that would be a giant rice krispies treat shaped like a Mickey head, covered in chocolate, and covered in M&M’s on top of that…yum.  I was definitely thinking about getting one of these at mile 10!)

We rode Toy Story Mania (another great ride!), Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (okay…only I did), The Great Movie Ride, and the Tower of Terror.  I had never been on this last one (my mom has been teasing me, saying she’s going to take me on it since I was five).  Supernatural things and heights scare me (even though I LOVE roller coasters…go figure), and some people in the lobby were saying it was the scariest ride in Disney and be prepared to be terrified…I was cursing like a sailor the whole time (the elevator was pretty empty), but the drop was really mild!  I was pleasantly surprised and I thought the coolest part was when the doors opened and we got to see the whole park lit up at night.  My mom thinks it would be cooler during the day, because you can see more, but I always think rides at night tend to have just a little bit more magic.

As if I didn’t have enough sugar in my life (true fact: every stomach has a compartment just for dessert.  The dessert compartment.  This is how I always managed to go, “I’m sooo full,” when I ate real food and still had room for dessert.  Now you know!

Mmm, ice cream sundae.  Delish.  We took the bus back to the hotel and I fell asleep quickly.  What a magical day.

Oh, man.  After this series of posts, I’d love to go back to Disney.  My roomie plans to run the Tower of Terror 10-Miler in two years, and I think that’s probably the next time I’ll be back.  Have you ever been to Disney World?  What about Disneyland?

I’m a huge fan of thinking about what I’m going to eat after the race to get myself through some tough mileage…do you ever think about food when you run/work out?  How do you motivate yourself?

Disney Princess Half-Marathon: Part III

Right as I was about to run through Cinderella’s Castle, I saw Minnie in true princess fashion!  So, so excited.  The attendant warned that the line was closing in two minutes, but I made it!  Hurrah!

While I was on line, I saw the two unofficial balloon pacers walk by (they were walking a 16-minute-per-mile pace, the minimum needed to stay in the race, not get picked up & driven to the finish line).  I had always trained at about a 12:15 mile on my long runs, so I wasn’t worried–but I didn’t take into account walk breaks because I was sick, photo stops with characters, and a bathroom break.  Still, I wasn’t giving up a photo with Minnie!

Or The Princess and the Frog characters:

I LOVED their costumes and they were so friendly!  Definitely one of the highlights of the race.  At this point, the bikers informed me I was two minutes behind pace and I needed to catch up.  I asked if I stayed ahead of the bikers–would I be okay then?  They said no, I had to be in front of the balloon pacers–the ones that had passed me while I was on line for Minnie!  Aaaagh.  I sped off through Frontierland and rocketed forward.  I skipped the HUGE line for Sleeping Beauty as soon as I got out of the MK because I did NOT want to get driven to the finish line!  I must have been running an 8:00/mile pace; I was so terrified I would be picked up during the race.  I knew it was not an empty threat and I had been in a completely empty Adventureland (minus two women, but I’ll get to them later).  Luckily, I caught up to the balloon pacers and walked slightly ahead of them for a while.

At mile 7, Kelly Clarkson’s What Doesn’t Kill You was blasting on the speakers.  We were running on a VERY narrow strip of road backstage, and the walking and the song provided a much-needed boost.  I decided to pick up the pace to give myself a little wiggle room.  One man cheering on racers said, “Run faster! There’s free beer at the finish line!”  When no one picked up the pace, he started singing, “Iiiiit’s a small world after all, iiit’s a small world aaaaafter all…” over and over.  He was hilarious (and I obligingly picked up the pace).  As cute as that ride is, that song never gets stuck out of my head!
Stitch just went on a break when I passed by, but Lilo was still there!  Lilo & Stitch is definitely one of my favorite Disney movies, so I was psyched.  I was also feeling good, well ahead of the pacers, and running strong.

I saw my parents again at mile 8!  They made it!  Based on my 5k and 10k automated text updates, they weren’t expecting me for another twenty minutes at least.  I gave them a quick hug, explained I need to be speedy because of the balloon pacers, and took off.

I saw Goofy and golf gear and I had to stop…I mean, why not?! (Well, because I was terribly aware that the pacers were very close behind.)

Now, I had to wait in line for Goofy.  No problem.  But it was behind the same two women whom I had been behind since Adventureland–and they brought their autograph books with them.  Both of them.  It was incredibly, incredibly frustrating that I had to wait for the two of them for three photos while the characters signed.  With the pacers so close, this really shouldn’t be allowed.  Luckily, the character attendant for Goofy refused and I took off soon after.  I was determined to get ahead of them before the next photo.

Which I did!  Hi, Pocahontas.  I was a little nervous here because I could SEE the pacers from here! AAAH!  We were circling past the MK again and back down the other side of the highway, the opposite side from where we came.

In reality, when ants aren’t purple and cute, I hate ants.  But here I stopped for A Bug’s Life photo.

It was past mile 10 (I passed it around A Bug’s Life!), my first time in double-digits as a runner.  This Toy Story soldier was telling me to keep on keepin’ on!

More and more people were walking as we neared mile 11, but I kept on running!  As we ran over an overpass, they had cars clearing the highway of runners.

Up next: Mile 11 and the Magical Finish!  Disney Princess Half-Marathon: Part IV

Disney Princess Half-Marathon: Part II

A princess race…but there was no line for the race car drivers of the Richard Petty Driving Experience!  So of course, I jumped on it!  At this point in the race, I wasn’t feeling very well, and I was determined to pace myself (one of my strengths as a runner is I’m very, very good at determining my pace and sticking with it, I run very even splits most of the time), walk as needed, and make it to the Magic Kingdom at all costs.  I remember walking quite a bit around the Speedway, and it was really discouraging that I was only a bit over a 5k at this point.  I was coughing a lot.

I had a long way to go, and I doubted I could make it.  I was coughing a lot at this point, (I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll mention it again…the night before the race, I was sneezing my brains out and coughing up hairballs.  It was just so, so awful, and as an incredibly optimistic person, it had been a long time since I felt so low and so hopeless.  I thought there was no way I could run in just a few hours.)  I had to just keep moving forward.  I kept a smile on my face because it’s DISNEY WORLD and I had been dreaming about this for so long.

I loved seeing all the strong, evil Disney villains–I’d never seen ANY of these in the parks before!  I was especially excited to see Cinderella’s step-sisters and step-mother, who were hamming it up and were absolutely evil.  This whole line-up made my day completely amazing.  I began looking forward to ditching my sweater (here, I ditched it in line before the photos every time), because carrying it was getting really annoying.  I began to have a little hope that I would make it past the Magic Kingdom, and more people in costume cheered me up. I blasted my music and focused on enjoying as much as I could.  My coughing, for the most part, got a little better, and I settled into a regular walk-run pattern.

A blurry photo as I ran past the Contemporary and under a tunnel.  Here was a DJ, and I really liked waving to him.  There were also acrobats on trampolines!  Whoa!

As we ran toward Space Mountain and the Magic Kingdom, I began to feel like utter crap.  I mean, the race was mostly flat, and I trained on hills, but I was still sick.  I could not stop coughing.  I dug out my inhaler (I can only use it twice in a four-hour period, so I knew I had to use it sparingly) and…

it made a WORLD of difference.  Here I am at the next mile marker, happy and upbeat, right before entering the TTC.

At this point, I knew I was going to make it through the race.  I was so, so happy and I felt SO much better.  I also ditched my sweater, giving it to a Cast Member (not even sure if they were on duty…oops), and I felt FREE!

I also saw my parents as I ran through the TTC!  They shouted my name and I almost tripped because I ran past them.  I wasn’t expecting to see them till Mile 8, and it made me INCREDIBLY happy and gave me a huge boost.  As excited as I was to race, running such a huge race, and my first race in another state, alone can be a little intimidating.  I told them I was running strong and I’d see ’em later.  I could only hope that they’d make it to Mile 8 with plenty of time, because I knew that although I ran strong now, I would need a pick-me-up later.  I’d heard traveling from viewpoints could be difficult.  I ran past the drummers from Epcot and all I could think about was running down Main Street.

I had dreamed of this moment for so long.

After asking a CM where the nearest bathroom was (a real bathroom! Not a port-a-potty!), I used a precious four minutes to duck out of the race and it was SO worth it.  My favorite parts were smiling at the little girls in the bathroom (who were wide-eyed that I had a tutu on!), and re-ducking under the line to run back onto Main Street! Hehe.

Everything was all lit up, and it was truly breathtaking to be running down this street.  It was over far too quickly.

I grabbed another photo in front of Cinderella’s Castle (after all, when else is there going to be an unobstructed view?!):

You can see my running shorts peeking out from under the tutu here…it may be silly, but I actually loved wearing it throughout the race.  It made me feel like a true princess for the day.

It was in the MK that I began to feel unstoppable.  I was on such a Disney high–and there were even more characters!

I was excited to see tons of characters I’ve never taken photos with.

I ran through Tomorrowland and Fantasyland (under construction for the extension), where I *just* missed the line closing for Cinderella & Prince Charming.  I’d NEVER seen them in the parks, so I was super bummed, but the sight of the carousel quickly cheered me up.  And at this point, I had stopped at every character available…one of my goals for the race (okay, besides finishing, it was my only goal!)  I was determined to make the most of my race!  Even when I registered for the race, I knew I wanted it to be my first one so I wouldn’t be shooting for a time goal.  As long as I continued feeling great and not coughing, I knew I’d be good.

I kept about a 12-min-per-mile pace through the MK, and then I heard trumpets:

Aaaah!  I was so excited to run through the castle!

Up Next:

In Which I Meet Two Princesses, Get Passed by Orange Bikers, and Run Like Mad: Disney Princess Half-Marathon: Part III

Disney Princess Half-Marathon: Part I

(Note: This post was originally on Blogger, March 20th, 2012)
This winter has not really been the best for me, health-wise.  I posted a while back about being sick and falling behind training, but on top of that, I got sick right after Valentine’s Day and skipped a TON of classes because I was so ill right before the half.  I was a nervous wreck I wouldn’t be able to even WALK the thing, let alone run it.  Despite everything, I went home a little earlier, slept a ton, and caught a  Friday late-night plane to Orlando to race.
I had paid the entrance fee, after all.  I might as well go to Disney World, one of my favorite places ever.  The whole reason I signed up for this race in the first place, to be my first half-marathon, was because 1) I wanted to be a princess 2) Since I never ran the distance before, I wouldn’t be self-conscious about my time, and 3) Running through the Magic Kingdom–can it get any more awesome than that?!
So I tried to dispel my worries and went to the Expo (see above).  I still wasn’t feeling well simply walking around, and the race was TOMORROW.  I was more than a tad worried, and kept praying I would at least be able to walk it and not be picked up by the 16-min-per-mile pacers, something I had NEVER worried about while training.
I got some freebies (LUNA bars!  Yogurt!) and gear, including an I DID IT! shirt.  I was dying to wear it.  I knew I had to earn it.  I could only hope that I would.

There was even an awesome running “glass slipper” on display.  I can only say, wow, Disney is so great with attention to detail….

I had to sit down because I started feeling lightheaded and dizzy.  This, in turn, made me freak out even more.  And did I mention I still had a DEEP chest cough?  Nowhere near ready to run the next day.

Even then, as I was feeling pretty crappy, I couldn’t resist posing with Gaston and my “muscled bod.”

After a 3:30 pm dinner (I kid you not, I went to bed at 5 pm…but didn’t fall asleep until 7) at the All Star Movies Resort, my parents and I went to bed.

I have never, ever been in bed that early before.  Even though I was exhausted from the previous week, I tossed and turned (and coughed).  I freaked out around ten pm when I woke up coughing.  Thank goodness I had my inhaler, and that seemed to help the coughing.

With one very early wake-up call, we boarded the buses and headed to the Epcot parking lot!

But not without a few fiascos.  I have read OVER and OVER not to do anything differently from training on the morning before the race.  So I brought peanut butter to eat, and some crackers.  Great.  It was three am–I forced a spoonful down and had to be satisfied that that was all my body would accept, and I counted on the fact that I had eaten well the day before.

Additionally, packing for the race, I planned to wear shorts, a tutu, and a wicking tank top.

It was only about 35 degrees out at 3 am, and would be in the 40s to low 50s all day.

Tank top?  I don’t think so.

Luckily, I had thrown in a shirt I had just bought and still had the tags on at the last second into my suitcase.  Relieved, I went to put it on…and the security tag was still on.  You know, those bulky, ink-filled plastic things cashiers sometimes forget to remove with their handy-dandy machine?

Need I remind you, it was three am on the day of the race.  I certainly wasn’t going back to the store.

Thank goodness that Disney always has places open.  My mom ran to the hotel store and they used their machine–backwards–on my shirt, and it came off after a little finagling.  If they hadn’t, I would’ve frozen!

Now, I had done a lot of reading about what the beginning of this race was like.  With about 19,000 runners, most of them women, things can get a little crazy.  The lines for the Port-A-Potties appeared ridiculous, but I headed toward the back and only waited two minutes.

Aaah, the little things in life.

I was still coughing, but not as much.  It helped that the weather was warmer.

Here I am, all bundled up in my throwaway hoodie (…I still really liked that hoodie, but I was ready to admit it doesn’t fit me anymore).  After the LONG walk (it really was about 15-20 minutes) from the Port-A-Potties, backstage, past MORE Port-A-Potties (if they had come to life, the runners would have had absolutely no chance of escaping the Port-A-Potty army), and finally, I arrived at Corral C.

My mom sneaked in and took a pic while I waited nervously for the start.  I felt very alone and with a bunch of older runners.  There were, oddly enough, quite a few guys in my area, many running with their own princesses.  Awww.

Eventually, my mom left me, and I stretched a little and tried to keep warm.  After the wheelchair start (and each start had fireworks!  How cool was that?!), it was soon time to go.  I expected a crowd, and I thought running the Rock ‘n’ Roll 10k had prepared me for a decent crowd, but nothing like this!  Here’s the crowd right before the starting line:

I started way too fast.  I did my best to keep to the side and let runners pass me, but the crowd swept me up.  I think I covered about an 11:40-12:15 mile pace at first.  Now, that’s plenty normal for me while I was training, but I kept in mind that I was still sick and I wanted to go as slow as possible in the beginning, at least for the first half of the race.

I wanted too badly to finish.

I kept coughing.  I knew I could only use my inhaler twice during the race, so I wanted to wait and use it sparingly.

I was feeling bad at mile 2 and unsure if I would make it.  I decided to take a ton of walk breaks and persist with a slow jog.

It’s worth mentioning all the mile markers were storybook scenes, and very nicely designed.  I enjoyed passing them, and they made each mile more special (after mile 8, every one after that was a new distance PR!).  I also decided to keep my hoodie as long as possible (when I’m warm, I cough less).

Here’s what began my time lapse.  Now, I knew going into this race that I was going to take a ton of pictures (why wear a tutu, after all, if you’re not going to be in photos with it?!).  So, I stopped at the first character stop–Jack Sparrow and a giant pirate ship.

I waited about ten-fifteen minutes in line, and the photo’s still dark because the sun is still not up (My corral start? Approximately 5:57 am).

I also read that this race is all highway. If you are reading this, thinking about doing the Disney Princess Half or the Regular Half, it is!  Still, I entertained myself looking at other people’s costumes, and I’m such a huge Disney geek that I loved running behind the scenes, or  “backstage,” in Disney lingo.

I loved that I have driven this same route a zillion times in my life.

This next photo stop was COMPLETELY worth the wait.  All the princes?  The “smolder” of Flynn Rider?  I was so there.  Did I really have to keep running after this?

Well, yes, I did.  I wasn’t even halfway finished.  But here is one of my favorite, unexpected parts of the race:

That would be running through the Magic Kingdom toll booths.  Really.  I run through TWO theme parks and pass a ton of awesome characters, and one of my favorite parts was a toll booth?

Well, yeah.  The operators (I assume?) were out there, directing people and cheering people on.  As I passed the speed bump, I thought, I am not a car, and that thought kept me amused for a very long time.  Hey, it was only six am, okay?  I am easily amused.

Unexpected moments during a race can be good (tollbooths!)…or bad (I certainly didn’t expect to be sick).  Have you had any unexpected moments in your life lately?
 Non-running related, I ran into my boyfriend the other day in one of the strangest places in an academic building on campus.  Unexpected, but it totally made my day!

I’m on spring break right now!  Woohoo!  If you could take a vacation RIGHT NOW, where would you go?
Well, I’m currently in a beautiful place, so I think I’ll stay right here.  =D

Okay With It

Janae over at Hungry Runner Girl recently posted about perfectionism.

It’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. On February 26th, I’ll be running the Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon.
And you know what? Nearly everything has strayed from my plans.
-I barely trained for my 10k (but I finished with flying colors).
-I was really sick from mid-December to mid-January and I jumped into my half-marathon training plan with some two-mile runs and a six-mile long run the first week.
Oops.
-I got sick AGAIN and it looks like my longest run before the race will be 8 miles.
Only 8 miles.
(Did I ever think I would say “only” 8 miles? 8 miles was an impossible distance once upon a time.)
I realized, training or not, I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. Life gets in the way of plans sometimes. I’ve learned to accept this lately, but sometimes it’s hard to take a scary plunge when I’ve been looking forward to this for so long.
So, I’m leaving for the trip just about a week from now.
I’m okay with whatever happens.
I will finish, even if I’m walking across that finish line.
And I’m okay with it.
I know this race will be tons of fun and a great photo opportunity. After, I’m looking forward to cross-training (conquering my fear of spinning once and for all?!) and running shorter, speedier distances. It’ll be nice to run for the sake of running again.
Would you rather train with a purpose (a race, or for charity, or an event) or just for your own benefit?
I love planning, so I like training with a purpose. I think I’ll appreciate cross-training a lot more now, though, especially because in college I can really take advantage of a great gym.
What makes you decide to venture out when you have other responsibilities? Friends? Family? A midnight run…or a midnight run to get ice cream?
Tonight I decided, heck, it’s open mic night and my boyfriend is playing a set. I’m going to go. I’m glad I did-I had a great time and it was nice to hang out with friends. I’ve worked hard lately and I deserved it.