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