Race Recap: 2019 Disney Princess Half Marathon

At last, I am finally ready to share the post you have all been waiting for: The 2019 Disney Princess half marathon!

Ok, so maybe the one person who has really been on the edge of her seat waiting for this is Kasey, but I am here and ready to share either way, so I hope you’re on board for a RunDisney race recap!

On my third early morning of the weekend, I left my hotel room at the All Star Music resort at 3:25 in the morning, and caught one of the last “runner” buses to the start area - RunDisney requests that all runners be on the bus by 3:30 am the morning of the Princess Half marathon, and I was cutting it close with my departure time. They keep running buses after this cutoff, but they are considered to be spectator buses at that point, and their frequency decreases. They bus was in the process of loading when I got there, but I was able to find a seat near the front, so I would be able to get off quickly when we got to the start area. Kasey was staying at All-Star Sports, so we were planning to meet at the start area.

When I got to the start area, there were already thousands of runners making the walk from the bus to security, which had a short line to get through. Kasey messaged me that she was sitting near the first tent after the start area sign, and I quickly spotted her sitting in an area that just barely allowed her to not get stepped on by people who were walking by. She was about as sleepy as I was, and hated me more than ever for talking her into running - even if she had signed up for this race of her own accord. We relocated to another area that had more space for sitting, and ate our pre-race meals there. The start area was much more crowded than other RunDisney events that I have participated in. Once we were fed, I sorted through my bags, and separated the the things I needed for the race from the stuff that I would be leaving with bag check, and then we applied some KT tape to my knee and Kasey’s foot before heading towards the start corrals.

They had changed the bag check system from previous RunDisney weekends, and instead of checking your bags based on your last name, they allowed runners to pick any of the trucks stationed near the finish line, and we were given a sticker to put on the back of our bibs that showed which of the trucks our bags were in.

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I made a brief stop at the porter potty, while Kasey resigned herself to wetting her pants over using a porter potty, and then we were on our way to the corrals. It was almost a mile walk from the start area to the corrals. Kasey was assigned to corral D, so that was where we would be starting our race from. When we got into the corral the pre-race show had started, with the announcers speaking about the race charity, and quizzing runners in the corrals with disney trivia. Since we were in corral D we had a little bit of a wait as the race started, and we inched our way closer to the start line as they released waves of runners.

When we finally did make it through the start line, there was immediately course congestion, to a point that really prevented us from getting a full stride in as we ran. We tried to find a consistent pace as we made our way through the first mile, but we were stuck going at a slower pace than we had planned. Even going through the first water stop, it was too crowded for me to make my way from the middle of runners over to the side.

In the second mile they had Jack Sparrow out with his pirate ship, but as usual he had a long wait, so we didn’t stop for a photo. Once we hit the highway the congestion eased up a bit, and Kasey actually seemed to be having a good time. As we approached the Magic Kingdom sign during mile 3 we pulled over to take a selfie before continuing to the park. The announcements of “caution runners, speed bumps ahead” rang out as we went through the toll booths. The next part of our run took us through the parking lot at the ticket and transportation center, where we ran by a character stop that had an assortment of Disney Princes, and a winding line. We passed the third mile marker shortly after, and stopped to get some water at an aid station near by.

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They had fog machines our around the evil queen’s character stop, where she was in full witch form, and cooking up some poison apples. We finally got to the the ticket and transportation center, and were able to stop at a bathroom near where the monorail loads. It was surprisingly empty, considering that it was the first real bathroom on the course.

When we ran by mile marker 4 I tried serenading Kasey with a little number from frozen, but she was not amused. She was liking me less as less as we got deeper into this half marathon. The had the RunDisney logo in pink as we ran under an overpass, and towards the magic kingdom. It was the standard entrance into the park, where they loop runners through the bus stops, and then have big light up inflatable pillars guiding runners through the park entrance.

We passed the 5th mile marker just before entering the park. The lights were still on at the entrance when we got there, as the sun was just coming up as we made our way onto main street. Kasey was starting to die a little by this point in the race, and she even broke out her post run forward fold when we stopped to take a picture with the castle. There were pink lights projected onto the castle, very fitting for the princess half.

We made our way into tomorrow land, where runners seemed to be dipping and diving to get to a character… I couldn’t even tell you what character, I was too busy trying not to crash into people. Must have been a good one, I guess. After tomorrowland we ran by Alice’s teacups, then passed the storybook circus and ran through new fantasy land. We took a momentary breathing break there, as both Kasey and I were struggling with the humidity. Once we got moving again we ran by the carousel, then spotted Cinderella next to the castle, and hopped in line to get a photo with her, since we were dressed up as Cinderella and the Fairy Godmother - it was only fitting.

After we snapped our photo we ran through the castle, then pulled over again, this time for a photo in front of the castle. Sadly, our time in the magic kingdom was coming to a close, as we ran through frontier land, passed the 6th mile marker, and headed backstage to leave the park. The park exit lead us into the dreaded cone alley, which was actually less congested than the race start had been. We ran past the resorts that are in the area of the magic kingdom - the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian, and passed by mile marker number 7. They had a group of grooms our near the Grand Floridian, and as we approached mile marker 8 there were signs with various princess themed jokes.

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I tried serenading Kasey again during our 8th mile, when we heard some frozen playing, but she still rolled her eyes at me instead of joining in like Mike would have. There was an aid station during mile 8 that handed out sport beans, and it was around that point that Kasey started to let me know that her foot was broken - our walk breaks became a little more frequent, but we kept moving forward. Soon after her stomach went a little sour, but I talked her into eating some skratch gummies just after mile 9, since when I get nauseous during long runs it is usually because I am doing a bad job fueling. It seemed to help, and she was able to keep going.

During mile 8 we started to notice some fireworks going off in the distance, and at first thought it must be the first race finishers. But they kept going well into mile 9, and I never did figure out what they were for…. so I guess you all can just wonder with me forever now.

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Right after mile marker 10 they handed out cool sponges, and then it was time to climb the on ramp, and run by the green army man. With only a 5k left, we were nearing the end of the princess half marathon. It was hot on the highway now that the sun was totally up, but it was a manageable distance ahead of us. Being on the overpass meant that there was a bit of an uphill between miles 10 and 11, and the road had narrowed once again, so it had become more congested.

Mile 12 was placed right at the entrance of the Epcot bus area, and as the park was opening, there were plenty of people waiting to cross through runners and get into the park. We weaved through a backstage area as we headed into epcot, and Kasey spotted some characters from her favorite Disney movie - Mr and Mrs Incredible, in the flesh. She pulled right over to hop in line to get a photo with them, and I was totally on board with the move. After we struck a pose we hopped back onto the race course, and headed into Epcot.

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We entered the park near Figment’s Journey into the Imagination, and ran by the character spot, heading towards spaceship earth. We went through future world, passed spaceship earth, headed back stage, and then it was a quick turn and we could see the finish line.

We smiled as best we could as we crossed the finishline, got some pixie dust, and were handed our medals for completing the race. I liked that they had some glitter to them! The real reward was the cooling towel that they give you right after the medal though. We walked through the finisher chute, grabbed some poweraide, and I collected my fairy tale challenge medal. Kasey and I stopped to take a finishers photo together, enjoyed some treats from our snack boxes, and headed back to our hotel rooms for some well deserved naps.

At the end of the race I asked Kasey which of the three half marathons she had completed was her favorite - she at least seemed to enjoy this one more the the half we did together in D.C. last year, but she refused to answer and told me she was never running more than three miles again. I mean, I guess I’ll let her stick to that for a few more weeks, but she is signed up to run the Hot Chocolate 15k with me in Brooklyn at the end of April.

Race recap: 2019 Disney Princess 10k

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Early morning number two. The hardest part is waking up, and the majority of that was now behind me. I laid in bed for 10 minutes after my alarm went off, eventually mustering up the will to get moving. I had packed my bag the night before, so I really just had to get dressed and get out the door. It was cold in the hotel room, so just before leaving I decided to grab a sweatshirt- something I learned would not be necessary the second that I stepped outside.

The morning greeted me with a wall of humidity, and it was clear this race was going to be a hot one.

The bus was waiting when I got to the loading area, and I hopped on and snagged a seat next to another runner. We didn’t have a wait like the previous morning, and instead we were quickly on our way to the start area. I was so sleepy on the second morning that I was tempted to close my eyes on the bus. We got to the start area in about 15 minutes, and walked through the Epcot parking lot to get to the security check. No line again today, just a walk up to the table where they checked my bag.

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I was flying solo for this race, so I walked into the start area and found a space to go through my bag, sorting out the stuff I wanted to bring with me and the stuff that I would check during the race. They once again changed the bag check situation - this race instead of checking the bag based off the first letter of your last name, runners could go up to any truck and were given a sticker to put on the back of my race bib to remind me which truck I had used.

Once my bag was checked I headed right into the corrals, and found a spot to sit towards the front of corral A. We had waited almost 40 minutes to start the 5k the day before, and I was just ready to get moving on day 2. The humidity was already heavy on my lungs, and I wondered just how rough this run was gonna be.

Around 5:15 they started moving us toward the start line, and I was just a few rows of people back from the start of the corral, which was exciting. We watched as the announcers went through the pre race show, and I even got picked to answer a trivia question by one of the announcers (did you know that Mulan is the only Disney Princess who wasn’t born into royalty or married to a prince?).

Eventually it was time for the race to start. The wheelchair athletes went off first, then the elite runners, followed by all of us in corral A. I was able to settle into a sub-9 minute mile, which was all I was hoping for during this race. The first mile flew by, and the only character sighting in that stretch was Pocahontas, who was stationed on top of an overpass, posing above as the runners went by below. Shortly after the first mile marker there was a LONG line for a character - I wondered how a line could already be that long this early in the race, but then I saw it was belle and beast posing with a stained glass rose window, and understood the long line. I snapped a photo as I ran by, but didn’t want to wait in such a long line that early in the race.

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There was a slight uphill during the second mile, as we ran onto the next stretch of highway. I heard Hawaiian roller coaster ride playing as we approached the second character stop, and sure enough stitch was there taking photos with runners, all dressed up in his Elvis costume. The second mile marker featured belle, and it was still dark as night as I ran into the third mile.

There was a Donald Duck character stop that I believe was in mile 3 - he was just on the side of the highway without any backdrop, but I decided to run in for a photo as there was no line. I was starting to feel the effects of the heat by this point in the race, and was struggling to keep the pace I wanted at this point. It gets humid in NY in the summer, but I wasn’t accustomed to this kind of weather at this point in the year, so struggled as the race went on.

After passing the third mile marker we passed the waste treatment plant behind Epcot, which is easily identified by its smell, and ran under test track. Joy and Sadness were on the side of the rode, and I regretted not getting a photo with them during marathon weekend, so I stopped for one. Disgust would not have been pleased with how sweaty I looked in the photo.

Finally, we entered Epcot for the first time and started making our way around world showcase. I spotted Pinocchio hanging out in Italy, and ran right in for a photo. The countries were all lit up, and while I was struggling and feeling like I wanted the race to be over already, I tried to stay with a sub-9 pace while running, and reminded myself that if I was going to be running in weather that was hotter than preferred, I may as well be doing it in Disney.

As I approached the France pavilion I spotted Marie, who I had never managed to catch during a race before, and was super excited to get a chance photo with her. So excited in fact, that I forgot to pause my garmin, but it was a super quick stop, so it didn’t mess up my moving pace too much.

We exited Epcot after the France pavilion through the exit that leads to the board walk, and did a lap around the resorts before heading back into the park. The boardwalk loop was a huge struggle for me, knowing that I was going to have to deal with a few little hills within the next mile. The first was as soon as we left Epcot, and boy did I feel exhausted climbing that one. I had to back off the pace a little, as I started to feel nauseous as I climbed. Bleh. I do not miss summer running. As I made my way around the boardwalk Goofy was out, dressed as a baseball player. I thought about stopping since he had no line, but really just wanted to get to the finish line at that point. One more hill to leave the board walk, then into the construction area behind Epcot, where they are building the gondola system. It has been cool to see the construction progress over the last year, as many of the rundisney events have gone through that area. They had smart talking “construction workers” stationed in that area, joking around and rooting runners on.

We headed into Epcot a second time, and made our way towards future world. Mickey was stationed just before we turned towards spaceship earth with only 3-4 runners waiting, so I decided to do one more character stop. Our outfits did coordinate, after all, even if I was dressed as a villain.

I pushed hard to get back to a good pace after leaving Mickey, knowing that I had less than a half mile between me and the finish line. I ran towards spaceship earth, stopping for a jump shot along the way, then out of the park and towards the finish line. I didn’t make the same mistake I had during the wine and dine 10k and start sprinting towards the finish despite the heat, but instead just tried to hold a consistent pace. As I approached the finish line the runner next to me shouted “hi queen of hearts, this is good timing!” I turned to look, and she was dressed as Alice! Good timing indeed, as we did wind up in the same finish line photos.

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I was very relieved to be done running, and happily accepted my medal, which featured Mulan. Then it was on to snack boxes and bag check. As usual, I checked a drawstring backpack to carry all of the goodies they give you at the finish line. There weren’t too many runners in the post race area so I headed over to the characters to check out the lines. They had aurora, Princess Minnie, and Elena out. I decided to hop on line for princess Minnie, which took about five minutes. Then noticed that the line for aurora was also labelled for Mulan. The cast member at the end of the line told me Mulan was due out in about 15 minutes, so I decided to wait there, but the line moved quickly and I got a photo with aurora. So, I hopped on the back of the line again, and was able to get a photo with Mulan the second time around. It was her race after all!

When the character photos were complete I made my way over to the buses and back to the hotel. We had breakfast reservations at be our guest, so I had time for a decent nap before heading to the parks for a day of fun.

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Race recap: 2019 Disney Princess 5k

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I never did tell Mom what time the alarm was set for, but when it went off at 3:35 A.M. it scared the crap out of me. I dragged myself out of bed and into the bathroom to get dressed. Once I was ready I called out to mom, concerned that she had rolled over and fallen back asleep, but once I asked if she was awake she got up and began preparing for the morning’s race.

Twenty minutes later we were dressed as dalmatians and on our way out the door, headed to the bus stop at the all star music resort. We were at the bus stop just before 4 a.m. and as we climbed on board Kasey texted me saying that her, Aunt Karen, and Hallie had just arrived at the start area. We wound up waiting on the bus for about 15 minutes, but eventually we were on our way to the start to meet them.

We got to the start area a little later than planned, so lucky for us there was no line for the security check. Mom’s main goal at that point was to get a cup of coffee, and there hadn’t been any available at the hotel, so we got on the concession line to pick some up before heading to the corral.

We found the the rest of our group as soon as we entered the runners-only area, where the corrals are located. We hopped into our corral, and our next objective was to finish Kasey’s costume - she needed some white Cruella hair. I had brought white hair spray with me, and we moved to an empty area so I could spray one half of her ponytail.

We hung out in the back of the corral until they started to release runners, and when the crowd started to move we left the corral among the other participants. It was a slow crawl of a walk towards the start line, as they broke the corrals into mini-waves, so it took a long time for us to get to the start line, and we even got faked out just before the start, thinking we would get to go with the group ahead of us but the runners were cut off just before us. All in all it took a little more than a half hour for us to get to the start, and then we were on our way!

Mom, Aunt Karen, Kasey, Hallie and I all wanted to experience the race together, so we were all walking this one as a group. We took our time as we chatted on the road leading up to the backstage area of Epcot. I’m pretty sure Hallie almost puked when we walked by the waste treatment plant, but we powered through, passed under the backstage area of test track, and soon after entered Epcot. We passed some characters as we walked, but the lines were all very long so we just kept moving forward.

We first entered Epcot in the world showcase near the Mexico pavillion and when we got to Canada we spotted Daisy all dressed up in an adorable coat. We walked through the illuminated buildings in world showcase, and when we got to Germany it was time for a pit stop at the bathrooms.

There were plenty of photopass photographers on the course, and Kasey was never sure how to pose when we walked by them so we just had fun thinking of different poses as we went - this resulted in many awkward pictures that we got to laugh at later.

We left world showcase after the France pavilion, where we spotted prince Phillip. We walked towards the boardwalk resort area, but the course turned so we went through the gondola construction area. When we re-entered Epcot we were in England, and Rapunzel had a character stop. The sun was starting to come up as we moved through Epcot, and we eventually entered future world. We passed the fountain, and then headed towards test track.

As we were walking, Hallie saw a photographer snap of someone jumping, which lead to a series of attempted jump shots, and us learning just how bad Kasey is at jump shots, especially if that involves a heel click. Through many laughs we attempted our own jump shots, and failed miserably at coordinating our jumps, but at least we had fun with it.

The last part of the race took us by spaceship earth. As we left the park Kasey and Hallie started to get a little competitive, power walking ahead of each other. Soon enough there was a quick pass of Hallie’s phone to Aunt Karen, and then Hallie was sprinting towards the finish and Kasey chasing her down, as they raced to cross the finish line in the final stretch of the race. The rest of us laughed as they took off, and Kasey did win their showdown to the finish. Hallie stopped just before the finish line and ran back to us, so the four of us could cross the finish line together.

We collected our finisher medals, got our snack boxes, and took a finisher photo before heading onto the buses. We had a busy day ahead of us - starting with brunch at Chef Mickey’s to celebrate my Uncle’s birthday, and then a day in Magic Kingdom.

I carried my go pro along for the race to capture the fun, so here’s a video of our experience!

 

Race Recap: 2019 Disney Princess Half Marathon- Arrival and the Expo

I thought I had everything planned out perfectly for this race weekend – flights booked, outfits planned, fastpasses at the ready – and then mother nature stepped in, and shouted “You know what New York needs? A snowstorm!”

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Then just like that, I suddenly didn’t have a flight to Florida anymore – what?! I had booked flights for my parents and I on southwest. We like to fly out of the smaller airport on Long Island, MacArthur Airport in Islip, since it makes for a less stressful travel experience compared to LaGuardia and JFK, and I like that southwest usually has very affordable fares, with options to easily change flights if needed. We had even opted to purchase early bird check in, but 24 hours before our flight when I tried to pull up our boarding passes, I received an error message – and then about 30 seconds later I got an email that our flight was cancelled, due to an impending snow storm. Dang it winter!

This was on Wednesday morning, as I got ready for work. I pulled up the other available flights, and in a panic booked a flight for Wednesday at noon, figuring it would allow us to leave before the storm. The issue? I had not even begun packing, and I really needed to go to work that day to tie up loose ends before being out of office for almost a week. I called my dad, who talked me off the panic packing ledge that I had climbed onto, and we decided to rebook for a later flight on Thursday, as they storm was supposed to be over by then.

I spent the next 24 hours checking the weather and flight status obsessively, and while the weather got a little nasty during the day on Wednesday and that night, by the time Thursday rolled around the skies were clear, and our new flight was ready for departure. The downside to this later flight? I would be getting to the race expo later in the day, and unable to meet up with Kasey and her family when they headed to the expo, as they had fast passes in the afternoon, when I would be going.

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By the time Mom, Dad, and I landed in florida, collected our luggage, picked up the rental car and got on the road to Disney it was rush hour in Orlando, and we got to sit in traffic as we made our way to the hotel – not how I had envisioned the first day of the trip going, but I was rolling with the punches as best as I could.

When we got to the hotel dad wanted to take a ride up to target to get supplies for the room – snacks, a coffee maker, and what not – but I was itching to get to the expo. It closed at 8, and it was already 6:00, and I wanted to have time to experience as much of the expo as possible. So Mom and I decided to take the bus from the hotel to the expo while dad made the supply run. We got lucky, and there was a bus waiting on the side of the hotel when we got there, and we were able to hop on right away.

Kasey, Aunt Karen and Hallie had already been to the expo earlier in the afternoon, and while I knew some of the merchandise that I had my eye on was already sold out, that didn’t stop me from searching for one of those damn tye-dye princess half spirit jerseys. Did I find one? No. Was I a little disappointed? Yes, but at the end of the day I really did not need to drop $70 on a shirt anyway.

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Mom and I headed into the Visa center first, where the RunDisney official Merchandise was housed. We wandered through the aisles, checking out the various wares, and picking some items out. I really liked the color schemes and art styles that they used for the race this year, and was happy to spot Jasmine and Mulan on some merchandise. By the time I made it to the register my haul included a pair of Mulan jogger style, a fairy tale challenge jacket, a half marathon hat, a passholder shirt, a wine glass (that I later shattered) and a Tervis travel mug. Mom even picked out a few things, as she was walking the 5k with me the next morning, including a t-shirt, the same Mulan pants as mine, and a 5k headband. I got a lot of items, but the merch was so tempting this year that there were many more objects that I was a little bummed to be leaving behind.

Once we finished shopping we headed over to bib pickup, and got our numbers. We were there late enough in the day that this was a fast process as there weren’t too many runners around. I tried to get a few photos outside, but it was already getting dark so their quality was less than stellar. We walked over to the exhibition hall after, where the non-Disney vendors and race shirts are to pick up our shirts. There was no wait to get into that area of the expo either, although the show floor was a little crowded as we made our way to the back of the hall to pick up our shirts.

The expo was getting close to closing, so the only other stop that we managed to make was at the pandora booth, where they had a photo op. Mom any I got our photo taken, and then it was time to head back to the hotel and get our bags and outfits set up for the 5k the following morning. Her one race morning request? That I didn’t tell her how early we would be getting up.

Disney Marathon Weekend: The 2019 Disney Marathon

When I got back to our hotel room the night of the Disney Half, I was pooped after the early morning race, and a busy park day. I started gathering up all of my race day needs, so I would be set to leave for the marathon the following morning without any thought.

RunDisney had issued a weather advisory, warning about high humidity levels, and warm weather the following day. I was nervous, as my asthma had been less than friendly, and I was used to training in New York winter. I knew I was trained for this distance though, and didn’t have any intent of running a PR the following day. So I pushed my worry to the back of my mind, and used my nebulizer before bed.

Mike and Jude got back to the room as I was getting ready to go to sleep, and Jennie shortly after. They all wished me luck, and I was happy that they were going to be out there cheering me on the following day - you know you have supportive friends when they are willing to get up at 4 am to chase you down while you run your way though all of Disney World!

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The next morning was rare, in that my alarm actually startled me when it went off. I rolled out of bed and got ready in the bathroom area of our room, which had a big sliding door which closed off the sink area, and gave me plenty of space to have lights on without disturbing the others too much. I decided to go with a tank top from RawThreads that read “Will Run for Mickey Shaped Foods” and a pair of trusted New Balance 2-1 impact shorts. My fuel for the race would be a combination of Gu and Skratch energy chews.

I took the short walk from the hotel room to the bus, and climbed on in the usual order morning stupor. A quick ride over to the start area, then through security and into the race area. My first stop was the merchandise booth, as I always like to check out what they have left one last time while I have the chance. I didn’t pick up anything else, but they still had a variety of gear available.

After, I headed over towards the end of the family reunion area, where the Joyful Miles bloggers were having a pre-race photo meetup, and I plopped myself down to go though my race bag and sort out what I would be checking and keeping. I loaded up my SPI belt with fuel, and attached a pair of Goodr sunglasses in their case to the belt, knowing I would want them once the sun came up. Once Jackie and Laura arrived to the meetup location, we all stopped to pose for a quick photo before going our separate ways into our race corrals.

My one snafu of race morning? I didn’t manage to use the bathroom before starting, which made me a little more nervous for the miles ahead. But I reminded myself that I wasn’t running with a time goal, and I would just stop along the way if necessary.

My friends – Mike, Jennie and Jude, were planning to chase me around Disney as I ran the marathon course, so they were up not too long after me and on their way to the start line, to cheer me on from beginning to end. They were planning to spot me a total of 5 times – at the start, at the ticket and transportation center, at the Polynesian, in the animal kingdom parking lot, and at the finish line. In my opinion, it was a race day for them as much as it was one for me, as they would be fighting crowds and traffic to find me at each location…. Have I mentioned how much I love my friends?

It was about a mile walk to the corrals from the start area, and there were volunteers and security stationed at the entrance to make sure everyone heading to the corrals was wearing a race bib. Once I got into my race corral – I was placed in “C” for the goofy challenge, I found some space to stretch and just tried to take it all in, reminding myself it would all be over before I knew it. The multiple humidity warnings that had been issued made me nervous, but my plan was to set my watch to the screen that shows the time of day, not worry about the pace, and stop for whatever characters tickled my fancy along the way.

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As 5:30 A.M. approached the announcers prepared for the start of the race, with the national anthem being sang out over the runners. I took a Gu, discarded my heat sheet, and shuffled towards the start line as I waited for my corral to be released, and at just before 5:40 it was our turn to get moving. Just after the start line, I hung to the left side of runners, with my phone’s flashlight on, looking for my cheer squad. Once again the light allowed us to spot each other and I could see them cheering me on as I began my 5th marathon. The first mile of highway was a bit crowded as everyone tried to settle in, but mile marker one featured sorcerer mickey, perhaps giving us all a little magic to get through the race ahead. I wanted to get through as many miles as possible before the sun was up, hoping that the air would stay breathable for as long as possible. Despite the dark sky, I could feel the humidity pressing down on my body already.

In the second mile I saw long character lines – first for captain hook with a pirate ship, and then for Darkwing Duck and Launchpad Mcquack with a plane. Both cool photo stops, but the long line deterred me, as I didn’t want to stand around for so long that early I the race. So onward I went, my 90s kid heart a little disappointed I didn’t stick around to meet Darkwing duck.

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Mile marker two had Rapunzel and Flynn on it, and we continued along the highway. The monorail could be seen to our right, making resort rounds. As they zipped by, I wondered if one of them contained my friends. We once again ran under the magic kingdom sign, and I took a moment to stop for my traditional selfie – something I have done for every race that goes under it, since my first Princess Half. Mile three took us through the parking lot at the ticket and transportation center, and they had a few characters out along the way – first Gamora and and Skylord from guardians of the galaxy, then Nick and Judy from Zootopia. I was excited to get to the ticket and transportation center to find my cheer squad, so I once again ran by the characters.

We transitioned from the dark parking lot into the lit up ticket and transportation center, and I looked around, hoping to spot Mike, Jude and Jennie. Despite being alert, I managed to run right by them – but I turned around and ran right to them once I heard Mike shouting. I pulled Mike and Jennie each into big hugs, and Jude and I mimed an air hug as he was a little further back in the crowd. Just the encouragement I needed to keep me moving forward. I passed mile marker 4, and then ran under the bridge – where they had a light projecting the “RunDisney” logo, and then passed by the contemporary, went into the Magic Kingdom bus loop. Just before entering through the main gates to magic kingdom, mile marker 5 was standing tall – how was I already five miles into this race?!

They had big inflatable light up pillars lining the entrance into magic kingdom to ensure that there was enough light, and when I entered the park there were spectators lining main street, as always. The sun was not yet up, so the Kingdom was lit up with beautiful lights – one of my favorite sights to see. At the end of Main Street was the castle, in all its glory, still donning its holiday lights as we ran towards it. Before we were to run through it, we had to make our way around the park.

The first stop was tomorrow land, where Buzz Lightyear was out greeting the runners. We curved through Tomorrowland, passed the Tomorrowland speedway, and just outside of Alice’s teacups were tweedled-dee and tweedle-dum, where my love of wonderland got me to pull over for the first time that day, and pose for a picture. I mean, I wanted to spend as much time as possible in magic kingdom anyway.

I continued around the park, and saw Donald outside of the circus, in his snake charmer outfit, with a line of runners waiting to meet him. Then we went through new fantasy land, where we ran by Ariel and Belle’s castles, before heading to the big castle – Cinderella’s. Just before the carousel they had one of the “Thugs” from Rapunzel dressed up as a mime, who can usually be spotted in the festival of fantasy parade, out, and I pulled over and put on my best mime pose to grab a photo. Just before the castle the Fairy Godmother was out, but I ran straight through, and then pulled over for the obligatory castle photo. I only stopped at one photographer, but here is a tip that I heard after the race, in the podcast that Joyful Miles put out – if the castle photo is the BIG one for you, wait in line for each photographer that they have stationed there, to ensure you get a good one.

From there we were routed through liberty square and into frontier land. Jesse and Woody were out, and if memory serves correct, goofy was there as well. We passed mile 6 just before heading backstage. It was still dark as I made my way out of magic kingdom, and back on to the highway. As always, it was a bit crowded on that area of the course, but I wasn’t in a rush, so I didn’t try to weave through runners. Marker 7 was just before the grand Floridian, where the penguins from Mary Poppins were out, and then on the opposite side of the road was a gathering of grooms, equipped with headsets to talk to runners as they went by. The Disney wedding pavilion is at the grand Floridian, so it is typical for either Brides, grooms, or bridesmaids to be out during RunDisney events.

As I ran by the Polynesian I again spotted my cheer squad, and waved to them across the street – at this point, they were not letting spectators line the road right next to the runners, and they were instead stuck on the other side, at a slight distance.

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The next few miles were all highway between Magic Kingdom and animal kingdom, and included a long out and back stretch that I didn’t particularly enjoy. Some of the props set up on the side of the road included retired ride vehicles, such as a nautilus and the ride car from snow white’s scary adventures, and a giant orange bird figure. Just after mile 8 they had a few members of the now closed adventurers club out, and putting on a little show to entertain us as we ran by. The sun was officially up as I passed mile marker 11, but at least it had offered a pretty sunrise along the way.

We ran through the backstage area of animal kingdom before entering the park, seeing greenhouses and topiaries. Clarabelle and Horace were posing near Mickey and Minnie topiaries, making for a cute photo op. Before entering the park we passed mile marker 12, and they had bananas at the next aid station. Just before entering the park they had a mini petting zoo, featuring a giant rabbit, a hawk, and a snake, and some of the animals even had race bibs on.

The cast of the lion king show were along the road, up on their stilts as well, and Rafikki was near by – a character that I did stop for, as I love the lion king. Just after entering the park another familiar face from the lion king was out – Timon! Again, I stopped for a photo, I just couldn’t resist. Since I was in the park and there were real bathrooms, I decided to make a pit stop just before mile 13. I can deal with porter potties, but when real bathrooms are an option, they win out.

Mile marker 13 featured characters from the jungle book, and just after a ballerina swan from fantasia was out with no line, so I popped in for a quick photo. It was a character I had never seen out before, and I always love seeing rare characters. The sun was shining over Everest, and even though the park was not quite open there was a queue of runners waiting to get on the ride mid-race. I thought about joining them, but since I sometimes wind up with motion sickness from that ride, I decided it was better to skip it this time. The course ran through dino-rama, and then we were headed into the parking lot. My friends were still on the bus waiting to arrive, so I crossed my fingers that I would get to see them. The parking lot contained mile marker 14, which meant I was officially more than half-way through this race.

The entrance area to animal kingdom was crowded, with a mix of spectators and people trying to get into the park for opening. I collected some candy from strangers as I ran by, and with a stroke of luck, spotted my people! They had just gotten off of the bus and made it to the spectator area in time for me to run by, yay!

There was a marching band in the parking lot playing as we went by, and at the parking lot exit the haunted mansion grave diggers were set up with tombstones and shovels, and I jumped in line to get a photo. I had taken the same photo the first time I ran the Disney marathon, and was excited to have the opportunity to continue the tradition.

At this point, my friends had to head back to the hotel to secure all of our stuff for check out – we were flying home that night! Checkout times at Disney are typically 11 am, and while I had requested a late check out, they had not been able to approve it, so they had to go and move all of our stuff into daily storage at the resort, and I would be stuck showering at the pool facilities post-race if I didn’t make it back before 11 – and I knew that it was going to be tight timing. Jennie decided to stop at the front desk and ask one more time if there was any way they could accommodate a late check out…. And by some miracle they were able to make it happen! I didn’t get this news until I was at about mile 21, but I sighed a deep sigh of relief when I found out I would have a bed until 1 pm.

The next few miles were all highway, and I was relieved that I had brought sunglasses with me. Now that the sun was up, it was bright out, and the humidity that they had warned us about was in full swing. I wasn’t pushing it too hard with my pace and had no idea what any of my mile splits were, but I felt good, and hoped that I would continue to feel good for the rest of the race.

We entered ESPN for some loops just before mile 18, and they handed us nice cool sponges. Mile marker 18 had Lilo and Stitch on it, and I stopped to take a selfie to send Mike, since they are his favorite characters – and you know, since I was trying to convince him to do Dopey with me in 2020. We weaved our way through ESPN, and there were lots of characters out. I stopped for a photo with Minnie before we ran around the track, spotted goofy while on the track, but kept going as he had a decent queue, and then after the track stopped for a photo with Donald and Mickey. They gave us bananas again just before mile 19, and Sadness and Joy were set up just before the baseball diamond. I debated stopping as I ran by them, and wound up being a little remorseful that I didn’t strike a sad pose with them, lamenting the fact that the race was coming to a close.

We left ESPN, and I could feel my right IT band tightening up. This was a huge issue for me during the wineglass marathon, but I was determined not to be discouraged by it. At the next first aid station I stopped and put some bio freeze on it, and it instantly felt so much better. Still tight, but not painful. Throughout the rest of the race, I stopped and reapplied bio freeze any time it was available. I passed by mile markers 20 and 21 on the highway, and they had Pluto out in a construction zone, digging up bones. We ran over the old entrance to Hollywood studios, and got a glimpse of the ‘Galaxy’s Edge’ construction in the distance.

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Then we entered Hollywood Studios through a back entrance, near where fantasmic happens, and they had a candy station! In previous rundisney events they have one type of M&Ms, but this time there was a whole selection of all different varieties of candy. I grabbed a bag of caramel M&Ms and some skittles, and stowed them away in my race belt. Just before we ran by the tower of terror, I spotted Mr and Mrs Incredible, and hopped on line for a photo. Jennie texted me that they were in an uber on the way to the finish, and asked me how I was feeling. I posed for my photo, and sent it to her, unable to resist the caption of “I’m feeling INCREDIBLE!”

We ran through a small portion of Hollywood studios, passed the tower of terror, and then headed towards the main entrance. The park was open at that point, and they had the runners sectioned to one area of the sidewalk. We left through the main entrance, and ran next to the gondola construction, headed towards the boardwalk resort area, which would take us into the final stretch in epcot.

The heat and humidity hadn’t bothered me thus far into the race, but I felt it to an uncomfortable level in the last mile of the race. Combined with the fatigue I was feeling with the cumulative miles, I was ready to cross that finish line! We left the boardwalk and ran by the gondola construction near epcot, and then entered the world showcase. It would be one last quick trip around the world, and then the marathon would be complete.

I wound up stopping for two characters along the way, Alice and Belle, who were in England and France, respectively. Each country had cast members out and cheering, and as I made my way into Mexico, I saw crowds of people around the margarita stand – runners getting a finish line drink! I considered stopping, as I thought it would be a fun finish line photo, but I didn’t have a photo ID on me so decided not to wait on line and risk being turned down (I have had issues in the past with cast members telling me I am too young even when I do have my ID, and I just didn’t have the energy for it).

I texted my cheer squad, and it was going to be a close call on them making it to the finish line – their uber from the hotel had gotten caught in traffic on the way to Epcot. When I left world showcase and approached spaceship earth, I stopped for one last photo. Then it was just a matter of running past the gospel choir, seeing mile marker 26, and turning the corner towards the finish line.

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I ran through the finish, and was simply overjoyed. I felt strong, I felt accomplished, and I loved the experience I had just had. I was handed a medal and an ear hat by a volunteer, collected my poweraide and water, then headed towards the challenge tent, where I was awarded my goofy challenge medal, for completing the half marathon and the full marathon in one weekend. I made my way towards the bag check, got my stuff, and plopped down in the epcot parking lot. A few minutes after I sat down Jude, Jennie and Mike arrived, and while they had missed the finish line, they were excited for me to have finished the race. We all headed for the busses, Jennie and I heading back to the hotel to pack up, and Mike and Jude heading into Disney springs to meet up with Jude’s sister.

Jennie and I would celebrate with a drink at the Wave – the seven seas lagoon fish bowl, and then all met at chef Mickey’s for brunch. It may have been my slowest marathon to date (5:03:02), but I wouldn’t trade a minute of that time in exchange for the race experience that I had. You may remember back in September that all I wanted out of the wineglass marathon was to find my love for marathons again…. well, the 2019 Disney Marathon helped me do just that.

Disney Marathon Weekend: The Half Marathon

This post is part two of my recap of the 2019 Walt Disney World Marathon weekend, for which I headed to Florida with my friends Mike, Jennie, and Jude. To read part one of the recap, which is about our first day in the parks and the race expo, click here.

Like every RunDisney event, the 2019 Half Marathon started with an early morning. A 5:30 a.m. race start meant a 3 a.m. alarm, and as much as I love RunDisney, I certainly do not love the early mornings that they require. But they are a necessary evil, made worth it by the fun that is to be had. We planned to be on the bus by 3:30, when the race guide suggested runners be on their way by.

We had set our outfits and race bags up the night before, so it was thought free preparations in morning, that way we wouldn’t forget any race day essentials. We did the best we could to get ready quietly (and if you know me, you KNOW this is not a skill I possess), and were out the door about 15 minutes before the 3:30 cutoff. It was a little chilly the morning of the race, but nothing compared to the freezing temperatures that runners dealt with during the 2017 marathon weekend. Mike brought along an old sweatshirt as a throwaway later, and I had a heat sheet stored in the bag I was planning to check, for when I had to remove my jacket.

It was a quick walk to the bus stop, and lucky for us we were able to get right onto the bus without a wait. I dozed in my seat as the bus took us to the Epcot parking lot, where we would start our 13.1 mile journey.

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As is standard at any RunDisney event, there was a sea of runners dressed up as various Disney characters as we stepped off the bus, and we joined the masses as they made their way towards the start area. Walking through the parking lot we got a quick peek at spaceship earth, illuminated in the pre-dawn hours, and a reminder of the sight we would see just before the finish line. Both Mike and I had bags that we were planning to check, so we had to wait to have them scanned by security before we could enter the area, but the very populated line moved along quickly. When we got into the race staging area, we headed towards the DJ setup, and found a spot behind the bleachers to plop ourselves while we ate our breakfast. We had picked up the runner boxes that all star movies was selling, so we had bagels to eat from there, and I had brought along a Kind Breakfast Bar as well. Once we were finished eating, I organized the stuff in my bag into two piles - the stuff that I would need during the race, and the stuff that I was going to check during the race. I threw my jacket into the check bag, and although it wasn’t too cold, opted to bring the heat sheet I had packed into the corral with me.

We headed towards the bag check, and the green army man was stationed in front of the bag check trucks to encourage the runners to start moving towards their corrals. In previous years, bag check was in large white tents, but this time they had Fed-Ex trucks in place to collect our belongings. Mike and I had to split up, since our last names were assigned to different trucks, but were quickly reunited on the other side. We decided to make a porter potty stop before we headed to the corrals, and it was very dark in those toilets! Since it was still dark out, there was no sun to illuminate into the porter potties, and the parking lot light poles weren’t quite illuminating things enough.

Next step was to make our way into the corrals, and it was about a mile walk to get there. They had a DJ along the way, and photo pass photographers to take photos for anyone that wanted to stop and pose. We still had some time before the race when we got to the corral, so we found a spot that wasn’t too close to the speakers, and started stretching while we waited. Mike found a highschool friend in the same corral to us, and had a quick reunion as we waited. We made sure to each take a Gu before we got going, and I took a precautionary inhaler puff. Soon enough the announcers had Donald on the stage, and the countdown was on to the start time. Since we were in corral D, we got to watch a few sets of fireworks go off as the corrals ahead of us got moving.

At last, it was our turn to start, and with a Disney amount of excitement and fanfare, we crossed the start line as fireworks went off. Jennie and Jude were our official cheer squad for the day, and shortly after we had left for the start area, they got up and made their way to the start line, which would be the first of their four planned cheer spots. We texted them as we started, and Mike had the bright idea to shine his cell phone flash towards the spectators, who were across the street from the runners, so they would be able to spot us, and when we saw two people jumping up and down with excitement, we knew they had spotted us. As we ran towards magic kingdom, they hopped on a monorail to head towards the ticket and transportation center.

For me, the highlight of the first leg of the run, which consists of the highway between the start and magic kingdom, is getting to run under the Magic Kingdom entrance sign. There is just something magical about getting up close and personal to a sign that normally you only get to drive under, especially in the dark, it just looks magical!

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There were a few characters on the highway as we made our way towards Magic Kingdom, including Lightening McQueen and Mater, some leading villains - the Evil Queen, Maleficent, and the Queen of hearts, and Wreck it Ralph with Vanellope. They also had a DJ, and a few High School bands playing to keep us entertained along the way. Soon enough we had reached the ticket and transportation center, where Jennie and Jude were waiting to cheer us on. We managed to spot them quick enough, and ran in for quick hugs before we were on our way. They were planning to walk over to the Polynesian, while we made our way into the Magic Kingdom. The next time we saw them we would be more than half way through our journey!

The bus stops were all lit up as we ran through the station, and they had big blow up lights set up to lead us into the Magic Kingdom through the main entrance. We had managed to make it to the park before the sun came up, so when we got to main street we could see the castle beautifully lit up in the distance, still covered in its holiday lights. Mike played to the cheering spectators that lined the road, interacting with their signs and even hitting a power up boost that one held and zooming off.

We then entered tomorrow land, where they had Mike with Sully and a Buzz Lightyear character stop. We decided not to get photos, and kept moving instead. The white rabbit was out neat the tea cups, and the evil step sisters held their usual spot just before the castle. We ran through the castle, and then stopped to get our photo taken in front - and to our dismay, that castle photo never did make its way into our race photos.

From there the course took us though liberty square and into frontier land, where we made a pit stop to get a photo with Woody and Bullseye, since they are Jude’s favorite characters, and we wanted to get a photo taken to show him. Then as quickly as it had begun, our time in Magic Kingdom came to an end, as we left the park through a back stage exit, and got to run by some festival of fantasy parade floats on our way out.

The park exit lead us to cone alley, a stretch of highway known for squeezing runners into a more narrow than preferred run way. At one point Mike and I both got a chill as the air froze momentarily, a event that is still a mystery to both of us. We sang along to the disney and pop songs that they had playing, as the sun finally began to climb into the sky.

As we got to the resorts that are nearby, they had Chip and Dale out with Clarice, and a group of Grooms near the grand Floridian. Just after mile 7 we approached the Polynesian, and spotted our cheer squad once more. We couldn’t believe how fast the miles were slipping by. For our second strech of highway, we passed by Mr. Incredible, and then after passing mile marker 9, which featured a photo of Anna and Elsa and played let it go, Mike serenaded me with his own rendition of Let it Go.

Mile 10 had a highway ramp that the green army man was positioned on, and as we ran by he shouted to Mike - “Keep going Lilo, you have me in stitches!” and Mike was very happy that he had recognized his costume. In what felt like the blink of an eye, we were entering Epcot, and stopped for a photo with Doug, Carl, and Russell from “Up” as we headed in. There was a DJ playing as we entered the park near the imagination pavilion, running by Journey into the Imagination, then onto Space Ship earth. Just a few more turns, and less than a half mile, and our race would be finished.

They had a gospel choir out singing as we approached mile 13, which of course featured Donald Duck, and then we turned the corner and could see our destination: The finish line! We crossed it with joy, and collected our metals - Mike was officially a half marathoner. We walked through the finish line chute, collecting cooling towels, power-aide, and of course, the coveted runDisney snack box.

After getting our finishers photos and collecting our bags, we found Jude and Jennie in the parking lot - they had made it there in time to watch us cross the finish line, even though Mike and I had not successfully spotted them as we ran through.

After hanging out in the Epcot parking lot for a few minutes, we headed into the park to get on a few rides, since Epcot was just opening for the day, and the lines would be relatively short. We managed to get on the Frozen ride, and soarin, then grabbed breakfast before hitting a few more rides. We had fastpasses in Hollywood Studios in the afternoon, so eventually we boarded the bus that would take us back to the resort for showers and naps, and after resting up for a bit, made our way into Hollywood Studios for another day of fun, and to celebrate completing the race.

After we had finished off all of our fastpasses I decided to head back to the room before everyone else, as I was pooped from a busy day, and had a big day ahead of me - my 5th marathon, and day 2 of the Goofy Challenge!

Disney Marathon Weekend: Expo Day

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By the time our alarms went off on Friday morning, Jennie had managed to join us in the hotel room, without waking anyone up - I guess we were all exhausted from travelling the day before. There were extra magic hours at the Magic Kingdom that morning, so we planned to start our day there, then head over the the expo, followed by a visit to Animal Kingdom. We only had two park days, so we wanted to make sure we made the most of our park time.

By the time everyone was ready to move it was almost 8:00, when the park was set to open, so we opted to call a Lyft instead of waiting for the bus - not something I usually do in Disney, but like I said before, it was a short trip. Standard Lyfts can’t drop off directly at the Magic Kingdom, so the driver took us to the ticket and transportation center, where we were able to hop on a monorail, that brought us to the park. A big benefit of arriving through the ticket and transportation center was we got to go through security there, where the line was much shorter than it is at the main park entrance.

Once we got into the Magic Kingdom and were scanned in for extra magic hours, we decided to make our way to seven dwarfs mine train, as Jude and Mike had never been on that ride. The posted wait time was 45 minutes, but luckily it was actually closer to a 20 minute wait. After the ride we headed over to tomorrow land, where we rode Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyears Space Ranger Spin. They were handing out stitch stickers as we entered the second ride, which Mike was particularly happy about, as Stitch is his favorite character. We had time for one more ride before breakfast, and since we were eating at Be Our Guest we decided to go on The Little Mermaid ride, since it was right next door.

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Breakfast at Be Our Guest was wonderful, as always - there is good reason that I always make a stop there during my Disney trips! We checked in with the hostess, and were lead into the restaurant shortly after. We hadn’t pre-ordered our meals, so there was a bit of a wait to place our orders, but once we made it through that we were seated in the main ball room, and given our tray of pastries while we waited for our breakfast. The restaurant uses RFID technology associated with magicbands to know where you are seated, and soon enough our food had made its way to us. Mike and I both couldn’t choose between the open faced bacon and egg sandwich and the Croque Madame, so we each ordered one and split them. Both were delicious, but I think I preferred the bacon and egg sandwich just a tad more. I also made sure to have some of the pastries that they brought to the table - you have to carb up in the days leading up to a marathon, right?! Jude and I also made sure to remind Mike to drink lots of water, so he would be well hydrated for his first half the following day. Of course, the meal was finished off with a “Master’s Cupcake,” which is topped with the famous “grey stuff.”

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After breakfast we made it onto The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean, and then met up with my sister-in-law Liz, and her Boyfriend Bobby. Bobby works for disney, and Liz was in Florida visiting him during her school break, so I was happy we were able to find a little time to hang out. We wandered around magic kingdom a bit, taking in the sights, and eventually made our way over to the Dumbo ride, and then the people mover. Our last order of business before saying goodbye to the magic kingdom was a character meet and greet - Stitch! Since he is Mike’s favorite character and we had no way of knowing if he would be out on the half course, we wanted to make sure to pay him a visit at least one. It was a very fun character interaction, and we all left the park with smiles on our faces.

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We parted ways with Liz and Bobby, and walked over to the contemporary to catch a bus to the expo. We got lucky, and one was off loading runners just as we got to the bus stop. I was excited to get to the expo, even though we didn’t spend as much time there as I usually like to. Our first stop was the RunDisney merch, since that building was closest to where we got dropped off. When we walked in they were offering free airbrush tattoos, so we all decided to get one. Minnie for me, Stitch for Mike, Mickey for Jude, and the Castle for Jennie. They came out super cute, and I loved that it lasted all weekend.

Then it was on to the merchandise - I tried to limit myself in how much I was buying, since I already own about 10 RunDisney jackets, and had purchased the pre-order jacket (did that make me want the mint green half-marathon jacket any less? No. But I somehow managed to resist the purchase). In addition to the pre-order jacket, I had pre-ordered the annual passholder pin. My other souvenirs included 2 wine glasses, a pint glass, the tervis water bottle (they had all of the distances written on them, and the cutest Mickey - I couldn’t resist!), two pins - the replica marathon medal and the goofy challenge event pin, and a tank top commemorating the marathon. I really loved the dooney and burke bag that they were offering, but couldn’t bring myself to spend so much money on a purse. Once we had finished our shopping, we made a quick stop for pretzels - fueling is key - and then Mike and Jennie watched with jealousy as Jude and I lived our best lives, enjoying every moment of our pretzels and their dipping sauces.

Since our priorities were in order and we had taken care of food needs, the next step was to get our race bibs… you know, the whole reason we had come to Florida and all. While I had thought about printing out the waivers at home, I had completely forgotten to actually get it done, so we had to print them out before going into bib pickup. Thankfully, RunDisney has plenty of printers set up as you enter the expo for this reason, and since we were at the expo on its third day, there wasn’t much of a wait to print.

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Waivers in hand we headed onto the main floor, and it was quick work to pick up our bibs. I had to take the traditional RunDisney mug shot, since I was running the Goofy Challenge. They always take your photo that way they can confirm that the same person is running both events, to ensure that the challenge medals are really earned. We snapped a few photos, and then headed to get our race shirts. We had fastpasses, so we didn’t have too much time to check out the vendors, but I made sure to stop by the ProCompression booth, and to pick up some GoGoSqueeze, which they always hand out at the expo.

The next plan was to head to animal kingdom, but as we went to leave the expo I remembered that the parks don’t let you bring glass ware in, and I had purchased a few pieces at the expo. So, I took everyone’s expo spoils, and sent them along to the park while I headed back to the hotel to drop everything off. I took a Lyft back to the room, and there was a bit of traffic leaving the expo, but soon enough I was back at All-Star Movies, and got lucky with bus times - right as I got to the bus stop a Animal Kingdom bus pulled up, and I wound up being the only one taking a ride. I got to the park just as they were getting off Dinosaur, so I met them in dinorama area. We had a fastpass for Avatar Flight of passage, so we headed over to Pandora next. It was necessary to make a stop at Pongu Pongu to get drinks - non-alcoholic for me, as I try not to drink in the days leading up to a marathon, but I looked on enviously while Jennie enjoyed her night blossom. We took another cross-park journey for our next fast pass, this time heading to expedition everest. This was the first time Mike and Jude had ever ridden at night, and I could hear Mike’s exclamations though out the ride, and I couldn’t help but to laugh with joy as we all enjoyed the ride together.

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By the time we got off of everest, we had about 45 minutes until park closing. So, we pulled up the disney app to check out wait times, and decided we were going to try to get onto primevil whirl and then nav’i river journey. We were closer to dino land so we headed there first, and had a quick wait to get on the ride. By the time we were done it was a quick walk over to pandora, and I may have scared Mike into skipping a bathroom stop for fear of not getting into the queue before the park closed - but we made it, entering at 7:59 when there was an 8:00 closing time. Lucky for us, it was a quick wait, about 15 minutes total from entering the queue to getting on the ride - very much worth the hustle. We made a quick bathroom stop before heading to the buses, and making our way back to the hotel.

When we got back to all star movies we headed to the food court for dinner, where I went for some pasta and an uncrustables sandwich, I also picked up a runners box for the next morning. The food court had a decent selection of options for runners, but I would have loved to see a build your own pasta station, as some of the resorts offer on race weekends.

Then it was time to head back to the room, and set ourselves up for the next morning’s half marathon.

Kelly’s Goofy Plan: Week 14

Race week was finally upon us: I just had to get through 4 days of work, and then I got to hop on a plane and head to Florida for Walt Disney World’s Marathon Weekend!

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I had a busy week, so I decided to focus on packing on Monday that way I could make a list of any last minute purchases that needed to be made. The hardest part? Trying to decide what I was going to wear for the marathon! I had already decided to make a Minnie Mouse outfit for the half, but knowing that Florida weather is tricky this time of year, I was stumped when trying to pick something for the full. Eventually I settled on a tank top and shorts - the “Will run for Mickey shaped food" one, with a few extra layers packed in case things got cold.

On Tuesday morning I got myself on the bike trainer, and rode 10 miles. I was finding myself nervous about each workout as race day approached, worrying that I was overdoing it. But I reminded myself that this cycle had gone well- so much better than the one leading up to wineglass. And I was strong, and not going to hurt myself with a bike ride.

Tuesday night was my last run before the race day, and there was an easy track night on my schedule. Emily agreed to head to planet fitness with me, and we even managed to find treadmills near each other - nothing short of a miracle this close to the new year. And wouldn’t you know it- Mike showed up and hopped on another treadmill near by. I was excited to see him still working hard in the days leading up to his first half. When he got to the gym I was in the middle of an intense (for me) pace, and almost flew off the back of the treadmill when I tried to turn my head to look for Mike. So, I waited until the interval was over before looking around for him while at a slower, safer, pace, and saw that he was just a few treadmills down.

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As for me, my plan was for a total of six miles - 2 mile warmup, 1x1200, 1x800, 1x1200, and then a cooldown. The paces weren’t too aggressive, but the 1200s felt long. I was red faced and sweaty when I hit the cooldown, and happy to have gotten through this last night run before the race.

Wednesday I spent making sure I was VERY hydrated, drinking waterbottles full of nuun all day. After work I took a quick trip to target with Emily to pick up all of me last minute Disney trip needs. I finished up packing and got all my bags in line, only one day of work left!

At long last it was Thursday, and a full plate at work meant the day flew by when I expected it to drag. It was a little of a frenzy getting home on time to leave for the flight, and before I knew it Mike and Jude arrived with Mike’s parents, who were giving us a ride to the airport. We were flying out of MacArthur Airport, AKA the best airport on Long Island. Its further east on the island, and much smaller than the airports near New York City. It makes for a much lower stress start to a vacation, and an easier airport drop off. Liz and Mike Sr. were able to drop us off right next to check in, without having to fight standard airport traffic. We said goodbye, and headed into the airport.

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We got there with plenty of time to grab food before boarding out flight, and excitedly discussed our DIsney plans. Jennie works in Manhattan, so she was going right from work to JFK, and had a little less luck than us with - as she sat in the airport delays were slapped onto her flight. As Mike, Jude and I climbed onto the plane, Jennie was still waiting to see when she would take off. It was seeming like she would be leaving NY as we landed in Florida. We managed to get three seats in a row on our very full flight, and even got overhead baggage space. Once we were in the air, I pulled up the media that southwest offers on my iPad, and selected Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom, as I hadn’t seen it yet. As the flight came to a close, I found myself tapping the screen to see how many minutes were left in the movie, nervous that I was going to miss the end of the film. But, I managed to just squeak through the ending as the plane landed. We were officially in Florida, and I was ready for the magic to begin!

Once we were off the plane we grabbed our checked bag, and headed for the magical express. It was Mike and Jude’s first time with magic bands, so I got Mike to scan us in, and after a quick reservation look up, we were on our way to the all-star Music resort. I had called the resort earlier that day and requested one of the newly renovated rooms, and for just $5 a night they were able to upgrade us to a preferred room, which was renovated. This was especially nice because it meant we were in the building closest to the main hall, which I knew I would appreciate with all of the running and early mornings I had ahead of me that weekend. We settled into our room, and set our alarms for the next morning - the plan was to head to the magic kingdom for extra magic hours to start our trip off on the right foot.

Race Recap: RunDisney Wine and Dine 10k

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As is tradition for runDisney events, my alarm went off just a little too early on race morning, but at least I had managed to get a solid 5-ish hours of sleep. I had assembled my running supplies the night before, so my roctane powder was already all mixed up into some water and my outfit was folded up in the bathroom, that way I could get up and get dressed without waking up Dennis - we were staying in the beach club, and our hotel room was setup so that the bathroom was around the corner from the bed, so even with me scuttling about to get ready, he didn’t seem to wake up. And if you know me, you know this is nothing short of a miracle, because try as I might I am just not a quiet person when I get ready. 

My alarm went off at 3:25, and I was out the door by 3:40. I met another runner on my way down to the bus, who introduced himself as Jonathan, and we chatted as we walked to the bus and waited. He told me about his podcast, about a mouse, and it was nice to have someone to chat with as we rode the bus to the start area. 

I was flying solo when I got to the start area, and wandered around to check out the characters that were out for meet and greets (lumiere, chef Mickey and goofy), and listened to the DJ for a few before heading towards the corral. 

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Weather was mild on race morning, but being a chicken I had pulled on my long sleeve race shirt and rain coat because I was cold when I woke up- but I didn’t intend to run in these things, so I had to give them up when I checked my bag. Luckily I had saved the heat sheet that they gave me at the wineglass marathon, so I pulled that on and headed to the corrals, armed with my muffin and other assorted pre-race fuels. I considered a porter potty stop on the way, but ultimately I just found a spot to sit in the corral, hoping I wouldn’t later regret that choice. 

As I sat in the corral I thought about what I wanted out of this 10k. In the back of my mind I thought about really racing it - if I managed to PR it was possible that I could place in my age group, but it would be a stretch, as I really wasn’t in shape to PR at this point- my workouts had been lacking in October because of the craziness that was getting married. So I left my long term goal of placing in my age group at a rundisney race in my back pocket, and figured I would just play it by ear, and aim to have a good time on course. A cop out, perhaps. But I was worried that I would pass up a fun RunDisney experience for a PR that may not come. 

Eventually I did decide to go pee before the race, and of course as I headed back into the corral I saw they had started collapsing the corral and sending runners towards the start line. Timing, not my strong point. 

As the race started I struggled to hit a good pace, as the start line was crowded with runners and walkers. I’m all for running your own race, but it was a little bit frustrating that there were walked mixed into the first wave of corral A, which, in theory, should consist mostly of people who are running. I’m not trying to pace shame anyone- it was just frustrating to have to weave so much just to be able to keep running. 

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The first mile of the race was all highway, with the big attraction being a screen attached to a overpass, playing clips of monsters inc. I hit the first mile in 8:09, feeling strong now that the crowd was thinning out a bit. 

In mile two there were some character stops- first lightning McQueen and to-Mater and then captain jack sparrow with his pirate ship. I’m not a huge fan of either of these, so I opted to run by these stops. The first water station was also in mile two. Pace for mile 2 was 8:18, and I was still feeling good. 

There were more “hills” than I’m accustomed to in Florida races, and they slowed me down a bit in mile three, with highway ramps becoming a part of the race. During mile three a green army man cheered us up the on ramp, commending us for our pace and encouraging us to keep it up- I lost a little time on this mile regardless, which came in at an 8:26. 

At this point, I knew we were approaching Epcot, and I stowed my phone in my pocket. So forgive me if I mess up some of the location details as we go on, as I don’t have any photos to reference. 

Mile 4 brought us backstage, and into Epcot through future world. Just before entering the park chip and dale were hanging out with a DJ and there was no line for photos..... I couldn’t resist. I ran in and got a quick picture before heading onward. We got our first glimpse of spaceship earth just before entering the park, which was alive with music, as they had a mix of pump up and Disney music playing through out Epcot. From future world we headed into world showcase, and then around England we headed backstage and got an up-close look at the gondola construction. 8:31, not too shabby. 

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We hit mile 5 right as we headed back into Epcot, and right around there Oswald was hanging out in front of a tiny barn, again with no line! So I hopped off course for another character photo, and then began my last lap around world showcase before the finish line. There were plenty of photographers around world showcase, which was all lit up with lights on the buildings. When I spotted Jimminy cricket in one of the countries, I stopped for another quick photo before beginning my descent to the finish line. With two character stops, mile 6 came in at 8:36, and dad texted me asking if I had finished the race yet just before the mile marker. 

The last 0.2 miles of the course took me through the end of future world, and I attempted a jump shot before leaving the parks- we will find out soon enough if I was successful! The photographer said something to me as I ran by, but honestly I have no idea what he said. (good news- he got the shot!)

Just before rounding the corner to the finish line we went by a drum line, and then things went downhill fast- I let my competitive nature get the best of me. Just as we went by the last fence and the finish line came into sight, a runner that had been on my tail for the last mile or so shouted to me - “come on, don’t let me beat you now!”

A phrase which is basically my kryptonite. 

As he ramped up his speed trying to pass me, I picked mine up as well. He goaded me more, rooting me on to push for the finish line - and for the record, I in no way see this as a bad thing! I love a little friendly competition, and have raced to more than one finish line in the past. 

As we pushed each other to go faster, he started to pass me, and called out for me to help going, to which I responded, “if I puke I’m blaming you!” More jokingly than anything else. The finish line was less than 200m away, what could go wrong in that distance? 

And I was fine.... until I wasn’t. Suddenly my stomach seized, and I had to ease off the pace as a sudden wave of nausea hit me, and I started gagging. The finish line grew closer, it was less than 100m to go.... but I had to pull to the side of the race to puke. So sorry to anyone whose finish line photos may have me puking in the background, my bad. It was not something that I thought was in the realm of possibility for this race. 

But after a minute or so I was able to compose myself, and get over the finish line, with a time of 54:18- about three minutes slower than my PR, but I was pretty pleased with it. 

I made my way through the finish like chute, collecting my medal, poweraide, water, and the famous rundisney snack boxes, then grabbed the bag I had checked earlier that morning. I always pack a drawstring backpack into my checked bag so that it is easier to carry everything after the race. 

Once I had all my stuff together, I got a few character photos- Sebastian, Lumiere, and chefs Donald and goofy- before heading to the bus which would take me back to the beach club resort. 

It was a good morning all in all, and after a quick shower I proceeded to sleep for another two hours before heading to magic kingdom for a day of fastpasses and making Dennis take pictures of me with my new medal. It was a great day in the parks, made even better by family! That night I met up with a bunch of my cousins for dinner, who happened to have an overlapping vacation. We grabbed food at the brewery that is on the boardwalk, and it was hard to resist the margaritas - but I somehow managed, knowing that I had another early morning ahead of me.

Race Recap: RunDisney Wine and Dine Expo

Did I manage to finagle our honeymoon being the same dates as a rundisney weekend? You know it! It truly wasn’t intentional as well, we just headed out for a week after our wedding, and the first weekend of November is the same weekend as Disney’s wine and dine half marathon weekend. 

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Now, everyone on planet earth (basically) told me that I shouldn’t run a marathon the week after my wedding- which is why I didn’t register for the NYC marathon this year. But no one said a thing about half marathons! Or rundisney challenges for that matter.... so when registration opened up, I registered for the two course challenge- a 10k on Saturday morning, and a half marathon on Sunday morning. RunDisney races are always very early, so Den would even be able to sleep through the whole run. So, totally fair game in my book. 

I didn’t need to go to the race expo Thursday, but I was excited to check out all of the RunDisney excitement - so we planned to go Thursday afternoon, to avoid the opening crowds but get there before the locals got out of work that day.

We headed out to the bus stop at the beach club resort just after 2 pm, and after waiting for about 20 minutes, an expo bus pulled up..... and promptly left without stopping. Come on! After speaking with another runner who was waiting for the bus, who told us the last bus did the exact same thing 30 minutes before this bus, I headed into the resort and spoke to the front desk, who started to call the bus operators to see what was up. We had fastpasses that evening I’m Hollywood Studios that we didn’t want to miss, and she offered to call us a complimentary taxi to take us to the expo, so we wouldn’t loose any more time. 

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So a few minutes later, we were in a cab and on our way. When we arrived at the ESPN wide world of sports, our first stop was the arena, where the official rundisney merchandise was housed, as well as the bibs. I headed into the merch area first, as I had read online that things were already selling out - apparently there was an extremely limited number of pins made for this weekend, and I wanted to make sure I got one for my backpack. By the time we arrived, all of the medal replica ones were already sold out, but I was at least able to grab the logo pin and an “I did it” pin for the challenge. 

I picked up an assortment of merch other than pins- a hat, a travel mug, a wineglass, a jacket, a magnet, a half marathon “I did it shirt,” and a shirt for den that reads “I support my wife’s runDisney obsession.” What can I say, I’m milking this newlywed thing. 

I don’t normally buy the “I did it” shirts that rundisney sells, but I have one from this weekend two years ago, and somehow managed to stain it recently, so I wanted a replacement. Plus, this year they were tech shirts, rather than cotton shirts, so it’s something I can actually run in. 

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When we went to check out Den surprised me and took care of all my purchases for me, as my birthday is next week. We may be home by then, but at least I’ll have a little Disney Magic to look forward to. 

Once we were done with the merchandise, we headed into the bib pickup area, which was also in the arena this time around. There were no crowds, and I was able to walk right up to my designated pickup location. I missed the first corral by 30 (!!!!) bibs, but was kind of excited that my number fell into the first range of pickup line numbers. I’ll just have to work harder next time, corral A is so close!  As always, they were taking photos of runners who were signed up for the challenge, so that they can be verified at the finish line of the half.

Once we had checked all of the required boxes and snapped a few photos, I hopped in line to get a photo with chef Mickey before making my way over to the visa center, where I would be able to retrieve my race shirts. 

Again, there was no line to get into the visa center, so we walked right in and headed through the vendors to shirt pickup. I did buy one thing at the expo, but it’s a super secret surprise for Mike, so you’ll have to wait for the big reveal on that one. 

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When I got my shirts I made sure to try all three on, and they were a good fit. I am a big fan of both the colors of the shirts and the art style that they used. I was hopeful that it would be cool enough in Florida to wear them around the parks after the races, as they’re all long sleeve shirts. 

Once we had all of the goods we left the expo, and had time to head to Disney springs to grab earl of sandwich, before making our way to Hollywood studios. We had fastpasses there to ride slinky dog dash for the first time, and the crowds were even light enough that we got onto toy story midway mania and alien swinging saucers. 

All in all a successful day, both in the parks and at the expo, and I was feeling excited for the race weekend ahead!

Intro to the next cycle: Training for the 2019 Goofy Challenge

If you’ve done a RunDisney event, your first question here may be “Kelly, if you’re going to do Goofy, why not run the extra 9.3 miles and just do the Dopey challenge?!”

Simple: Vacation time.

In May while celebrating Emily’s birthday, I convinced mike to come into the city to meet us at barcade…. and then proceeded to talk him into running a marathon

In May while celebrating Emily’s birthday, I convinced mike to come into the city to meet us at barcade…. and then proceeded to talk him into running a marathon

Don’t you love grown up jobs?

Anyway, I did manage to rope two of my friends into traveling to Florida with me - Mike and Jennie. While you have heard of Jennie before (she ran in the Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon weekend with me in 2018), Mike is new to the blog, and while we have known each other since the third grade (about 20 years now), he is the most recent victim of, as Dad calls it, my run-bullying.

Back in 2016 when I was a new runner, Mike was the friend that agreed to sign up for my first New York Road Runners race with me. Since then, we have done a few races together every year, and one drunken day in NYC later, I had talked Mike into the 9+1 program that the NYRR offers - with the ultimate goal of running the NYC marathon in 2019. So the disney half is a step on his path to the NYC marathon, and will be both his first half-marathon and his first RunDisney event.

Jennie will be along for the ride this time, hitting up the Disney parks with us and acing as the captain of our cheer squad. Don’t worry guys, I will make sure that she gets a full lesson in acting as captain from both Dad and Emily.

Anyway, Mike started training using the plan that RunDisney offers on their website, and after taking a solid week off of running post wineglass marathon, I began to roll right from one training cycle into another. I am starting to get my mileage back, and once the wedding is over at the end of October, I will be able to shift my focus fully to training for these races.

The best part about this training cycle so far? Fall weather. Here in NY, we seem to have finally broken through the humidity barrier, and settled into cooler temps nicely - Here’s hoping that this training cycle goes a little more “according to the plan.”

Princess Half Marathon Recap: The Half Marathon!

For the last post in my Princess half marathon weekend series, we are finally talking about the big event – the princess half marathon!

For those of you that are new to the blog, I will let you know that the princess half marathon holds a special place in my heart, as it was my first race EVER back in 2016. My cousin Ryan and I decided to sign up to run it, not being runners or having any idea how to train properly, but somehow managed to cross the finish line. The moment we were done, I knew that running was going to be a part of my life for a very long time, and have been chasing the feeling that I had at that finish line ever since.

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So, for the 2018 Princess half marathon the theme was “Snow White,” with a big apple shaped medal. I wanted a costume that would go with that theme, without hitting the nail on the head and just dressing up as the princess herself. Rachel and I spent some time brain-storming this one, and we decided to go as the mine train (Rachel) and the poison apple (me).

I had so much fun putting these costumes together, and even learned some new skills along the way. I decided to make the focal point of the costumes the skirts, and then build the shirts and accessories around it. For my skirt, I made it to look like the poison apple itself, with a red base and a sparkly white top, shaped like the poison dripping down the apple, complete with an eerie face. Then I used my mom’s Cricut machine to create iron on transfers for my shirt. I decided to go with a play on a line from snow white – changing “Just one bite and all of your dreams will come true” to “Just one RUN and all of your dreams will come true.” To complete my outfit, I ordered a poison apple hat and a pair of red ProCompression socks, and I was ready to run.

So, on race morning I rolled out of bed too early for the third day in a row, and got myself dressed for the day. It was basically a routine at this point, so I had everything laid out right where I needed it. As I left my room I texted Rachel to see how she was feeling and asked if she was going to run the half (the day before, she had nearly collapsed from dehydration). She said that she was feeling better and was going to give it a go, and we agreed to meet up in the start area like we had for the 10k. I hopped on the next bus that pulled up to the All-Star Music resort and was on my way to the start village.

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I found Rachel easily enough, and we hung out in the start area until it was time to begin the long walk to the corrals. For this race I was assigned corral B, while Rach was in F. We were originally planning to run the race together, but since Rachel hadn’t been feeling well the day before we decided to run separately, so that I wouldn’t wind up pushing her too hard. As I hopped in line for a porter potty she headed to her corral, hoping to get a spot near the front – for this race corral F had nearly 10,000 runners, about 30% of the race field.

I made my way to the corrals surrounded by thousands of other runners, some in costumes. Near-by was a man dressed as Ursula, joking about needing to brace himself for the calamari jokes he was likely to hear throughout the day, as the temperature rose. It was about a 15 minute walk to get to the corrals, and once I found corral B I headed in and tried to relax, feeling more nervous than I usually do before a race. As the start time grew nearer, I took some time to stretch, and eventually took my first Gu of the day. By that time, the announcers were on the stage and the pre-race show was underway. Jeff Galloaway remarked casually about the 90% humidity, as if it was an everyday activity. To get the race started, they brought out the Fairy Godmother and had her countdown to race start with a cry of “Bibbidi, Bobbidi, Boo!”

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The first wave of runners were released with a show of fireworks, and then corral B was moved right up to the start line, and a minute later, we were off into the morning. My plan for this race was to have fun, and soak in every bit of Disney magic that I would encounter over the next 13.1 miles.

The first mile was a little congested, with all of the runners trying to find their groove. There were volunteers lining the side of the course, cheering as we started our trek down the highway. Since I knew I wanted to make some stops for characters along the course, so I picked up my pace to make up for time i would loose in lines. My plan for characters was simple – if there was little or no line and I wanted a photo with the characters, I would stop. If it was the Evil Queen disguised as an old woman, I would stop – since it matched the theme of my skirt. But most of the time, I wound up snapping a quick photo or video as I ran by.

The first stop was at mile 1.7, where I saw that Jack Sparrow was set up with his pirate ship. The props made it a cool stop, so I pulled over and got in line for a photo… but then realized it was a slow moving line and decided to cut my losses and keep moving. It was still dark, but I was already feeling the heat of the morning. This was the day that I would learn how much I am capable of sweating.

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Soon after the pirate ship I came upon the entrance gate to magic kingdom, lit up and shining. This is one of my favorite parts of the race – even though the park is still miles away, I get so excited knowing that I am headed there. I stopped and took a selfie, mimicking one I took with my cousin in 2016.

The next stop that I came upon had an assortment of Disney princes and heroes, and I deemed it a necessary stop – after all, it is the princess half, and I felt like to post with the princes was a photo I had missed out on the first time around. It left a dent in my time for that mile, and I took off fast as soon as my photo was done. Of course, soon after came the one character stop that I “NEEDED” – The evil queen, and boy did she have a line waiting for her. I suppose since I was in an early corral and all it wasn’t the worst wait it could have been, but when I was moving I was running paces in the low 8’s, and my mile average still came in at almost a 14 min/mi for the two miles that I did these character stops.

On the upside of things, I was quickly approaching the Magic Kingdom, and over the next two or so miles it was all highway and no characters, so I was able to make up for some of the lost time. I wound up settling into a pace close to a 9 minute mile, but then slowing myself down as I approached the magic kingdom, not wanting to miss a second of time there. We passed mile marker 5 just before running though the bus bays outside of magic kingdom, then headed through the park’s main entrance and down main street USA – the smile on my face in the race photos says it all, and I found myself holding back excited tears as I made my way through the park. Have I been to magic kingdom before? Yes. But there is nothing quite like running down main street. Plus, this was the first time I was starting a RunDisney event in my designated corral rather than dropping back to run with someone, and I was in awe of how empty main street was.

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Once I made it down main street the course turned into tomorrow land, and I felt like it was a parade of character stops in magic kingdom – first up was Buzz Lightyear, before running passed the story book circus, then into new fantasy land, where I spotted Gaston near his tavern and the White rabbit, who was probably running late and shouldn’t have been doing a meet and greet. Just before the castle Cinderella’s evil step-sisters were stationed, with people pulling over for pictures, when I could hardly contain my excitement enough to even consider stopping.

Then one of my favorite moments of a Disney race: running through the castle! I had it nearly to myself, and stopped to get a picture in front of the castle before going onward into frontier land. I quickly spotted tiana and Louie, then Woody and Jesse, followed by Goofy. There was only one person on line to meet Goofy, and being a sucker for classic Disney characters, I stopped for a photo with him before continuing to run to the part of the course that would bring us backstage in the magic kingdom.

I only got to spend a quick minute backstage, as we just ran by a few buildings before leaving the park, but they had some festival of fantasy parade floats out, so I grabbed a quick photo with the giant dragon float, since there was no line and I couldn’t resist such a cool photo op. There were some princesses out with their floats as well, but I ran on by as I said goodbye to the Magic Kingdom. I made one last photo stop on my way out – they had the rail road car pulled right up to the course, so I threw myself in the path and posed dramatically, as one does. I was basically dying because of how much I was sweating at that point anyway, so I may as well get a good photo of it.

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The next few miles were all highway, as we made our way back to Epcot. We ran by the grand Floridian, where tinkerbell was hanging out with her fairy friends. As we approached mile 8, they had put up signs with cheesy jokes on them to amuse runners as they went by, all Disney themed of course. My favorite had to be “Who is the funniest Disney princess? – Ra-PUN-zel!” But I am a sucker for cheesy jokes. Just after mile 8 they had props and performers from the long closed Adventurer’s Club, which was once a restaurant in downtown Disney. Having read stories about it, I may always be a little bitter that I never got to visit myself, but I always enjoy when RunDisney brings out entertainment like that.

As I continued on the highway, miles 9 and 10 ticked off on my watch. The mile marker for mile 10 was a little special, as this was the 10th anniversary of the princess half. I slowed my pace a little at this point, as I was starting to feel the effects of the high humidity. Plus, my thigh was starting to chafe! I had run TWO marathons and countless training runs in the shorts I was wearing and never had any issues, but apparently the humidity was doing me in for this one. By the time I was finished with the race, I had a raw patch of skin on my leg. With mile 10 came the overpass, AKA the one “hill” of this Disney race. Once I was up the overpass, I could see runners on the highway for quite some distance.

With mile 12 I started to enter the Epcot resort area, and mile 13 brought me all through the parks. I was loving this race, but the heat was getting to me and I was more than ready to get to that finish line! I picked up the pace a little for the last mile, running passed spaceship earth, and to the final out and back of the course. Then one more trip passed spaceship earth, around the bend, and the finish line was in sight. There was still confetti on the ground from the winners crossing the finish line, and Prince Mickey and Princess Minnie were waiting by the finish line as runners approached. As I ran by Mickey I snagged a high-5, then threw my hands in the air as I crossed the finish line, full of joy.

Finish time: 2:13:37

A volunteer handed me my medal, and they had fairy godmothers in training on hand to sprinkle finishers with pixie dust. Then it was just a long walk down the finishers chute, where I collected Gatorade, water, and a snack box, then verification at the fairy tale challenge tent, where I collected my second medal of the day. The last thing to do was pick up my checked bag, and head for the bus back to the hotel.

I completed my second Disney princess half marathon, and my first glass slipper challenge. It was exactly the magic that I was hoping for, and that I have come to expect from RunDisney. I spent the rest of the day hanging out with my family at my aunt and uncle’s house, just taking it easy and celebrating a successful race.

As for Rachel – she finished too, and even snagged herself a new PR, crossing the finish line in just over 2 and a half hours.

Princess Half Marathon Recap: 5k

Before we talk about the race, let me tell you about the costume that I put together!

As a big fan of Tangled, I had planned to have a Rapunzel themed outfit since long before the theme was announced. My original plan was just to dress up as Rapunzel, but I figured that was going to be a bit overdone after the medal was released, so I decided to make a skirt that would resemble the lanterns that you see throughout the movie.  ......Click to keep reading!

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Princess Half Marathon Recap: Arrival to Florida and Expo day

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My journey to Florida for the princess half marathon began at MacArthur airport in NY, where I boarded a flight with my parents on Wednesday night. Dennis was supposed to be joining us for this trip, but he recently started a new job and had to cancel. Dad won the seat game, when he snagged the emergency exit row seat that had no seat in front of him – talk about leg room! I had recently gotten some free drink coupons from Southwest, so Mom had a celebratory vacation drink as we flew to Florida.

The flight was smooth sailing, and when we got to Florida Mom and I collected our luggage while Dad grabbed the rental car, then we were on the road to Disney. This first ride of the weekend through Florida began the saga of the tolls, where we scrambled for the millions of quarters that we would need to chuck into the provided bins. In retrospect, we probably should have invested in a SunPass, but at the time we didn’t realize just how many quarters we would have to dig for.

We pulled into the All-Star Music resort, and found our room in the country music section. I had completed the online check in that Disney offers, so I didn’t even need to stop by the front desk when we got there – we had received a text with our room number and our magic bands would open the door. The most complicated part was figuring out where to park! We started by following the numbers around the building, starting high and marking them off as they got lower… but the parking lot ended at building 6 and we were headed for building 5. So we doubled back and realized that we needed to be in the parking lot that All-Star Music and Sports shared.

Once we lugged all of the luggage into the hotel we settled in and called it a night, planning to get up early and meet up with my mom’s sister and her family, and all go to animal kingdom together.

In the morning my Aunt Liz and Uncle Keith met up with us at the hotel for breakfast. Since the best way to start a Disney day is with a Mickey Waffle (or a cinnamon bun, I’m not picky), Dad and I both got bounty platters, complete with Mickey waffles to start the trip off on the right foot.

We all piled into the minivan that Dad had rented and headed for animal kingdom, and were directed to the Dinosaur lot. We got there just a few minutes after opening, and once we were in the park headed to Pandora. The first ride of the day was “Na’vi river journey,” and since the park had just opened there was only a 20–minute stand by line.

After the ride we found my cousin Keith, his wife Kristen, and their baby, Ainsley. Or, more accurately, they found us! Kristen jumped right into a photo I was taking of my parents, and we all got a laugh out of her photo bomb. 

After a few minutes of catching up as we hung out in Pandora, we made our way to flight of passage. Just a week before our trip the park hours got changed, which released an extra hour of fastpasses, and I managed to snag us each one for flight of passage. I was happy that my mom agreed to come on the ride with us, as she isn’t always a “ride” person, but we all had a great time.

When we exited the ride we found Keith and Ainsley hanging out by the gift shop, and all headed to dino land so we could take Ainsley on tricera tops spin, then hung out there for a little bit. We made our way around animal kingdom throughout the rest of the day, taking in festival of the lion king, riding expedition Everest, and grabbing lunch at flame tree BBQ.

We all had a great time just hanging out and enjoying the park and each other’s company, but as the afternoon rolled into the evening I needed to head to the Expo to pick up my race bibs, so we all parted ways, and my mom left with my aunt and uncle, as she was planning on staying with them for the next few days as Dad and I hung out in Disney.

We headed to the expo around 5 pm, and hit a little bit of traffic heading into the ESPN sports complex. Once we were parked we went to the bib pickup area first, as bib pickup was obviously my priority. We headed into the arena, and the process was easy enough. Flash my ID, trade my signature for a bib, and then do it once more for a challenge bib. Since it was the 10th anniversary of the princess half, in addition to my bib I was given a luggage tag in the shape of the half medal, a set of bib boards featuring mickey, and a button featuring the race logo.

The next stop was the main expo hall, where the shirts were waiting to be picked up. There was no line to get into the building, so we were able to walk right in. I stopped for a few photos with some snow white props they had out, and then we walked to the back of the hall where the shirts were set up. I tried on one of my shirts and it seemed good. While we were in the Visa center we stopped at the pandora booth. I wanted to check out the charm they were selling for the race weekend. It was kind of pricey, as it had to be purchased with a bracelet, but my annual pass knocked 20% off the price, and we had a $50 gift card from waiving maid service in the hotel room, so I wound up getting the charm in the end. I walked around the vendors a little, but there was nothing that I really needed in terms of running supplies, so the only other thing I picked up was some applesauce and buy one get one free chipotle coupons. 

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Finally, we headed to the runDisney Merchandise area. I picked up the pre-order jacket that I was bought – there was no reminder that I had purchased one at any point in the bib pickup process, so if you pre-order merchandise, remember to retrieve it! It has the same logo on it that the annual passholder shirt bore, with each race distance and associated princess. Then we wandered around the merchandise, and I picked up a few things – a wine glass, a tervis water bottle, the pins of the race medals to add to my backpack, and a 13.1 magnet to add to the back of my car…. Yep, I’m THAT kind of runner. For the first time, the runDisney merchandise had its own building, which I really preferred over the usual arrangement. It meant that there was plenty of space for the merchandise to be spread out, so I was able to shop leisurely instead of being crammed into a small aisle with too many people. Before heading out, I waited in line to get a photo with princess Minnie, all ready for race weekend in her pink dress. 

With the expo complete, Dad and I headed back to the hotel and grabbed some pizza from the food court for dinner before calling it a night. I set up my outfit for the next morning and packed my bag with everything I would need, and headed to bed, excited for the weekend full of running that I had ahead of me.