Where’s the most magical place on earth? Why, I do believe it’s Disney World!
My best friend, T, and I ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon this past weekend, and I’m so glad we planned to run this race together. We signed up waaaaaay back in early 2014 when registration opened, and it’s a good thing we did because it sold out in a matter of days. And now I know why…it’s an amazing race!
We flew down on Friday and went directly to the race expo to pick up our bibs. Characters were already waiting to take pictures with us, which of course we took full advantage of.
We spent Saturday exploring Epcot. I think we can say that we’ve now experienced all Epcot has to offer. My personal favorite? No shocker here, but it’s food centric 😉 Hibachi dinner in “Japan” for our carbo-filled dinner. Delicious!
Sunday morning we left our hotel room by 4am to drive to Epcot where we hit an insane amount of traffic. I can honestly say this was the most stressed I’ve ever been before a race, mostly because I wasn’t convinced we’d even make it there on time. Lesson learned! Always leave even more time than anticipated, roger that 🙂
But we made it! Our support crew (aka our “princes” – thanks, fellas!) walked us as far as they could and then bid us adieu. T and I then started the fairly long walk from the parking lot to the race start. But I have to say, corral M was where it was at. We had a group Journey-themed sing-a-long at the race start and were greeted by fireworks at the word “GO!”
This race is easily the most entertaining 13.1 miles I’ve ever run. Everywhere you turned you were greeted with characters, music, aid stations…and we can’t forget everyone’s stellar costumes! Any time we started thinking about how tired our legs were becoming, we’d distract ourselves by looking around at the surrounding costumes. Some people seriously stepped up their costume game!
We dressed as Ana and Elsa from Frozen. T found us some sweet Sparkle skirts and capes which we complimented with Frozen temporary tattoos and running tanks. I did break the cardinal rule and ran in something I didn’t practice in, but the skirt and cape were so comfortable – I didn’t have a single issue!
I’m not going to lie, I may have teared up a few times during this race. I always get choked up when I see the first female runner going towards the finish (how inspiring!!), but running in Disney with one of my best friends took me over-the-top on the happiness scale. This was T’s first half marathon ever, and I wanted her to have the best experience possible. We both looooove all things Disney. Our dorm room in college sported many Disney princesses 😀 So running this race together was very appropriate. And I can’t even begin to tell you how incredibly impressed I was by her attitude and running! Near the end of my first half marathon I was not a happy camper (you know those thoughts, “Why in the world did I decide to do this?!”), but T had a great attitude the whole time, ran hard and even finished the last two miles faster than the previous 11 all while sporting a head cold. Serious champ status if you ask me! So I may have gotten choked up a bit when we saw the leading female runner (who went on to win the race in a costume – you go, girl!), when we saw Cinderella’s castle and when we crossed the finish line hand-in-hand ❤
Next we ran through Cinderella’s castle (and by run I mean waddle because there were so many princesses, ha!) and then started our run back towards Epcot. It got a little warm near the end of the race, but some well timed clouds kept us fairly shaded. I was very thankful for them!
We crossed the finish line holding hands and cheering (woooo!) which was short lived because we were almost killed by a man dressed as Olaf because he thought it’d be funny to take a bow (yes, you read that correctly) at the finish line. LITERALLY, at the finish line…when thousands of runners were coming up behind us running the final stretch of the race…this man decided to be a ham and bow to the photographers at the finish. My dear sir, this is a terrible idea and we narrowly missed a giant runner pile-up. If you’re reading this…please, never do that again. I beg you!
Despite our near catastrophe at the finish line, we had a really incredible and fun race. It took us 3 hours to finish, but the time flew by. Our goal for the day was to cross the finish line having experienced all the race had to offer, and I can definitely say that we achieved that!
I also have to acknowledge the importance of cross-training in general. I’ve always been one of those I-only-run-ever-what-the-heck-is-cross-training kind of runners, but since falling in love with yoga and weight training, I’ve seen the light. I had fewer training runs for this race than previous races I’ve completed, but all of the heated yoga and sculpt classes this winter definitely paid off. I have more strength in my upper body than I’ve ever had before, and I could feel myself better supported during the later miles of the race. Instead of allowing my body to sink in on itself from fatigue (think less princess and more hunchback of Notre Dame style), I was able to keep my core strong and allow my shoulders to relax down my back. I’m a convert – count me in for cross-training from here on out.
I would absolutely recommend the Disney Princess Half Marathon to fellow runners. I wouldn’t expect this to ever be a PR opportunity because of the crazy number of runners, but if you’re looking for a light-hearted, well organized and absolutely fun race…then this may be the race for you. Plus, who doesn’t love an excuse to get out of Chiberia in February? I actually have tan lines – can you imagine? It’s a miracle!