Wednesday, February 27, 2013

RunDisney Princess Half Marathon Recap

After heading to bed at an early 10:00 PM the day before, the 2:45 AM cell phone alarm medley was still jarring to hear. We all got up, got dressed, snapped pictures, and made our way out to the shuttles in grand princess fashion by 3:30. Again, the lines were long, but the frequent busses were well timed and made for a quick delivery to Epcot, where the Princess Half Marathon began.

When we got there, we found more lines. It was the theme of the weekend. The crowds expanded as far as you could see, but we didn't have a choice but to wait. 
Then, we snapped a group shot of all of us in our costumes: Ursula, Rapunzel, Belle, Minnie, and Snow White!
Then I saw Marcia and Jill, and we were able to say hi in person and take a group picture. We all chat on twitter about races and events, so it was great to finally meet the people behind the online profiles.
Then, our group made the long march out to the starting line. Disney puts the starting line at the same place as the marathon, and it starts on a service road behind Epcot. It's a legitimate 20 minute walk out there, so when Disney recommends getting there with time to spare, they're not exaggerating. 

We had all put down 2:15 finish times, even though all of our PRs are different from that, so they put us all together in corral B. 
But before we headed to the corral I got the chance to meet another blog friend, Amy! Amy ran her first marathon in Houston on the same day that I ran the Disney marathon, so we're debut marathon sisters!
After Amy and I said bye so she could head to her corral, we all headed to corral B. Since we weren't racing, we didn't push towards the front at all. We just started in the back of B. This was my first mistake of the day. I'll explain why later. We snapped individual pictures...
...and soon it was go time! There had been talk ahead of time between the five of us of paces, pictures, and no goal times. All I cared about was taking every possible picture. I literally did not care what the time on the clock read when I finished the race.

And through the starting line we went, right on time, a few minutes after the Corral A 5:35 start.
From the very beginning we could tell that it was going to be a warm and humid day, but like I mentioned before the weekend, the weather is less important on days you're working to have fun. I just felt badly for all the people running their first halves or trying to PR the race. Soon after we crossed the first mile marker, we saw the first photo opportunity: Pirates of the Carribean! We hopped in line, stopped our watches, and waited. And waited. And at that moment, I realized that it was going to be a long race! That line in and of itself took us at least 10 minutes to go through. I didn't care at the time, though.
We pushed on, saw A Bug's Life across the street, ran over, and again waited. This time the line was a little shorter.
And then, right after A Bug's Life, it was time for the princes! I wished Snow White's prince had been there, but the ones that were made it a fun photo! I ran with a poison apple for effect. 
While standing in line for the princes (another ten minute line), the lead runner passed us heading back towards the finish. We had only run a little over 2.5 miles! It was at this moment that I realized that starting in the back of Corral B was a bad choice. Slowly people from corrals C and D were catching up and passing us as we ran.

Inbetween the pictures we maintained about a 10:30 pace. Me, Caitlyn, and Genna had decided to stop for photos, so we wanted to run from picture to picture together, and a 10:30 pace worked for us all for the time being.

Entering Magic Kingdom!
I was so excited that Lightning McQueen was there!! They had him and 'mater parked on the Speedway during the marathon, but I had been too focused to stop for pictures, even though I had really wanted one with him. I'm glad I got another opportunity! He smiled big for the camera!
Though many pictures don't turn out that I take while running, this one made me laugh. The fact that I got my Snow White costume, it isn't blurry, and Genna is in the background makes me smile. It's too fun not to share!
Before entering the actual park, we saw the villains! Going into the race this was the picture that I continued repeating that I had to have! The fact that they were on the course made me so happy! I asked the Snow Queen to hand me the apple, and though she obliged, she did not break character! These people were great! They acted the parts so well! That line was also really long, and before we knew it corral E was upon us...
We made it up a hill and found Aladdin and the mile 20 spectacular puppets from the marathon. We all ran the marathon and agreed that they weren't that exciting at the marathon, and it was funny to see them reusing them so soon after that race!
And then we entered the park. We had all kept the 10:30 pace during the runs, but we all agreed that the running then stopping and waiting was hurting our legs a bit. We were all ready to actually spend more than a mile or two at a time running. But, we were having a blast and getting great pictures!
Gaston wouldn't flex, so Caitlyn did for him!
Genna was so excited to see Belle and tell her that she dressed like her and loved her that she talked through the whole picture taking session. Every picture captured has Genna with a talking face instead of a smile and pose. 
This ranks among my favorite pictures of the day, and it was also one of the longest lines to wait in. Another ten or so minutes passed, and another corral passed us by. This is also when the castle started jamming and people had to inch through the opening. Minnie loved my apple! She gestured that she wanted to hold it and give it to me. It was so much fun. I felt like a kid again with how much excitement I got from interacting with the Minnie Mouse! 
We got another stranger to take our castle pic, and she missed the castle...oh well!
We ran by Splash Mountain, which has always been one of my favorite rides. I remember going on this ride one night on a family trip when I was barely tall enough to ride it. My mom was definitely a trooper and would always go on the thriller rides with us. Just a little trip down memory lane.
And then we stood in what was without a doubt the longest line of the day. It was a line to see Cinderella! Note below that this is not Cinderella. After we'd been in line for 10 or so minutes, they took her away and replaced her with Princess Aurora. We had already been in line for so long that we weren't about to leave that line. 

And it was during this line that a few things happened and we had some realizations. First of all, Tori and Meghan finished, and we got their text updates. That meant we had been on the course for 2 hours and 16 minutes and we hadn't even crossed the 10k mark (when we got our 10k update it suggested that our finish should we keep that pace would be 4:52!!). It was also when people from the last corral started making their way past us. We looked at each other, and hungrily agreed: we were ready to be done. Yikes!

We also agreed that we loved all of our picture taking fun, but this is something that is meant to happen only once. I may stand in line for a picture or two in the future, but I'll never wait in line for all of the characters after starting in the back of the second corral.
From that point on we were with the walkers. I admire anyone who runs or walks a half marathon, but it was very difficult to run at a pace that was comfortable because of the congestion and pace being held by the masses. We ran on the dirt alongside the road for a while. Eventually, we separated because we were going stir crazy trying to stay together and weave around people while keeping our pace.

I pushed on because I wanted to get at least five to six good miles of running in, and I continued to do that on the side of the road in the dirt. There were a few occasions where I had to slow and weave through the crowds, but for the most part the side of the road worked just fine. I just wanted to finish this race so that I could get off my feet and get something to eat. I was running alongside two other girls who were keeping up some speed, and one of them said to her sister that she just needed to run. I asked her if she had taken a bunch of pictures too, and she said that he had just started in the last corral with her mom and sister and had kept a much slower and more uncomfortable pace.

This may not make sense, or it may, but we all run at different paces. One person's fast pace is another person's easy pace, and the difference in paces also can change a person's stride or gait. It hurts me to run at a certain speed much slower than an "easy" speed for me, because I end up landing harder and putting more impact on my hips. I know it isn't just me, as I've heard others say it before, but I don't know if it's a common concern. Is there a pace that you can't really run slower than without it hurting more?

It appeared that this girl felt the same way. I was so thankful for her at that moment because I needed a mental break from running alone in the dirt and knowing that I still had a ways to go. We were able to pull our pace down into the high 8 to low 9 range for about a mile and a half. We talked about running, where we live, and other topics that come up when you're trying to power through and be finished with a race. We ended up separating with two or so miles to go.

When we entered Epcot at mile 12, I decided I would take any pictures that didn't have a line longer than 5 or 6 people. I ended up happy to see Mrs. Incredible, Pinocchio, and Goofy and Donald all before crossing the finish. Another cast member offered to take my picture with the ball when she saw me taking picture of it. The cast members are so great!
And then it was (finally) time to finish. My official time was somewhere around 3:30. Being out there for an hour and a half longer than normal for a half marathon was mentally trying. Though there was so much standing and waiting, it almost made the running parts hurt more, because we never really ran long enough without interruption in the first 6 miles to really warm up. As soon as we would have been warm, we'd stop and wait again. We stopped our watches during the waiting or the super super slow walking, and I ended up running 13 miles in 2:17 and change. I couldn't figure out how exactly to view it in terms of training, but Mary had told me that it was okay to have fun, stop, and enjoy this race, so I didn't worry too, too much about it. I enjoyed myself thoroughly!

But, like I said, though I was so so happy to be done and off the course, I was so glad that we had made the decision to stop for all of the pictures. Through my three other RunDisney races, I'd never stopped for a character picture, and I had always wanted to! Caitlyn had stopped at the marathon, but Genna had never stopped before either. It was fun to be able to all stand together in the lines and have those pictures together. It made the waiting and the pictures so much more fun!
When we were all finished we took our finisher picture! We had made it to the finish with smiles on our faces and our costumes intact! That is a feat in and of itself. And the bling was totally worth it. This is a beautiful medal!
Here's my advice for you on getting character pictures at RunDisney races:
-If you are willing to not worry about the clock at all, throw caution to the wind and do what we did. But if you're going to get frustrated if you get behind people who are moving at much slower paces than you, I wouldn't try for every picture possible.

-Pick a few pictures that you really really want before you head out. Make up in your mind who you must stop for, no matter how long the line, and who you'd like to stop for, depending on how long the line looks. This will allow you to still have an enjoyable race and get in a solid run while taking a few pictures along the way.

-If possible, start in the front of your corral. Obviously, if you get to the characters before other people in your corral do, the lines won't be that long! You'll still be able to take a few pictures while wasting less time in line.

-Keep your eye on the pace overall. If you're going all in on the pictures, remember the pace you have to keep not to be picked up by the sag wagon. If you're going to come close to being picked up, skip a picture or two to make up the time actually running. 

I know not everyone cares about character pictures, but I had wanted to take them since running my first RunDisney race. Because I'm so competitive with myself I had never let myself stop, so this weekend I had promised that I would stop for any picture that we were at all interested in taking. This race for me was like reward for all of the times I hadn't allowed myself to stop. And what fun it was!

A few things to note about the Princess Half:
-There were 26,000 runners; it was crowded. Plan ahead for that.
-It is a girly and fun and pink race. There are more people there looking to have fun than there are people looking for a PR. It's a great race to head to for a good time; if you're looking for a PR race or a competitive environment, I'd look elsewhere.
-Dress up! You'll be glad you did! There were more people wearing tutus and costumes and Sparkle Skirts than not. It just added to the fun!

After the race we headed back to shower, eat lunch, and head home. A great girls' weekend was in the books, and I'm already looking forward to the next one!

What are your thoughts on RunDisney races?
Do you ever run races for fun and not with a certain time goal in mind?

34 comments:

Meghan said...

It looks like such a blast. I am sure that you really can't go into these races with a plan, as it sounds like it was insanely crazy and fun! I love all of your costumes, too:)

It also took me a second to realize why all of your races down south start so EARLY - duh! The heat:)

Brad Minus said...

It looks like you had an amazing time. I personally love the runDisney races. I ran the Goofy last year and stopped for as many characters as I could as well, but I limited it to the opportunities with only a couple of athletes in line, so I was still able to finish the Half and Full in a decent time. Of course, while the Disney Distance Weekend isn't targeted at women which probably makes a difference. All of your pictures are awesome. Great Post!

Kat @ S and F said...

The weather blew! My tiara sash was SOAKED, I was happy to find tori and Meghan though! I'm glad we all stopped worrying about paces and enjoyed ourselves ;)

running betty said...

I don't think starting in corral A is good advice. That space should be saved for elite runners. That's the whole point of it. The way you felt around the Walkers at the end is how you'd stay someone else's that might be for an important qualifying time.
Your photos are great and anyone who goes that distance in full costume gets extra kudos! I could not imagine running just one mile in a Rapunzel braid!

running betty said...

*start someone else's race*

erin said...

I've been eying the disney races and thinking I would NEVER stop for a photo op. But Pirates of the Caribbean! OMGOODNESS! LOVE IT!

Lindsey @ Let the Light Shine said...

I just love love the outfits! Not sure how Rapunzel ran with her hair! haha

I love the picture of the Disney princes :)

Lisa (Mom to Marathon) said...

Nice recap. I ran Tinkerbell last year, but this sounds much bigger and has longer lines! I didn't stop for pictures at Tinkerbell because there were lines for pics. Someday I wouldn't mind doing a full picture tour of the race.

Running an hour and a half longer than a normal 1/2...yup, that would be tough. I paced a friend in her first 1/2 and she was much slower than my normal pace. Toward the end, I actually ran backwards up a hill to give my muscles a break.

Nice race report!

Tori @ In Love and Peanut Butter said...

Such a fun day! I really enjoyed reading your recap. That photo of Genna with Belle is priceless. I can't wait for the next one!!

Jessica said...

I always love your race recaps...they're the best!!! I've done the Princess twice and never stopped for pictures. One of these days I will. I'm planning on being there next year but I plan on killing my last time so there won't be any picture taking for me.

So glad you had a great time with great friends!!!!

Meghann said...

I've run the Princess Half twice and both times I took the "just for fun" approach with girlfriends and stopped to take photos along the way. You're right that it's easier to go in with a plan, we only stopped at characters we really wanted photos with and opted out of any character opportunities that had crazy lines. The second half of the race is always filled with less character opportunities and you start to get the "I just want to finish" mindset. Stopping and starting while running is hard! Even though the Princess Halfs are both my slowest times (2:30ish and 2:45ish) they were also my most painful afterwards. I have total respect for anyone that walks a half marathon, being on your feet that long is much more painful than running the race.

Amy @ A Glimpse of the Gouglers said...

LOVE it all! Love all the pictures you took, love how much fun you have and LOVE that we were actually able to meet!!! I agree, lines were the theme of the weekend! It was totally worth it though. I'm glad you had fun, it really is the best race to just enjoy yourself. Oh and yes about running too slow. I ran with my girlfriend for the whole race last year about 2 minutes per mile slower than my average pace and it hurt WAY worse. You're not along in thinking that :)

Dara said...

I read someone's post from the marathon who stopped for every picture and still finished faster than I did my half. ugh. I stopped for like 4 pictures total, never standing in line for any, and it took me 3 hours to finish. I think you need to be fast overall to be able to enjoy photo stops. I'd be swept if I did all of them!

Erin said...

AHHH! So so soooo amazing! Looks like an absolute blast and I love all your fun costumes you ran in!! I am such a Disney nerd and MUST run this marathon at some point in my lifetime :)

smk053078 said...

Oh my goodness! How much fun was this? You girls looked adorable and so glad that you took it all in with LOTS of pictures. I think if you went for just the "running" part you would have kicked yourself. This is one for the books!

Run DMT said...

Great recap and great tips! I honestly don't see the point in paying all that money for a Disney race and NOT stopping for photos. Why even run it then? The characters are what make the whole experience. Of course, the race course and all all the stations are great too, but it's the magic of Disney that makes the race!

It's such a nice change to take a break from all the PR's to just run a race for fun. Good for you for having fun with it! I love the photos! Your costumes were fabulous!

Beka said...

YAY for the fun races!!! I can't imagine being out there for over 3 hours though. I'd have been cranky by the time I finished haha. Are you hurting more now than on races you push for speed?

You know how I feel about going slower. I feel bad for my boyfriend who used to stick it out with me at snail paces when I first started running. He must have been hurting terribly !

Courtney @ Journey of a Dreamer said...

Ah- It looks like such a fun time! I'm so jealous!

The Unlikely Runner said...

It looks like you guys had tons of fun! I love all the pictures you took. But I completely understand where you are coming from when you say it's harder to walk and start and stop and go someone else's pace, that is so hard on your body! It's nice to have those experiences, it makes you appreciate where you are in your running shape but it's still very hard!

B.o.B. said...

Love the pics! Your costume was awesome. Fab idea on the sleeves Snow White! Slower paces change your form and thus totally hurt. Totally understandable. Way to still get a good run in AND have fun.

Matt Marcella said...

Great race recap! I was shocked to see your picture of the Genie, I didn't expect to ever see the Mile 20 surprise again at any other races! Great advice for the character stops for pictures.

Jennifer K. said...

You all look adorable! Love the self pic on the course. That isn't easy to do! When I do a Disney race, the time is a non-issue. The last two Tinks I ran with a friend who insisted on stopping with every single character. It was a blast, but we really had to haul it to clear the first cut. Glad you had a good time!

Stacey Merrill said...

what a crowd! This looks like a blast - love the villains pic :)

Lauren said...

This looks like an amazing race, maybe next year ;-) I love those sparkly skirts everyone has must get one!!!!

Jen said...

So fun! You're pictures are great! Ahh, Disney really is the happiest place on earth. Glad you got to "run" one for real and then go back to take pictures and enjoy the "show"

Erin @ Girl Gone Veggie said...

What an amazing race!! I can't wait to do this one year!

Laura @ Mommy run fast said...

Wow! So many awesome pictures- looks like you had such a great time! My very first half was just for fun, and if I did a Disney race, I would do the same.

Allie said...

Great recap! I have never ran a race for fun, I'm so competitive that I'm not sure if I could do it! But then again I don't live near Disney and have fun races where people stop to take pictures :) Your costume was adorable!

Jessica B. said...

I have never done a Run Disney event. They look like loads of fun. I adore all your pictures-so cute!

Danielle said...

I really enjoyed your recap, and awesome job on finishing! I participated in the Princess Half for the second time this year, and I feel your pain with the crowds. I am so jealous of all your character pictures! I couldn't justify waiting in all those lines, (as I was in corral G and all the lines were huge) but maybe next year! If you would like, check out my recap that I posted on my blog today at http://cravingcognition.com/its-hard-to-pee-in-a-tutu-disney-princess-half-marathon-recap-2013/ Thanks! :)

Kelly said...

Ahhhh! SUCH a fun recap, Meghan!! LOVED reading about this. I would think that it would be both a NICE mental break... and then kind of a frustrating mental block "having" to stop for photos. But I love photos SO much that I'd be so giddy for most of them. WHAT fabulous photos!!

Did you mention where you got your top? Or did you make it? The sleeves are fantastic! And your Rapunzel friend-- did she RUN with the long braid behind her??

Fun fun fun!!

Heather said...

This was my first runDisney race and my first Half Marathon and I loved it! I dressed up as Minnie Mouse but I got so many great ideas for another costume down the line. I think this was the perfect race to start out on for me. I need things that are fun and runDisney definitely is. I loved that you carried an apple with you. I wish I would've taken more photos but maybe next year.

Jennifer L. Nelson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennifer said...

Congratulations! It's so funny -- our recaps read almost exactly the same! It was my first half, but I, too, had decided to stop for as many pictures as possible and just have fun. Even though I started in A, I also ended up amongst the last corrals, and had to get creative in the second half of the race when it came to being able to weave around the slower runners and walkers. I finished well over an hour later than I should have, but I wouldn't have done this race any other way -- you can sign up for any half and run for time, but if you're going to runDisney, I feel like you should have fun and enjoy the course! Your pictures are awesome! :-D