Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Disney Princess Half Marathon Update

For those of you who follow my blog, you probably know that I spent the last few days at Disney World. One of my goals for this year was to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon! I am thrilled to say that I accomplished my goal -- I ran the entire 13.1 miles and am here to tell you about it.

Here's how it all started:

A few months ago, I got it in my head that I wanted to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon. I already knew that fellow book bloggers Dawn and Sandy were planning on running it, and they convinced me that it would be a blast! So I asked my sister Karlie and if she wanted to take a long girls' weekend to Orlando. I proposed that she could run the Royal Family 5K and I could run the half. Since Karlie wasn't a runner at all and I had never run a half marathon, we thought it would be a great challenge for both of us. Plus, we both love all things Disney and a Disney vacation at the end of February did have some appeal!!!

A few months into my training I decided that if I'm doing Disney, I should "do" Disney so I signed up to run the 5K with my sister on Saturday followed by the half on Sunday. I admit I was a tad bit worried about running that much two days in a row, but I figured the adrenaline would get me through both races. I assured myself I would take it easy on Friday and Saturday at the parks and everything would be just fine.

What I didn't take entirely into account is the crazy person I am at Disney. I LOVE Disney and can't just do Disney half-way. Some (like my family) might say I'm a nut when it comes to squeezing out every experience at Disney. After these past few days, I think I have to agree with them!

Karlie and I arrived to Orlando after lunch on Friday and headed straight to Coronado Springs, our hotel and coincidentally where the Expo was taking place (we didn't know that when we selected the hotel a few months ago.) Everything just fell into place and we were able to check in our room and head straight over to the Expo where we needed to register for the races, pick up our race tees, and do some shopping. Then we headed to Magic Kingdom for a light dinner and fireworks and back to our hotel for an early evening.

The races at Disney all take place super early in the morning because they want the runners out before the parks open. That means we set our alarms for 4:30 in the morning hoping to catch the 5:00 bus to Epcot. Neither one of us could sleep so our alarm never went off. We kept waking up every hour -- it was one of the worst nights of sleep I've ever had!

We arrived at Epcot to find thousands of people partying! There was a DJ and tons of dancing. I couldn't believe the amount of people. (Little did I realize that tomorrow's race would be three times the size of this one!) Here's a picture of Karlie and me wearing our homemade Minnie Mouse costumes with "Sole Sisters" printed on the back.

Sole Sisters!
The Royal Family 5K was so much fun! We were lucky enough to be in the second corral so we ended way ahead of most of the runners. We passed the finish line to find that that Mickey Mouse didn't have a long line for photos -- so lucky! I was so proud of my sister. She hates running but did a fantastic job; and she actually got faster in our third mile.

Celebrating with King Mickey

Karlie and me with our medals!
I thought I'd take it easy on Saturday after the 5K but that's not what happened. We rushed back to our hotel for a quick shower and headed over to Disney Hollywood Studios. We arrived by 9:45 but it felt like early afternoon to us since we had been up for so long! We had a great time doing most of the attractions with the highlights being the Tower of Terror and the Rock "N" Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith. We were lucky enough to meet up with Dawn and her gorgeous family for dinner at Mama Melrose's and ended the evening with Fantasmic!

When we got back to the hotel, I realized just how tired I was and panic started setting in. I was so nervous that I had major issues sleeping for the second night in a row. Since the half is a longer race, it begins even earlier, so I got up at 2:50 (technically the middle of the night if you ask me) and headed over to Epcot. Fortunately, I was about ten minutes before the big rush and made it over in just a few minutes, but I heard from others (including Sandy) that it was a nightmare getting there if you left after 3:15.

I can't even begin to tell you how many people were there. It was crazy! There were over 26,000 runners and I felt very overwhelmed. If I'm being entirely honest, I was tired and grumpy and definitely just wanted to get it over with. Added to that, I couldn't meet up with Sandy and Dawn and her daughter because I wasn't able to find the area they were in. I had a late start time which just made things worse because I had to sit around for over two and half hours waiting!

Right before we had to head to our corrals, Dawn and her daughter found me! Thank goodness!!! It felt like I was one of the few runners there alone so seeing two friendly faces helped me to relax and remember that this race was supposed to be fun. We walked to our corrals (Dawn and her daughter were one after me -- seven minutes later) and it took forever! It must have been a mile to just line up to the corral and then we still had to walk back to the starting line.

But it was all worth it!

And we're off!
I was warned by many friends that I should just enjoy this run and not worry about my time, and I have to say that was great advice. There were just too many runners (and walkers) to really be able to run like I had hoped. I admit there were times when I was extremely frustrated because I was almost walking and I couldn't pass the other runners. And when I heard my first 5K split, I wanted to cry, but eventually it opened up... a little; and I felt less claustrophobic. The heat and humidity weren't helping either -- I was used to training in 30 degree weather and it was closer to 80. Of course, there were lots of characters and entertainment along the way but I didn't stop to pose for any photos. But the highlight for me (and probably 26,000 other runners) was running through Magic Kingdom, namely Cinderella's castle and Main Street!

I finished up and met up with Karlie! She was waiting near the last quarter mile cheering me on, but sadly I didn't see her -- I guess I was in the zone by then! Then I found Sandy and finally got the chance to meet her. Of course, I'm mortified that she had to meet me when I smelled the worse I've ever smelled -- truly I was disgusting. And then we found Dawn's daughter and eventually Dawn. I was so proud of all these women for completing the race, but I was especially inspired by Dawn who made it through it despite numerous injuries. I swear I don't know how she did it!!!

Sandy, me, and Dawn post race!
I stayed at the race socializing for a bit before catching a bus back to my hotel for a shower. All I wanted was a hot shower and ironically the hotel shower was freezing. Well maybe not freezing, but not warm either. I guess the cool water revitalized me, though, because I headed right back to Epcot and arrived by noon. My sister and I love Epcot and did some attractions (like Soar!) before meeting back up with Dawn and her daughter. We decided that we wanted a photo with Minnie... and our medals:

Dawn was kind of enough to treat me to a celebratory post race margarita and it was one of the best drinks I've ever had! Dawn decided to head back to her condo for a rest while Karlie and I hit the World Showcase side of Epcot! We slowly visited each country and sampled some yummy food. It was a great way to spend the day although we did head back to our hotel early and were asleep by 9:30.

Maybe it's because we're moms and early risers (although it was probably the excitement of being at Disney World), Karlie and I woke up at 6:00 the next morning and headed to Magic Kingdom for the 9:00 opening. We arrived around 8:30 to make sure we could see the opening presentation! I just love that countdown!!!! We headed straight to Space Mountain to catch that ride early and then spent the rest of the morning in the Fantasyland. I loved the new Circus area and Ariel's new ride, but I still hold a soft spot for the rides I remember from my childhood.

We planned on heading back to our hotel mid-day for a rest, but that never happened. We were there to open and close the park! We experienced almost everything Magic Kingdom had to offer including a few parades, the fireworks (again!) and the highlight of our day -- dinner at the brand new Be Our Guest restaurant. Belle is my very favorite princess and I couldn't wait to see the castle! It was beautiful and a very special dining experience. We even met the Beast:

Me, Beast and Karlie in the library
I arrived back to Harrisburg yesterday morning to find my incredibly supportive husband waiting for me at the airport with 13 pink roses. Then I came home to find a balloon bouquet, a clean house, and finished laundry. He truly is the best and I'm very lucky to have him!

Overall, I had the most amazing time at Disney World with my sister... even though I'm still feeling some guilt for leaving the rest of the family at home!!! There's always next time....


bermudaonion said...

Wow, it sounds like a fabulous weekend! From BEA, I know how you can keep going with very little sleep so I'm not surprised you didn't take breaks. I'm so proud of you, Sandy and Dawn - y'all rock!!!

Beth Hoffman said...

What a fun post to read. I'm in awe that you were able to do this, let alone with so little sleep! The pics are great!!!

Meghan said...

That sounds like an overwhelming but incredibly fun weekend! Well done to you for achieving your goal and I'm glad you had such a great time even if you slept so little.

Kelly-Belly said...

What a great adventure. Thank you for sharing. : )


rhapsodyinbooks said...

What a fun post! And I'm so impressed you participated!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

I'm tired just reading about your back-to-back 5K and Half!!

Such fun to get to spend some time with you and your sister :)

Carol said...

Sounds like a fabulous time! And I love the photos.

Ali said...

What a great weekend! I'm amazed at your energy. I think if I ran a half I'd have to sleep the rest of the day away.

Beth F said...

What an awesome, awesome trip and you are so lucky to have such a great sister and husband.

TWINS RUN in our family said...

Great recap!

Booksnyc said...

Congratulations on the run and on making the most of the weekend! I did the Disney 1/2 almost 10 years ago but don't think I had all the energy you did afterwards!

ChaosIsAFriendOfMine said...

OMG - I'm exhausted just reading your post! I've thought about doing a run at Disney - I had no idea they started so early though. That may be a deterrent for me, I'm sooooo not a morning person. Sounds like you had a blast - congrats on completing the half!