The 2014 runDisney Princess Half Marathon was my third Princess weekend. It's may favorite race weekend of the year! This race was going to be different for me--it would be the first that I ran with a group of friends. Typically, I prefer to run along--to take in the sights and sounds with no distractions. This year I was going to be different. Our plan was to stay together, take lots of pictures, and have as much fun as possible!
Race morning started like every other runDisney race-early! I woke up at 3:30 am, just in time to be at the Contemporary monorail stop by 4 am. I tell you, the monorail is fastest, most fun, most Disney way to get to the race start. The view of the staging area from the monorail really gets me pumped and ready to run! I met up with my group of friends just in time to walk to the corrals. It was a very long walk to the corrals. You can feel the excitement, the anticipation building.
This year runDisney tried out a new corral system. There used to be five to six corrals, corresponding with letter A-E or A-F. This year, there were many more, but smaller corrals. I don't know the exact number of corrals this year, but I was in "I" and started somewhere right in the middle of the pack. In amazing runDisney style, each corral got their own special send off from the Fairy God Mother, a "ready, set, go" and fireworks!
It was a warm, humid morning. The 90% humidity level could be felt even before the race started. I could see other runner struggling early. This was going to be a tough year. For the first
two miles, it was just Jackie and I. Heather started several corrals ahead of us. The plan was for her to get in the first character line and we would catch up to her there. Jackie and I could see a character stop ahead--but who was it? It was the Princes--Aladdin, Flynn Ryder, Eric and Hercules. Jackie and I found Heather and the long wait in line started.
The sun was rising as we run under that Magic Kingdom parking entrance sign. I always love this part of the race--its the half way point to the Magic Kingdom! It was my turn to sprint to the next character stop. Next up were the villains--Evil Queen, Cruella Devil and the Queen of Heart! This is a picture I have always wanted but never would wait in the long line for. The girls caught up to me, but we still had a long wait. Right before it was our turn, the Queen of Hearts left. Bummer, but it was still an awesome picture.
Right around the corner was the Ticket and Transportation Center. This is a really fun area to run through because there are always lots of spectators there cheering on the runners. After ticket and transportation, we got a glimpse of the Contemporary Resort. With the thick, heavy fog we could barley see the top of the resort. Then it was under the water bridge. Next up--the main event. Next up was the Magic Kingdom!
Runners entered the Magic Kingdom from a back stage area, right between Tony's and the Confectionery. The best part of every runDisney event is the second you turn the corner and you see it for the first time--the castle! It's the most magical part of every runDisney event if you ask me. Running up Main Street USA is one of the most fun parts of the event. There are hundreds of spectators cheering you on--we are talking parade level number of spectators--all cheering, clapping, holding fun signs. Disney knows how important getting that perfect castle picture is, so there is always lots of friendly cast members and volunteers there to take your picture.
Magic Kingdom is full of character stops! We got pictures with Buzz Lightyear and the White Rabbit. As we got to the castle, there was Minnie and Mickey dressed in their royal wear. The line for Minnie and Mickey were the longest we had seen all day, so sadly we skipped that picture stop. The disappointment faded fast though, as it was time to run through the castle! Well, it was more like walk through the castle....everyone stops for pictures, everyone slows down--to really soak up the experience, take it all in. We stopped for some castle shots, and then it was on through Frontierland. We stopped for a quick bathroom break and to get a picture with Woody.
We exited Magic Kingdom through a back stage area. Princess Aurora was there with her three good fairies and her prince, but we knew we had to keep going to keep time. This is always the toughest part of a Disney race for me. The race was only half way done, but the best parts were behind us. It would be a long five miles back to Epcot. To ease the let down, runDisney lets runners vote on a mile seven song. This year the song was "Let it Go" from Frozen of course. Over the next two miles we got some more fun pictures--Lilo and Stitch, the Genie, and the Disney golf cart. By then the runners around us were starting to panic. We keep hearing rumors that the sweepers were right behind us. No big deal--it just meant no more character stops.
With the sweepers on our tale, we got moving. By this time, we were close to mile 10. It was time for the toughest part of the race--the mile 10 overpass. To me, the incline is not the tough part--the tough part to me is that the road way is banked. Having one foot constantly several inches about the other really hurts my knees. Along the road were the "green army men" from Toy Story giving drill sergeant like orders to the runners. At the top of the overpass we could see the Epcot ball! By this time in the race, I was struggling. It was SO hot! I had an awful blister. And I was hungry! But, knowing there was only about two miles to go kept me going.
Finally it was time to enter Epcot. By this time, we had put a nice distance between us and the sweepers. We could enjoy the last mile of the race. Right before mile thirteen was an amazingly awesome gospel choir. They gave me the inspiration and energy to run the rest of the race hard! After one more turn, we could
see it--the finish line! I ran hard and finished strong! It was time to get my THREE hard earned medals. First, I got my Princess Half medal. Next up, I got my Glass Slipper Challenge medal. Last I got my Coast to Coast medal. After that, it was time to get to my traditional friends breakfast at the Akkershaus. It was time for some good food and more pictures with Princesses!
The runDisney Princess Half Marathon will always hold a very special place in my heart. It was my first half marathon. I worked so hard to training for it, and I was so proud of myself for actually doing it. I hope this race is one I keep doing year after year. Maybe one day I can do the race with my daughter.
A dream is a wish...