Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Disney's Princess Half Marathon Race Report - 02/26/2012


Where do I even begin?  I feel like I’ve been preparing for this weekend for months and months and months (oh wait, I have) and then it came and went in a flash…. and without a happy ending, unfortunately.

Let’s start at the beginning.  My husband Anton and I left home bright and early Friday morning to make the hour and a half drive over to Orlando for the Fit for a Princess race expo.  We met up with Sara outside Disney’s Wide World of Sports and headed inside to pick up our packets.  Our friend Gabbie joined us there as well.  None of our bib numbers were close to each other so we all had to wait in separate lines to pick up our packets.  Of course, my line moved the slowest and it felt like I’d NEVER reach the front.  But eventually I did.

my bib on left, Anton's bib on right

The actual expo was HUGE – there were so many vendors there.

the view from the second floor
(thanks to Sara for the pic)

Many of them I've heard of while being a part of the online running community, so it was cool to check out their products in person.  I bought a SPIbelt, a SparkleSkirt, and Anton bought Zensah compression calf sleeves.  We spun a wheel and won some rice (LOL) and picked up several other free samples of stuff throughout the expo.

rice, Luna bars, and bandaids

The one thing I went into the Expo wanting was an “I Did It” shirt like this one. 

credit: RunDisney Facebook page

Part of me didn’t want to buy it before I actually completed the half marathon because I didn’t want to jinx myself, but Sara said having it already might give me extra motivation to finish on Sunday.  But they didn’t have it in my size.  I didn’t want to buy a shirt that wouldn’t even fit me, so I didn’t buy one.  I have to say that I’m a big believer in karma so a small part of me took this to mean I wouldn’t actually complete the race on Sunday.  More to come on that later.

We listened to Olympian runner Jeff Galloway’s presentation and picked up a few tips from him for preparation pre-race and on the day of the race.  It was cool to see him in person and the guy really knows his stuff when it comes to training/running!

Anton and I headed out soon after that and went to check into our hotel.  We stayed at the Pop Century resort on Disney property.  After we checked in, we ate some lunch (yay Disney dining plan!) and then went to our room to unpack and take a nap.  We had dinner reservations for 7:30 at Yachtsman Steakhouse at the Yacht Club resort which wound up being a pain in the ass to get to.  I wanted to take Disney transportation (bus) to dinner, so we took a bus from our hotel to Epcot and wanted to jump on a bus from Epcot to Yacht Club.  Little did I know, there’s an “international gateway” exit outside the back of Epcot back where the countries are and that was the ONLY place we could get a ride over to Yacht Club.  Luckily we have Disney passes so we went into Epcot and traipsed all the way to the back of the park – we were in jeans and fancy shoes, as we were not exactly planning on walking through a theme park.  We wound up having to wait for a BOAT to take us over to Yacht club, not even a bus.  It just wound up being a huge hassle.  Luckily, the food at the Steakhouse was delicious as was the bottle of wine we both shared. :)

Race day was Sunday – Anton and I got up at 1:30am.  Yes, 1:30am.  We had plans to meet Sara at her hotel since it was a host hotel, so we could take the event transportation over to the race and not have to deal with traffic driving ourselves.  It takes me a long time to get ready/dressed/prepared for a race, even if I have everything laid out already.  So we wound up leaving our hotel around 2:30 and meeting Sara just before 3 at All Star Sports.  Gabbie joined us shortly and we hopped on the bus.

outside the hotel at 3am

on the bus heading to the race

Once we got to the Epcot parking lot, the bus dropped us off and we had about a 10 minute walk to get to the staging area.

doesn't anyone check grammar/punctuation anymore?
(thanks to Sara for the pic)

We stopped at concessions first for a quick snack, checked our bag, and used the port-a-potties several times.  Then we just kinda stood around for a few minutes soaking up the atmosphere.

Anton and me at staging area
(thanks to Sara for the pic)

Then we headed over to our Corral.  We all started in Corral H, the last corral.

(thanks to Sara for the pic)

Then it was time to just sit in our corral and wait and wait.  My race day anxiety got the best of me and had my stomach in knots so I made a couple more trips to the bathroom.  I knew I would be fine once we got to the start line, but it was the waiting that made me so anxious.  Anyone know of a good OTC medication to help calm those nerves??

They let Corrals go one at a time, letting one go every 6 minutes.  Each wave had its own blessing by the Fairy Godmother and its own mini fireworks show.  It was pretty awesome!  I liked that the last corral (basically the slowest runners) got treated the same exact way as the elite runners in the first corral.  Props to Disney on that one.

Finally just before 6:30am it was our turn!

ready to get moving!
(thanks to Sara for the pic)

the fairy godmother doing her thing
(thanks to Sara for the pic)

(thanks to Sara for the pic)

And we were on our way!  We planned on doing 30 second run, 1 minute walk intervals the entire time and for the most part, we kept up with it and maintained the minimum required pace.  The first 2-3 miles went pretty easy and I was feeling confident that we would make it and be able to finish.  The confidence stayed when an employee/volunteer told us just before mile 4 that we were one minute ahead of the required pace.  Woo hoo!

We passed this amazing spectator with a sign that made us all smile!

(thanks to Sara for the pic)

And then a little after mile 4, we saw Sara’s mom who took some pictures of us and cheered us on!

(thanks to Sara's mom for the pic)

Soon after we saw her mom, we were near the transportation and ticket center, which meant there were ACTUAL bathrooms and not just port-a-potties.  Since we were told we were about 1 minute ahead of pace, we thought we’d have time to take advantage of short bathroom lines (we used the men’s room) while we could.

When we came out of the bathroom, Anton said that he saw the balloon ladies pass by.  For those unknowing, there are ladies carrying balloons that indicate the slowest pace allowed on the course.  If they pass us, then we have a certain amount of warning time to try to catch up to them.  So when we got out of the bathroom and Anton said that, we started panicking and picked up the pace a little.  Unfortunately, we were just unable to get fast enough to catch up to her and were informed we’d be picked up at mile 5.  

If we had just another 20-30 seconds, I’m SURE we would have been able to catch up, but luck wasn’t on our side.  I felt defeated and disappointed.  I was mostly sad because we didn't even get to make it into Magic Kingdom to run down Main Street and through Cinderella’s castle.  That is apparently the BEST and most exhilarating part of the race.  I wouldn’t have minded as much if we could’ve just made it to that point, but we were about half a mile short of getting there.  We got stopped JUST outside Magic Kingdom.

(thanks to Sara for the pic)

They blocked the road so we couldn’t even get past them if we wanted to, and then the “parade bus” pulled up and we were shuffled on to the bus o’ defeat with about 30 other people. 

A sympathetic cast member was waiting for us on the bus, offered words of encouragement and wrote down our names and bib numbers.  He asked if anyone needed medical attention, provided water and PowerAde to those who wanted it, and gave us instructions about what to expect when we got off the bus.  He told us we would all be getting medals, but I had already decided I wasn't going to wear mine.  Although I did the best I could for those 5 miles, I did not earn that medal.  I didn’t finish the race.  People who finished the race got medals and I didn’t feel it was fair for me to wear it and pretend I finished when I didn’t even make it half way.

sad face :(
(thanks to Sara for the pic)

close up of the medal (pic from RunDisney Facebook)

I didn’t finish this year, but that’s not going to stop me from training and pushing myself and working towards finishing it another year.  I am not yet sure if I will be fast enough to finish it next year – I would need to take about 4 minutes off my current average mile time to do that.  I’m definitely not paying that expensive registration fee again unless I am SURE I will be able to cross that finish line.

Regardless of how the race turned out, the experience was a lot of fun and I had a really great time with Sara, Gabbie, and Anton.  I don’t regret trying; I just wish the outcome was different.

After all, you have to at least start in order to finish.