When I decided to run the Princess Half Marathon at Disney World, I chose it for two reasons: one being the wonderful things that I’d heard about the race, and two I GET TO VISIT MY FRIEND! One of my best friends from college works for Disney, so I’ve been meaning to visit her for years.
Our day flying down to Orlando started out bright and early. I didn’t really sleep the night before, so I’d hoped to get some shut eye on the 7am flight. I think that I dozed a bit, but apparently there are lots of kids on direct flights to Orlando and they are way too energetic that early in the morning.
After landing in Orlando, we made our way to meet up with Kathleen and Mellissa for lunch and picking up a few things at the Sports Authority before going to the Expo.
There were some characters at the expo.
That is a man. And it’s a bit difficult to see, but he is wearing skinny jeans, high heels, a pink leopard print shrug, and Hellraiser hair. We followed him into the expo and had fun with all of the attention. The footmen at the carriage outside even asked “Why doesn’t Cinderella let us do our hair like that?” CRAZINESS!
After the expo, we checked into our Port Orleans Resort.
MICKEY OUT OF TOWELS!
Our first park we hit up was Epcot. While Mellissa and Kathleen were enjoying the beer of Germany,
Matt and I were enjoying the 7 Dwarfs, like Dopey
And Sleepy (didn’t have to act that much)
We walked over to the ESPN Wide World of Sports to watch Purdue beat #13 Michigan (YAY!) and then came back for our fast pass on Test Track.
We parted ways so that I could set everything out for the race and get to bed at a reasonable time. Alas, I have not gone to sleep before 11pm since I was 12 years old and being exhausted made no difference.
Sunday morning, I woke up and, ya know, ran 13.1 miles. After the race, I made my friends ask me “Anne, you just ran a half marathon, what are you going to do next?” I screamed “I’M GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!”
After a brief amount of stretching, a shower, and some beignets, we made our way to the Animal Kingdom.
The last time that I was in Animal Kingdom was 2000, and there was only a few attractions. Of course, we still had to go on the Safari again. Here are a few of the fun pictures from that.
We also took a picture with King Louie and Baloo (prompting a rendition of “Bare Necessities” while waiting in line).
King Louie tried to come over and congratulate me on my medal. Although we were all confused what he was gesturing at and thought that he was groping me. Okay, not really. We figured it out, and he gave me a round of applause. I wonder how frustrating it must be to be in one of those costumes and not be able to speak.
We also rode the highlights of Animal Kingdom including the Dinosaur ride, Bug’s life, and Expedition Everest.
Clearly Matt was excited about the roller coaster! (Kathleen has a pretty good face, too).
Funny story: as we were leaving the park, we were approached by a Disney researcher to take a survey on dining. Mellissa initially agreed, but couldn’t partake, since she works there. So we took it instead. While we were back in the computer alcove, there was a family also participating. The 8 year old son kept bothering his dad “DAD! ARE YOU FINISHED!?! GO FASTER!?! I’M READ TO GOOOOO!!!!”. The dad finally told his kid to “Shut up!”, to which the kid responded “You fu*king shut up!” We snapped our heads around and the kid was dragged away by his mom!! TROUBLE!
Anyway, after the park, we returned to our hotel to take a nap (all of us had been up since ‘o’ dark hundred hours). Then we went out to dinner. My left ankle stiffened up while I was sleeping, and getting up and down stairs started to hurt a bit more, but I managed. Next door to the restaurant, was a Menchi’s. After hearing all about it in the blog world, I knew that I had to try a bit.
Chocolate, vanilla, and cake batter with reese’s pieces, nonpareils, and mini pb cups. DELICIOUS! Maybe it’s good that this doesn’t exist in Boston.
Monday, after a very nice sleep, we made our way to Hollywood Studios (formerly known as MGM Studios). I don’t have too many pictures, but we rode the Aerosmith Rockin’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror (did you know that it’s different now? It doesn’t just drop twice, but there are 900 different combinations of ups and downs!?!), Muppets, The Great Movie Ride, and the newest attraction MIDWAY MANIA! If you go, get a fast-pass for it right away. It’s a new ride based on Toy Story where you get to shoot things and play against your car partner! SO MUCH FUN! Our only picture from Hollywood Studios is of Matt and a Mickey cookie. Mellissa knows the way to his heart.
We then hopped on the monorail to get over to the Magic Kingdom.
Oh yeah, so I wore my medal all over the parks on Sunday and Monday. Heck yeah I was showing that thing off!! Plus it helped explain why I might have had a hitch in my step. Truthfully though, I was walking fine on Monday. Just felt a bit sore, as if I’d worked my legs out hard.
We got to ride the renovated Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain (which went way faster than I remembered), Splash Mountain (apparently a full car of 8 adults makes a lot of splash, we were soaked!), and probably some others that I can’t remember. We also rode a Buzz Lightyear ride that was the poor man’s Midway Mania (it was the prototype).
I have a really strange look on my face, because I was trying to figure out why I was winning by so much. Immediately when the ride started, my laser jumped up to 300000 points. It was perplexing.
Kathleen bought a Jessie hat.
See how wet we were?
On Tuesday, we had all day to kill. Kathleen left that morning, and we had to meet up with Mellissa to return her toll transponder. So we decided to spend a bit more time in Epcot.
I recreated a picture from my last time at Epcot (senior year of high school) with my Physics II loving friend, Mandy.
Matt enjoyed seeing the sharks at “The Seas” with Nemo, as well as Shrubbery Eeyore.
And I finally got to drink at Disney World! We decided to practice for our upcoming trip to Paris by sampling local cuisine.
I stuck with Champagne, and Matt tried a chocolate Crepe (and Coke, that’s French, right?).
After spending all day in Epcot, we rushed over to the airport to fly home. We were so lucky over the four days. The weather was amazing (60 and overcast on race day and finally 80 and sunny two days later). The parks didn’t seem incredibly crowded. The longest that we waited for a ride (due in part to fast-passes) was about 30 minutes. Mellissa was an amazing tour guide. She knew which rides to rush over to fast passes and made us incredibly efficient. It was a great four day vacation, including that half marathon. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who wanted to try for a half and also loves Disney! YAY!
I’m officially a half-marathoner!
There’s much more to discuss about the past 4 days, but I’ll stick with the morning of Sunday, February 26. We stayed at the Port Orleans Riverside, so I just had to catch a bus from our resort to the starting line. My alarm was set at (gulp) 2:57 am. I had laid out everything that I needed the night before, so I just had to get up, get dressed, and eat. I purchased a little runner’s breakfast kit from the resort:
Bagel, peanut butter, banana, granola bar, and water.
Then I put on my racing outfit!!
Yes, it was 3am, if you can’t tell by my face. I wore my black capris, pink tech tee (I’m addicted to v-necks!). My inner princess was represented by my pink and blue sparkly Bic Bands (I lost the pink one in the first half mile! Guess I should have used bobby pins). I decided to go understated and not wear my white tutu (from my 9th grade ballet costume, which you can see in the background), but I wore a black skirt that had some sequins on it. I believe that this skirt is from my 6th grade tap and jazz costume. Hooray for stretchy waistbands (and “free” costumes)!!
Anyway, I left my hotel room at 3:15 thinking “I have to run a half marathon in 2.5 hours. What am I going to do for 2.5 hours?” Well I took the bus, peed in a port-a-potty, ate my banana, drank some water, peed again, and before I knew it, it was time to head to our corrals (Matt asked if I was a horse, NAY!). I was also laughing at all of the southerners who were bundled up and complaining about the cold. Yes, it was a chilly 50 degrees, but I wore the outfit seen above and felt great! I mean, I was running 22 degree weather two weeks prior.
TIME TO START YET!?!?
Finally it was time for the race to start. There was a bit of a delay (10 minutes) due to some logistics with road closures. My friends had issues later with trying to get into the park, and I’m wondering if that 10 minutes pushed everything else down the line 10 minutes late as well.
The first send off of Corral A was accompanied with by a blessing of the Fairy Godmother and fireworks. I didn’t know that this would happen, so I wasn’t prepared with the camera, but luckily, they had fireworks for everybody!!
Matt, the wonderful husband that he is, got up when I did and made it to the start line in plenty of time to see me off! The fireworks from his perspective:
Finally, around 6:10am, it was Corral D’s turn. Sallagadoula, Minchigaboula, 3-2-1, GO!
When we started, I was on the right-hand side of the road, since I had only seen spectators on that side prior to the start line. But after we took off, I quickly realized that Matt was on the other side of the road. As politely as I could, I made a bee-line to the left side of the road. Of course there was still a median and 3 lanes of traffic between us. Plus it was, ya know, DARK, so I couldn’t find him. He attempted to take pictures. They turned out like this:
I knew he was there though, so it made me happy.
I was doing well for the first two miles, even though the first one definitely was a wake-up call to my legs. Halfway through the third mile, I started to get a side-stitch, so I went off to the side to walk a bit. I also used it as a chance to take a picture of the first of many attractions:
(Note that is not me)
I then ran under the Magic Kingdom Auto Entrance:
And kept on going through the 5K check point. I took another walking break. At this point, these two ladies walked up beside me. They saw my iPhone in my hand and asked if they could borrow it to send a message to a friend of theirs. I said sure, but after attempting to type in the number, I couldn’t figure out how to send a text message to someone not in my contacts. I don’t use my iPhone for texting regularly (since it’s my work phone), so I felt like an idiot. I decided to just let them use the phone part and call someone. As one woman was calling, I asked her friend where they were from. They were calling a 540 area code, which sounded so familiar. When they replied that they were from Virginia, I was like “I WENT TO VIRGINIA TECH!” They were from Roanoke (45 minutes from Blacksburg). No wonder the area code was familiar! DUH! I was glad that I had helped them. They were worried that they were slowing me down, but we were speed walking through all of this. It was a nice break. As soon as they were finished though, I took off.
We ran through some back lots and finally entered the Magic Kingdom around mile 5. Matt had done research using the tools from Disney to figure out where he could see me based on my pace, and was also following my progress through text messages at each 5K marker. I was apparently too fast for him to see me around the 4 mile mark, but as I turned up Main Street USA, there he was!
I was so excited! I ran over and gave him a hug! Apparently, he had just gotten there a minute or two earlier! He was so surprised that I found him!
I then continued up and ran towards the Castle.
And turned right towards TomorrowLand.
We then curved back around to run actually through the castle. A fellow runner and I took each other’s picture on the backside of the castle.
On the front side, there were photographers set up to take really quick pics in front of the castle. I figured that it was a fast enough moving line to stand in, so I’ll have to see how it turned out when they release the photos next week. There were characters along the entire route and many people stop to take pictures. The lines were pretty long, and I did want to finish with a decent time, so I opted out.
After running through FrontierLand, we left the Magic Kingdom. Just outside was my favorite princess, Aurora, along with Fauna, Merriweather, and that palace guard that gets drunk and falls asleep in his guitar.
At the waterstop, just outside of the Magic Kingdom, I saw a face that was very familiar and finally just blurted out “HEALTHY ASHLEY!” She was the only blogger that I saw the entire time.
Outside of the Magic Kingdom, we hit the halfway mark. The speakers were blaring “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson. I wondered if the volunteers stationed there were sick of the song that was on a constant loop for hours.
At this point it was 5.5 miles until we would reach Epcot, and it was definitely boring. Plus parts of the course really narrowed, and I had to run on the grass just to pass people. I just cranked up the tunes, and attempted to run as much as possible. I did finally find a character line that was short enough to justify a picture:
It’s Meeko from Pocahontas! YAY RACOONS!
When we hit the 10 mile mark, I shouted “ONLY A 5K LEFT!”, although the people around me didn’t really respond. In mile 11, there was a long ramp back up to Epcot Center Drive. I ran for 2/3 of it, and then walked the last bit. At one point, I was jogging next to a speed walker who was walking at the same pace that I was running. It was a bit humbling.
Also in Mile 11 was a bridge that required an incline up and decline down. As I was walking up the hill, a woman walking next to me asked “Why do they put so many hills in the final miles!?!” I agreed. Although at least “What goes up, must come down!”
Right around the Mile 12 marker, we were just outside of Epcot, and I spotted Matt one more time! He said that he kept really busy riding the monorail up and down with the other husbands! (Side note: the 5K text message that was sent out to everyone reported the runner’s 5K time since the start of the entire race, not when the runner started. Matt was really confused at my 55 minute 5K. Apparently all of the other “husbands” on the monorail got the same incorrect text, and there was a large discussion while riding. Matt didn’t so much discuss as eavesdrop.) Anyway, MILE 12!
I love how my stride matches perfectly with the woman next to me! Seriously, twins!
Mile 13 was by far the hardest. My legs were just done. D-U-N. DONE! We kept zig-zagging through Epcot being cheered on by the Disney workers who kept saying “Less than a mile to go!” Stop telling me that! I just want to be finished! I turned on my closer song, “You Can’t Stop the Beat”, and listened to it twice to pump myself up.
Finally I turned the corner and saw the finish line. Of course this is where Matt and my friends, Kathleen and Mellissa, had camped out. Lovely picture of me:
They said that every single person who came around that corner had the same tunnel vision look on their face. Right after this picture was taken (and I had heard them scream my name), I looked over and jumped for joy. Unfortunately, that was not captured on film.
But I crossed over the finish line and got my medal!
Anne and Matt
Kathleen (half-marathoner as of May 2011), Anne, and Mellissa (soon to be half marathoner, coming this fall!)
It was exciting and painful all at the same time. The first half of it (which is full of adrenaline and sights and a freaking CASTLE!) felt amazing. I really think that the 6-7 mile distance is totally attainable for me. The last half was sheer will and Determination! (I was in Corral D, after all.)
Official Time: 2:40:48. Finished in top 40.9%.
I really wanted to hit 2:37, but whatever, I finished! And I ran much more than I thought I would. In fact, I got faster as it went along. My last mile was actually my fastest of the entire day.
It was wonderful having all of the support along the route. Every time I passed a 5K marker, I thought of Matt receiving a text message and felt motivated to continue to push. I loved hearing Mellissa and Kathleen screaming at the end. And then all of the facebook love I got after I finished! YAY!!
My next race is a 15K in three weeks. Then we’ll see about another half. I’d love to improve my time, but I feel like I was spoiled by running Disney first. YAY!!
For those curious about my recovery, I feel great two days later. We spent the rest of the day on Sunday walking around Animal Kingdom, which probably helped me feel better. I had a blister on one foot, that I sort of noticed during the race, but it didn’t hurt until I returned to my room. After a nap that afternoon, I felt way more stiff. My hamstrings were really tight. My left ankle was extremely sore (probably from subconsciously running strangely to avoid the blister). And my left tricep was oddly sore. I think it was from holding my earphone cord for much of the race. I felt mostly better on Monday. And seriously felt normal on Tuesday. HOORAY!