Thursday, March 3, 2011

[15] Disney Princess Half

Race: Disney Princess Half-Marathon
Date: Sunday, February 27, 2011
Location: Epcot & Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida (Hotel: Port Orleans Riverside Resort)
Weather: 60s-80s & Sunny

Distance: Half-Marathon (13.1 Miles/21.5K)
Bib #: 13189
Corral: E (Start: 6:15AM)
Division: Female 30-34 (1275/2116)
Princess: Jasmine
Fashion: Gasparilla Dri-FIT T-shirt, matching Nike Tempo Shorts, 1000 Mile Socks, & Nike+ Vomero 5s

  • Chip: 2:52:09 *New Personal Record!
  • Nike+:  2:43:37 (1382 Cal; 12'23" Average Pace) 
  • Clock: 3:20:20
  • Splits
    • 5K: 38'42"
    • 10K: 1:20:17
    • 15K: 2:05:00
Running Buddies: Kathryn & Meghan
ChEARleaders: Mom & Susie

[Race Packet Pickup]

The Fit for a Princess Expo was held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, and was much smaller than I had anticipated, given there were 14,000 half-marathon participants alone. Mom & I dropped by the hotel and dropped off our stuff, and snagged my cousin, Kathryn, and headed over to the event site. We made it over to ESPN WWoS around 230ish. Managed to meet up with my beautiful, baby sister outside the doors, and then after ten years of LJ, FB, and countless G-mail chats, I finally saw my gal pal, Meghan, for the first time since college! At that moment, I realized how much running had impacted my life.

This would be Mom's second time cheering me on at a half, and my sister's first chance to see how crazy her older sister really is. The first time I ran one with my cousin Kathryn, who until I grew up and moved back to the US, I had very little contact with. The first time Meghan would run a half with me and one of her close girl friends. Paired with running the day before with Allyson and her mom, and having Rusty there to cheer us on, I found the whole thing overwhelming. I am truly blessed to have such an amazing, loving support network. On top of that, I would be hitting the park for the first time since 2003 with Rusty & Allyson as well as Toby and Christy!

Disappointingly, most of the "free stuff" was long gone by the time we got there on Saturday afternoon. Also, the Official Merchandise tent was picked clean, leaving selection of products in my size with a little bit to be desired. Lesson learned, I'll spend a race weekend in one location, get to the expo early, shop til I drop and spend the rest of the time by the pool. Thankfully, I was able to find a cute zip jacket, burn out long sleeved t-shirt, and I invested in my first running skirt (which will inevitably be used primarily for tennis). I could have elected to "pre-order my finisher shirt", but like Kathryn said, "You don't want to jinx yourself and wind up paying money for a shirt that says 'DNF' (Did Not Finish)".

Packet pick up itself was quite easy, especially with the waiver printed out and signed. It saved me tons of time and thankfully, the line wasn't nearly as long as it was for the NWM back in October. The spring green mesh goody bag and freebie tech shirt were both very cute, and the volunteers were Disney-standard friendly. While I passed over the D-Tag check, Mom & Susie registered for text updates of my split times, and then headed over to pick up their ChEAR Gear. Seeing the swank folding chair bags they received, I joked to Kathryn that "we signed up for the wrong part of the race." After Mom's upsetting time in SF with the cheering bus, she played her cards smart and found herself in the VIP area just short of the finish line.

Aside from the official merchandise, I didn't pick else anything up. After returning to the hotel, it was a little bit of relaxation time, before dinner, and then after, it was time to prepare for a 2:45AM wake up call and getting this little Princess to the corral.

[Race Day]
Up at 2:45AM... This was much earlier than when I ran San Francisco, but the stipulation that the corrals were closing at 5AM made it a rather necessary evil. Laying everything I needed out the night before has become part of my race day ritual. The planner in me wants to go to bed knowing that everything is as ready as can be, and if not, it won't make much of a difference anyway. I dressed in a sleepy fog, another reason why I prepared everything the previous night. To make sure we weren't dashing to the start line, Kathryn and I moseyed out around 3:30AM to catch the bus from the hotel to the staging area. Only on a race weekend would the streets of Disney be packed with traffic as such an ungodly hour. The bus driver helped wake us up with some 80s dance and rock music.

We pulled up into the Epcot parking lot, and Spaceship Earth was still lit up from the night before. It was a bit chilly, but I opted to leave my long sleeved, Gasparilla Nike Miler shirt at the hotel. It was rather balmy, but I knew I should enjoy it before the sun rose. Leave it to Disney to have a Red Carpet leading into the event staging area. Without bags to check, we advanced to the preliminary waiting area. Oh the costumes... I was so jealous that I hadn't had the time or energy to put one together because there were so many wonderful designs. I will have to start planning now, so I can be ready for next February! The corrals were about a fifteen minute walk away from the event staging area (which also serves as the finish line).

Kathryn, her friends, myself, and Meghan & her friend were all in different corrals meaning we'd end up with different start and finish times. I gave Kath a hug before trotting into Corral E. Despite the pop Radio Disney music, I chose to listen to my iPod with the exception of "The Cha Cha Slide" and "The National Anthem" (of course). Having seen Lady Gaga at The Garden a few days prior, I was channeling my inner Little Monster, and preparing to tear up the Floridian asphalt in the Happiest Place on Earth. At the start line there was Cinderella's Fairy Godmother to wish us well and send us off with fireworks! As Corral E pulled away, we were serenaded by a high school brass band playing "The Rocky Theme". It's amazing what a drum line can do for you at a quarter after six in the morning, especially when tutus and fairy wings are bouncing past you.

There was something to enjoy and behold every half-mile or so! Disney characters, cheering fans, and photo opportunities lined the race way. Just as I was hitting Mile 2, the first place Princesses (wheel chair division and runner) tore past us. Although they started 45 minutes before our corral, we all stopped and cheered for them as zipped by effortlessly. The lady next to me said, "I'll never be that fast." I smiled at her and said, "We don't have to be. We just need to finish." That isn't to say that we didn't sigh a collective 'Daaaaaaaamn' as the leaders of the pack started trickling past us on the opposite side of the road, but it was just amazing to run with such elite athletes.

I pulled out my headphones as I closed in on the Pirates of the Caribbean ship, beached on the side of the road. Though the movie soundtrack was loaded somewhere in my iPod, it was nice to take a break from the headphones for a little bit. I didn't have to patience to wait in line for the pirates photo op, so hopefully I can track Jack and his lot down next month while I am chaperoning the senior trip. I plowed past the ridiculous line for the Disney Heroes as well, not wanting to waste too much time.

Closing in on mile 5, I could see the tops of Cinderella's Castle & Space Mountain. Though Mom & Sis were tracking my times, I texted a picture of the castle. Also, the sun was quickly rising, so the temperature was warming up quickly. The shortest part of the race was the actual run through the Magic Kingdom. You enter through the back lot area, cutting into Main Street USA. Running up Main, you see ChEARleaders and Cinderella's castle, before taking a hard right into Tomorrow Land. Following the loop back into Fantasy Land, one runs through the Castle (and waits in the looooong line for a photo in front of the castle) before heading toward Frontier Land and out the backside of the park.

Yes, one spends just over a mile in the actual park and spends the rest of the time getting there and back, but what really motivated me once inside (beside the photo ops) were all the employees who were at work early just to cheer everyone one. I high-fived people I didn't know, but every last encouraging word hit me right in the heart. For an novice endurance racer, the power of words really has impact. It reminded me of San Francisco-- just the sounds of cheering and cowbells as the faces blurred past me. Some of the road spaces are narrow as they are single lanes, half-of which are coned off for local traffic.
I stopped for Pocahontas & Meeko because Miss P is the only Princess who actually runs!
Though there were plenty of water and medical aid stations, I was disappointed to see only one fueling stations. I was happy that I had a couple of LaraBars tucked away in my fuel belt, and thankful that they were passing out Clif Shot Gels at the one refueling station they did have. I usually prefer ShotBloks on longer runs, but the Mocha (with caffeine) was rather tasty. I still have the strawberry one left over, so I'll save it for my next run in DC.

On my way back to Epcot, the Disney Heroes were still hanging around. Their station was conveniently around the mile 2 & 10 check points, on opposite sides of the road. This time the line was much shorter, so I hopped into the queue and snagged a pic with Eric (The Little Mermaid), Aladdin, Flynn (Tangled), Tarzan, and John Smith (Pocahontas) before setting out on the final 5K. Getting over the highway overpass leading into the Epcot parking lot was hard because you could see how close (and still how far) away the finish line was. My legs felt rubbery by the time I crossed into Epcot proper, but I couldn't give up, not after already clearing 12.5 miles! Just like in SF, turning the corner and seeing the finish line, my second wind finally decided to show up. Now, most people were looking for the professional photographers and the next set of characters for their photo op, personally, I was scouring the crowd for the two people who'd spent the last three hours waiting for me to show up.

What's a Princess to do? Five Heroes!?!
When I saw Mom and Susie waving from the ChEARing section, I was glad I had my Oakleys pulled down because I started tearing up a bit. They have been two of the most supportive people in my quest to get in shape, and having them at the finish line meant so much to me. I was happier to see them waving at me than to stop for a photo with Mickey and the gang. Crossing the line, I got my medal, water, and even a bit of Bibbidy Bobbidy Boo Glittering before wandering over to the Finishers' Photo Area. The post-run spread was a little disappointing food-wise, but as I scarfed a Mint Chocolate Chip LunaBar, I decided that I would get a pizza once I got into the park with my friends later.

The end result was thirteen minutes faster than SF (including 1 quick pit stop and photos). Pausing my Nike+ while running gave me a count of actual time spent running (sans waiting) which was 22 minutes shorter than SF!! Even with the 5K the day before, I ran much faster than the first time around. Going to the park afterward with my friends also made recovery a bit easier because I didn't just park it on the couch when I got back to the hotel. I started feeling the familiar pain of a shin splint on my right leg while waiting in the meet up area which had me worries, but a cold shower and some stretching helped nip that in the bud.

Oh and that post-race pizza... I devoured it like a starved refugee and it was the best tasting thing on the planet!

[Race Weekend Dining]
Pre-Race Carbing Up: see Boston Market on previous post
Pre-Race Healthy Dinner: Pasta with Chicken (Spinach, Olives, Eggplant, Shallots, Goat Cheese, and Sun-dried Tomatoes with Orecchiette Pasta)
  • Boatwrights's Dining Hall (@Port Orleans Riverside)
Post-Race Victory Brunch: Mini-Cheese Pizza
  • The Pinnochio Village Haus (Fantasy Land)


  1. It was SOOOOO amazing to get to see you! I can't wait until you come back next month :)

  2. If you need another cheEARleader, let me know. <3

  3. @Megs! I am so glad that you got bit by the running bug! <3 Can't wait to see you in April!

    @Kimi, my mom actually found out about the chEARing squad when I sent her my race information. She & Susie had these cute folding cooler chairs, VIP seating right in front of the finish line, hot & cold beverage bar, and proper toilet access! My cousin, Kath, and I joked that we signed up for the wrong part of the race! It was awesome to see them in the crowd! I can always use more chearleaders! ;)