The Princess Half Marathon aka Mer’s first half marathon!
The night before the half, I basically didn’t sleep. I tossed and turned and generally tried to rest my mind and body as much as possible because I knew we’d be waking up at 2:45. Except I “woke up” (can it be called that if not technically asleep?) at 2:30 and we arose soon after. Threw on the race attire, Glided (and of course, I missed some key areas – which I learned later on), and bundled up in our throw-away clothes.
The bus stop was directly outside our hotel so we made our way there a little after 3am.
We were the only ones at the bus stop for a couple of minutes which was a little disconcerting but another girl wandered up soon after and she and Vic realized that they were from the same area so they chatted for a bit.
Then the buses started going past us. They were completely full and the time was ticking away. The stop filled up with more and more Princesses waiting for their chariot and there we stood. I’d say about five buses went past us.
Scary, right? We tossed around the idea of just driving there (Brooke had her car) but we decided to wait it out and finally, close to 4am, we got on a bus.
Me on the bus – don’t I look calm, cool and collected? I wasn’t, for the record. But I was happy to be on the bus.
There was a LOT of race traffic and that was ALSO disconcerting because they had said we should be in the corrals by 5am. Disconcerting was definitely the watchword.
We stopped to go to port-a-potties outside of the heavily populated area and then made our way to bag check.
Since we were sticking together, we checked one bag and then got into the line to get to the start. At this point, I’m pretty sure that it was after 5am.
The line to the start. Yeah. Yeah. That’s a lot of Princesses (and a few Princes too!). Honestly, I feel like things could have been different over here. The people around us assured us we were in the right place and that we were headed to the start but it felt very cattle-like. We were moving at a snail’s pace and there was really no telling exactly what was going on.
I tried really hard to be zen-like during this walk. Apparently a 20 minute walk took about 40 minutes. But really, what was I going to do about it? Freaking out wouldn’t change the mass of people in front of me and they were in the very same boat that I was. So I did the best I could to just take everything in, give myself pep talks, and know that soon enough I’d be wearing a beautiful medal around my neck.
We got to the corrals at 5:43 (I remember making note!) and joined corral C. Vic and Brooke were both seeded in A but jumped back to C so that they could stay with me throughout the race. The start for corral A happened as soon as we got into our corral so it was perfect timing, even if it didn’t necessarily FEEL perfect at the time.
At nearly 6am, the fairy Godmother gave corral C a lovely benediction and then we were off!
Fun fact – men aren’t allowed in corrals A and B so we got many of them in corral C!
Just after we past the start line there was a high school band to our left, playing us into the race with the Rocky theme, which was pretty kick ass.
And right after we started running, the three of us realized we ALL had to pee. Awesome, right? I mean, we basically stopped at the first line of portapotties we saw (my aversion to them had to cease to exist this weekend – blah!), which was only a mile and a half into the race. And, of course, the line was about ten minutes. Great, right?
Oh well! As Annie says, “When you gotta go, you gotta go!”
After that, we jumped back into the fray. The course was pretty packed, from start to finish. It felt like there was a bit more room at the beginning (of all places!) because the road was wider. Along the route we saw a pirate ship, hot air balloon and other fun stuff. I took pictures from the road and continued on because I was trying to pay attention to not falling or running into someone else.
And soon enough, around mile 4, we saw…
The Magic Kingdom ticket booths. Running through there was pretty cool! Around that time, right after we passed the booth was when we saw Rachel Booth on her way to winning the race. You know, nearly 20,000 participants and there’s the one that is going to pull into the finish line first. And? She won the Tinkerbell 1/2 in Disneyland in January. Just really cool stuff. Yeah, I totally teared up seeing her.
My first of many tears, by the way.
Right around the entrance to the monorail, we saw the villains. At least, I think it was near there. Things are a bit hazy.
I have to say the the first six-seven miles were pretty amazing. Just when I started to drag a little (around mile five) we turned into the Magic Kingdom and I saw THIS.
And then there was pep in my step once more!
Running through the Magic Kingdom was definitely the highlight of this race. It was… incredible. Really, no other word to describe the feeling that came along with it. As we approached the castle, we saw a (long) line to meet Cinderella and Prince Charming.
Now, my kiddo had asked earlier in the week if I’d gotten permission from Cinderella to run through her castle. I saw my opportunity to “ask.” So we jumped on the line, I ate a Gu and we got permission.
We made our way through the Magic Kingdom, stopping to take a picture with Jessie and Woody too. The entire race, we were looking for things that our kids would get a kick out of. I took pictures with mile markers 2 and 7 in honor of my kid’s ages. It was just a lot of fun and easy breezy.
Until we reached mile 8. Mile 8 through 11 were pretty… dull. I mean, they have things along the route here and there but it’s sort of sparse and a lot of it (since you’re running back up the other side of the highway) is the same as on the way there. I think since I hit such a high in the Magic Kingdom, it was just a little meh.
And then around mile 10 is when my IT bands started to really hurt. I was disappointed because I was doing a lot more fast walking than running, even though I WANTED to run. And every time I started running, they were complaining loudly.
That’s where the pain tears came in. 🙁
And that’s where Victoria and Brooke gave me the pep talks and the hugs that I needed. My arm kept hitting my shirt (the part I forgot to Glide) and I was getting a pretty wicked chafing burn.
Wah wah wah.
I think that’s the point where I started talking about 5ks and my love of 5ks and who really needs half marathons anyway? And Victoria pointed out the we only had 3.1 miles to go and that WAS a 5k. Logical girl, she is. She also suggested I put my music on for a bit, which I did, and it helped get me through about a mile.
And then? We were at EPCOT. And right before we entered EPCOT there was a woman on one of those scooter things holding a sign that said, “I’m cheering for you, too, complete stranger!”
It meant the world.
I pushed the knee pain aside, as much as I could, to finish the race. And even smiled while doing it.
Because I knew who was waiting for me right near the end. Not a Disney character. No, no.
A gospel choir!
They started singing Joyful, Joyful right after I went by and was I ever!
Because .1 later, I finished my first half marathon.
ALLLLL THE EMOTIONS.
Then we got our beautiful, beautiful medals. And Victoria medal’d me, which I’m pretty sure means something significant in some cultures.
The medical tent was wisely placed right after the medal area so we swung by there and got my IT bands the ice that they deserved. Really, I’m sure that was their medal for a job well done.
At the end of the race, they gave out boxes with crackers, hummus, chocolate, and edamame. We headed back to the hotel and showered. I was pretty frozen as my body tried to regulate what had just happened to it.
But hey, I DID A HALF MARATHON. And? Despite my claims that 5ks are the only races for me during the half marathon…
I’m doing another one on my birthday, April 1st.
I can and I will!