To say my first runDisney event was amazing would be an understatement. The amount of support that complete strangers show you in indescribable and totally made me tear up several times along the course. But back to that in a few!
I’ve never actually been a “runner”. I wanted to be one in college because apparently it was the cool thing to do. Actually getting out there and running was torture however, so my running career was short lived and I vowed that I would never run again. As I became more familiar with Disney and began visiting quite frequently, I noticed different runDisney attire and I thought it was fabulous. I reminded myself that I was definitely not a runner and it would probably be wrong to wear the shirt and not actually run the race. The more I saw of these events on various Facebook pages, the more I wanted to know about them. I started digging into this world that I had no idea even existed until this point. It appeared to be the most bizarre thing. People would run different distances in these crazy costumes and they all looked like they were having the time of their lives. I wanted in. I told my husband, who was a cross country runner in high school that I was going to sign up for a half marathon. He laughed in my face. Seriously. That just meant that I had to do this now. I registered for the Princess Half Marathon in July. I had until February to become a runner. This was doable I told myself. I printed out the Galloway training program and started my journey. I wish that Galloway would factor in having two children under the age of two when he comes up with these training plans. In the long run I was glad that I pushed a double jogging stroller on the rocks and dirt while training. I think it helped my endurance tremendously. I made it through the fall and did a few 5ks and a 10k. Going into the Christmas holidays, I was beginning to get a little behind on my training and February snuck up on me. My longest run before the half was eight miles. I was super nervous about not have ever actually running the 13.1 miles, but it all worked out fine. Maybe it’s the adrenaline or maybe it’s just the magic of Disney.
We arrived “home” AKA Disney World on Wednesday before the half so that I could go to the expo on the first day. The expo was huge and full of wonderful stuff. The only downfall was that they don’t allow strollers in there. I didn’t know that going into it. I got my necessities and headed out since I had to carry a one year old and keep up with a two year old. Mental note for next time. For the next three days we walked around all of the parks and enjoyed ourselves. This is definitely one thing that I would change. Instead of having our vacation before the race, I would change it to after the race. I was already tired from all of the walking and staying up late and I could feel it on race morning. I woke up at 2:30am to be sure that I had plenty of time to get dressed, eat something, and head to catch the bus. I got several funny looks on the bus while I was eating my Cheez-Its and drinking my Dr. Pepper. Not your typical race day food, but it works for me. I also splurged on the Race Retreat after reading several mixed reviews. I’m glad I did. It was a nice place to sit and stay warm for the hour and a half wait that I had. I also met two awesome ladies from Indiana that were very encouraging and this was also their first half marathon. There was a meet and greet with some of the Beauty and the Beast characters and there was also a ton of food to eat. In my opinion, Race Retreat is worth the money.
It was time to start heading to our corrals. Since I had submitted a decent 10k time, I wound up in corral I. the walk to the corrals was about a mile long, but it didn’t seem that far since I was admiring all of the costumes along the way. My corral didn’t cross the start line until around 5:30am. Of course they do the starting line Disney style. For every corral release, they set off fireworks and make a big deal out of it. The first three miles were the worst for me. I didn’t think I would ever see mile marker 1. But after I got past the first three, it seemed like the last 10 were easy. Reading all of the spectators signs is quite entertaining. I was nervous about stopping for pictures with characters because I didn’t want to get swept, but I had plenty of time. I really wish that I would have stopped for more. It’s a hard concept if you are a competitive person but at Disney it’s really not about the time it takes to finish, but more about the experience. If and when I do another runDisney event, I will stop and smell the roses a little more. There were approximately 25,000 runners in half marathon and I can honestly say that I only heard one person complaining about the “slow” people. I was just so impressed with how nice everyone is and how complete strangers cheer you on along the course. I finished in a little under 3 hours, received my medal, grabbed a snack at Race Retreat, then headed back to the resort to meet up with my husband and babies. It went by so fast it almost seemed surreal. Even looking back at the pictures now, it almost seems like a dream.
I’m so glad that I pushed myself to run the Princess Half Marathon and I know if I can find the time and determination to do it, anyone can!