I had originally intended on taking the week of my half marathon off from writing but here I am two weeks later. It may be two weeks but, I did it, again! I ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon. It is really great race full of girl power although a couple thousand men run it also. Disney is always a good place to start when you want to enter the running world because of it’s usually relaxed atmosphere. After all what is better than running a half marathon with 20,000+ people. Yes, it is a lot of people but it’s all good.
Princess Half Marathon Weekend starts on a Thursday with the start of the expo and goes until Sunday ending with the Happily Ever After party after the Half Marathon. My journey to Princess began on Friday morning after I got my kid’s off to school. I left our freezing temps of not even 10 degrees and I drove to Florida. Normally I would say warm and sunny Florida but it was in the 50’s. Still that was warmer than what I was coming from. I made great time and went directly to ESPN Wide World of Sports to Packet Pick up. The packet pick up process is easy even if you forget your waiver. Disney has computers set up so you can print it out onsite. From there you find your bib number and go to that booth. They go over everything with you and send you across the hall to me main expo to pick up your gear check bag and t-shirt.
I was excited to get to the expo a day earlier, I had hopes of picking up some runDisney items that are typically sold out by Saturday but unfortunately all of the eBay scalpers had swiped the things up. I guess I can still look on eBay but then you are paying double or more than the original price. I wandered around the rest of the expo looking for things that I need, I mean want. I even tried on an Sparkle athletic skirt but big butts do not lie. Running skirts are not made for everyone and although you wear shorts under a sparkle skirt I’d rather not have someone staring at my booty for 13.1 miles because my skirt was too short. Despite the sales girl saying it looked cute, I knew otherwise and saw what would of been my issue repeatedly on Sunday during the half. So I left kind of disappointed but had decided I would come back the next day. So off to my non- Disney hotel I went.
The next morning I gathered up my stuff and left to head back to the Expo and meet up with someone from Team RWB Fort Bragg. On the way I learned a very important travel tip. Always call your bank and let them know you will be traveling out of state. Otherwise they may freeze your card because they think the purchases are fraudulent. I learned that while trying to get gas and my card was declined when there was no reason for it to decline. After fixing that problem and filling up my tank, back to the expo I went. This time they had Minnie, Aurora and Cinderella’s horsemen out for pictures so I went ahead and hopped in line for pictures. After spending some more time at the expo we left and headed to Downtown Disney until I could check into my Disney resort. The expo just didn’t seem to grab my attention this year like it did in 2014.
This year I stayed at Disney’s Pop Century resort. It is one of their value resorts but it is a really cute resort with a ton of things to offer. It is decorated very kitchy. Disney style kitchy. It has a great running path and it is just fun to explore. There is also a food court and souvenir shop. The food court did have a few gluten free options too. My only downside was the room I was in. I was right next to their main pool, the hippy dippy pool where the DJ hangs out, they play night time movies etc. It didn’t matter that I had the do not disturb sign on my door. Going to bed early was not the easiest thing to do and neither was taking an after half marathon nap.
Alarms were set and off to bed I went. As expected that 2:30am wake up came sooner than expected. I got myself up and going, no caffeine needed. Had my breakfast and off to the buses I went. Once entering the pre race area, I wandered a bit and had my picture taken with Cinderella. I still hadn’t decided how I was going to run. Was I just going to run or was I going to enjoy the race and stop for pictures? After a trip to the port-a-potties I met up with some people from my corral which made the wait until the half started go by in no time at all. I was in corral J again this year. I have no clue how or why since I had hoped I had moved up one corral. I know others with my half times were in corral I. It was, what it was though. J is in ok corral, it is right in the middle so it gives you plenty of cushion if you do decide to stop for pictures. The balloon ladies are still quite a ways back. The down side is J can be crowded. Within minutes after corral J started I knew how I would be running. I dropped my prescription sunglasses and had to retrieve them. At that moment I decided to let it go and enjoy my half. This year I didn’t go out of my way to weave around people. I stopped at some of the shorter lines for pictures too. Those long lines for the heroes and the villains still scared me. I even stopped and went to the side to take pictures instead of trying to run and take pics at the same time. Yes, it made a difference in my official race time. My overall time was 1 minute slower than my time from last year but from the 2 times I did remember to pause my Garmin my time was much faster and on par with my typical pace.
The overall run takes you from Epcot to the Magic Kingdom and back to Epcot. You put on a lot of typically boring highway miles but Disney has that covered. Even the overpass you go up and over really isn’t that bad. Just watch for that soldier who will make you do push ups. They have something for you from a DJ to a character all along the route. Then there is the course nutrition and medical which is the best i’ve seen in any race i’ve ever done. The miles in the Magic Kingdom are typically among my fastest. Main street and seeing the castle is always magical. Plus, hello, you are running down Main Street USA! The castle this year was perfect with Elsa, Anna and Christophe. My favorite part is at the end, right before the finish. The high five from Minnie and Mickey right before you cross the finish line.
Once you cross the finish line you are given your medals, a mylar blanket if you wanted one, your mesh bags (these were the same as 2014’s), a powerade and water, you are sprinkled with pixie dust and you make your way to finisher photos. It was after photos you were given your food box and you could go through gear check and back to the pre-race area. In this area they now have the massage tent set up which is now one of my favorite things. After long runs I have issues with my calves cramping. I always ice bath and my husband will roll out my legs. I was by myself and really didn’t feel like rolling myself out. Since I learned last year it was cash only I remembered to zip some cash away in my shorts pocket. It was the best $10 I spent all weekend. Afterwards I walked around a bit. I checked the runDisney tent with optimism that maybe they had some new stuff but they didn’t. Then waited in a couple lines for more princess pictures before heading back to Pop Century.
After getting cleaned up I decided to head to Downtown Disney for the Happily Ever After party. The only deal I took part in was saving a little bit on my Starbucks Shaken Black Tea. There just weren’t the freebies or great deals that were there in the past. Even at Fit2Run’s booth. My free gift was a coupon for $5 off a purchase of $20 or more. In my opinion if I hadn’t needed to walk around the Happily Ever After Party could have easily been skipped.
Overall, I enjoy this race but I think this year was my last Disney Princess Half Marathon and not because I brought the flu home as a souvenir . It just didn’t feel the same as it had the year before. There was absolutely no wow factor for me this year. I’m not quitting runDisney races though. I have my eyes on the Disney World Marathon. Yes, the marathon. I think i’ve gone past being half crazy to being full crazy.
***Country Girl Gourmet was NOT compensated for this recap.***