Monday, April 22, 2013

Disney Princess Half Marathon Race Report

I've been TERRIBLE at blogging, but I do think blogging helps me to stay accountable, so I'd like to get back to it.  I figure one way to get myself into gear is to recap the races I've done since I stopped blogging, starting with the Disney Princess Half Marathon back in February.

As you may know, I had been dealing with foot/ankle pain for about a month by race weekend, so my training had been spotty at best.  I hadn't had a good run in ages, and I hadn't been great about doing long runs at all.  So, I was a little bit nervous.  Luckily, our plan all along was to treat this race as a training run for the Tobacco Road Half Marathon, so at least I didn't have to worry about time.  Also, we wanted to enjoy our limited time at Disney and go to parks, which I knew would probably interfere with my ability to run my best on Sunday.

So, Marissa and I drove down to Orlando on Friday after work, arriving around 1:00am.  We were staying with Kimmy and her parents, who were running the Royal Family 5K on Saturday morning, so we basically crawled into bed the minute we got there.  We woke up Saturday morning and got ready so that we could go to the parks with them when we got back.  Saturday we spent most of the day in the Magic Kingdom and then took the bus over the expo.  We actually already had our packets, but wanted to see the expo.  I bought a 13.1 charm to put on a necklace and Marissa and Kimmy bought bondibands!
At this point, I believed my foot pain was maybe due to my shoes, so I decided to look at some shoes at the expo.  The Brooks people told me they thought I needed size 8 instead of 7.5 and had me try on a newer model of the Adrenalines.  They felt pretty good, so I bought them and decided I would do what "no runner should EVER do"... wear new shoes on race day.

Anyway, after spending all the money on the planet, we headed over to the Animal Kingdom, because I REALLY wanted to do the safari.  Unfortunately, we just missed it closing by about 5 minutes.  It turned out okay, because we had a really great pre-race dinner (lo mein!) in Animal Kingdom before heading to bed.

The race started at 5:30am, so our alarms went off around 3:45.  Yikes.  With the terrible traffic, even leaving around 4:15am, we just barely made it to our corral in time for the start.  They had fireworks go off for every corral, which was pretty cool.  Also, this was the first race I ran that legitimiately started in the dark.
slightly creepy photo of me pre-race
three princesses, ready for 13.1!

I think the first mile had two bands and a DJ, which was pretty fun.  After that, every mile or so there were some characters or set up where you could stop and take your picture.  Unfortunately, the lines got pretty long, so Marissa and I opted to skip most of the photo ops.  However, I was loosely dressed up as Belle from Beauty and the Beast, so when I saw the Candlestick and no line, I decided to take advantage.
be our guest!
It was still dark several miles into the race for us, which was a weird experience.  The first 4 miles went by pretty quickly, and I felt okay.  It was extremely humid and probably almost 80 degrees when the race started, so I was definitely sweating a TON, but I didn't have any pain, which was great.  For the first 5 miles, our pace was in the 10:30-11:00 range, which was just fine with us considering the heat.
In case you aren't familiar with the course, the race starts in the Epcot parking lot and goes down the highway towards Magic Kingdom.  On the way there are characters or music about once per mile (or it seemed to be at about that frequency).  Then you get to run around Magic Kingdom - which is pretty cool - you even get to run through the Castle and down the main drag, and there are lots of spectators there
not sure why i look so awkward.
...but then, after you exit the park, you literally just run down the other side of the highway back towards Epcot.  Suffice to say, this is rather boring.  You run past the same characters that were there on your way out, except there are fewer of them because not all of them could redo their sets on the other side of the highway.  Also, it was getting warmer (sunshine), but we managed to keep most of our splits right around 11:00 minute pace.
There is very little entertainment on the way back.  Not that I think all races should entertain me nonstop, but I guess that's what I was expecting from Disney.  So, I was kind of disappointed about that... although we DID find Mrs. Incredible right around mile 11.
It was good timing to see her, because it was right around mile 11 that my feet started aching.  Not from the shoes .... but because I had walked for approximately 10 hours around the parks the day before.  Oops.  Like I said, not ideal race conditions.  Anyway, at the end, you enter into Epcot and run around the front of it before finishing out in the parking lot.  Again, running IN Epcot was nice, and there were spectators there cheering you on.  I just wish we had been in the park for longer or there had been more things in the 2nd half of the race rather than the first half.

Marissa and I stayed together until around mile 12 when we were in Epcot.  My feet were killing me and my training hadn't been great, so I was really struggling, while she was feeling great... so she took off!  This ended up being quite good for me, because I was determined to finish WITH HER, and chased her through the last 1.2 miles until I finally caught up to her!  Mile 13 clocked in at 9:37 and the last 0.2ish (my Garmin said I ran closer to 13.2) was 8:33 pace!  We crossed the finish line together, for the first time since our 10k back in 2010!
M makes me really run it out.
Official Finish Time: 2:27:06
My shoes didn't hurt (although my feet were tired from so much walking and running!).  We took post race photos and then waited for Kimmy and then took more photos.

Kimmy's parents got us roses!
So, overall, I'd say that the race was a good experience and I'm glad we did it, but I probably wouldn't run a Disney race again.  I'm not a big enough Disney fan to want to stop and take photos with characters - I'm generally more concerned with my time! Plus, Disney races tend to draw a lot of first-time runners and the courses are a bit crowded, so it would definitely be a difficult place to PR.  On top of all that, the races are pretty expensive - which is probably worth it if you REALLY love Disney, but otherwise, more of a once-in-a-lifetime thing.

Anyway, after the race we went back to our place to shower and get ready for another full day at the parks! Obviously, I convinced the girls that we needed to wear our race shirts and mdeals to match.  Not only to each other, but to approximately 7,000 other race finishers, hah.  We saw Epcot and the Magic Kingdom again

We definitely spent a full day in the park.  In Epcot's Japan, I got a pearl out of an oyster and made a necklace out of it - which went perfectly with my 13.1 charm!  It's my new favorite piece of jewelry!  We also had the most epic sushi lunch ever in Japan... delicious!  When we got home we got some margaritas and relaxed in the hot tub - our attempt at giving our very sore feet a nice break.  Monday morning we woke up relatively early and drove back to NC.  Overall, it was a fantastic weekend and I'm so grateful to Kimmy's parents for allowing us to stay at their place and show us around Disney all weekend!

1 comment:

  1. This seems fun! It is def on my bucket list to do! Can't wait to hear your recap of the Cherry Blossom race! (and future Nike Women's race this weekend!) Good luck!