Confession: I’ve had this post in my drafts for weeks and literally realized today that it has been over a month since I did this race. I don’t know if it’s because I’m 29 now [basically ancient] or what but it feels like days go by way too fast.
So as promised, even if it’s a little late, here’s the good, bad + sore take on the Disney Princess Half Marathon from a non-runner.
The after. I thought I would start by sharing, especially for all you non-runners out there, that I did indeed make it through and was mobile following the 13.1 mile run. Also, here are my ride or die ladies who I could not have done it without, even though I didn’t technically run with them and they had to wait a really long time for me [along with my dad], for reasons out of my control, but I’ll get to that later. Oh and in case you couldn’t tell, we’re related.
Before I get to the actual run, I will let y’all in on a couple Disney rules we live by. Side note, I’ve been to Disney World at least 12-15 times. No I am not a crazy person, I just used to go to/work at this summer camp in Savannah that would allow their oldest group of campers the opportunity to raise money all summer to take a trip with the counselors to Disney. IT WAS EVERYTHING. Honestly, some of my favorite childhood memories were at that camp and Disney. I won’t go into all that, but if anyone is interested in learning more about that or a general Disney go-to guide, holla atcha girl.
Okay, I will try to be faster at writing this, I can tell it’s already gonna be a long one. We stayed on property at the All Star Movies Resort, which is something I highly recommend. The All-Star Resorts are the cheapest [I think] of the Disney properties but I would recommend staying on property in general. With the transportation buses to each of the parks, it is a no-brainer. You can literally park your car and not go back to it until it’s time to leave. #TheDream
Alright, the waiting game. It was finally race day and I woke up at a cool 2:30AM. Yes, you read that correctly. Our hotel had a bus shuttle that was taking us to the race site but it left at 3AM sharp, so my alarm clock went off crazy early. Once you get there, you have to walk a decent way to the spot where everyone is waiting, there is food, music, swag merchandise tents and first aid in case you need it.
Then the announcer peeps say alright everyone, let’s start walking to the corrals, they are just a cool 0.5 miles away. So we walked a half mile, a good little warm up to the mammoth of a run I’ve got ahead of me. There are DJs along the half mile stretch, so that was fun and the adrenaline is pumping so it’s really not that bad.
However, be reedy to wait if you’re not a fast runner like myself. The race started at 5:30am but since there were so many people [over 20K ran the race] I didn’t technically start running until 6:40am [BUCKETS]. That’s what I meant by my fam having to wait so long for me, they started at least 45 minutes before I did. So I just made friends with some sweet ladies in my corral and we made our way to the front of our line. Which is KEY in a race where there are so many people like this one. That way you can just get out of the crowd as soon as possible.
This particular race takes you from Epcot to Magic Kingdom and back to Epcot. To be honest, I don’t even know where we were in relation to the park when we started, I think on the highway behind. But for the first 5 miles or so you’re just on the highway, which for me was great. My adrenaline was pumping hard so I used the time to get up a couple corrals. I was honestly shocked at my time for the first couple miles, the fastest I’ve ever done.
Once we got to Magic Kingdom it got a little crowded, as you can see in the photo. That is literally how many people I was surrounded by the entire time. But inside the park, the paths to run are so much skinnier than the highway so there were spots where I couldn’t run even if I wanted to. I won’t lie, I was thankful for those mini breaks, I definitely still power walked around people but I think it helped.
There are also character photo opportunities throughout the race which is super fun! I didn’t stop but there were definitely a ton of people making the most of the photo ops! This is part of the reason they say don’t ever expect to run your PR at a Disney race, due to the crowds and how interactive they like to make the race.
Once I got out of Magic Kingdom and was headed back to Epcot, I was honestly losing a little bit of steam. Prior to the half the most I had gone at one time was almost 8 miles, so by 8.5 mile marker I was feeling a little over it. But like the Disney gods were looking down on me, one of the girls I met during our crazy long wait at the start found me and pushed me through the last bit. We started running the light poles on the highway which gave me a great pace. There are two hills at the last bit I get a little bit of PTSD just thinking about, y’all they were HARD. One was like the ramp you use to get off an exit, so it was a giant curve on a steady incline #NotFairDisney But I survived and soon enough I could see the giant golf ball in the distance.
You did end up running basically around the golf ball and just before you turn the corner to see the finish line there was a full on gospel choir singing “THANK GOD” which gave me a good laugh and put some pep in my step to complete.
The after. I was so happy for the first aid stations offering ice wraps as my hamstrings and legs were like, WTF?! But I have to say, I’ve never felt more accomplished in my life. I have never been the athletic one in my family, and like I’ve said previously, I am NOT A RUNNER. So the fact that I did this and lived to tell the tale was an accomplishment in itself. I will say, now that I’m basically an expert, if I ever do this again, more training will happen. Not for increasing my time necessarily, although that should happen naturally, it’s more about increasing my stamina and strengthening my legs to be able to not be quite as sore afterwards. I highly recommend a massage a couple days after though. HEAVEN.
I mean, who doesn’t love a good medal. This was the 10th anniversary of the Disney Princess run, so they really went all out on the medals.
That after shower glow. We were non-stop after the race, going straight to Animal Kingdom, rode a couple rides [i.e. Mount Everest] then about 2:30 or 3pm we were dragging…no surprise there. So, we decided to head back to our hotel, shower and then my sister convinced us, mainly me, to get out of the comfy bed and go watch the fireworks.
As I have said quite a few times, I am not a runner, so if you are, just ignore me. But here are my final thoughts about the Disney Princess Half:
- If you have never done a half before, this should 100% be the one, especially if you love Disney. The energy is infectious, there isn’t as much pressure since there are very few super duper active runners participating and it is Disney. What else do I need to say?
- STRETCH, STRETCH, STRETCH. Y’all I can’t say this enough. As important as building up your run/jog stamina, stretching is uber important.
- Go at your own pace and don’t feel self-conscious about it. My mom is a runner, like I can’t even tell you how many half marathons she’s done at this point and she’s one of those runners without headphones, which means you know she’s serious. My sister has played soccer her entire life and is clearly the athletic one, so to say I was intimidated to do this race with the two of them was out of control. But honestly, I just got in my stride and didn’t worry about it. I did a 4 minute run/ 30sec – 1min walk/jog consistently and felt pretty good about it.
- Celebrate the WIN. With the Disney race being such an interactive experience, let yourself give in to the fun!!! I honestly almost cried when it was over, just overwhelmed that I actually did it.
- KEEP MOVING! After the race, all you will want to do is lay down and not do anything, but honestly that is the worst. While it was a little uncomfortable to walk around, I am so glad we kept it moving.
And the big question is….will I do another one???! If you would have asked me a couple days after, especially on my 29th birthday [2 days later] I would have said HECK NO. I felt so old and like why would I ever do this again. But, now I am honestly debating doing the Rock n’ Roll in Savannah in November. So there’s that.
Anything I missed you are dying to know?? Drop a note and let me know!