Monday, March 4, 2013

The 2013 WDW Princess Half Marathon

Honestly, I was not prepared to like this race. It had all the elements for me NOT to enjoy it- physically burnt from double marathon training, hot humid weather even at the start, too much estrogen in one place, highway running, and the list could go on.

But somewhere in there, Disney magic happened.

Pre-Race Surprise: Ariel and Flounder Unite!
Getting to meet Emily
In the first few miles, I met a lady who told me I'd finish the race around 3:15. I looked at her like she was crazy. I was planning on stopping for characters, marathon training had slowed me down a ton, and oh yea, it was friggin 100% humidity. I was already checked out of the race and I wasn't even to the 5k mark. There was no way. My fastest Disney Half took 3:40 with all the stops- so I figured tack on another 20 for seriously long lines and 4 hours sounded about right.

Spoiler Alert: She was right. I Disney PR'D by over 20 minutes!

Here's the thing. I don't know what happened, but I forgot I was running a half marathon. I wasn't mentally into it. I walked the first mile (which, btw, is pretty awesome. If you ever want to do it, I suggest hanging out in the back of your corral so people don't have to run over you. It took the next corral over a mile to catch up to me, so I had the entire highway to myself- give or take a handful of other walkers. Which was nice, because the course ended up being super crowded for the rest of the race). My legs weren't feeling it when I was running. They did not want to go. I forgot to take Gu until about an hour and 15 minutes in- opps. No wonder I wasn't feeling good. But then it was all about to change.

I knew I wanted to go as fast as I could until I got to MK, but I just didn't have it in me. The first character stops came (Jack Sparrow, the princes and then the villains) and the lines were so bad, I got even more discouraged. I knew I couldn't stop in long lines and expect to finish in time. Luckily, I'm not the type to stop for the princesses and I knew they would be the longer lines anyway. It was the Princess Half after all. I was allowing for Ariel if I saw her (hello! I was dressed as her sidekick), but she was at the finish line and I totally missed her there anyway. Boo.

Once we got to the TTC, I saw the puppets from the marathon and decided I needed one with Sebastian. Emily had the same idea and was in line right in front of me! It was nice to see a familiar face on the course. We hung out together for a second, but split up when we got closer to Main Street. I was confident I'd run into her again and often, but sadly, the crowd was crazy and I didn't. 

The Little Mermaid Cast

If I thought the line for the villains was bad, the line for Belle by Fantasyland and Mickey by the castle was 3x as long (I later overheard someone say they waited in line for 30 minutes for Belle. INSANE!). At that point, I decided stopping for characters just wasn't in the cards for me and I accepted it. 
I did stop for a castle picture and carried on. (Tip: wait until after the bridge into Liberty Square. Perfect Castle stop with no wait and cheerful cast members willing to take your picture!) As I left Magic Kingdom, I looked at my watch and realized I was going to finish about an hour before I thought. Maybe that lady wasn't crazy after all!

So, I stopped for Mary Poppins. The line wasn't bad.
Then I stopped for The Genie.
And I stopped for Lilo and Stitch.

I was so excited I was getting to stop for characters, that I just started running from character to character and I was feeling really good. It was really crowded running in the one lane out of Magic Kingdom, but once you got back on the highway, it was nice to have a tad more room to breathe.

The Princes were still on the highway with a way shorter line. This was the longest line I waited in and it was about 3-5 minutes. I was so glad I didn't wait in the 20+ minute line earlier AND it was light out at this point, making for a better picture. Win Win! While I waited, it occurred to me that the people who stopped in Magic Kingdom weren't stopping anymore to make up for all the time lost- which again, was a total win for me! 

Hey Princess Atta!

It definitely took me a good minute (about 6 miles) to realize I was running a race, but once I did, I felt strong. I reminded myself I just came off of training for back to back marathons (sidenote: this is also probably why it took me so long to get into my groove); I'm a rockstar. I trained for a marathon during the NYC summer and then ran a second one in record high heat. All these thoughts got me even more pumped and wasn't ready for the race to end. Around mile 11, I decided I felt awesome and was going to try for that 3:15 time. I calculated and even if I walked the rest of the race, I could make it. But I didn't want to. I wanted to leave everything on the course. I looked ahead of me and saw this:
The wall of tutus. 

I've never seen a course this crowded this late in the course. Everyone was walking. Granted, I get it. Mile 12 of a half can be brutal- but I had a lot left in me and I wanted to leave it all on the course. I tried to fight around those tutus, but it got super frustrating. 
Then there were MORE characters with NO lines to distract me. 

Oh hey Mulan! 

Mrs. Incredible. Yes, we are.
I even stopped for Ivana Dream! 
Karen took a picture with her during the marathon and we spent too much time trying to figure out who she was. My guess was streetmosphere- which is correct! She's a fairy godmother wannabe (her words, not mine). When I came around the other side, The actual fairy godmother was there (and I totally thought about cutting across the course to get a picture. . but decided I was too close to the finish to stop). 
And then I saw the finish line.

I really hope the ALL CAPS gets across HOW EXCITED I WAS!! It was the best moment. I finally got my finish line pictures with Mickey and bonus Minnie! Surprisingly, I got to stop for a ton of characters. Even with a less than stellar start, I Disney PR'd. The cherry on top? The love of my life was waiting for me on the other side of the finish line. I'd say it was one hell of a royal day! 
New Official Title: PRINCESS
(Like you didn't know that already ;) 

I will admit, I loved this race and would definitely like to do it again. 
How do you feel about women focused races? 


  1. Awesome recap! Check mine out too - what a great weekend!

  2. Congrats on a great race! That medal is gorgeous!!

    1. Thanks, Gabby! It's definitely one of my favorites.

  3. Congrats! Added your link to our post of recaps! :-)

  4. Awesome!!! I'm so glad we got to meet IRL!! :) And congrats on a Disney PR!! In the brutal humidity even! Can I say I'm totally stealing your idea of getting the castle picture by Liberty Square? Mulan had a line by the time I got to her. And I didn't even see Mary Poppins until too later and it was clusteriffic at that part so I didn't try to make my way back and over. Dumb question - who took your finish line picture with Mickey & Minnie? I always want to stop but I swear I never see a cast member around to take the picture!

    1. It was so great meeting you and DEFINITELY an awesome highlight running into you on the course!

      Please steal the idea! The line in front of the castle was insane. There were CMs taking pictures for us.

      At the finish line- Luckily there was a girl in front of me who had the same idea to take pictures with Mickey and the cut across the course for pictures with Minnie. So I thought we'd take each others pictures- but the Cast Member came out of no-where and did it for us. Which makes sense- they'd never let characters be without a handler. I think they just hide to the side.

  5. Love the recap! I ran it too--it was my first disney race! Though I did not stop to take any character pics--next year hopefully! Congrats on the PR!

    1. Congrats on your first runDisney, Elena! Hope you had a great race!!

  6. Congrats Abby - love the photo's!

    1. Thanks, Sarah! ABSOLUTELY LOVED seeing you that morning.
      (just didn't know if I could put the photo of us on the blog ;)

  7. I LOVE all the pictures you got, and am TOTALLY jealous of your Mickey and Minnie finish line pictures! Princess is totally on my to-do list...hopefully next year!

    Oh and I love that you have a "Disney PR", seriously makes so much can't compare other races times to Disney races times!

    1. Thanks, Danielle! Clearly, character stops need to be strategically decided on. Hope I can do it again next year too- it's definitely one to do at least once!

      Can't take credit for the Disney PR (Emily taught me that!) but it is genius, right?!

  8. Oh man, now I'm sad I wasn't at Princess! Looks like you had a good time. And yay for B getting to be there. That's awesome. :)

    The costume looks so cute! Can not wait for Dumbo! We're going to have so much fun!!!!

    1. Next year ;) It was worth it!

      haha. Funny story- she almost didn't make it. She got lost when the bus dropped them off. She saw me on the jumbo screen but couldn't find the actual finish line. Luckily, the jumbotron shows you before the finish line and I saw her after I crossed. Not gonna lie, it's really nice to have someone at the finish, you know?

      I agree. Dumbo is going to be EPIC :)