Friday, April 12, 2013

runDisney Princess Half Marathon 2013 - Part 1

I know, it's taken me a long time to write this post. Yes, I've been busy, but I was also having a hard time deciding what to say. This was such a emotional day and journey for me that I worried as soon as I wrote my recap, it would be officially over. I guess technically this race is long over now, but that doesn't mean I'm done running. But we'll leave that for another post...

The Princess Half Marathon weekend at Disney was a whirlwind. We flew on a redeye flight to Orlando, landing early Saturday morning. I misjudged my ability to sleep on the flight (who was I kidding? I barely slept at all!), so it was a long, tiring day.

After checking into our hotel (All Star Music Resort), we headed over to the Expo at Coronado Springs. First, we picked up our bibs and then got in line for our race bags and t-shirts. I heard that Friday at the Expo was a madhouse, but everything went smoothly for us, even with a few lines. Then we headed over to wait in the runDisney merchandise line because I wanted an "I Did It!" shirt to wear after the race.

Bib Pick-up at the Expo

We wandered around the expo for a bit and tried a bunch of samples. I bought a couple Team Sparkle skirts for myself and one for Aaron, who was going to wear it for the run the next day. I bought The Stick, which I was so grateful to have in the couple days after the race! I also picked up a few tanks from the Raw Threads booth for myself - Evil Fairy Maleficent (that I wore for the half marathon) and Cheshire Cat.  There were so many things I wanted to buy, but I had to stop myself somewhere. This was day 1 of our trip!

A sign at the Expo - couldn't have been more true!

We went back to our hotel briefly before heading out to an early dinner. I honestly wanted to fall asleep in my Macaroni and Cheese I was so tired. Aaron and I had this moment where we both just looked at each other and said "I don't know if I can run this tomorrow, not if I feel like this." We had been hydrating plenty, but the exhaustion was catching up. We got all our our race gear lined up and ready for the morning, so we wouldn't forget anything. We went to bed at about 6pm on Saturday, preparing for our early start the next day.

My alarm rang at 2:30am on Sunday. That is a terrible time to be awake, but I was so grateful at that time to have been tired enough to go to bed at 6pm the night before. I actually got a good solid sleep! I jumped out of bed and started getting ready. I had a bagel with some peanut butter and a banana for breakfast. We were ready to catch a bus for 3:30am out front of our resort.

Just about ready to go catch the bus!

We walked outside our room and BAM. Hot, muggy, humid air. We were in for a hot race, but that wasn't going to stop me. I just came from the snow, so I embraced the heat and just told myself to keep hydrated.

We made it to the buses and were off to Epcot! There was a lot of traffic getting into Epcot at that time, but the bus ride only took about 20 minutes. I was excited. I was feeling good. Then we walked for about 0.5 to 0.75 miles just to get to the Family Reunion Area. There were people everywhere. The DJ was blasting music and people were milling about. There were some crazy costumes! The crowd was also 99% women (not surprising, since it is a women-focused race).

Aaron and I on our way to the Family Reunion Area!
(Photo by Marathonfoto)

Heading into the Family Reunion Area - so many people!

We went through a very smooth bag check (I checked the jacket I had brought to toss, since it was so hot and also a pair of flip flops - I was so happy I had them after the race!) and got in the long port-a-potty lines on the other side.

So many port-a-potties! The lines were huge!

We grabbed some more water, ate a banana and began the walk long hike to the start corrals. This walk was probably close to a mile by the time we made it, but in all honesty, it was a good warm-up for me. Along the way,  I ate some Sharkies and Aaron had a Clif bar. We also made one more bathroom break before getting to the corrals.

We made it to Corral E with about 15-20 minutes to spare before the race started. We found some space and did some stretching. We couldn't see much back from where we were, but we could hear it all.

Looking towards the start line from our place in Corral E (you couldn't even see it!)

The Fairy Godmother said her magic words, the fireworks went off and the race officially started! We slowly started shuffling forward towards the start line. The awesome thing about runDisney is that every corral gets its own firework send-off with a different song!

The race begins!

As we were moving forward, there was a great moment with everyone in the corrals singing along to "Don't Stop Believing". Finally, we were at the front. OMG - this was it! I was going to do this. The Fairy Godmother began our countdown...

...and away we went! Well, it was more of a walk shuffle across the starting line because there were so many people, but it was still exciting for me.

Ready to race? Me too! Part 2 to follow...

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