Saturday, May 19, 2012

Disney Princess Marathon Weekend

Well, I cannot believe it has been over 3 months since I ran the Royal Family 5k and the Disney Princess 1/2 marathon! And I cannot believe that it has taken me this long to write an update about the races! There is so much to say, but I am going to try and keep it short.

I had a great  race weekend. It all began with the Fit for a Princess Expo. What a fun experience! Missy and I had already spent a very LONG day at the Magic Kingdom, so getting up early and getting ready was a bit of a challenge. We made it to the expo about an hour before it opened, which we both though was a mistake, but there was already a line forming, so in true Disney-style we stood in line! It was a very hot morning, and we both knew it was going to be a very hot day, so we were both a little nervous about standing out in the sun too long to get into the Expo. About 20 minutes before opening, the line started moving, because there were two line options, one to go into the Expo, and one for packet pick-up. Missy and I decided that we would go into the Expo first and then deal with the packet pick-up (which we thought would be a mess, because we had so many different things to pick up!).

While waiting in the line for the Expo, we got completely swept up in the excitement! We were about the 30th and 31st people in the line, and everyone ahead of us was giddy, talking about the Dooney & Burke Princess Marathon purses that were waiting just beyond the doors. I wasn't even planning on getting a purse, it wasn't on my "want list" but the excitement was mounting and so Missy and I made a plan. Missy was going to run inside and grab two purses, while I grabbed the zip-up jackets and t-shirts.

Missy got to the small table of purses, and it was an all out fight! Ladies were going crazy, grabbing as many purses as they could! There was a lone man working at that table and he kept shouting "Ladies, ladies, just take one purse, they are all the same!!" to which we received many shouts of "NO! They are not!!" The official merchandise area was CRAZY!! I ended up getting a purse, a tank top, a t-shirt, a car magnet and a zip-up!! I went a little overboard!! But it was really fun!

After the craziness of the official merchandise area, we enjoyed shopping at all the booths. We really enjoyed the company that offers shoe jewels (I cannot remember the name of the company), we each purchased 2 jewels, a cute crown and one to remember the race by.

Once we had spent enough money, we made our way over to the packet pick up area. Greeting us at the entrance, were Cinderella's footmen and her carriage. It was already way hotter than we could handle and the line was super long, so we passed on the photo-op.

Inside the Packet Pick Up, I was pleasantly surprised that the lines were not long! Missy only had to pick-up her 5k packet and her ChEAR Squad packet, and she was ready to go in no time! I had my 5k packet, my 1/2 marathon packet, my necklace, and my Race Retreat packet to pick up. It was easy, and fast! The only thing I did not enjoy was were had to go back over to the expo to pick up our t-shirts.

After the expo, we spent a wonderful day at the Animal Kingdom. I had never been there before and it easily because my most favorite park in Disney. That evening we made our way back to the hotel and got everything ready for our 5k the next day.

A very early wake up call, had us up and ready to catch the first bus to the starting line. Again, I questioned if we really needed to get there so early, but I was glad we did, because it allowed us to meet Rapunzel and Finn Ryder with NO LINE!! We also had a great time looking at everyone's costumes and dancing to the music the DJ was playing. It was a great morning! Everyone was enjoying each other's costumes, and we got a lot of compliments on our costumes. I even saw Erin, a girl I met on Facebook while training for the 1/2. We took our picture with our Rapunzel costumes!!

Before we knew it, we were off and racing! There were so many people, it was the most crowded race that I had been in (up to this point!), and I was having a really hard time keeping a good pace. We started out walking, but the pace was so slow my legs started cramping up, so Missy told me to run ahead. I felt bad leaving Missy behind, but I was worried about how my legs would feel the next day at the marathon, if they cramped up during the 5k.

I only ran to the 1 mile marker, and there I waited for Missy. She showed up and we took off. The crowds were still pretty bad, but I was able to stretch my legs out a bit more without hitting anyone. It seemed to take forever before we actually made it into Epcot. Once we did, Missy got excited and was much happier to run. This made me happy too and we ran from character to character taking as many pictures as we could. It was really fun! Unfortunately, we used Missy's camera for this race, and I still have not seen our pictures. :(

The finish line came almost too soon, it was such a fun race, and everyone racing was so happy and nice! Missy and I crossed the finish line together, as I had promised I would do so many months before. I even got a little teary-eyed thinking of how far Missy had come to do this race, (and the fact that she had HUGE blisters on both feet from two days in the parks!)

We collected our medals, took some pictures and got back on the bus headed for our hotel. Once at the hotel we did a quick job of cleaning up, and changing, and then it was on to Hollywood Studios. We spent most of the day at Hollywood Studios, and ended the day at Downtown Disney. I have to say that I was not tired, but the idea of the 1/2 the next day had me very nervous, and I don't believe I was the best company, because I was so nervous.

Back at the hotel, I made my final preparations for the 1/2, making sure to get my costume ready, pin on my bib and pack my race bag. I was super nervous, but didn't have too much trouble sleeping. My wake up call came at 2:45am and I was out of the hotel and on the bus by 3:15!! I was a ball of nerves, and just wanted to get to the race, hoping that the excitement of the starting line would cure my nerves.

I was wrong! Once the bus dropped us off, we had quite a walk to the staging area. It was cold and dark, and I was so happy that I had paid the extra money for the race retreat! About 15 minutes after getting dropped off, I made it to the race retreat tent. It was amazing!! Warm and bright! I enjoyed a bagel and some Poweraid, while stretching and getting myself prepared. Tinkerbell was there for a photo op, and she had no line! Yeah!! The time flew by, and before I knew it, it was time to drop my bag off and make the walk to the starting line.

I had read a lot about the walk to the starting line, so I knew it was going to be dark and long, but nothing prepared me for what really happened. We walked through some "backstage" area, it was very dark, and extremely cold. We were moving so slowly, I couldn't even take a normal step. It was awful! I was alone, and no one was being very friendly. I felt like I was taking a death march. I hated every second of it. After what seemed like hours, I made it to the starting line. And just had to walk a few more minutes to find corral B!!

Once in the corral, I finally started feeling better, and more confident. I usually love the atmosphere in the corrals, but everyone in my corral seemed stuck up and no one really wanted to chat. It was pretty lonely, but that was just foreshadowing the whole feel of the race. Lonely while running with 25, 000 other people.

Corral A was sent off running with fireworks and corral B moved up to the starting line. I was finally excited! Not too long after corral A took off, corral B was also sent off with fireworks and a big bang. I am now going to break down the race mile-by-mile as that is how I remember it best.

Mile 1: The pace was good at this point in the race. I felt good and it was nice to finally be running and not standing around freezing my ass off! Before I even hit the one mile mark, I had to use the bathroom!! Ugh!! There were super long lines, for the bathrooms, but I had to go!! So, I wasted some time right away. It had to be done. Shortly after that, I spotted Captian Jack Sparrow and the giant pirate ship. I had to stop and get my picture taken. Up until this point, I had not made a decision about wether I was going to stop and take pictures or not. Even while waiting in line, I thought I wouldn't stop for anymore pictures. But after waiting almost 10 minutes for my first picture, I knew a PR was not in the stars for me and decided to stop for all of the pictures.

Mile 2: this was a great mile for me, it was still very dark and I was running at a good pace. It was not super crowded, and I was enjoying myself. I made my longest stop here, waiting 17 minutes for a picture with all of the "leading men and princes"

Miles 3 & 4: I was super excited during these two miles, I was actually really enjoying the hills and terrain changes, it was a nice break from the extremely flat course. I was looking forward to getting into the Magic Kingdom. It started getting super crowded at this point, and I was getting worried about the sheer mass of people around me.

Miles 5 & 6: The most exciting miles of the entire race, running through the Magic Kingdom and "backstage" It was terrible crowded, and I was feeling the strain of keeping a pace that was not comfortable to me (too slow). But I was having a great time stopping for all of the characters. I am upset however about all of the times I stood in line, only to get to the front and have the character leave!!

Miles 7, 8 & 9: I was pretty much done with this race at this point. It was over crowded, and the roads were so narrow, I was struggling with getting hit, having people just stop running right in front of me and dodging people everywhere. At this point, people were extremely rude to each other, giving dirty looks, and even swearing under their breath at each other. At this point I hated the race and was thinking how stupid I was for even signing up. I was still feeling good running-wise, but everything else was getting to me, and on top of that the humidity was killing my lungs!

Miles 10 & 11: These miles were boring, but at least the roads opened up again and I didn't have to dodge so many people. I was looking forward to the end of the race!

Mile 12: A great mile! I loved running through Epcot again, and enjoyed the people cheering us on! Even though it rained on us!

Mile 13: Ran hard to the finish-line. The amount of people during this mile was great! I really feed off the cheering and enjoy the end of this race, however it got very crowed here again!

Finish line!! I was so excited to turn the corner and see the finish line. Crossing the finish line, tears poured down my cheeks, as I had finished a year-long goal. I collected my medal, and made my way back to the Race Retreat. I was so happy!

In the race retreat, I met up with Missy again, who had been watching the race from the stands at the finish line, because of the sheer mass of people, she would have never made it into the Magic Kingdom to see me run. We ate a delicious breakfast, got our pictures taken with the Fairies, and slowly made our way back to the busses. It was a bittersweet ending. I had trained so hard, and planned for so long to run this race and now it was over. I felt quite sad leaving the race area, but happy that I did it and made my dream come true.

We spent a very slow day in Epcot that afternoon. After two very early mornings, I was beat. We celebrated that evening at the Hoop-dee-doo Review. It was a great weekend!!

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