Monday, January 14, 2013

Disney Half

It all started Saturday night after my bridal shower last year. I was having a blast hanging out with my closest friends at Coda, and Meghan mentioned how she was going to run her first half marathon at Disney in January 2013. After having such an amazing time doing Goofy Challenge, I didn't hesitate in asking if I could join. Quite frankly, I knew that I'd love to be there for Meghan's first half wherever it was but knowing it was going to be at Disney sealed the deal for me. She was kind enough not to point out how rude I was being by inviting myself on her trip, and she encouraged me and others to join her.

Over the past few months, we planned everything from hotels and flights to which princesses we'd dress up as. I opted for Sleeping Beauty (you get to wear pink? yes please!) When Thursday came, I couldn't believe it was already time to fly to Orlando. We got in pretty late and a couple of our friends were getting up early to run the 5k, so we went straight to bed.

Friday morning, Erin and I squeezed in a quick run before getting ready to head to the Expo and parks. The expo was basically how I remembered it last year, though this year there was a huge wall with all of the runners' names. It was pretty neat seeing my name up there. I felt so special!

At the Expo, I started feeling a little bit of regret for not doing the Goofy this year. I definitely knew it was for the best, as I was so thrilled to spend time with my friends. Still, part of me was missing out.

After grabbing our numbers and shirts, we were off to the Magic Kingdom.

It was so much fun to go on the rides, see the new Fantasyland, and to talk about our races. I could easily write a ton about our visit.

Once our crew was ready, we headed back to the room to enjoy our homemade pasta party. We set our alarms for before 3am, and I was in bed around 8pm. Even though I knew I wouldn't oversleep between our various alarms, I still couldn't sleep! I tossed and turned totally excited for the race.

Last year, Erin and I were a little laid back about getting to the race, but this year we actually read the literature and took into account their recommendations. We needed to be on the bus by 4am, so we left our room by 3:30 to give ourselves time, I'm glad we did because there was a huge line waiting to get on the shuttles! I think 3 buses came before we got on one.

waiting for the bus

There was a bunch of traffic, so we arrived about a quarter til 5 am along with thousands of other delayed runners. There's about a 20 minute walk to the corrals, so we got a little anxious that we wouldn't make it. While we still had plenty of time, one of the volunteers yelled that we had 5 minutes to make it to our corral and if we didn't, then we'd be disqualified. Definitely not what you wanted to hear on your way to the race! Luckily, we made it to our corral with some time to spare.

We're ready to run!
As they released each corral and launched the fireworks, we slowly inched closer to the starting line. Soon it was our turn, and off we went! It was a slow start due to the crowds, but still I think the first mile marker came sooner than any of us expected. We were having fun checking out the other costumes and listening to people cheer on the princesses!

"Team Princess" was 7 members strong, but our Mulan was ready to race so we lost her shortly after the start. Two of our team members were placed in a corral further back. They were concerned for their pace and didn't plan to stop for characters, so they ran their own race. Meghan, Anne, Erin and I wanted to stick together, so we worked as a team through out the course. We even used the code word Mushu (like Mulan's dragon) to yell when we were separated. 

A few miles in, we saw a giant pirate ship and decided to take our first character photo with Jack Sparrow and Barbossa. It was quite a site to see the ship through the dark. It was a bit of a long wait, but it was fun to see our first characters. We also visited with Chip and Dale and then Jack and Sally from the Nightmare Before Christmas. We were especially excited for Jack, as he's my friend Meghan's favorite.

Our ChEAR squad was supposed to see us at mile 4, but they had a transportation fiasco and had to wait until mile 8 to see us. I think this worked out for the best, as there were a bunch of people at mile 4, and it would have been a quick hello.

Around mile 5 we entered the Magic Kingdom and saw a few minor Disney characters that we decided to bypass. We saw Belle with the Beast and Ariel, and we had to stop with them as their twins were our running buddies. The characters were super nice, and I think they loved seeing our costumes.

We paused for a photo in front of the castle before running through the rest of the Magic Kingdom. It was getting hot out and our pace slowed down for a bit. We started talking about all the wonderful food and drinks that we would enjoy later on, knowing that it would taste especially delicious because we earned it.

At mile 8, we were serenaded by our ChEAR squad duo who sang "eye of the tiger" as they ran beside the course. It was a crowded stretch without a ton of entertainment, so it was just the boost we needed!

We were also fortunate enough to run into our pals around mile 9, so our expanded team princess got to run/walk together.

Go team!
At mile 10 we opted to pick-up the pace a bit and were back down to 4 members. We kept telling ourselves there was just a 5k to go, and heck, we'd all run that the morning of Meghan's bridal shower and her wedding. Soon there were just 2 miles to go, and that's just a warm-up. We gave ourselves plenty of pep talks until we entered Epcot. At that point all we had to do was run for the giant golf ball.

The girls all hung in, and we stuck together. Pretty soon, Meghan and Anne had finished their first half marathons!(in costume no less!)

Team Princess totally rocked it on Saturday, and I was so happy to be a part of it. Can't wait to run with these ladies (and gentleman) again!

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