I did it!!! I ran my first half marathon.
My day started at 3:15 am. I can’t remember the last time I woke up that early on purpose…just like the saying, “but first, COFFEE!” After getting my caffeine, I got dressed as quietly as possible as not to wake up my family who was up later than me the night before (I’m so thankful for my husband who took care of the kids so I could go to bed early).
At 4:00 am, I headed to the hotel lobby to catch the RunDisney shuttle to Epcot. There was, of course, loads of traffic but we get off the bus and started walking to the bag check to get to the staging area around 4:30 am.
Keep in mind at 4:30 in the morning it’s cold and dark. Plus I had been hydrating to make sure I am good to run 13.1 miles. The race was scheduled to start at 5:30 am…. For corral A…. I was in L. There were over 18,000 people participating so it would take a while.
Staging area- still dark!
After getting photos and checking my bag with my warm blanket; the time was 5:20 am. I got in line to use the porta potty just like lots of other runners with the same hydrated body, and small bladder as me. Finally, my turn comes and goes. As I walked to my corral I realize as I’m still walking it was about a mile away…. Literally! By the time I got there ….SURPRISE I had to pee AGAIN!
Crowd of runners trying to get to their corral.
I located my corral and got in my group of fellow runners, where we would hang out for the next 40 minutes. Slowly, we made our way closer and closer as each corral was announced and fireworks lit the sky. Our turn finally came and the official time I crossed the start line was 6:22 am. I seriously could have slept longer…. Just saying.
So my Disney Princess Half Marathon running experience began. Guess what thought I had at about mile 2… “Dang it, I have the smallest bladder in existence.” It didn’t help that I waited in my corral for 40 minutes freezing, but I found the porta potty. The lesson so far, if you have a fear of porta potties, you probably won’t enjoy running a half marathon.
The first couple miles were road miles where I felt great but I made sure to walk a couple times here and there to pace myself. We came upon the entrance sign for The Magic Kingdom parking area and soon we would be running through the park. The excitement was starting and I forgot all the miserable moments leading up to this point. I no longer cared that I was so tired, who cares if I stood in the cold and waited for what felt like forever to go across the starting line. This was why I was here.
As we entered the park, the crowds of observers called the “chEAR Squad” were in full force. These are friends and family members of the race participants who pay to enter the park before it opens specifically to cheer on the runners. They had cowbells and signs rooting all of us to keep going.
I love Cinderella’s Castle!
I had been to Magic Kingdom plenty of times before, but there was something different about running a half marathon that involves going through Cinderella’s castle. I loved every moment of that run, including the creative signs from the chEAR Squad. I didn’t feel tired like when I run in my neighborhood or on a treadmill. This was special.
As I said before in my previous blog, I was going to enjoy the race and stop for photos and I did. I didn’t care about trying to get a great time. I made sure to think about which photo lines to stand in because I didn’t want to go over the 16-minute mile pacing minimum. So I didn’t take photos with every character. I did, however, get a photo with Beast, which was pretty awesome. It was the longest line I stood in and affected my time the most.
The Beast and his fancy suit.
Once we got out of Magic Kingdom, we were back to running on the road. I was good until mile 10 or so when my leg muscles were not so happy. Thank goodness for the energy gels I packed in my running belt. I knew I was still okay to keep going but I was definitely getting fatigued. At around mile 11 or 12, it started to hurt more to walk than run so I made sure to just keep running…after I ate another energy gel of course.
The end of the race was through Epcot. Since I spent the last 2 miles or so running because my feet hurt, I didn’t get many photos in Epcot. At this point it was after 9:00 am and the park was open. The organizers had blocked off our running path so that people entering the park didn’t get in the way or run over. The last leg to the finish line ended in the parking lot of Epcot with lots of people “chEARing.” I was so happy to cross that finish line and get my beautiful Belle rose medal. I definitely surprised myself with this run because I didn’t get to train as much as I wanted to but I did it. Bonus…I didn’t pass out.
I had to get this epic photo.
There was a time when I envied people who ran long races but at the same time wanted nothing to do it. I didn’t understand it then. The thought of going out to just run sounded awful. I had previously done 5k’s and a couple of 10k’s and started to really understand but now…. after this…. there’s no turning back. I’m half crazy!
My new Belle themed medal.