This was the big race morning. Time for the Princess Half Marathon!
The half marathon has an earlier bus time (3 am) so we were up at about 2:15 am to get on the first bus.
I will spend a little more time talking about this race than I have the other races.
There is a 16 min per mile pace requirement. The time starts when the last person crosses the start line. The last people to start are the “balloon ladies.” They keep a 16 min pace and if they pass you, then you are behind the pace and will get swept at the next sweep point. This means that you are removed from the course and taken to the finish area and you are marked as DNF – did not finish.
Unfortunately, I am familiar with the sweeping process as I have experienced it twice. But I have also finished two half marathons at Disney (and other 5Ks and 10Ks) so there is life after getting swept.
Going into this race, I knew I had a bit of a cushion because I starting in corral F and there were two corrals of runners behind me. So I would have at least 20 minutes from when I started until the balloon ladies started.
I had done all my training to the letter and my legs felt great when we got up (I think not doing the parks was a big factor in feeling good).
I also had a plan. I use a run / walk method for all of my races, meaning I run part of the time and walk part of the time at set intervals. I have a device that I clip to my watch and that vibrates telling me when it’s time to do each one. My plan was to use my “race intervals” until mile 6. Then I can add some time to my walk interval until I get to mile 10. Then I can walk the remaining three miles.
Donna, Pam, myself and some other friends waited for the race to start together in the corral but we had already decided that we would run our own races and meet up at the end. I train alone and I like to just keep my own pace. I had also decided that I would put my headphones in and just settle in as if this was a training run with support. I think this mindset was another thing that helped me that day.
The temperature was pretty perfect for running… around 50 degrees. But it was humid. I have to run with my glasses on (I can’t wear contacts anymore) so it was annoying as they were constantly fogging up. I had to keep wiping them on my shirt periodically.
The race course is about 4-5 miles on highways before you get into the Magic Kingdom. I was feeling good and keeping a consistent pace.
Running in the Magic Kingdom is always a highlight. I entered the park, turned the corner to see the castle… and all the feels and teary eyes. The spectators are cheering you all the way down Main Street and it is just amazing.
I made the right into Tomorrowland and then up into Fantasyland and then came another highlight. Running through the castle! As I approached, again all the feels and having to keep myself from bawling like a baby. I am really not someone that cries easily but I was having all the emotions… maybe lack of sleep was catching up with me!
Getting a good picture coming through the castle is always the hope… and I loved mine this time.
The course takes you through Frontierland and then back out of the park. I knew I was almost to mile 6 when I had told myself I could add more walking time to my intervals. I was also heading into another long stretch of highways with not much entertainment. I hit mile 6 and thought “I feel pretty good. I can keep my race intervals going for another mile.” I had the same thoughts about mile 7 and mile 8. When I got to mile 9, I still felt good but I decided I could relax a bit and I changed my intervals to add in some extra walking time.
I got to mile 10 and still felt good so I kept going with run / walk. I knew that there were some overpasses coming up which meant some big hills. My plan was to walk the uphills and jog the downhills. That didn’t quite work as the course was so crowded there really wasn’t space to jog. Most everyone around me was walking at that point. From the overpass, I could see the runners still to come behind me and there was no end in sight… so no balloon ladies anywhere near me. I could walk the rest and finish without a problem… huge sigh of relief.
I walked the remainder of the race and felt great. This picture was from around mile 12.5.
I came into Epcot where we didn’t spend much time. Because of all the construction the course was modified through the park this year. With a quarter mile to go, a woman next to me was crying with joy and she started me a little again too. What was going on with me this race?!?!
I finished and got my Cinderella medal and then went to the challenge tent to get my extra medal for doing the 10K and Half Marathon.
It was not my fastest race ever or at Disney, but it was definitely my best. I felt great from start to finish. Mentally, I used podcasts to keep my mind engaged, just like I do on a training run. Physically, I had done all my training leading up to the race and I think I not doing the parks after the 5K and 10K helped so much.
Donna and Pam were about half a mile ahead of me and were already on the bus back to the resort when I finished. I got on a bus myself and went back to the room as well. We showered and went to the food court for a bite to eat. We had an early reservation coming up at 3:30 so we didn’t want too much.
Afterwards, we did something that I rarely do when I am at Disney. We relaxed pool side in some lounge chairs. I was tired and closed my eyes but never feel asleep.
Later on, we took a Lyft over to the Polynesian. The next part of the trip would be with a group of ladies from a Facebook group called the “Tiki Tribe.” The group was formed from listeners of a podcast called “WDW Happy Place.” My friends, Ashley and Sam, are the hosts of the podcast. The idea came up about 18 months prior to do a “ladies cruise” with women from the group and it was finally happening. The first official meet up was taking place on land with a group dinner at Ohana.
Donna, Pam and I got there early and went to the bar outside the restaurant to get the party started with one of my favorite cocktails – a Lapu Lapu. It’s strong and yummy and just what I needed after finishing all those races!
We had 12 ladies in our party and enjoyed our first meet up and dinner together. Ohana has a family style part with platters of noodles, veggies and pot stickers. Then there is steak, chicken and shrimp that is cooked on skewers and brought to the table. The server will continue to come back around with those for as much as you want. Then dessert is family style again with a bread pudding with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream.
Dinner was great and even though it was still early by the time we were done, we were TIRED. The next morning we would leaving for our Disney cruise, so we went back to the room to start packing up. I was so excited to get into bed with an alarm set for a reasonable time.