Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Disney Princess Half Marathon

It seemed like forever ago that I had started planning this trip with my friend Angela.  Time sure does fly, and all of a sudden it was time for us to get on the plane. 

I have an awesome family, and they were all so supportive and happy for me to take this trip; I have to say it was a group effort to get me there with my sanity.  So my Mom and Dad took my little one to Austin to see her cousins.  This worked for two reasons-
1. She would be preoccupied for 1/2 of my time gone and
2. I wouldn't have to say goodbye to her at the airport-something I'm not sure I could have handled.

We picked up Angela at 6 am, and I immediately handed her her tiara.  She's never really worn one and she had to get used to it for the 13.1  mile run.  My husband dropped us off, and I gave him the longest and strongest hug of our 10 year marriage, and said goodbye. 

The flight was good, and we met a mother with her two daughters who were on their way to the same destination.  We were being called princess by the stewardesses, and it was a very nice and easy flight.  Once we got checked in to our hotel, it was off to the ESPN expo for packet pick up.  As we walked toward the tent for our check in, we were met by the pumpkin coach and two footmen.  Cute, but we were on a mission to get our bibs, so we would have to come back to them later.  Then we entered, and who was there taking pictures?  Cinderella!!!!  You would have think I saw some international celebrity I was so excited; but I mustered my strength to pass her up as well to stay focused on the mission.  We got in line and got our bibs, but we had to go back.  I couldn't leave there without getting my picture with my favorite princess!  Unfortunately, when we got back, she had to take a break.  So off to the expo we went.  There we got our shirts and what I can only describe as the worst goody bag EVER!  It had virtually nothing in it - just our shirts and the program guide for the weekend which we had received via e-mail and that was it!  We walked around a bit and got a Luna mini bar, a banana from the Chiquita girl, and a moon pie from someone, I don't know who.  They were also giving out yogurt samples, which was great because at this point we were starving.   The official race merchandise was pretty picked over, so we took off to take our picture with the princess running glass slipper.

Then we went back to see the original girl with the glass slipper.  I totally played it cool, and acted completely nonchalant.

Don't we look like BFF's?
Me.  Playing it cool.

Next we were off to our pre-race dinner at the Kona Cafe at the Polynesian resort.  We had about an hour or so until our reservation, so we had a seat by the bar.  I was trying my best to follow coach Ric's eating plan, but if ever a drink was in order it was now.  It was just me and Angela, friends for over 20 years, alone without children on the eve of the race of a lifetime.  We toasted, me with my glass of Syrah and her with a fruity mojito.  We met some fellow runners for dinner, and then it was off to bed before our 3 am wake up call. 

And 3 am came all too early.  We got dressed and boarded the buses which took us to the entrance of Epcot.  Then we had to walk (and walk and walk) to the starting area where there was bag drop off and what not.  There were a million portalets and we gathered in an area, not really sure what we were doing.  Soon enough the line started moving and we were off on a back road of the park walking and walking and walking to what we could only assume was the start line.  I commented to Angela that we were like sheep, blindly following into the unknown which could be our death, like the Volturi in New Moon.

 Finally, after probably 13 miles itself, we were at the start line and we entered our corral.  They were playing music and we could see Jeff Galloway on the stage with the fairy godmother.  We gave each other a big hug and then it was time to start.  With a wave of her magic wand, the fairy godmother shouted bibbidy bobbity boo, and the fireworks went off and the first corral started.  It was really cool.  Soon enough, we had our own fireworks and we were off.  We were in a crowd of people and running our way past a high school band.  Clothes were all along the sides of the roads as people were shedding their first layers.  It wasn't long before the portalettes were lining the side of the road with long lines behind them.  That didn't bother many of the princesses on the run though.  You could see plenty of people making their way to the bushes and back.  We didn't have to go that bad.  Luckily.

After the band, the ship and it's captain Jack Sparrow were up next.  The line for the photo ops were long, so we just smiled and continued on.  Angela was maintaining a pretty good pace with me, and we enjoyed the sights that were available including a hot air balloon in all its majesty in the median of World Drive.  I wish now that I would have taken a picture of the mile markers, but really we were concerned about time, so we didn't take the time to do it.  There were the villains, Lady Tremaine and her ugly stepsister daughters, Cruella DeVille, Maleficent, and the Queen of Hearts.  Rapunzel and Flynn had a stop.  We saw a beautiful Tiana and Prince Navine. There were so many that I wish I could remember, but up until this point, I was in a zone and feeling great.

Soon enough, we were coming up closer to the park.  I felt really great at this point.  I was in the groove, and I kept check with Angela to make sure she was behind me.  There was a really neat point of the race as we got closer where we went under a bridge and the monorail was right above us.  There was loud music and characters on the bridge calling out things to us and taking pictures.  It was just a neat feeling and I danced a little with my run. 

Soon enough, we were being led by the course to the side entrance of the Magic Kingdom and we turned the corner and we were on Main Street USA.  The castle was before us, and it was a spectacular sight.  I've never been, so it was a neat experience for me. 
Unfortunately at this point, we had to stop for a bathroom break.  The line out of the women's bathroom was really long, but the  men's was shorter.  So we got in line in the men's bathroom.  It was all women of course, except for a few princes who had to go and didn't really care that we were there. 

We were detoured into Tomorrowland and around the back of the castle.  We paused for more pictures behind the castle, and we did take a minute to really enjoy it.
Just fantastic!

Around the corner, we saw Aurora with her prince and Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather.  We rounded a corner somewhere and at mile 7 they had speakers blasting Kelly Clarkston's Stronger for a long stretch.  I'd never heard that song before but it sounds like a great anthem.  And after that, we had firemen greeting us by a firetruck with ladder extended and all.  The funniest one though was a group of guys in tuxedos with hot pink vests and cumberbuns.  They had pillows with glass slippers and wedding ring boxes.  They were singing songs, but as I passed they were shouting out things like, "Will you marry me?"  and "If you want to marry me, just keep running!"  I cracked up. 

It was somewhere between mile 7.5 and 9 however that I lost track of Angela.  I would get ahead, and then I would stop for a minute until I found her again; but suddenly, I was too far ahead, so I kept going knowing that she was safe from the sweepers at this point. 
Without Angela though, I had no track of time for my intervals.  But I felt really great, so I didn't mind just running.  I stopped for the water stations and even took a minute to answer Kelly who had texted me a nice good luck message.  Before I knew it, I was at the loop that would take me back to Epcot.  This was a long loop and it was inclined and slightly slanted, so I pretty much walked most of it.  I was feeling good but getting tired, and since I knew I wasn't going to beat my Mardi Gras time, I didn't stress over the break.  I ran again when I got to Epcot Center Drive, but I did take some walk breaks too.  As I made the turn to go over the bridge and into Epcot, a guy with a microphone asked me where I was from and he announced my hometown over loud speakers.  That gave me an extra bounce, and when I was entering the park, I saw this woman behind the gates.  She was in a wheelchair and had a sign that said, "Hello complete stranger!  I'm proud of you, too!"  I felt my eyes water up, and I smiled at her and kept going.  I wish now that I would have stopped to thank her.  Luckily, someone did take a picture of her, so at least I have that.

As I was led into the back of the park, I stopped to take a picture of the Epcot ball, then I was in the park on the path that was lined with park goers and spectators.  It was pretty amazing running in the park with people cheering you on the whole time.  We were directed over toward the World Showcase and then detoured back toward the finish line.  It was here that I saw Chip and Dale, and I stopped to take my picture with them since I knew I was close to finishing and I was a little more relaxed.  

As I turned again, there was a gospel choir singing Joyful, Joyful.  And that, my friends, was amazing!  They were there lifting us up in the last 2/10 of a mile with the Lord's beautiful music. 

It was awesome, and then there was only one more corner before the finish line was in view.  And I ran.  I vaguely remember seeing Minnie Mouse on the sidelines, but I was so focused on the finish, that I passed her up. 

After all, she's no Cinderella!  ;)

I crossed the line, alone, and I threw my arm up in the air in triumph.  It was far from my best time, but it was so much fun, even more so before I lost track of Angela.  I went on through and got my medal, and someone gave me a bottle of water.  I took a breath, and then made my way back to the finish line. 

And I watched and I waited for Angela to come in.  Then I panicked.  What if she fell?  What if something happened to her?  Just like that, in two seconds, I was freaking out, and in the next second, she was in view.  I could see her running it in, and I felt tears falling from my eyes.  She crossed the finish line with her arms thrown up in victory!  She had made it, and I ran up to her to give her a congratulatory hug!  She had done it!

We stopped and stretch for a minute before getting our treat box and getting back on the bus.  Our treat box had little sample size hummus, crackers, fruit and nut mix, and a chocolate.  Really?  That's what we get for the outrageous price of this race?  At the Mardi Gras run we had pizza and breakfast tacos, and all Disney gave us was a sample treat box.  I don't mean to complain but between this post-race "food" and our lack of goodies in our goody bag left me thinking that Disney has much to learn about such things.  You would think Disney could do better.  Or rather would do better.  They can certainly afford it.
We got back on the bus to go back to our hotel and get showers.  I got out of the shower, and Angela was fast asleep.  So I did the only thing to do, I laid down myself to doze off for a few.  After waking up and getting ready to hit the parks, there was a knock at the door.  I thought it was housekeeping, and I was going to tell them to come back in about  30 minutes after we left, but instead I was greeted by a huge bouquet of flowers. 

"Is there an Angela here?" the lady asked.

"There is!!" I screamed.  And again, I was close to tears.  Her husband had sent her this amazing arrangement of roses to let her know how proud he was of her for accomplishing
this goal, and I thought that was awesome.

She got the flowers, and read the card.  Then she screamed, "They're from your husband, too!"

Our husbands are AWESOME!

Somehow, they had planned this and collaborated to send us this gift with a card that let us know that we inspire them.

I don't think it can get much better than that! 

We wore our medals in the parks for the next couple of days, and everywhere we went people were congratulating us on the half marathon and saying nice things.  It was so cool.  It really was such a fun race, and I wish I would have stopped more to take more pictures so I could remember everything.  I do tend to zone out when I run, so I tried to make a mental note of things, but I know I'm leaving out a lot. 

But not the most important things.  We came, we saw, we ran. 

And I loved every minute of it.

1 comment:

  1. That's pretty much how it all went down.
    Btw, I was there for the ENTIRE kiss good-bye! Ahhhhwk-ward!!! ;)