Settle in, this is a long one. But there are lots of pictures, so enjoy!
After the 10k and Kids Races on Saturday, I did resist the temptation to go to the theme parks with Erik and Eli because I knew I needed to rest up before the Half the next morning. We did head over to Downtown Disney using all the forms possible of Disney transportation. For a three-year old, that’s even better than regular rides. So, we took the monorail from Epcot to the TTC, then the Ferry from the TTC to Magic Kingdom, then a small resort boat from Magic Kingdom to Wilderness Lodge, then a bus from Wilderness Lodge to Downtown Disney. Hey, it made Eli happy and I got to sit a lot; win-win!
At Downtown Disney we got a quick but hearty lunch at Wolfgang Puck’s Express. I had the kid’s mac and cheese (omg so good) and part of a pizza. This may explain how puffy I look in my pictures below! While Erik and Eli did some lego shopping, I headed over to the new Fit2Run to pick up a purple Garmin Forerunner 10 because I didn’t want to run a half marathon with this on my arm:
A brief thunderstorm blew through and I realized that Erik had the bag with three umbrellas in it and I had none! Oh well, a little rain never bothered me anyways. After getting my new precious, I headed back to the resort to clean up and meet up with Karen and Rachel at the POP pool. After that, I got some fried rice from the POP food court (delicious!) and then headed back to the room while Erik and Eli left for the Magic Kingdom. I was going to watch a movie, but realized that I needed to pack and get my stuff ready for the next morning. We were checking out at 11am on Sunday, so I had to pre-pack as much as possible on Saturday night. Not as relaxing and peaceful as I’d hoped, but necessary.
I went to sleep around 7pm, with a brief disturbance at 8:30pm when some kid ran by knocking on all the doors and shaking the door handles. Not cool, kid, not cool at all. I woke up again when Erik and Eli came back but got back to a light sleep pretty quickly. I woke up at 11pm from a dream that I’d missed the race (I’m nothing if not consistent, the same thing happened last year!) but I was able to snooze a bit more until about 1am.
I got up and got dressed, made a cup of coffee (yes I brought my Keurig machine with me!), decided to leave the arm sleeves and separate collar part of my costume because of the heat and humidity (close to 100%).
I took a Luna protein bar with me and headed off to the bus to meet up with Karen. With great timing, we actually met on the sidewalk on the way to the bus, which was really nice. Although we were at least 5 minutes early, we saw the first bus pull away as we walked up. No worries, there were two more behind it and we got right on the next one, in the front two seats. The bus then went to Art of Animation where there was already a pretty big line of ladies. We only had room for five more, so I feel pretty bad for anyone staying there unless they got more buses pretty quickly. It would have been really frustrating to see a mostly full bus pull up and not be able to get on it!
Again, getting on an early bus paid off with no waiting and no traffic. It was so nice to have Karen to chat with because my pre-race anxiety and craziness was ramping up. I had these visions of Tink running through my head, I was terrified of a repeat of that or even worse, somehow not finishing and not getting my C2C or GSC medals. Thanks, Karen for putting up with my weirdness.
We got to the staging area and saw this super cute costume.
I did kind of expect to see poor Yoda on the side of the road as hot and humid as it was but I never did. I did see a Boba Fett backpack though and was sorely tempted to pick it up for a future costume!
We headed towards the staging area:
With the generous pockets in our SparkleSkirts, we were able to bypass the bag check area. If only those security guards realized how much sparkleskirts pockets could hold… We saw the volunteers (thank you!) getting the medals unpacked:
I had my armbands all ready for my Coast to Coast and Glass Slipper Challenge:
Here’s my Make it Pink Make it Blue Aurora costume, original version:
And here it is stripped down from the original version to adapt to the weather (no sleeves or collar, crown replaced with a bondiband):
I wish I’d done my hair up in a more interesting way, but between the weather and my pre-race anxiety, I just couldn’t deal with anything more challenging than a ponytail! The lines for these staging area photos were much much longer than the day before.
And the line wasn’t all that quick because there were no cast members doing pictures and shooing people on quickly, so some took a long time. But eventually we got to the front.
|Photo credit: Karen at Losing the Glass Slippers|
While we were waiting, I found this adorable couple. I bet Karen that he’d lose that costume along the course, but I saw them at the finish and he still had it on. That’s commitment! I got all brave and went up and asked them for a picture:
The Princesses in line in front of us were each taking pictures of themselves “in character” for their princess, it was pretty cute. Here’s their group shot. Group costumes are a blast, I need to do one again soon.
Here’s my much less fun picture.
Speaking of fun, I ran into Patty from Margaritas, Miles and the Mouse and got a quick picture of her in her awesome Zurg costume.
And then we ran into Rachel again, who looked great in her Ariel running costume:
|Photo credit: Karen at Losing the Glass Slippers|
And then it was time to head to the long long crowded walk to the corrals.
Karen and I did a final potty stop (which was “eventful” for her) right before the corral entrance (HUGE lines!) and then slipped into the back of our corral which was pretty full by the time we got there.
We didn’t have much of a wait at all before the National Anthem and then the start. With the smaller corrals, it was our turn before I knew it.
Here’s an overview of the course:
You can see that we started at Epcot and ran on the highway for a few miles in the misty fog. It was crowded at the start, and Karen and I were doing different intervals (I was so deeply anxious about a Tink repeat that I did shorter intervals with a 3 minute run/1 minute walk). It is so thrilling to me to be passed by monorails while I run, these actually honked at us, which was fun. I enjoyed waving to the monorail riders!
It seemed like no time at all had passed and there was the Magic Kingdom sign all blurry in the fog but still beautiful.
Now, I was starting to feel like I wanted to do a bathroom stop (I do tend to over-hydrate a little) and I remembered stopping at the TTC last year, but the line was super long and I figured I could wait. We passed these great drummers. I’m not sure if they are the ones from Japan in Epcot, but I think they might have been.
Then we were heading in the narrow, kind of claustrophobic tunnel under the waterway by the Contemporary. While it was narrow, the crowding wasn’t too bad.
Around the bend and there it is, my favorite ride, Space Mountain!
And suddenly, we were in the backstage area of the Magic Kingdom. One lady stopped to take pictures and a cast member said “no photos backstage”. I just kind of laughed, knowing that he’d have a hard time keeping 20k (or more!) ladies from snapping a shot (including me, haha). Here’s my illicit photo:
And then we were on Main Street USA. My favorite part of the race and where I tend to start crying. Something about all those spectators getting up in the ungodly early hours of the morning to cheer on their families and friends and perfect strangers just moves me.
Running through the castle is always a highlight of the PHM! I did a quick video of the approach but put the camera away to enjoy the rest of the experience:
The cast member taking this shot didn’t do such a great job. Maybe Marathonfoto paid her to do a bad job so I’d have to buy their photos. It might work!
Now, some of you might not believe this happened, but after holding out for a while, I decided I’d use the next bathroom I found. Here is where I went.
And this is what I found. This image is not doctored in any way. There was NO wait, and tons of empty stalls. I know, I know, this is like the snuffalufagus of race bathrooms, the loch ness monster of runDisney, but it’s true and I have photographic evidence:
No, you say, you must have taken that at park opening on another day. Well, believe it or not, it’s true. And it was glorious! Ok, on to the almost halfway mark:
You might notice that I’m looking genuinely happy by this point. I must admit that having made it to the Magic Kingdom, I was feeling pretty good. My pace wasn’t awesome, but that wasn’t the point of this race. I was conquering my Tink demons mile by mile. And I was feeling awesome, strong and like a runner!
On our way out of the Magic Kingdom I got this other illicit photo of the Splash Mountain flumes being repaired.
Having conquered the Magic Kingdom, I headed back out towards Epcot. I thought these two photos might help show the crowd level on the course. Most of the way, this is what I alternated between. These two photos were taken just seconds apart, the first one shows a narrow section of the course (I think I was waiting to take a photo with Lilo & Stitch) and while it’s only one lane across, there’s plenty of room to maneuver.
Then, just seconds later (you can see the same lady in both photos) the course seems much more congested. So, it’s just a matter of navigating through the crowded bits to find the free room to run.
Eli is a monorail maniac so I tend to take lots of monorail photos and videos. I took this picture while waiting in line and I didn’t notice until I got home, but that minnie is giving me a nasty look! I guess she thought I was taking photos of her, but, um, no I was just trying to get a good monorail photo. Oh well, Minnie if you happen to read this I’m sorry you thought I was a stalker or something.
And here’s my Lilo & Stitch photo. You can see how foggy it still was.
Soon after this, I was running along and who did I see at the medical tent, but Karen! Her knee was killing her and she was getting some biofreeze. We both grabbed some Tylenol (my first time braving the med tent!) and I offered to run the rest of the way with her. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t want to start the run with her because I was afraid that I’d hold her back if I had a Tink experience and I think I needed to run alone for a bit to exorcise those demons. Now that I had come so far and felt so strong, I really wanted to help her finish strong. We ran along chatting a bit and then came on this sign. It was the furthest Karen had run because of injuries during her training and it was my Aurora as well, so we had to stop for pictures!
Not an exact likeness, but fun anyways! Soon after this, Rachel from RachelandCamera on Twitter caught up with us and we all ran together for a couple of miles. I met her at the Princess Half runDisney meetup last year and she told us how she had moved to Orlando and joined the Disney College Program. Eventually we split up again and Karen and I saw in the distance the most beautiful sight during the PHM. The big EPCOT ball (as Eli calls it), heralding the end of the race.
And Glenda? Who knows? She asked us to yell out whatever word we were thinking and there were some funny ones being shouted out.
One loop and then we were heading towards the finish. I’m so proud of Karen, she pushed through some awful knee pain to finish strong!
You know you’ve made it when you hear the gospel choir!
And then the sprint to the finish!
Ana and Elsa on the Mile 13 marker! And we knew we were going to finish in Karen’s goal of under 3 hours!
And then we did it!
We got our medals and some ice (my knees weren’t hurting but were a little touchy and I knew a few minutes of ice would prevent soreness later). One last photo before we split off, Karen to find her family and me to get my GSC and C2C medals.
Here are my three beauties!
I treated myself to a post-race massage in the massage tent. They had at least 60 beds set up and you paid cash, $1/minute and there was no waiting, just go to a bed, get a quick massage with some assisted stretching and wow I felt so much better! I got my snack box and drinks and headed off to the buses. I skipped the medal engraving this time around. There was a huge line to get back to POP, but they had buses lined up so as soon as one was filled, the next came and I was back at the resort before I knew it. I’m not sure how people walked around with multiple medals, they were really heavy and clanged around a lot. If we’d been able to go to the parks (our annual passes expired on Saturday and we’re being fiscally responsible (sob!) and not renewing this year) I would probably only have worn either the GSC or C2C medal.
I grabbed a HUGE breakfast from the POP restaurant. A little girl in line behind me was very impressed with my medals. And then it was time for a shower, packing and driving home.
It was an amazing weekend, full of new friends, firsts for me and Eli, and conquering some fears. I really enjoyed spending time and racing with Karen (my BRF!) and helping her to finish her first half marathon and push through her knee pain was really special to me, it kind of rekindled the magic I felt when I crossed that finish line last year.
Part of the magic of runDisney is that ordinary people, people who don’t “look” athletic, who may not have invested the time or had the confidence in themselves in the past somehow find themselves saying, “maybe, just maybe I can do that” and lacing up their shoes and buying a sparkle skirt and grinding out the training month after month and picking themselves back up after a failure or injury and transforming themselves through 13.1 miles into an athlete, into a princess, into someone who has conquered the obstacles of self-doubt, procrastination, lack of support, injury, illness and fear, into a warrior. Magic is at its heart just transformation and I haven’t found much in life that is as transformative as these races.
|photo credit: runDisney|
Finishing this race meant that I met my goal of finishing four half marathons (with two 10k’s thrown in for good measure) in four months. I’m not sure it’s totally sunk in even yet that I did that. And I did it well. Without injury. Pushing past a bad race. Finishing even when it was really hard (Tink). Starting even when I was afraid (the John Bingham quote above was more true for this year’s PHM than any other race I’ve run). Training even when I was exhausted and stressed and overworked. Finding a bunch of new friends along the way and discovering that I’m stronger than I thought.