My first half marathon ever was the Disneyland Half Marathon in 2009. After that I completed Disneyland Half in 2010 and Tinker Bell Half Marathon in 2012 and 2013. The common denominator? Disneyland. We live in So Cal so we are Disneyland Annual Passholders and can easily do a Disneyland race without too much pre-planning. We never imagined we would be able to run a race at Disney World (we have very hectic schedules- and it is a pricey trip!). We had dreamed of getting a Coast to Coast medal but we never imagined it would actually happen!
The Tinker Bell Half Marathon 2012 was our favorite races of all time so we knew we would be participating again in 2013 so as soon as registration opened we were all over it! During that time Laurie's sister Amy was talking about us doing another family Disney World trip (previously we went with her in 2009). We knew how much Amy loved Disney World, so we had mentioned to her about the Princess Half Marathon weekend and she surprised us by saying she wanted to sign up as her first half marathon! We would make it a family trip and go for the week. Amy's 5 year old daughter Bella would do the kids race. Laurie's mom decided she would join us and do the 5k. I invited my parents to join us and do the 5k. Before we knew it we had a family racecation (race + vacation). We all registered as soon at the race opened and began planning our trip.
Laurie and I flew in on Friday night and met up with our families. They were winding down for the night to participate in the Royal Family 5k and Kids Races (my recap is here). Saturday was a very long morning of cheering for our runners followed by Laurie and I going to the expo.
The expo was NUTS. By the time we got there Saturday afternoon I was well aware (thanks to social media) that it was going to be crowded. I work with Pre-School aged children so over the years my patience has grown exponentially! I am thankful for that because the expo was so packed it truly tried our patience. We received our race bibs and we received our wrist bands for the Coast to Coast challenge!
Fit snug with my Nike Fuel Band
We walked over and grabbed our t-shirts and then explored the expo a bit. It was so packed you could barely walk around but we still enjoyed ourselves. I bought a team sparkle Princess Half Marathon exclusive t-shirt that said "Running Happily Ever After". I love it! Laurie got a new road bicycle charm necklace- it's adorable and she got many compliments on it all week. By the time we got into the official merchandise section so many things were sold out. Laurie got a coast to coast t-shirt, they didn't have my size left, and we got a princess half vinylmation medal. I really really wanted a coffee mug- but they were sold out!
We returned to our hotel room and feasted on some pizza, our tried and true pre-race meal. Since we were still on Pacific Time we had a lot of difficulty winding down to go to bed. That combined with excitement made it nearly impossible! Around midnight we finally fell asleep. Our alarm to wake up went off at 2:30am. Yep- not a lot of sleep for us! We drank our coffee and had some light breakfast and headed out to the shuttle stop around 3:15am.
There were many princess runners staying in our hotel and we were able to see some great outfits! We arrived at the race start with plenty of time to drop off our bag and use the restrooms before they called us out for our long walk to our Corral.
Already packed just walking into the meetup area to wait for our walk to the Corral's
Pre-race picture of Ariel, Belle, and Cinderella
We did our walk over to the Corral's to wait for the race to begin. There was so much excitement in the air! I am easily cold- and once I am cold it is very difficult for me to warm up. I know so many princesses were complaining about the heat- but I felt perfect! I didn't need to stress out about throw-away clothes. I was fine in my tank top and arm-sleeves.
Laurie and I were in Corral C- our Tink Half time would have put us in B (my Long Beach time would have put me in A). We moved back to be with Amy in Corral E. We had no intention of speeding through the course- our only goal was to help Amy finish her first half marathon! It is a different world starting farther back in the Corrals (more on that further down) and we had to watch several Corral's start before us.
As we waited the crowd busted into song- I recorded it with my camera! It shows the energy at the beginning of the race. This is one of the reasons I LOVE the RunDisney races!
I had some trouble turning the camera off - it's new!
Then it was our turn to go and the Fairy Godmother bid us adieu with some fireworks.
off we go!
The first few miles were in the dark. Our pace was slower than Laurie and I had trained but we got to have a different perspective on the race. We looked around a lot more and took many more pictures! We had asked Amy which pictures were "must have's" for her and decided to stop any time she wanted to. My only "must have" was Gaston! If he was on course I really wanted a picture with him.
heading towards Magic Kingdom!
Our first must have photo stop was the villans. Amy loves them and wanted to get a picture. It was a longer wait but we had a cushion since we started in Corral E. This was my first race where I was worried about our pace. I was a little stressed about the long waits- Amy MUST finish! She was never a runner (ever) and had trained to do this race. We would not let her down.
They were all in character and were hilarious!
We inched closer to Magic Kingdom and I saw Lumiere! Since I was dressed as belle- this was a must have for me. I pulled over and told Laurie and Amy to keep going. THIS was the picture I got:
yep, I blew it. That's his little arm. My head blocked him!
I sped up to catch up with Amy and Laurie- and it felt good to run! We entered the Magic Kingdom and I was loving all of it! When we run the Disneyland races it's definitely cool but we go so often that I know most of the surroundings. Disney World is a much different story so I really was enjoying our run down Main Street!
I think it's safe to say that Laurie was also enjoying it!
They had a bunch of volunteer's helping take photos here
We then ran through Tomorrowland and turned into the new Fantasyland area! I had never seen it in person so I was loving it all- even the Mine Train construction! Then - there he was - Gaston!! AND he had a short line- so we jumped in!
He said to me "Bonjour Belle" to which I responded "Bonjour Gaston" (of course)
Then we turned towards the castle. The castle at Disney World is significantly larger than the castle at Disneyland so I got a picture of Laurie heading in.
You can see the trumpeters in the distance
WOW the castle was packed! We had to walk very slowly through the castle. It smelled very un-princess like in there!
eek! So many princesses walking through
Laurie and I broke off from Amy to take a picture with Jessie (Laurie's favorite) and to take a picture with Cinderella in the background.
Cinderella with Prince Charming
We caught up with Amy and kept on running. Amy had told us that at mile 6 she would start walking- and we told her we would do anything to stay with her. At this point with all of our picture stops (there were more- but I figured I would limit the pics on this already LONG post) we were at a very slow pace and Laurie and I were starting to worry about where the sweepers were. We knew we were in front of many people but since Amy wanted to walk at mile 6 we wanted to make sure we could build our cushion! We kept running past the half way point (yep- Amy went past 6 miles running) where they were playing the fan voted song- "Girl on Fire" by Alicia Keys
Half way and I felt amazing!
Just past here was our hotel where my mom, dad, Laurie's mom Sue and Amy's daughter Bella were supposed to be. I had circled on maps and signed them up for runner tracking. I also had warned them of potential times we would be there. We thought they were prepared to see us there and then head on the monorail to the finish line. As we ran past they were nowhere in sight! Ugh! Laurie and we not too concerned but we wanted Sue and Bella to see Amy running! We called and texted them and it turns out they had made very unfortunate yet very understandable error. When we signed all of them up for runner tracking they were not aware it was in Kilometers. So when they got the text that we were at 10k they misread it as 10 miles and they thought they missed us! They were on their way to the finish line. We shook it off, took a picture with the Genie and carried on.
Could we wish our family back to see us?
At this point we started walking. As I mentioned it is a completely different race when you are in the back of the pack. It was very crowded and there were not a lot of people out there smiling. In fact, some people looked pretty miserable, injured and or sweaty. There were other people enjoying the race- but I think we were in with a group that was stressing out about the sweepers. As Laurie and I had done several Disney races- we were used to all smiles and happy excited people. It was strangely quiet back there as we were nearing the last few miles. I had an epiphany at this point that maybe I COULD do a full marathon if I slowed my pace down. We made it to 10 miles- the longest Amy had ever gone!
The farthest Amy had ever gone!
Amy reiterated that she was done running but would instead walk. We obliged of course but we told her that she would need to walk fast so we could keep our pace fast enough! When we got near Epcot we knew we would make it! We saw Sue and Bella just before mile 12 and Sue was screaming and crying (for Amy) that she was going to do it! Her waterworks in turn made our waterworks start :) Once we saw spaceship earth we knew we were so close!
had to do a jump photo
We passed the gospel choir and headed towards the finish line. We saw my parents cheering on the final stretch! My parents live in South Carolina- and we live in California so any chance for them to see me run is wonderful for me. We held hands and crossed together! Amy did it- and we would be getting our Coast to Coast medals!!
Amy's first medal!
we did it! Added our Tink Half medal for pictures
Bella joined us for a picture with Rapunzel
Our final time was 3:46 - our longest by almost an hour but it felt like it went much faster than that. We were so happy that Amy finished! Laurie and I also discussed the possibility of doing this race again but running the whole thing. It was such a great time for us- we were so excited that we had done it AND we still had 5 days at Disney to enjoy!
My new favorite medal the coast to coast! Also loved the Princess medal.
I celebrated with a caramel apple- my favorite!
Laurie did a "medal Monday" picture with all of her medals (and Oswald ears)
We really loved running this race! It was definitely an eye opening experience for us, but in a good way. Laurie has often felt like all of her training was not helping her out, as she felt like she was too slow. With all of the energy she had at the end of the half marathon she really started to understand that she was, in fact, a runner. We loved everything about this race- but especially the fact that our families were there to participate and support us. I wish Disney World was closer- but I can say that some time down the road we WILL do another Disney World race!
Next up? Wedding planning. I am on a race hiatus since we need to save money. I will still be running, and I will keep my distance up but there will be no "races" until my next very exciting one- the Dumbo Double Dare at Disneyland in September! For that race I will do the 10k on Saturday and the Disneyland Half Marathon on Sunday. I can't wait!