Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap 2016

From the Expo to Post Race Fun it's time to give a recap of Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend. I read SO MANY recap posts before running my first half marathon I thought I would contribute. 

THE EXPO.

To me, the expo was the most overwhelming part of the weekend. It's possible it felt that way because it was my first time at a runDisney event or the fact that I was having some race day anxiety but it was overwhelming to me to say the least.

The expo takes place at the Wide World of Sports complex. You can choose to take a bus from your Disney resort or drive yourself. This was our first stop on arrival day so we drove ourselves. There was plenty of parking and the complex is really nice!

EXPO TIPS:

  • Bring your signed waiver. These are available online before the race after bib numbers are released. Have it printed out and signed. It saves you a step at the expo.
  • Go get your bib first! There is so much merchandise to be distracted by so I suggest going and taking care of what you NEED to do first.
  • NEXT go get your race tee. Now you are done with the things you HAVE TO do. At any moment if you are too overwhelmed you can just leave.
  • Shopping: There is a lot of cute stuff. Especially the runDisney stuff made special for the event. Don't let the fear of it selling out make your weekend MORE crazy. Take your time getting to the expo and be content to shop what they have left when you get there. It will save you a lot of disappointment!
  • As always with Disney you must pack your patience. There are 20,000 runners trying to get there items as well over the course of the expo. There will be lines. Stuff we be sold out. People are just as overwhelmed as you are. 
  • There were a few character meet and greets as well as picture spots but like I said I was so overwhelmed I didn't take many photos! Maybe next time when I have an idea of what's going on I will be more prepared for that! I ended up purchasing a shirt, headband and a Tervis from the expo. Because I looked at the available merchandise ahead of time, I had an idea of what I wanted and only one thing I had my eye on had sold out by the time we got there.
  • The Expo is a beast that cannot be avoided. If you don't care about the merch or get overwhelmed easily I suggest getting your bib and your tee and getting out of there. 

We went to the Expo on Thursday, the first day, which meant we still had 2 full days before the race. We stopped by Epcot for a while on Friday and then lunch and walking around Disney Springs on Saturday but we tried to keep it as easy going as possible. I didn't want to be totally exhausted for race day.

We stayed at my in-laws condo that week, Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort. Because we were staying at a Non-Disney hotel there was no transportation provided. What that meant was we had to leave a little earlier than normal to beat the traffic and account for any road closures. That 2:30am wake up call was EARLY GUYS. We were out the door by 3:00am and parked at Epcot by 3:15am. I would do this again even if we are staying on property. It was so nice to get there, park close and take a little rest in the car before having to head to the corrals.

We even had time to wait in a line and take these pre race pics. We look super good for it not even being 4am yet!

Next was time to wait in my first bathroom line of the day, and then take the 1+ mile walk to the corals. You start out in the staging area, what eventually becomes the finish line, it's quite a walk to the actual corals.

BATHROOM TIP

  • Find your coral, then potty. It would have saved us some waiting in line, and the ones down by the corals were MUCH less used than the ones here.

We dropped off friends who were in different corals and made our way to M. (note: Cameron was actually in coral L but they allow you to move back a coral, just not forward). From there we still had a good wait, we listened to music, had sing-a-longs and we watched the fireworks go off for corals A-L. Here is where I made my first mistake. By this point I already needed to pee again, but I was so nervous about missing my coral, I decided to try and hold it until we got started. There were people running down a hill to use the potties there RIGHT before it was our turn to start and in hindsight I should have joined them. Even if it meant missing my coral start, I would have lost less time overall. 

You can see it's still dark. We have now been up for 3+ hours and it's finally time to start this thing!

Disney Princess Half Marathon Start
 

I love that each coral gets their own set of fireworks and a big send off. It made it so special!

Another BATHROOM TIP

  • You can enter/exit your coral at anytime, pay attention to what coral they are calling to start, and if you think you might have to go before mile 4 GO NOW. Even if it means starting later than planned.
Magic Kingdom

I think running through this was my favorite part of the entire race. Maybe because I always try to get a pic of it when we are driving in and it's never quite right. The sun was just coming up too, so it was perfect.

I had it in my mind, if we could just get to Magic Kingdom TTC we could use a real bathroom and wouldn't have to wait in a crazy long line. The bathrooms which I was told are almost always open for races, were closed. It would be another mile to get inside Magic Kingdom. Cameron, our friend Mackenzie and I couldn't wait any longer for a bathroom and decided to go to the next set we saw. Us and everyone else it felt like.

We lost a good 15 min waiting for a bathroom here. This really threw me for a loop. I began to stress and worry about my time more and more. But we took some time in Magic Kingdom and enjoyed running around a mostly empty park.

There were lots of people there with cute and funny signs giving out high fives and cheering everyone on. It really added to the fun!

Disney Princess Half Marathon

PHOTO TIP

  • Everyone waits in front of the castle to get a pic, but this shot was so perfect! After you run through the castle and you are going over the Frontier Land bridge is the perfect photo spot!

The first 8 miles we super fun (minus the bathroom). You are running from Epcot to Magic Kingdom, around Tomorrowland, through the Castle, through Frontierland, and some backstage areas. +8 is when it started to get harder and harder to stay motivated. It's mostly roads, with a few entertainment spots and character stops along the way. But the roads NARROW A LOT. This causes bottle necks and a lot of spots where it becomes nearly impossible to run. We made up a lot of time by running in the grass around people, it also added to our actual mileage with all of the weaving in and out of groups.

Miles 10-11 there are 2 overpasses that you have to go up a ramp and over. I was already tired and worried about my time, and having to slow down for these didn't help. BUT WE MADE IT! By the time you get over the hardest part of the race, you can see Spaceship Earth and you know the end is near.

The crowds cheering and entertainment gets going again too as you run through the Epcot parking lot and backstage areas.

spectator TIP

  • My parents and brother decided at the last min to join us for the weekend and come cheer us on. They did not buy the ChEAR Squad package. Because they had a ticket to Epcot for the day, they were able to get in when the park opened and wait for us right between the fountain and Spaceship Earth. It was a great viewing area with lots of space!
Disney Princess Half Marathon

Photo credit to my Dad who asked me to make sure to credit him.

Disney Princess Half Marathon

Can you tell we are glad it's almost over? Overall, still looking pretty great for being up for 7+ hours and running almost 13.1 miles.

You are so close to being finished as you run around Spaceship Earth and back out another backstage area.

You can hear the finish line, as you run toward it and past the ChEAR squad stands. There is an announcer as you cross the finish line shouting out everyone's names it was so awesome!

So all done! Everyone was given their medal after they cross, and then a heat blanket again (it was chilly at the start so they also had them then as well). This is where you either go pick up anything youGEAR checked or go right to getting your snack box, water and heading to the meet up area.

Cameron and I are gluten free, and I was happy to find almost everything in the snack box were things we could eat.

RunDisney

From there, we waited for Jenn and Nate to finish and headed back to the condo for a shower! Again I was glad we were able to just jump in our car, which was parked super close, and get home. We didn't have to wait for buses to take us anywhere.

This was a surprise because everyone had scared me about how horrible it would be to drive. But like I mentioned before I think that's the way I would do it again!

I was so proud of myself and all the friends who trained with me! A year of hard work paid off and it was time to go celebrate at Epcot! AND EAT ALL THE FOOD.

Overall, I had a blast! I think Disney is the best place to run your first big race. There were a few ladies who were taking themselves a little too seriously considering the fact they were in the back of the pack like me, but I think you will find that anywhere. Overall, for the most part it was all pixie dust and encouragement!

We are already planning our next RunDisney race for 2017!

Sunday Lately Week 60

As this post is going live we will be almost finished with our first HALF MARATHON. The Disney Princess Half Marathon.

So this post is past Nicole writing about future Nicole's first half marathon.

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Completing

our first half marathon (like right now)!!!!! Queue all the confetti and all that fun stuff. Minnie and Mickey will be there to congratulate me at the finish line along with our family, and friends that we trained with and are running with us!

Visiting

Epcot right after this!

We have lunch planned with the Princesses at the Norway pavilion, and I can't wait to show off my shiny medal!

Repeating

YOU CAN DO IT, or at least Cameron is saying this to me over and over today. He is an awesome motivator.

Writing

This post a few days in the future so I hope all of the things I am talking about actually happen, haha!

Scheduling

Everything is all scheduled for the trip, after the race is done it's time to sit back and enjoy the rest of the trip!

Nicole Runs #5 + Atlanta Hot Chocolate 15k

We are officially 25 days away from the DISNEY PRINCESS HALF MARATHON. I wanted to do a quick running check in and a recap of the Atlanta Hot Chocolate 15k/5k.

Nicole Runs the Disney Princess Half

When I drafted this post I intended to tell you all about how I totally rocked the Atlanta Hot Chocolate 15k.

Then winter happened.

The closer we got to race day, the more sure I became that we were going to freeze our butts off. With a winter storm just days before, and a foretasted wind chill at 15* they decided to implement the cold weather plan. 

This meant that if you couldn't maintain under a 13 min/mile pace, you would be moved to the 5k course (the previous required pace was 15 min/mile). In all of my training I have gotten from +17 min/mile pace down to a solid 14:10 min/mile pace but there was no way I was going to shatter my personal best and PR in a race that was happening on the coldest day of the year with some serious wind and Atlanta hills to tackle.

When we walked down to the staging areas, there was a stage where they had a Zumba instructor getting everyone warmed up before the race and a single space heater that had about 20 people stuffed inside a bus stop looking thing. Oh and about 100 port-a-potties. That was good news for me because I never had to wait very long to take a pee break!

Our crew before we headed to the corals. My friend Melanie, my sister in law Jenn and her friend Danielle!

Our crew before we headed to the corals. My friend Melanie, my sister in law Jenn and her friend Danielle!

It was my first experience with corals and more than like 100 people participating in a race.

It was my first experience with corals and more than like 100 people participating in a race.

Getting ready to cross the marshmallow starting line.

Getting ready to cross the marshmallow starting line.

We headed to our corals and there was some (read: mass) confusion. I think we ended up in the right spot. There was lots of yelling and we couldn't really hear the announcer.

I got off to a pretty slow start. I don't know if it was the cold or what but I would say about 90% of the people in our coral were walkers who didn't know how to stay to a slow side. By the time I found my pace, we hit a BIG hill. Between the hills and the fact that I was worried about how quickly one might get frostbite being out in freezing temps, I wasn't running my best. 

By the time we got to mile 2, and it was clear they weren't going to let us to the 15k I kicked my butt into gear and ran the rest of the way to make up some time.

I think in the confusion of everything, my time didn't get recorded for the 5k, but according to my apple watch I accomplished what I wanted, a sub 45 min 5k time.

Once we crossed the finish, we were handed water - which was FREEZING as I was drinking it. Then I went to get my medal. Even though we didn't get to complete the 15k, everyone who signed up for it was still given their finisher medals.

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Which I was happy for because it may or may not have been the reason I signed up.

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I met up with Melanie and we pretend to eat our shiny chocolate medals before heading off to get in line to get our finisher mugs.

FINALLY I am a happy camper because I have my chocolate. Not pictured the sugar coma that followed.

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Overall, it was colder than it was fun. I think the winter weather plan kind of threw everyone off. It was my first time experiencing corals and a large number of people so I am glad I got to see how that all works before we head to Disney! AHHH.

I'm headed out now to finish up my miles so I can feel proud displaying my medal! Have you ever done a Hot Chocolate race?

Nicole Runs #4

Nicole Runs the Disney Princess Half Marathon

Today marks 44 days until we run the Disney Princess Half Marathon. As I cross the days off of my calendar I am getting more and more excited and nervous. 

Earlier this week they released the race medals and it made it all so much more real and exciting. 

Disney Princess Half Marathon 2016

Let's just talk about this beauty for a second, If anything was going to get me to run 13.1 miles it would be Disney and this amazing medal. 

I have started ramping up my training this week. As a kind of YOU CAN DO THIS I signed up for the Atlanta Hot Chocolate 15k at the end of this month. I figured if I can get out there and run just over 9 miles on the streets of Atlanta I can make 13.1 miles happen at Disney World.

I am crossing a lot of to do's off my list. I have had my leggings for a few months now thanks to Albion Fit and now I just have to put together the rest of my Cinderella inspired look. With all the new regulations regarding costuming for the races I am glad I decided to go with a more Disney Bound approach to my look rather than full on Princess dress. I have no interest in using a port-a-potty in a tutu. 

A new pair of shoes have been ordered so I can begin to break them in. I actually ordered a new color of the same shoe so I know I love them. I may be a half marathon newbie but it's not a good idea to run 13.1 miles in new shoes. 

I highly recommend these shoes.That's not an affiliate link I just super love them. I also searched and found the perfect running bra for me. (that one is an affiliate link) I found it on REI Outlet for 40% off so I would check there too!

ALSO since it decided to actually get cold here I ran up to Target earlier this week and picked up a pair of their running leggings (hello $15). 

Love these for winter runs!

I have only ran in them once but they seem to be perfect for what I need them for and SUPER COMFY.

While I was at Target I picked up a pack of classic Goody's headbands. Since my Disney Bound includes recreating Cinderella's headband and bun look for the race I thought it would be good to practice with that hair for a little bit. Then once I know for sure they headband will work for me, Hobby Lobby here I come.

All in all, I may not be where I wanted to be 44 days out from the race, but life happens and I know I can do this. I have also tired to be a little less crazy Disney list lady about this trip. I haven't planned out our fast passes or made too many dining reservations. I want to make sure our main focus is this race, and honestly I don't know how I am going to feel after running 13.1 miles on that Sunday morning. 

I am however working on my list of things I need to pack and get ready. The good thing is, if I forget anything we are getting there a few days early with plenty of time to pick up anything I may have forgotten. 

Have you run a half-marathon or marathon? Anything I should add to my list of MUST BRINGS?

PS how cute are these little Run Disney wings my in-laws picked up for me at WDW? I am so in love!

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Nicole Runs #3 - June Update

Since the beginning of this year I have been training for the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February 2016 [Part 1 and 2 of Nicole Runs]

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Since I began my running journey at the end of January I have logged about 50 miles, and got my average pace down to 14:27 from 16:45. Not too bad! I ran a 5k, and learned a lot. June is almost over and tomorrow we are going to pay money to commit to running 13.1 miles. Scary stuff for a girl who always wimped out on gym class.

Here are some things that I have learned over the last few months that might help beginning runners like me.

Having a SET goal helps.

I learned this the hard way. Yes, since the beginning the goal has been to run the Disney Princess half-marathon in February 2016. But with that being over a year away at the time I started my training I knew I would need smaller goals along the way. 

I signed up for, and completed my first race, a 5k. The cutie in purple next to me is Meghan from Hayes Days, she's part of our Disney running team!

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Having the 5k paid for and on my calendar helped me remain motivated. After the excitement of running my first race wore off, I kind of fell into a running slump. I was inconsistent, and unmotivated. February seemed so far away. And we had some of the hottest weeks I have ever experienced living in Georgia (more on that later). 

I am just now getting back into the swing of things. The plans on RunKeeper help a lot! But having something that you can look at and know FOR SURE is happening, is the best motivation for me. From now on I always want to make sure I am signed up for something. 

It's all about support. 

I wouldn't have gotten this far if I didn't have my group texts from my princess running buddies, and Cameron telling me to go for my run. I am the queen of reasons why I can't run today excuses.

New things keep you excited.

A new tank top, pair of shorts, or shoes might just be the thing that makes you excited for your run that day. 

When the weather is bad, don't quit. 

This was my major problem I had for the month of June. We had two solid weeks of 95+ temps. If you didn't get up and out by 5am it was too hot to run. On top of the extreme heat the air quality was awful. 

We do not have a treadmill, or a gym membership and my neighborhood runs were just not an option. I was able to get in some cardio on the days I couldn't make my runs happen thanks to YouYube. Especially the Fitness Blender channel. 

I got this.

In February I couldn't even run a mile. I am not being dramatic, that is a true statement. So running down a pair of shoes, logging over 50 miles, and completing a 5k are all things that I am so excited I was able to accomplish in a short period of time. I know when February 2016 comes around. I got this!