this year's disney princess half marathon marked half marathon #8 for me and the second race in the glass slipper challenge. after the 10k the day before, i wasn't feeling too excited to tackle the half marathon distance. i had only gotten up to 10 miles in training and my overall training had been less than consistent due to this year's snow cursed winter.
but, i was in disney. i was there to run. and i would get to the finish line any way i could; walk, run, hobble, limp. i had mentally agreed with myself that doing a run/walk interval would be fine. i already knew this wasn't a pr race, this was a race to just enjoy - no pressure. (easier said than done!)
i bought the race retreat for the half marathon, so i was a little less stressed the morning of the race than i normally am. having that reserved space seemed to take some anxiety off my plate, so even though race retreat was pricey, in the end, i was thankful that i purchased it. i was able to sit down, get a picture with a couple characters, have private bag check and shorter porta potty lines - not too shabby. it was fun to check out all the runner's costumes and chit-chat with a few other runners beforehand - a little something to calm the nerves that were beginning to fester inside!
|race retreat - pre-race|
when it was time for the 20 minute walk to the start line, my tummy really started rumbling which led to the walk being not so fun. it has been awhile since i've been at a race of this size - something like 25,000 people - so the crowds made me feel even more anxious. by the time we got to the corrals, i bee-lined it to the super long, "last resort" porta potty lines. there were a ton of people jumping barriers to make a bathroom break in the woods, but i wasn't ready to resort to those lengths just yet.
i was in corral d, and i thought the start times were pretty efficient. i started right between 5:40-5:45am, which was what i had mentally prepped for. the start is one of my favorite parts of a disney race: the fireworks and the more than adorable fairy godmother wishing us well and sending us on our way.
|fireworks at the start - from the official|
i was running this race on my third day in my brand new hoka shoes (more on this to come in another post). so i didn't know what to expect. the race could be a total disaster and i could have to toss off my shoes mid way through, or things could end up okay and my feet could survive just fine. it was a total crap shoot. this was also my first race using my camelbak. i was praying not to have armpit chaffing - i couldn't imagine anything worse on a humid florida morning!
the first few miles weren't spectacular and were mostly in the dark; you're basically running on disney highway to get to the magic kingdom. there was a high school band, some kite flyers, and the first character stop of the race: pirates of the caribbean. i remember getting to magic kingdom much sooner than i thought we would - a relief i wasn't going to complain about. my favorite character spot was just as you got into magic kingdom - it was the lady villains. i don't have a picture, and i don't stop for pictures, but it was fun to see these wicked ladies dressed to their nines and posing in front of the mirror from snow white.
|i really tried to "let it go" this race and just|
enjoy and be silly. evidence above.
when you get into magic kingdom, crowd support starts to show up. i threw out my headphones in anticipation of trying to find my parents and my boyfriend. the crowd down mainstreet and after the castle is just the best. they're loud, they're everywhere and they're cheering for you even if they don't know you. i think disney races are better about that than any other race - the crowds here really get into supporting everyone, and that feels awesome. leading up to the castle and running through the castle just seemed to fly by. maybe i wasn't stopping to smell the roses enough or something, but it seemed to be over sooner than i thought it would and before i knew it, i was being routed out of magic kingdom. i never saw my family, which was a ping of disappointment, but i knew i'd see them at the finish.
the rest of the race is highway to get you back to epcot. i thought the route back to epcot had more character/volunteer support than the road to magic kingdom, which was nice. you really need it on the way back after coming down from magic kingdom high. it was about this time where something was happening in my shoes that i was painfully aware of. my feet had started to feel achy getting into the race, but now there was clear pain and i could easily feel the beginning of blisters on my feet where my new metatarsal bars were (also the first time racing in these - always a dumb decision).
i kept on. my goal was to run the first 10 miles completely, and from there i would allow myself to do any run/walk intervals i needed to do. i only took a couple walk breaks, right after the 10th, 11th and 12th mile so that i could really suck down the nuun that was in my camelbak. i was so, so thankful i had that camelbak. honestly not sure how i would've done the race without it!
the worst part of the race for me was a tight loop turn close to the 12th mile marker. it was a tight turn and it led you up a highway ramp. the angle of the turn caused me to be very aware of the blisters that had formed on the bottom of my feet and i nearly cried. i wondered how much damage was being done to my feet at that point, but i was so damn close to the finish, i just wanted to keep moving.
|getting into the home stretch in epcot|
for the last mile, you do a quick loop in epcot, around the big epcot ball (spaceship earth?), and then you're back out into the parking line for the finish. i did everything i could to feel strong, stay strong and focus. i had made it to the end of this race - something i wasn't sure i was going to be able to do standing upright - and i was going to finish feeling proud of myself!
|beyond happy and proud to have finished|
this by no means was my best race, but it was faster than the half marathon i did last october, which was only a couple weeks after my half marathon pr, so i'm really, really, proud of my performance at disney. not only did i finish a half marathon on pretty crappy training, but i also completed the glass slipper challenge, a first for me of doing two distance races back to back. i made my way quickly through the finish chute and hobbled to receive my two medals that would complete the collection of three.
i didn't even bother with the race retreat after i was done. i grabbed my checked bag, changed into a clean shirt and immediately found my family. i did appreciate the pair of flip flops and sweat towel the race retreat provided, however. and when you entered into the race retreat tent, you were greeted to an enormous crowd of cheering volunteers. i did feel a bit like a celebrity ;) but i was more concerned with the damage i had done to my feet and wanted to high tail it back to the hotel, so i ultimately skipped out on the perks i had paid for.
i'm really glad i can say this race ended on a high note. i didn't pr, but that was't the goal - and the fact that i am okay with that being my goal makes me feel really, really proud of what i accomplished during this race. i'm really proud of what i did. i'm proud of how i ran. i'm proud that i got out there and completed what i set out to do. and i'm proud that i didn't take myself so seriously. and it was really important for me to come out of this race feeling good, because i had known going into this that this race was going to be my last half marathon for the foreseeable near future. i think i went out on a great note.