With only 25 days, 22 hours, 32 minutes and 9 seconds…no, 8…7…6… until this year’s PHM Weekend, I better wrap these recaps up. I’ve already chatted about the Fit for a Princess Expo and Royal Family 5k. Today it’s all about big momma, the Princess Half Marathon!
- This post is seriously long so you might want to grab some coffee first. Or tea. Or beer. Wine. Liquor of choice, whatever, I will not judge.
- There will be ton of pictures. Oh yes, there will be tons.
- After all this time, my memory is a bit foggy so some details might not be in order.
So the morning I’ve been dreaming about since October 2011 had arrived! Weather forecast? Humid. My fitness level? Pretty good, I followed Hal Higdon’s Half Marathon training to a tee and felt prepared. My mood? Excited but nervous when my multiple alarms went off at … oh, 2:15, give or take!
Let me back up a bit. Okay, have you ever made a decision that you just knew might be a total mistake but you went ahead with it anyway? Well. Despite hearing multiple warnings about getting to your hotel bus stop early, I decided that it’d be fine if I got there by 3:30 because, eh, how bad could it be?
Bad. Real bad.
Anyway, after hooking myself up to a coffee IV and taking a shower, (can’t wake fully without one,) I pestered my poor sleepy husband over which shirt to wear. See, here’s the outfit I had planned on wearing…
…but since it was humid, the black tank that I threw in my suitcase at the last minute might be better. Hubby suggested the tank. For once, I listened to him. Thank goodness, it was a much cooler choice! After forcing myself to eat a granola bar and kissing Bob goodbye, I headed out of Port Orleans Riverside’s Alligator Bayou area that was spooky-silent.
There were no other runners on the pathway leading to the main building. No movement at all, unless you count the water I had to dodge because of the sprinklers. (Really, Port?) A queasy feeling started brewing in my stomach. Was I too early? Too late? Where was everybody?
Turned out, they were all at the bus stop!
Oh my gosh. If only I would have thought to take a picture at the massive, tremendous, holy-poop-the-bed long line wrapped twice in front of the main building. My festering queasiness morphed to sheer panic from my bad, bad, BAD decision.
RANDOM TIP: Do not–I repeat–do not arrive at the bus stop any later than 3:00 if you’re staying at POR. We’re at All Stars Music this year–I’ve heard it wasn’t as bad there or at other resorts–but you can bet your sweet tush that mine will still be there early. I’ll sleep on the curb if I have to.
So I joined the line, trying to swallow my anxiety and continually checking text messages from the other folks in my running group. By the time I made it on the bus–no clue when, I was too much in a tizzy to remember, but I’m certain it was after 4:00–I started to breathe a little easier until we came to…
Epic. Horrendous. Traffic.
Everything was at a near stand-still and the realization that we might not make it in time hit me like a ton of titanium tutus. All the planning. All the dreaming. All the hoping for what, for me to miss the start because I didn’t haul my rear to the bus sooner? *Mental butt kick.* At least we had air conditioning, unlike another lady from my running group whose bus had no AC and the driver got lost!
Meanwhile, my worried running partner, Linda kept checking on me and this was going on at the family reunion area with my group:
Sigh. Really wish I was in this picture. Next year, for sure!
Anyway, with each passing moment, I started to feel a panic attack brewing. A colossal, gargantuan, bring-out-the-straight-jacket attack. From past experience, I knew the only way for me to get a grip was to talk about it, so I turned to my neighbors and said, “I’m about to totally freak out.”
RANDOM Tip: Embrace the camaraderie with fellow runners.
Turned out, I wasn’t the only one and talking about it made me feel somewhat better. Everyone was anxious, especially a mother/daughter duo who, like me, were in Corral A. They said that if we didn’t get there by a certain time, they wouldn’t let us in. More panic. We finally arrived at the parking lot and hauled booty off the bus only to be stopped again by a nervous attendant who made us wait for around twenty buses to pass!
Let me tell you. Things almost got ugly.
It was the closest I’ve ever come to witnessing a lynch mob from the way ladies were complaining and inching closer. Finally, the poor guy gave us the green light. I was feeling so edgy and anxious that when the mother/daughter duo took off at a run, I did too, but because I wasn’t checking any bags like they were, I stopped following them in the reunion area. Another mistake. Got totally tripped up over where to go.
RANDOM TIP: Go through the bag check area to find the right path. Oh, and study the maps in the program guide. Maps are your friend!
I finally got my bearing straight and took off again, catching up to the daughter. Yes, I was one of those crazy ladies running along the side of the road to the corrals. But I had to do something to shake off my anxiety.
Somewhere along the way, I passed this …
… this …
… and these ladies …
… not quite sure where this was–Linda took these pictures–but my heart flipped with joy when I finally saw this!!
Corral A! Thank God, praise the Lord, and hallelujah. Instant relief. It’s okay, I made it, breathe, breathe, breathe. We had planned on meeting at the very back of the corral, but the funny part of the story is … I beat Linda there! We finally found each other and all was good in the (Disney) world.
So it was time for me to relax, take a breath, enjoy my surroundings, and get ready for an amazing, fantastic race! Then it hit me. I had to pee. Like, really bad. There was only seven minutes left until the race started, but I knew the first few miles would be misery if I didn’t go so yes … I was one of those crazy ladies making a mad dash to the woods.
RANDOM Tip: If you gotta go, you gotta go. Besides, it was nice having pleasant conversation with a nearby squatter. Big waves to my pee buddy, whoever you are!
Before we knew it, the moment that I’ve watched on countless YouTube videos was really happening and we were off!
Let me take a moment to say that Linda was the absolute best running partner ever! We made a plan beforehand–RANDOM TIP: I highly recommend this–to run with no walk breaks and stop for every mile marker and character stop possible, starting with this one!
There must have been a line at Mile 2 so we pulled a drive-by before soon coming to this gorgeous sight, Captain Jack!
Remember me talking about decisions you knew would be a mistake? Well, here’s another *kind of* mistake. We knew there’d be a second chance to get a pirate photo later in the race and that stopping now would seriously hold us up but we did it any way. It held us up. Oh well. YOLO. And I adore this shot! Look at Linda, getting all cozy with Jack, mm-hmm!
We pulled another drive-by for the princes. Sorry, dudes, it wasn’t worth the wait. And have I mentioned yet how incredibly humid it was? Well. It was humid. Thank goodness I was wearing waterproof mascara.
Yes. I wore makeup. What can I say.
Oh, and see the iPod strapped to my arm? Didn’t listen to it once – I was having too much fun chatting with Linda and enjoying the surroundings to need music.
Here’s what I was carrying in my iFitness belt for those who are curious: My phone, sunblock for later, tissues, lipstick–okay, I’m a little vain–shot bloks that I ate pre-run, and my camera in an attached case that made it really easy to take out and in. This year, I might lighten since I have an iPhone now. But what if it doesn’t take good pre-sunrise photos? Hmm. Have to decide…
Linda carried a small water bottle that she kept refilling at water stations which was a really good idea. Oh, and here’s another nice tip! We saw a gal who had brought a small hand towel from her hotel to mop off sweat. Clever!
And here is my absolute FAVORITE photo from the race! We waited a pretty penny for it, but it was worth it. Linda and I tried for our best to look gansta. Not sure we pulled it off. 🙂
There was also a guy wearing a blue Cinderella dress who kept cracking jokes. He was absolutely hilarious! Wish I would have gotten a picture with him.
It. Was. Amazing.
I recorded this part and some others to use in a video that I still want to make. (Tick, tick, better get to it, Laura!) But this picture showed me that next year, I should put a little more effort into my hair instead of sporting my usual daily run look. Didn’t realize it looked so drab. Oh, and I will wear a tiara! (More on that in a future post.)
And I also must confess that before, I did fantasize about Bob standing along Main Street with the other spectators so I could–ooo, la la–give him a kiss and a hug before going on my merry way. But my man has a bad hip. It would have been hard for him to hustle through the crowds, so even though he offered, I told him to meet me at the family reunion area and not worry seeing me at the finish line. This worked out the best because he had fun watching the big screen, chatting with others, and taking countless group photos of countless other ladies who asked him! Good job, ladies, put him to work!
Now with Linda’s husband, he also ran the half in plenty of time to finish and then make it to Main Street to cheer her on. We would have missed him, though, had I not looked to the left at the last second which, of course, made me start screeching, “Linda! Linda! There’s Brian!!” It was such a cool moment.
We saw a lady running off to the bathrooms here, but did I stop long enough to go? Oh, noooo, not me, that would have been too smart. More on that later. But for the full scoop on all the best bathrooms, be sure to check out this fabulous post on Run, Walk, FASTPASS, Repeat!
She also did this one for the 10k.
Is it creepy to say that I really want to meet this gal? Really, it is? No, no, you’re right. [Note to Self: Delete this part before posting as to not appear creepy.]
Okay, where was I? Oh, right. BELLE!
We really, really, REALLY wanted a picture with Mickey and Minnie, but the long was too long for even us. I like to think that Mickey was looking right at me now, though, and saying, “You’ve got this, Laura, own it! Work it! Live it!”
(Yeah, I know. He’s not. Now, Minnie on the other hand…)
We did stop long enough for this shot, though! I think it’s, like, a requirement or something.
RANDOM TIP: Have variety in your poses.
Okay, I’m getting a bit photo-heavy here so let me take a break by talking about the crowds:
It was crowded.
There. Back to pictures!
No, really, it was crowded and Linda and I had to do a lot of bobbing, weaving, off-road 4-running, and pardon me, excuse me, runner on the left passes. A lot of people grumbled about this, but if you just take a deep breath, stop worrying about time, and embrace the beautiful chaos, you’ll be fine. Plus, with all the corral changes runDisney is doing this year, it might not be an issue. So enjoy! It’s all good, boo!
And somewhere around this time, Bob took pictures of the winners on the jumbo screen. Sure, they might have super awesome times (and even more super awesomer abs,) but do they have all these yummy character photos? No, I think not.
This year, I’m thinking about stopping less during the run so I can get a shot with Mickey at the castle and princesses in the family reunion area. Or not. Can’t decide.
Now back to pictures!
Okay, somewhere around now, I was in dire need of a potty break. Which meant–you guessed it–my only choice was a port-a-pot. (Or the side of the road but that’s frowned upon in polite society.)
RANDOM TIP: If possible, try to avoid port-a-pots especially if it’s hot and humid unless, of course, you like breathing in steamy stench and struggling to pull up capris on sweaty thighs. Then, by all means, use a port-a-pot. Just don’t tuck your skirt in your waistband like I did.
Somewhere around this time, we also came upon a GU Energy Gel station. I’ve never tried them before, but hey, they were free so why not? I went ahead and sucked one down. With no water. Big mistake. Apparently, this is not recommended. Live and learn, Laura, live and learn.
The dreaded elevation that worries some folks came at around mile 10.5 leading up to an over pass. Good thing I live in an extremely hilly county and was used to hills! With the humidity, though, some runners had issues so keep that in mind while training!
One of the coolest parts? Running over the bridge and cheering for the runners below. 🙂 Wish I would have taken a picture. It’s not like I didn’t take one of everything else.
I’m fairly certain this was when we made it to Epcot, which made me realize that our amazing adventure would soon be over. That was okay, though, because I had already decided before we even got on the airplane that the Princess Half Marathon would be an annual event for me so I wasn’t bummed!
Besides, how could anyone be bummed with this awesome choir?
I have to say that it felt pretty spectacular having this bad boy placed around my neck. As someone who’s never been a runner until a couple of years ago, it was hard to believe that I just finished a half marathon. The fact that I did it at the most magical place on earth with one of the nicest gals I’ve ever met made it even more amazing!!
And now, let the celebrating begin!
Gotta give a super-huge cyber hug to my super-awesome husband who supports me 100% with all my crazy plans! This trip was to also celebrate our 20th anniversary and I couldn’t have married a better guy. 🙂
And that beer? I couldn’t have picked a better post-race drink. Wow, did it taste good!
After waiting for some friends to finish and soaking up the environment for a bit more, we found the bus line for Port Orleans and headed back so I could take a desperately needed shower. From the start, I really wanted to go to Epcot afterwards for fish and chips from Rose and Crown and a relaxing day strolling around World Showcase.
While on the bus and walking into Epcot, I didn’t see a single runner wearing their medal which kind-of made me worry. (I really do worry too much.) But then a group of ladies came towards me with their medals glowing. A fabulous moment happened. We gave each other these great, “That’s right, we rock,” smiles. Everywhere I went, it was “That’s right, we rock,” with my fellow runners.
It’s astonishing how much my life has changed since meeting those folks online. The Princess Half has a special meaning in my heart and this group is what started it all. Their encouragement, knowledge, and inspiration has made me a better person and I am truly grateful to be a part of their world!
I must confess, though, that during our meet-ups, I was so overwhelmed and overjoyed and nervous about making a good impression that I couldn’t quite be myself at times, you know? (Well, not with Linda – it’s hard not being your true self while running, sweating, taking port-0 breaks, and posing!) Thank goodness many of them are doing the Glass Slipper in February. I have a do-over!
And we did have fun!!
And to everyone who’s registered for the 2014 Princess Half, I hope you have an amazing, magical time! If you see me, be sure to say hi. 🙂
Happy running, everyone!
Next post to write, some tips and suggestions!