Race Recap

Disney’s Princess Half Marathon Weekend – Race #3: Princess 1/2 Marathon

Almost one week ago, I was getting ready to start up my 5th Princess Half Marathon.  I knew that I was slightly under trained and now sporting a (probably) sprained ankle, the though had crossed my head to take a “DNS” (Did Not Start) – but I decided to give it a try anyway!

Princess Half Marathon Start Line

The morning started at 3AM again, my ankle was still slightly swollen despite my “RICE” routine last afternoon/night.  I headed to the bus around 3:30am and arrived at the staging area about 15 minutes later.  The walk to the half marathon start is not in the Epcot parking lot, like the 5K and 10K were, it’s about a 1 mile trek to the actual highway where the corrals are setup.  The corrals span from A-P, each with one small entrance guarded by volunteers to ensure that you are in your assigned corral.  I was about the 7th person to enter my corral “L”, so I parked myself at the front, sat down and waited.  It’s normal to get to the corrals early enough to have about 1-1.5 hours of downtime before the even starts.  This year a lot of the roadways throughout Disney World were under construction, so they delayed the race start by about 10 minutes to allow more time for people who were stuck in traffic.  Around 16-17k people participate in this Half Marathon and by the time they shot the fireworks for the first corral, people were still piling into the chute!

PRO TIP #1: Use the Disney transportation!  You may have to wait for the line to get on the bus after the race, but you will not be late!

Mile 1-3.1:
The race was scheduled to start at 5:30AM, it actually started around 5:40-5:45AM, with my corral starting at 6:20AM.  I started out of the chute at a small jog and while my ankle was a little cold (as were my legs), which did not seem to effect me.  The first 0.75 mile is on a three lane highway, plenty of room to spread out.  Just before the first mile marker we took a highway exit, a one lane exit.  Looking back on my experience, I should have bailed off into the grass, this one lane exit was really congested with runners which basically forced everyone to a walking pace.  The exit was also banked, so as soon as I hit that uneven pavement my ankles were screaming.  After taking the exit, we hit mile 1 and I was already walking.  The upside is that we were on a 4 lane highway now, with plenty of room to spread out or run/walk.  Jack Sparrow is normally the first character before mile 2 followed by all the Disney Princes.

Magic Kingdom Gate – Princess Half Marathon

The course took us right under the Magic Kingdom gates, of course I had to snap my annual picture!  This highway also runs in line with the Monorail track, so you’ll see it driving past you with spectators on their way to and from Magic Kingdom – the monorail conductors will often honk at the runners!  The course hits the 5K mark right in front of the old Disney Speedway – I remember running around the entire speedway during the full marathon back in 2013, that was no joke those speedways are long!  My pace was slow, there was congestion and my ankle was throbbing through most of the first leg of this race.

Mile 3.2-6.2:
After passing the 5K mark, the course runs through the ticket and transportation center for Magic Kingdom.  Out of all the times I’ve participated in this race, this part of the course is where someone always steps on my shoe/accidentally trips you and whatever other shenanigans related to the course narrowing to a “large sidewalk” width.  One of my pet peeves about the later corrals of RunDisney races is that “runner etiquette is completely ignored”, you’ll have people weaving back and forth from one side of the course to the other, often bumping into people they cut off.  People will be running on the right side and getting frustrated with the walkers when proper etiquette is for runners to keep left and walkers keep right.  Now not all walkers are innocent, it’s pretty even across the board.  After passing through the ticket and transportation center the course remained a strict one lane roadway until we got into the park, so for the next 1.5 miles.  The drummers from the Polynesian resort were at the exit side of the TTC which is always enjoyable!  The course took us under the Disney waterway where the DJ on the top told us we were “running underwater and kept completely dry”, on the other side of the waterway was the Contemporary resort.  The course took us past the Magic Kingdom bus stop area and into a side gate in front of Space Mountain.  From here the course took us right to a side entrance to Main Street USA.  We entered in and took a right turn onto Main Street and we were running directly at Cinderella’s Castle.  FYI: if you are in a later corral during this race with a slower expected pace – do NOT expect to run down Main Street USA, it’s not going to happen.  People will stop right in front of you with no warning to take pictures, or dart across the runners to get to the sidewalk to take pictures – if anything be on guard while going down this stretch of road.  You have half of Main Street USA to run down, the other half is roped off for spectators.  The course takes a right into Tomorrowland, runs around the backside of the park toward the Storybook Circus area and into Fantasyland.

PRO TIP #2:  If you have to use the restroom and can wait until Mile 6, do it in Magic Kingdom – you can use the restrooms in the parks.  MOST people will dart off in Tomorrowland to use the restroom resulting in long lines – if you wait and use the restrooms in Fantasyland to the right and behind “Pinocchio Village Haus” I hardly EVER encounter lines in that restroom!

The course runs (actually walks at this point) straight through the backside of the castle and as of this year, you can exit down either side to help with congestion.  There are photo pass photographers on each side of the exit as well as stationed in front for a standing picture.  We headed through Frontierland and into a backstage area where the Princess parade float was as well as Princesses like Aurora/Philip and Snow White/Prince Charming (warning – this line is LONG.)  After passing the float, we hit the 10K mark.

Mile 6.3-9:
After the 10K mark, the course exits Magic Kingdom and runs down the road in front of the Grand Floridian. My pace was complete

Icing the ankle at the Mile 9 Med Tent

garbage at this point, I didn’t stop to look at my ankle but I felt like it was probably twice the size of when I started.  I was really starting to consider not finishing, but I just needed to get to mile 11 and pass the last hard sweep point, so I continued.  The course outside of Magic Kingdom and in front of the Grand Floridian was also a one lane roadway until mile 8.  This congestion was not helping as I was forced to walk most of this stretch, and people would run and stop for their walk interval in front of me, while slowing to a pace slower than my walking pace.  My ankle was really starting to feel the constant pace changes.  I made it back to the highway and the pain really started to increase after mile 7.5ish.  By mile 8 my ankle was the size of a baseball, and I had to make the decision to try to continue or cut my losses and DNF for the first time ever.  I knew there was a medical tent at mile 9 so I told myself I would at least think about it until then.  At mile 8.9 I texted my mother saying I couldn’t continue, and stopped at Mile 9 awaiting the shuttle to the finish.  I was devastated and in pain, this was my first DNF EVER since I started participating in road races, and even more this would ruin my legacy at the Glass Slipper Challenge (as I have completed all thus far since the challenge started.)  Part of me told myself that all I needed to do was complete two more miles and I would technically be “safe” but in those two miles is 0.75 mile of a banked roundabout which was 100% worse than the banked exited i described before mile 1, as well as three overpasses before entering Epcot to the finish.  I knew how my ankle felt now – I could only imagine what it would feel like after those obstacles.  I sent at the medical tent for about 10 minutes and the famous “Balloon Ladies” passed the checkpoint, not much longer the vans arrived to take us to the finish.

My ace bandage, “Pity” medal and my cinch backpack from the finish.

The shuttles or “SAG Wagon” dropped us off behind the medical tent at the finish, and I got my ankle wrapped with some ice.  They gave us our “pity” Half Marathon medals and I headed back to the bus, I wanted nothing more than to shower and lay down.  With the RunDisney races, even if you get “swept” you still get your finisher medal (but no challenge medals) – it’s nice, but not earned.

If anything, this year has set the stage for next year.  While I will not be getting any legacy perks next year, I set myself some goals today.  I will NOT be in a later corral, the congestion of people was too much for me this year.  I have already begun looking for running events later this Fall that I can use as proof of time to join an earlier corral.
I will be trained and ready!


Stats this year:
Time: 2:35:33
Distance: 9.0 Miles

Goals for next year:
Pace: 10-12min mile
Finish: Approx. 2.5 to 2.75 hour finish time.

GPS: Garmin Vivoactive

Race Recap

Disney’s Princess Half Marathon Weekend – Race #2: Enchanted 10K

My alarm went off at 3:15am, I headed to the bus around 3:45 and hopped right on.  The staging area outside of the corrals were identical to the 5k yesterday, with a DJ stage and some character picture setups.  I did not pass to see which characters were out, as I left a little later than anticipated.  The corrals opened up and I made my way to the front of corral E (there were 6 corrals A-F.)  Due to the volume and traffic around the resort, RunDisney expects runners at their corral at least 1 hour prior to the race start, so it’s a lot of waiting.  The race started on time at 5:30am, and the waves of runners began.

Enchanted 10K Start Line

Mile 1-3.1:
The course started in the Epcot parking lot, just as the 5K did but instead of turning right to run down a backstage road the course took a left onto the main highway – Epcot Center Drive.  I had not even run half a mile before I rolled my left ankle and nearly fell.  I managed to stay upright and keep running, and I had no idea what had caused the inversion.  I kept running, but the incident absolutely slowed me down until a little after 1.5 miles.  The first 2 miles of any race are always the hardest for me; my legs are stiff and aching then the discomfort eases and it’s “coast mode” after mile 2.  Another challenge during this particular stretch is how the course narrows drastically.  Between mile 0.5 and 1.5 the course narrowed from 4 lanes to 1 lane, with a U-turn around to go over a 1 to 1.5 lane overpass.  Most of the runners were forced to walk this stretch, whether they wanted to or not – one of the cons of the Disneyworld course as this also happens on the half marathon.  The course did open back up to a 4 lane roadway, which was nice for the mile and half it lasted before we took a road exit, which narrowed back to one lane and banked slightly (which did not feel that great for my ankle.)  We were headed toward the backlot of Epcot at this point, another slow point since the course had narrowed to 1 lane again with a small shoulder after the exit, this was also the 5K mark.

Mile 3.2-6.2:
Disney’s interactive runner tracking was on point today, as soon as I crossed the 5K mat I  received the text notification of my progress.  The course actually met up at the same place the 5K entered the backstage area of Epcot.  The course ran under Test Track and entered the World Showcase in Mexico.  The volunteers were wonderful, and the photographers were plentiful.  The course followed the same route as the 5K up until the International Gateway.  There were some rare characters on the course this morning that you can’t find in the parks.  Stationed on the course today were Dopey, Geppetto and Pinocchio, Marie from Aristocats, Princess Minnie, and Genie in his vacation clothing and Goofy hat.  At the International Gateway the course continued onto the Disney Boardwalk – there was a slight fog and the sun was starting to rise, making a beautiful sight.  We ran around the entire Boardwalk area, there were a ton of spectators and hotel residents on their balconies to cheer on the runners.

Princess Minnie on the 10K course

The course returned to the International Gateway area where I noticed an extremely large line, this usually indicates a character stop of great importance.  Princess Minnie was on the course for pictures, I took a break to stop to take a picture of Minnie and the line for her rather than standing in it myself for a shot.  It is very enticing to stop at the picture lines during RunDisney races, but as a disclaimer the timed races do have “sweepers” that will pick you up if you fall behind the required 16:00 minute per mile requirement.  The course entered another backstage area before entering the World Showcase again in England.  The runners ran through the remaining countries and back into Future World, where the course went under Spaceship Earth, around the fountain and out the opposite side of Spaceship Earth.  The runners then exited back into the parking lot, toward the finish line!

Extremely long line for Princess Minnie
Enchanted 10K Finish Line

I stopped my Garmin Vivoactive, grabbed my finisher medal as well as a few bottles of water and headed back to the bus.  Overall, my experience was not bad for being under-trained.  I made a few stops on the course, walking most of the miles and the mild injury to my ankle hindered my pace.  My plan for the 5K and 10K was to take it easy while going all out for the Half Marathon, and now that my ankle is slightly swollen I took the rest of the afternoon easy while icing the area.  Here’s to one more 3AM wake up call!

Enchanted 10K Finisher Medal

My stats:
Time – 1:44:34
Distance – 6.29 Miles
Shoe: Asics Kayano 20
Watch – Garmin Vivoactivelook me up here

9.3 miles down – 13.1 miles to go!!

Race Recap

Disney’s Princess Half Marathon Weekend – Race #1: Royal Family 5K

Let me start my race recaps from this weekend with admitting that I did not train like I should have for this race.  There were many factors that contributed to this lack of preparedness, but I am here anyway and I WILL finish all three races!

5K Staging Area – DJ Booth

My alarm went off at 3:45am, which is the latest I’ll be waking up this weekend!  Staying at Pop Century, relatively close to the bus stop, it only took about 5 minutes to walk to the race bus.  There weren’t a lot of runners in line at the time, so I was able to hop on.  The staging area was full of runners, some in costumes, some not – with a large stage and DJ.  To each side of the stage were backdrops for character pictures, the lines were long, at the time I was there the characters were Snow White and Belle in her reading dress.  I went directly to my corral and relaxed until the race started, with RunDisney races it’s likely you’ll be sitting in your corral for at least an hour prior to the start.  The race started on time at 6:00AM, each corral was broken up into 4-5 starts, to space out the runners, this was the first time that I have participated in a race where they started this way.

Start Line!

Mile 1:
The race started in the Epcot parking out and ran out to the service road to the lot, took a right and headed down a backroad beside the parking lot.  There were lights flooding the road, most of the road was 2-lane so there was some breathing room.  Disney music was playing throughout the course, and prior to mile one was the first character stop!  Meeko, the raccoon from Pocahontas, was the first character stop with a small line.  Shortly after the character stop, runners turned right and entered a backstage area of Epcot that was directly under Test Track.

Mile 2: Continuing past Test Track, runners entered the World Showcase in Mexico.  It was dark so all the lights on the countries buildings were lit up.  There were photos photographers stationed, what seemed to be every half mile.  Disney offers your race photos on your Disney Experience account, so that you can buy the pictures you’d like or purchase Memory Maker and be able to download them all.  I spent most of the remaining miles walking quickly at this point, I was not going to exert myself on the “fun run.”  The 5K course is pretty amazing, since the majority of it is around the World Showcase.  The next character stop was in Morocco, it was Abu – the Monkey from Aladdin.  Abu was followed by the mice from Cinderella who were stationed in France.  Runners passed over the bridge by France and ran out the International Gateway, which leads to the Boardwalk area.  From that Gateway, runners turned right before entering the Boardwalk area, hit the mile 2 marker and entered a backstage area.

Mile 3:  This backstage area was short, as we quickly re-entered the World Showcase in England.  From England the course covered the remainder of the World Showcase and continued in Future World, where the course took a left in front of the Starbucks and made a loop in front of the Nemo area.  Runners ran back into Future world and under Starship Earth (The Epcot ball), back through another short “backstage” area and into the parking lot.  Mile 3 was just around the curve to the finish chute – I will always run across the finish line, no matter how much I hurt to how much I’ve walked.  I finished, grabbed my finisher medal and some water and headed back to the bus.

Royal Family 5K Finish Line

The Disney 5Ks are not timed, they are a family friendly fun run which I encourage everyone to do at least once!  The course support is amazing, there were 2 water stops on the 5K and as many water/powerade bottles you can carry after crossing the finish line.  You also get the runner’s box of little treats and a banana after finishing.  There are volunteers everywhere, and port-o-potties galore (of course, if you’re running in the park the air conditioned restrooms are open for use.)  The 5K today was fun, relaxed and hopefully my pace will improved for the next two races that “count” toward my challenge!

Royal Family 5K Finisher Medal

My stats:
Time – 51:35
Distance – 3.19 Miles
Shoe: Asics Kayano 20
Watch – Garmin Vivoactivelook me up here

3.1 miles down – 19.3 miles to go!!