Sunday, March 2, 2014

Race Report - Disney Princess Half Marathon (runDisney Glass Slipper Challenge Race 2)

As you've probably noticed, unless you've been hiding under a rock for months, this winter has been a bit on the cold and snowy side. Which can sometimes make running a little difficult. I actually like running when it's cold and in the snow, but even I have to draw the line when it's below 20 degrees and icy. And running in cold weather doesn't exactly prepare you for running in heat and humidity.

So, after the 10k and it's icky, sticky humidness on Saturday, I wasn't really looking forward to Sunday and the half marathon. Running in humidity, even in Disney, is not very fun. (You'd think, with the way summers are here in WV, I'd be used to it, but no. At least not in February.)

Sunday, February 23 - The Disney Princess Half Marathon
Sunday morning called for an even earlier wake-up than Saturday (2:00am) to catch the bus to the race at 3. This time all three of our alarms went off and we were up and dressed and off to the races.

Belle being chased by giant toys
Once again, we were all going to run our own races and start in separate corrals; I was in G, Becca in J, and Jen in M. Since we had so long to wait before the actual race start, we decided to hang around a bit together before heading to the corrals. Chit chat and pre-race camaraderie with your besties goes a long way in soothing jitters and nervousness.

But eventually it was time and with wishes of good luck and good running we headed off to our separate corrals to await the start.

After some entertainment from the runDisney folks and a tear-inducing "happy birthday" surprise message to one runner from her husband stationed in Afghanistan, it was time for the race to start. Fairy Godmother was there to start off the first couple corrals, but I guess she had some other more pressing engagement (Cinderella had to get ready for her ball I guess) because she left and wasn't there for the Corral G send off.

I didn't set my garmin for run/walk intervals and, as I did in the 10k, was just going to take walk breaks whenever I thought I  needed them. Last year, the course was really crowded and it was hard to follow the structured breaks, so this year, I was just going to go with the flow, so to speak.
I started out nice and slow, and I think I ran most of the first mile before I decided to walk. After that I would pick out a point down the course that would mark my transition point, a light post here, a sign there, an aid station, a tree, etc. Somewhere around mile 3, I joined in with the 2:45 pace group, who were doing a 5 minute run, 1 minute walk interval. They were doing a nice steady,easy pace that I knew I wouldn't have any problem keeping up with, so I decided to run with them. I stayed with them through the entrance to the Magic Kingdom and down Main Street and the first glimpse of the castle.

I changed my mind about staying with the group all the way to the finish when I saw the Buzz Lightyear photo op. Last year, I did a "fly by" pic of Buzz, but this year, when I saw Buzz, I made the decision that since I had the time, I was going to stop for some of the character pics. I thought, it's Disney; I can run for a good finish time at some other race in some other place. So I got in line for my pic with Buzz. I made it all the way to the third or fourth person from him when his handler announced he would be taking a three to five minute break. I didn't need a good finish time, but I didn't want to be standing around for 5 minutes either, so once again, I missed out on Buzz. :-(

"There's a snake in my boot" - Woody
But I did stop for the next few characters (the White Rabbit; Tiana and the alligator; Woody; Princess Aurora & Prince Philip; Mary Poppins, Bert, and the Penguin; Lilo; the Genie; the heroes; Pirates)
"you ain't never had a friend like me" - Genie

Standing in line for the pictures was a welcome break from running/walking in the heat. It also gave me an opportunity to stop and stretch, which resulted in no tight hips after the race. Score!

Somewhere around mile 7 or 8, I was starting to drag and feel tired, so I downed my aptly named "Gu" (cherry-lime roctane with caffeine, if anybody cares) with some powerade from an aid station. The extra energy it gave helped me through the last few miles.

Flynn Rider, Aladdin, Hercules, Prince Eric
(to the lady in the line for Tiana who told me I was wrong when
I said we'd pass the heroes again - "I told you so")

The oddly angled hills and overpass approaches were just as difficult this year as they were last year, but I powered through. The Green Army Man on one of the hills was particulary funny in his motivation - "when did this become the Princess walk-a-thon? Move ladies! Pick it up and run!" "If you're not in line for a picture with me, you'd better be running."

At the top of the overpass, I made way to the edge so I could look down at the crowd of runners on the course below. I tried to see if I could find Becca or Jen in the crowd, but either I missed them or they were still farther back on the course.  I waved anyway, just in case. And then it was in to Epcot for the approach to the finish line.
Another Princess Half was almost over. Mile 13 and the finish line came all too soon. (While I was hot and tired, and ready for the run to be done, I wasn't quite ready for the experience to end.)

But all things must end at some point, and the finish line was calling my name (maybe literally, although I didn't hear it.)

I did it. I finished the Princess Half. I finished the Glass Slipper Challenge. I was sweaty, hot, and tired, but I got my medals. And more importantly than that, I got the sense of achievement that comes from working hard, overcoming obstacles, and finishing something that I started. I'm still amazed, even after doing it 7 times now, that I am capable of running a half marathon. It just blows my mind every time I cross that finish line...

Race Stats:
Disney Princess Half Marathon
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Official Finish Time: 3:33:31 (16:13mpm) (Overall Place: 16,756 of  20,750; Gender Place: 15,495 of 19,294; Age Group Place: 2,477 of 3,051)
Actual Run Time: 2:56 (13:20mpm) (watch was stopped while waiting in photo lines)

Becca and Jen were rock stars out there.  Becca finished in 3:39:25 and beat her time from last year.
Jen overcame some major struggles and finished in 3:43:52, also beating her time from last year and setting a new half marathon PR.  So proud of these girls!!

Princess Half and Glass Slipper medal

All 3 medals from the weekend:
Enchanted 10k, Princess Half, and Glass Slipper Challenge