February 23, 2014
This is my fourth year running the Princess half marathon. I enjoy this one a lot because there are a ton of character opportunities and it’s just a fun race. However, I’ve really wanted to try the Gasparilla Distance Challenge and I haven’t been able to because Princess and Gasparilla are on the same weekend. So, this will be my last Princess; I’m going to do Gasparilla in 2015 and, since I plan to continue doing the Dopey challenge, I don’t feel the need to do the Princess since the Dopey half marathon course and Princess half marathon course are the same. Dopey and Princess are only a month or so apart, so I just don’t need to do the same course two months in a row. I need some variety.
I’m not running in a costume for Princess but I am wearing my black sequined Sparkle Skirt. All of my gear is laid out so I’m ready to go when the alarm sounds. The less thinking needed, the better off I will be.
I follow my usual routine and I’m out the door. I am checking a bag today because I want to get a picture with all my medals. I’m earning the pink Coast to Coast medal today since I did Tinker Bell in January. This is my first Coast to Coast medal. I’ve wrapped my medals in paper and put them in zip top bags. I put a large beach towel in my check bag and the medal bags are stuffed in the folds of the towel.
After I get off the bus, I make my way to the security lines so I can get my bag checked. Once I’m through there, I head to the tent to drop my bag and then make my way on the long walk to the corrals. The lines for the porta-potties are long even though there are about 100 of them. As we walk the street to get to the corral area, there are more porta-potties along the way. The lines for these are also long but I know I need to go before I go sit in my corral. I pick a line and wait until it’s finally my turn. As luck (or un-luck) would have it, the lock on my potty didn’t work so I had to try to hold the door and balance accordingly to avoid touching any part of said potty. I was nearly finished adjusting my clothes when the door comes flying open. The girl trying to enter gets a “WHOA!” from me and I get a “MY BAD!!” from her as she pushes the door closed.
When I come out of the potty, she apologizes many times over. I laughed and told her it was no problem. I then explained that that the lock was broken. The reason she tried to come in was because the “green” was showing on the handle so she didn’t know someone was in there. Since the lock was broken, the “red” wouldn’t move to indicate someone was in there. We laughed it off and I made my way to my corral.
I didn’t have to wait terribly long before the National Anthem was sung and corrals were being sent on their way. I saw the 2:45 pacer and thought I would hang with them. I typically run intervals but I also run by feel. (Here is the course map.)
We’re off and I feel pretty good so I get into a comfortable groove. I usually run about the first mile because it gets me warm and I can let some of the crowd thin out. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of crowding to come but it can thin at least a little.
I make it through the first few miles and skip all of the character stops to that point. There just weren’t any that made me want to stop. We passed through the Magic Kingdom parking gate and headed into the MK parking lot. I made the turn and saw one of the character stops just ahead. I wasn’t planning to stop, but then I saw which characters it was…the villains. The Red Queen, Maleficient, Cinderella’s step sisters; I had to stop. I love the villains (way more than the princesses) and I’ve passed up this opportunity in the past. I looked at the line and considered skipping it. But, I knew if I skipped it, I would be mad at myself later.
The line was long. There was easily 40 people in front of me. But, I waited. I watched herds of runners passing as I tried to keep my legs moving. I even saw the 3 hour pace group go by. This made me frown. I wanted to finish in less than three hours but I also really wanted this picture. Compromises.
I finally got my pic (and I look really sad rather than scared like I tried to look!) and was back on my way. I went back to my intervals and held hope that I might be able to catch up to the three hour pace group. I wasted about 10 minutes or so waiting in line but it was well worth it to me. I stayed comfortable and felt good as I made my way to MK and then out of the park and back down the highway towards EPCOT.
I stopped for one other picture; Princess Atta from “A Bug’s Life”. There was no one in line when I saw her and one person stopped just before I got there. So, there was basically no wait. And, the icing on the cake: I had also caught up to and just passed the three hour pace group so I had made up some of the time I lost on the villain pic.
The rest of the race was a blur. I managed to get to the finish line in 2:53:22 including the two picture stops. I think I was most proud of catching up to the three hour group! I collected my finisher medal and some hydration and fuel before making my way to the challenge lines. I had to get my wristband checked to collect my Glass Slipper Challenge medal and my pink Coast to Coast medal.
I stopped for a finisher picture and then collected my bag from the bag check tent. Then I went to find a spot to stretch out and eat. I spread out my beach towel and made myself a little picnic of sorts. While I was eating, I pulled out my 5k and 10k medals so I could get a picture with all of them. A couple of other runners walked by and saw my collection and offered to take a picture for me. They were super nice and poked fun at how they were “underachievers” for the weekend having done the Glass Slipper Challenge but not the 5k. They most definitely were NOT underachievers. Completing a race in general is an achievement and the challenges that runDisney has added are just bigger achievements.
Overall, I was pleased with my races this weekend. My times weren’t my fastest and they weren’t my slowest. But, I don’t push myself at Disney races because these races are also about the experiences. I run other races to race and I run Disney races for the experiences. The awesome medals don’t hurt either. 🙂
UPDATE: I’m not doing well at keeping up with all of my expenses but I am trying. Here is Princess weekend in dollars:
Race Registration (including commemorative pins): ~$625 (also included Tink half)
Hotel (two nights): ~$372
Kennel (two nights): ~$100
This is my last runDisney race until Expedition Everest. Disney races are by far the priciest races I run. But, they are an experience like no other. It is definitely worth the prices for the experience. That said, this year is, as I mentioned before, my last Princess. Next year, I plan to do Gasparilla.