Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Disney Princess Half Marathon 2014

Merida and Elsa
 Preface: Let the record show that I wasn't as trained for this race as I should have and could have been. For those of you from the Mid Atlantic, you know that it has been a heck of a winter, actually, as I write this it is snowing again here in Delaware. And for me, treadmill running is a form of torture. With that being said, I went into Princess Weekend KNOWING I wasn't fully prepared. And if there is one thing I know about running, it is that it is quite possibly the biggest mind game that you can play with yourself. If you don't think you can do it, you can't do it. And that mindset was kind of lingering in my head a bit as the hour approached.

The Morning Of
I'm pretty sure that my anal retentive tendencies in regards to time may have been a saving grace all weekend. I'm one of those people, if I know I have to be somewhere by a certain time I like to be early. And when I'm not early, anxiety sets in a bit. This can be great when you have to catch a bus at an obscene hour of the late night/early morning, but, I think there may have been times Ali wanted to kill me. Ali, if you're reading this, I'm sorry! At 2:15 my phone was going off. It was time to get up, get ready, get dressed, and go run. I slowly got together all my clothes, socks, spi belt, clif shots, hair tie, etc and then grabbed myself a little breakfast consisting of a protein shake and a protein bar. This race I was dressing as Merida, a more premeditated costume, that was ordered from iGlowRunning on Etsy, the intricate sewing detail put into my costume was amazing and I could easily recommend Wanda to anyone looking for a cute running outfit.

At The Start

With time to kill, Ali and I were able to go around and see everything that was offered pre-race. The DJ was doing an excellent job getting everyone pumped and ready to be there. We were able to pre-hydrate with water and Powerade while we waited to hike to our corral. Speaking of hiking to the corral, if you read nothing in this post read this: be prepared to walk about a mile to your corral/the start line itself. Seriously. All week we had heard people talking about the distance from the pre-race festivities to the corrals and start line and I thought they were over exaggerating. They weren't. I know it sounds silly for me to tell you to prepare to walk a mile when you're about to take on 13.1, but if you aren't ready for it, you can be taken by surprise. We got to our corral pretty early which was fine, it gave us the chance to get towards the front of the pack. It also gave us the chance to meet new friends. Ali found her "Sister". Seriously, a girl came up and wanted her picture taken with Ali since they were dressed as Elsa and Anna. It was adorable and made me wish I could find a bear to take a picture of as I was dressed as Merida. We also met up with another woman who later we ran into again and we're now all Facebook friends. Jackie, if you are reading this, Hi!

The Race Is On
It never goes as planned, you can have the idea in your head to stay with your running buddy, but realistically, you know it won't work that way entirely. Besides, Ali was considerably faster than I was and there was an understanding that though we are starting together, there is no commitment to stay together. That's what cellphones are for at the end of the race. The people you meet along the course are some of the most interesting, kindhearted people out there. A group of girls saw I was by myself and invited me into their crew at one point, and when I told them I wanted to try to run ahead after a while they had nothing but support and cheered as I ran away. Another group that I encountered had started as a husband and wife. Their goal was just to finish. They had done two Disney half marathons before and hadn't finished either of them. The husband was the most supportive person I think I had ever met, he was telling me that he ran one on his own and finished in 2:45, but he wasn't leaving his wife behind if they were together. They were following a run/walk, after results were posted I followed up on them. Guess what? They finished. 
Another one of my friends from back home, Rachel, was also running the HM, and when I got a text from her I decided to hang out and wait by the castle for her to catch up with me. Knowing I wasn't going to hit a PR or even come close to one, I figured I may as well have fun and wait for a friend. It was nice catching up over some injured running, me with my cold, Rach with some shin splints. After a while Rachel wanted to push herself and run the last leg of the race without stopping, we said our farewells and off she went.

That right there is a genuine "holy crap I did this" smile
I can't lie, at Mile 12 I was ready to give up. I was tired, I was sore, I couldn't breathe, and no where did I read that the last part of this course involved so many overpasses and exit ramps. I wanted to seriously just sit on the guardrail and wait for a medic to come and drive me to the finish line. There were tears in my eyes, and I was choking back a full on sob. And that's when I saw spectators. Let me just say, runDisney spectators are the BEST spectators I ever met. Seriously, they are sweet, they are kind, and they hold on until the last person crosses the line. Finally, I saw it glistening, shining bright, staring at me, taunting me. The bittersweet Mile 13 marker. I say bittersweet because, for me at least, whenever I see one it is a flood of emotions. All at once in my head I'm hearing "you got this" "only a tenth of a mile left!" "you've come so far" "you know this is going to be the longest tenth of a mile in your life" "don't get too excited yet, you aren't done".

As we made our way up to the finish line, I ran. I ran even though my lungs ached, I ran even though my legs were jello, I ran even though I didn't know how I was powering my own body. And after I crossed the line, smiled ear to ear. Even if you finish slow, even if your time is the longest you have ever finished a race (hi, that's me), you're still doing a half marathon. Or in my case, a Glass Slipper Challenge. Once I got my medals I shot Ali a celebratory "I did it!" text, and we figured out where we would meet. After collecting my post race food, we made our way to the buses to get back to the hotel.

After All Was Said and Done
Enchanted 10k, Glass Slipper Challenge,
Princess Half Marathon
Back at the hotel the plan was simple: eat something, shower, nap. Two days in a row of a 2:15am wake up call can lead to two exhausted princesses. So, remember how earlier in this post I made note about how I am slightly anal about time? Imagine the anxiety I felt when Ali and I overslept and could have possibly missed our dinner reservations. Yeah, it happened. With a quick phone call, Ali explained to the staff at Raglan Road about what had happened and we quickly got dressed and headed down to catch a bus to Downtown Disney. The staff at RR held our reservation and was incredibly understanding about the whole ordeal.

Dinner for me consisted of the most delicious bread with a Guiness dipping sauce ever, a house salad for an appetizer, Mammy's Roasted Chicken with mashed potatoes, and a side of cauliflower au gratin. Oh, and then a ridiculously large thing of to die for bread pudding. And I may have had an adult beverage with dinner. Once we stuffed ourselves we made our way around parts of Downtown Disney before finally heading back to our room for the night.

OH BY THE WAY: After an amazing time in Disney and my new found love of runDisney events, I may have done something crazy like register for the Tower of Terror 10 Miler, on the bus, back to the hotel. Yep, I'm headed back to Disney!