Monday, February 27, 2012

Half Marathon. Full Princess.

Well guys, I'm back home. Sigh.

My reign as a princess has officially come to an end. I must, however reluctantly, relinquish my crown to my own personal little princesses. I gotta say, though, I now totally get why my girls are constantly dressing up in dresses and tiaras. Being a princess is a lot of fun! I know that statement has a bit of a "duh" factor, but, man, was it a blast to be play princess this weekend. Even being one out of 20,000 other princesses. In fact, that probably made it more fun. Who wants to be a solitary princess? Even Snow White and Sleeping Beauty made it out of the woods and back to their castles eventually.

Anyway, the whole princess weekend started with a flight down to Orlando on Friday afternoon for the 2012 Disney Princess Half Marathon. Five of us ladies booked the trip together. All moms. All runners. All prepared to be princesses. 

We decided to go all-out Disney and stay at one of the Disney resorts. Not the Grand Floridian or Polynesian or anything. We're not made of money! (At least that's what my husband keeps telling me.) But, it's a once in a lifetime trip, so, we might as well, right? 

It was one of the best decisions ever. We never had to worry about transportation. We just hopped on board one of the many shuttles available to take us everywhere we needed to go. For us moms, this worry-free travel was heaven. No buckling kids into car seats, dropped sippie cups rolling on the car floor, or last-minute wails of "I can't find my jacket/backpack/blankie, Mommy!" This was a moms weekend. A moms without kids weekend. We rode in high shuttle-bus style. And, we loved it.

We explored the Expo on Saturday morning. For you non-race runners, the Expo is where you pick up your race packet with bib, shirt and various other goodies before the race starts. At big races, they have vendors selling everything running. At the Princess Run Expo, they had tons of vendors selling everything running, everything princess, and everything running princess. It was amazing. And, dangerous for the wallet. I did find some adorable Minnie Mouse Princess ears for my girls, so it was a success.

After the expo, we headed over to Epcot to check out the park. I, in the smartest decision of my life, wore flip-flops to explore the park. Or, um, perhaps it wasn't so smart. I was so excited to be in Florida and actually feel heat on my feet, that I couldn't help myself. I should've tried harder to stop myself. My feet were already tired by Saturday night. And, seeing as how we had to wake up on 2:30 to catch the shuttle to the race Sunday morning, my feet did not get much rest time. Poor things. They definitely need a pedicure to recover. Sound good, Cory?

All the ladies of the trip. Princesses Kari, Anne, Kelli, Kay and Amy. Notice that beautiful sunshine? It was just asking for flip-fops. Also, is anyone shocked that I came home with a sunburn? Yeah, I didn't think so. Darn red hair.

I had to take a picture with the Grumpy bush in honor of the stone Grumpy in our backyard.

Posing with Donald Duck. We definitely should've gotten margaritas for ourselves to go with Donald's sombrero.
Snow White taught us the princess pose. Don't be surprised if you start seeing me pose around town like this when I need a princess pick-me-up.

Both Belle and Beast taking time away from their dancing to pose with us.

So, back to the 2:30am wake up time. Yeah, that was rough. But, with all the adrenaline and excitement about the race, it wasn't as brutal as I thought it would be. We dressed in our costumes and headed for the shuttle to the start of the race. I chose to be a make-your-own princess. I wore a sparkle skirt and a shirt that said (because I don't think you can read it in the picture) "Forget glass slippers, this princess wears running shoes." Yeah, I thought that was pretty appropriate. And, of course, my tiara. Anne and Kari dressed as Belle, while Kelli was Sleeping Beauty. Kay was serious half-marathoner princess.

2:30am at our resort. 

We rode the shuttle along with many other bleary-eyed princesses. Our incredibly-friendly-at-3am bus driver told us Disney had 200 buses out picking up runners from different resorts. That should give you an idea of the massive scale of this thing. Unfortunately, because of the size of this race, the drop-off point for the runners was approximately 18.7 miles from the gathering area for the runners. Ok, maybe not quite 18.7 miles. It probably took 15 minutes. But, man, it felt like a LONG 15 minute walk that early in the morning in the chilly weather. Once we got into the runner congregating area, we hightailed it straight to the VIP Race Retreat. Again, a once-in-a-lifetime trip deserves once-in-lifetime splurges. Not sure Cory completely agrees with my line of thinking, but this decision was right up there with staying at a Disney Resort. So. Completely. Worth. It. 

We got to go inside a tent and partake of bagels, hot chocolate, coffee and water. Oh, did I mention that we had seats at tables, our own bag check and separate port-a-pottys? With a race with 20,000 women, the value of having private port-a-pottys cannot be overestimated. Plus, it was warm. Didn't think we would need the warmth for a Florida race, but it was in the low 50s with wind at 3am. That is not particularly pleasant to hang out in. We really appreciated the heat. We hung out with our fellow VIPers for about an hour and a half before making our way to the starting corral.

And, that walk? Yeah, another good 30 minutes. We probably should've started our Garmins the minute we stepped off the bus, just to see how many miles we actually covered. We wove through the crowds to get to our corral and waited for the fireworks to explode and signify the start of the race. 
In corral B, waiting for the fireworks to start. Yes, it was pitch black out.

Before the race, we had discussed race plans. Kay wanted a sub-2-hour time. This was Kari's first, and she was concerned with finishing. Anne, Kelli and I wanted to have fun and take lots of pictures. I have done several half marathons around KC, plus I am signed up for four more this spring/summer. I didn't care about my time for the Princess Run. If I was flying all the way to Disney, I wanted to just have a good time. So, the three of us decided to not even look at our times and stop for as many pictures as we wanted. Well, we definitely accomplished that goal!

We stopped to hang with Buzz Lightyear in the Magic Kingdom. Running to Infinity and Beyond!

Anne found Gaston and Belle (her costume inspiration), and we had to pose with them.

The best part of the race was running through Magic Kingdom for about a mile of the race.  It lived up to its name. Simply Magical.

We had to pose with this motley of princes we found on the side of the road.

Jessie! Gotta love a fellow redhead!

And, that's not even half the pictures we stopped to take. I can't emphasize how much fun it was to completely not care about time, but only care about making the most of the experience. (Now, this isn't to say I won't be pushing hard on my next half, only that this one was worth every single stop and detour.) After we made it through Magic Kingdom, we still had about 6.5 miles left before the finish through Epcot. Unfortunately, a lot of this was along a highway. There were a couple character stops, but much more straight running. With about a mile left in the race, the three of us, without communicating, picked up our pace and sped to the finish line. 

It was an awesome finish. We grabbed hands, lifted them up high and beamed as we crossed the finish line. I can't wait for those pictures to be up online. I guarantee it will be better than my usual I'm-dying-and-just-trying-to-make-it-across-the-line-to-turn-off-my-Garmin finish line picture. And, you better believe my tiara was still on my head after 13.1 miles. 

Isn't this medal amazing? I didn't get a great picture, so I borrowed this girl's pic.

After we finished and were bestowed our awesome medals, we headed back to the VIP Race Retreat. Again, amazingly worth it. We got full breakfasts, mimosas and flip-flops. Score! 

Our whole gang back together. Shiny medals and all.

We spent a while enjoying the Race Retreat tent, and then finally headed back to our resort. We were absolutely frozen to the core. While it was perfect weather for running, after we stopped, we just froze. And, I don't think Disney was prepared for the cold, because while we saw some people wrapped in those heat-trapping mylar blankets, we could not find one to save our lives. I finally begged someone at the massage station to give me some from their stash because I could not stop my teeth from chattering. Florida. Who would've guessed it?

After showering, we decided that we should head straight out to the park because if we paused to relax, we might never get up again. So, after cleaning up, we shuttled our way over to Magic Kingdom. It was very cool to see it right after having run through it. The minute we entered, a parade was starting, so we stopped on a corner to watch. And, would you believe it, but Mickey Mouse himself saw our medals from atop the parade float and congratulated us on our finish? No, I'm not joking. It was amazing. It was Mickey! And, yes, we wore our medals all day around the park. All the Disney staff  congratulated us every time they saw our medals. I've never felt so special. Truly, a princess day. (I'm pretty sure this is how Kate Middleton must feel every day!)

Walking around Magic Kingdom with our medals proudly displayed around our necks.
We walked around Magic Kingdom, rode some rides, went to Hollywood Studios, rode some more rides, and then headed for dinner at the Hollywood Brown Derby. After sitting for a while,chatting and enjoying some well-deserved cocktails and desserts, we finally started to feel the tiredness set in. We still made it back to Magic Kingdom for the fireworks show, then finally back to our hotel and our wonderful beds. By this time, my feet were absolutely screaming at me. Remember that ill-advised decision to wear flip-flops on Saturday? Yeah, I was kicking myself right about then. Well, not so much physically kicking, because I couldn't lift my leg up, but I sure was regretting that fashion choice. 

Oh, the exhaustion is setting in.
Oh well. It was all worth it. The pain, the tiredness, the money, the lack of a decent time. Every single thing was worth it. I had a fabulous time being a princess for a day! And, I did notice lots of moms running with their daughters, so who knows, maybe in 15 years I can run one with Molly and Charlotte. A mom can dream, can't she? (Whoops, I guess that would be more than once in a lifetime ... sorry, Cory!)

So, I'm back home. I have finally removed my medal and passed my tiara onto my daughters. I'm no longer a princess. But if, in the near future, you catch me staring off into space, you can probably rest assured that I'm reliving the glory of pounding the pavement with 20,000 other princesses and feeling the euphoric high of bursting through Cinderella's castle to see all of Magic Kingdom spread before us. You will be able to tell by the huge smile that will be on my face.

I have proven my theory true. Yes, Molly, real princesses do wear running shoes! And, for one glorious day, your mommy was one of them.


  1. You are a Princess everyday!!!! So glad you took full advantage of the experience....great decisions!!!!

  2. What an awesome experience! I might have to take up running just so I can run the Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon! Congrats!