To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
-Steve Prefontaine
Make it simple, but significant.
- Don Draper

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Disney's Princess 1/2 Marathon Weekend

What an experience! How do I even try to describe it??

My Princess event began Friday morning with the "Fit for a Princess" expo. Words to describe the expo: hot, crazy, organized, busy, pink, glitter, adrenaline, nerves, anticipation, overwhelming, different, crowded, fun!  Upon entering the expo at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, I had the opportunity to get my photo taken with some royal looking dudes in tights and powdered wigs. I opted out of that one and was just sprinkled with some pixie dust instead!  Immediately I checked in, receiving my bib, t-shirt and other items in a "goody bag". Let's talk about this so-called "goody bag". It was a clear plastic bag with a drawstring handle - much like you'd get when buying a pair of shoes at a sports store - and then toss in the garbage when you got home.  I was expecting some sort of mesh backpack with the event name written on it. I was wrong and really disappointed.  I felt embarrassed all day. The 1/2 marathon runners had the backpacks I was expecting, while the 5K runners basically had a grocery bag. It was then I set a new goal. Next year I will be back, and I WILL run the 1/2 marathon and get the REAL goody bag! Disney has shamed me into aiming for more!

There was a ton of Princess Weekend merchandise to chose from. I chose only a shirt that says "I can run in heels" with a glass slipper on it, and, of course, my tiara. I will buy more next year when I feel I've really earned it. Turning embarrassment into motivation - that's what I do!

We browsed through the different booths, but didn't stop at any for long. I don't feel experienced enough to understand all of the things I was presented with. Perhaps next year I will.

My mom got her ChEAR squad bag, t-shirt, seat cushion and clappers-- oh yeah! She got the sort of bag I expected to get.  (I ended up just buying myself an ESPN backpack so I could feel a little satisfied!)

Overall the expo was a good time. I think I was just initially overwhelmed by the intensity of it all. After some retail therapy I realized it was just a bunch of insane women (myself included!) walking around in tiaras having a great time with their sisters, mothers, daughters and friends!

Later that evening I had my early dinner and had a vision of getting some sleep. 3:30am would come way too soon! I did a little fashion show for my mom while deciding how to adjust my summer temperature running clothes so they'd work in Florida's freezing temperatures.  Crazy, right?!?

* * * * * * * 

Just as predicted, 3:30am DID arrive rather soon.  My adrenaline was pumping and I woke up feeling in "the zone". Around 5am we joined other certifiably insane women for a very nice, plush bus ride to Epcot. It was fun to see the costumes some people created, and awesome to feel the overall camaraderie among all of the princesses and their supporters!

By 5:30am I was at Epcot and the party was already in motion! The sun had yet to rise, but a DJ started a dance party and kept the crowd entertained.  Princess Tiana, from the "Princess and the Frog," was taking photos with bundled up Princess. I spent my pre-race time hanging out with my dear friend, Sarah, instead!

At 6:45, 5,351 princesses (with a few princes mixed in) lined up in various corrals. I stood alone in the 9-11 minute mile crowd - but I didn't feel "alone"at all. According to my mom (watching from the ChEAR squad bleachers), it was a sea of bouncing people!

7am - fireworks go up - racing begins! It would be a couple of minutes before I even got to the start line and could actually run. Once I was moving, it was amazing. I smiled for all 3.1 miles - and could have kept going for more!  The course begin in the parking lot, then through backstage. We entered World Showcase in between Mexico and Norway - Oh boy did I smile when I saw the margarita stand!! We ran through World Showcase, with a minor backstage detour, back into the park heading straight toward Spaceship Earth and back to the finish line in the parking lot. Along the route were cast members cheering, music playing and characters ready for fast photo ops.

My goal for this race was to never stop running. That means only in-motion pictures for me! If I could meet my goal, my reward to myself was a bottle of the most delicious Norwegian perfume. Seeing my mom again, and vision of perfume, kept me running. I think I even had a personal best! It was a full blown sprint for the last tenth of a mile - and crossing the finish line was Incredible!!  Mom says I even seemed to be at the back of the first 1/3 of racers to finish (out of 5,351!).... Go me!!

Upon finishing I was given my medal and sent to get my official post race photo, drinks and snack pack. I also wandered over to get my picture with Tiana and cheer on the remaining runners.  I even ran into an old friend from my Kali River Rapids days!

It was such an unforgettable experience!  A 6 month old crossed the finish line, as did a man in his 90s, people in wheelchairs, little girls in princess dresses, a MAN in a Cinderella dress, families, friends, fat people, skinny people, young and old. All weekend there seemed to be an unspoken, and often spoken, bond amongst all of the runners. We all wore our medals and tiaras with pride all day long, and shared stories of our experience. Such a nice group of people!

I went into Disney's Princess 1/2 Marathon Weekend not knowing what to expect. Now that I have experienced this weekend once, I am even more excited about next year!


  1. Sounds like a truly wonderful lifetime experience :)

  2. Wow that sounds like one wild and exciting race. We're definitely going to add that to our list of races to work toward one day. And way to go on running the whole way! You totally rock.

  3. Well, if you want to not wait all too long ... next year it is the same weekend - I believe the 5K will be on the 5th and the 1/2 is on the 6th. Registration opens May 1st --- not that I've been looking into this or anything! ;-)

  4. Hehe. I'll have to start another smartypig fund....


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