Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Time for a Change

I spent 226 days training for the Disney Princess Half Marathon.  I wasn't sure that I would actually be able to do it when I signed up.   I convinced two of my friends to run with me and I wasn't completely convinced that I would cross the finish line.  I ran when it was hot and humid.  I ran when it was raining.  I ran when it was cold.  I ran when I was tired and hungry and mad and happy.  I ran when it was still dark so I would be ready to face the day when my kiddos got up.  I logged hours of training.  I went through two pairs of shoes.  I started to like running.

But now, the race is over.  I've transformed.  I'm a Disney Princess.  I have the medal to prove it.

I'm not done transforming.  I still have a long way to go.  I have races to run.  I have children to raise.  I have my life to live.

I'm not done writing about it.  I just don't think that this is the place to do it.  This blog was meant to document my journey to the Princess Half Marathon.  It has done that.  You followed along with every single run that I did for 7 months.  You saw the good, the bad, the hot, and the ugly.  You read about my great runs and the ones that made me question what I was thinking when I signed up for this race.

You can keep following my adventures on my new blog - Running with the Boys.  It's gonna get crazy over there!

Thanks for sharing this journey with me!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Disney Princess Half Marathon - The Aftermath

LOVE LOVE LOVE this!!!!  So true.

After the race, I changed my clothes and hobbled around Epcot for the rest of the day. My favorite part of the moments after the race was changing into my flip flops!!

My legs were very sore and very tight after I finished.  It was mostly my knees and ankles which I attribute to 6 weeks without running on pavement.  None of my muscles that usually hurt were sore after the race.

Even my knee which had been bothering my for the entire race - the one that I stopped and put Biofreeze on at EVERY medical tent - didn't hurt.

I did have a weird blister on my fourth toe on my left foot.  I think my sock got caught between my toes, which was a new running injury.  I also had a heat rash on the tops of my feet.

When I woke up the next morning to get on the plane to come home, I was a little sore, but not as bad as I expected to be.  

I am not sure that I will run a Disney race again.  It was a great first half marathon!  I loved the whole experience (after I left the Expo!)  At Disney, every mile really is magical!!

But, the race was crowded...really crowded.  It was also expensive....really expensive.  

I am glad that I did it.  Running at Disney motivated me to somehow transform into a runner.  I have three (maybe 4) more half marathons on my running calendar for 2013.  I don't think that I would be able to say that without the Disney Princess Half Marathon.  

So, what now??

First, I rest.

Then, I run the Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach, VA.

Next, I run the Nike Women's Half in Washington, DC.

After that, I run the Run for Dream Half Marathon in Williamsburg, VA.

My goal for 2013 is to run at least one race a month.  I am still looking for summer races, but they will come.

I need to figure out what is going on with my IT band.  I have come to love running, especially long distance running.  I like the solitude of it.  I like having that time for myself.  I am actually looking forward to being able to get up at 6:00 in the morning to go for a run before the rest of my family wakes up.  

Thanks for taking this journey with me!  It was hard sometimes and it was fun sometimes. 

I am probably going to keep blogging about my running adventures.  Once I decide what to write about, I'll let you know.

 Distance runners.

Disney Princess Half Marathon - Race Day!

I DID IT!!  I crossed the finish line at the 2013 Disney Princess Half Marathon.  Now, I am truly a princess. I got my beautiful medal and the satisfaction of knowing that I am a half marathoner.  I ran 13.1 miles!!

But, let's back up a little....

The morning started VERY early. Mickey called our room at 2:15am...that's in the morning.  Luckily I had fallen asleep at about 10, so I got about 4 hours of sleep.  Everything was laid out on the bed, so all I had to do was get dressed and eat.  I wasn't going to break the second cardinal rule of race day (Don't eat something new the morning of the race), so I ate the bagel that I had brought from home and left the bagel from the runner's box for my husband.  I brought my own peanut butter too.  I did eat the banana out of the box.   At a minute or 2 before 3:00 (again, that's AM....as in the bars are just closing....), I walked outside to meet my other princesses.

We kissed our husbands good bye and walked to the front of the resort to catch the bus.  One bus came by, but it was full and kept going.  After a minute or two, an empty bus came and we all piled on.  (Even though it was early, it was good to be on one of the first buses.  The girls who got there later spent about an hour on the bus.)  We got to the Epcot parking lot at about 3:30.  We made our way through the masses to the starting area.  Natalie found herself a table and ate her breakfast while Elizabeth and I hit the porta potties (for the first stop of the morning).  At 4:00, Elizabeth and I found our Princess Posse group from Facebook. These girls have been SO supportive throughout all of the months of training.  There were new runners and people who have run the race before.  We got a quick picture and then made our way toward the corrals.

The walk to the corrals was FOREVER.  It took about 20 minutes....past the water treatment plant, which is not such a welcome smell at 4:00 in the morning.  But, we finally got to the end where this sign greeted us and then directed us where to go.

Since I was in C and the other girls were in E, we got to stay together for a little bit longer.  After a bit more walking, we got to the point where we had to split off.  There were more porta potties there, so we made our second stop of the morning.  Then, I headed to C and the girls headed to E.

We got to the corrals early enough that I was right at the front of C.  It was only about 4:45, so I found a place to sit and did some stretching while I was waiting.  I also talked to the people around me and then, all of a sudden, it was time to stand up and get ready because Corral A was starting.  Every corral at the Princess gets a magical start with the Fairy Godmother's bibbidi bobbidi boo and fireworks.  After about 15 minutes, it was our turn.
Time to go!!  I was this close to the start.

These were the fireworks for Corral A, but they happened for every corral, so you get the idea.

I crossed the starting line and I was running a half marathon. It was a warm and humid morning that felt good while we were all hanging around waiting to start.  It didn't feel nearly as good once my body was in motion.  I had a poncho that I was holding onto in case the forecasted  rain started.  I tucked it into my iFitness belt to try and keep it for as long as I could.  That lasted about 2 minutes.  It was making me hot, so I saw a man picking up the ditched clothes and threw my $8 poncho into his bag.  (It was $8 well spent to ward off the rain.) As soon as I started running, I could tell that I wasn't running in the winter any more.

The first couple of miles were pretty rough.  My left knee was taped because of the IT band and my right foot was taped because I had worn the wrong shoes the day before.  So, what started to hurt?  Why, my RIGHT KNEE, of course.  It felt like sandpaper rubbing and was not a comfortable feeling.  It also started at about mile 2.  But, the first couple of miles of a long run are usually rough.  Once my body realizes that we are going to do it until we are finished, it stops fighting me.  It was pretty dark for the first couple of miles, so I didn't stop for any character pictures.  All of a sudden, though, we were coming up on the Magic Kingdom.
Mile Marker 1.  It took me a couple of miles to figure out that I needed to wait for the girls to move before i took my picture.

Mile Marker 2.  The clock doesn't show it, but I am still making pretty good time.

All of sudden, we were headed through the gates to the Magic Kingdom!
Mile Marker 3....the sun is finally starting to join us for the fun!
From mile 3 to mile 5, we were running around the Richard Petty Driving Experience and through the Ticket and Transportation Center, and up the hill toward the Contemporary  Resort.  There was a little dip going into the TTC.  It was barely noticeable.  In fact, after what will come later, it was nothing.  The TTC was our first encounter with our adoring fans....also known as the spectators.  They had signs and were yelling and cheering for their runners and all of the other runners.  After a long, dark 4 miles, it was great to have some cheerleaders!  There were also some real bathrooms that some of the princesses were taking advantage of.  I didn't stop...I was headed for the Magic Kingdom!!
Lightning McQueen outside the Richard Petty Driving Experience

Mile 4....Beauty and the Beast and cheerleaders to keep up going!!  Only 2/3 of a half marathon to go!!

Photo Credit to Maryanne from the Princess Posse....somehow I completely missed the Mile 5 mile marker.  

Things got a little hectic as we left the TTC and made our way to the Magic Kingdom.  The road went down to one lane with traffic on the other side of the median.  I tried to stay to the right so I could do my run-walk intervals, but people were trying to pass me on my right side and had to go outside of the cones to do it.  It was crowded and crazy....not my favorite part of the race course at all.  Added to all of that chaos was a pretty substantial hill.  I have been to Walt Disney World many times in my life.  I have ridden on  Disney bus to the Magic Kingdom many times in my life....in fact, I had done it just the day before.  Somehow, that hill never even crossed my mind.  It wasn't a hill like an up and down.  Oh no....it was a down and up.  Disney did a great job of having music and lights and a man with giant Mickey hands clapping and encouraging us along.  All I could think was that what goes down, has to go back up.   There was a treat waiting for us at the top of the hill.

You can see the bus stops for the Magic Kingdom in the background!  We are almost there!!

From the top of this hill, we ran through the employee entrance to the Magic Kingdom and came onto Main Street through a gate right by the Fastpass Machine for Mickey and the Princesses!  We came around the corner and there was the castle!!!!  There were people lined up and down the street yelling and waving and cheering.  The castle was beautiful!  Girls were crying and stopping to take pictures and just taking in the moment.  We had been training for months for this mile.

We ran up Main Street and turned into Tomorrowland.  Buzz Lightyear was just making his way out for pictures.  The line was short, so I stopped.

We ran through Tomorrowland and past the Tea Cups.  Of course, Alice and the Mad Hatter were waiting for pictures.

We started through Fantasyland and it was time to run through the Castle.  Belle and Beast were to the right and Mickey and Minnie were to the left.  Both sets of lines were RIDICULOUS, so I settled for a passing picture.

The entrance to the castle was just past Mickey and Minnie.  I took a quick stop to get my picture taken.

Cinderella's Royal Trumpeters were standing over the entrance and starting playing the Rocky theme as I was going through.  Pretty cool!

I don't remember much about actually running through the castle.  It was loud in there.  Rumor has it that fairies were sprinkling pixie dust on the princesses as they ran past.  I missed all of that.  Luckily, I was able to run through the castle.  As the morning went on, the girls in the later corrals were only able to walk because there were so many people.

As much as I don't remember about the inside of the castle, I remember coming out.  
My Prince Charming found me through all of the people to snap this picture!
I made sure to find the photographer to capture the moment.  I kept reminding myself to go left while everyone else went right.  I had to get my picture in front of the castle.  That's why I ran a Disney race.  That was the moment that made me a princess.

Russ was right in front of the castle and after my picture, I ran over to get a quick kiss.  I remember telling him how hot I was and off I went through Liberty Square.
I got a wave from Tiana as soon as that Tinker Bell got out of the way!
After Liberty Square, we entered Tomorrowland, where we saw Jessie from Toy Story and mile 6!

Our little run through the Magic Kingdom was coming to an end.  On the way out through a gate into the parade staging area, the train was waiting for us! 

My husband and boys are train obsessed!  This picture was as much for them as for me.
As we left the Magic Kingdom, another princess and her prince were waiting for us.  It was Princess Aurora and Prince Philip when I went by, but, apparently Cinderella would make an appearance there too!

Reedy Creek Emergency Services brought us into the halfway point with music and firemen.  Again, I have boys, so I couldn't pass up a picture of a firetruck.
This guy totally photo bombed me.  He thought he was funny, so I thanked him and told hi it would be my favorite picture of the day.   I lied.
From there, it was the Halfway Point of the race!  Princesses got to vote on the halfway song.  There were some good choices, but Alicia Keys' "Girl on Fire" won out and was playing at the halfway point.  Nope, it's not the best running song in the world.  There were other songs on the list that would have been better.  But I can't think of a better song to motivate us!  I paused my iPod to take it all in.

The next 3 miles were the most boring miles on the course.  We were on a long road between resorts and golf courses.  There were spectators in front of the resorts and Disney did a good job with character placement and entertainment to help the miles pass, but miles 7, 8, and 9 were pretty tedious.  (It couldn't have been that we had already run 6.5 miles, still had 6.5 to go AND it was yucky hot.....)

These handsome fellows were in front of the Wedding Pavilion (which I didn't even know that I passed.) I didn't even try to bring my foot up to the pillow.  

Who can pass up the Mickey golf cart????
He ain't never had a friend like me.

Out in front of the Polynesian Resort.  BEST.RACE.SIGN.EVER!!!!

After the Polynesian,  we went past the Cliff Shots.  There were some porta potties just before the Cliff Shot station, so I ran over to get in line.  After about 5 minutes of waiting, I decided that I didn't need to go that badly.  Then it was back to the main road that had taken us past the Magic Kingdom gate earlier that morning.  The characters that were there in the dark on the way in were still there, but now it was light.  The lines weren't any shorter, but at least now I could see them.

The Princes!!  After a girl would finish her picture, they would look over and pose for everyone NOT standing in line before the next girl got in for her picture.

These might have been the most popular guys on the course

Just before that water stop at mile 10, there was another group of porta potties...with NO line.  I decided that I would stop because I knew that the overpass that I had been reading about for MONTHS was coming up.  In fact, the porta potties were in the shadow of the overpass.  So, I did a quick (well, not really all that quick....it's hard to get a tutu and water belt back together when you are a hot and sweaty mess) third stop of the morning and then I was ready to tackle the dreaded overpass.

Proof that we were headed in the right direction.

This overpass wasn't really all that bad.  It wasn't steep, but it was LONG....it felt like we were going up and around for ever.  The road was very banked.  I tried to stay to the right (and the lower side of the road) so I could stick with my intervals....and because it was shorter down there.  About halfway up, we got a little more motivation

Recruits, take that hill!

He kept telling us that mile 11 was just at the end of the hill.  He lied.  Once we finally got to the top of the overpass, it was amazing to look at how far we had come.  It was also pretty amazing to see how many people were behind me.  I looked down to see a sea of people who had no idea what was about to come!

All of a sudden, there was another hill.  This one was a little shorter, but a little steeper.  It was hard.  Mile 11 was at the top of that one.  Also at the top of that hill was the first look at Epcot.  Epcot was the finish line!!  I had almost made it.

When I first saw this picture, I asked myself why I took a picture of a bus.....then I remembered!

There was one more hill to conquer before mile 12.  Just before the hill, we could see ourselves running on a big screen.  Two women with microphones were cheering us on!

I got over that next overpass and two more character stops were waiting on the other side!

I got to see my husband just before I went into Epcot.  I wasn't expecting to see him until the finish so he was  a welcome and wonderful sight!  After I waved to him, I turned the corner and started into the Epcot.  This was it!  I only had a mile left!!

That last mile was HARD.  I was hot.  I was tired.  I was hungry.  I wanted to be done.  We ran past the ball and towards the World Showcase Lagoon where we turned around and headed back to the ball.  There were a couple of photo stops along the way.

As I left Epcot and headed toward the finish, I started looking for the Gospel Choir that I had heard so much about.  I paused my iPod again so I could hear their beautiful singing.  They didn't let me down.

I couldn't finish the race without one last stop.

I turned one more corner and I could see the finish line!!  I found a little tiny burst of energy that got me across the finish.  I found my husband in the stands, got my finisher smile on, and ran across the finish line.  Goofy and Donald were on hand for high fives!!

After I crossed the finish line, I got my medal, a bottle of water, and then got in line for my official finisher picture.  Then it was off to find my husband in the family reunion area.  (We met at D for DONE!)  He wasn't there, so I went and did a little shopping at the official merchandise tent (there wasn't much left, but I did get a shirt....not an I Did It! shirt, but a shirt just the same!), got my runner box full of seeds and stuff that I wouldn't eat, and then went back where my Prince Charming was waiting for me with a rose.

Today's Stats:
13.1 miles (official!) and 13.52 by the Garmin
3:53:50 clock time
3:39:17 net time (official finishing time)
3:39:23 (Garmin time)

Not fast, but not last!  And, I ran a half marathon!!