I did a lot of reading up on the race before hand so there were not to many surprises, and like I was told... Disney did everything well! Here is how the day went!
The night before the race, Megan and I had a pre-race dinner at Mama Melrose in Hollywood Studios with Tara and her sister. After dinner we went back and prepped for the race. I had everything out and ready to go, and my alarm set for 2:45am! Megan had her Snow White Costume and I had my Minnie Mouse costume. I wanted to be in bed by 9, but by time we got back to the room and settled it was closer to 10-10:30. I had some serious anxious nerves at this point but eventually fell asleep.
We were out of bed getting ready by 3:00am. This whole event started so crazy early because they need to get everyone done running so the parks can open at normal time. We got dressed and were out the door by 3:30. The line for the bus shocked me, it wrapped around our resort and back behind the pool! I got super nervous that we were to late and would never make it on the buy by 4:00. But in true Disney fashion, they had the whole thing running very smoothly and we were on a bus after only waiting about 5 minutes.
We arrived at Epcot by 4:00am and we just followed the crowd through the process. We went through into a meeting area, we checked out bags, we used the porta potties, took a few pictures and then it was already time to head to the corrals. I imagined we would have a lot of time just waiting around, but we really were moving almost the whole time. We wanted to get to the corrals a little bit early because Megan was in A and she needed some time to stretch and warm up before she started. The walk from the main greeting/drop off spot to the actual starting line was about 10 minutes! This was pretty much all I got in as a warm up. The road split and Megan went in one direction and I was on my own heading towards corral G. I was a little bit bummed that I was starting so far behind Megan, but it really didn't make a huge difference in the end. We were in position by about 5:15am... Megan scheduled to start at 5:34 and I was scheduled to start at 6:17. I was excited to see that they had more bathrooms set up by the start, so I was able to go one last time before getting in the corral.
This was the only time I had to wait. I talked with some runners around me, stretched a little bit, and slowly creeped my way up to the very front of my group. I wanted to be able to get ahead of the crowd when we started.
One of the best parts about the start is that each group gets their very own count down from the Fairy God Mother and fireworks to get them started. Since I was not til group G, I got to watch this little show 6 times before it was actually my turn. The excitement of the runners helped ease my nervous and made the time go fast. Finally at 6:17am exactly, we were at the starting line and off to race.
(I have pictures of all of this, but they are on my phone. I'll upload them when I get them on my computer!)
Pictures from Mike as they arrived to watch the race.
The start was pretty slow, I was able to get ahead of the crowd, but because there were so many people (23,000 runners) it wasn't long before we caught up to the group in front of us and we were right back in the crowd. I kept waiting for it to break up, but unfortunately it never happened. If you are in one of the later groups, be prepared to run a very crowded race. I think that is the one thing that I would complain about. I trained very hard to actually run the race and keep a good pace, so I was frustrated when it was hard to actually run because I was surrounded by people.
I did stop to go to the bathroom pretty early. The wait time must have gotten to me and by mile 2 I needed to pee! Plus the bathrooms already had very long lines, so when I saw a bathroom with a short line it decided it was better to just go and get it over with. I was quickly off again.
The start til mile 4 is mainly highway and I was off to a slow start (again because of the crowd, I felt pretty good). My mom and Mike were waiting to cheer me on at about mile 4.5, right outside the transportation center. I knew they were going to be there so it was exciting to look for them in the crowd and hear them cheer me on! Right after that, we were headed into the castle. Again Disney does it right. They have you enter a side entrance and then all of a sudden you make a right turn and you are on Main Street heading towards the castle. This part is pretty awesome because there are tons of fans cheering and you are actually run in Magic Kingdom, its pretty exciting. For the next mile you make your way through the park and out a back entrance.
(Megan passing mile 4 about an hour before me)
Mile 4- Hi Mom and Mike!
This is when things get a little bit tough. Mile 6-11 is pretty much all highway. They do have characters and some entertainment along the way, but really its all about running. I saw Mike and mom again right before mile 8, which was a good little pick me up.
This is when things got a bit ugly for me. I am not use to running in humidity and I was struggling. I had this awful burning feeling going across my chest and my back. For a little while I actually thought I might be having a heart attack. I have never felt this before. My legs and feet were feeling great, it was just this crazy pain that was getting the best of me. I would say mile 8 and 9 were the hardest for me. I did go back and forth between walking and running for a little while... mixed with some stretching and keeping my hands up on my head. At this point I was doing anything to help me breathe. I decided to stop at the bathroom one more time, thinking maybe the pain was gas or something. I didn't actually have to go, but maybe the 1 minute break helped... because as soon as I started running again I felt so much better!
This was perfect timing because we were getting close to the hardest part of the course. I knew from reading other blogs and talking to someone who has already ran it that mile 10-11 had hills (not actual hills but you run up a u-turn, and over 2 overpasses). I got my fresh kick just in time because these hills didn't bother me at all, I felt great. I think miles 10-13 were my fastest miles of the whole race. I felt strong and the pains were gone and I was excited all over again.
Two pictures Mike took from the monorail
Finally we hit the mile mark 12 which is right about when you enter into Epcot. I was feeling great at this point! I was surprised to see that everyone, Mom, Dad, Megan, Brian, and Mike were all around this point cheering me on one last time before the finish. I looked at my time and saw that I was probably not going to meet my goal of finishing in under 2 hours and 30 minutes (it was already 2 hours and 26 minutes and I had one more mile to go) but I wanted to get as close as I could so I tried to pick up the pace and finish strong (as much as I could, again the crowds were really getting in my way!).
It was finally the end, we made our way through the park and out a side entrance, and right before turning the corner for the final stretch they had a Gospel choir singing for us. That was a great moment, a moment of excitement and accomplishment, and of "holy shit I am finally almost done". After that we turned the last corner and went straight for the finish line. I don't have my official time yet but my clock said I finished in 2 hours and 24 minutes! I am not going to lie, I teared up a bit as I crossed the finish line. It was a pretty amazing feeling.
After getting some water and a few quick stretches I met up with the family. Here are some post pictures of Megan and I celebrating with our cheering squad!
I did it!
And finally a beer to celebrate!
Overall, it was a great experience and I will totally do it again. I have the running bug and will sign up for my next half marathon soon. Plus I will be back to do the Princess Half again too... hopefully having a proof of time will get me up closer to the start! Congrats to all of the other princesses that ran last weekend!