This year was my 4th runDisney Princess Half Marathon weekend. At the Fit For a Princess Expo I thanked Jeff Galloway personally for his inspiration to get me out there all those years ago. I shared with him while I don’t exactly look like the cover of Runners World, I have been told time and time again, I have influenced or inspired people to get out there too. He was so gracious in his reply and humble too. Many friends blog for fun and the BEST perk is when people tell you that it made them want to get out there and that you helped them believe they can do it too. Jeff told me that I do inspire as do so many others. He loves hearing this feedback because it goes to show ANYONE be it Olympian or recreational runner can make a difference in the life of those around us.
One of my friends ran her FIRST Half Marathon this year at the runDisney Princess Half and I asked her to do a guest post for me. I love race recaps and the words of first timers are filled with excitement and triumph, a pleasure for me to share wtih my readers. It is wordy and does cover the entire weekend including the Glass Slipper Challenge. Thanks to Julia for sharing your race with us – you might remember her with her review of Disney Resort at Hilton Head Island South Carolina. Funny how the inspirer can turn into the inspired now isn’t it!
Guest Post by Julia Stewart
My First Half Marathon
“If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough”
These words are what pushed me to pull off one of the craziest things I’ve ever done to date; Princess Half Marathon weekend. Let’s back up for a minute, though so I can explain. I’ve been “running” for about two years now. I say running in quotes because I run/walk and I am slow as molasses. I have heart and I love to work out, but I would never consider myself an elite runner even though I aspire to be one. Maybe one day….
|Ran into Julie as she got to the expo. How cool was that!|
I was really happy we arrived when we did because the Fit for a Princess Expo had just opened up earlier that morning so the plan was to head over after we left our stuff at our hotel. The Expo is where you pick up your race bibs, race shirts, and any other MUST HAVE items. You can also sign up for runner tracking so your updates can be sent to loved ones or to yourself if you’re keeping time via texts or social media. I thought the time we arrived was pretty decent. I got to see everything and the lines to pick up my race packet were not long at all. I wasn’t able to snag any pics with princesses here, but I took some fun pictures in front of the step and repeats that were set up throughout.
|Princess Julia at Fit for a Princess Expo with Jeff Galloway|
Once I was done at the expo, we went back to our resort (Art of Animation, Little Mermaid area) to get settled in. One recommendation (especially if you’re new to running which I wasn’t but I am a pro at being lazy) is that Little Mermaid is a looooooooooooooooooooooooooong distance from where the bus picks up and drops off. There’s one stop and one stop only. I prefer the Cars suites or Nemo area. Again, this is purely because I don’t like to walk any longer than I have to. That night the fabulous Disbroadswere having a meet-up at the Wave Lounge in the Contemporary Resort along with the fabulous Jenn Greene. It was a good time and the whole experience was great – I really enjoyed seeing Julie and meeting some new friends.
|ATLrunsDisney at the DisBroad WAVE Meetup with Julie and Amy|
|Love the Stews and the Aladdin Gang too!|
I will say I was not impressed with the breakfast setup. We spent more time in line to meet the princesses than we did eating and the food selection was mediocre at best. Save your money if you haven’t done this because you’re not missing much!!
|Excited or what?|
As we were leaving Epcot, I saw the last runner of the race with the sweeper folks behind her. She was working hard (I was about 1 mile or so ahead of her) and the group I was running with started clapping and cheering for her. It was really nice to encourage a fellow Princess and make her feel good!
|Congrats Julia on Race #1, How did I miss all these cool backdrops!|
|Ready to GO! Corral Chillin’|
Also, if you’re considering hopping corrals (moving up not back) don’t do it. I saw several people attempt this and they got kicked to the last corral! Kudos to runDisney for being vigilant and letting folks know that cheating would not be tolerated. I met a friend that I’d made through Instagram (we ended up starting the race together) and it was really cool to meet her in person. The elite runners took off at 5:30 a.m. and there was a considerable wait time between corrals in the front. I believe the first three had like a seven minute break or so between corrals since they are smaller.
|Does she look happy or what?|
After we left Magic Kingdom, there was a three or so mile stretch of NOTHING. It’s a one lane road and there is nothing exciting to see at all. I got through mile 6….I crossed into mile 7 and then the worst pain ever started in my knee and I could feel blisters forming on the bottom of my feet. I couldn’t bend my knee to run properly so I started walking. It was a fast walk, but I was disappointed that I had to walk so much. I texted my husband so he could calm me down because I was at a point where I was considering stopping. He talked me down and as if by divine intervention appeared at the 8 mile marker to ask if I was ok and see if I wanted to go home 🙂
|Bling Bling Bling!|
The rest of the afternoon was a blur of activities and I honestly could not stop grinning. I got to wear my “I DID IT!” shirt and all of my medals to the Magic Kingdom. I’d get so happy each time someone would stop and congratulate me. Recovery from these races was not as difficult as I’d thought it would be, but that was largely due to the fact that I went to Magic Kingdom after and kept moving.
|Celebratory Dinner at Be Our Guest with Julie, Jenn, Heather and Laura!|