Sunday, February 16, 2014

Princess In Training - One Week Till The Princess Half Marathon!

Hi, followers!

So as many of you may know, my mom and I love to run together! It is something we started doing to train for the Disney Princess Half Marathon last year, and we decided to keep doing it because we loved it. Last year's half was so inspiring, and I cannot wait until this year! My mom and I actually recruited one of my best friend's families to come run with us, so I know it will be a blast. Two of them are running the half for the very first time, and I know how nervous we were. I wanted to share a few tips from our experience last year.

I'm going to break down a few weekend tips by day. Let's start with the Fit For a Princess Expo:

Here we are with the amazing Jeff Galloway! My mom had actually been reading one of his books, and then she found out he was going to be at the Expo! She was so excited (as was I) because we loved the tips he gave runners for preparing for the big race and for during the race itself. My personal favorite was the "rubber band" trick. When someone passes you, imagine you have a rubber band around them pulling you along! It sounds silly at first, but it really helps. Plus, my mom and I had fun with it!

My mom and I went to the Expo on Friday, and it was definitely packed. Neither of us had experienced anything like it before, so we were a bit overwhelmed at first. The first thing we did once we entered was grab our race bibs and packets. There really wasn't a line for that, and it was very well organized. Next up, tshirts. I selected a Men's Medium for my tshirt size, and there wasn't even a line for my size when I got my shirt. The lines for the women's sizes were much longer, so I waited with my mom to get hers. After we grabbed our tshirts, we entered the world of sparkly princess running gear! 


I mean they have everything a running princess could dream of at that Expo. Let's see what all I can remember: Sweatybands, running shoes, special Disney inspired running jewelry, snacks like Luna Bar, sparkly running skirts, inspirational running tshirts, One More Mile, cute stickers, medal displays, costume pieces for the race, a special RunDisney area where we met the famous Jeff Galloway! (He was so so wonderful and happy by the way! It was a great surprise to get to talk to the official RunDisney running expert (and Olympian!). a makeup station where they were offering free makeovers and tutorials, various booths that had surpluses of running socks, headbands, and other gear for the big race. That wasn't even half of it! The longest line at any of the booths was the one for the Official Race Merchandise. They only let a certain amount of people in the area at a time, but I personally thought that was a good idea considering the space within the booth. My mom and I bought our hats we ended up wearing during the race at this booth, along with some headbands, stickers, and my favorite- Disney Princess Half Marathon Mickey Ears (pictured at the top of the post!)

Post Expo:

It was my mom's first time EVER at Disney World, so we reached out to our amazing travel guides Chris and Jennifer from Premier Custom Travel. They are certified Disney experts, and they really made our trip so special! There are millions of things I love about Disney World (and Disney), and because of Chris and Jennifer, we got to see and do so many things! First up, EPCOT. My mom had no idea what Epcot was before we entered the park, but she loved it! Like many people, she didn't realize that not all of Disney World is about princesses and (although there are hidden Mickeys) the parks focus on more than just that. Going to visit all of the countries in Epcot was not only fun, but it was good exercise! We didn't want to do anything that was tire us out, so Epcot was a great first park to visit. We ate at the beautiful restaurant in Mexico, and then she got a glass of vino in Italy! 

Saturday Morning - ANIMAL KINGDOM:

Our first stop on Saturday was Animal Kingdom! My mom had heard a lot of great things about the Jungle Safari, and I really wanted to get her to ride Expedition Everest with me. First we looked at the Tree of Life, and I even took some pictures with the characters from UP! My mom hasn't seen it, but she loved how cute they were. 

We walked over to Expedition Everest, and a cast member gave me a FastPass because I was wearing my birthday button! When my mom saw the ride, she was pretty uneasy about it. The only thing she asked me was if the ride went upside down, but she didn't ask me if it went backwards (spoiler alert!). Needless to say, she wasn't feeling to great after that one! Luckily, she felt better by the time we did the Jungle Safari, but next time we need a Fast Pass for the one. We misjudged the wait time, and ended up being there for quite a while. It had the longest line we experienced all weekend, but the ride was great! My mom will add that it was nice to give our legs a rest and be sitting down during this. She was also a fan because it was more relaxing than the roller coaster. Our personal favorite animals we saw were the giraffes; they are so beautiful and get so close!

Tip: If you are with someone who doesn't like roller coasters, don't convince them to ride one the day before their first half marathon! 

Another Tip: If you are planning on going on Jungle Safari, get a Fast Pass, go grab water and a snack (such as a banana or other fruit) and try to stay cool in the line. It was getting warmer by the time we were waiting, and it would have been a lot more comfortable if we had water. Hydration is EXTREMELY important!

Saturday Afternoon: Magic Kingdom

We took the shuttle from Animal Kingdom to Magic Kingdom for the afternoon, where we looked through all of the cute shops and decided what rides we wanted to do. One of my favorites is the BUzz Lightyear ride, so we grabbed a Fast Pass for that, grabbed a quick bite to eat, and walked around to see where we would be running the next day. My mom and I made sure to drink lots of water and Gatorade the days (and the week) before the race because we knew Florida weather could be quite humid. The Buzz Lightyear ride was a perfect choice because it was getting warmer outside, so it provided some relief from the heat. And it's just so much fun! Here's our action shot from our ride:

Tip: Ask a Disney Photographer to take your picture with your camera. They will offer to take it with theirs as well, and they know the popular photo spots!

 Tip: Wear comfortable walking shoes at the parks; my mom's feet were hurting a little bit after our big day, and mine were a little achey, too! It seems simple, but it's a good point.

Also: Don't be afraid to rock your buttons! I wore my birthday button all weekend, and so many people wished me a happy birthday! It was adorable when little kids would come up to me because it was their birthday, too. My mom also wore a "My 1st Visit!" button, which was so cute! Once we finished, we even got celebratory buttons. There's a button for everything at Disney World, and I'm not complaining.

 Saturday Night: Race Prep

My mom made a little devortional for me the night before our race, and it gave me so much strength when I was running. She had letters from friends and family representing each mile of the race, and a candle to go with them. If you're running next weekend, my best advice for the night before is to write down something you want to accomplish during the race, someone or something you are running for, and give yourself a big hug because you have come SO far! Everyone- no matter if it's their first race or their fifteenth, deserves to know how incredible they are. My mom bought this sticker for us, and I thought it was so inspiring that I wanted to share. 

Sunday - The Big Race!

My mom and I set out all of our race goodies the night before, and set our alarm for 3:00 AM (yes 3:00!) because the shuttle bus picks up before the sun is awake. We packed Stingers, Spark, a Power Bar, a Lara Bar, and some Energy Jelly Beans for the race and hopped on the bus around 3:30. Our corral was H last year because we didn't submit a time, so our start time was much later than we realized. We didn't necessarily need to be there as early as we arrived. However, the bus lines can get very long, and we decided that we didn't want to chance anything by being late.

 Here are some snapshots from the race:

Lots and lots of cute inspirational signs before the start...take pictures! Ask photographers to take pictures, too. They might come out cuter than you think pictures would at 4:30 in the morning. 

Ps. Take pictures of people wearing awesome costumes! My mom and I regret not asking the man brave enough to rock an Ariel costume last year. We didn't dress up last year, instead we wore our tshirt they gave us. This year, however, we will be Rapunzel and Snow White for the 10k, and we will both be Cinderella for the half!

There are fireworks for each corral, and the RunDisney team does a spectacular job at making each start magical. Get ready for Fairy Godmother to make some magic happen! It's seriously amazing.

at the start ready to run!

After you start, the first water station will be around mile 3 or 4, so be sure to grab some! You might get tired of lemon Gatorade by the end of the race, but you will need those electrolytes, trust me!

An important note: My Run Tracker was going off a few feet before each mile, so that is something to be aware of. If you weave in and out or run on the outside of the course, you will end up running more than 13.1 miles. Note this as you run your first few miles! Also, SMILE! There are tons of photographers from MarathonPhoto, and they will snap picture of you even when you're not looking. They organize them by the number on your race bib, so make sure that is visible. 

main street USA!
We did not stop to take pictures with any characters because the lines were so long by the time we ran past them. I was also afraid that if I stopped running, I wouldn't be able to start again! That leads me to my next topic, the castle. Now, I know everyone is probably imagining themselves running through this next weekend, yes? Be very mindful that this is an extremely narrow area, and many people are stopping here to take pictures in front of the castle. You will have to slow down (or stop) because of the amount of people running though, unless you're in an earlier corral, then you might be in the clear here. We were very happy when we got out!

Even if you might be frustrated because of the amount of people or tired from running around 6 miles, SMILE! This is one of the spots where RunDisney has a video camera! You can purchase footage of yourself running out of the castle, and it's really cool. 

Another fun tip: Take Selfies! My mom and I still laugh at these pictures because you can tell how much fun we had (and how happy we were to get out of the castle- it was packed!)

 The miles after Magic Kingdom were the toughest for us because somewhere around mile 9 or 10 is the overpass, and the incline was a lot more than we expected! We used a lot of energy running up that overpass, but what was really something neat was getting to see all of the other runners behind you as your crossed over it.

Tip: We tried to divide the energy chews to a few every 3 or 4 miles, and we made sure to drink water after eating them to avoid dehydration.

SUPER Helpful Tip: If you are hurting, take full advantage of the BioFreeze some of the stations have during the race. That stuff saved me! My IT band was pretty tight, but once I put BioFreeze on it, I felt great!

As you come closer to the finish, you enter Epcot! My mom and I almost cried at the idea of running around all of the countries because we were so tired, but we actually only had to run a short distance into Epcot, past the millennium ball, and then we prayed that the finish line would come. Here's a link to the course: Disney Princess Half Marathon Course Map.

Our Run Trackers both went off before we crossed the finish line, but apparently that is normal. Here's a picture of our sheer bliss. We finished!

Post Race:

After crying tears of happiness, my mom and I took some pictures and got in the long lines for the shuttle back to the hotel. Make sure your hotel knows you're running in case they have scheduled you for an early checkout. Grab a bite to eat and rest for a bit, but something else that helped us avoid too much soreness was to keep moving. I know! Why would you want to walk when you just ran 13.1 miles!? Well, it helped us significantly. We ate at the Sci-Fi Diner at Hollywood Studios, and they prepared the best gluten-free pasta I have ever had. 

I hope some of my tips were helpful for any RunDisney Princesses out there! I have been reading posts from Karla, who ran it with her boyfriend (so cute), and I found them very informative and fun. The most important thing to take from this is to enjoy yourself. You deserve it! If any runners would like to meet up on race weekend, I'd be happy to! 

Ps. Don't be shy- show off that medal! I'm 100% serious when I say that I wore mine all day, including to the airport and on the plane home. 

Good luck to everyone next weekend!

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