This past weekend I traveled up to Orlando, FL to take part in the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend!
As we were driving under the sign announcing our arrival I got ecstatically excited. I LOVE Disney World!!
My mom, dad, and family friends decided to join my cousin and I, whom were racing, for the weekend to cheer us on and make it a fun family event. We had so much fun all together and it was a huge blessing having them there cheering us on.
On Saturday morning we ventured to Downtown Disney for the Princess Expo to get our gear and peruse the million booths there to sell us things and get us excited. There were 25,000 people in the race, not to mention the family and friends they brought with them, so the expo was quite overwhelming if you can imagine. This was my first experience with a pre-race expo and I was completely enthralled. I loved every minute of being called “Princess Julia” at every turn and being treated like royalty. You felt so special all around that room and felt filled with much more excitement for the day ahead.
They even had a wall with every runners name listed.
We walked around trying to avoid being enticed by the running gear and wound up buying a couple of stickers for our cars and scrapbooks. We laughed our way through the One More Mile booth at their cute t-shirts and gear. Their t-shirts were completely adorable. We all had a lot of fun at that expo. I could have stayed a lot longer, I am sure. But at various moments as I was walking around enjoying myself I would remember “Oh yea, I have to run 13 miles tomorrow. This isn’t just fun and games.”
After the expo we decided to take it easy and have a leisurely lunch on our way back to the house and hang out relaxing. We stopped by Cracker Barrel on the way home and loaded up on carbs for our race. Biscuits and gravy hit the spot for me!
She’s a Gator Girl!
We made Tara’s tu-tu for race day as we relaxed and enjoyed each others company. Then we tested out our tutu’s durability by running laps around the house. Oh what a sight we were to see.
Practicing our princess waves
Some other friends of ours stayed with us as they were running the race as well.
All night I had crazy anxiety. I couldn’t sleep (an 8:00 bedtime didn’t work for us) my mind kept thinking of all of the things that could go wrong and how in the world was I going to run 13 miles?! The most I had ever run prior in training was 10, and that was a BAD run. Finally, my mind turned off and I was able to get some sleep. Tara and I felt like little school girls having a slumber party talking in the dark instead of sleeping. It was a memory, that is for sure.
Our alarms went off at 1:45 am and we were up with a start. Getting dressed, eating our runners breakfast, and heading out the door by 3:15 to make it into our corral.
Pocahontas comin’ at ya!
We sat in our corral from 4:15 – 6:15am waiting for our turn to start. The hype was crazy enormous as you sat there watching jumbotron’s of all of the groups before you leave. After every corral in front of us set off we would move up a bit until we finally stood at the start line.
As we stood there waiting to go, listening to the Fairy Godmother sing her “Bippity Boppity Boo” and wish us a happy race, I looked down at my hand instilling the Lord’s strength in my mind and body knowing that only He could carry me through.
The fireworks shot off and we were on our way.
Disney did their job, true to their name, and kept us entertained throughout the entire 13 miles. Every few feet it seemed there was a float, characters to take pictures with, marching bands, gospel choirs, or music playing to keep you pumped up and energized. It definitely worked for this girl. I loved the cheering of the volunteers, the characters giving you high fives, the blasting heart-pounding music. I had so much fun!
I took my camera along with me, as you can see, and snapped pictures every chance I could. There were people EVERYWHERE. Some of the roads were so cramped that you were forced to walk. I couldn’t believe how many people surrounded me at all times. As far as the eye could see ahead of me was a sea of people all trotting along.
After mile 5, I think, we stopped for a restroom break. There were port-o-potty’s everywhere along the route but they were all packed. So when we saw a real bathroom hidden with a short line in the monorail terminal we hit it up. There were spectators everywhere around the terminal and as soon as we walked out of the bathroom I spotted our tiny cheering section looking for us. Later, they told us they had literally been standing there for about 20 seconds when we ran up to them. Perfect timing.
Through mile 5 we ran all around the Magic Kingdom. It was pretty awesome to run through the park and see all of the characters. That was definitely my favorite part of the race.
Then we hit the halfway mark. When I saw this sign and heard “This Girl is on Fire!” playing it totally pumped me to finish the race with a bang. I felt a second wind and knew that I was going to make it all of the way to mile 13. No, it still was not easy mind you. It still took a lot of focusing my mind and pep talking but I knew that I could, and would, cross that finish line.
When we arrived at mile 12, there were spectators all over the place. They weren’t only cheering for their loved ones, no, they were there yelling, cheering, encouraging every person running that race. It gave you a huge boost of energy. It was a great feeling and gave me all of the determination that I needed to kick it into high gear and finish that last mile.
Then, I saw the finish line. There it was before me. All I could think was “I am going to make it” “I just ran 13.1 miles” and then I heard someone scream my name from the crowd and I started crying. With tears streaming down my face I crossed the finish line, gave Mickey a high-five, and received my medal. I wish I could describe the feeling to you. It is an utterly amazing feeling knowing you accomplished a goal that you had set before yourself. Something you never actually thought was possible and didn’t fully believe you could do until you were doing it.
The picture that Disney took of me crossing the finish line describes it all. I wish I had it for you to see. I am literally screaming with joy with my hands in the air. It is the perfect picture showing how I felt at that moment.
We did it! We finished the race without getting picked up by the “Your running too slow carts”. The only goal we had really set for ourselves. I am beyond excited to know that I finished it. I did it faster than I could have imagined myself doing. That whole day I was on a high. I had adrenaline like never before. Having my parents there cheering me on and greeting me at the finish line was perfect. Running and finishing it with my cousin, was even more perfect. It was a tremendous experience. I would do it again, in a heart beat. No one can entertain you or make you feel so special while running 13 miles quite like Disney can.
And this, is exactly how we spent the rest of the day. It was a perfect ending to a perfect day.
Princess Julia, I really enjoyed the sound of that