WDW Marathon Weekend 2015 - Marathon and Dopey Finish

Day 4, here we go!

Woke up feeling tired but had taken it super easy the day before so my legs felt tired but not worn out and I was ready to run this marathon. I had already decided that if my body felt good in the first 5 miles then I would take it up a notch and really try to race this bad boy. It had been awhile since I had set a course PR here and I wanted to see what I could do.

This was my 5th time running this marathon and my experience and increased endurance showed this time around. But I’ll get to all that.

Woke up, threw on my clothes and was on a bus just after 4am. Met up with my Australian friends and we made our way to the corrals. It was chilly but a good running temp (~50) and I was excited to run. We got into corral E and chatted and stretched until it was time to go. Carissa and Rudy were great announcers as always as we impatiently waited for our turn. We were in corral E again and they efficiently moved through the corrals and we were sent off about 10 minutes after the official clock time.

The beginning of the course is the same as the half marathon and the characters in this part were identical to the day before. I decided I was feeling good so I said goodbye to my friends around mile 2 and kept going. Made it up to the castle and it was just as beautiful, really it never gets old.

We then wound around seeing similar characters out as the half and then were back out on the roads. We made our loop around the race track (which is super cool) and then started the journey to Animal Kingdom. It was around here that my legs started feeling sore but not sore enough to slow me down, so I grabbed some Tylenol to help my . We looped through that park and then started the slightly longer journey to Wild World of Sports (WWoS) where it is endless looping. They fit about 2.5 miles into WWoS and you just… keep… running around. It’s a bit nutty. During this part I got some pics with characters I'd never gotten before.

We finally broke free of WWoS and made our way to Hollywood Studios and the final stretch of the race. I LOVE the final miles of the WDW Marathon. I would go as far as to say it’s the BEST last 5k of any marathon I’ve ever run. You run through the studios, then the Boardwalk/Beach/Yacht area, and then through Epcot. People are cheering the whole way and there are so many distractions and it’s just great and gives you a nice burst of adrenaline to kick it up for the last stretch.

My legs were tired but not completely gone so I just kept pushing, I was on pace to come well under 4 hours and I was thrilled about that. I was about to SMASH my previous course PR of 4:11. The final mile turned into my victory lap. Picked up some magic from the Fairy Godmother just before mile marker 25, waved to the crowed, waved to the pricesses, grabbed a hug from Duffy, and then set off on the last .25 mile or so to the finish!

We wove through the final turns and there it was, the finish line. I was ecstatic. I ran across with a goofy looking grin with an official time of 3:48:22.  I had not only set a new PR but done so by 23 minutes and beaten my previous Dopey marathon time by a little over a half hour. Crazy!

I had a blast at the marathon this year. Not only did a set a course PR but stopped for pictures and really just had a blast out there. I really fell in love with the WDW Marathon course all over again and also felt invigorated by completing the Dopey Challenge on such a strong note. I really proved to myself how far I’ve come this year and a little bling never hurt either.

The Dopey Challenge is a uniquely challenging experience and, I think I’m hooked. Last year’s Dopey Challenge left me drained but this year I faced the challenge as a stronger more confident runner and LOVED it. I cannot wait to push myself further next year and do it again!

Cheers until next time runners!

WDW Marathon Weekend 2015 - Half Marathon

I woke up ready to run! I was so ready to be unleased from the Epcot area routes from the previous 2 days and actually go somewhere. I felt like a bird that was ready to fly! Get me to the castle pronto!

My legs were starting to get a little tired but it was the 2 previous early mornings that were sucking most of my energy. Today’s plan was similar to the ay before. Enjoy the run and stop for pictures when we wanted to.

For anyone that hasn’t run the WDW Half Marathon or Full Marathon or the Princess Half Marathon, be aware there is a walk (~.3 miles) to the actual corrals. The path to get to the corrals can be pretty crowded too so it can be a slow pace. Give yourself time. Also, there are LOTS of port-o-potties once you get over to the corral area. That’s the one thing runDisney does really well. They have port-o-potties EVERYWHERE! It’s a runner’s dream.

Anyways, back to it. We walked over to the corrals made one potty stop and then headed into corral E. I had tried to figure out how quickly the early corrals would be released but couldn't really find the information so I figured maybe every 5 minutes. I was wrong, it was closer to 2. We were released about 10 minutes after corral A.

This course has become very familiar to me, you run around Epcot on the roads and then up to the Magic Kingdom, going through the parking toll booths, and then through the TTC parking lots. This is where the characters usually begin. (See below for a “complete as I can remember” list of characters)

Once you run through the TTC you run up the roads, under the water bridge that connect Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake, pass the Contemporary, and enter the backstage areas of MK just after mile marker 5 (ps the largest building in the back of that area is where the outdoor ice cream carts get their ice cream, imagine all the Mickey Bars back there!). You enter the town square near Tony’s and then turn right up Main St. BAM! The castle in all its icicle/frost/frozen glory. So beautiful.

Once you run up Main St you take another right, over the bridge to Tomorrowland and then hang a left into Fantasyland. Through the castle and then another right into Liberty Square. Through Fronteirland and then backstage where there is usually a parade float (now an old parade float) and a water stop. You then head back out onto the roads passing the Polynesian and the Grand Floridian and then take those roads back to Epcot. A quick jaunt up to World Showplace and then back out to the parking lot (passing the gospel choir) for the finish!

Characters on the course:

  • Jack Sparrow and Capt Barbossa – Pirate Ship set up as you run to the Magic Kingdom toll booth
  • Vanellope and Wreck-It Ralph – Magic Kingdom parking lot (near race track)
  • Jack Skellington and Sally – Magic Kingdom parking lot
  • Queen of Hearts – MK near Tea Party
  • Mime Thug (Tangled) – Near Winnie the Pooh
  • Anna, Elsa, and Kristoff – On Castle balcony
  • Louis (Princess and the Frog) – Liberty Square across from Hall of Presidents
  • Woody – Frontierland Country Bear Jamboree entrance (I think)
  • Mary Poppins, Bert, and Penguins – Grand Floridian
  • “Bachelors” – Across from the wedding pavilion
  • Golfing Goofy – Golf Course (I believe Mickey and Donald also made appearances)
  • Genie, Abu, and the Carpet – Past hotels on the way back to Epcot where parking lot roads merge
  • Army Men – Turn around point before coming into Epcot parking lot
  • Phineas and Ferb – Epcot near Innoventions

We ran it in 2:18 and enjoyed every minute. The half marathon distance is nothing to sneeze at but we chatted and laughed and had a great time out there and that’s what it’s all about!

WDW Marathon Weekend 2015 - 10k

This was my first “real” day of running. Once again my dad and I arrived pretty early, we hopped on a bus just after 4am and it was cold but not as cold as the previous morning so people were a bit more lively in the pre-race area. My dad made a beeline for coffee as I went off to meet up with my friends for the race.  I was running with my Australian friends, starting in corral A, so I wouldn’t have to wait around as long letting my legs get tired and cold as I did the day before. It also meant that were were dressed up as Anna, Elsa, and Olaf which was super fun and people seemed to really appreciate our outfits.

With the countdown from Rudy and some festive fireworks, we were off! We took the run at an easy pace and stopped for some fun characters. At the first stop a runDisney photographer came up and asked us to stay with the White Rabbit for a picture that would end up on Facebook, but then it never ended up there. Bummer.

We ran, chatted, got some pictures and had a really great time. We didn’t run into too many crowded areas (again we were in the first corral so our experience is different than others) and we finished in 1:09. The course is okay. Not great but just okay and it's very similar to the 5k course. The first 3 miles are pretty much all outside the park on the roads around Epcot.

Characters on the course included:

  • Anna and Elsa - standing on an overpass
  • White rabbit - Just before the bend on the highway outside Epcot
  • Lilo and stitch - Just after the White Rabbit
  • Mushu - China
  • Genie - Moracco
  • Mickey - Boardwalk EPSN Club
  • Tweedles - International Gateway
  • Chip and dale - Epcot West breezeway
  • Large puppets - backstage before exiting Epcot to the finish line.

We got our medals and then went to walk through the Dopey tent but nothing happened there. We just walked through. We weren’t really sure what was going on or how they were verifying the races. We grabbed our snacks and then headed back to our respective resorts to shower and nap.

WDW Marathon Weekend 2015 - 5k (aka the race where my feet went numb)

So as you probably already know because you were either there or read on social media, the 5k was cold. Like really cold. For anyone who has visited WDW when it’s cold, 30 degrees feels waaay colder in WDW than anywhere else. There was wind. There was cold. There was darkness.

My dad and I got ready and headed to the bus around 4:30. We waited for a little bit and then hopped right on and were at the race in no time. We then followed the huddled masses to the main area where normally everyone is dancing, laughing, chatting, and taking pictures but not this time. It looked like a barren waste land in front of the DJ because everyone was huddled around buildings to keep warm.

My dad and I decided to brave the cold in search of coffee and came across the massage tent which they had opened up for people to keep warm in. This was amazing and thank you so much runDisney!!! We never did find that coffee though.

The start of the race was at 6:15 and my dad and I were starting in corral F, the very last corral. We waited until about 6 to go to our corral and then tried to huddle close to others but the wind just whipped into the group and we froze. This year they had changed where the start line was and honestly, I thought it was fine. Lining up there was fine. I don’t really see a large advantage but if runDisney thinks it works better than I’ll defer to their judgment since it didn’t really change my race experience.

Since we had to wait for all the other corrals we didn’t get to cross the start until just before 7 and so it was a very long and cold hour of just standing there. My legs were stiff and my feet completely numb by the time we started. I actually let my hair down to keep the back of my neck warm which is big for me!

When we got to the first mile marker, my feet were starting to thaw as we walked at a fairly fast clip. The best part of the 5k is the sunrise in Epcot. It is just beautiful looking over World Showcase lagoon and seeing the sun peaking up. Beautiful!

Characters on the course included:

  • Princess Atta (It's a Bug's Life) - Before the cast parking lot
  • Daisy Duck - Norway
  • Pinocchio - Italy
  • Chip and Dale - Japan
  • Marie - France
  • Donald Duck - Canada

How cute?!

We didn’t stop for characters, in hindsight I wish I had waited in line for Chip and Dale in Japan but I was just too cold! They changed the course slightly this year and I thought it was nice. No better or worse that the old course that looped us up to the very front of the park rather than through Future World West.

We crossed in 48:51 and then hurried over to our very long bus line. More waiting in the cold. But the bus team assembled and got more buses working on the Pop Century/Art of Animation loop and we never had a problem for another race. Kudos!

WDW/Universal Oct '14 - Part 5: Animal Kingdom and Epcot After Hours

Hello all!

Here we go with Part 5 of our epic trip to WDW/Universal from October!

You can catch up on Part 4 here: Part 4: Hollywood, Hoop Dee Doo, and Halloween Fun!

So Thursday was jam packed with fun and we were out late so I had planned for a lazy morning followed by Animal Kingdom and then heading over to Epcot for a little more fun and then the Epcot After Hours at the Rose and Crown!

We caught the bus and headed to Disney's Animal Kingdom around 10am, first stop Dinosaur! Here are our thoughts from our day at DAK:

  • Dinosaur: When did they move the Carnotaurus to the other side? This attraction really needs some TLC in general. Still fun but could really be so much more.
  • Everest: Wookie still talks about this attraction. Such a great ride!
  • Festival of the Lion King: I love this show. So spectacular and the new theater and area is really beautiful.
  • We went on some of the trails and the animals had already started going in for the evening which was a bit of a bummer. We also missed the safari because they closed earlier than I expected.

After a few hours there, it was time to head over to Epcot! More Food and Wine! We hurried in grabbed some drinks and food and just chilled. We ended up grabbing some beer at the craft beer building (the snacks they gave out there were quite tasty) and then grabbing so "real sized" beers in Germany and then hanging out on the steps of Italy, it was perfect. We just chilled and chatted and it's surprisingly quiet in the evening in that pavilion. We decided to skip Illuminations that night and caught the last show of the American Adventure. I love this show so much!

The show went later than I expected and by the time we got out it was 10:30 (the park was open until 10pm that night) and the World Showcase promenade was empty. It was awesome but we had to hustle over to the Rose and Crown for after hour drinks.

We had a cozy little corner booth and enjoyed our snacks and beer. It was really nice to just hang out and chat, it truly was a wind down for us.

We finished up and by this point it was very late (honestly we had drunk a lot of beer so I have little recollection of what time it was, whoops!) and the park was empty. It was so nice to wander out (with our to-go Strongbow) in a completely empty park. We made our way over to the bus area which was empty and we got our own private bus (or chariot) to All Star Music. It was a magical evening for sure.

Next time I want to check out Tutto Gusto for the wind down, but I highly recommend checking this dining option out!

As always you can see all the pictures from our trip here: Universal/WDW Trip October 2014

Continue to Part 6 here!

WDW/Universal Oct '14 - Part 3: Around the World

Welcome back friends!

I thought what better way to rest my feet before my next runDisney race than by writing a new blog post so we will continue my WDW trip report!

When we last left off, we had just checked in to All Star Music and we were ready to start our WDW adventure. Well here we go!

You can catch up on Part 2 here: WDW/Universal Oct '14 - Part 2: You're a Wizard!

So we settled in pretty late and after the days of travel, the time change, and running around Universal I planned to start the morning a bit slower and head to Epcot in the late morning.

We got up, got ourselves together, and were on our way around 10:30am. We got to Epcot and I immediately headed over to the FastPass+ kiosk to make our reservations for the day. We were delighted to find out that we could hook up Wookie's silver pass to the system and make our reservations ahead of time and using the app! Score!

We made a few arbitrary reservations, knowing we wouldn't really need them. The park was quite and the attractions with a real wait were already fully booked.

So thoughts on Epcot from this day:
  • Food and Wine is the best time of year at WDW. It's just so fun/delicious and we really enjoyed getting our booklets stamped at each booth we went to! The merchandise was pretty awesome too!
  • They didn't have Food and Wine beer glasses this year but they did have cute wine glasses, we saw them at the first booth we stopped and then discovered they were at every booth, ack! Let the search begin!
  • Not a fan of the 6 oz beers. These were seriously annoying. I get that they are trying to curtail severe drunkeness, but these little dixie cups were annoying.
  • Biergarten is the best! So much fun and great beer. I wanted to start off our trip by eating here because Wookie loves Germany. I also really enjoyed their Oktoberfest beer!
  • Turtle Talk is so much fun. You need to take a minute to go check this out!
  • Mission: Space - I hadn't been on this in a while and I forgot how fun this is. Great attraction!
  • Lamented the closing of Maelstrom :(
  • Illuminations - I still love this fireworks show. We had the perfect spot to view it from and no annoying people nearby to ruin it. It was magical and one of the highlights of the trip!

This is my kind of dragon. (aka made of chocolate)

Polka time!

The only troll for me!

After Illuminations, we decided to take advantage of Extra Magic Hour. First stop? Grande Fiesta Tour! We then hopped on Test Track and made a hideous car that was only 10 points short of the record for the day and decided to call it a night. We had a day of Disney Hollywood Studios, Hoop Dee Doo, and Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween party in front of us!

Katherine' Orlando Picture Pinterest Wall!

I'll be posting a lot of pics here as I explore Universal and WDW on vacation! Come along and check in regularly because I'll be updating this frequently!

We'll be doing all of Harry Potter (both parks), Hoop Dee Doo, Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, Food and Wine Festival, and a ton more! Come along for the adventure and fun!

Check out this page for updates: Universal/WDW Trip Pics (Oct '14)

Frozen Attraction Coming to Norway (aka The Announcement I've Been Dreading...)

So I was originally going to finally write up my Disneyland Half/Dumbo Double Dare experience, but that's going to have to wait because there was Disney news today. News that I've known was coming but dreaded its announcement and was hoping it would fade away into the obis like Beastly Kingdom and the Africa pavilion originally planned for Epcot.

Maelstrom is out and Frozen is in at the Norway pavilion in Epcot.
(Official Tom Staggs messaging here: ‘Frozen’ Attraction Coming to Epcot)

Not only is Norway getting a new ride but also a dedicated meet and greet for Anna and Elsa (my guess is it will go where the post show movie theater is now).

This is the first time I've really felt  a loss because a beloved, albeit dated, attraction is leaving. I love staring into the viking disco eye. I love reciting all the words. I love seeing the oil rig at the end. I will miss this attraction a lot and I wish that the Disney powers that be had instead decided to give this attraction the TLC it deserved AND still showcased Norway.

Don't get me wrong, I love Frozen for the movie that it is. It has phenomenal music, great characters, and a solid/fairly original storyline, but does it really deserve real estate in Epcot?

Besides my own personal opinion (cough nostaglic love cough), here are some other reasons I think this is a strange move.

Arendelle is not in Norway

And for that matter, it isn't even a real place. Are we going to raise an entire generation of WDW fans believing Arendelle is actually a city in Norway? The Norway pavilion is suppose to feature the country, the REAL country. The World Showcase pavilions were originally homages to the heritage, culture, and points of interest of each country. You were suppose to be excited by them and then want to go visit these countries for real. Arendelle is not a real place. It's a fanciful kingdom that was based on Norwegian and other Scandinavian traditions and styles. I repeat, ARENEDELLE is not a REAL place in Norway!

Why so quick?

This is the other thing that being a child that grew up dreaming about a Little Mermaid attraction irks me a bit. Why did we have to wait so long for attractions that incorporate other popular Disney IP and this one is so quick?  If they believe this movie will stand the test of time, couldn't they wait to do it right and put it in the Fantasyland forest with the rest of the castles. This movie deserves a true and planned out implementation in the parks, while right now I feel like they just keep slapping the characters all over property. Lion King has stood the test of time and still doesn't have a "real" attraction (I do LOVE the Festival of Lion King for what it is). So why is Disney moving so quick to build? Money grab much?

These are just my quick thoughts, what are yours? Are you sad to see Maelstrom go? Are you over the moon for a Frozen attraction?

Let me know!

My Tips for Running at WDW

So You Want to Run at WDW?

So by no stretch of the imagination am I an expert at these races but after participating in this weekend 4 times and other runDisney weekends here are my tips, including some for those that drive to the race start!

  1. Go in the Last Hour or so of the Expo on Any Day - Most people say “Go early to the expo” and while that is great advice, this applies more to the die-hard “I need merchandise” group. If you just don’t want crowds and are okay with not getting the pick of the limited merchandise, go late. I’ve gone in the last hour of both the WDW Marathon Weekend and the Princess Weekend expos and literally, you walk right up and get your stuff. It’s super easy. This year I went at 7 on Wednesday to get merch and there was literally no one in the Official runDisney Store in the packet pick-up pavilion. It was empty. 
  2. Go to the Expo with a Game Plan – Look at the vendors and decide before hand what you want to get and see at the expo. Do you want to try out compression socks? Figure out where those vendors are. Want to get a Sparkle Skirt? Yep, find them on the map first. It helps immensely and as someone who gets overwhelmed easily at expos, it helps to keep me focused. I usually do a lap around just to see if anything catches my eye, but it helps if you have and agenda before going into the expo. 
  3. Bring Layers – Florida weather in January can be unpredictable, so bring it all. I always over pack for this weekend, but I’d rather do that then get to race day feeling less than confident in my clothing choices. Also, cooler temperatures can mean moist air and when that gets on your skin you might feel a bit cooler. For me extra humidity also means that my sweat just rests on my skin because there are few breezes to evaporate it. Keep this in mind when planning race attire. 
  4. Follow runDisney’s Driving Instructions – Even if you know how to get around property like the back of your hand, follow the driving directions in the Official race Program. Roads get closed and it’s just not worth the hassle and stress of getting stuck. 
  5. Get To the Race Early on Race Morning – Again the same as above, give yourself an extra 20 min, so you don’t have to stress out if you hit traffic. If you are catching a bus, also give yourself some extra time. Plus, there are plenty of people and entertainment to keep you company while you wait! 
  6. Parking at Epcot? Stay Left – If it’s a race at Epcot, stay to the left as you drive into the parking lot. If they have 2 lanes turning into the parking lots, the left lane will park closer to the start/finish area. 
  7. Take a Picture of Where you Parked – In the morning, walk to the end of your row, pull out your phone or camera, and snap a picture. Presto! You will not be wandering around like a nomad after the race! This is also just good advice for when you are visiting any parking lot that is huge. Post-race you do not what to wander around because you’ve lost your car. You get their super early, run a ton, and then afterwards you may have runners brain, so this helps to ensure you remember where you parked. 
  8. Bring A Camera – Even if you don’t plan to stop, you never know if you are going to find that “don’t miss” character photo op. This happened to me at the Princess Half Marathon, they had a group of princes ready to take a pic and I had no camera.
  9. Find Your Fun – The most common piece of advice is “Don’t try to run for a PR at Disney, just have fun!” however, fun is a subjective word that can mean a lot of things to different people. For me, racing is the fun part of a race. Pushing myself to see where my limits are. I get to the end of races where I stopped for characters and did a bit more meandering and I don’t feel like I necessarily got my money’s worth. If you want to take pictures and chat with friends, do it! If you want to race but stop for a few choice photo ops, do it! If you want to PR, do it! I’ve done all 3 of these options and have had fun at all of my runDisney races. Find your fun in the race and don’t feel like you aren’t getting your money’s worth if you don’t stop for every character or other photo op. 
  10. Have a Plan B – If you are traveling to the race, like many of us do for runDisney races, have a plan B. Many people say to only pack a carry on, but at least wear or have your sneakers with you on the plane. If there is something you can’t race without, keep it on your person for your entire travel. If you are meeting others in your group at WDW, send them your race packet pick-up authorization forms, just in case. This past year at the 2014 WDW Marathon Weekend, I had to pick up my stuff on Wednesday for Dopey, but since I only have limited time off from work, I wasn’t arriving until Wednesday morning. Then enter the polar vortex craziness meant I got delayed until 5:30, which for me is too close for comfort to ensure I could pick up my race stuff. Luckily my parent’s had all the forms they needed to pick up my race stuff so it all worked out. Think about the largest points of failure and try to come up with a plan B.

Hope these tips help! Happy running!

Post WDW Half Marathon

Post Walt Disney World Half Marathon

After the half I tried to sleep but it wasn’t quite working, I just couldn’t power down. So instead I just relaxed in bed with my feet up. I wanted to go back to the Expo to pick up a few things and I had a friend who was running the marathon with me who needed to pick up his stuff so I decided to head out and get some stuff done.

Saturday was so nice at the expo, it was still a bit crowded but not nearly as bad as it has been in the past.  The thing I really wanted to get was my first ever Sparkle Skirt to wear with my new Dopey tank from Raw Threads for the Marathon. I just love these 2 companies. Raw Threads makes ridiculously soft apparel which is perfect for my sensitive skin. I just love their stuff. I really can’t say enough!

After getting my skirt, I then looped around the other vendors to see what was what. I didn’t end up buying anything else, I was trying to be good and not blow all my money. J
Then I got a call from my friend saying he had arrived so I went with him to get his race stuff and get his shirt. We made another lap around the expo but he wasn’t really interested in buying anything, so it was time for some park touring.

Originally, I had said I wanted to go to Hollywood Studios because it’s a smaller park which means less walking, but because I passed the exit, we went to Epcot instead. We rode Nemo, Journey Into Your Imagination, Spaceship Earth, Grande Fiesta Tour, Maelstrom, and finally Ellen’s Energy Adventure. After getting off of Ellen’s Energy Adventure (where we were all falling asleep, sorry Ellen) we decided to call it a day.

We dropped my friend off at his hotel and then made our way back to our hotel. I put my compression socks on (love my 2XU socks), made dinner, and was laying out my clothes and getting into bed around… 7:30. I was exhausted. I ended up falling asleep around 9, completely jazzed for the final race and my 3 am wake up call!

One more race! One more race! One more race!

Remembering My Princess Half

Hello all,

This week was an okay week for running. Got a hill run in with co-workers and did a track workout and pulled of a 3:25 800m at the end of my workout which is my fastest time to date other than a Middle School track time. For some reason my run Saturday was rougher than expected and my run today was slow and I was sore. It's okay though since I needed to take it easier for the SF Half next weekend to finish my Half It All Challenge (and hopefully hit my 1:45 goal)!

This week's workouts:

  • Mon: Rest
  • Tues: Track Workout (5 miles: 4x800m's with a 400m job in between + 2.25 miles in warm up and cool down)
  • Wed: 3.6 mile hill run here: Stanford Dish
  • Thurs: Rest
  • Fri: 3 easy miles
  • Sat: 5.5 miles through the neighborhood
  • Sun: 11 miles

With the open registration for the Princess Half Marathon Weekend right around the corner I thought I'd do a cliffnotes of my experience back in 2012.

The expo was nice. I went with my friend after work so we kind of had to rush around to get our stuff. They had the expo split between a field house (not the usual one for the WDW Marathon weekend) for packet pick-up and then the normal Expo floor in Jostens for t-shirt and goody bag pick up. The expo was fun, very "chick" oriented, and not as busy or large as the WDW Marathon weekend expo which I liked. I get easily overwhelmed at expos.

I did both the 5k and the half marathon that weekend and both were very fun! Lots of great characters and a really great energy the entire weekend. I love this race weekend! It's so fun and friendly!

The 5k was on Saturday and my friend and I were there an hour before the race start. We weren't going to go too fast, just run/walk it and get lots of pics with characters! The characters at this 5k were awesome and some of my favorites of all 5ks! They had them out in trios which is more fun!

 We are ready to rock! (Me on left, friend on right)

This was super fun, I think we might have passed one character photo-op but it might have just been Mickey in his tux in Future World. I love the 5k races! They are so fun and I love being in World Showcase early in the morning and seeing the sun rise. It's beautiful!

Spent the rest of the day resting in preparation for the half!

The morning of the half, I drove to the start and per my usual for all Disney races got there VERY, VERY early and arrived around 3 or 3:30. I'm always nervous there is going to be traffic, so I always give myself plenty of time. I don't like having to rush to the start line or worrying about not getting to the race.

The start area was super fun. The usual DJ, characters, and tents before going beyond the bag check. I LOVED the bibs for this race! They put your favorite princess on them, color coded them to your princess and also put your name on it, I was Princess Katherine! So cute and a great touch!

Note: I did not run with a camera for the half so there is going to be a lot of text following.

The start was fun, the fairy godmother was out to see us off with a 'Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo!' and away we went. We wound our way up to MK through the TTC Parking Gates and through the parking lot. Before we got the parking toll booths there was a hunky group of princes. I believe it was made up of Tarzan, General Shang, Flynn Rider, and John Smith (I think there were more but I'm blanking now). This is one photo-op I sincerely regret not having a camera for.

There were lots of characters throughout MK, the usual from what I remember. Buzz in Tomorrowland, Jessie and Woody in Frontierland, Princess Tiana and Naveen in Liberty Square, and then the castle float in the backstage area with Sleeping Beauty and Princess John as you exited.

Then the run back from MK to Epcot. This is such a dull stretch. The day was muggy and cloudy all morning so it was dull, hot, and flat until we got to Epcot. I lost a lot of steam here and I was not feeling strong or energized at this point. It wasn't until after the ramp into Epcot that I started feeling better (with the finish line so close it's hard not to).

We did the loop from the Epcot entrance up to the World Showplace area and back out to the front with lots of cheering cast members and volunteers lining the way! Very fun! Then those final few turns and down the home stretch. I finished in 1:56 which was a good effort for me at that time, but this race definitely took a lot out of me and I wasn't as prepared for it.

Crown and tutu still intact after 13.1 miles :)

So if you are on the fence about signing up, I would encourage you to just go for it! It's a great weekend and a very friendly race crowd. It's very relaxed and it's a great race for a "girls weekend" or a newbie racer looking for a fun half. I loved it and I hope you will too!

My top tips for the Princess Half:

  • Get there early!
  • Take a camera!
  • Enjoy the fun and dress up!
  • Have a blast the whole weekend!