runDisney Princess Weekend 2017 Review Part 2: Half Marathon and Overall Thoughts

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Hey, Disney People! It’s Part 2 of my runDisney Princess Weekend Review! If you haven’t read Part 1, check it out here, because it discussed the Expo and the Enchanted 10k. In Part 2, I’m going to discuss the Half Marathon, my overall thoughts of race weekend, and some tips for preparation and future races.

Bus Departure

In Part 1 of my review, I discussed what time I left my hotel for the Enchanted 10k and how much time I had between event arrival and the race beginning. For the half marathon, I decided to leave a little later. I left my hotel at around 3:50 and when I arrived at the bus stop, there was a line. I missed the first bus, but was on the second. Our bus was packed out and we left around 4:15.

Upon arrival to the event, I noticed the corrals were in a different location from the 10k. There were many more porta potties at the entrance section and after arriving to my corral, I understood why. Different from the 10k walk to the corrals, we walked about 25 to 30 minutes to our corrals and there were only a few porta potties there, but the lines were much shorter. Before heading to your corral, if you think “I kind of need to go”, do it because it’s quite a walk before another chance arises.

The race was delayed a bit (I overheard because of traffic), so it started around 5:40. This time, I was in corral I and we didn’t start the race until around 6:10. But finally, the fireworks went off and we were on our way!

I learned from the 10k race and paced my time a bit more and was even pickier about character stops. Between miles 1 and 2 were Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbosa, but the line helped me decide to skip the pirates. The pirates showed up again around mile 10, with a shorter line, but I decided against waiting this time as well. I also skipped the Princes and skipped Elastigirl from The Incredibles. My first character stop was shortly after Mile 3 for Maleficent and the Evil Queen, which had a line of 14 minutes (I timed it!).

After meeting them, I made my way to Magic Kingdom. There were no character stops between miles 4 and 5, but this is where you arrive in Magic Kingdom. One of the two best moments of the race happens at this point, the first being running down Main Street U.S.A. The amount of family members and friends standing along Main Street cheering you on makes the moment even more magical.

If you want a picture in front of the castle, feel free to wait in the long line. But I’ll tell you a secret; there are two great locations for a side shot that have far fewer people AND there are Disney workers offering to take photos for you (not PhotoPass, which explains why there are much fewer runners). The first opportunity is just before you enter Tomorrowland and it will be on your left.

After this photo op, you’ll run through Tomorrowland and there is an opportunity for a bathroom stop (not a porta potty) on your left across from Tomorrowland Speedway. I skipped character stops with the Queen of Hearts, Gaston, and Beast because their lines were LONG. But I did get a shot of Beast with no one in the photo. SCORE! Doesn’t he look handsome?

After Beast, we were running through the Castle, which is my second favorite moment of the race! Be ready for PhotoPass photographers both before the castle and after it for a candid shot. Your second opportunity for the side view is shortly after you leave the Castle, running towards Frontierland and it will be on your right. The birds of Magic Kingdom really wanted to photobomb my pictures, but at least they’re cute.

Between miles 6 and 7, there was a photo opportunity with both Cinderella and Prince Charming and Snow White and The Prince. This line was well over 20 minutes, so I skipped it as well. Shortly after mile 7, I met up with the Penguins from Mary Poppins and their line was only 3 minutes long!

Between miles 8 and 9, there was a photo opportunity with Genie and the Mickey Golf Cart. The stop after Genie was the handsome men with Cinderella’s glass slipper (pictured below). I believe this was one of the longest lines of the race, so I skipped it. The men were charming and courteous and looked directly at me while I snapped a picture in passing (well all but one).

From this point on, the race moved onto long stretches of road directly in the sun. Fortunately, the weather was very nice and the humidity was low. We were in the home stretch! It wasn’t until after mile 12 that the last few character photo stops were available. Mushu’s line was less than a minute and Daisy’s was only 2 minutes, so of course I had to stop for both!

After Daisy, I was running the last bit to mile 13 and the end of the race! I’ll be honest, this felt like the longest mile and a half of all time. Finally, I reached the finish line and took my favorite picture ever. I think it was the combination of completing my first half marathon, the glass slipper challenge, and this picture being with the main man himself, Mickey Mouse, that makes it my favorite. I completed the Glass Slipper Challenge and my first half-marathon and I couldn’t believe it!

Just after the finish line, you get sprinkled with pixie dust, receive your medals, and are free to go on your way. If you completed the Glass Slipper Challenge or a Coast to Coast Challenge, you go to the Challenge tent to pick up your third medal. After you get your medals and take a photo, if you checked a bag pre-race, you would go to the gEAR tents to pick up your bag after the race. There is also champagne and race merchandise available post race.

I picked up my food box, my half marathon bag, and met Colton to take a bus ride back to our hotel. And of course, I wore my new bling all the way to the hotel room. At the hotel I took a quick shower, packed up my things, and then we headed home.


Overall Thoughts

Characters

In my opinion, the character selection wasn’t as good as it appeared in past years based on other blogs. Again, this was my first year participating in the event, but I did pretty extensive research on what characters I could expect and there have been better years. With this race being Beauty and the Beast themed, I would have liked to have seen more characters from the film. I was really hoping for Lumiere and Cogsworth, but the only characters between both the 10k and the half marathon were Beast and Gaston.

Encouragement and ChEAR Squads

One thing I really loved about the races was the continuous encouragement from either a DJ, cast members, or chEaring volunteers. It really helped you push through the longer stretches of the race, especially when going up a hill. My favorite motivator was one of the Toy Soldiers from Toy Story between Mile 10 and 11. He will make you do push-ups if you are walking!

The Experience

It was an amazing experience and I am sure I will do this race again. My favorite part of the whole weekend was running through Magic Kingdom. Racing down Main Street, through Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Cinderella’s Castle, and finishing up running through Frontierland was just magical.


Final Tips

Expo

Arrive at the Expo early. As I mentioned in Part 1 of my review, if you’re racing on Friday, you must visit the Expo on Thursday. I don’t know what the crowds are like on Thursday, but arriving early on Friday worked out really well for us.

Corral Arrival

Keep in mind the distances you will walk from your drop off location to your corral start, because it is a big difference between the 10k and the half marathon. Also, factor in a restroom stop before you head to your corral, as lines for porta potties are longer the closer you are to the corrals. There are porta potties every few miles and even one at each medic station, so if you need to go there are plenty of opportunities to do so. If you are staying hydrated as you should be, you will have to make at least 1-2 stops throughout the half marathon.

Race Tips

If you follow Jeff Galloway’s training programs, he encourages you to complete run/walk intervals. I trained for a 10 minute mile, which is run 4 minutes, walk 1. I run completely for the first 3-5 miles and then do run/walk intervals, depending on the length of my run. This type of training definitely helps and you feel much less exhaustion in the end. Also, make sure that you walk after your run for at least 10 minutes. After the half, you may feel like your legs are going to give out and you can’t take another step, but I promise walking will pay off!

Another important part of running long distances is staying energized. For the half marathon, I brought one pack of Clif Bloks and ate half the pack around mile 5 and the other half around mile 9. Until this point, there had only been water and powerade being distributed by volunteers. Around mile 10, volunteers were giving out Clif Energy Gel Shots. So if you think you’ll need something before mile 10, bring something of your own. Clif Bloks are a great choice and there are a ton of yummy flavors!

Oh, and have your family sign up for race tracking! About a week before the race you’ll be given instructions on how to do this, it’s super easy. Even if your family isn’t able to be there with you, they can track how you’re doing throughout the race via text message or email. My family members really enjoyed this and I expect yours would too. If you use a friend location app, you can also follow along with your runners exact location.

Pictures

Take pictures of everything! I’m already a big photo nut, but during these races I encourage you to take a picture of every moment and event because you will want to remember it. During the 10k, when running through Epcot, there are so many opportunities to get pictures of things that would be crowded on a normal day. Because I was behind on my time, I didn’t take as many pictures as I wanted to, but I know what to expect for next time. Take pictures of the mile markers, the scenery, the characters (the ones you don’t wait for), or even volunteers! Also, if you are like me, you’ll start having Disney withdrawals within a few hours of the race being over, so you’ll have plenty of pictures for reminiscing!

Have fun!

Dress up and don’t be afraid to interact with other runners! Everyone I spoke to was so nice and it was a lot of fun talking with other runners about the different Disney races they have done. I didn’t really dress up as a character for these races, but for the future I think I want to. There were some great costumes during both races and I mean it’s Disney, so why not?!


That’s it for Part 2! I hope this review can help you prepare or answer questions that you may have about Princess Weekend. I can’t tell you how proud I feel to have accomplished this. Congratulations to all of the other runners who completed races as well, you guys are amazing!

It’s several months away, but both Colton and I will be participating in the Disneyland Half Marathon in September, so be on the lookout for new posts related to runDisney!

Like us on Facebook and Twitter @_DisneyPeople to be updated on every new post. Thanks for reading! See you soon!

 

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