Crazy! I just completed my 3rd half marathon in 3.5 months. Not bad for someone who doesn’t run! The Princess Half ended up being completely different, but even better, than I had ever imagined. My whole crazy running journey started with the plan that I wanted to run the Princess Half “someday”. That was about 2 years ago and it was a pipe dream at the time. But I’m so glad that it’s a reality now! I had a blast and can’t wait to run it again next year!
We decided to make a little family vacation surrounding the race so on Thursday afternoon Will and I packed up the car, picked up Gavin from daycare and headed to Disney for the week. Such a great feeling to leave work and know I’d be hanging out at Mickey’s house in a matter of hours. We checked into the Caribbean Beach Resort and got settled in quickly. The hotel was perfect for us: nice sized rooms, great pools, a food court and plenty to keep us all entertained. After getting Gavin settled for the evening I headed out for a little run around the property. I’d been sick with a bad cold and wanted to make sure my lungs were going to do ok. It was SO beautiful running around the resort! There’s a jogging trail that goes around the lagoon and it was a perfect way to get a few miles in. I saw rabbits hopping around the lawn, an owl in a tree and even got to watch Epcot’s Illumination fireworks lighting up the sky as I ran. Disney has a way of making everything magical!
On Friday morning we were up bright and early as usual (thanks, Gavin!) and loaded up on a charter bus to head to the Princess Expo. This year it was held at Coronado Springs Resort instead of WWOS due to a scheduling conflict. As a result, we weren’t able to drive over. Everybody had to either take a bus from their resort or from Downtown Disney. The expo itself was chaos when we arrived. The layout was such that the actual packet pickup area was large (and empty!) while the booths were crammed together. It was a massive wall of people. The line to pick up your race shirt was so out of control that they had to shut it down for about 15 minutes to regroup and figure out how to add some order to the chaos. The Official Race Merchandise tent had a line wrapped around it in circles. The line for the New Balance RunDisney shoes was insane…. BUT they were trying. Disney cast members were apologetic and worked hard to make adjustments. So I just wandered around enjoying the sights while Gavin and Will hopped back on a bus to the resort (this place was way too hectic for a 2yr old!) Got my pic taken outside the expo and finally order returned.
I ended up having a great time! Wore my PbRC shirt so I met some people from our group and generally just enjoyed chatting with whomever was next to me in line. Really enjoyed the SparkleSkirts, FellowFlowers, BondiBand and RunDisney booths! I also happened to get in the New Balance line just about the time they announced they were out of size 8.5 and up. Score! After waiting about 10 minutes in line, I asked for a pair of size 7 and these babies are now mine!
Finally, I spent about 1.5 hrs in line for the KT Tape booth. Best investment of time I made the entire week! Having a professional tape me made all the difference in the world. I explained about my standard runner’s knee but also about the more mysterious issue of the burning pain I have in my high ankle for the first few miles. She knew exactly what I was talking about and had me taped in a matter of minutes. I’ll talk a little more about it in my race recap, but this stuff is a miracle! I experience absolutely no knee or ankle pain during the entire race.
After leaving the expo madness I headed back to the resort and enjoyed a little pool time with Will and Gavin before heading over to the Polynesian. We were having a PbRC meet-up at the poolside bar there and Will graciously offered to watch the G-man so I could go by myself and enjoy a little adult time. I had a blast! It’s a crazy thing when you meet up with people that are your “online running buddies”. You kind of wonder if you’ll be able to talk to them as easily as you do online and realize within minutes that these are real friendships that you’re lucky to have. Had a great time meeting so many friendly faces, hanging out by the lagoon and watching the Wishes fireworks over at Magic Kingdom. Enjoyed a few adult drinks and just relaxed. The one thing I’ve learned about the sport of running is that it’s a complete paradox: it’s a solo sport but has a huge social aspect to it. I was lucky to have stumbled across the PbRC. It’s an amazing group of runners that have the common thread of loving running and loving Disney. I’ve learned a ton from these people but also just enjoyed a lot of entertainment and support. After a quick stop for a Dole Whip on the way out, I boarded the monorail with a great gal named Penny and headed back to the resort.
Saturday was a lazy pre-race day. We headed over to Hollywood Studios in the morning so Gavin could play at the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids play area. He loved it!! It’s so amazing to see how fast he’s growing up! We took him to Disney for a week almost exactly a year ago and it’s crazy to see how much he has changed and developed in that time.
That afternoon I got the best gift I’ve ever had for a race: my mom came to watch me! The thing is, Gavin is 2. And he’s crazy. There’s really no way Will can haul him to my races at the buttcrack of dawn and survive. So I’m content to run by myself and there’s nobody there for me at the end. Not a big deal. But my mom decided to come over and it was so exciting to know there was going to be someone cheering me on! Will and G met his parents for dinner so my mom and I headed to Downtown Disney for dinner. It was amazing. Do you ever have one of those moments that you wish you could bottle up and save? That’s how the night was for me. We went to Earl of Sandwich and went outside to eat. We had a table out by the fountains where little kids were splashing around. The night was beautiful, the air was cool, and the lights in the trees were twinkling. We ate and talked and listened to Disney music being piped through and it was amazing.
After a bus ride back to the hotel, there was nothing left to do except shower and get ready for bed. I don’t do well the night before a race. I’m not a morning person. At all. And the thought of getting up at 2:30am is daunting. I worry that I’ll sleep through the alarm. Or the alarm won’t go off. Or that there will be no bus to take me to the start line. Or that a pack of wolves will descend on me as I walk out the door. At any rate, the last time I remember looking at the clock was 11:47pm. In the space of what seemed to be minutes, the alarm clock went off. I was up in a flash and getting ready to go! Woke my mom up on my way out the door and I was ready. IT’S RACE TIME!!!
Next up: race recap