Many months ago I started a long journey with a goal in mind and an ultimate destination of this race. Right here and right now is the culmination of all the hard work, time spent and sacrifices that I made to train. It all comes down to this point, these series of moments, this final delivery of the prize I've been fighting so hard for. This is it. It's go time.
The 2:30am wake up call is an ungodly way to wake up, but the race started in three hours and there was so much still to do. The room was already buzzing with everyone up and about getting dressed and ready to catch the first buses. I've seen pictures and heard hellish stories about the lines to get on the buses to get to the race and if you didn't have a car to drive yourself there, the bus was your only form of transport. The buses started transporting at 3am, so it was important to get on the first couple of buses to ensure you made it to the start on time!
I've got my take on Cinderella running outfit on and I'm ready to head to the buses!
Marcia and I found Jen. It's Cinderella, Rapunzel and Snow White!
Here is a pic of some members of Team runDisney just before we headed to the corrals! Some fantastic people! We had a great time, though looks like we could be an ad for Team Sparkle skirts!
Jill and Marcia tweeting away already. I ditched my phone for my camera on this race. The battery was draining far too quickly and I was afraid that I would be out of battery to take pictures by the end of the race!
I'm geared up and ready to go! My never-leave-home-without-them racing gear was on! Brooks shoes and shorts, Pro Compression socks and my favorite Team Spark skirt!
I can't believe it is here! The day and race I've been waiting for! Let's go get 'em!
Here is just one bank of porta potties. Disney had at least three more banks like this one in this same area and heading toward the start line. That is one thing they do well is make sure there is a lot of facilities for the runners. Though I still saw plenty of people peeing in the bushes during the race, so go figure.
Now this is the walk I was told about only days before. The area we were just in was the staging area at the finish, we now had to walk almost two miles to where the start corrals were. Two miles! Isn't it enough that we were about to run 13.1, but now you're adding more!?! Oh well, it was a slow walk, we all felt like cattle.
See...more walking, but it was alright, I had Marcia and Jill to keep me company. Here is where we turned for our corrals! This is where we split up. Marcia, super speedy lady she is, was in Corral A and both Jill and I were in C together, so we decided we would run together for company and pacing.
This was looking from the clearing at the end of the walk down towards the start line. There were already thousands of people here and there were thousands more behind us still to arrive.
Jill and I made it Corral C and started our long wait. We watched as more and more people streamed into the corral area. The race had 26,000 people running! 26,000!!! My corral alone had more people in it than most half marathons have in an entire race!!
We found Jeannie in the corral too! So we got to hang out and talk to pass the time. We listened and watched the fireworks as the corrals before us were released out onto the course.
Now...it was our turn. I couldn't believe it. My heart was racing and I got all choked up. This was it. Everything I had done for 6 long months has brought me here to this very moment and I was elated. But I knew there was still a lot of work ahead of me, so I sang along to our send off song, which I posted yesterday.
Then the Fairy Godmother waves her wand, says her magic words, the fireworks go off and our corral is let loose onto the course! Let's go! I've got a date with 13.1 miles!!!
Now just so you know, I am wearing a tank top, shorts and skirt for this run and good thing too, because it was hot that morning. In the upper 60's and HUMID! There was no need for jackets or pants to keep me warm before getting to the corrals. I was plenty warm with what I was wearing!
I followed with my plan of getting all the mile markers on this race too. They are so cute, how could you resist?
The first part of the course is highway that goes two directions and the other side is the race course at around mile 8. As we were waiting in our first character line, just after mile two, we saw this.
That streak is Rachel Booth, the leader and ultimately first place finisher of the half marathon. She finished the race in 1:17! She's fast!
This line was long, but how can you resist taking a picture with the Princes!?!
We're entering the Magic Kingdom!!! YAY!!
Entering the TTC where you catch the monorails. Blurrily passing the 5K mark!
Now this was an extremely long line, but Jill and I didn't care, we wanted this picture! I swear this line was at least 20 minutes long. You are going to see by the time on the mile markers that waiting in line for pictures ADDS a ton of time to your finishing time. But this is Disney and character picture stops are fun, if you weren't supposed to take the time to get these pictures, they wouldn't go through all this trouble of putting these stops together.
Mile 4 and heading onto the streets headed into the Magic Kingdom!
There was a DJ up there blaring music, so needed the boost, everyone was cheering as we went through this overpass.
The park is right ahead! I can see it!
But first, can't not get a picture with MY Princess! Mile 5, baby!!
Through the tunnels of the backstage area of Magic Kingdom, the energy is palpable now. Everyone is excited because we know what is coming!
SO CLOSE!! ALMOST THERE!!
One more turn!!!
BAM! There it is. This part of the race made me choke up. We are running in the Magic Kingdom, down Main Street!
Had to stop to get a picture of me in front of the castle, my castle!!
LOVE this picture of Jill and I! Mid race, at the castle, LOVING these moments!
As we were running through Tomorrowland, looking for a bathroom, we saw that Buzz Lightyear was walking over towards the course. A cast member said that he was coming out to take pictures. Jill and I did a very quick turn and got in line for a picture with Buzz, we were the first ones in line!
Now the adrenaline is pumping because this is part of the race that everyone talks about being the best part and I was about to do it. We run THROUGH the castle!
Royal trumpeters playing the "Rocky" theme as we ran through the tunnel.
It was crowded inside, but everyone was cheering, SO amazing!
So this crazy thing happened RIGHT as I was coming out of the castle. Jill went to say hi to Dennis Marsico of Run Disney TV, then she introduced me to him saying this was my first half marathon and first runDisney race. To which he turned to me and asked, "would you like to be interviewed?" To which I replied, "of course!" So this happened, all thanks to Jill! And you know what? I MADE THE CUT!
After the interview, Jill and I went to the very front of the castle and took pictures. Amazing, I was feeling so awesome.
Running through Liberty Square we got into another photo line.
To take a picture with this fab trio!
Running through Frontierland and mile 6!
On our way to the backlot and out of the park (see: sad face), they had the train and conductors out for pictures! I love the train at the Disney parks, there is a special place in my heart for them!
Then I saw this and KNEW we had to take a picture, because my Princess was out there!! Cinderella!! I was finally able to take a picture with her!!!
Then this happened, and I said, "Awe hell no, I'm not standing in this gawd awful line to take a picture with her, let's go".
So we did and hit the 10K mark shortly afterward. At this point you can make out tables along side the road. I have to give props to the volunteers at the water stations. I didn't run with my water belt (it so didn't go with my outfit!) and I knew that there were 9 water stations along the course, PLENTY to keep hydrated. Little did I know how hot it would be that day and how important it was to stop at EVERY water station. Which we did, every stop we got a cup of Powerade (not my favorite, I prefer Nuun) for electrolytes and a cup of water. Every station, every time. It made the difference and kept me hydrated for the race!
Now at mile 7 they played the song that everyone voted on. There were four choices and the Alicia Keys "Girl on Fire" won. I don't know why, it was a slow song and did not help at that time in the race!
The Disney Fire station was out, ladder extended too. I'll leave that one alone.
Mary Poppins! Which incidentally looked my age. Hhhhmmmm...
This was taken outside of the wedding pavilion at the Grand Floridian Resort. All these men are offering me the glass slipper? What's a girl to do!?!
Genie...if I rub your lamp will I get three wishes? Oh please, oh please, oh please!!!
Yeah, I can't believe it either, mile 9!
Here was a great surprise! A college band friend Jen, was at the race and staying at the same hotel as I was and we didn't see each other until we were ON THE COURSE! She called out my name and we got to talk for a bit before I had to run off. But we saw each other again down the road and I took this picture! Jen and her mom walked the entire race and finished getting their Coast to Coast medals for completing this race and the Tinkerbell Half Marathon in Disneyland. Awesome job ladies!
Apparently it's a Bug's Life! And if I saw a bug this size in real life I would probably have a stroke!
Mile 10...isn't this over yet?
Why no, Captain Jack...I will not join your crew.Mile 11, surprised I'm smiling, I just ran up a hill on a part of a highway cloverleaf, my IT band was KILLING me at this point. Must. Finish!!!
Why hello Mushu! Good to see you and Mulan!
Mile 12 and heading into Epcot!
This is where I had to muster my strength. My IT band was hurting, I just wanted to be done with the run and there was still a mile to go. But I was at the Epcot park and knew I was only a mile away, I couldn't stop now!
A few turns around the park and I've got this. Half a mile to go and I'm there!
The choir!!! I know they are towards the end...I've got to be close.
Mile 13, you've never looked so good!
There it is!!! The finish line. I can't believe it! The journey, long hard fought journey is almost over!!
Just before the finish line I saw this guy and KNEW this would be the only time I could get my picture with him so I went for it! I'm SO GLAD I can take self portrait pictures with my camera because there was no one around to take it for me!
There it is! The finish line. I did it! I made it! I...where's the damn medal!!!
There we have it! I did it
The background says FINISHER. Yes, that is me. I have finished my first ever half marathon.
The tents to get food, we had already gotten water and Powerade, which we were barked at to start drinking immediately. Thank you volunteers and for offering to open the bottles if we couldn't.
SO HAPPY! And just as happy to have some food! My stomach was GROWLING. My Picky bar was PERFECT for right after the race!
I ran into Patrick (he looked quite dapper as Prince Charming!) while waiting for my medal to be engraved. I know people say it's a waste, but it is my first medal and I wanted it engraved. ALSO, if you ever decide to get your medal engraved, PRE-PAY!!! I pre-paid at the expo and all I had to do was walk up to the table, give them my name and medal and they put it in line for the engraving. The line for people paying right there was at least an hour long. I was done in 15 minutes. BOOM!
The race as a whole was great! Great course, fantastic entertainment, wonderful course support (water stations and Clif shots). runDisney races are an experience of their own and everyone tailors it to what they want. Do they want to just run and not take pictures? Do they want to run and take pictures that don't have them in it? Do they want to do what I do and run and take pictures with you in it? What ever experience you decide to have, it will be special and uniquely Disney.
Would I do a runDisney race again? In half a heartbeat. Would I do this race again? Absolutely! The organization was great, other than the expo ish, but people all around were awesome. Volunteers and participants alike. It was just plain, good old fun. Everyone congratulated each other and supported each other on the course. I think I've caught the bug. I LOVE runDisney races.
After the race, I went to the hotel to shower and change, then hop another couple of buses to Fort Wilderness Resort to have breakfast with some Princesses.
Photo borrowed from Marcia
Next we took the water taxi to the Magic Kingdom, we all wanted our pictures taken with our medals in front of the castle and with the Princesses! We got there and had to find some outlets to charge our phones, ha...the story of my trip. So we hung out, sitting on the ground in one of the shops, we are so awesome.
Flip flops and Pro Compression sleeves, quite the fashion statement and necessary for recovery!
While we waited to phones to charge I did a little window shopping, though kinda wanted to take this home with me. Rice Krispy, anyone?
Next it was time for Mickey! We wanted character pictures we couldn't get on the course, so we got fast passes to take pictures with Mickey, it was fun! Next were the Princesses!
Aurora and Cinderella. I even got my bib signed by Cinderella. Cheesy I know, but it is a great souvenir.
Photo borrowed from Erin
Then finally our picture in front of the castle with our medals. I met all three of these women this trip and I am so glad that I did. They are wonderful and fantastic in so many ways. Strong, encouraging and fascinating. I am thankful to have spent time with them. The only one that is missing in this group of ladies is Jill, my running partner. Thank you Jill for pushing me and not leaving me behind when I knew you could and probably should have. Your kindness made my experience all that much better. Thank you.
I did it...and I want to do it again! Loved, loved, LOVED every minute of this trip.
Well, until this part when everyone went their separate ways. Real life started the next day and people had to get home, or to other obligations.
The rest of the day I spent by myself walking the park (read: hobbling) and enjoying the sights and sounds, smells and treats, rides and people watching. Watching people from all walks of life talking and laughing with each other, ohhing and ahhing at the same fireworks display, all enjoying the simple present moments in their lives. All these memories and more, will forever be engrained in me and I'll take this experience with me where ever I go.
One last pic before I go, the worst probably since I'm completely whitewashed, but I don't care. That is joy on my face, my medal around my neck (yes I wore it all day at the park and the next day on the plane home) and my castle in the background. I've found a love in runDisney races. Good friends, good running and good times.