This is the second and final article chronicling my experience of running a 10K with my mom as part of the runDisney Princess Half Marathon Weekend. Click here to read the first piece!
The Health and Fitness Expo
The runDisney Princess Half Marathon Weekend technically started on Thursday, February 23, with runDisney Health and Fitness Expo at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. My mom and I hopped off the plane and headed straight to the expo with our duffle bags and backpacks. This proved to be much more difficult than we had anticipated.The expo is GIGANTIC, and it is composed of two large buildings where runners can pick up their race packages and shop at the runDisney vendors. When we arrived, it was packed with people and thrumming with excitement. Some vendors included New Balance, Sparkle Skirts and the runDisney official merchandise. Many of the booths had lines to enter them, but the lines moved quickly and didn’t take longer than 10 to 15 minutes. Afterwards, I discovered runners could pre-order runDisney merchandise and pick it up at the expo, which would have saved my mom and I the trouble of waiting. Overall, everything was well-organized, and we were able to escape the craziness of the expo with our packages and some goodies in under an hour.
Fun Before the Race
The Disney Princess Enchanted 10K was not scheduled until Saturday, so my mom and I had about a day and a half to spend in Orlando. Of course we hit the parks! Registration for a runDisney race does not include admission to the park on the day of your race, but many Disney-affiliated travel providers offer a race weekend package that includes hotel, park tickets and race registration. Many of the parks have changed since I last went to Disney World, so it was interesting to see how they had evolved over the years. My mom and I had to be careful to not go too crazy walking around the parks, especially on Friday, because we wanted to rest our legs for our big race on Saturday. The solution was a slower walking pace and sitting breaks in between rides and attractions. We were still able to see and do everything we wanted in that short time before the race, and we even met a few characters along the way!
One of the major drawbacks about the runDisney races is that they start INSANELY early. When my alarm went off at 3:30 am Saturday morning, I was seriously questioning why I signed up for this race. To accommodate all the runners, runDisney offers complimentary shuttles to participating hotels for the race. It also recommended that we board a shuttle by 4:00 am to arrive our corrals on-time. It was rough. My mom and I dressed in our princess running costumes in almost complete silence. We were too tired to say anything to each other. Somehow, we exited our hotel and boarded on the bus by 4:00 am. When we stepped on the bus, we were greeted by other groggy runners dressed in costumes ranging from Mrs. Potts from Beauty and the Beast to the three-eyed green aliens from Toy Story. We arrived at Epcot by 4:15 am, and then we walked with the masses of other runners to the staging area to take some pictures and relax before the race.Around 4:45 am, my mom and I walked to our corrals so that we could get as close to the front as possible. While there were only six corrals (A-F), each corral was split into three parts so the course wouldn’t be crowded at the start. I was placed in the C corral, while my mom was put D, so I moved back to stay with her and run together. The next 45 minutes seemed like an eternity. There was some entertainment provided by the race emcees and classic Disney songs blasted over the speakers, but everyone was itching to start. At 5:30 am the fireworks for the A corral went off and soon it was our turn to make our way to the start line.My mom and I couldn’t stop smiling. The first four miles of the course are pretty boring, as most of it includes running on the highway surrounding Epcot. But, Disney distracts its runners with photos of some Disney characters. My mom and I decided to skip all the characters that would be located along the highway and focus on the few that would be in the park. It was a good decision because not stopping allowed us to keep a steady pace and to have more time wtake selfies with characters in Epcot. Our first stop was with Marie, the sassy kitten from “The Aristocats,” in the Paris section of Epcot.After running along Disney’s Boardwalk, we hit the 5-mile marker, and we were amazed the race was going by so fast. It felt like only a few minutes prior we were crossing the start line, and we were already beginning our last mile. The final stop we made was for Princess Minnie. Who can say no to Minnie Mouse?After Minnie, we ran up the main pathway to the big golf ball and then weaved our way back to the parking lot. The finish line was finally in sight! I grabbed my mom’s hand and we crossed the finish line together with big smiles on our faces. We were eager to get our medals and some post-race food.The runDisney Princess Half Marathon Weekend is a weekend that I will remember for the rest of my life. I felt accomplished when I crossed that finish line because six months of training, anticipating and worrying about this race all paid off. Plus, I did it with my mom by my side. It’s safe to say that my mom and I are runDisney addicts, and we will be scheduling our next “race-cation” very soon.