When we last left Jenn and Moon, they had just finished talking over their time at the Fit for a Princess Expo. Ready for the race recap proper? Let’s dive in…
JENN: I don’t know about you, but I didn’t sleep super well the night before the Princess Half Marathon. I did that annoying thing I always do when I know it’s imperative that I get up a certain time: a) I dream that I missed the alarm and b) I wake up every hour or so to check.
MOON: Yes, I would agree that it was a rough few hours. Going to sleep early is never easy for me. Also, I was really nervous about the race…
JENN: We got up at 3AM and just kinda quietly dressed. I had forgotten to bring any outer wear to strip off later (apparently this was The Trip Where I Forgot Things), so I took one of the bath towels from the hotel and wrapped it around my shoulders. Hey, it never left Disney property and it was for a good cause!
MOON: The towels were a great idea! Next time I will have to remember to bring an old sweater or something.
JENN: ME TOO. Especially because of our bus situation. Which leads us to: Our Bus Situation. The instructions said to be at the bus by 4AM. We arrived at the pickup point at about 3:40AM. Waiting for us was what we in the business like to call A Huge Freakin’ Line.
So we waited. And waited. I think it was about 4:10 when we finally got on a bus? By that time they were out of the coach-style buses so we were in a standard Disney transportation bus. With the air conditioning running. THANK YOU, TOWEL.
MOON: You made Douglas Adams proud.
JENN: You should always know where your towel is.
MOON: I was NOT expecting there to be so many runners! But, it was really motivating to see so many participants all excited for the race! I was expecting maybe 5,000 runners max.
JENN: The runDisney gods are laughing at you right now. Merciless, they are.
MOON: Haha, yes, I’m sure! There were probably at least 1,000 just at Pop Century with us.
JENN: I really wasn’t terribly worried about time, as we weren’t starting until corral F. Traffic was serious, though. I’m glad I didn’t have to drive.
Once we arrived at the Epcot parking lot, we were herded across the asphalt and into the pre-corral area. There were lights and loud music and I think there was even a dance party going down. I’m pretty sure the main thing we did in this area was use the port-a-potties. The lines for those before you hit the bag check tents were unexpectedly short.
After that we headed through the bag check tents, but we had nothing to check, so we breezed on through.
MOON: This is the long walk to the start line…
JENN: Yes. Hordes of runners all headed toward the corrals. Cast members with those giant Mickey Mouse gloves ushering us along.
We were in corral F, which I think we practically ran right into, so there was no challenge finding our way!
|Jenn is a cool frood who really knows where her towel is.|
MOON: I want to take a moment to talk about performance anxiety.
JENN: Okay, but I want to take a moment before you take a moment to say that Moon is an excellent performer in all things.
MOON: As a musician, I’m used to it. You prepare for months and then you’re warming up backstage. A lot of my friends feel excitement. I feel DREAD. Every time, never fails. In fact, I think it has gotten worse (although, strangely enough, I feel OK teaching a classroom full of students. Who knew?)
Anyway, back to Disney. We walked for about twenty minutes to our corral. Those twenty minutes were filled with worries. Will I make it? Will Jenn leave me behind? OH MY GOD THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE, etc.
However, when we reached the rest of our group, we decided to shed the towels. I think once I threw that towel in a bin, I started feeling ready.
JENN: Which was lovely at the time, but in retrospect, we should’ve been perturbed that it was warm enough…
MOON: Yes, we will get to THAT soon enough, ha!
JENN: The official word was that temps were high and humidity was higher, so take it easy. This was strike one against our time.
MOON: It was FEBRUARY. And yeah, maybe you’re thinking, “DUH. It’s Florida,” but it was FEBRUARY!
JENN: I believe the high for the day was somewhere in the upper 80s. Regardless. It felt hot. And humid. But at 6AM it was still all right. Every time the fireworks went off and another corral took off, I felt more ready.
MOON: Same! And I can’t lie, the fireworks were kinda cool…
JENN: Eventually corral F inched up to the starting line. I remember for sure that Moon and I hugged; I assume for probably we yelled “STEVE HOLT!” at each other a couple times.
MOON: It makes me smile just thinking about it. 😀
JENN: Me too!
The Fairy Godmother counted us down, fireworks went off, and then… we started walking slowly toward the actual start point. Gave me time to prep my iPod. Do you remember your first song?
MOON: I THINK it was “Celebrate,” by Mika (the acoustic version because I gotta have my piano)
JENN: Mine was “Death Valley Queen” by Flogging Molly.
I know Disney officially “discourages” headphones during the race, but c’mon. You’ve gotta have music. Even some of the pictures on the runDisney website show people with MP3 players.
MOON: Yes, and music is motivational!
I wanted to start with “Celebrate” because the lyrics are “I’ll be just fine/When I see you at the finish line/Doesn’t matter if I take my time.”
JENN: Even if we hadn’t had iPods, though, Disney had plenty set up along the course. I don’t think we went more than a mile or so before we ran past a full marching band. They also lined this opening stretch of otherwise boring road with things like pirate ships, giant puppets, and characters, although we never stopped for those; the lines were invariably humungous.
The first indication that were were in WDW at all was as we passed under the parking toll booths for the Magic Kingdom.
MOON: Did you find that at all exciting?
JENN: Not gonna lie: I did. I really, really did. And I was amused by the flashing signs and audio warning us about speed bumps.
MOON: Honestly, though, it is totally plausible that someone would miss seeing a speed bump. It was really crowded!
JENN: Ah, yes, that reminds me: strike two against our time was the crowding.
When we first started running, I was feeling good. I was ready to roll! Except… how are all these people directly in front of me?! So Moon and I spent the first few miles of the race playing Find the Clear Path.
MOON: Talk about runner’s wall. It was like an actual wall. Of people.
JENN: Sometimes we went around people, or through groups. Sometimes off the track for a moment. A couple times we were practically jogging in place. It was a frustratingly circuitous route for awhile there, let me tell you.
MOON: OK, so the beginning of the race: a little bit of shock by the alarming amounts of people. Also, my shoelace came untied (I double tied, too!). I also remember being shocked by how many people were using the restrooms at only .5 miles in.
JENN: The one good thing about passing all those people at the beginning was that it made me feel like a BEAST. I was dodging through holes, passing person after person, thinking, I AM SPEEDYPANTS MCGEE! Which, of course, I was not. But it felt good!
So: I think we lost serious time trying to find a clear path to run. But it was a bit of a morale boost, too.
MOON: Incidentally, I didn’t feel like a beast until Epcot, but I’m glad you were pumped! My top concern in the beginning was to keep you within eyesight. I didn’t want to run the half alone!
JENN: You’ll beast it at the Tinker Bell Half, I’m certain!
Anyway. Where were we? The MK parking lot. The run through this area was livened up by Japanese taiko drummers. And I think maybe some princesses?
MOON: I know that happened at some point! Readers will probably pick up on this fast, but I have a terrible memory. I remember random things and usually not in any kind of order. So…. take it away, Jenn.
JENN: By this point, of course, it being obnoxiously humid, I was already sweating. Moon was not, because she was biologically engineered to be a perfectly poised athlete, and consequently never sweats.
MOON: I sweat EVENTUALLY, but it takes a while and usually happens after I stop moving. nd yeah, it was humid and poor Jenn was wearing a cotton shirt (and I wore a black shirt… A+ to both of us for clothing choice!).
JENN: Yes, we have made improvements to our running wardrobes, I can assure you.
The next thing we knew, we were in the Magic Kingdom! I think we ran through Tomorrowland first? Does that sound right? And then into Fantasyland and… duh duh duh DUHHHHH… CINDERELLA CASTLE. And I mean that literally – there were two hornblowers playing fanfares as we passed underneath.
MOON: Next time we do the Princess, I want to run with a horn and play us our own fanfare as we run through!
JENN: Now that’s a costume idea!
MOON: What mile was Cinderella? Somewhere around seven?
JENN: In the six to seven area, yeah. Moon and I had discussed beforehand that at the very least we wanted to run straight to the castle. I have a very distinct memory of me saying, “I feel good! Keep going?” And then of Moon responding with an enthusiastic affirmative.
MOON: Steve Holt!
JENN: It would not surprise me if that was exactly what you said at the time… we threw it around a lot!
MOON: If we ever do a prize or something on the blog, we should have people guess how many times we’ve written “Steve Holt.”
JENN: I believe we ran down Main Street here, and then exited the park. I was feeling pretty glowingly happy to be where I was, doing what I was doing. Main Street will do that to you.
MOON: Up until the castle we had been doing a lot of road running. Main Street was filled with people cheering, holding signs, etc. I remember Main Street.
JENN: And it was back to road running again! I believe this was where they had the accordion ensemble.
MOON: Hats off to them! I thought they were awesome.
JENN: Unfortunately, it was here that my bones started to give their first indication that they were less than thrilled. My bones and the hard pavement were not friends.
I was, however, motivated by the bibs I was seeing around me; many were for corrals that had started before us. We were doing well!
MOON: Passing an A was excellent.
JENN: Mile nine was where we made our crucial mistake: we decided to walk. An ENTIRE MILE. We were tired, granted, but COME ON. I never walked that much in training! I blame the humidity. Curse you, humidity!
MOON: I think it actually made my legs feel worse. Where were you at mile 9, accordion players?! That certainly would have kept up my momentum.
JENN: I don’t know that walking was necessarily a mistake in and of itself. But we should’ve done it for two minutes. Five minutes, maybe. But then we did it AGAIN at mile eleven! I take the blame for this one; it was my idea. I think next time we should walk through the water stations but immediately start running again as soon as we pass them.
By the bye: I have never loved Powerade so hard in my LIFE.
MOON: Next time I do not want to stop!
JENN: That would be great if we can hack it! We can do that fancy thing where we grab a cup out of a volunteer’s hand and pour it over our heads.
MOON: Then take another and smash it to the ground like the glorious champions we are?
JENN: Steve Holt, my friend. Steve Holt. But if not: water station walks. They’re gonna be a thing.
At mile twelve we began to run again, and a glorious, glorious thing happened: EPCOT.
Oh, I forgot to mention! A couple times I thought I lost Moon, and then once I really thought I DID lose her – even glancing behind me I couldn’t find her. Then miraculously she appeared again at my elbow – felt much better about life then! But my point is that up until Epcot, I was leading. This was about to change.
MOON: Something about Epcot gave me a huge burst of energy! I was so ready to get to the finish.
JENN: Indeed – girl TOOK OFF. Thankfully, “Go the Distance” from Hercules popped up on my iPod just as Spaceship Earth loomed into view. Synergy!
We were running up the bridge when it dawned on me that we would not, in fact, be running through World Showcase. I was disappointed, honestly.
MOON: I was bummed when they turned us around…
But on the other hand – we were almost there! The park was about to open as we were passing through, and there were so many cast members along the route waving and cheering us on!
MOON: Exiting Epcot was indeed sad, but something amazing happened as we were running out.
Just outside of Epcot was a gospel choir! We went around a bend and there they were. It was perfect.
JENN: We had .1 miles to go!
MOON: So, I would say we had a spectacular end to our race. Epcot, choir, and of course the finish line!
JENN: And how did we cross it?
MOON: HOLDING FREAKIN’ HANDS :D:D:D:D <3<3<3
JENN: It. Was. AMAZING.
MOON: Happiness. 🙂
JENN: We had to keep moving once we crossed the finish line so as to not block other runners. They gave us our medals and took a terrible photograph of us – or of me, anyway; my eyes were completely closed – and then it truly felt like the race was over. We’d won! Well, it was a moral victory. But it counts.
MOON: The best type of victory! And we did it together! AND it was still morning. We had a whole day still to spend in the parks!
JENN: They gave us a box of food, a banana, Powerade and water, and there were some general post-race festivities, but I, for one, was soaked in sweat and in desperate need of a shower.
MOON: I was slimy. We went straight back to the hotel after picking up our boxes.
JENN: I fell asleep in the shower for a couple minutes. The water was hot and felt awesome, and I thought, I’ll just sit down for a second…
MOON: I probably fell asleep somewhere…
JENN: But we had to check out of Pop, so there was no nap to be had here. What we did have was half a day to spend in the parks? So we turned around and went right back to Epcot, because it’s Epcot.
MOON: Spaceship Earth! Judi Dench! I think I fell asleep on the ride, actually.
JENN: And we ate pizza from Via Napoli, which was pretty good but probably not worth what we paid for it.
MOON: I liked the salad.
JENN: We wore our medals around the park, and lots of people wished us congratulations. It was awesome!
MOON: I felt like a champ. 😉
JENN: Later, back in the stifling confines of real life, a friend asked us to name the highlight of our trip. We said the race, and he was surprised. But it really was.
MOON: Bravo! I had so much fun. It was just what I needed. I’m glad you asked me to come along, Jenn! Can’t wait for 2014, we’re going to kill it!
JENN: I’m gladder that you came! 😀 We really, really are.
Whew! Ten thousand points to you if you made it this far. We’re sure it’s clear that we loved every minute of that crazy race. We learned a lot, some of which we’ll be discussing in the coming months on this very blog. Hope you stick around!
Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall and on Instagram @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org. See ya real soon!