Thursday, February 28, 2013

Race Report: 2013 Princess Half Marathon

This was my 3rd experience with the Princess Half Marathon so my comparisons will be based on 2010 and 2011. I didn't run it last year, and I missed  it so much that I knew from the day of the race last year I'd be doing it in 2013 if I were able! And while the weekend was fun and amazing and I felt strong and ran with no pain, the atmosphere of Princess Half Marathon weekend has certainly changed, in my opinion!

The first change was the Expo, which had been moved from the Wide World of Sports to Coronado Springs Convention Center. We stayed at Pop Century this weekend and took the bus to the Expo, but we would have preferred to drive so we could go straight to a theme park. Unfortunately, nobody was allowed to drive to the Expo this year. But since I don't usually mind the bus system, I could live with it.

We arrived at the Expo an hour or so after it opened. There were no lines to pick up our race bibs and I was so excited! We would be in and out of this Expo in a flash, I thought - Magic Kingdom, here we come! Oh, how wrong I was.

Bib and Coast to Coast bracelet - check! 
The next stop was to pick up our race shirts and packets. We made our way through the very crowded Expo shopping area, through the much too narrow aisles, toward the signs for the shirts. Then I saw a group of people - the line to pick up the shirts/bags. We finally managed to find the end of this line (that wrapped around the merchandise booths - felt so sorry for those vendors!) and it moved fairly quickly. I estimate we were in that line for about 15-20 minutes. Picked up our shirts and glad we tried them on first because Jan was given a men's shirt, so she had to go back and swap that out!

Then it was time to find the race merchandise. I had spotted a teal jacket that I HAD to have, so I got into yet another very long and windy line to get INTO the Run Disney merchandise area. Jan had to pick up an order from Raw Threads so she did that while I stood in the line. This line too much, much longer. I didn't look at the time because I honestly didn't want to know. I was losing my precious park time and that was bad enough. Jan returned and we finished our time in line. I ran for the jackets and tried on the last small. It was tighter than I prefer (since I wanted to be able to put it over a long sleeve shirt) but they had only larges left and that was too big. However, over in the corner, Jan spotted a medium for me so I grabbed it and tried it on! It was a little roomy but definitely not too big! Of course, by the time I was done shopping they had replenished the entire stock of jackets! Oh well, it was an adventure! I also bought a long sleeve Run Disney In Training shirt mostly because it says, "Every Mile is Magic" on the sleeve.

We had to wait in yet another long and windy line to check out. By this time, I was simply tired of being crammed in next to people. It was noisy and chaotic and stuffy and I was just done. We paid for our items and neither one of us had any desire to shop at any of the vendors anymore. I didn't even go to the Sparkle Skirts booth to say hi to Leah because I was on sensory overload! I only picked up a small thing of Body Glide because I needed to be able to carry it with me during the race, and I picked up a Fellow Flower for Jan (and was disappointed because they didn't even seem thankful for our business).

We went outside to find the lines for the buses and were greeted with another long and windy line. Thankfully Jan asked what that line was for and learned it was the bus going back to Downtown Disney for non-resort guests so we didn't have to wait in that one. We went over to the parking lot and found our own line for Pop. We didn't wait too long for a bus and were back at the resort before too long.

Race morning was upon us before long. The alarm was set for 2 AM so we could board one of the first buses. I believe we got onto the 2nd bus leaving Pop Century and it was a smooth ride to EPCOT. I heard from other friends that it was much more difficult getting to the start later on.

There was a sign warning us about the difficult weather conditions and that's when it really hit me - I was going to need to be really careful. I had been battling congestion since Friday morning and that was making it difficult to breathe. The humid air wasn't helping one bit. Time to change the game plan from "Let's see if I can run this faster than my previous Disney Halfs" to "Let's be smart and make it to the finish in one piece"! :)

Danger! Will Robinson! 

Corral B!

We seemed to be timing everything well before the race. There were no lines for the porta-potties the first two times we went. The walk to the corrals was uncrowded. And we had no trouble getting into the corral. I think the key for us is that we did everything very early. We saw many, many people running to Corral A right up until race time! That sort of stress is not fun at all! 

Selfie in the corral with less than 2 minutes to go - Jan, Cindy, and me!

Corral A took off and then it was our turn! It was so exciting to be back at Disney World for a race after 13 months!

Jan, Cindy, and I run at different paces and with different intervals. Yet, all the way up to the Magic Kingdom, we kept running into each other! We even crossed into the Magic Kingdom together - so we stopped and took pictures of one another! I wish we had stopped someone to get a picture of the 3 of us. 

I didn't stop for character pictures because the lines were way too long for my taste. But I did stop and get a few great shots in Magic Kingdom. I usually don't stop but this time I wanted some good pictures!

Scary-looking selfie in front of the castle!

My favorite part of the race - coming up Main Street USA!

Getting ready to Run Through the Castle!
After we were through Magic Kingdom, I put my camera in the ziplock baggie and put it in my pocket. The strap was literally dripping wet with sweat and I was afraid I was going to ruin the camera. I figured if I wanted a picture badly enough, I'd stop to get the camera out at that point. :D

The effort I was having to put forth was greater than I realized and despite keeping to my fueling and water strategy, I was fading fast. I think it was just the difficulty of getting oxygen into my lungs that was doing it to me. My plan was to run the last mile in, like I did at Tink, but I decided against it this time. I passed the 10 mile marker and was really just over the whole thing, which I've never felt before. I even considered walking and thought to myself that nobody would care if I walked the rest of the way. But then I decided that walking would just mean I was out there longer and I just wanted to be DONE! LOL So I kept on with my intervals.

Once we were in EPCOT (I didn't even stop to take pictures of the entrance like I always do - that's how badly I just wanted to be done LOL), I decided to keep running. It was probably 8/10 of a mile, according to the readout on my Garmin. As I rounded the corner with the Gospel choir, they were singing one of  my favorite songs and that really boosted me to the finish line! I rounded that last corner with a smile on my face - so glad that I had finally finished. I had had no pain at all and I was so grateful for a strong finish in tough conditions!

My official time was 2:32:58 - less than 10 minutes slower than my best ever Disney half, and right around 6 minutes slower than my first ever Princess Half (where I ran the entire way!). I think that is a pretty strong showing, considering the intervals, the congestion I was feeling, the humidity, and the fact that there were 12,000 more finishers this year than during the first year (much more crowded course).

Coast to Coast Finisher 2013
I am glad that I chose Princess as my first half "back" from injury. And while I'm sad that I won't be able to "Run Through the Castle" for a few more years now due to financial constraints, I think it will be OK. The magic that was present in the first couple of Disney races I did seems to be missing now. Maybe that's because I've done 7 of them in 3 years?! They say absence makes the heart grow fonder so perhaps that will be the case for me. I am thinking I will set my sights on the 20th anniversary of the Donald Half Marathon in 2017 (since I ran the 15th anniversary as part of Goofy)! :)


  1. I ran the Princess last weekend as well and also found the humidity difficult to deal with. I ended up finishing about 10 minutes slower then I had trained for and about 15 minutes slower then I could have gotten under perfect conditions.

    I enjoy your blog and look forward to your next adventures!

    1. It was tough out there - congratulations on finishing! And thanks for taking the time to comment so I don't feel like I'm talking to myself all the time! :)