This was a long time in coming but it was time. After the wheelchair start they moved us right up to the start. My plan had been to start in the back of my corral and off to the right side. Guess where I ended up? In the middle and off to the left. I tried not to panic as the group moved forward. We started out slower than a run but faster than the other starts I have been in (guess that is what happens when you end up in Corral A).
The beginning was amazing. The first thing I noticed was how many people had come out to the start. Then I quickly realized they were on the other side of the highway (so like across the median and over 2 lanes) and it was REALLY dark. I don't think many of them could really see their runner start but it was so good to hear them all cheering. Almost right away a high school marching band was there in the median playing as we went by. It just kicked things right off!
Now at this point I was feeling good and I had planned to not use my intervals before the end of the first mile. I knew I could maintain pace and I wanted to get out of the crowd. About a half of a mile in was when I got my next wave of panic: two women next to me where talking very loudly about how anyone who walks or slows down has no business in the first corral. They were right in some sense but it was how they were judging. It was just weird especially since I did not notice anyone who wasn't running. I was kind of shocked by the number of people who jumped in line for the first port a potties that came at about that same point. It was a little scary as princess came bombing over to get to them!
Between Mile 1 and Mile 2 the first characters appeared. The Pirates with their ship where out but I had read the line was shorter coming back so I skipped it but the line was already long!
At this point I knew I was going too fast, both for myself and because I knew the humidity was really high (it was 93% at the start) so I slowed down a little and started adding in my intervals though I was using them loosely when though Jeff Galloway says to trust them (I should have trusted them)
Between miles 2 and 3 we got to run through the famous Magic Kingdom car entrance!! It was so neat to see it since to me, that is when I know I am really at Walt Disney World!! Instead of heading to the right like we would if we were going to the Contemporary, we headed to the left and by the Speedway, Magic Kingdom parking lots and the Ticket and Transportation Center. After mile 3, I spotted this picture stop and since there were only 3 people in line I knew I had to take it for Danny!
Almost immediately was another stop and this one had music blasting and looked HUGE. It was, it was the Disney Villains all together. The line was pretty long (probably 15 people or so) and I just did not want to spend the time in line so I skipped it. This is probably the picture I regret missing the most and I know as the race went on the line only got longer!
I had passed the 5K mark but I did not get a text with my split. I did know I was only about 2 minutes off the clock time so I had any idea of where I was and I was happy with my pacing but I was worried that I was going a little fast since I knew the last half the temperatures would be rising.
Next came the run towards the Contemporary and the first of the Disney hills. In this stretch some of the Parade things were out! Sebastian, Genie and Lumiere were all lit up. The hill really was not bad and even though there were cars and buses in the lane next to us, it was not too crowded. At the top of the overpass we ran under was a guy with HUGE Mickey hands waving to us.
This was just so much fun. When I remember this, I do not remember it being so dark outside though. Maybe it was because of the lights in the park or my excitement but it was neat because the sun was just coming up.
After coming out of the castle they had 4 photographers set up taking the famous castle shot. I moved over to the left to get a picture which makes the video of me coming out of the castle look really strange but I had a reason!
Coming out of the castle, I was on the right and I head in front of the castle to get the picture below:
At this point though there was a really nice Cast Member who had brought out of box of Kleenex and was letting runners grab one. It was nice to just wipe my face off. We continued past the closed Splash Mountain (it is reopening in March) and headed back out of the Magic Kingdom. Before we went backstage they did have the train out! I should have stopped for a picture for Danny but I didn't (I am noticing some regrets here).
Now we were backstage where all the floats are kept for the parades. They had Cinderella's float out and she was there with Prince Charming but again, HUGE line. I did also here she switched out with Aurora throughout the race so not everyone got a chance to see her.
As we excited the Magic Kingdom the local Fire Department was out with their trucks and MUSIC blasting. It was fun though because some of the guys had picked up the discarded tutus and had put them on! Made me smile that is for sure. Then the music changed and it was time for the Mile 7 song. I am not sure why they call it that since it was playing at the half way mark which is not quite mile 7 but whatever. It was the Girl on Fire song from the Hunger Games movie. We all had a chance to vote on the runDisney Facebook page a week or so before but I was surprised this won.
Mile 7 came quick and we were coming close to the Grand Floridian so there were people again to cheer us on! It was neat to see the signs family members and friends had made for the runners and to see the little kids watching for their mom (or dad).
At this point I spotted Mary Poppins and the Chimney Sweeps so it was picture time again. I was lucky here too and there were only a couple people in line.
Across the stress and not far down by the wedding pavilion at the resort were the Grooms with the Glass Slipper. It was a short time and they were funny!
And at this point we were nearing the Golf Course and the awesome Mickey Golf Cart was out. Since I had spotted pictures of this before, in my head all Disney golf carts are Mickey's. Jeff played the course last year and he said it was not the case. Too bad, I think it is cute!
Another little stop here was Pocahontas and Meeko, and again almost no line. I know they are not super big characters but she is a Princess!
When I got to Mile 9 I knew that to make my goal I needed to do 4 miles in 52 minutes. Now that is completely doable and I was excited because I was on target. I forgot that this is NOT a regular race, it is a DISNEY RACE!
As soon as I thought I could make my goal I had two must have pictures in a row. First came the Princes! They were awesome and the line was not long at all. I am so glad I listened and stopped at these on the way back.
Now with these two longer stops you will notice that it took me over 16 minutes to get through mile 9. This was not a good thing for my goal but there are other races for time, not many others for pictures with Pirates.
After Mile 10, we headed up the dreaded overpass ramps/hills. I thought I was mentally prepared and I might have been but my body was not thrilled with the slanted running surface. My calf was protesting hard on the way up since I was running lopsided. So many people were stretching on the guard rail so I knew I was not alone. I made it up and the Green Army guy was encouraging but you had to do pushups to get a picture and I just wanted to get through the "hills".
I made it to Mile 11 which was at the top over another one the of the overpass ramps and I knew the end was near.
It was also getting warmer out and the hills had drained me. BIG NOTE, use a steeper incline when treadmill training.
Before heading into Epcot there were a couple characters but I did not stop for any of them. They just did not interest me and at this point I knew I had to hustle if I had any hope of my goal.
We were backstage and came in to the right of it (the Soarin side). The course had us heading all the way to the start of the World Showcase and looping back around towards the finish.
Here is where I had to make a decision, Pinocchio was out and ALONE but I knew even this little stop would mean I would not hit my goal. I stopped and I am so glad I did because almost right after was the Fairy Godmother!! Abby had asked me to get a picture with Cinderella but I figured this was the next best thing!
Here is where I should have gotten a picture of the amazing Gospel Choir at the end and the Mile 13 marker but at this point I was so focused on the finish up ahead that I completely missed them both!!
In my head I still don't exactly knew the path we took since it was backstage and looped around but as soon as we left Epcot there were people everywhere cheering. I saw the HUGE bleachers and I knew Jeff had a wristband to get into them but I did not think there was anyway he would see me (I was wrong he did and he videotaped my finish). I finished strong, high fived Goofy and headed towards the medals. The clock said 2:52 which was 7 minutes over my goal but I was still happy and best of all I felt great.
The finish line was a little backed up so right before I got my medal the volunteers were told to just hand them to us, do not place them around our necks which was a little sad but I understand that a backup at the finish line is bad, just ask the Detroit Turkey Trot people.
There were Fairy Godmothers in Training who were giving Pixie Dust, there were tables of water and Powerade and it was good because there were people there to open the bottles for you. There were also food boxes set out. I did not take anything because I was heading to meet Jeff at the Race Retreat for breakfast and I knew I could get food and drinks there.
Goofy is high fiving runners on the right side under the clock. I come through on that side:
I did wait in line for an official picture before heading inside. Jeff met me outside and we went in. First thing were were handing a towel with the Disney Princess Half logo on it and a pair of flip flops, best part was they had extra small for me! We also got a drink ticket which I did not use and I passed off to another Princess.
We had a light buffet breakfast of eggs, potatoes, oatmeal, fruit, muffins and a couple other things. It was nothing special but it filled me up. After eating I grabbed one last picture and then we headed out to make out way from the Epcot parking lot to the Beach Club.
When I booked this it sounded great since we would not have to wait for a bus to take us back, I should have remembered it was about 2 miles more to walk but I felt good and it kept me from getting tight! Once back at the Beach Club, I showered and we packed for our move to Bay Lake Tower!!!
To be continued....