2018 Princess Half Recap

Sunday. 2 AM.

Happy five-year runnerversary to me! Happy tenth half marathon! Happy I’m Getting My Perfect Challenger Status Today Day!

No matter what my finish time was going to be, I knew the day was going to be celebrated. I packed up all my Princess medals the night before, knowing that I would add three more to the collection for a grand total of fifteen.

I woke up with my strategy of sticking with the 60/30 pace group in Corral E and aiming for a 2:30. I arrived at EPCOT in plenty of time, like always, to hang around and slowly warm up. While en route to the security checkpoints, I ran into Ashley, who is one of the best wheelchair athletes runDisney has! We had been social media friends for quite awhile and it was awesome to finally meet in person!

img_6644

I checked in and meandered around. Not too long later, I met up with Christine, who I met during Marine Corps Marathon weekend!

img_6646

We journeyed over to the corrals way earlier than usual and we were there around 5. I found my way to Corral E (highest corral ever, yay!), and stretched out, talked to some people, listened to the pre race stuff. You know, the usual. The same scenario on repeat from the last five years…

At some point I stood there, absorbing my surroundings. The cheers, the crack of the fireworks, the buzz of nerves and excitement…and I felt utterly surreal.

If this was my last Princess Half, I would be completely okay with it. I know I had been talking about it on the downlow, but honestly….I’m so over this.

We inched closer to the starting line, and I took a look around to figure out where the pacing group was. Oh, they’re behind me. I’ll get started and drift back towards the once we get going.

Three…two…one…GOOOOO!

img_6656

The journey of 13.1+ Princess miles began once again.

Pairing up with that pace group for the first two miles felt great. My times were steady, around 12:30 and 11:30 respectively.

Then it all fell to shit. I lost my group.

Too narrow of a course coupled with WAY too many people running, walking, and intervalling became an absolute nightmare.

On the bright side, I was on par for incredible sunrise pictures, and talking with other runners! Around Mile 4 in the TTC parking lot, I started taking in my surroundings and enjoying the scenery. I could still hear the fireworks being launched around 6:30am from all the way over there. The weather was calling to be extremely hot later on and I felt quite grateful for my 5:50-ish start time.

img_6661

The Princess Half course itself has remained unchanged for the last nine years (as far as I know). However, this year featured a small yet unique difference: instead of making Mile 5 right by the down and back by Space Mountain after the Contemporary Cone Alley, it curved to the left just prior to that, and took us right in front of the Magic Kingdom entrance!

img_6660img_6662img_6659-1

Now THIS was a special treat. The Main Street citizens were up on top cheering down at us, and being able to enter from the very front of Main Street U.S.A felt SO magical.

img_6664

And this sunrise…. I could NOT get enough! You could tell by looking at my splits where I stepped aside for optimal photo ops!

img_6666img_6669img_6670

28577588_1594413137280767_6724465601642933657_n

28279613_1594413147280766_5411942546804870214_n

28167442_1594413187280762_1196867104759561152_n

Now the second half of the race…

*brain goes dead*

img_6699img_6700

Once you hit the curve after Mile 6.8, and you’re not in the front corrals with open road, everything just falls apart. It’s hot. You hit Cone Alley after Cone Alley. So many cones.

And so many people.

I try my best to stay to the farthest left that I can in this area. There’s no point in running, because you just can’t.

img_6703

I started cramping up around Mile 8. I knew had a ton of time on the sweepers (over 45 minutes), and I decided just to walk the rest of the race from this point. My pace fell into the 16-17 minute range…but that’s so typical of a runDisney event, especially given the logistics and conditions of the course.

The rest of the race had me mentally counting down the miles. The EPCOT geosphere kept getting closer and closer, and I felt relieved and content about the thoughts going through my head…

-I want my runDisney career to be over.
-I want to be off this course with all these people.
-I want to be in my bed after taking a shower.
-I am so tired of this repetition, year after year.
-Couple more miles? Sure, I can do that. Get me out of this sun.
-All this money in registration fees and all we challengers get is a bib designation and a lanyard? Not cool, runDisney. Y’all can do better…

img_6711

img_6715

img_6718

Descending into EPCOT, the crowds grew and their cheering moreso. I hustled my butt over and around to the final down and back loop and straight on towards the finish line.

img_6720

My time? Ha. 3:35. Two minutes faster than my all time slowest half and definitely my slowest Princess Half. But I didn’t really care. I finished. I was a 5-year Challenge legacy runner. I had completed my sixth Princess Half, and tenth half marathon. All reasons to celebrate.

img_6722

I collected my medals and legacy lanyard and made a beeline for some shade. After downing some electrolytes and water and that super tasty banana, I layered up for my legacy shot (and found Ian in the process!).

img_6728

I also ran into the Princess Men, whom I had met at the Enchanted 10K the previous year! Props to them for running in those costumes in the heat!

img_6729

Five years. Ten Races. Fifteen Medals. What. A. Journey.

img_6732-1


Christina’s Post-Race Thoughts:

At the time of this writing, it’s been almost two months since this race day. Yes, I’m happy to have celebrated all of the personal milestones that came with the weekend. I’m excited for those that completed their first races or earned PRs on this course. All finish lines should and will be celebrated.

img_6787

However, after much contemplation, I have reached an impass with runDisney. No longer has the registration fees yielded the results that I wish to receive from a race company. I have calculated paying over $1700 in the last five years just for registration fees for the Glass Slipper/Fairy Tale Challenge. I understand permit fees and other administration/logistical things on their end obviously cost money….but what we get in return in terms of a race experience isn’t worth it.

I’ve received questions and inquiries from other runners on my socials about what all the perfect Challengers received, like sashes or different medals or whatnot. Unfortunately, what I mentioned earlier about the bib designation and lanyard is 100% accurate. I’m super proud of the Perfect Princesses getting their sashes….but c’mon runDisney…couldn’t you have splurged on something cool for us?

img_6757

I also have running goals that simply cannot be met on a runDisney course. As someone that is striving to run faster, trying to dodge 25,000 other people on a tight course where many do not adhere to the runner’s etiquette of going two-wide or less when walking is just a buzzkill that I wish to not battle with anymore. Until the day comes where I can earn an A corral status, my time with runDisney career is on a permanent hiatus.

While I won’t run the races, I will be here to support all of you who do! I’m here for all of your questions and 100% honestly blunt answers about Marathon and Princess weekends. Who knows, you may spot me at an expo or I may be on course acting as a cheerleader!

See ya at the finish line!

Fairy Tale Challenge

Next up: Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Miler

Advertisements

2018 Enchanted 10K Recap

Saturday. 2 AM.

The mornings come early and miles even moreso. With the I-4 expansion project, the exit closest to where I’m at in Orlando is shut down at night. I had to leave earlier than expected to take a different route. No biggie, I still arrived obnoxiously early around 3:30 AM.

After many minutes of chilling, I headed into the runner’s village. I LOVE the fact that the 10K has such a smaller field than the half. I can move around and breathe and not feel trapped.

My team, Team Shenanigans, trickled in and we met up near the A-F bag check where another member, Kenny, was volunteering.

We also snagged a picture with the lovely balloon ladies!

My Sparkly Soul sister, Caroline, and I also met up for a pre-race picture!

We headed to the corrals and I was pretty excited line up with Corral C.

I was hanging out when a woman came running up to me. She recognized me from Instagram, and I the same. It was Dana (@ladysoup4)! It was amazing to finally meet in person!

*insert pre race stuff*

*fireworks*

With the mini waves, corrals were sent on a fairly regular basis. In no time, we were sent on our way.

I had an A goal of sub-1:00. My first mile was a 10:34. Steady. I was also running with music, which I hadn’t done in years. I mean, who could not run to The Greatest Showman?

Then I hit the hairpin turn by mile 1.5 and hit a wall of people.

I kept up the speedwalking and got a quick run break after mile 2. From 2-3, I had some open road where I’d run a distance, have a walk break, rinse and repeat.

Then those walk breaks became more frequent as the wall of runners got heavier heading into World Showcase.

Who can resist a runDisney World Showcase picture? Not I!

I slowed down and started to enjoy the scenery a little more. Country representatives were cheering and waving flags. The sun was slowly peaking. Torches were lit and the countries had that pink glow to them.

The Enchanted 10K soon became the Wildlife 10K when I descended the hill into Boardwalk. To my right, I saw a small pile of ducks that looked like they wanted to cross. I ran over clamoring, “Oh my goodness you’re so cuuuute!”, took a pic, and with the help of another runner, started ushering them across the roadway while calling out, “Ducky crossing!”

Now that my heart was full of fuzzies, I continued on.

Found some more Shenanigators!

And some funny signs:

The sun was about to rise as I entered Yacht Club, which, in my opinion, is the best part of the whole weekend.

Right ahead of me at Yacht Club, this beautiful Great Egret was chilling on the ropes. Perfect photo opportunity!

Best on-course picture I’ve ever taken. My slow pace was absolutely worth it for this postcard-worthy shot!

And then it flew away. Ha.

The rest of this section was picturesque as it has been the last four times I’ve run it.

Reentering back to World Showcase, I had to use the loo for the first time all race. There was an area by the Port of Entry so I ducked in.

Men’s room, of course 😛 When there’s no one in there, you take advantage of that!

EPCOT in all its beauty:

My time ended up being a 1:35:04. WAY off from my time goal, but with the scenery and pictures I got, it was worth it.

AND HOW ABOUT THIS MEDAL?!

Fifth Enchanted 10K complete, and, of course, I brought my other babies with me for a Perfect picture!

One down, one to go. Next up: 2018 Princess Half Marathon!

2018 Princess Half Marathon Expo Recap

This 10th anniversary Princess Half weekend was filled with numbers and significance. Not only was it celebrating five years of the Fairy Tale/Glass Slipper Challenge, but I was also celebrating a milestone of five years running!

I went into the weekend with goals in mind, namely hitting my first sub-hour 10K and an even more ambitious goal of cracking the 2:30s for the half. I should have known better than to make goals for this race. The crowds and course layout make it almost impossible. Plus, weather is always a factor.

Anyway, I was determined to have a little fun this weekend. I started off at the expo, which had a new layout as the new arena had opened.

First stop was picking up my bib. I had submitted a 1:12 10K POT, so I was hoping to have netted a decent corral.

Yup, corrals C and E. Major improvements! 🎉🎉

Perfect Challengers got light blue bibs with the “Perfect” designation. Whenever volunteers pulled these out, everyone cheered. That was a cool feeling. 🙂

I continued on, checking out the sights and sounds:

In the arena, the official runDisney merch was displayed. However, the first day of the expo, which is notoriously crowded and ridiculous, had a seperate queue waiting to enter the merch area that had a two hour wait.

^^merch area…

^^holding queue. No thanks.

So I jumped in line for the characters and got some last minute advice from Tiana, who is one of my top three!

My pink bow reminded her of Lotte! 🎀

I returned the next day to take in more of the expo and not be rushed around, and to meet friends.

My California runner friend, Sarah! ⬇️

I met Jeff Galloway four years ago for my first Glass Slippe Challenge. It was only proper to reintroduce myself and pick up a copy of one of his books for extra BQ in Berlin motivation!

I also ran into Heather Schulz (@heatherrunz), who is an elite runner whom I’ve admired for years. We always take an expo picture together and get caught up on life. 🙂

I was hanging down by the arena again people watching (expos are great for that!), and I saw that the Playalinda Brewing Co. was set up. I harp on myself to not drink before races, but the Glitter Brew Wheat Ale seemed too good not to pass up! (Hint: not brewed with actual glitter.)

I finally got my way into the runDisney merch section, and while things were cute, I couldn’t justify spending exorbitant prices for things.

For example, the medal rack below, while covered in glitter and super adorable, was $75. I could make my own for far less.

I left the expo with just a few practical things in hand and feelings of excitement. It blows my mind how I could return to this very race year after year and still celebrate the past and look forward to the future in my running career. Always look back on how far you’ve come, rather than how far you have left to go.

It was time to get this weekend started!

Next up: Enchanted 10K Recap!

Perfect Challenger Status Earned!

Five years. Ten races. Fifteen medals.

What. A. Journey. 🖤❤️

Race recaps coming shortly! Congrats to everyone who participated in the 2018 Princess Half Marathon weekend!!

Let’s Talk: Cone Alley

We’re two weeks from Princess Half 2018 weekend, and a hot topic among veterans and rookies alike is how to navigate the dreaded Cone Alleys that sprinkle the course.

First, let’s locate these on the map:

Mile 4-ish: This one of the biggest elevation changes in the race, and it is just past the TTC parking lot. You will descend and then ascend as you go under a bridge. Upon ascension, you will run parallel to Contemporary Resort and head toward Space Mountain.

Study these pictures for a moment. Not only do you have one half of a road to run on, and cars WILL be on the other side, so don’t think about jumping the cones, but you have a sidewalk on your left. Don’t be so caught up in taking pictures that you trip and fall. Many runners eat concrete here, so mind your footing and if you need to walk, stay to the right. You’re gonna be pushing to make it up the hill, so focus on making it.

Second area is just after the 6.8 halfway mark behind Magic Kingdom. This is the worst of the two Alleys:

Cones go on for at least a mile and a half or more. You will run with Grand Floridian on your left and the golf courses on your right. You’ll have shade at least for a little bit until the sun peaks and then you’re roasting.

When runners turn the corner and see these, their mental state immediately goes down the toilet. You don’t have much room to move, and the grass on the sloping hills to the left of the road will still be wet. Don’t run in this unless you want wet shoes! This will end around 8.something, near the Jelly Belly station and the road opens up again.


Navigating Cone Alley takes patience, and a whole hell of a lot of it. Pace groups will be run/walking, friends will hog the road seven-deep, and all forms of etiquette go out the door, along with your pace. Don’t be surprised if you add 5+ minutes a mile in this section.

Do your best to run single file in this section. Share the road with other runners. People tend to get nasty and cranky, so don’t let them deter your mood. Play some happy music and think good thoughts.

If you are grooving and come up to a wall of people, do not be afraid to loudly say, “Excuse me, runner coming through!” and break that wall. They’ll be pissy for two seconds, but let it go; it’s your race, not their’s.

Don’t even think about jumping those cones. That empty lane is reserved for emergency vehicles and other traffic. You risk getting hit, or taken out of the race by officials if caught. Orlando Police line these alleys and keep an eye out for jumpers. Don’t get arrested.


Any other advice for navigating Cone Alley?! Sound off in the comments!

Hello, February

Little late on my traditional start-of-the-month salutations, but here we are! The second month of 2018 is in full swing. Anyone else feel like January is just a fluke and doesn’t count?

Florida has been treating me well aside from the wild weather mood swings. One day it’s 75 and sunny, the next is 30 and freezing. (Yes, it does get that cold!) I just received additional training at my job so now I get more responsibilities. Chris and I just passed our one year in January (even though it feels like we’ve been dating forever!)

Let’s get y’all caught up on my current adventures…

-We are about three weeks away from Princess Half weekend, and this will be my sixth appearance!

It’s incredible to think this will be my five-year runnerversary, and it all started with this race. While PHM has its place in my heart, I believe my time with the runDisney race series is fading, and I know I’m not the only runner who thinks the same. I do have my goals for these races, and I’m hoping by achieving them, it will catapult me into Cherry Blossom and Berlin training.

There will also be a We Run Social meetup at Disney Springs! If I’m not working, I’ll definitely be there!

Corrals and waivers have also been released, and I will be in Corral E this year for the half. (The 10K is TBD, but I will guess Corral C for shits and giggles). I’m super pumped because this is the highest corral I’ve ever been in for a runDisney event; I submitted a 1:12 10K POT, which would have me projected around a 2:33 half. The course has not changed, sand for the MK entrance through the front, so I’m feeling calm and collected thinking about everything.

If you have questions about Princess weekend, let me know! (Rookies, I’m looking at you!) I’m still debating if I want to do a v-log of the Princess Half Survival Guide, or just a post-video of your questions! 💖✨🎀

EPCOT Festival of the Arts

If you’re in the mood for good food, drinks, and pretty artwork, be sure to swing by EPCOT! The FotA is running for the next two weeks until February 19th!

-Celebration of Harry Potter

Witches and wizards everywhere flocked to Universal to celebrate the magic of Harry Potter at the end of January. There were so many sights and sounds between expos, interactive displays, actor/actress Q&As, demonstrations, etc. that it was hard to keep up! I did explore most of the things when I wasn’t caught up working.

My friends Megan and Gina joined me on the last day for some shenanigans!