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!

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

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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

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Now the second half of the race…

*brain goes dead*

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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!).

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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!

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

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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.

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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?

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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

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!

2017 Princess Half Marathon Recap

After traversing 17.44 miles the previous day with the Enchanted 10K, EPCOT (and carbo loading with those huge ass pretzels in Germany), and meetups over at Polynesian, it was time for my fifth running of the Princess Half!

I set my alarm slightly earlier on Sunday (around 2:15), and made sure I gave myself plenty of time to get dressed and get my stuff in order. I also made sure to pack all of my previous GSC medals into my gear bag. This would come into play later for my legacy picture.

I decided to go with a “Beasty Belle” theme with the blue and yellow. You can’t really see it, but the tank top has the Ravenclaw crest on it. Chris got that for me awhile back, and I truly think that Belle would have been a Ravenclaw!

I decided to take the familiar route to EPCOT this time around, and completely ignore my GPS. This paid off as I got to the parking lot with no problems. I was reluctant to leave my car, though: the temps had dipped from the previous day, the humidity was down, and the wind was up. It felt like marathon weekend all over again. The forecast had originally been projected to actually be in the 30’s with wind…just like marathon weekend. Luckily for us, the temps were in the mid 50’s. Still, though…for someone that’s constantly cold no matter what the weather is, it still felt like an ice box.

I made my way over to the TS bag check and waited for the team to arrive for our usual picture. There were reports coming in from social media that traffic was at a standstill and/or crawling. By 4:30am, the majority of us had arrived!

I also ran into Caroline, my favorite Sparkly Soul sister!

We took off for the potties and then to the corrals. En route, I saw some of the elites literally running along the sides of the road to get up to the front corrals. This traffic jam was such a determent that the race directors decided to postpone the start by about five to seven minutes. Fantastic, I thought to myself, as I sat in corral K with a hooded zip-up sweater I found hanging on the barrier of the corral. It alleviated some of the coldness, but not enough for my taste.

Finally, we started moving around. One thing I did notice right away was that the Fairy Godmother wasn’t around to count us down, nor were there any characters up at the front. Were they all on vacay or something? This was such an iconic part of previous Princess races, and really made the race what it was. I really missed her motivational speeches.

Finally, we got the fireworks and Corral K was off on their magical 13.1 miles! As much as I wanted a PR on this half, I know from my performance the previous day that it wasn’t going to happen. I took this race easy and made sure those side stitches didn’t come back.

Time to PR in photography once again!

This is the infamous chokehold point coming out of Cinderella Castle that we runDisney veterans always talk about. Don’t stop for pictures! You’ll create a logjam of runners behind you. Keep going, and if you want a picture that badly, head to the left as soon as you’re off the ramp and Disney’s Photopass staff can take care of that for you

Around the halfway point of this course, things started to get reeeeeal boring. You hit the second Cone Alley and all paces come to crawl. I found one of the 3:00 pace groups to run with for a little bit, thinking, “Oh hey, maybe if I stick with these guys, I’ll get that sub-3!” Upon further inspection, they started in Corral M, not Corral K. Womp womp.

And on we go…

Up the Mile 10 ramp!

Ran into my lovely Team Shenanigans ladies and we took it home from the coffee shop at EPCOT!

I finished this PHM in 3:34 on the nose, which is my second worst half marathon to date. I’m just glad to have made it in one piece with minimal oblique/rib pain and a lot of pretty pictures. Oh, and meeting new friends!! I finally got to meet Ian and Keith on my way out of the staging area!

And, of course, I couldn’t leave without getting the GSC legacy shot (which garnered many comments of, “Shut the front door!” as I was layering up the medals!) One more year to go to become a Perfect!

Christina’s Post-GSC Thoughts:
There’s really not a lot I can say now that I haven’t already covered in previous years, but I’ll repeat some of them…. The lack of characters and on-course perks are still diminishing with every year, and is making it hard to justify the cost of the races… As mentioned above, if you need to pee somewhere, just go pee… Don’t bottleneck the castle… Don’t walk 239847 abreast in Cone Alley… Be careful in that first cone alley as you go down the hill, because you’ll eat it if you’re not paying attention…. Don’t underestimate the power of the SUN; stay hydrated and properly sunscreened…don’t be too upset if you don’t PR this race; it’s designed to be fun (I have to tell myself that every time I come down here)…don’t traverse 17 miles the day before or your feet are gonna be sore…always bring throwaway clothes or a Mylar blanket so you don’t freeze, especially for those of us who are prone to the cold…etc. etc.

Since next year is the 10 year anniversary of the Princess Half, and the five-year anniversary of the Glass Slipper Challenge (now going by the name of “Fairytale Challenge”…-_____-), I’m curious to see what the theme is! Typically the runDisney Easter Egg is whoever the character is at the Mile 13 marker will the theme for the following year’s race. This year, though…it was Belle. Way to keep us in suspense, runDisney! I guess we’ll have to the wait and see!
Next race: Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Marathon!
See y’all real soon!
❤ Christina ❤

2017 Enchanted 10K Recap

I’ll be totally honest with you all: my 2017 Glass Slipper Challenge did not go like I thought it was going to. Both of my races were awful, I couldn’t poop pre-race (and most of the weekend) which caused a whole slew of issues, and I had to walk for 90% of the miles due to side stitches starting from mile 2 of the 10K and stemming over into the next day.

The weekend wasn’t all bad, though: I did PR in photography, saw a kick ass sunrise during the 10K, ran into some super cool runners on the course, and hung out with my teammates and We Run Social crew at meetups!

This will be a two-part recap, with meetups and whatnot in between. Let’s start with the Enchanted 10K on Saturday…


Alarm goes off at 2:30AM, and I lay in bed until 2:40AM. I finally get the energy to get up, dress, and scramble out the door a little after three. I was staying over in Old Town Kissimmee a little farther down from where I usually stayed at, and my GPS decided to send me in a funky direction down Rt. 536. This put me in a panic, since it was unfamiliar territory and I’m such a stickler of getting to a race site waaaaaay before I need to. I finally ended up at EPCOT, but man, that was a few minutes of chaos that I didn’t need.

Upon parking, I realized that I didn’t have my gear check bag. Greeeeeeat. The morning was starting off real swell. I put on some tunes and tried to think happy thoughts as I saw runners heading towards the staging area. Around 3:50, I exited my car and made my way over. I headed to my gear check tent and asked the volunteers if they had any spare bags. Lo and behold, they did! Woohoo!

I asked why we didn’t received gear check stickers like in years’ past, and Evelyn replied that only 18-20% of runners actually use the bags, so it just cuts down on paper waste by having the volunteers fill out the bib numbers on the stickers while you’re there.

I stood around for a little while, checking into social media and waiting for my team to arrive at our typical meetup spot by the O-Z tent. The temperature was in the mid 60’s with 94% humidity. Perfect weather!

Soon Team Shenanigans arrived and we got our obligatory picture:

We dispersed and I went over to where the main crowd was by the stage. I finally got to meet my running twinsie, Lindsay!!

After watching a new trailer for Beauty and the Beast (they went all out in promoting the movie this race weekend. I liked it!), we started the journey to the corrals. People, anthem, fireworks. Yay.

There were no characters or Fairy Godmother during this weekend to send us off! I was really disappointed! Anyone else?

I was in corral D, and I finally got to experience this “mini wave” thing that had been implemented for the past few runDisney races. It was…interesting. I felt like I got ¼ of a mile down the road before the next set of runners were sent off.

I was cruising along during mile one, and it would be my best mile of the whole weekend: 10:47. Once I hit the hairpin turn to ascend the hill, I started feeling crampy on my left side. This soon turned into walking breaks…and I couldn’t run. Full-blown side stitch. Holy crap, this was painful! I held my side as I tried to walk it off, and it just wasn’t happening. On the descent of that hill, I peeked over to see who was hanging out at that character stop, and noticed an all-too familiar trucker hat peeking out…it was Jen from We Run Social!! Of course, had to stop for a picture and hugs.

The rest of mile 2 and 3 were slow and steady. I altered my posture so I was leaning slightly back rather than forward, and that alleviated a lot of the pain in my ribcage. My mile three was four minutes faster than mile 2  (11:59 vs. 16:22), which was a nice boost.

Then I hit EPCOT. My favorite part of the entire race weekend!!

I cruised under the China gateway and ran right into another We Run Social sister, Steffany (and totally crashed her Facebook Live)!

From there, it was pictures all around!

Is this Disney magic?!” Yes, yes it is.

I finished in 1:34:46. The medal…freakin’ gorgeous.

Next up: 2017 Princess Half Marathon!

2017 Princess Half Expo Reminders

It’s almost here!! Who’s excited?! 🎉🎉

One thing that every runDisney runner had to do is head to the expo. Not only will you pick up your bib, shirts, and other race day things, you’ll also get to browse around and check out the many vendors in the Josten’s Center and HP Fieldhouse. Below are the hours for the 2017 PHM Expo:

A couple of reminders from runDisneyBelle about runDisney expo-isms:

  1. If you are running the 5K on Friday, you must attend the expo on Thursday to pick up your stuff. If you’re running GSC, you must attend by Friday to get your stuff. If you’re running only PHM, come by Saturday to get your stuff.
  2. Make sure you have your race waiver signed (you can print this out at the expo), and your ID ready to hand in. Upon checking in with the volunteer at your bib station, you’ll will also sign a big book next to your bib number indicating you’ve picked up your bib.
  3. Glass Slipper runners will have their picture taken with their bib. This helps expedite the process of verifying challenge runners when it comes to receiving your third medal at the conclusion of the half.
  4. Enjoy the expo, walk around, see what there is to see. Don’t spend all day here, though. You don’t want to wear out your legs just walking around! For those that haven’t been here, there are stairs you’ll have to navigate, and it can be a bit of a distance from where you park to the entrance.
  5. Be patient if the line to actually get IN to the expo is long and winds its way around and around. There’s 25,000+ runners attending this weekend, so pack your patience and a well-charged phone.
  6. Make sure to get your picture with the race banners!

 

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2015 GSC

 

There are also characters at the expo, too!

 

While the expo may be a lovely place to get lost in and look at all the shiny things, one concept does stand out over the rest…

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It’s just stuff.

There is no sense getting violent and crazy over stuff.

Don’t ruin your racecation, or anyone else’s, by fighting over wine glasses and overpriced t-shirts.

I understand some of you are diehard collectors, but be mindful of where you are, the audience around you, and the purpose of this weekend: it is not to see who can sell a runDisney Dooney to the highest bidder on eBay. It is to promote friendship and magical memories through athletic activities and accomplishing your dreams through running and camaraderie. Remember…the internet is forever. Mind your manners.

 

 


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See you real soon!!!