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!

WDW Marathon Weekend Preview

It’s here! It’s finally here! Woohoo!

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I’ve developed a solid affinity for WDW Marathon weekend, even though I’ve only raced it once. I signed up for the full in 2015 after failing to finish the Marine Corps Marathon; I deemed it my “revenge race” to prove to myself that I could still finish 26.2. I entered the weekend full of doubt and grumpiness…I didn’t even want to leave my hotel room. But lo and behold, I pulled myself out of my funk and had a fantastic time. I even joined a running team: Team Shenanigans!

I see this weekend as not just the Super Bowl of the runDisney series, but as a wholesome family reunion, as well. Friends and runners come from all different parts of the country and the world to reunite and run a few miles to earn some sweet bling…and maybe have a margarita or five along the way, too.

The past couple of days have brought on a ton of excitement via social media with the unveiling of the expo merchandise and race shirts:

 

Original article by Steven Miller: https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2017/01/cross-the-finish-line-in-style-with-products-for-2017-walt-disney-world-marathon-weekend/

Side note, here are your expo hours! (Wide World of Sports)

  • Wednesday, January 4 – Noon – 8:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, January 5 – 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
  • Friday, January 6 – 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, January 7 – 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m

The race shirt designs are also really cute! These are the shirts that you will get when you pick up your bib and gEAR check bag:

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Since I’m running Goofy Challege this year, I get three shirts!

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When it comes to buying merchandise at the expo, I try to stay away from it. Every so often, there’s something that really catches my eye and I budget for it. Most of the time, though, the designs are too loud for my taste (I prefer simplicity and solid colors 98% of the time). I love wearing the race shirts, and these satisfies me enough so I don’t have to buy official runDisney merch.

As always, runDisney encourages you to be social!

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…and #GoofyChallenge, and #DopeyChallenge, and #CignaRunsTogether…

 

To everyone…safe travels heading down to Florida, and I’ll see you then! Feel free to keep up with my adventures this weekend on the socials: @runDisneyBelle!

❤ Christina ❤

 

runDisney: The Beginning of Improvement?

Seems like it’s been a big week for runDisney!

First, the Castle to Chateau medals were revealed. So. Freakin’. Adorable! I adore the colors and the designs. (I’m a huge fan of the Remy medal!)

Yesterday, runDisney debuted new 5K medals. Many runners have complained about the lack of “medal-ness”, for lack of a better term, from previous races. (For those just jumping on the runDisney bandwagon, they were rubber medallions.) Material-wise, it’s an incredible upgrade. Design-wise, however, they’re a bit lackluster. I can hardly distinguish WHAT is happening on the medal because there is little to no color contrast. The lanyards look super sweet, though!

Also, runDisney is shifting towards digital event guides. I’m at a crossroads with this. While they’re doing their part for the whole “Going Green” movement, I personally like to have something in my hands to flip through and reference at a moment’s notice.

Now that it seems like runDisney is actually starting to listen to the complaints of the consumers and are slowly, yet surely, acting on them, I am curious to see what other changes are coming our way. Personally, I’m hoping for changes in the following areas:

  1. Quality vs. quantity with regard to runner perks.
  2. Race-day transportation fluidity for those on-site.
  3. Providing a map of character stops for those racing solely for pictures.
  4. Bringing back the oldie-but-goodie runDisney aspects, such as the night races and better perks for Wine and Dine after-party in EPCOT.

 

Any other thoughts from the peanut gallery on these recent changes?

2017…Going Goofy!

Yesterday was registration for WDW Marathon weekend. I had been on the fence about registering for just the half (since it’s the 20th anniversary), or signing up for Goofy, because, well, I’m kinda goofy like that. Ha.

 

Goofy 2017

I figured I’ll be pacing and racing with my Big Brother, Chris, during his second half-marathon. I can also instigate many shenanigans with my team during the full. Coupling the fact that WDW weekend is like a reunion for many runner friends of mine, it’s a perfect combination. I have a feeling Goofy will be a one-and-done for me, then I’ll tackle Dopey in 2018 (also a one-and-done).

With that said…Cg-3oJUXEAA_hct

 


Did you sign up for WDW Marathon weekend? If so, what will you be racing? 5K, 10K, half, full, Goofy, Dopey??

 

Rock ‘n’ Roll D.C. Expo Volunteer Experience

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To kick off this D.C. racecation, I was presented with the opportunity to volunteer for the RnR DC weekend by my fellow Team Shenanigans member, Jenn (@Jenneral1 on Twitter!). I arrived at the D.C. Armory around 8:45 on Friday morning ready to work and give my fellow runners a fantastic experience.

The majority of the volunteers would be downstairs in the basement doing corral check-ins and changes. After receiving instructions from the Race Crew supervisors, Jenn and I called dibs on the Corral Change booth.

Yep, Team Shenanigans was in charge of making decisions.

For those that have never run a Rock ‘n’ Roll race, the corral changes for this series is a LOT easier than, say, runDisney. RnR corral changes are based purely off of an honour system. If you know that you’ve been training at a faster pace than the corral you are placed in, you can request to be bumped up. We make a little tally mark on the spreadsheet for statistical purposes and to make sure the corrals are filled evenly. That’s all! (There were many comments of, “That was so easy!” It is. You don’t have to sacrifice your firstborn or sell your soul to transfer corrals.)

One of the most humbling things I experienced during my time at the corral change booth was being asked questions and confidently giving advice to other runners about pacing and to provide corral options. Jenn said that it is better that experienced runners are at this booth to act as a mentor and source of information. It was awesome seeing many runners walk over with a harried, worried facial expression about their corral placement and leave with a smile and newfound energy to rock their race day.

Plus, it was great seeing runner friends, Ken (#kenthumbsup) and Malinda of @TwinsRun!!

Around 3:00, I jumped over to Corral Check-Ins. Around this time, until 7:15 or so, the traffic picked up a bunch, and volunteers were leaving their morning shifts. At one point, I was manning two corral sections due to the area being temporarily understaffed. I was put in this chaotic situation many times last summer—I worked for a whitewater rafting company, and the pre-rafting paperwork/logistics craziness that would occur in the hour before everything was to start (which I called “Power Hour”) truly prepped me for these Corral Check-In tables. (Thank you, Three Rivers crew!)

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(…after the storm at 7:15 PM. It was quiet. Too quiet….)

Our Race Crew leaders were incredibly hospitable. They made their rounds roughly every hour or so, making sure we were fed and watered appropriately. (I ate so many fruit snacks and Cheetos it was unreal.) We also got lunch and time to explore the expo. They made it known that our service and time were greatly appreciated. (If it isn’t for the volunteers dedicating themselves for however long they will be there, these races will not have the same fluidity. So make sure you thank your volunteers when you see them!)

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I will be more than happy to volunteer for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Series again. I had a fantastic experience, and I encourage anyone that is even thinking about volunteering to do so. I noted that the majority of the crowds at this expo were very friendly towards us volunteers, even during peak periods. There was no drama, nothing getting broken, no craziness… just smiles and thank yous. It’s very different being on the other side, but volunteering gives you a better perspective on everything a race weekend needs to run right.

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Next up, the Rock ‘n’ Roll D.C. 5K!

Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide, Ep. VII

Hey princesses and princes…

SURPRISE!!! *confetti cannons and fireworks*

That’s right! There’s one more Survival Guide episode for you all!

I’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to release this episode, and I figured that it’s about that time. We’re less than a week out from when all of the Princess Half weekend excitement goes down, and the energy is ramping up on the social media feeds. Outfits are being displayed, encouragement being passed around, final training miles being run, and the taper crazies running rampant, as always. There’s a certain electricity that amplifies any runDisney event. With Princess Half weekend, however, I have noticed that it seems to be more prominent with this race than any of the others.

This final episode will be filled with motivation and positive thinking and pretty pictures. (runDisney released an album of motivational running pictures and quotes several years ago, and I’m glad I saved them to share.) Think of this episode as the narration to your weekend.

Got your snacks? Yay! Let’s go!


 

PHM Survival Guide, Ep. VII: The Race Awakens: Final Thoughts From Christina

I have mentioned this before: Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. For many of us, that happens when you cross the finish line and can officially say, “I Did It!”

But the truth is, it happens far sooner….407811_580612858631347_62542001_n

 

Life begins when you make the decision to toe the line…to commit to the distance, the training, the long hours of pounding the pavement or track or treadmill to put the miles under your legs. To say, “Yes. I’m going to do this”, and follow through all the way until race day.

There is a lot of sacrifice when training for a race, as you all know: Giving up sleeping in on the weekends in exchange for greeting the sunrise of a new day with a workout… replacing your comfort foods with something more healthy that makes your body happy and fuels you…deciding to head home early and rest up instead of staying out with friends on a Friday night.

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Or on the flip of the coin…battling runner grumpies when you’re trying to find this thing called a runner’s high that everyone sems to talk about….fighting waves of apathy, sadness, and a disinterest in running….thinking, “Ugh, I have to wake up at X- time and run X-miles for a long run?” and promptly hiding under the covers. Your training may have been derailed by life or illness or other variables, and you might be discouraged and frustrated, thinking, “Why the hell did I even sign up for this?”

(All of this I have experienced before. You’re not alone.)

It can suck sometimes. It really can.

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But it will pay off. Even if you can’t see it now, showing up on race day is your dedication in action. Your costume/outfit is on, the feelings of excitement and anxiety churning in your stomach (it’s all those butterflies that are back again!), and you know there’s no going back. You’ve made it this far. Whether you’re a Perfect, a veteran, a firstie…the love is there for everyone. Everyone is sharing thoughts, feelings, anticipation…your hearts are in sync and eyes are on the prize.

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Everyone that toes the line has a story to tell. And these stories, while most remain unspoken, drive these races to be what they truly are: the gathering of athletes of all abilities to chase their dreams and accomplish their goals.

Next week, it’s go time. It’s time for your victory lap.

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The Fairy Godmother counts you down, the fireworks go boom, and you’re off on a magical journey of whichever distance you’ve signed up for. Take in the experience. The atmosphere and sights are unlike any other race you’ll ever participate in.

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For the firsties…no matter the distance, you’re accomplishing a feat that thousands before you have done. You’re following in the footsteps of even the most elite runners in history; they’ve all been there. Everyone has run their first race at some point in their lives. You’re now partaking in that tradition. Embrace your first race.

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On race day…race your race. This phrase may reflect many things: You may be running for a new PR…you may be running just to complete the distance to say that you did…you might be running miles in memory of someone…hell, you may be racing for an age award, or even for the win. Whatever your reason is, you’re here. You’re going to go the distance, just like the song says.

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When you cross the finish line, throw your hands in the air and cheer. You deserve a celebration. All the weeks and months, trials and tribulations, struggles and successes you’ve endured will culminate into an explosive euphoria that will rival anything you’ve ever felt before. Your life is going to change forever. Smile, cheer, cry, hug your friends. This is your time. Take it in. Enjoy it. By the time you get home, you’re going to want to do it all over again.

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See you at the finish line.

 

*~*Christina*~*

Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide, Ep. V

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Hello, runners! *waves*

If you take a look at your calendar, we’re getting close to showtime. Three more weeks until we’re running through clouds of glitter while earning our tiaras and glass slippers!

We’ve come far in this journey of surviving the Princess Half. A wide variety of areas have been covered so far, from pre-travel packing to course layouts. However, I have neglected to talk about one area, and that is for a specific purpose:

It deserves its own episode.

Glass Slipper Challenge runners, are you ready?!


 

 

Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide, Episode V: The Glass Slipper Strikes Back… How Not to Get Kicked Down the Palace Steps While Running 19.3 Miles.

For those of you that are going to be embarking on the challenge run that is GSC, I applaud your tenacity and motivation. 19.3 miles in two days is not an easy feat, so props for taking on the challenge! Whether this is your first GSC, or you’re like me and you’re heading for legacy status with your third, (or you’re even considering GSC in the future!), there are certain variables that are different with these types of runs that are in a league of their own when compared to a single run such as the 10K or the half. (Anyone that has completed Goofy, Dopey, Dumbo, or any other multi-day run can also attest to this).

This episode will take us into pre-race and race day logistics that will help you finish upright and with a smile on your face (and not kicked down the palace steps). This will also be a shorter episode than the others, but the information is just as critical.

Got your coffee and snackies? Great! Here we go…

GSC Pre-Race:

First of all, did you arrange your packing to the reflect that you’re running two races? Two outfits, two sets of fuel, animals going two by two? Good.

Logistics: Reminder…if you signed up for the 10K and half seperately, you’re not eligible for the GSC medal. You HAVE to have signed up for the challenge in order to receive it.

Expo

When you head to the expo, you’ll go to the HP Fieldhouse. (Make sure you take your picture with the GSC banner at the WWOS entrance!)

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They also have banners for the 5K, 10K, and PHM!

 

All GSC-related things will be over here (check-in, bibs, gEAR bags, etc.). Since you signed up for the challenge, you will be receiving the goodies that come with running a challenge run. Yay goodies! Not only will you be getting three medals at the end of all of it, you will also get three tech shirts at the expo (10K, half, and GSC).

When you find your booth that corresponds with your bib number, you will be identified as a GSC runner. Once you receive your bib, the volunteer will point you in the direction of the photographer that will take your picture with you holding your bib. This is for confirming, at the end of the PHM when you’re getting your third medal, that you really are who you are. Other race series do this, and remember when I talked about bib bandits earlier? Yeah. This is why.

(This can also be found on p. 38 of the Event Guide.)

Deciphering Your Bib

GSC bib

When you receive your bib, you’re going to notice two letters in the upper corner. The first letter is your corral for the Enchanted 10K. The second letter is your corral for the Princess Half. YOU MUST WEAR THE SAME BIB DURING BOTH RACES. There are different designs for each race. GSC is different than the 10K or the half, and has a different numbering system.

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^^courtesy of Patty at http://noguiltlife.com/
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^^Courtesy of Julie at http://www.runwalkrepeat.com/

 


 

Enchanted 10K

Welcome to the first 6.2 miles of your journey! Yay!

The atmosphere for the 10K will not be as electric as it will be for the half-marathon. It will still be bumping, but with half as many people. I find this to be relatively relaxing, and the chaos levels are not as intense.

While you’re preparing for this first race, keep in mind the following:

-This is only day one. You won’t even hit the halfway mark with the total mileage for the challenge during this race. That’ll be at mile 3.45 during the half:

19.3 miles/2 days = 9.65 – 6.2 = 3.45

…therefore, I highly suggest that you do not go all out during this race, especially if you’ve never done a challenge race before. I speed-walked the 10K in 2015, and while my time suffered a whole hell of a lot, I felt decent for the half. You’re going to be excited and you’re going to want to take off like a rocket ship. I suggest that you don’t. You’ll be saving your energy reserves for the half, which is when you’re going to need them.

-Now, some of you may be gunning for a PR or a placement in this race, or the 10K is “your” distance and you know what to do. That’s totally fine. If you want to focus on this race and take it easy during the half, or vice versa, go nuts.

There will be five corrals (as far as I know. This may change if the field becomes larger). Find your corral and line up. The staging will be in the Explore parking lot, so it’s not as nuts as the half where there are sixteen corrals lined up and down Epcot Center Drive.

-There will be characters along the route for the 10K, but you have no idea which ones will be there until you get there. I do not have a list and am not in charge of character placement, although that would be a super fun job to have.

-There is one major elevation change on this course, and it happens along mile 2 as you head up an overpass.

-After you finish the Enchanted 10K, you’ll get your medal and head down the finisher’s chute. There will be a seperate section for GSC runners. You will receive a wristband at this time indicating that you completed the first half of the challenge. FOR THE LOVE OF MICKEY MOUSE, DO NOT REMOVE THIS WRISTBAND. This is your ticket to getting your GSC medal at the end of the PHM on Sunday. (Updated note: 2014 had wristbands. 2015 did not. I’m curious to see what happens this year, so the wristband thing may or may not be a thing. We shall see!)

-After the 10K, make sure to keep it easy. Stretch out, keep moving, don’t overexert yourself by going nuts in the parks. You have to run a half marathon on Sunday! Eat well, rest, recover, and go. to. bed. early. It may be easier to sleep on Saturday night since you already put your body through 6.2 and change already….


 

WAIT. Sleep? Sleep is great! Hooray for bed!…

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Unless you have nightmares about Homer asking if you want to see his new chainsaw and hockey mask, that is.

 

Now, before you sleep on Saturday…

-Did you put your bib on your half marathon outfit? You did? Good.

-Are you recharging electronics?

-Did you clear out your gEAR bag and put everything in it that you will need for Sunday post-race? (You will be using this for both days.) Is it hanging on the door?

-Did you stretch out and think happy thoughts? Yay 🙂


 

Princess Half Marathon

DAAAAAAAY TWOOOOOO! Woohoo!

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“Top of the hour, time for the morning news! But of course, there is no news yet. Everyone’s still asleep in their comfy, comfy beds…”

 

I’m going to be honest with you: one of the biggest obstacles during the GSC is not necessarily on the course, but it’s about multiple days of waking up at ass-o’clock in the morning to run. Just be aware of this. (I can only imagine how Dopey runners feel during their challenge. Four days and 48.6 miles. Insane, and exceptionally admirable.)

You’re probably going to wake up feeling sore and tired. The degree of this soreness will be based on how much energy you exerted during the 10K, and if you decided to walk around the parks a whole bunch afterwards. If you trained well during the last few months, the pain should be mild. If not, you’ll probably be hurting more. The task of completing 13.1 is ahead of you, so now is the time to get focused.

Christina’s Thoughts:

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Running can be far more mental than physical. Our bodies are capable of doing incredible things, but it’s up to your mind to get you there. Glass Slipper runners who run the PHM may be revolving their run around willpower, especially in the second half of the course. They may also encounter The Wall. This is a psychological and physical fatigue that can stop even the most elite runners in their tracks. It involves your glyco stores becoming totally depleted, resulting in a loss of energy. Loss of energy = everything goes kersplooey. If you see someone “hitting the wall”, it’s definitely not a pretty sight; there’s a lot of tears, frustration, sheer exhaustion, and talks of, “I can’t do this. I’m so done.” When you think you’re heading south, this is when all those motivational memes and pinterest pictures and songs you’ve been engrossing yourself in for the last four months can be utilized. Change your music if you need to, dig deep, and keep going. There’s shiny bling and bananas and bragging rights just beyond the finish line!


 

Make sure you eat breakfast (trust me on this; you’re body is screaming to be refueled, and you don’t want to hit the wall due to energy/fuel depletion!), and drink your beverage of choice. Check the weather. Make sure you have your bib and gEAR bag. It’s Princess Half time!!

-There will be twice as many runners from yesterday at this race. Keep this in mind as you’re navigating Runner’s Village and going to the corrals.

-You will be halfway done with the GSC at mile 3.45 (as per the math above).

-Run at your comfort level. If you need extra stretching after a mile or two, veer off the course and into the grass out of everyone else’s way. Your muscles will feel tight during this race to an extent. It’s important that you get to the finish safely.

-When you finish, head through the finisher’s chute just like yesterday. You’ll get your PHM medal first. Don’t freak out just yet….there is a seperate area for GSC runners as you continue on. When you see this, they’ll check your picture and bib number. If you’re clear to go, congrats! You’ll get your GSC medal!

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Yes, they’re backwards, but you get the idea.

 

-Embrace the clank and wear these medals around the parks! You deserve the extra jingle. (They’ll start wearing on your neck after awhile, so you might just wear the slipper medal.) If you plan on taking legacy pictures, or with any combination of medals thereafter, bring these with you!

-Post-race…you’re going to be tired. There’s no getting around this. Keep moving, stretching, and refueling, even if you don’t feel like eating (*guiltily raises hand*) . The powerade and snack boxes will help you tremendously, along with any other food you’re going to use. The DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) you’ll feel in the next few days or weeks is going to suck. Take care of yourself, and if anything hurts, don’t hesitate to see a doctor.


 

Seems like a fabulous time, right? Run some miles, get some bling. Happy happy joy joy.

But it’s time now for the not-so-fun part…

If You Get Swept…

Hypothetically, if you’ve trained well, you shouldn’t have a problem finishing. That goes for any race. However, race days can be unpredictable, and 923847918273 things can happen that could derail your perfect day.

The bottom line for runDisney challenges: In the event that you get swept in either one of the races, you will NOT get your challenge medal.

Let me repeat that:

If you get swept as a GSC runner, you won’t get your challenge medal.

Yes, they do give out the individual medals.

No, they won’t make an exception for the GSC medal.

Challenges are challenges, and will be treated as such.

The end.


 

We have now covered all of the racing aspects of GSC/Princess Half weekend. If there is anything that hasn’t been answered yet, please ask it and I’ll do my best to provide an answer.

So you have the medals, your finish times are online, and you’re walking around with your Mickey waffle basking in the post-race high that accompanies the thrill of accomplishment. In the post-race hours, days, and weeks that are ahead, you will be experiencing physical and emotional changes that may affect you. Episode VI, Return of the Post-Race Blues, will be arriving soon…