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Name: Lauren         Location: Middle Tennessee, USA

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Thursday, March 3, 2011
My Disney Princess Half-Marathon, Part Two
On race day, we set an alarm for 3:25 and had a wake-up call for 3:30, but we didn't need them. Both of us were tossing and turning from 3:00 until 3:20 when we decided to get ready. About 3:45, we headed to the bus. We were SHOCKED when we got to the pool area and found a very long line of princesses curved around the pool. At that point, we realized that Disney had very good reason for requiring everyone to be at the bus by four: it takes a long time to transport thousands of princesses to the start! We finally boarded a bus at 4:25, and there were plenty of runners still waiting after us.

The bus carried us to Epcot. After walking the red carpet into the staging area, Rachel and I posed for a picture. It was probably just after 5:00 AM.

The walk to the corrals was long, but amusing. So many people were dressed up in elaborate costumes, including the few men who were participating. Check out this video to see some of the creativity.

I stopped at the port-a-potties (there were hundreds of them), and then we headed for the start. Rachel was in corral A, and I was in B. We hadn't been there long when the Fairy Godmother got us going. Each corral started with its own fireworks. It was very exciting.

The first few minutes of running are always the hardest for me. Once I get in my groove, it is much easier. For the first mile or so, I worked to get in a comfortable pace. This was difficult because there were so many people, but everything thinned out as the race progressed. When I started the race, I thought I would stop for lots of character pictures, but once I got going, I didn't want to wait in the lines (some of the pictures in this post will be blurry because I took them while running, and some have random runners in them). In the first few miles, we were entertained with DJ's playing fun music, Captain Jack and his pirate ship, a hot air balloon shaped like Epcot, and some dashing princes. So fun!

It wasn't long before we were greeted by this wonderful sight. I think this was around mile 2.5 or 3, but I'm not sure.

We ran by the Disney World Speedway and the Polynesian. At the Transportation and Ticket Center, the Japanese drummers were playing. Of all the entertainers, the drummers ranked among my favorites.

We ran on towards the Contemporary Resort and the Magic Kingdom. Near the Contemporary, there was a DJ on an overpass. He yelled out, "Let's see if you ladies are the same age I am," and he started playing "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." Suddenly, I was surrounded by thousands of women singing, "In West Philadelphia born and raised; On the playground where I spent most of my days; Chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool; And all shooting some b-ball outside of the school." Obviously, many were near the same age because everyone new the lyrics word for word. This was so fun!

Soon, Space Mountain came into view.

We entered the Magic Kingdom through a cast member entrance and then headed up Main Street toward the castle. I stopped to get a picture. I guess you can tell that I missed my mouth with the water at mile 4. Racing tip: Walk while trying to drink.

We ran through Tommorowland and through Fantasyland before coming to the castle from behind. I wanted to stop for a picture with royal Mickey and Minnie, but the line was long.

After coming through the castle, we passed the six mile mark, headed through Frontierland, and exited the Magic Kingdom through the backstage areas. They had several of the parade floats and characters out to cheer us on.

I had heard that the next stretch of the race seemed long because you have passed the thrill of running in the Magic Kingdom, but it didn't feel that way to me. I knew I was doing well with my pace, and that energized me. Additionally, there was still plenty of entertainment along the course. The stretch near the Grand Floridian had quite a few princesses with their princes, as well as golfer Donald with his Mickey golf cart (this was so cute, but I don't have a picture).

Somewhere around mile 9 or 10, we could see Spaceship Earth (the ball at Epcot). This was encouraging, but I knew we had an on-ramp to conquer. There ended up being a second incline around mile 11.5, so we really had two uphill battles near the end. My Tennessee training helped me at this point because I rarely run without hills. Also, the Green Army Man from Toy Story was shouting at us in the middle of one of the ramps, and that helped to keep me moving. He told us that Sarge really likes to see people running early in the morning.

Near mile 12, I saw Mrs. Incredible. I was feeling pretty incredible at this point, so I was glad she didn't have a line.

We ran through the Future World section of Epcot, and then we ran by this choir just before mile 13.

HOORAY! I finished in 2:26:19. Considering this included two potty breaks and picture taking, I was very pleased with my time. According to my Garmin, I actually ran 13.3 miles, but who's counting? My friend Rachel was waiting on me (she finished in 1:56ish), and she surprised me with an "I Did It!" t-shirt, which I proudly wore the rest of the day (and even the next day, but don't tell anyone). Then, we headed over to see Rapunzel and Snow White. We apologized to Rapunzel for our sweaty skin and odor. She replied, "Oh, don't worry. I spend most of the day with my horse, so it doesn't bother me at all." Love it.

In terms of importance, I have to say that the day I became a Christian, my wedding day, and my children's birthdays rank at the top. I admit, however, that this day ranks very high. I am so excited that I set this goal over a year ago and stuck with it. Before last year, I would have laughed at the thought of completing 3 miles, much less 13(.3). The race was so uplifting and FUN, and I can't wait to complete another! I don't know how future races can compare with the Disney Princess, but I look forward to the excitement and encouragement that is sure to come when you have a large group of people working towards a goal. This was truly an amazing experience.

Stay tuned to read about our after-race fun!

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  posted at 6:36 AM  

At March 03, 2011 1:28 PM, Blogger Jana @sidetrackd said...

Way to go! What a fun race!

At March 03, 2011 8:04 PM, Blogger jbm02 said...

How did I miss the princesses at the end?! AARGH!

At March 03, 2011 9:37 PM, Blogger The Juggling Mommy said...

So glad you had a good time! What an impressive finishing time! Great job!

At March 04, 2011 10:10 AM, Blogger Jennifer, Snapshot said...


Even before I read your last paragraph, I was welling up with emotion -- SO proud of you. I know that you've made many lifestyle changes, and I think it's amazing that you've stuck with it.

At March 08, 2011 10:41 AM, Blogger gail@more than a song said...

Wow, SO impressive Lauren! You should be proud. Looks like a fun place to run if you have to do that many miles...Disney usually does everything up to the max though. It almost makes the run halfway fun with having all the entertainment and encouragement throughout. :)
Great job!

At March 09, 2011 11:33 AM, Blogger Stacy at Exceedingly Mundane said...

Wow! I had NO idea they did this kind of thing, but it's so cool! I can imagine how much easier it makes this kind of thing (although not being a runner, I can't see running one mile, much less 3, 5 or 13!), with all of the things to distract you and interest you and spur you on. I just have to bet it's a lot more fun to run there at Disney with all this, than at one at home with some boring old men and no excitement, hahaha! You should be SO PROUD of yourself, Lauren, that's a terrific accomplishment! So glad you got to go and have a great run and an even better experience! :)


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