2015 Princess Half Marathon Weekend - Part 1, Expo and 10K
February 19-22 was Princess Half Marathon weekend at Walt Disney World. Last year introduced a new 10K race to this event, in addition to the 5K and half marathon. And running both the 10K and half was a new "challenge": The Glass Slipper Challenge. I ran the challenge last year, and had so much fun that I wanted to do it this year, too. Lee decided not to go, so I invited my friend Deb to come so that we could spend some time together.
As usual, I kept my eye on the weather starting about a week out to see what I should expect. It was looking like 55-58 for lows, which is perfect running weather for me, until two days before I left home, when suddenly the forecast was for 41 for the 10K and 55 for the half - and 29 for the 5K, which I wasn't running.
Oh, did I mention that the theme for this year's 5K, and for the 10K medal, was "Frozen?" That's taking theming a little too seriously!!!
So at the last minute I had to pack extra throwaway clothes and gloves and hand warmers - and hope those would be sufficient for Saturday's 10K. And I also had to pack a heavy jacket and scarf and jeans because it was going to be cold just for wandering around the parks the first couple of days.
It was 45 when I arrived Thursday evening. And 34 on Friday morning for those running the 5K. I saw a lot of chilly-looking people getting back to the hotel as I left to go to the Expo - it was 40 by then. But the sun was out so it didn't feel quite so cold.
There were the usual race banners in front of the Wide World of Sports, where the Expo was held. I met up with Jill and Hilary, two members from my running club in San Diego, and we had our picture taken.
I was quickly able to do everything I needed to do at the Expo. Picked up my bib, took a few photos, shopped, and wandered in the show. It was early enough that it wasn't crowded yet. I think the worst time to be there is between 11:00 and 2:00 - before or after that there are fewer people.
I was pleased to see that there still seemed to be plenty of merchandise, and cast members were constantly restocking. I was able to get my Glass Slipper Challenge magnet and the mini 10K medal.
While in line to have my photo taken with Princess Minnie I chatted with AllEars reader Michelle and her daughter Molly, who were planning to run the half marathon. Thank you for introducing yourselves, and I hope you had a good race!
RunDisney finally unveiled the medals for the upcoming Tinker Bell Half Marathon weekend races and had them in their booth at the Expo. The 10K and half marathon medals are the same with some added embellishment, but we've all been curious about the new "Pixie Dust Challenge" medal. I'd seen photos of it on-line and wasn't too impressed. And unfortunately it's no better in person. But it does have the "I" word on it. That's the only thing I like about it.
I picked up my three new race shirts - one for the 10K, one for the half, and one for the Glass Slipper Challenge. I'm really glad that they are short-sleeve. I really love the purple color of the 10K shirt, but I don't like pink at all, and the gray of the Glass Slipper Challenge shirt is kind of drab. I was disappointed that, given the "Frozen" theme, they didn't go with shades of blue, or even white or silver.
Deb and I enjoyed some park time later that day, and dinner at Trattoria al Forno (food blog to come). And then it was time to try to go to bed. The three-hour time difference between San Diego and Orlando always makes it hard for me to get a good night's sleep, but I dutifully tried to go to bed at 9:00 and sleep.
The wake-up call came much too early, and Baymax advised me that a fist bump was a form of expression. I dressed in my new Belle running costume - due to the cooler temps I had a long sleeve shirt rather than the short-sleeve v-neck, which would have looked better. Oh well.
At least it was a little warmer than predicted: 45 and not 41. :-) I had rented a car so that I could drive myself to all of the race events rather than relying on Disney transportation. One very nice thing about that this year was I could sit in my nice warm car after I parked instead of going out in the cold!
The 10K is a much smaller race than the half marathon - 12,500 as opposed to 25,000. It's a lot more pleasant in the pre-race area - I could actually get close to the stage and see what was going on. Though one reason it may have seemed less crowded is that there were lots of heat lamps set up, and people were huddled around those for warmth!
The race started at 5:30, but they didn't send us to our corrals until 4:45. It's a much shorter walk to the corrals, which are in the Epcot parking lot rather than out on World Drive. I found Jill and Hilary in corral A and we all started together. It's so nice being in Corral A! Makes for a much less congested race.
My plan was to run this race and try for a Personal Record - I was hoping to finish in an hour or less. So I wasn't planning to stop for photos this time - not even to show off my new Belle costume. :-) Most of it was covered for almost half the race anyway, until I shed my final outer layer.
I'm not really a fan of this 10K course. The first 3+ miles are in the parking lot and on roads, and then it goes backstage at Epcot, before entering World Showcase about mile 4. From then on I like it: it goes around about half of World Showcase, then out the International Gateway and around the Boardwalk area and past the Yacht and Beach Clubs before going back to Epcot again, through Future World and out to the finish line in the parking lot. But it is a fast course, mostly flat with just one overpass at the beginning and a few small hills where it goes over bridges in the park and around the Boardwalk.
Early in the race we went under an overpass. Elsa and Anna were on the overpass talking to the runners, "Let it Go" was playing, and it was "snowing." That was kind of fun. I managed to keep up with Jill for the first mile and a half, but then she sped up. But I was still on what was a fast pace for me, as I could see when I passed the mile markers. And I was feeling strong, and didn't need to stop for any walk breaks as I usually do. I didn't use any of the three water stops, either. It seemed to me like there were more characters out than last year, and most had short lines, but I had that PR in mind, and knew that I was on pace to achieve it!
Deb had gotten up early to come down to the boardwalk to cheer me on. I stopped for a quick hug, so she only got a photo as I ran away. :-)
At mile 5 I knew I was going to get my "under-an-hour" finish - the question was how much under an hour. I was still feeling good, and managed to run the last 1.2 miles a little faster, and crossed the finish line with a time of 57:19!!! I was SO happy! Jill and Hilary also PR'd. So it was a great day for the West Coast Roadrunners!
This is my new favorite race medal because of what it represents. :-) 10K seems to be "my" distance - long enough, but not too long. I don't have to carry a hydration belt with me like I do for a half marathon, and that's very nice. I've really enjoyed the five different Disney 10Ks that I've done (some of them multiple times). I prefer the 10K courses at Disneyland in California, but I think that this one, used for both the Walt Disney World 10K and the Enchanted 10K, is probably a faster course.
Snow White and Tiana were available in the finish area for photos, and since Jill, Hilary, and I all finished early the lines weren't too bad. It was still only about 46 degrees, and all I had for warmth was the mylar blanket I'd gotten at the finish (at least they were handing them out this time, unlike in January!) so after getting our photo with Snow White we all headed back to the car where I had a jacket. It was quite easy getting out of the parking lot. I dropped them off at their resort and went back to the Boardwalk for some hot tea and a warm shower!
I'm still so happy about the PR - I don't remember ever being this excited about a race result! I've had a good training season, and it was great to see all of the hard work pay off.
But this is an example of "do as I say, not as I do". :-) When asked about running a race challenge series I always advise people not to run the first race hard, so that you have something left for the second race. But it's a matter of knowing yourself and what you can do - I knew that I could run the 10K fast and still be ok for the half marathon the next day. And one thing I did NOT do was sprint at the end of the 10K, because I knew that would really use up a lot of energy and cost me the next day. I did push my pace a bit over the last mile, but it was not an all-out sprint at the end.
I spent much of the rest of the day doing what you're NOT supposed to do before a half marathon: wandering around theme parks. :-). It's really hard to be at a Disney race and not do that. And it was a beautiful day for being outside - it warmed up to about 75. I felt really good, too - my legs weren't tired at all.
It was another night of trying to get to bed early and sleep. I was hoping that after not getting much sleep the night before I'd sleep better, but that didn't work. Race weekends are exercises in sleep deprivation.
Next up: The Princess Half Marathon
Learn more about my runDisney experiences on AllEarsNet TV Show #33: