D and I headed over on friday after she got out of work. Excited to be on a girls road trip again. Although I was missing my family before I even drove out of town I was also feeling the freedom of being kid-free after almost 5 years! We met up at the hotel with Aims who had driven down from GA. After getting settled in our room we hit the town with plans to live it up like the old days. Stay out "late", enjoy being with each other, ect. Needless to say the years have caught up with us. Not only were we all yawning and tired by 10pm but we didn't even care to pay the cover charge to enter what would have been a good dueling piano bar. We were in bed not long after. First though, we had to take some silly hat pictures. Because no trip to Disney is complete without trying on hats.
As we drifted off to sleep that first night we talked about how we were looking forward to sleeping in. Something I haven't done in at least 5 years. Once again, we failed. All of us were awake by 8am. We spent our afternoon at the Expo. It was truly fit for a princess. Well, at least the entrance was! These guys called us "your majesties"!
The expo was amazing. Crazy crowded and we lost each other many times but it was still great. After picking up our packets, bags, shirts, and other shopping we met up with our last to arrive princess, Beck. We had dinner at the T-rex restaurant then prepared for the next morning. OMG- it's almost time to run our first half marathon!
The first alarm went off at 2:30am. We needed to leave the room by 3:30 and I didn't want to be pressed for time. Things went smoothly and we soon found ourselves in the staging area. After lots of walking to the corrals and multiple porta potty stops it was nearly time to go!
Not having any previous times to qualify for a corral we were in D. But in true Disney style there were fireworks and a Fairy Godmother send off for each corral.
The first three miles went by like a flash. I found myself thinking "wow, a 5k is already done?!". That would be the last time I had such a thought during this run. Around mile 4 we entered Magic Kingdom territory.
This led me to believe we were approaching Magic Kingdom soon. Ha! Boy was I wrong. I let it play a bad mental game with me. We did come up on the entrance to MK pretty quick. But then instead of entering where you normally do as a guest we suddenly looped around to the side and stayed to the outside of the park. It felt like we were running and running and never going to get there at this point. Then out of no where we came onto Main Street USA from a side entrance and the best 1 mile of the run began. Down Main Street the already crowded running surface became even more cramped. Ugh. But once headed into Tomorrow Land it opened up and we could actually have some personal space. While I had intended to stop and take pics with lots of characters I found the lines to be much longer than I was willing to wait for.
Running through the castle is truly amazing. Even though having the fake we're-doing-construction walls will always be a bummer to me. Mile 6 was at the transition to Liberty Square and into Frontier Land. We were then led out of the park through a parade entrance/exit. The next mile or so was entertained by multiple character photo shoots and more crowded roads. This is where it all got boring, and difficult.
I was feeling great up through mile 9! Then at about mile 9.5 it went downhill for me. Not literally, that would have been nice, it went downhill physically and mentally. First problem: at around mile 9 I thought there was a water stop up ahead so I ate some Cliff Shot Blocks for energy. They are a thick gummy/fruit snack type chew. They need to be followed with water for sure. Well, the tables weren't a water stop. They were a Gu energy hand out station. I didn't want Gu, just needed a drink. There was none to be found. I prayed a water stop would be just a short ways ahead. It wasn't. I'm trudging ahead and slowly it crept on....the dreaded side stitch. And it was on my left side. That's when the obsessing began. Was it because I ate all that sticky stuff with no water? Where is the effing water stop? It just kept getting worse. By mile 10 I was having to do a lot of walking. Finally did come up on some water but by then it was too late to save me. As the miles progressed I worried that maybe my side stitch was hanging around because I had been drinking TOO much water. So I started to only take sips and then toss my cup. Big mistake. Miles 10-12 sucked. They were awful. There were points where I felt so bad that if a golf cart had come along and said "Hey, jump on in. You don't have to run anymore!" I would have taken them up on the offer. Mile 11 or 12 had several steep and sloping overpasses to run. I had to walk them going up but did manage to take advantage and run the down portions. It was about the only running I could manage without wanting to die from left side pain.
Upon hitting the mile 12 sign I decided I needed to get this over with. I just wanted this event to end. I managed to stop walking and do cycles of 1 minute running and 1 minute walking. I continued to take a couple small sips at water stops and keep on moving. Finally, mile marker 13! We rounded a corner and there it was...the finish line! I was going to make it! I wanted so badly to start sprinting. Finish strong I told myself! But my legs just didn't have it in them. I was able to run, but it was anything but a sprint. I crossed the finish line with a time of 3:03:56. Even though I had said my goal was simply to finish, I secretly wanted to finish in less than 3 hours. But it was okay. I had made two bathroom stops and took multiple photos during the race. I made a quick visit to the med tent for some dizziness. I was expecting it to be my blood sugar when in fact it was my blood pressure that was too low. Note to self: actually drink at the water stops next time!
Following the race I gathered my friends. We all did it! I helped a fellow racer that pretty much passed out right on top of us. Literally, she nearly squished D's open banana with her back on the way down! Eeek! Medical staff eventually made their way over and we passed her off.
Overall the race was great. Disney provided lots of entertainment to look at and plenty of water stops and porta potties along the course. But I must complain about two subjects so that future Princess Runners can be warned. First off, I know they want to make it available to lots of people, but 17,000 runners is too many. The course was always packed and crowded and I couldn't run the speed I wanted to. I couldn't set my own pace or get in a zone. You were constantly dodging other people. It was frustrating. Secondly, at the end they provided water bottles and Power Aid bottles....that were warm. Room temp drinks. It was nearly 80 degrees outside. Who wants a room/air temp drink after running 13.1 miles? Especially the power aid. Cold=good, warm=yuck.
It's all good though....I got to proudly put my new magnet on my car! Woot! And yes, I wore the crown all afternoon :)
Check out the great giveaway for Punkeelove Headbands over here at Running with Sass: