My "gateway" race!

My "gateway" race!
My "gateway" race!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Disneyworld Princess 1/2 Marathon: chasing my crown!

Disneyworld Princess 1/2 Marathon
February 23, 2014

        My journey getting to the Princess 1/2 marathon did not start off magical, in fact, it did not end with a fairytale ending either.  A little background on this trip. As we all know, these Disney races sell out super fast, so this trip was planned about seven months in advance. My hubby, Jason (aka Prince Charming), got promoted to a new agency with the State. Awesome news indeed, what we didn't know was that he would have to go away to the academy for seven weeks and it fell during this trip. Let's just say bummed is an understatement of how I felt at possibly not having him there with me. I stressed, I panicked, I overreacted, and in the long run, he was able to come for the race, but only for 32 hours. 32 hours was better than nothing and I had no choice but to take it.

            The morning of my flight, I woke up with a sore throat! Oh no, knowing myself very well, I knew I was sick. Instead of resting until my flight that evening, I had to attend a mandatory waste of my time class for work! I felt miserable for the whole four hour class. I popped Zicam like candy and hydrated. Then after class headed to lunch with my work wife for some soup and salad. I came home, did some last minute final touches before leaving and took a well needed nap. I headed to the airport for a dreaded red eye flight. Originally, my brilliant idea for the red eye was to have more time in Orlando to explore and have fun with my hubby. That plan was foiled. I'd be all alone the first whole day and the last whole day.

            Orlando here I was all alone and the weather was gloomy just like I felt. I know people told me to expect this weather, it's just I've been here three times now and this is the first time I've seen it like this. Good thing I love cloudy cool weather. I got all settled in and went straight to the expo to try and at least get that out of the way, so that when Jason gets here, we don't have to waste precious time together. Score! I was able to pick up his bib and coast to coast bracelet as well as mine. I bummed around the expo for a bit. As usual, Disney has not learned to order more merchandise. It was only the second day of the expo and almost all of the merchandise was sold out or only had tiny sizes. Good thing I liked the race shirt and did not need anything extra. I came out of the expo and people were running everywhere like crazy. I had no idea what was going on. Then I looked around, it was raining. I had to laugh. I just kept walking, rain and all. I must say, they were the biggest rain drops I've ever seen! I was completely drenched by the time I made it to the bus. 

Fit for a Princess Expo

Bib pick up. 


       After eating at the newly refurbished food court, I settled in my room for a quick nap. My quick nap lasted for hours and was so hard that when my phone rang at 730pm, I literally thought it was 730am. Jason arrived in Orlando at 500am. I decided that since I was awake, I'd surprise him and meet him at the front of the hotel with a nice hot cup of coffee. I almost made it. In the dimly lit morning, I looked up just as this gorgeous man was turning the corner. I did a double take from the ground up and yes, it was Jason. I was so happy to see him, I just scoped him up in my arms for a long hug! It had only been a week since the last time I'd seen him, but that's just way too long to be away from someone you love so dearly. You see Jason and I have been together since we were 16 and we're sad to say in our 40s now. He's my everything!

            We enjoyed breakfast together after getting his stuff all settled in our room. Since he was only here for a short time, we took advantage of some of the free offers that came with our room. Why not! One of the free offers was miniature golf at one of the two Disney mini golf locations. We chose Disney's Winter Summerland Miniature Golf. It was a short maybe ten minute walk from our resort. We had so much fun. The whole course was Christmas themed, complete with Mickey and all his friends and Christmas music. We loved it! As usual, Jason won. What did I expect from a professional golfer? Ha ha. We had good times. We spent the day together doing whatever we pleased. I wished so badly that I could freeze time so we just had a little more together!

Disney Winter Summerland Miniature Golf

            I believe the alarm went off at 230am the next morning. I'm usually the one to continuously press the snooze button, but I was up and getting ready. I needed to be sure to get to the staging area early because I had planned a #run3rd meet up and group photo. Okay, this is not my first Disney race, but oh my gosh, I've never seen so many people in line to catch a bus in my life. Talk about stress. I was so stressed that I wouldn't make it in time for the meet up or photo. I was in contact with a few people via twitter and text for the meet up. The bus line was moving fast so I let everyone know, we were in route and may be a little late. Very  impressed with Disney keeping a constant line of buses loading up runners.  Great job. 
My Snow White inspired costume, thanks #TeamSparkle!

 We arrived to the starting line area and I was completely blown away by the volume of people. I had heard there was an estimated 26, 000 participants that weekend. We weaved in and out and made it to the meet up area, only to not find anyone. It was just so crowded with people that it was impossible for anyone to get there, even with continually texting people. I did find one person, Fiona, who I had brought her #run3rd patch for her. She got her patch and headed to her corral. With time pressing, we snapped a quick two person photo and headed off to find the corrals. I was a little bummed that our meet up was a bit of a flop. The walk to the corrals was at least 1/4 of a mile. The weather was already in the 60s and misty. I'm so glad I didn't bring a jacket with me and I was starting to wish I had selected a tank top versus a short sleeved shirt.
#run3rd Meet Up!

            The 530 race started at about 620 for us with the huge amount of corrals for this race. Jason and I plugged away near each other for only a short time. I got my goodbye kiss and good luck race wish. I knew I'd see him at the finish line much later. It's now Sunday and I'm completely sick. I was hacking and coughing, congested, and just not feeling well. I did my run/walk intervals for only a small portion of the race. I just wasn't feeling good. I just wanted to make sure I stayed far enough ahead that I wasn't in any danger of being picked up. I mean, I came all this way, and I was determined to finish to get my Pink Coast to Coast. I mean, that's the whole reason I came. Disney tempted me with another new bling! And we all know, it's all about the Bling and my collection needed this one too!! I must say, as much of a Disney fan as I am, that this was by far one of the most disappointing Disney races. This was a very boring course that was fairly flat with just a couple hills that consisted of freeway on ramps and overpasses. The course was mostly highway and left not a whole lot to look at while running. Plus the morning mist was so thick, you couldn't see too much ahead. You couldn't even see the castle until just inside the park. We barely spent anytime inside the Magic Kingdom and an even smaller amount of time just on the inside of Epcot.

Had to do it, me with the Castle!!

            How did I make it through the race? My dedications, that's how!! I kept thinking and repeating them in my head to keep my motivation going. At one point, I think around mile 8 or 9, I heard someone call out "Steph!" I turned and there was Molly, my new #run3rd friend who I had met Saturday and had happily shared some new #run3rd bracelets with. I had gotten the wonderful idea from fellow #run3rd Team Captain, Tracy. I decided not to make them race specific with Princess 1/2 on them. I was very happy with how they turned out. We brought 100 of them with us and handed them out throughout the race and afterwards.  Molly and I stayed together chatting for quite a few miles. We even picked up and did a few run/walk intervals until she wasn't able to because of some pain. After mile 12, I left Molly and tried to squeeze in some more running. I plugged away until the finish line, there I high fived Mickey and was so happy to cross. 

            I got my Princess medal and inspected it for damage, lol! I then made my way to the special finish area for the Coast to Coast medals. Disney had set it up a little different this time. I had to first get in a line and get my wrist band validated before heading to the next line where I'd actually be given my Coast to Coast medal, which I again inspected for damage. I learned my lesson from a previous race. In the past, a volunteer would cut off your wristband and give you the medal. Oh well, just one more step. Jason had been texting me so we could find each other and meet up. I quickly made my way through the no phone line, grabbed my drinks and food, and sought out my Prince Charming. We snapped a few photos, decided against medal engraving, and quickly got in line (another huge one) for the bus back to the resort.  There was not on bit of argument out of me about leaving quickly and getting back to the room. 

Snow White & Prince Charming!

            We made it back to the resort, cleaned up, shared lunch together, and then I loaded him on the Magical Express Bus to the airport. Thank goodness for sunglasses, so everyone couldn't see me crying like a baby. I cried all the way back to my room and in my room. I was so lonely, sad, and sick, that I didn't go check out the after party at Downtown Disney. Part of me tried to muster up the strength to go check it out, but the other part of me just didn't want to go out and do it alone. So, I stayed back in the room and tried to rest and hydrate and fight off this darn cold. I did the same thing the next day since I had the whole day there. I stayed in my room until I could no longer stay. I enjoyed lunch by myself and went outside to lay by the pool and relax in fresh air only to be rained upon. Ha ha! I was ready to come home, let me tell you!! 

            In line for the Magical Express Bus to the airport, I met the most amazing 73 year old woman, who I spent over six hours with. We chatted each other's ears off the whole wait for the bus, the whole bus ride, and even the whole flight to Dallas. Once we got to the airport, she insisted on having our seats moved next to each other. By the end of my flight, I knew all about her three grown children, her grandchildren, her husband, and her 40+ year career as a Nurse. She was so excited to find out that I too was a Nurse. Darlene was truly amazing and an inspiration. She ran the 5k dressed as Tinker Bell and looked so cute. I wish I had a picture to share. Darlene was as cute as a button, dressed in all matching clothes and accessories. She was spunky and full of life and energy. I pray at 73, I'm as spunky as she! I shared #run3rd with her and gave her a bunch of bracelets. She was so excited to share them with her daughter, who is the runner in the family. Thank you Darlene for touching my life and sharing yours!

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