Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Princess Half Marathon Weekend

To say I had a great time at Disney’s Princess Half Marathon weekend would be an understatement.  This race is spectacular and all women, everywhere should participate at some point in their life.  Whether you want to run, run/walk or walk the 13.1 miles you will be treated like a Princess every step of the way! 
As you know, my dilemma last week was deciding whether or not to really run the race or blow of my time and just take pictures with the characters along the way.  I was still undecided as they called our Corral up to the start line.  I started off running and my first two miles were going great.  Then I turned onto World Drive headed toward Magic Kingdom and saw the huge pirate ship they had set up, along with Jack Sparrow and his Pirates of the Caribbean.  At that point I blew off my time and went into picture mode! 
It felt like I was breaking the rules whenever I pulled over to the side for pictures, I even waited in line for about 15 minutes at the MK for a pic with Minnie and Mickey.  Had I forgotten this was a race?!  It was a great experience and this race will forever be my “fun” race.  There are plenty of other races where I can work on time, etc., but this one is gonna be for the fun!  Plus, I can’t resist the pictures with the characters and how they say “Hello Princess” as you walk up to them!
Let’s get to those pictures…
I arrived in Orlando on Saturday morning and met up with my fellow Princess, Annette, and her husband Brian at the Fit for a Princess Expo at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports.
Before we even stepped into the Expo we felt like royalty with the red carpet arrival and a picture with Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother and Footmen.

The expo was packed!  The vendors were great and I bought a cute 13.1 charm from the Lift Your Soles booth, some Jet Blackberry GU and a new pair of Saucony sneakers.  Very successful shopping day!

Packet pick-up was also at the expo and we finally got our Princess tech tees and “fancy” mesh bags!

For our pre-race dinner we headed over to Disney’s Boardwalk and had dinner at Cat Cora’s Kouzzina.  Our dinner reservations were for 5pm… it felt like we were there for the early bird special!  I have wanted to try this restaurant for awhile and it did not disappoint.  I had the Kouzzina trio, which was a great combo of carbs and protein, perfect for the pre-race meal!

After dinner it was time to relax and hopefully get to sleep early.  A 2:45am wake up call was scheduled for Sunday morning – eek!  We got our race gear ready to go Saturday night.  When we signed up for the race we got to pick our favorite Disney Princess and her name appeared on our race bibs.  I chose the Little Mermaid, Ariel and Annette chose Belle from Beauty & the Beast.

Sunday morning started off with a coffee and a peanut butter crunch Cliff bar, my perfect pre-long run breakfast!  We were staying at Disney’s Port Orleans hotel and left for Epcot at 3:30.  We were parked and in the pre-race staging area by 4am.  I got my race gear together and went to check my bag.  Disney did a great job with this pre-race area…. Bag check was easy, clear to understand, not crowded, all really great.  At 4:40 they opened up the path that led out to the start corrals.  They say it is a 20 minute walk to the start corrals and that is not a lie.  This is the same set-up used for the Disney Half & Full Marathons as well, so make sure you are there on time!

We had to be in corrals by 5am.  I was really dreading the 45 minute wait, but we were entertained by the live MC and videos.  The time flew by!  The corral was not crowded so we were able to sit down.  They also really patrolled the corrals to make sure you entered the correct one.  Thank you Disney for doing that!  It was so nice to start a race with actual runners and not surrounded by people who start out walking.
Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother counted down to start off the race and waved us through the start line with her wand.  We were off!

Entertainment in miles 1 & 2 was a marching band and stilt walkers (don’t know how they can stay up there for so long!).
Once into mile 2 we saw the pirate ship; Jack Sparrow and the pirates; a hot air balloon shaped like Epcot’s Spaceship Earth; and the Heroes (which included Aladdin, John Smith, Prince Eric, Tarzan and I think the other guy was Snow White’s Prince Charming).  We also ran through the Magic Kingdom entrance.

Mile marker 3 had my girl Ariel on it, so I needed to take a picture.

We then passed Richard Petty’s Driving Experience.  Race car drivers were out front giving everyone high 5s.  Then Lilo & Stitch were having a luau party which also included the Polynesian Luau dancers.

Running through the Ticket & Transportation Center was next and it was filled with spectators – awesome!!  As you left the TTC there was a Chinese drum group.

We passed another marching band, I got a quick pic of the Contemporary Resort and then headed into the Magic Kingdom.

Running up Main Street toward the castle definitely made me a little teary-eyed.  It was my first time running in the Magic Kingdom and I loved it.

Turning into Tomorrowland there was Chip & Dale and then in Fantasyland I got a picture with Alice in Wonderland with Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum

Once I reached the backside of the castle I got in line for a picture with Minnie & Mickey.  I also took a picture of the Trumpeters that were there announcing our arrival to the castle.  It was fun to look around and see all of the other runners as well.

After running through the castle, we turned into Liberty Square and Tiana, Louis the Alligator and Prince Naveen were there.  Annette later told me that on the other side of the road were the Haunted Mansion ghosts.  I totally missed them!  I think I was looking ahead into Frontierland where I could see Jesse from Toy Story!

We made our way past Splash Mountain and headed out of the Magic Kingdom through a backstage area.  There I got my picture with Pinocchio, Geppetto & Jiminy Cricket.  Also in that area were the characters from Peter Pan and the Genie from Aladdin.

Next we were on the road that runs past the Grand Floridian hotel.  There was a Reedy Creek Fire Department truck set up.  With fire trucks come hot firefighters and they did not disappoint!  Annette later told me Aurora and her Prince were set up on the right hand side of the road… totally didn’t see them.  
Also along that road was Belle & Gaston, Fairy Godmothers from Sleeping Beauty and I got pictures with Cinderella’s coach & her footman and played some golf with Goofy.  Apparently running a half marathon wasn’t enough for me.  

Heading back down World Drive towards Epcot, there was another school marching band, we also  passed the Hess Gas station where they had sports cars set up out front with their “mechanics”.  
There wasn’t a line for Princess Atta, so I stopped for a pic with her.

I was able to get a picture of the Heroes and a picture with Jack Sparrow and the pirates this time around.

He was saying to me “Do you know what comes next?”… me “No”… him “Neither do I…”  that is why I look a little scared.  Just as quirky as the Johnny Depp character, pretty funny!
At this point we were at Mile 10.  Couldn’t believe there was only 3 miles to go!
Running up the ramp from World Drive there was a Green Army Man from Toy Story.

I also took a couple of pictures of the course, runners and volunteers.

Epcot!  We are almost home!

In the Epcot parking lot there was an all-girl rock band jammin' out and 4 characters set up right next to each other.  I got my picture with the mom from Incredibles, Meg from Hercules, Jane from Tarzan and Mulan (this one is for my sister!)

I took this picture of Spaceship Earth as I headed into Epcot.  There was less than a mile to go and I was so sad it was almost over.

Got a pic with Pluto (oops moved before the picture was done).  Phineaus & Ferb and Duffy Bear (who? yeah exactly) were also there taking pictures.

Needed a picture of Epcot’s World Showcase since this was where the idea to get into running all started!

A Gospel choir lifted our spirits at the Mile 13 mark.

Mile Marker 13!  The Finish Line!  Mickey & Minnie (again)!

The ladies from the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique were there to sprinkle us with fairy dust and then I received my beautiful medal!

It was so organized and easy to get around after the race.  Got my picture taken with my medal.  Had some water, powerade, a banana and got a Luna bar for later.  Collected my bag, changed into my flip flops and headed out to meet up with Annette and her family.
They had signs and a flower for me… thanks Giovanelli family!  Congrats Annette on your first Half Marathon!
Like I said earlier, it was a spectacular race!  Thanks to all the volunteers for their support and to the Disney Cast Members who took my picture along the way!  Can’t wait to do it again next year!


  1. Oh my gosh Heather! I love this! My favorite is the picture of you bib that says "Princess Heather." If they only knew how appropriate that was! :o) I'm jealous that you have awesome races like that to run...

  2. Fantastic pictorial....I felt like I was running with you...glad you had such a great time! Love, Carolyn

  3. Heather's here! AWESOME recap! I hate that I didn't get to see you.

    Looking forward to keeping up with your blog.

    Winks & Smiles,

  4. I loved your recap. Showed Lily the pictures, she really loved Jessie and Pluto! I definitely want to run this! It looks like so much fun! 2013 is my plan!

  5. I do not like to run, but I think I could get into it if I got to participate in an event like the Princess Half Marathon. Loved your pics and commentary. I think I may just have to start training! Thanks for the motivation :o)

    Kelly K.

  6. Love your race recap! I added you to my blogs that I am following :)

  7. This totally makes me want to run the Princess Half marathon! Great race recap!

  8. This is just amazing! Such awesome photos. I think the only way to do this would be to have a fun time, and not worry about time. A once in a lifetime experience!!!