Let me adjust my tiara….
I am, by no means, a writer, runner, or blogger, nor do I pretend to be one. I went to the Princess Half Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World for research and to “wog” (half walk, half jog) in the Princess 5K. I get asked about race weekends by my clients frequently, and I didn’t know what to tell them. I hate that. Until this point, I had no point of reference to draw upon, and didn’t know anyone who had been to pick their brain about it. So, I put on my big girl panties and registered in July when the race registration opened up. I only registered for the 5K.
What the heck was I thinking?! I’m not a runner. I hate to run. Always have. Why am I going for this? Why should I put my unqualified body through torture like that? Knowledge, that’s why. Knowledge is power. My clients - I love them. Many have become my ohana over the years. I want to be able to tell them exactly what it was like - right down to the nitty gritty of what happened and what I did over the weekend.
I have to start off by saying that runDisney puts on a quality production. From check-in and package pickup to the show floor where you can find anything and everything running related, even jewelry. If you left something at home, nine times out of ten, it will be there. Made some last minute purchases myself because I couldn’t find what I needed back home. I also have to admit that I’m a huge Disney Dooney fan, so I had to indulge here, too. There are special prints just made for runDisney events. This year’s print had the majority of the princesses on it on a black background. Adorable! Bought two. I’m so not telling my husband about those.
If you want to participate in these events, you HAVE to register early, as they sell out very quickly. If you want to participate, but running isn’t your thing, there are still many other ways to help. You can register to be on their ChEAR Squad. These people were all throughout the route, cheering us on, passing out water, and just plain old having a great time. You have to give these people a lot of credit - they get up before the birds to go and stand around, and they do it with such energy. I guess that’s par for the course being at one of these events and at Disney at the same time. How can you not be excited and have fun? The races are run so early in the morning that even the birds weren’t awake when we left to catch our bus to the starting line. The races have to be completed and cleaned up before the parks open to guests. The 5K started and ended in two different parking lots at EPCOT. Not sure of the others, as I was still asleep in my bed at the resort.
The energy of these races is palpable. Getting up at 3am was never so easy. People come in all sorts of get-ups, from traditional running/workout gear to full-on tiaras and costumes. Music is a must - my playlist kept me energized and moving to the groove. There’s music playing along the race route, but I had to rock out to my own. There are also character photo ops along the route, and it amazed me to see how many people stopped at these. The lines were huge for some, like Genie from Aladdin. I didn’t stop - I needed to keep my groove going and moving, or else I wasn’t going to make it to the end.
One thing I have to say, is that it definitely helps to go with friends. Not sure I would have enjoyed myself as much as I did had I been there alone. If you’re lucky enough to be in the same corral, they make sure that you finish together, or just finish, and cheer each other on. Mine kept me from backing out last minute, because believe me, the thoughts were there. We weren’t all in the same corral, but it helped to know that they were there. You’re in these corrals with hundreds of other people, so you have to really try to not make new friends or acquaintances with those around you. Some have run before. Others, like yours truly, were race virgins. The only downside I found is people coming from behind or from the side and crossing over in front of you. I can’t tell you how many times I almost face-planted because of that. What I was totally impressed with was the differences in the people that participated. You could tell those that run on a regular basis, but don’t let your weight stop you from going. I’m fluffy, and I was afraid I would be one of the heavy-weights there. Not so. Don’t let it keep you from going. To all my fellow fluffy fairies, princes, and princesses who are trying to get healthy - a huge high five coming your way! You have my utmost respect for being there.
If you have the time, and as long as you’re already there, you can hit the parks afterward. I must admit, though, that I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been considering the size of the blisters that I was awarded with after the race and walking all day in EPCOT. Everyone that participated in the race of the day wore their medals to the parks, and some even stayed in their race gear. They’re hardcore, these people, as I wanted out of my sweaty clothes asap.
Overall, it was truly an amazing experience. Would I go that far again just for a 5K? You bet. These are not your ordinary races. You’re at Disney, in February, in warmer weather than what you left at home. Nothing Disney does is ever half-way. They and runDisney put on a quality event. Would I ever consider doing the 10K or half-marathon? Probably not - my knees would never make it. They’re ok with the 5. Racing is not for the feint of heart. I dedicated my finish to my dad, who we lost in December 2014. He would never have believed that I would do something this far out of my comfort zone.
So let me adjust my tiara again, and add some devil horns, because someone’s been bitten by the runDisney racing bug…
Patti Casas is an Independent Agent of Fairytale Adventures Travel. She is the founder of Ohana Sunscapes Travel. She specializes in family and luxury travel. Patti can be reached at Ohanasunscapes@att.net.