Thursday, February 28, 2013

2013 Princess Half Marathon - The Whole Thing!

Did you miss Part 1 of my Race Report? Go check it out!


WARNING - THIS REVIEW IS LONG. 
NO, I MEAN IT, IT'S LOOOOOOOONG!

Start – Mile 1
I saw Hubby and The Child by the fence and waved, just in case he could get a shot of me (and The Child was recording the whole thing with her little red camera).  In hindsight, I should have gotten him the zoom lens…. Oh well!

See the reflector to the right of the cone? I'm the purple blurb above it.
I pulled to the right, as walkers are supposed to, and realized that I forgot to actually START the Garmin!  I started it, and began to observe the other racers.  My plan was to walk for 20 minutes to get warmed up, since it was so crowded,  and then begin my intervals.  As I walked, I saw lots of girls – and guys – heading to the woods to pee.  

I can’t imagine needing to pee so quickly after starting a race, especially knowing that there would be a pottie in less than a mile, but some people’s plumbing are different from mine. I just giggled as they ran back up the embankment, adjusting costumes and whatnot. 

Seems weird, but ok!
Someone tapped me on the shoulder and said“Team Ted!”  Another Posse Princess. She said her name was Sue. Her interval timer went off and she was gone.   


The Mile Marker 1 sign came very quickly – you could hear lots of the runners say “Are we at 1 already?” 

Mile 1 – Mile 2
Passing the first mile felt good. It was still dark, and we all still had our adrenaline-heightened spirits up, so going around the bend to World Drive wasn’t too big a deal. Something happened to one of the runners – she was on the side of the road in the grass with Medics. One of the medics kept yelling, “Get off the grass! Get on the road!” to warn runners – otherwise they (the patient and medics) would have been trampled! 

Hey, who wants to go to the Magic Kingdom?
This mile was one of the miles I was really looking forward to.  Cap'n Jack, The Heroes, and of course the parking plaza gate!  

Captain Jack Sparrow's boat in the background
Coming around the corner and seeing the archway saying “Magic Kingdom” made my heart skip two beats. It was so pretty, in the early morning dawn. I tried to get a good self-shot, but didn’t get all that lucky.
Those blurry lights on the left are the Parking Plaza!


Mile 2 – Mile 3
The course narrowed to only a handful of lanes, and there was a loudspeaker repeating “Course Narrows; Speed Bump Ahead” over and over.  I picked a lane and ran though!   

Crap, I forgot my $14 to park! Guess I'll have to walk through.
I gotta say here, honestly I was waiting to feel…I don’t know…different once I ran under the gate, but I didn’t, not quite. I felt accomplished. I felt like I checked something off on my internal race list. I don’t know what I was expecting to feel, but I know I didn’t feel it. It’s not a bad thing, just being honest in this recap. 

I'm gesturing to my cool Nautilus shell 'necklace' here.
Mile 3 – Mile 4
5k sign - only TEN more miles to go!
We curved around the Richard Petty Driving Experience and, again, “Course narrows!” man was advising us of the changes. The course narrowed this time because we had come to the first 5k mark!  Wow, 5k already? (She says as her split time was horrendous….) I snapped a quick photo, grabbed some water and kept going.
Yes, I stood in this line. Willingly. During a race.
Around the next bend was one of the two photos that I totally wanted to get – the Lady Villains! It was Maleficent, Evil Queen, Cruella, Queen of Hearts, Evil Stepmother, Drizella and Anastasia!  The line for this was HUGE!  Probably 30 deep. But I really wanted this photo, so I pulled over and got in line. One girl in front of me was SITTING! Not stretching or anything, but just sitting. I was mad at her, and jealous at the same time. Mad because I thought that she would cramp up and not be able to finish, and jealous because I wanted to sit down too!


The set for the villains was great. There was a skeleton pirate next to some gold, a few playing cards, fog machines and black lights, and great music.  The line moved quickly, as there were 3 or 4 cast members handling cameras, and each girl ran in, posed, and left.  After 8 minutes (8 precious minutes I really shouldn’t have spent), it was my turn. I ran up and told the ladies that the lineup needed more evil! I got my pic, they wished me good luck, and I was off again!

After the villains stop, I ran for a bit – my intervals had disappeared somehow -  and we followed the curve into the parking lot, headed for the Transportation & Ticket Center! 
  
The fence on the left is the edge of the Richard Petty Driving Experience
This was the first time since the start that there were spectators, and it was so great to see cheering family members, even if they weren’t mine.  It made me feel like a superstar, and made the race seem more real. Coming into the TTC, I stopped to take a pic of the cool Metal Mickey before we ran under the little road that crosses the TTC tram road. It was a little hill and I hardly felt it! 

Get out of the way! Trams will run you down!

Hi Mickey!
Available bathrooms right by Mile Marker 4
Mile 4 – Mile 5
Now we are in the actual TTC, running across the plaza, past bathrooms, and there, by the Monorail station, were the awesome Japanese drummers. It looked like there were at least 30 of them, banging away. It was great! 

I don't want to work, I just want to bang on the drum all day!
We passed them too quickly and after grabbing water, there was a med tent and a great guy handing out Tylenol and Kleenex. The Kleenex were all balled up, so I had to ask if it was a CLEAN Kleenex! He promised it was, and I tucked the Tylenol into my water bottle pouch and the Kleenex into my bra and kept on truckin.

The name "Kleenex" is a combo of "Clean" and the end of "KotEX"
I looked to my left, and in the foggy distance, I could see the Grand Floridian. It was really pretty, and I tried to get a photo of it as I ran by, but I don’t’ think it came out very well.

Look under the right part of the monorail track
Between this area and the Water Bridge, there were three HUGE human-operated puppets out for photos. Genie, Lumiere and Sebastian.  If it were darker out (i.e. if I was a lot faster), they would have been lit up, and even more fabulous! But, in the foggy dawn, they were still pretty impressive.

See the human? He's in yellow to blend in.
Unfortunately, the lines (especially for Sebastian) were way too long, so I snapped a pic as I passed by.


Okay, so here it is, ladies.

The Water Bridge Hill. 

Many racers bemoan this part of the course because of the incline of this hill.  We got another “Course Narrows!” warning, and then we were funneled into ONE lane (so that the road could still be passable by vehicles).  I tried to stay on the right, like walkers are supposed to, but speedy princesses kept trying to run on my right, between me and the cones.  Seriously, girls, this is NOT the place to do that! 

Seriously - that is WATER up there, not an overpass
On the Water Bridge, there was a guy (DJ? I don’t know who that guy was) with HUGE Mickey hands dancing along with music, pumping up all the runners. He looked like he was having a great time, but I was focused on this hill, so I didn’t pay too much attention to him.

I've got a hankerin' for a spankerin'!
Those of you who know me, know that I’ve been running on 8th Avenue, home of one of the steepest hills in my town.   

Every Sunday, when I did my long run, I hit this hill.  Some of my longer runs, I hit this hill, or equivalent hills, multiple times.  And yet, I was still worried about this hill.  The internet has a way of making things seem so much MORE than they are.

Gazillions of gallons of water over my head right now.
This hill ain’t shit.

Seriously. 

When I walk the 8th Avenue Hill, I am cussing God and running out of breath ¾ of the way to the top, and practically leaning backwards when I walk down.  

The Water Bridge Hill was maybe half that bad, maybe half of the intensity of my hill. Conquering that hill and making it out the other side to see the Contemporary… well, it was a crowning moment for me. I hadn’t made it MK yet, I certainly hadn’t finished the race yet, but doing that hill, that wasn’t as bad as I thought, it made me feel accomplished.  Like, all this training was leading me somewhere bigger than the finish line. I don’t know how to put it into words…. It was my personal “Rocky” moment, I guess.

Anyway, I made it to the top of the hill and saw Space Mountain and the mile 5 marker, right before we curved into the Magic Kingdom backstage. 

Look at all the bodies!
Great Sign - It said "Run Pretty Girls"!
When else can you get this close to Space Mountain?
There was a cop directing traffic, and his sign said “slow” pointed towards us. I thought it was funny and had to take a photo of it, after I took a photo of the Mile Marker sign (a bad photo, I might add!)

Yeah, I am slow - what you gonna do about it?


Mile 5 – Mile 6
Coming in to Mile 5, I looked at my camera and saw how dead it was. I didn’t have much juice left and I was only 1/3 of the way through the race! Oh no!  I wanted to make sure that I had enough battery power left to get my Castle Shot, so I didn’t take nearly as many photos in MK as I wanted to.  

We came onto property and ran under the WDW Railroad tracks, which was pretty cool, and then we were behind Tony’s Town Square. 

It would have been cool if a train was here....
Tony's is on the left; the Chapeau is on the right
But, looking past backstage, we could see the tops of City Hall and the Train Station, AND THE CASTLE! Oh, glory, I’ve made it here! 

I see the castle!!!!
Another stop on the “Holy Shit, this is real and I’m really doing it!” road, was coming through the gates by The Chapeau and turning onto Main Street. This is one of the BIGGEST draws of the race for lots of the runners. Some women say, "As long as I make it to the Castle..." (in regards to not being able to finish the entire race). I came around that corner and saw the castle and …

nothing. 

"I'm walkin' right down the middle of Main Street, U.S.A.!"
All the times I imagined this moment, I welled up with tears. When I actually DO IT – nothing. Sure,  I was very happy to be doing it and I was very proud of myself, but there was no “I’m gonna cry right now!” feeling.  Weird. I think maybe it was because, as I walked down Main Street, I was scanning the crowds for Hubby and The Kiddo. 

I did stop about halfway down Main Street, near The Plaza, and asked a few different voluntEARS to take a photo of me. Once that was done, I saw Hubs near the Hub, and I made a beeline for him! He asked questions, but damn if I can remember them now!  The Kiddo dug out a PowerAde for me. 

Note that even my backpack matches my Ursula costume!
I gave her my packet of Kleenex that I’d been carrying around – the plastic package kept slipping out of my SparkleSkirt pocket, and it was driving me crazy. I got hugs, then let Hubby take a pic of my with the good camera,  and then I headed to Tomorrowland.

What a half-assed pose!
Can I take a moment to hit the PeopleMover? No? Okay...
Once we got into Tomorrowland, there was a lot more space to spread out, and it wasn’t nearly as claustrophobic. I chugged the hell out of that PowerAde and it was gone by the time I got to Monsters Inc Laugh Floor.  Rounding the corner by Merchant of Venus (not Mickey’s of Venus, as was pointed out to me later that weekend!), I debated a restroom break, but the lines were long, and it looked like a CM was NOT letting women into the men’s room. I held it and kept going. 

I saw that Buzz was meeting, but he wasn’t worth stopping for (Sorry, Buzz! Maybe next time).  We came into the beginning of Fantasyland, and I eyeballed the potties by Cheshire CafĂ©. Nah, too far off the route, and I couldn’t tell if they were ‘in play’ or not.  I kept going. There’s a castle up there, and 364 days of this year, it may have Cinderella’s name on it, but today, it has MY name on it.

Before we got near the new castle walls, I saw two ladies in front of me, wearing pink shirts and tutus.  On the back of their shirts was Sweet Brown, the internet meme lady who “ain’t got time fo dat!”  Of course, I had to get a photo of them!

Ain't nobody got time to make a GOOD tutu!
We turned near Winnie the Pooh, and OMG the lines for Gaston and Belle were horrific!  Gaston’s was about 1/3 of Belle’s, but there was NO WAY I would be able to wait in those lines. 

As a character stop, it's intimidating - oh what a line! Gaston!
I tried to snap a few pics with my dying battery before coming down the home stretch to the castle’s back door. I pulled to the side and got another shot, and took a few of the Royal Trumpeteers and readied myself to run through the castle. 

You wouldn't have seen it if I didn't point to it!

I LOVE this photo!!
 There was no running to be done. 

Mooooooooooooooo
There was a HUGE bottleneck in the castle tunnel.  People were off to the sides taking photos with the mural. People were off to the other side getting Fairy Dusted by Fairy Godmothers in Training. There was just no way that anyone could run through that. It was like Main Street after fireworks on the 4th of July.   

Nonetheless, the Woo Girls could not help themselves, and there was lots of Woo-ing as we passed through the tunnel and came out the front.  MarathonFoto was at the exit of the tunnel to catch runners, but because there were so many people, and I was trying to stay out of everyone else's shot, I never got a photo of ME coming out of the tunnel!

  
Pay no attention to the villain behind you....
But I knew exactly where to go – to the LEFT! MarathonFoto had a half-dozen photographers camped out in the Castle Forecort to get photos of the runners individually in front of the castle.

Photo courtesy of MarathonFoto - I still have no eyebrows...
My battery was almost drained at this point, but I was able to eke out ONE more photo, courtesy of the princess behind me (for the rest of the race, I had to use my iPod for photos.) However, neither that photo or the one from MarathonFoto was a good photo – did they both take a pic while I was talking?!? Oh well – it was the other of the TWO photos I promised myself that I’d stop for, and I did.

Am I flying? Am I bowing? What's up with the pose?
I saw Hubby and the Kiddo by the Partner Statue (behind the ChEAR Squad area), and tried to get their attention (thinking back now, why didn’t I CALL them rather than trying to yell?)  I wanted to give them my now-dead camera, but they couldn’t come up to get it. A really nice ChEAR squad guy took my camera and handed it back to Hubby, and, after one more photo, I took off, headed to Liberty Square. 

Stop takin' my picture, old man!
Speaking of Liberty Square, I could go for a funnel cake right about now! 
No?
Okay, let’s keep moving. 

Into Frontierland we go, and finally, I gotta hit a potty before heading out of the park. There will be no more real bathrooms until Epcot, and I sure as hell ain’t gonna stop at mile 12 to pee! I head to the potties that are in the walkway between Adventureland and Frontierland and there is NO LINE!  Thank you to DIS and my Posse for cluing me in to where the good bathrooms are. I slip into a stall and do what I need to do then attempt to pull up my sweaty, fully-loaded SparkleSkirt.

Have you ever gone to the pool or beach and had to go to the bathroom, so you go to the restroom, pull down your tank suit, do your business and then try to pull that cold, wet suit back up your body, doing that swaying/jiggling/tugging dance, to get that suit all the way back up?

Yeah, it was like that.

Oh, and a helpful tip – take extra seconds to make sure that your undies are up where you want them. Chafing in that special area isn’t fun.  Neither is trying to readjust while you are walking with thousands of other girls!

Someday the finish line will come
Mile 6 – Mile 7
The Mile 6 mile marker was near the Frontierland Trading Post. I snapped a quick pic before heading to that little walkway near Splash Mountain. I’d been here before too, on the Keys to the Kingdom Tour. I stopped to take a photo of the train with it’s Engineer and Conductor, but the line was too long for a photo (and by too long, I mean – there WAS a line, and I just know I’ve been going way too slow).

I think I can, I think I can!
Backstage again.  There’s a huge warehouse back here, where they store the parade floats, and all but one of the floats are currently in storage. The best float, though, is out in full view – the mirrored, multifaceted Castle float!  Right now, Aurora and Prince Phillip are meeting and the line is almost obnoxiously long. (I heard that Cinderella and Prince Charming, and Snow White and Prince Charming also had sets here) Again, I snapped a pic as I walked by. 

Aurora & Phillip (yes, they have names!)
Past the float, between what I assume is the show building for Splash and that large parade float warehouse, we come to the 10k mark!  I grab water and powerade, and keep on truckin’, on onto Floridian Way. 

10k Sign - 6.9 miles to go!
Floridian Way is VERY tight – it’s a two-lane road, and only one of the lanes are open (so that traffic can still get by).  Again, we have runners trying to slip by on the right, when they should be over on the LEFT, and it’s really starting to tick me off.  

Rounding a curve, I hear “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys. I hate this song.  Honestly – Keys has a good voice. She can play the piano well. But, really????  Stop with the yelling!

This song is SO much better with goats.
Seriously, go check out the video.
Now, go do it - I'll wait.
Oh, and don't be drinking anything either.
Really.
However, no matter how much I hate this song, it means a hell of a lot more to me now, because this song signified the HALFWAY POINT!  That’s right, just before mile 7, I reached the halfway point. Of course, took a photo.  One of my Posse girls said that when she got to this sign she screamed “My thighs are on fire!” Can’t not think of that now, either….

Also at this point, one of my headphones decided to die, so I had to one-ear it from this point on. Remember this – it’s important! I guess my headphones were getting as tired as I was. I was draggin’ ass at this point….


Mile 7 – Mile 8
Mile 7 is a blank to me right now. I don’t really remember a lot. There was a DJ, blaring that damn song, and there was a fire truck with some hot guys. Going by photos, it looks like Mile 7 was just before the Grand Floridian (you can see the red roofs - rooves? - in the background). 

Oh shit.

There are two people, on either side of the road, waving orange flags. 

Orange flags mean that you are behind pace. 

Behind pace means that the Balloon Ladies have already passed you.

Balloon Ladies passing you means that you are going slower than the required pace, and you can and WILL be swept if you can’t go faster. 

This is the first time in the whole race that I’m scared that I won’t be able to finish. I’m scared because I know that I have it IN me to finish, but I’m scared that I’m already too far behind to make up that time. 

The good news is that, at Mile 7, I was only 2 minutes behind pace.

Right after this mile marker sign was the best character stop ever – Nanny Poppins, Chimney Sweep Bert (Burt?) and a few ‘extras’.  I was actually PISSED that I couldn’t stop for this photo.

Totally stole this pic from Twins Run in our Family's blog
Well, technically, I COULD stop for the photo, if I wanted to A) run like hell for 10 minutes straight to get back on pace or B) give up and get on the Sweeper bus.  I wanted to do neither, so I kept walking. (Next time, I WILL STOP for that photo!!!!!)

See the lady in the orange vest - she is waving the flag. See the bus? That's the Loser Bus
Mile 8 – Mile 9
At Mile 8, the flags are still there!  I’m still behind pace.  At this point, I’m trying to figure out when the Balloon Ladies passed me.  They must have passed me way back in Frontierland when I was in the bathroom. It’s the only way they could have gone by without me seeing them or hearing all the girls talk about them…..

I remember passing the Golf Course, with it’s fun Mickey Golf Cart (ain’t nobody got time fo dat) and the Wedding Pavilion set up, with the men in gorgeous suits (ain’t nobody got time fo dat, neither).  My working earphone conked out on me, so I pull it out and have no music at this point. I wrap up the cords and stuff the earbuds into my bra (hey, my pockets are full, what can I do?)

A lot of the ladies around me are plodding along with their heads down, looking dejected and beaten.We aren't having nearly as much fun as we were 3 hours ago.

I keep going. 


Mile 9 – Mile 10
We pass the Poly, with their handful of spectators – by now I’m sure, most spectators have gone to meet their runner at the finish line. It’s just us turtles in the back…  I’m dragging so bad. And I’m mad. 

I’m mad that I’m behind pace. I’m mad that I didn’t keep up with my intervals (I don’t know what happened to them - did they stop playing on my iPod? Did I hit a wrong 'button' and stopped them? Did taking the headphone cord out to use the iPod like a camera stop them? I just don't know!). I’m mad that there’s a real possibility of my not finishing. I’m just mad. 

I’m trying to push harder, but by now, my toes feel like they are being shoved back up into my feet and my quads are fire (My Quads are on FI-YAH!)

Mile 9’s water stop also included Clif Gels.  Not one to turn down a freebie (and, I don't feel bad, they had like a thousand of them, and not a lot of runners to give them to!), I grabbed two vanilla, two razz and a citrus Clif Shot, stuffing all but the citrus one into my sparkle pockets.

I bucked the idea of “No new stuff on race day” and tried the citrus Clif Shot. It was great. Well, as good as those things can be anyway. I’ve perfected the art of getting a blob, then chasing it with water so that the goop doesn’t really ever spread around my mouth. It gave me a little pep in my step, and I pushed on, right to the Med tent, where I got a palmful of Biofreeze, which I rubbed onto my quads as I walked. I’m sure that was sexy!

Near the Hess Station (right before you pass the Parking Plaza), a Bike Lady rolls by and tells us that there is a HARD SWEEP at Mile 10. This means that if you are not to Mile 10 at such and such a time, you WILL be removed from the course, via bus, and transported to the Finish Line. These buses are called “Sag Wagons.” I don’t know why they are called Sag Wagons, but they are and I never want to be on one. (ETA - a little googling tells me that SAG Wagons are "Supplies and Gear" Wagons, and are good things.  It's the BROOM Wagons - the ones that sweep you off the course - that you have to watch out for!)

The Dreaded Sag Wagon - at least they are comfy buses...
We were told that we had about 11 minutes to go .7 miles.  I really didn’t know if I was going to be able to do it. I talk a big game about how awesome I am, but I think that those 11 minutes were longest of my life. I jogged til I couldn’t and walked til I could, the entire time keeping an eye on that bus, just sitting nonchalantly near the overpass.  It was already running, but idling in park. A few Bike People were milling about near the bus.  One Bike Lady kept circling us, giving us time updates and whatnot (“You have 8 minutes….” Etc)

I wonder now, in hindsight: If my earbuds hadn't died, would I have kept up with my fast playlist and not had to worry about the sweepers?  If not, would I have even HEARD the sweepers? Would I have been swept?  Hmmmmmm....

I kept my eye on the bus, growing closer to it. I swear to God, with the bus idling, it sounded like it was GROWLING at me.  Very unladylike cuss words began repeating through my head with each step. It turned into a cadence. Left foot "Mother", right foot, well, you know.

I pulled up even with the bus’ back tire and IT DROPPED INTO GEAR! Seriously, was it LAUGHING at me right now?

I’m passing it, here’s the driver’s side window, I’m passing it, and it makes that psssstt air pressure noise, but I’m past it!!!!!

I missed being swept by ONE MINUTE.  

THIS = DETERMINATION. 

After this Mile Marker, we go up a ramp to get onto that overpass
Mile 10 – Mile 11
Yay! I’ve passed the Sag Wagon!!!

Boo, I'm still behind pace, and Bike Lady says that we have 14 minutes to get to Mile 11. 

Okay, I can do 14mm (minute mile) pace. I’ve done that all fall. Of course, I’ve never done it after already going 10 miles in 93% humidity….

And even worse?  Mile 11 is AT THE TOP OFF A FREAKIN’ OVERPASS!  Cue Bill Cosby here – who puts a mile marker UP at the TOP of a hill? Sadistic bastards!

We go up the cloverleaf up-ramp, which seems to go on forever, I'm in "Get the hell out of my way!" mode, weaving in and out of the crowd, veering into the grass, running on the right, walking on the left, whatever I can do to get up that damn overpass. And when I finally get to the bridge, I look down and see the Bus of Doom, where I just was. There were no other racers there. The course had been swept. Again, this = Determination.

As we continued to Mile 11, all of us who were in a group together started complaining that we were so far behind, and were trying to figure out where the beginning of Epcot property was (because, as Princess Lore has it, once you are on Property, they will not sweep you).  This is also where I learned (duh) that the Balloon Ladies had passed us a LONG time ago.
  
Top o' the Second Overpass
Mile 11 – Mile 12
We make it to the top of the overpass (this was the 2nd of 3), and all of the Bike Ladies are on the side of the road by the Med Tent (just behind the mile marker sign). They are no longer riding their bikes, but only standing next to them.  I asked one of them if they were done chasing us, and one said that they were going to chase us to the end.  Not cool, lady. I'm one tired-ass princess who ain't got time for jokes.

I look forward, still trying to figure out what consititutes On Property at this point and I can’t tell. I’m pretty sure that Mile 11 is On Property, but I’d feel better if I KNEW that.  There’s no real line of demarcation.  As we passed the Epcot Parking Plaza (we are walking parallel on a separate road), I assumed that we are On Property. Still not going to let my guard down though, until I’m IN the park!!!
 
We took a hairpin turn from one road to another, then climbed the final overpass.  

Taken from the Monorail - entering into Epcot
We did it! We are ON PROPERTY!  

There are lots of cars coming towards us, exiting the parking lot – finishers and their families, going home. They are honking, woo-hooing and flashing their lights at us in Princess solidarity!  Some keep their windows down and blare music. Some shout words of encouragement. 

Thank you for encouragement, Mr Volvo!
It was really touching that, even though they were done and tired and sweaty and looking forward to a shower, they could still offer up support for us. 

There is a song called "Almost There" from Princess and the Frog - very funny, Disney. I'll laugh tomorrow.
Mile 12 – Mile 13
We made it down the overpass (lots of ups and downs at the end, in more ways than one) and into the parking lot, then headed towards the Bus Parking Area. At the end of the Bus Depot, was this great lady who is a member of the Pacebook Running Club on Facebook and comes out to all the races with a sign that says “Hello Complete Stranger! I am proud of you too!”  I’ve never been so happy to see a complete stranger in my life!  

Best Sign Ever!
I took a photo of her and thanked her for being there as a spectator, and kept going, entering Epcot’s backstage.
Headed backstage on The Seas side of the park
There were a handful of cast members back here, all very encouraging. There was one guy, drinking a beer, so I don’t know if he was a CM or not (!) who just kept repeating over and over “You are amazing! You are awesome!” He was amazing, and hearing that at that stage of the race was awesome.  

We came around to the back of The Seas, and there was a CM there saying “Nemo and all his friends say ‘just keep swimmin’!” and for some stupid reason, I holler back “Freakin’ bubbles!!” I’ve reached new levels of tired at this point, but it seemed funny in my head!

I wonder what that building is on the left?
Back onstage, we came out by Art of Disney, walked past Spaceship Earth and the Fountain of Nations, headed towards World Showcase Lagoon.

At least we don't have to go around World Showcase
As I round this planter to head to the finish, I pause for a moment.  


THIS is my Main Street. 

Yeah, I'm crying as I write this, so what?
THIS is my Castle Shot.

This moment, looking back toward Spaceship Earth showed me just how far I’ve come, not just in this race, but in this quest to rewrite my future. 

This moment, I can see how close I am to finishing this huge accomplishment. 

This moment, I can see loads of other Princesses fulfilling their quests, whatever theirs may be. 

This moment will be with me forever, and no one can take it away from me.

As with all races - glad to see I'm not last!
I get moving again after taking a photo and head back towards Spaceship Earth. As I pass girls heading in the opposite direction, I begin to cheer them on (though I may or may not have sounded like an angry drunk at this point – I was tired, remember!).   

One girl line-jumped, and came over without rounding the planters. She saw that I saw her and said “I won’t make it otherwise.”I could understand that on one level, but on another, I felt that she totally cheated HERSELF by doing that. Looking back now, I kind of wish that I crossed over to HER side and walked with her to prove that she COULD do it.

Thumbs up for still being vertical!
I am so tired at this point, walking back towards Spaceship Earth, but I still stopped to have a Cast Member take my photo with my “Castle.”  

In this general area is also where MarathonFoto got a FABULOUS photo of me with my “Motherf^&^er” face on.  If you looked up Determination in the dictionary, I’m not kidding, this photo would be there! I’ve never seen someone in such a sparkly skirt look so pissed off!

I am just SO over this by now, it's all I can do to hold myself up
We exited to backstage again, and here they were, the glorious gospel choir – everyone who does this race and blogs about it always talks about this Choir.  

You are now exiting EPCOT! Have a wonderful day!
I was hoping that they would be singing a song I recognized, because I had delusions of singing with them for a moment, but I didn’t recognize the song, and honestly, I wasn’t all that impressed with them anyway. Maybe they were just as tired of singing as I was of walking....

I wonder if they are from a school or church?
I kept going, I am so close now.

I kind of wish that the last 1/2 mile wasn't so ugly!
I can hear crowds.

I mean, it's so boring and ugly!
I can hear Rudy announcing names. I reach mile 13!
 
A rare smile peeps out from the grumpy face!
Mile 13 – Finish Line
Mile 13’s mile marker was right outside the gate we exited.  It says FINISH.  
 
I’m not finished yet.

I can’t run. I can hardly walk. I’m all out of get-up-and-go.

There is a song that I have on my playlist - I've had it on my playlist for more than 5 years, but it's never meant more to me than it does right now.  Yeah, it's cheesy and not everyone's first pick for a Power Song, but it's mine. It's "Ease on Down the Road" from The Wiz. Sung by Diana Ross and the late Michael Jackson.  They sum it up best:


Cause there may be times when you think you lost your mind
And the steps you're taking leave you three four steps behind
But the road you're walking might be long sometimes
You just keep on stepping and you'll be just fine.


I crossed the street and headed over to the parking lot where the finish line was. There were spectators lined up at the fence, cheering everyone on, but I had such tunnel vision at this point, I hardly remember anything but that finish line. 
  
I can see it - is it real?
I saw Mickey and Minnie at the finish line, and I debated stopping to get a photo with them, but said screw that. I can’t stop. If I stop, I may fall down.  


So close! Let's go!
I think I ran through the finish line. I may be imagining things. I probably walked through the finish line.

Looks like I walked
What is the most important part of that sentence, though?

THROUGH THE FINISH LINE.

I finished. 

I hope I didn't hit that chick in the head...!
I can’t put an exclamation point here, because, when I finished, I didn’t feel all yippee!!  I finished!!!  

I really don’t understand my emotions for this race. I just did the biggest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and I was like, okay, and…?

I think a lot of it was shock? Disbelief?  I just don’t know.  But….

I did it.

I finished the 2013 Disney Princess Half Marathon.

I am a FINISHER
Way back in 2011, when I saw that video on YouTube, and the first idea of possibly one day doing this popped into my head, I won’t lie, I doubted myself.

All during 2012, even after doing March of Dimes walks, 5ks, 10ks, runs in the rain, runs in Florida summers and runs in 30-degree winters, I doubted myself.

But I did THIS. I can’t doubt that.