Sunday, February 23, 2014

But I'm somewhere in that zone.... Princess Half Marathon 2014 Race Report


If you missed all my pre-race Expo fun on Saturday, check it out here!

After only getting to bed at 10pm last night, 2am comes really early! I stumbled out of bed, did morning stuff then crawled back in bed with a bowl of cereal. For some reason, my jaw was popping really loudly, and I couldn't make it stop! Later, Hubby made fun of me, referencing how Lily eats loudly on How I Met Your Mother.

Once breakfast was done, I dragged the family out of bed and began to get dressed. Since I wasn’t wearing a costume this year, it was easier to get dressed. I loaded up my pockets, put on my NubCaps and such and was ready to go. I was forgetting something – I could feel it, but I couldn’t’ figure out what I was forgetting.

Since we weren’t staying on property this time around, we had to (gasp!) drive ourselves to the race!  We left around 3 because I didn’t know what traffic would be like, or if the roads would be closed yet. It turned out that there were no road closures and the traffic was negligible – we got there by 3:15!  Luckily, that meant we got a pretty good parking spot I guess.

The quiet before the Princess Storm
Love the directional balloons - very helpful
I had to potty again, so I left the family in the car and headed in to the Pre-Race area. It was pretty quiet, as none of the buses were running yet.  Someone at Disney had a great idea and brought out lots of pool chaises for people to sit on. I just breezed past Bag Check and headed towards Potty Town.  No lines at all, I was in and out in minutes.

You HAD to go through a Bag Check tunnel to get to the Start - No bag = Any tunnel
On the way back to the car, I checked out the area (we didn’t walk around much last year – it was busy and too Princessy for Hubby!) They had a Food Truck out this year, as well as another place to buy Official Merch. 

Some prices more outrageous than others *coughOrangeJuicecough*
This truck had more substantial breakfast, like eggs and bacon
Of course, there were the Official Princess Half Marathon photo backdrops, but even at 3:30 in the a.m. it was busy! I found a smaller backdrop (that would probably later have a Princess meeting there) and took a quick photo instead. 

Generic Princess Background!
On the way out of the Pre-Race Area, hoards of Princesses were arriving – I looked at my watch; yup, buses are running now!

Here they come!
I headed back to the car and immediately regretted not paying more attention to where I parked. I ended up just kind of wandering around until Hubby found me! (I don’t think well before the sun comes up!). While I was gone, the Kiddo had gone to work making her race sign for me.

We hung out in the car for a while, until it was getting to be time for me to head to the corrals. We headed back in and I had my photo taken with MarathonFoto.

I'm FAAAAABulous!
After a few minutes of calming my nerves and telling me I am awesome, Hubby and the Kiddo gave me a hug and told me to get going. 

Tooch and smize!
Hubby and the Kiddo took off as well, going to their spectator spot. 

Hubby's spectator spot (when he looked straight there were no vehicles)
I cut through a bag check line, pottied one more time then made my long trek to the corrals.

Sooooooooo many potties! I love the balloons WAY above the potties (easy to spot)
Last year, there was only like 10 corrals. This year, it went all the way to something like P, so there were a lot more women getting lost. I saw lots of people turn the wrong way, then have to backtrack, or cross over medians and whatnot. Chaotic, but not too horrible.

Have a Magical Race!
That's me!
Chaos at Backstage Road
I found my corral (J) and… well… I used the classic Disney Line Cutting Excuse – “I need to meet up with my group”… at the front of the corral. Yeah – I shoved right up there as far as I could go.  I was determined to see NO ORANGE FLAGS this time that I line-jumped a bunch of princesses. Do I feel bad? No.

Corral J Location Balloon
Once I found a spot I could sidle into, I practically hung on to the side fence for dear life! I didn’t want to lose my good spot. I was on the left, so the family would see me, and I was AT the fence, so I could use it to stretch.

I began chatting with other ladies around me, one an older lady and one a younger lady, bigger than me, who had never done a half-marathon before, and was talked into doing the Glass Slipper Challenge by a friend of hers. Both were very friendly, and I tried to pass along some nuggets of wisdom from last year (like the flags, the Balloon Ladies and Bike Men).

Belle (with the ribbon) was the newbie
While I was standing there, a few different ladies came up to me and asked if they could take a picture of my shirt. I didn’t have time (or money) to come up with an actual costume for this race, but I was able to make an iron-on for a slub tee from JCP. The back of my tee said “All our dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them” – one of my favorite Walt quotes.  I thought it was cool that fully-costumed princesses were impressed by my shirt.

Iron-On from Dollar Tree...$1   Glitter from Walmart...$5     Tee from JCP... $6     Awesome race shirt.... Priceless
 Soon enough, the wheelchair racers started, then the Elite racers, and then each corral was sent off, each with their own fireworks. Waiting for our corral is one of the most nerve-wracking things ever. I’m always like “comeoncomeoncomeon!!!!!”

I got a long time to wait...
Almost There!!!!!!!!
Sir Rudy of the Skinny Jeans
OMG, let's GO already!
At about 6:12, Corral J was sent off with a bang, and I was running the PHM again!  It began misting again right before we took off, and the rain showed up in a lot of my early photos. It felt good though!

Corral J takes off!
I set my intervals that time to 60/90 and they were doing pretty well. I was able run and pass some people (if the crowd was clear enough). I felt bad-ass by going around on the right, in the grass. I didn’t have to “On Your Right” too many people, luckily! I made sure to hold up my hand when I started my walk intervals so that no one would run into me.

Even my race photos are sparkly!
Now that I know the course, Mile 1 came really quickly. Mickey was the first mile marker.

That is Gun Time, not Amy Time. 
It was getting hot and muggy now, but I made it to Mile 2 while it was still dark!

Less sparkly, more muggy
Cap'n Jack's ship
Turning onto World Drive, and heading towards the Parking Plaza (way in the distance), it was beginning to brighten, and I could see the Monorail slicing through the fog.  I love waving at the Mono, especially during the race, so I did again and finally realized what I forgot this morning.

Can you smell that? 

Luckily (yes, I’m bragging), I don’t smell like a monkey when I sweat. There are some women who can bathe in deodorant and still smell like ass as soon as they sweat. I’m not making fun of you – that’s just the way it is. I’m not like that. Thank god!  However, I didn’t wave much after that!

I made it to the Parking Plaza and walked through, knowing that the first 5k checkpoint was coming up around the corner. 

Caution - Speed Bump Ahead!
I pulled out my phone and texted the Hubby so he knew where I was (he loved that I did this, since we have non-Smart phones that can’t internet and do runner-tracking of any kind).  Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of the 5k banner.

Mile 3 is right before the 5k Flag
Around the corner was the spot for the Lady Villains – where I bled over 20 minutes last year. I was NOT stopping this year, and it felt SO good to just blow by!  The line was HUGE! And there wasn’t even the same amount of villains as last year, either.

I think they had TWO lines going - one going left, and one going right
We moved into the Heroes parking area, with Richard Petty’s on our left, and on our right – the Tram Parking Lot. Can I just get in one of those and you can drive me to Epcot?

Empty trams
At the corner, past the trams, where Lightning McQueen was last year, were two actual race car drivers out with their cars. Cool, but not stop-worthy.

Into the TTC parking lot
Before crossing into the actual for-real parking lot, I stopped at that guard-rail to retie my shoe, then kept walking, passing over the Rapunzel section and heading in to the Transportation & Ticket Center. 

Straight on to the TTC
We walked under the bridge (woo hoo required at all tunnels) and came out the other side and there were the spectators! I love spectators! 

Under the road
Too bad they were blocking the Mile 4 sign though (dropped the ball on that one, runDisney… it’s on the wrong side).

These people probably ended up in a LOT of princesses' photographs!
I debated stopping to potty here, but it was very busy, so I kept going. The Japanese Drummers were up ahead and I love to see them!

They always look so happy!
At Mile 4.5, I texted Hubby again to let him know that I was on my way to the Water Bridge so that he and Kiddo could be ready for me at the Magic Kingdom. I was still doing my intervals at this point and feeling good. I had promised myself that if I did all my intervals until I got to Main Street, I could walk ALL of Magic Kingdom.  So far, I was doing good!

I can see Big Hand Guy!!!!  He’s up at the top of the Water Bridge, cheering us all on. Again, this hill was nuthin’!  I didn’t run it because it was too crowded and congested though. I picked up my intervals once the road leveled out in front of the Contemporary.

Tight area - only one lane to run in, and a tiny sidewalk on the left
In front of the Contemporary was a guy that had a sign that said RUN! And on the other side AMY! It wasn’t my sign, but I still liked it!

Here we are at Mile 5, and I’m going strong. I am feeling great, and ready to see Main Street! 

Around the corner, and backstage to Magic Kingdom
We turned into backstage, crossed under the train tracks, ran past Tony’s Town Square and out on to Main Street.

The buses drop off on the other side of this area
Train tracks!
I see it! Kinda....
Coming out!
 Of COURSE you have to run coming out of the gate!  But guess what? I never stopped running! I ran the entire length of Main Street, until I saw Hubby and the Kiddo way down at the end, near the Partner Statue. I didn’t plan on running it all, but I wanted THEM to see me running on Main Street, so I had to keep running til I found them!  Because of that, I didn’t stop for a Main Street USA “Castle in the Background” shot. I’m fine with that!

Runnin' right down the middle of Main Street, USA
Once I found the family, the Kiddo gave me a PowerAde, Hubby offered up a Bio Freeze (which I declined), then with hugs and kisses, I took off again.

Do I look like I just ran 5 miles? 
I got a quick selfie (hate that word) by the Castle Nook before heading into Tomorrowland. 

No I don't have cancer, I just have really blonde eyebrows
I chugged my PA while walking, looking at all the cast members and other princesses, taking in the experience again. There were restrooms open at Merchant of Venus AND inside Cosmic Ray’s, but I kept going. I may regret it later, but I was determined to see NO ORANGE FLAGS at all on this race. Last time I peed, Balloon Ladies slipped by me!

Tomorrowland, headed towards Fantasyland
We walked around the far side of Mad Tea Party and we were able to see the progress being made on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (I hope it opens soon!), and made our way into New Fantasyland.

Trees on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Pooh on the left, Carrousel straight ahead, New Fantasyland on the right
The line by the castle walls was crazy long! Who was meeting here? Oh, I think it was Princess Minnie and Prince Mickey. Maybe a few princesses, as well. Nope, no thanks!

Who would wait in that long of a line?
Around the corner, though, a beautiful castle awaited me.  It was crowded, again, but this time because of the huge crane behind the castle that was walled off (they were behind in getting the Dream Lights down…). However, not only were there the Royal Guard Trumpeters up there, but also the cast members from Cinderella’s Royal Table! Nice!

All the CMs from Cinderella's Royal Table are over on the left above the crane
 I got my castle photo, then woo-hooed myself through the castle, coming out the front. It was crowded enough that I had to walk, but at least there wasn’t a proposal this year.

Bad location choice, Amy
Going through the castle!
Good timing, princess behind me who took this photo....
I really need a better pose...
Running over to the family - what's up with my mouth?
Take my photo, you're eating into my PR!
I detoured left to get my Front Castle shot, then took off again, through Liberty Square, taking another selfie on the bridge. 

It'd be a great photo if not for all these women!
After Liberty Square came Frontierland, and my journey of kicking last year’s ass really began.

Last year, I took a pit stop to pee in the Frontierland/Adventureland bathroom. I’ve never been able to verify if I’m right or not, but I am pretty sure this is where the Balloon Ladies passed me. I don’t recall seeing them (or hearing women freak out about them) behind me while in the park, and I don’t recall seeing them pass me after my pit stop, so the only way could’ve been the bathroom.

I will not pee in you this time, potties!
I debated stopping, but kept going. NO ORANGE FLAGS!

I made it to Mile 6 and was still feeling good. It was time to bid farewell to Fantasyland and sneak out the back.

Um, what is she doing?
At the train tracks, I snapped a quick photo of the train and one of the Engineers (Conductors?). She’s so tiny!

I love that they have the train out, but the line was too long for me to stop
Backstage, you can see the big Mirror Float as soon as you get through the gate, and to my left, I heard another runner ask “What is that?” I’m a helpful person, so I answered “It’s one of the parade floats!” She looked back at me and basically said “I know that, dumbass!” and trotted ahead of me.

Celebrate a Dream Come True Castle Float
Uh, okay. Screw you, then.

I crossed over the 10k mat and grabbed some water, then texted hubby that I made it to the 10k spot.

10k done! Where's the water?
I found the water - look at the dumpster FULL of Dasani bottles!!
We left backstage and turned onto Floridian Way, and soon the notes of “Let It Go” from Frozen could be heard – I was halfway!!  Yes, I did sing along. While running a half-marathon. You got a problem with that? (I sang it pretty good, too!)

Can't hold it back anymore!
Oh, and as a little treat - here is a version of Let It Go... with goats.

Need a minute? Can you see straight again? Okay, so I’ve made it to Mile 7.

More than halfway, now!
NO ORANGE FLAG! Seriously, there is no flag on the sign! 

However, I remember last year, Nanny Poppins, Chimney Sweep Bert were out here and I was so pissed that I couldn’t stop. It was the ONLY character I wanted to stop for this year.

And they weren’t here.  This year was Fair Mary and Striped Blazer Bert. I really wanted to stop for Bert, but the line was just too long. If it had been Nanny Poppins, I would have stopped. I can see Fair Mary any time!

I love Bert, but not enough to blow my great time!
We passed the Poly and there were more people out cheering us on, including this cute pregnant chick and the Run! Amy! Guy again J

Her shirt says "Future Princess on Board"
So I kept going, getting to Mile 8 where there were a LOT of buses, but NO ORANGE FLAG!  I felt bad for the princesses behind me though – those buses were for them, soon…

Mile 8 - the third sweep area (after Mile 1 and 5)
At one point, near the Luna Cheer Station, I saw a bunch of survey stakes in the grass and I just laughed to myself. Orange flags, but these are okay.

AAAAAAAAAAH! Orange Flags!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The ClifShots station at Mile 8.6 is up next, and I looked around for Princess Volunteer Guy.

Way up there, the orange thing? That's the ClifShot stop
He was nowhere to be seen. I was actually a little sad not to see him. I was also sad because they were out of Vanilla again.  While I was enjoying my Honey Stinger (since there was no Vanilla), I heard a princess complain about the consistency of the ClifShots, so I offered up some advice: if you get a little in your mouth and chase it with water, it will form a ball (of sorts) and you can swallow it without having to get that goo all over your mouth. She just rolled her eyes at me. Uh, okay. Screw you too, Princess. I’m done being nice!

Mile 9 was back on World Drive, leaving the Parking Plaza. There was NO ORANGE FLAG!!!!!!!  At this point, I am trying to not ugly-cry. Mile 9 was really the beginning of hell for me last year. Sure 7 and 8 had flags, but 9 was where I got the “speed up or get on the bus” warning from the Bikers. To not see a flag at Mile 9 validated all my training this past year.

Mile 9 - Shit's gettin' real, y'all. 
Right after Mile 9 was the 15k mat, so I texted Hubby that I finished 15k. 

15k flag - 9.3 miles done!
At Mile 10, which is right before the first overpass there was NO FLAG!!!! That’s right, motherf&*er, NO FLAG! YOU ARE MY BITCH! I sent a text to hubby that said “Just made Mile 10 my bitch.” I also used the last little bit of juice in my camera to take a photo of the Mile 10 marker. At this point, the battery in my sad little purple Nikon has died (it’s never made it through a long race), and the Halo doesn’t fit my camera.  From now on, I had (had!) to take photos with my iPod.
Mile 10 - I did it!!!!
However, my iPod is also dying. Grrr. And for some reason, the iPod tip that I got from Halo isn’t working (even though I tested it out at home and it worked fine).  Luckily, Hubby had given me his Rayovac charger (the twin of the one I lost at Celebration last month). I was holding on for dear life to make sure it didn’t get lost!

With so many other ladies with me (there were still a lot of us), I headed up the 270ยบ overpass. I tried to stay in the grass, where it wasn’t banked as much, and much softer. 

It just KEEPS going....
And going....
And there are more women at the bottom, trying to survive the next mile
The Green Army Guy was up there, of course, and there were princesses doing push-ups. I was not one of them. I kept going all the way up so that I could look back at where I just was.

If I drop, I'm not giving anybody anything!
Over the side, I saw buses and Bike Dudes. I knew that down there, soon, a sweep was going to happen and those buses would crush the dreams of some princesses.

You can do it, princesses! Keep going!
Oh, maybe not...
However, I was not one of them. Not this time!  I kept going to the 2nd overpass (where I felt ‘safe’ last year) and made it to Mile 11.

Yeah, Mile 11!
NO ORANGE FLAG!!  I’ve done it! I finished this race with NO ORANGE FLAGS!!!!! I am so close to my goal! I can see the Epcot Parking Plaza from here, I’m so close to being on property that I’m tearing up again!

The Parking Plaza - such a wonderful sight!
We went down the 2nd overpass towards the turn-around spot. Last year there was a DJ and a JumboTron you could see yourself on, but this year, it was playing vintage Disney Cartoons. That kind of bummed me out, because I remember getting a surge of energy from the loud music and encouragement from the DJ.

Around the hairpin, I’m now facing the runners coming in behind me and finally, FINALLY at mile 11.5, I see the balloon ladies. Some runner screams “Balloon Ladies!!!” and all the newbie princesses start trying to run. I won’t lie, it was kind of funny to watch. Chill out, princesses, you are safe!

Looking at who's behind me after turning at the turn-around
There's still a lot of bodies back there
I see the balloon, but you can't actually see the Balloon Lady!
I tried to keep up with them, but at this point, I was exhausted, and they quickly disappeared into the crowd. It’s amazing how fast a 16 minute mile pace is when you are tired! I looked behind me again, and there are so many women still back there. I’m so happy!

Bon Voyage, Balloon Ladies!
We got to the Mile 12 Sign, which is backstage and I am so ready to just sit down! I’m so tired. Luckily there were cast members cheering us on, and it kept me going.

I wonder who had a meet at Mile 12 - there is a bunch of columns on the ground there
In to the Bus Pickup area at Epcot, there is Peggy Sue!

Peggy Sue is proud of me!
I had to stop and take this photo, though.  “D” is slang for “dick”. Generally it’s used in phrases like “She wants the D,” meaning she wants sex. I saw this sign and literally laughed out loud.

I don't want the D to hurt me
Because there are twice as many corrals this year, the park was already open by the time I got into Epcot. The park guests were stuck behind cones until a cast member would let them cross a path. Smile and wave, boys! It’s the worst parade ever.

20k - that is 12.9 - seems off.....
My favorite part of the course is coming up as I walked towards World Showcase. I LOVE looking back towards Spaceship Earth, seeing how far I’ve come (in more ways than one), and knowing that just on the other side of that big ol’ ball is the finish line and another medal and another goal reached.

This is my Castle Shot
How far I have come
I headed to the front of the park, and out the side where I was greeted by the Gospel Choir, then we were out in the parking lot, heading toward the finish line!

Comin' up on the Gospel Choir - and the FINISH!
Mile 13, I’m so happy to see you! But I’m happier to see all the GREEN because that means I’m on my way to the finish line.

Mile 13, baby! Only .1 to go!
Green grass, green bleachers, green fence - green means GO to the finish!
Finally, I’m in the last stretch, and as I write this, I cannot for the life of me remember if I ran or walked to the finish line. I think I walked. Who cares, though! I finished!

Move people, I wanna finish!
I finished my THIRD half-marathon!

Woo hoo! 
I started tearing up again, after I crossed the finish line, because I realized that I am awesome, and I just finished my 2nd half-marathon in 30 days.

Not sneezing.... Crying
Yeah, I just finished a half-marathon, what next?
I got myself under control quickly though, because the volunteers were handing me Chill Towels (I got 2), then I headed towards my family. I handed them my water bottle and my towels and told them I’d meet them in the Reunion Area.

I'm more ecstatic than I look
On my way to get my medal, I was given another Chill Towel. I used that one. I didn’t want to get my shiny medal all sweaty!

I got my medal and grabbed a few pictures from MarathonFoto on my way to the water.

It's mine baby! 
At the water station, they had water, LOTS of yellow PowerAde and a few blue PowerAdes that were hidden. I grabbed a water and 2 PowerAdes.

A volunteer handed me a deep purple mesh bag to put my water in. Bravo, runDisney – THIS is a great idea; keep doing this! 

After putting my bottles, Chill Towel and various stuff in my bag, I exited the runner area, with one more photo by MarathonFoto, then found my family. 

Official Finisher Photo
Hugs and kisses all around, then we had to begin the very slow walk back to the car.

In the car, I changed my shirt and we headed back to the hotel.  Traffic was pretty light (since most of the princesses had already left!)

Out of the 20,750 that finished, I beat 1,553 runners.

My 5k time was 54.10
My 10k time was 1.54.04
My 15k time was 2.54.06
And the Clock Time was 4.44.08

My official time was 4:14:13 – 141 seconds slower than last year. However, I attribute that to slowing WAY down after Mile 11.5 or so, when I knew I was safe. I met both my goals – no orange flags, and no balloon ladies til I was safe. Boom!

Up next…. Let’s Celebrate!