Monday, October 13, 2014

Running at Disney

In case you don't already know... I love Disney!

I love Disney movies, Disney World, Disneyland, my fur babies are all named after Disney characters (Belle, Cinderella, Jasmine, and Simba), when I was little I secretly thought I was Ariel, and more recently, I have come to love running races at Disney.

I grew up with a dad in the Air Force, so we were always moving.  But I do remember the 2 times I went to Disney as a child.  The first time was when I was seven.  We lived in Georgia and took a trip to Disney World right before our next big move, which was to an overseas base.  Then we went to Disneyland for my twelfth birthday because we were stationed in California at the time.

In 2010, my friends and I decided that we should take a mom/daughter trip to Disney World.  So my 2 friends, our moms, and one friend's daughter went to Disney.

I had forgotten how much fun the Disney Parks were and boy had Disney World changed since 1990.

So of course, when we returned I was looking for any excuse to go again.

Then one day as I was browsing Pinterest, I found this.

This had me at the words "Disney Princess."  So I googled it, found the Run Disney website, and amazingly there were still spots available for the 2013 Princess Half Marathon. (the 2015 Disney Princess Half sold old in about 90 min)

Had I ever run a half marathon? No way!

Was I a runner?  Not so much.  I hadn't run consistently in about 2 years.

Did I care? Nope

Not only was this a crazy idea, but I convinced my mom to do it with me.

Run Disney Race #1 - Princess Half Marathon 2013

So we both signed up for the 5th Anniversary of the Disney Princess Half Marathon in November of 2012.  Which gave us about 4 months to train.

Then in January, Run Disney posted pictures of the medals for the Princess Race Weekend on their website.  Mom and I loved the 5K medal. 

So we signed up for that race too!

Royal Family 5K 2013

My mom and I had no clue what to expect at these Disney races.  Even though it probably wasn't the best idea to run a 5k (3.1 miles) one day and then a half marathon (13.1 miles) the next day, I'm glad we did it because it gave us an idea about what to expect for the half marathon.

Half marathon time.

I took exactly 2 pictures during the entire race.

This one was taken as we walked to the starting line.

The Disney races are so big that you are put into a corral, yes like cattle.  First the wheelchair racers go, then the Elite runners (the people who actually win), then the corrals A-?  In 2013 the corrals were A-H.  I was in G.

This picture was taken right as we entered the Magic Kingdom.

The Princess half started at Epcot, we ran down the road to the Magic Kingdom, ran through the Magic Kingdom, and then back down the road to Epcot, ran through a little bit of Epcot, then finished in the Epcot parking lot.

 Honestly, this first race was such a blur.

I was so nervous about maintaining pace, you have to maintain a 16 min mile pace or you can get picked up and taken to the finish line, that I was looking over my shoulder for the balloon ladies the entire time.

Balloon Ladies: carry balloons and position themselves as the last to cross the starting line, they maintain an exact 16 min mile pace.  Anyone that falls too far behind them is at risk of being "swept,"
 But there was no need to worry, I didn't get swept.

I went for an Ariel look, with my running clothes.
No way was I going to run for 3 hours in a polyester Halloween costume.  Although lots of people do, and they manage to look cute while doing it.  I would not look cute no matter what I wore after running for 3 hours.

I love this medal!

I was hooked on Run Disney.

Run Disney Race #2 - Tower of Terror Ten Miler 2013

This is Disney's Halloween themed race. 

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays!


This time we stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resort in a Pirate themed room.

Don't you wish you could sleep in a bed shaped like a pirate ship?

 Before you can run in a Disney race, you have to attend the expo to pick up your bib, packet, and of course shop around in the official merchandise and at other running related vendors.

The Tower of Terror expo was nothing compared to the Disney Princess expo.   This was calm.  
The Princess expo was a zoo!

 We met Jeff Galloway!  (this is my mom)
Jeff Galloway is a marathon runner, former olympian, and the official Run Disney trainer. 

He creates training programs for you to follow if you are training for one of the Disney races.

But before we could race, we absolutely had to go to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.

You have to buy special tickets to get in, but they have fun Halloween treats, merchandise, fireworks, and a parade.  

Totally worth it! 

Plus you get to dress up in Halloween costumes.

 We opted for themed running shirts (from Raw Threads) and running skirts (from Sparkle Skirts) instead of actual Halloween costumes.  Although I did wear cat ears to go with my Cheshire cat outfit.

These shirts and skirts are available at the race expos and online.

 This was taken during the special Halloween themed fireworks show with Disney villain music.

We rested all day Saturday, or at least I tried to.  Mom dragged me to Downtown Disney because she wanted to look at the Disney Vera Bradley bags.  Then once we got there, she decided she didn't really want one.  Seriously?

 Then it was time to race.

This was our first night race and it started at 10pm.

 Since I was Ariel for the Princess Half, I decided to be Ursula for the TOT.  This is another Raw Threads shirt and Sparkle Skirt.

These shirts are my favorite running shirts.  They are so soft yet moisture-wicking.

The back of the shirt glowed in the dark.  It was awesome!

 Even thought this race was a 10 miler, it was actually way more.

The hike from the finish line to pick up our things was at least 3 miles.

So I totally count this as another half marathon.

 The medal is the The Tower of Terror ride.  It glows in the dark and has a moving elevator.

We always like to get an official photo the next day wearing our race shirts and medals.

Everyone wears their medals to the park the next day.  It's like a badge of honor.

(Sadly this race is not on the Run Disney schedule for next year.  Hollywood Studios may be undergoing some renovations.)

Even though we probably went to sleep around 2am, I made mom get up early so that we could go eat lunch at the Be Our Guest Restaurant.

It was totally worth it!

 There are 3 different rooms to choose from. 

We ate in the Rose Gallery.

You order your food before you sit down and they give you a rose.

You set the rose on your table and it tells the servers what you ordered.
The servers push carts of food around.

I had the Braised Pork.

It was delicious, especially after all that running.

 And the Master's Cupcake with Lumiere's "grey stuff" for dessert.

When we finished eating we wandered over to the West Wing.

The attention to detail was amazing.  

Of course there was the Beast's rose and every so often lightning would flash and you could hear the boom of the thunder.

 So neat!

 The next day we took a taxi to Universal Studios to hang out at Harry Potter World.

If you're a Harry Potter fan, you have to go.  There is no question.

Try the frozen butterbeer, it is yummy!

 We ate lunch at the 3 Broomsticks.

And then meandered around Hogsmeade and rode the rides.

Run Disney Race #3 - Tinkerbell Half Marathon 2014

Next, Mom and I decided we were ready for a challenge.

So we signed up for the Coast to Coast Challenge.  

The women's Coast to Coast Challenge requires that you complete the Tinkerbell Half Marathon (Disneyland) and the Princess Half Marathon (Disney World) within the same calendar year.  The Tinkerbell was in January and the Princess in February, so actually we would be completing the 2 races just a little over a month apart.

I was so excited to go back to Disneyland that I actually packed my suitcase 5 days before we left!

 Run Disney has special New Balance shoes that can only be purchased at a Run Disney race expo.  I stood in line for 2 hours because I just HAD to have these shoes.  The pink and black ones are Minnie Mouse themed and have a picture of Minnie on the back.  The blue shoes are Cinderella themed, they sparkle, come with an extra set of blue ribbon laces, and of course Cinderella is on the back.

One big difference between Disney World and Disneyland is that at Disneyland, everything is within walking distance.  No crazy buses.

We stayed at the Disneyland hotel and then walked through Downtown Disney to get to the parks.

In the picture above, Beauty and Beast are both constructed entirely out of Lego's!

So were Buzz Lightyear and Woody!

In case you are not a Disney fanatic, like might not know that the castles at Disney World and Disneyland are different.  Cinderella's castle is at Disney World and the castle at Disneyland is Sleeping Beauty's.  

Sleeping Beauty's castle is smaller and pink, but still beautiful!

 One of the best parts about the Tinkerbell half was that the park was still decorated for Christmas!

 Gotta get my carbs in for the race!

Haha, just kidding!

 I so want this bench for our playground at school!

 Cars Land is amazing!

Ready to run!

I guess I was a blue fairy for this race.

The visor and wings came from an online running shop called Sparkle Athletic, the shoe pom poms came from ETSY, and the skirt was once again from Sparkle Skirts.  Are you noticing a theme with the skirts?

I wasn't so sure about running in those wings.  But when you purchase them from Sparkle Athletic, they send you a little card that shows how to attach the wings to your shirt so that they don't bounce.

I set out for the race knowing that they might very well end up on the side of the road with the other discarded costumes (Disney picks them up and donates them) before the end of the race.  But they were secured so well, I didn't even notice them.  Except when I ran past a guy and I heard him behind me telling his wife that he had just been "clocked" by a pair of wings...whoops!

So sorry.  Fairy in training coming through.

 This race went through the parks first.

We definitely ran through more of the parks in this race than any other I'd done.  Yay for real bathrooms!

 Castle selfie!

Everyone else was doing it so I joined in.

 I call this my "determined" look, or probably more accurately, my "I want to be finished NOW" look.  I was almost finished.  I had lost a pom pom, which someone behind me picked up and brought to me (it was around my right wrist but you can't see it).  No pom pom left behind.

My pom poms didn't hold up well, probably because I had done a 14 mile training run 2 weeks before while wearing them.  Mom didn't try hers out before training and they stayed on just fine. They were adorable and sparkly though.

 The race ended in the Disneyland hotel parking lot, so after I was finished I walked over to Downtown Disney and got a smoothie.  There is no way you could do that at Disney World.

This is my favorite medal.  The little Tinkerbell in the middle spins!

Gotta recover from all that running!

This was one of my favorite Run Disney races for many reasons:
  • California is so much more laid back than Disney World. 
  • Everything is just a short walk away, no buses and crazy traffic to deal with like Disney World.  I walked out of my hotel and down the road to get to my corral.
  • The weather was awesome!! Little to no humidity and quite cool.  Perfect running weather.  I even ran for a little bit with a lady from Arizona who was wearing ear muffs, gloves, and running pants in 55 degree weather.  I personally thought it was perfect running weather
  • The race course went through so much of the parks.
  • There was such a community spirit throughout the race.  There were people on the sidelines cheering us on and handing out orange slices or red vines (I totally took candy from a stranger).  There were even local school drum lines, cheerleaders, dance teams, etc.  
  • The race course went through downtown Anaheim, as opposed to staying completely on Disney property like in Florida.  So we ran through towns and neighborhoods.  There was even a lady sitting in a chair on her front lawn, in her bathrobe, cheering everyone on.
My mom and I want to go back and run this race again in 2016 for the 5th anniversary.  Only now the race is in May on Mother's Day weekend so the weather conditions will definitely be different.

Run Disney Race #4 - Princess Half Marathon 2014

This time we splurged and staying in one of the royal rooms at Port Orleans-Riverside.

The headboards light up with fireworks (lights) when you push a button on the wall.

 I actually came to this race with the intention of being Daisy Duck.  However, as I was walking around the expo the day before, I just wasn't feeling it.  So I bought a new Raw Threads shirt and headband, as well as a new Sparkle Skirt (this one has shorts attached underneath), and decided to be Princess Jasmine.

I was not so crazy about wearing shorts in public.  Let's face it, I'm red headed and the color of my legs would probably rival any ghost's, if ghosts were real or had legs.  And I don't exactly have a runner's physique.  But I decided I didn't care.  These ghost white non-runner legs had successfully carried me through 3 other races, so I decided to own it. 

Which turned out to be a very good decision because it was ridiculously humid and hot that day.  I would have been miserable in the heavy capris I had brought to go with my Daisy outfit.  

And these were the most awesome shorts ever!  They had 2 huge pockets on the outside of each leg.  So I stuffed my phone, some GU, and some Honey Stingers chews in one pocket.  And a baggie with my ID and some money in the other.  I never even noticed all those things were in my shorts.

 Mom and I before the race.

 We basically ran through a cloud the entire race.  Everyone was drenched.  I was so thankful for those shorts.

The woman behind me who looks like she is dieing totally photo bombed my picture.

 Even though I loved the Tinkerbell race, this was my favorite race to date.

I decided I was not going to worry about being "swept," which is usually nagging me in the back of my mind.  

I was going to have fun and enjoy those 3 hours of my life.

And I did!

And I have the pictures to prove it.

These are the official race photos taken by MarathonFoto who have photographers stationed throughout the race course.

Running down Main Street in the Magic Kingdom.

 Running down the side of the road between Magic Kingdom and Epcot.

When you make it back to Epcot, you know the race is almost finished!

 Apparently I felt the need to wave at every camera I saw that day.

At the other races there are usually about 10 photographs of me taken by MarathonFoto.  At the first Princess race I completed, there was 1 picture and I had to hunt it down by my finish time.

At this race, there were 30!

 Haha, I love those victory arms. 
I think the girl in pink behind me is trying not to die or she's just so excited that it's over.

And no, 4:08 was not my finish time, that would be way over a 16 min mile.  Run Disney starts the clock when the Elite runners take off, then each corral gets released 2-5 min after the one before.  There were A-P corrals this year at Princess, I was in L.  So I probably started my race 40-45 minutes after the start of the clock.

 Now it was time for my medals!

When I picked up my bib at the expo, they gave my a pink wristband, you can see it on my left wrist.  When I crossed the finish line, a volunteer put the Princess medal around my neck (the blue one).  Then I walked over to another area, showed a volunteer my wristband, and they gave me my coast to coast medal (the pink and purple one).

Yay!!! I had completed both half marathons!  And I didn't die!

So pretty!

Lots of people at these races say they run at Disney for the "bling!"

Run Disney definitely has the best medals I've ever seen.  And they are super heavy, as well as sparkly.

 After the race, and a shower, we ate at the Canadian steakhouse in Epcot!

Oh my gosh!!!

It was amazing.

Crazy expensive, but we had purchased the Disney Dining Plan, so all we had to pay was the tip.

I had a chocolate moose for dessert.  

So here are all of my Run Disney medals.

Sorry, not the best picture, and the shadow doesn't help.

It says "All you need is faith, trust, and a little bit of pixie dust."

This medal rack is from Allied Medal Displays.

They have Disney themed displays as well as regular displays.

I got this one for my mom because she does more than just Disney races.

It says "Coast to Coast and everywhere in between."

I just saw on their website that they have new Disney designs.

I think I need one of these next.  

I don't want my other medals to get too crowded, right?

Disney races are definitely not for everybody.
 The races are super pricey, you have to pay for transportation to get to Disney, hotel, food, and of course shopping (always a must).

But to me these are worth it for the experience.  I'm only going to live once and I want to make it count.
Where else can you run for fun wearing tutu's or other costumes, not have to worry about what size you are, or if you're the fastest runner?  Where else can you stop along the course and take pictures with Disney characters?  Where else do you get to run through Disney World and take a picture in front of the castle all sweaty but super excited?

Only at Disney.

Plus the medals are a definite bonus!

Next up is 

Run Disney Race #5 - Wine and Dine Half Marathon

Our next race is a little under a month away.

Actually we'll be doing 2 races.  
And this time friends are coming too!

We'll be running the 5k Saturday morning, it's Christmas themed and I just couldn't help myself, then the half marathon will be that same night at 10pm.  


A little nervous to do both races in the same day.  But I decided I will walk the 5k, sleep during the day, and hopefully be ready for the half that night.

And of course I'll do a race recap after the race.

Until then, I'll just be hanging out with my treadmill and Netflix.


  1. I need to get in shape but have absolutely no motivation. I think you've just motivated me... going to check out the Disney race info and see if it's in my budget. I love that your mom is your racing buddy.

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