Yesterday my mom and I finally got to see the new Beauty and the Beast film. As if you needed any more affirmation… it was amazing—go see it! Because of that, it felt just right to post this Disney Princess Half Marathon recap blog today! …and because we are already a month post-race! I’m learning that it takes about that long to get anything done for “me” around here these days, with constant pre-baby home + work prep, and I’m certain that’s not going to get any better once Gemma arrives! These last 9 weeks are certain to fly by!
The half marathon was #8 on my 30 Before 30 list, but it was listed to run “as a couple”. After we decided to bail on my 30th Birthday in Disney World, I was set on running the Princess Half to still get that bit of Disney magic in my list somehow. The other caveat to this item list was that it just had to be scheduled before my 30th. Sure enough, I made that goal, with little convincing to my mom in taking Rudy’s place (after all, it was the Princess Half… I’m not that cruel!), and registered us both on September 6th, 2016. Then, 9 days later, we found out about our little #tanbaby. September to February seemed like a lifetime away, so we focused first on growing a baby, and second, the half.
Training for the Half Pregnant
Although admittedly a little nervous at first, after our previous track record, I was reminded over and over again that exercise is good for baby + momma. At 14 weeks, I began “training” for the half, knowing that I would be mostly walking with my mom, who is “not a runner”. She does walk at a super-sonic pace though! I focused on getting my walking pace up, and when I “ran” I made sure I was never faster than a 13/min mile. Our goal was just to finish, and not get swept by the balloon people!
I absolutely loved reading blogs about moms-to-be and their strategies about tackling a half marathon pregnant, so if this blog gives confidence to just one person, it is worth it! First, I’m not a doctor (duh), so make sure your doctor approves you exercising first and foremost. At my 20 week evaluation, I asked my nurse about the distance and she said “well, it seems like you’ve already been doing this for a while, so it should be fine, but if it hurts… stop.” Easy enough advice, right? Also, she told me my cervix measured “long”, so I had a slim chance of going into pre-term labor. Excellent bonus!
Second, I had already done two halfs before this one, and I would say my “favorite exercise” is running. I did cross country in high school, and made a New Years Resolution in 2011 to run a 5K every month (and kept it!), and no matter how out of shape I have let myself get in my old age, I’ve wanted to always be able to go out and run a 5K at any point. I’ve successfully done that, so far. 🙂 I feel like my body quickly remembers and adapts to running, just like muscle memory. If you’re a yoga person, and not a runner, maybe this goal isn’t for you. 🙂
Below is my progression of training, skipping a few of the shorter runs (and runs I forgot to take a picture!), but this was it! I listened to my body and on days where I wasn’t feeling it, I went slower. (see Week 21 + 24) I took more time off in between long runs in order to let my body heal, and make sure everything still “felt good”. I used my music to help me pace, and would generally walk a song, and then jog a song. It helped me to switch up the motions of my stride, and honestly, the jogging felt easier to me because it was what I was used to.
My mom and I did our 8 mile run together, where we had previously been doing our separate things. She is a walker, so I walked a lot more than normal that day. At mile 7, I started to have some serious hip pain, so we slowed down—and when we finished, my hip was pretty much locked up. The pain got worse the following days, so much so that I thought I might have to bail from the race. I couldn’t get in and out of my car without wincing. I saw my chiropractor, and talked to my nurse. They both said it was a natural occurrence of my body starting to “relax and expand” for baby. I decided at this point that I would be willing to bow out at any time during the race, and that my mom needed to be mentally prepared to go on without me. Safety for me and the baby was more important than any list or goal. Luckily for me, it seemed like after my 2 week rest period, I had just had a hormone surge, and my hips were back to normal!
We did our 10 mile run on Valentine’s Day, and that was the last of it! Some people will tell you differently, but I’ve never done more than 10 when training for a half. During this run, we worked on keeping our blood sugar in check (I used jelly beans!) and I did a lot more walking than jogging (1 jogging song to 2 walking songs) because I was really starting to feel the weight of my belly.
I did invest in a belly support shirt called Fitta Mamma. I wore from about 21 weeks on. It made me feel a little better about my belly not bouncing around as much, and grew with my growing belly. Also, Victoria Secret bra for the win.
On February 26, 2017 we tackled the Disney Princess Half Marathon! Sadly, I forgot to take a belly picture, but you’ll see it in all of the pictures to come. 🙂
Disney Princess Half Marathon + expo Breakdown
Saturday morning, we went to the Wide World of Sports to gather our race bibs, and t-shirt. The bus system to and from the Wide World of Sports was pretty seamless, but we tried to go directly from the Expo to Downtown Disney and it wasn’t possible. You have to take the bus back to your resort first to go anywhere else… kind of a bummer.
The bib pick-up was painless, and even though we had printed out our forms, we left them in the room, but never fear!—they have computers and printers to print out the forms right there. Super quick. We got our bibs, but had to be directed over to the “real expo” for our t-shirts. Holy overwhelming!
We did get our shirts, and I ordered a Large, but it looked tiny! My mom ordered an XL, and we both wanted to trade up. Unfortunately, I think everyone thought the same thing because there weren’t any larger sizes available. Next time, I would order a size larger than I normally would because they are running shirt material.
As you see, the shirts fit… but I would definitely not be running in that tiny tee! We walked around the expo for a bit, with our friend Shonda, but ultimately just decided on this one photo ops with the promo for the new Disney movie! There’s no real Disney photographer there, but everyone would just pass their phones back to the folks behind them and it worked out just fine.
Sunday was race day! I’ll be the first admit that I was most nervous about 2 things: Waking up and having my normal “morning routine” and eating breakfast at 2:30am, and bathroom stops along the route. I had planned on eating a full peanut butter topped bagel (I packed my own bagels, toaster and peanut butter!), but I was only able to eat half because it was so darn early.
We got on the bus at 3:30am, no waiting at all. When we got to the race site, we ended up at the “morning party” and really had no clue where to go or be. There were bathrooms, music and people just sitting on the ground everywhere. Luckily, the DJ announced soon after we got there that we could start making our way to the corrals. I think the walk to get there could have been a mile itself! Once we made it to our corral, we took a seat and waited (and waited). Although we were there for a long time, we did take turns going to the port-o-potties (that were impressively clean, but dark!) and were generally thankful that we were there early. We saw people RUNNING to make their corral before it went off, and the race was even delayed 30 minutes because of traffic. I’d much rather not be panicked when about to run 13.1 miles.
When the first corral went off at 5:45 or so, everyone stood up and we got our one and only picture as “Cinderella and her Fairy Grandmother”. Mom ditched her bow soon after the second mile, and so we totally failed at glorifying our costumes. My shirt has a clock striking midnight on the front, and a “Princess on Board!” sign on the back. No pictures of that… whoops!
Finally, it was our turn! We went off around 6:40 or so, and the sun was well-up by then. I knew there were some landmarks along the way, so I was glad to see the entrance to Magic Kingdom, and the Contemporary as our first marks! Then, of course, the castle and Main street!
After we ran past the right side of the castle, we were both needing a bathroom. We knew not to stop until after the 5 mile mark because of the wait times, and because in the park you could use a real bathroom. I would say this was our biggest mistake! We picked the first bathroom, just inside of Tomorrowland, and we waited there for probably 20 minutes, which is a whole mile for us!
In hindsight, the port-o-potty lines looked long, but there were much more of them than stalls. At this point both of our RunKeepers were freaking out, and didn’t actually pause. In fact, moms thought she was running faster! She was forced to restart hers once we made it to the next mile marker. And mine just thought my distance was getting longer, which is why my last timeline photo said “14.33 miles”.
When we lost that time, we definitely decided we were out on the character stops, but you can see the Beast in the photo below! The lines were so long, and we were too concerned about getting swept for that. For me, I’d rather just book a character breakfast and get all the photos I want anyways…
Then finally, through the castle!
I fought through some belly tightness as we started (which I’m pretty sure now was some Braxton Hick’s!), but through Magic Kingdom I felt awesome, and after the bathroom stop, we both were able to pick up the pace a good bit.
After Magic Kingdom, it got long and hot! Lots of skinnier roads that made it hard to get around the bigger pacing groups, so we ended up jogging a good bit in single file. There weren’t as many landmarks, and hardly any shade. There’s also a pretty gnarly cloverleaf around mile 10.5, and after that I was really tired. I slowed our pace to about a 15 minute mile, but knew that we would finish! Once I saw that Epcot ball I could feel the tears welling up.
I wish I could have thought to make a cuter, more excited face crossing the finish line, but really I was about lose it! Just thinking about all the sadness and loss we had experienced in the previous years, and how incredible it was to be able to do this with my mom and my baby girl in tow. I still get emotional thinking about it!
Now, let’s talk about my mom’s achievement. Because I was pregnant, her first half was somewhat overshadowed, but WOW. I mean, she was a machine! I really felt like she could have kept going for another 13.1 miles when we were done. While I was thankful to be done, she was just mad she didn’t go for the Glass Slipper Challenge! I was hobbling the rest of the day, and she was actually jogging to catch a ferry boat at one time. I won’t say her age, but she’s over 50… and if I’m able to be doing halfs when I’m 50, I’ll consider myself blessed! YAY, MOM!
We did it! We finished in 3 hours and 29 minutes, and placed somewhere around 15,000 of 18,000. Not even close to last! We got our medals, some pixie dust, a snack pack (give me all the applesauce squeezables) and spotted our dudes!
Here’s a few things I learned along the way: • I still don’t know which bathroom is best. But, not the one in Tomorrowland!
• I needed some vaseline for my underarm chaffing at one point. I thought the guy would hand me the whole popsicle stick, but no… he slapped it all over my hand! Beware of the gloopy vaseline everywhere!
• The pace people are actually the worst part of the race. We fought to stay in front of them so the giant group wouldn’t block the whole road.
• Everyone is generally nice, and I didn’t see anyone trying to run backwards or run back for their friends.
• The taunting army men around mile 11 are perhaps the best part.
• There are a lot of men that run it, and get into the costumes. I shouldn’t have let Rudy off so easy! 😉
• My husband had a bag with my Birks in it. So thankful for that post-race shoe change.
Overall, our experience was pretty awesome. I would definitely do another one, and plan on trying for the Wine & Dine in 2018!
Let the fun begin!
We were really nervous about walking around too much before the race, so we didn’t even have park tickets until Monday. Here’s how the rest of our post-race trip went!
Post-race we got cleaned up and went to see the Braves during their last spring training at the Wide World of Sports. It was gorgeous day, and I was all about sitting and eating some park food. Our seats were killer, but we ended up having to move to the shade because it was toasty!
Monday morning, we hit up Epcot until the three non-pregnant people took a ride on Spaceship Earth. It made my mom and step-dad so sick they had to go rest at the room for the afternoon. Note: Do not ride if you get motion sickness! I took that opportunity to have my 4th or 5th Mickey Ear Bar.
Rudy and I went on to Magic Kingdom to meet up with my Grandparents and cousins who just happened to be there at the same time!
We rode a few things, but the crowds and wait times were much higher than expected for the end of February. As it turns out, Mardi Gras was the same week, and a lot of those folks get out of school for the week and apparently come to Disney. I’d probably avoid that week if possible from now on!
One of things I wanted to do if we made it for my 30th birthday, was to attend the Dessert Party for the Wishes Fireworks show! Mom was able to join back up with us for this, and good thing because the food and the show were so perfect. I highly recommend this dining experience! We were thankful to get to see the Wishes show one last time before its retired this summer.
After the fireworks, Rudy and I went on to find some rides with low wait times, and I finally got to ride the new Ariel ride—a new favorite!
Tuesday, we went to Hollywood Studios—and rode Toy Story Mania twice before our Fast Pass even came up. With the movie ride, and some lunch, we were about done there as the crowds were even thicker!
Rudy and I took several different transportations to make it to the Polynesian Resort for the Dole Whip ice cream. I ate it too fast to even take a photo. So, so good.
This trip was like a “baby moon” for me and my mom… the last time without a screaming little brat to deal with. 🙂 We know our Disney trips will never be the same, but I’m so glad we got to experience this last time while accomplishing something amazing! Next time, I’ll be so excited to have my “Minnie-me” in tow!
And that’s a wrap! (And one more super cheesy photo!)