And here it is: my Disney Princess Half Marathon Race (Weekend) Recap….
Yep! You read it correctly.
Yours truly was shanghaied into participating in last weekend’s race.
No, really. I was the victim of Peer Pressure.
Let me explain…..
Disney Princess Half Weekend had arrived. 15,000 runners converging on Orlando, Florida. Text messages and e-mails were flying. By Friday afternoon, I was ready to swing by my new favorite t-shirt shop, Big Frog, to get a custom “spectator” shirt for Sunday’s race. The whole shopping experience was a gazillion times better than the other*local*t-shirt*shop that specializes in custom t-shirts (but lacks any customer service whatsoever). Up until a few weeks ago, people in Orlando wanting a custom t-shirt (1, not 1000) were prisoner to a local shop, in a hip part of the city, owned by a young couple. I’ve even blogged a few times about them, hoping that sending a positive shout-out would result in a more positive working relationship when I stopped in to request a t-shirt and give them my hard-earned Benjamins. Foolish me, apparently. When Morgan headed over there recently for her custom Gasparilla shirt, she told me later (when I asked) that their customer service skills were MIA when she was there, too. Wow. Treat me poorly, shame on you. Treat my friends (that I send to your store to give you the business) poorly, shame on me. Won’t make that mistake again.
So here’s my shout-out: If you are in Orlando and need a custom t-shirt, please stop by and see Nancy, Chris, and John at Big Frog on Mills Avenue. Tell them Robin from the Turtles blog sent you. You will be treated with a smile, involved in the design process, and come out with exactly what you had hoped for. If you're in other parts of the U.S., check your local directory; Big Frog is a franchise, earning rave reviews from its customers. An hour later I left with my custom spectator shirt and headed to JoAnn’s Fabrics for sparkly things to adorn said shirt, all the while feeling a bit wistful about preparing a spectator shirt and not my princess running outfit. I was trying to embrace the mood.
Saturday, after morning errands that involved more shopping and crafting, Hubby and I headed down to the Walt Disney World property around noon. I had been mostly okay up to this point, but the minute we pulled into the parking lot, the alligator tears began to fall. I was soooo bummed out. There were hundreds of cars and runners.
We were there to check out the expo and pick up my running packet and VIP spectator pass arranged by a friend. As we walked up to the expo entrance (about 150 yards or so), we met and talked with two guys visiting from Anaheim, CA. They were here to run the Princess Half as the first part of the coast to coast Disney Challenge. They told us they would be running the Disneyland Princess Half in September. They wanted the bling. Have you seen it? I was bummed even more, since I had contemplated doing the same series. Now, that wasn’t going to happen. Bummed again.
We said our good-byes, wished them luck, and headed into the expo. As we approached the railing at the top of the landing and looked out into the vendor area below, I’m pretty sure I heard trumpets playing. The running gods (goddesses) were beckoning us in. Like a kid on Christmas morning, I was wide-eyed as we looked at all the booths, people, and stuff. This was my very first running expo and I was in awe. Bummed again.
We headed down the stairs and spent the next two hours checking out all the cool stuff. Hubby was a real sport, because sports bras and tiaras really aren’t his thing. However…. Lucky for me, runners like gadgets. And in true testosterone form, Hubs found his way to the Garmins, the fitted earbuds, high-tech Spira shoes, and even running packs for the arm. (More on these later) With hubs entertained, I could swipe my debit card and hand over $$ as
necessary wanted. Wow… this was cool! Along the way, I met Jill from Lift Your Sole and we chatted for a quick minute about a giveaway on the Turtles blog. Why yes, I'd love to do a giveaway! I love her jewelry and look forward to offering it to you. Note to self: Plan for expo next time. Set a budget in advance and bring cash for easy shopping. Clearly, this was another one of those ‘newbie runner’ experiences! Who knew? I’ve been to dozens of conferences/expos with work-related stuff… never even thought about this running nirvana.
Two hours, three t-shirts, two arm packs, one magazine subscription, and a few business cards later, we headed for the door. It was nearly time to meet up with our blogging buddies, their spouses, and a few assorted friends for an early Prince and Princess Pasta Dinner.
Olive Garden took good care of our party of 13 who arrived for our bloggy meet-up. We had a great time, told stories, planned for upcoming races, talked about injuries, and took a few pictures.....
And then it began…. (This is where the story takes a complete left turn).
You see, our plan was to have dinner, enjoy our friends, and then head home for
me us to finish making spectating signs and get to bed in time for us me to get up at the 3:00 alarm.
Peer Pressure is a funny thing……. It went something like this:
Me: I’m really bummed that I can’t run tomorrow.
Them: Then why don’t you walk it?
Me: Walk it? I don’t want to walk my first half marathon!
Them: Why not? You’d still be participating. You can walk with V (arm in cast).
(Now one of the husbands, a runner himself, chimes in….)
K's Hubby: Robin, the course is great. You run through the Magic Kingdom and the castle. There’s entertainment at every mile marker…. And on he went about all the neat stuff happening during the race – things that only participants would experience. Having run the Disney Marathon in January with his wife, our blogging friend, Kathy, he knew the details.
This went on for another fifteen minutes or so while I mulled the pros and cons over in my head: walking vs. running my first half; how I was feeling (chest was clear/no congestion, etc…); how long I had trained (6 months); how much I wanted to do this (MUCH!!!!); and finally, the fact that I had not walked, let alone run in nearly three weeks. A short time later, we all hugged, took a few more pictures, and headed out.
(from left: Robin, D, K, C, R, V, and L)
Driving home, I continued to weigh the pros and cons with hubs. I was pretty sure I had made my decision, and Hubby said he’d go with if I decided to participate. In the twenty minutes it took to drive home, the decision became final. I would participate in the Disney Princess Half.
Now, I needed to get my race gear together, get phone #s in my cell, hydrate (to catch up for the next day), prepare my bib, and get myself to bed. (Can you say last minute preparation???) It was 7:00 by the time we got home. We were tired from our busy Saturday and Hubby was asleep in 15 minutes flat. Seriously?? I crawled into bed a little after 8:00 and of course, in true pre-race fashion, the next few hours would be tossing and turning. Not good for any racer. Even less good for a diabetic! But I made myself stay in bed and at 2:30, when the clock began to sing, I got up and began my pre-race routine. I wasn’t feeling too nervous and was kind of shocked at this. Hubs got up too, took care of my timing chip and shoe and attached my race bib to my shirt (he’s very good at that stuff!), and a short time later we were headed to Disney. We had the mini bagel sandwiches I had discovered a few weeks before as good sustenance before a long run: a fried egg (minus most of the yolk and no oil) and a ½ slice of sharp cheddar cheese, definitely a good pre-long run choice.
When we arrived at 4:25 am, the traffic was already backed up and it was colder than when we left our place. Found out a few minutes later it was 37 degrees. Perfect running weather – almost. My legs, hands, and feet stayed frozen for the first few miles of the race.
C, Robin, V, and K - waiting for the race to start...FREEZING!!!!
V and I, waiting for the race to begin... soooo cold!!
My running skirt provided zero protection from the cold air (but I looked cute...ha ha). All I could think was: Better not get sick again! I kept my old gray zip-up athletic jacket wrapped around me for the first 4+ miles… until the sun was up and my body began to warm up. Then, like thousands of other people, I began to shed my layers. Orlando races have provided many clothes to homeless shelters this season!
I was to walk/run with V, whose arm was still in a cast after a nasty fall several weeks ago. We had a plan: Walk as much as we liked and then pick it up for a slow run when we felt ready. We walked the entire first mile and part of the second before we decided to run a bit. With toes like brittle ice, we plodded along, slow and steady. Shortly before mile 3, my bladder decided that today’s race would include a porta-potty stop. Seriously??? I tried to talk it out of this stupid decision, but there are some things as an over-40 gal (or a mom with a few kiddos) you just can’t fight. Bladder issues are right near the top of the list. And so there we were:
Me: Vic, I’m really sorry, but I’ve got to stop.
Me: I’ll catch up to you.
And with that, I doubled back to the rest stop calling my name. (Many runners ran for the bushes, but I was having NO part of THAT!) Little did I know it would be the last time I’d see V during our run! I hit my watch to start a pit-stop split, and took care of business. Three and ½ minutes later, I was back on the trail and headed out to find V. She was walking, so I figured I’d catch up in no time. Ha! Foolish me.
I ran. And ran. And ran. Before I knew it, I had run miles 3, 4, and most of 5, looking at all the people along the way and checking out the porta-potty stops. (I could not believe there were LINES at every station!!) Saw lots of people. No V. I kept going. By mile 6, when we reached the Magic Kingdom and the castle, I resigned myself to running alone. I couldn’t figure out where V had gone! As we approached the Magic Kingdom, I texted Hubby to say I was entering the MK. We didn’t plan on me running, so he didn’t sign up for split time messages while I was on the route. I know. I know. Texting while running is poor race day etiquette…I hear you! So let me just tell you I did this a few more times during the race(!). When we entered Main Street, I was thrilled to see Hubs and the other spouses… Wow! I posed for a picture, gave him a big kiss, and headed up the street.
Look closely and you can see the 'spectator' shirt, declaring my status.
Hubby: How are you feeling?
Hubby: Are you sure?
And off I went….. I was still feeling good. Not too tired, knees were still okay. But I was realizing that an epic blister was growing bigger by the minute on one of my toes, right next to the band-aid that was protecting the toe next to it. Somewhere between the tea party ride and the castle, I stopped to peel off my shoe and sock, rip off the band-aid and survey the situation. Pretty nasty, but still had many miles to go. Sock and shoe back on. Go, girl!
When we hit mile 7 a short time later, the lack of one knee brace became an issue. Since I had planned on mostly walking, I poo-poo’d Hubby’s suggestion to wear both. I took one and paid the price. Mile 7: left knee completely locks up. I nearly fall as my knee becomes useless. It will not bear any weight. I cry out in pain and stop for a few seconds to rub it out (which I already know won’t work because it’s the joint, not muscle or tendon). I get nervous that I may not be able to finish. About this time, my BB signals me that I have a text message. I check it, thinking it’s Hubby. Instead, I read: “Hope you enjoyed yourself. I’m so proud of you.” It was one of my sisters, responding to an early-morning FB status update. I texted her back: Still running. Mile 7. And on I went…..
I really contemplated quitting in Mile 7… no, really. I looked for someone to come by on a bicycle. I thought about calling Hubby to get help. All the while I limped along with some walking and running, trying to force the knee to work. I did a lot of self-talking during miles 7 – 12. And at the top of the hill in mile 12, I began to cry.
I could not bend my knee at all. Couldn’t put weight on it. I stood off to the side, looked into the distance at the hundreds of runners ahead of me and looked back to see just as many, wiped my tears, and at that moment, I woman came along, put her hand on my shoulder and said, “Come on. We can do this. You are almost there.” I could hardly respond to her as I sobbed quietly and mumbled, “My knee locked up.” She said, “You CAN do this. You only have a mile to go.” With that, I dug in, took a deep breath, thanked her, and began to limp/walk along. About 20 yards later, I began to limp/run again, and made it to a first-aid station. Slathered my knee in Biofreeze gel (and managed to fill the top of my shoe!), and continued on. *sigh*
The final 1.1 mile was a blur as we entered EPCOT, went down the narrow stretch, did a u-turn, and headed back toward the finish line. I remembered this part of the run from the end of the October 10K when I was a short distance from blacking out. I was determined to have a different finish line experience this time! I gave it all I had as I tried to pick up my pace, in spite of my stupid knee. Seems my speedwork is paying off; I definitely have more endurance and stamina at the end than I had even a few months ago. To clapping and cheering, I crossed the finish line.
I WE did it! 13.1 “official” miles…. 3 hours and 25 minutes.
~ Princesses for the Day ~
(We came full circle, same spot before the race.)
So I won’t even include split times because it was a turtle pace, to be sure, but the experience was amazing and one I won’t forget. I was about 40 minutes off my expected half marathon time, when I’m trained and ready, and I ran nearly 10 of the 13.1 miles, much better than I had expected to do. Many lessons learned on my journey toward the finish line…..
A HUGE thank you to my Hubby for his support, wonderful blogging/running friends who ‘shanghaied’ me into this awesome experience, and our Track Shack friends whose generosity and warmth never cease to amaze me. And congratulations to all of our running friends who became princesses this day...
peer pressure isn’t always a bad thing!
Now, when's the next half???
Happy running, friends....
Princess Soreness is headed off to work. Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's off to work I go...