Princess Half Marathon Weekend is officially over, but I'm still LIVING for all things #runDisney.
Princess Half Marathon Weekend is quite the royal event filled with heavily themed merch, sparkly tutus, and so many beautiful princesses. This year Princess Weekend seemed extra popular with the races boasting more than 20,000 runners. A half marathon bib cost each runner $199 entrance fee, which means Disney raked in almost 4 million from just ONE of their Princess races. And to anyone who is new here, participation in a runDisney race does NOT include Theme Park tickets. For a three day park hopper pass, I spent $426 on myself ALONE. Ultimately, it costs a pretty penny to curtsy your way across the finish line, but you'll never find a more magical race on earth.
This year was my second time participating in the Fairy Tale Challenge. The Fairy Tale Challenge, which used to be named The Glass Slipper Challenge, hosts a 10k on Saturday and a Half Marathon on Sunday. Runners who participate in this Challenge receive a medal for each race and an additional medal for completing the Challenge.
Avid runDisney fans wait patiently each year for the medal photos to be released and this year there was quite the uproar. Princess Elena of Avalor graced the front of the 5k medal, and many of us were confused. Don't get me wrong, every princess deserves a shot at runDisney glory, but how many of us are watching Elena on Disney Junior in our spare time? After having Rapunzel on the 5k medal last year, I think we were all just a tad underwhelmed.
The other medals are definitely more beautiful in person, and the merchandise at the runDisney Health and Fitness Expo proved to make up for the bling. Many princesses went early to the Expo and grabbed a fistful of the limited edition runDisney Princess Spirit Jerseys. Luckily, I showed up to the Expo later in the afternoon and didn't have to wait in line like I had the previous year. I definitely took my time wandering the floor and seeing all there was to offer, but ultimately I passed on any new princess merch. My favorite items were the tumblers, pins, and the long sleeve "I run for Dole Whips" shirts. In my opinion, Disney could've performed better on the apparel this year, but that just means that next year is going to be the best designs ever right?! I'm not salty, just sayin'.
This past race weekend provided us runners with record setting heat and plenty of early morning humidity. Luckily, Disney has each race begin at 5:30 AM and does a good job moving the corrals along at a decent speed. We were warned via email of a heat advisory and to be cautious if trying to get a PR for any of the races. I know one of the hardest things to do during a day at the Disney parks is to stay hydrated. I advise anyone who plans on park hopping during race days to stock your hotel refrigerator full of water bottles, and to carry one with you into the parks at all times. Starbucks gives out free water at each location, and there are snack carts around every corner if you want to pay for an ice cold bottle.
Each race was incredibly fun, and I cannot express how much more enjoyable the runs are when you're with friends and/or family. I ran the 5k with 7 of my family members, and it was so much fun posing for pictures and celebrating at the end. If you're planning on participating in the races as a group, I highly advise doing a group outfit and signing up for the race at the same time. It helped that all of us were on the same page as far as pacing goes, and we even got to cross the finish line together! This race made for some of the best memories, and I enjoyed every minute of that fun run!
Next up was the 10k, and it was just as muggy as I remember it to be the previous year. I kept my pace light for this run, because I knew the next day would be the true test of strength. My favorite part about this run was the course. We ran around World Showcase and then along the beautiful boardwalk which is home to some of Disney's most luxurious resorts. It was at this point in the run where the sun started to come up and I could feel a faint breeze off the water. It was so spectacular to run on such a gorgeous morning, that I almost forgot how gross and sweaty I was! Luckily, I had Gus Gus with me to dab away any sweat off my brow. ;)
Sunday came around too fast, and with only 4 hours of sleep under my flipbelt, I was nervous as anyone to tackle the upcoming 13.1 miles. My goals were simple: Beat my previous half marathon time and run diligently while the sun was still down. I managed to achieve both my goals, and I was so proud of myself...and still am! I was off my normal eating schedule for the few days leading up to the race, because Disney calories don't count. ;) I tried as hard as I could to focus on hydration and to stay moving no matter what! I knew that if I stopped and walked or stood too long, my legs would seize up and it would only make my muscle soreness worse. I pressed on with urgency and enjoyed every second of that run. It helps to continuously talk to yourself and be your number one cheerleader, even when the odds are stacked up against you.
It's really hard to put into words the feeling you get once you run through Magic Kingdom. Main Street becomes alive with spectators and fans of princesses both young and old. Music plays in the background as Tinkerbell sprinkles her pixie dust on Cinderella's Castle. It's truly what makes fans of Disney keep running back to the same race year after year.
For anyone who is eager to try a runDisney race or the Princess Half Marathon in particular, I advise you to just try your best, have fun, and soak in every magical moment. There are character stops, castle photo ops, post-race coffee and beer trucks, amazing DJ's, and plenty of chEAR squad members to keep any princess on her feet. You almost forget that you're running, because you're enjoying the atmosphere so much! It's an incredibly hard challenge, especially if you're not used to training in Florida heat, but the quality of the race and the excitement of the runners is worth being bibbidi bobbidi broke! LOL. And those medals, despite maybe not being my favorite designs this year, are incredibly beautiful and high quality. You can't help but show them off! Having said all of that, I think I'll be back for more sooner than later... :)