Sunday, March 6, 2016

Part of That World: 2016 Princess Half Marathon Review

I've been putting off this blog post because I didn't want to face reality that Princess half Marathon Weekend was over.  Well, I've finally accepted it and started counting down for my next race.  Here is my experience running 22.4 miles at the Happiest Place on Earth!

This year's race was my third Princess Half Marathon Weekend.  The event takes place annually in February at Walt Disney World Resort, with registration opening in July the prior year.  Since running my first Half Marathon in 2014, this race has always held a special place in my heart.  Year after year, it's been my favorite race and with The Little Mermaid as the theme, this year was no exception!  Disney's Princess Half Marathon is the # 2 most popular Women's Half Marathon in the country followed by Tinkerbell Half Marathon at # 3.  RunDisney knows how to put on a race for the ladies, that's for sure!

When I originally signed up to run this weekend, I registered for another Glass Slipper Challenge with APH early registration and that was it.  I've never been one to add 5k's onto my race weekends.  I don't typically run 5k races at all, let alone at Disney.  The 5k during this year's Dopey Challenge was my first runDisney 5k and I only ran it to earn the Dopey Challenge medal.  After failing to convince my Mom to run the 10k with me, she agreed to run the 5k. I registered the two of us for the 5k the day registration opened to the public.  I was able to register both of us before it sold out, but I know many other runners were not as fortunate as me.  These races sell out quickly, so if you're planning a runDisney race in the future I recommend creating an account in advance and getting to the website at least 15 minutes before registration opens.

I flew down to Florida on Wednesday evening with plans to attend the expo early Thursday morning.  Upon arriving, I encountered the most crowded expo I have ever seen.  Coming up to ESPN, I saw a line of girls going all the way up the hill.  What was this line for? Bib pick-up!  Yes, the line to get bibs was not only out the door, it was all the way down the ESPN hill.  While it looked an hour long, it moved quickly and only took about 15 minutes to get through the doors.  Once inside, the lines were minimal.

I exit the building only to encounter another long line!  This one went down the steps and around the field to get into the expo.  Knowing that I would likely not get a wine glass if I attempted to come back the next day, I waited in line yet again to get into this building.  It was about another 20-30 minute wait.  The inside was absolutely packed but I made it to the merchandise tent and grabbed one of the remaining wine glasses.  The Glass Slipper Challenge pins, however, were depleted.  It's just my luck that the one race I don't pre-order a pin I am unable to purchase one. I made my wine glass purchase as quickly as possible and left.  The building was packed and I felt claustrophobic.  Not only were the large crowds uncharacteristic of a RunDisney expo, the behavior or participants (line cutting, etc.) was, too.

I had dinner that night inside Epcot at Via Napoli.  It was my first time dining here but I know a lot of Princesses enjoy this restaurant during race weekend.  No kidding, I booked my reservation 180 days out.  The menu was a bit pricey for the serving sizes, but the food was absolutely delicious.  I got a white Sangria and a pizza with artichokes and truffle oil and my friend got macaroni.  I just love carbo loading, don't you? I can see why so many Princesses dine here before races.

My Mom and I arrived at the 5k race around 4:30 AM.  It was her first race and I really wanted her to soak everything in.  There were photo opportunities with Sebastian as well as Ariel & Eric.  Luckily, we stood in line for Sebastian because Ariel & Eric took off early to get to the starting line.  Although I was placed in corral A, I stayed back and ran with my Mom in corral E.  This corral was definitely majority walkers.  My Mom had plans to walk the race, so that was not an issue for us or our pace.  Unless you are a Dopey Challenger during Marathon Weekend, 5k races are not chip timed at Walt Disney World.  There were no chips attached to our bibs, and from what I saw there were no balloon ladies or sweeper buses.  We stopped and waited for photos with Goofy as well as Donald & Daisy and still finished with hundreds (possibly thousands) of runners behind us.  Much to my surprise, my Mom really enjoyed this race!  She complained about it and I think part of her was dreading it.  When she realized the 5k's are purely just for fun and not competitive at all, she was able to relax and have fun.  I'm glad because I never would have heard the end of it if she paid $65 for a race and hated every second of it!

To congratulate my Mom for finishing her first 5k, I booked a reservation for character breakfast at O'hana's.  If you are able to get a reservation, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND DOING THIS EXPERIENCE.  We requested a window seat and OMG that view was perfect.  We were over looking the pool and Trader Sam's and could see The Grand Floridian, Magic Kingdom and The Contemporary Resort off in the distance.  Breakfast was served family style.  It started off with Hawaiian bread (cinnamon and pineapple) and fresh fruit.  They also had a fruit juice blend with papaya that was incredible!  It would certainly mix well with vodka and coconut rum.  Next, our server brough a platter out for our table.  It included biscuits, scrambled eggs, homestyle potatoes, Mickey waffles, bacon, and sausage links.  I don't eat pork but everything else was absolutely delicious!  I'm not even a big waffle fan but I can tell you they definitely taste better when they are shaped as Mickey!  Speaking of Mickey, he made a stop by our table!  We also got to spend time with Pluto, Lilo and Stitch.  It was a relaxing meal and we definitely left with full stomachs.  That was one of my favorite Disney dining experiences and I can't wait to do it again. 

We spent the remainder of the day relaxing at our resort's pool. The weather was great and I would have loved to spend a few hours in the parks, but my Mom didn't purchase a park hopper during this trip. 

I arrived at the 10k race with plenty of time to get to my corral and stretch. I started in corral C with a friend who runs the same pace as me. 10k corrals took off ten minutes apart so we began our race at 5:50 AM. 

RunDisney 10k's are quickly becoming my favorite races. We ran a swift 11 min/mile pace the entire time. I know many women "take it easy" or even walk the 10k when competing in the Glass Slipper Challenge, but I am not one of them. I believe the purpose of Glass Slipper is to challenge your endurance and that's what I did! My legs were incredibly sore in 2015 after running the 10K portion of the Glass Slipper Challenge so I made a point to train harder for this year. My 10k was 6 seconds quicker than it was in 2015 and my Half Marathon was nearly ten minutes faster than my 2015 Glass Slipper Challenge time. I think I successfully completed the challenge this year! 

We received our medals and quickly left the finish area in the parking lot to get showered and ready for the day. I spent the day shopping at Disney Springs and Orlando Premium Outlets. Alex and Ani bracelets were low in inventory at World of Disney but I managed to get the two that I wanted. I imagine princess Half Marathoners were buying them all up (especially Ariel). I also may or may not have purchased three pair of 7 For All Mankind jeans at the outlets (gotta love that employee discount)! Kate Spade also had a 40% off sale but I resisted the urge to purchase a new handbag.  My Mom purchased her first Kate Spade handbag, though.  Welcome to the club, Kimmie!

We went to a local bar for dinner on Saturday night.  I knew most places would be absolutely packed on a Saturday night for dinner so I wan't trying to fight crowds and carbo load at the same time.  I felt extremely dehydrated going into dinner, so I downed about three glasses of water in addition to my seafood mac n cheese.

Even after heading to bed at 9 PM, it was difficult (as always) to wake up early for my 5:30 AM Half Marathon.  The Half Marathon course begins almost a mile away from the parking lot, so I like to arrive extremely early to allow myself enough time to get to the corrals.  I was starting in corral H for this year's race.  I'll admit I was a little bummed about my corral  placements this year because I was in A for the 10k in 2015 and F for the Half Marathon.  It appeared that Glass Slipper Challengers were faster as a group this year than they were in the past two years, though.

Despite my attempts at hydrating prior to the race, I went into The Princess Half Marathon feeling nauseous.  I trained for a PR and I intended to break it so I would not let that get in my way.  Up until mile 9, I was able to contain it and maintained a pace that would have me finishing 14 minutes faster than my current PR!  The hot Florida sun made an appearance once I got to mile marker 9 and I had to take a break.  After almost an entire mile of walking, I picked up my pace, breaking my PR by 54 seconds!  It wasn't the drastic time cut I was looking for, but a PR is a PR.

Overall, this race weekend was one of the best ones I have experienced at Walt Disney World.  The Little Mermaid theme was out of this world! The weather was absolutely perfect and I came into the weekend feeling prepared to take on another Glass Slipper Challenge.  I headed home on Sunday afternoon with four new medals and a sparkly PR.

If you are considering participating in the 2017 Disney Princess Half Marathon, registration opens on Tuesday July 12, 2016 at Noon for the February 23-26 2017 race weekend.  Start saving now!  Registration for all three races cost me around $400 and my airfare was around $180 with Southwest.  

If you ran any of the races this weekend, you can view your photos at by entering  your bib number.  Also, certificates are available for all finishers.  Originally, certificates were released with incorrect dates!  They have since been fixed and can be found using this link. Lastly, I wanted to comment on my obsession with the snack boxes this weekend.  Goldfish is the way to my heart, so that was an excellent choice.  Did anyone else notice a tropical theme?  Island fruits for Welch's and the coconut puffed corn?!?  It may sounds gross, but I'm pretty sure the coconut popcorn was my favorite item from a Disney snack box. Ever.  You can purchase them here.

I can't wait to hear about all your experiences running The 2016 Disney Princess Half Marathon!  Please share them in the comments below.  See all  you Princesses next year!



  1. This was my first Princess Half and I loved it! So glad you got your mom to run the 5K and I hope she is inspired to walk/run another Disney event. There's nothing like it! Loved this post!!

    1. Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed my post and the race weekend. I hope you'll continue to run more of them and follow me as I tackle three half marathons next month! Star Wars is one of them- will you be there?

  2. Totally agree about the expo! I wish I would have picked up extra wine glasses for my fellow runners! I was one of the first in so I grabbed what I had to have then left the masses.

    1. Same here! The price gauging on eBay is outrageous. I wanted a GSC pin and they're selling for nearly $100. There's a 2015 GSC pin for only $5 though so I'll give it some time! Wine glasses have sold for $115 which blows my mind because the design wasn't as great as past Princess wine glasses.