Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Disney's Glass Slipper Challenge 2016: What I Did and What I'd do Differently

     This has taken me a lot longer to write than I planned, but I figured it's about time I write my review of the 2016 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend.  My sister and I ran the Glass Slipper Challenge at Walt Disney World in Florida.  The weekend included the Enchanted 10K Saturday morning, followed by Monkey's 1-mile Kids' Race Saturday afternoon, and then the Princess Half Marathon Sunday morning.  It was a magical experience, but it was also pretty rough.  Being almost 33 weeks pregnant definitely took a toll on me not only physically, but that was nothing compared how it changed the mental battle that comes with running long distances.  More on that to come, but first...

The 10K
     The Enchanted 10K was the highlight of my race weekend to be honest.  I felt it was a good distance for me at this stage of my pregnancy.  It was cooler Saturday morning, which played a huge part in how I felt compared to the half.  We started in corral B, which meant we didn't have to wait long to start.  The course was mostly in Epcot, which meant there was plenty to see.  My only regret is that I was so nervous about the "dreaded balloon ladies" that my sister and I only stopped for one character, the Genie.  Our time was good, considering it included 3 bathroom stops (with lines included) and one character stop.  We did stop in front of each mile marker to snap a quick selfie (us-y?) before proceeding.  We finished middle of the pack, which meant we weren't weaving in and out of too many walkers during the race.  I felt amazing afterwards, and I couldn't wipe the grin off of my face as they placed my first ever runDisney medal around my neck.  Oh, and the Cosmo's coconut popcorn in the goodie box afterwards was AMAZING!  So here's my brief play-by-play of the 10K:

Wake up: "Oh, thank God I didn't oversleep.  Plenty of time for oatmeal and water while getting dressed and ready to go.   Now, just to meet up with big sis, and we're good to go!"

On the bus: "This is so exciting!   Everyone is so friendly.  The Baymax outfit idea was genius!  I've gotten some laughs out of it already.  This is awesome!"

Waiting in our corral: "Okay I've peed several times now, I should be good to go.  Look, the other corrals are starting.  I'm glad we're not going to have to wait long to start or I might have to pee again.  We'll be off and running in no time."

Start line:  "This is it!  I'm either really excited or I still need to pee.  Probably just excitement.  I have the best big sister; she's been awesome to motivate me to do this.  This is going to be so much fun!  I hope I see Tiana.  Oh, here we go!!!"

Mile 1: "I knew I should have peed again; oh well, I'll know better for tomorrow's race.  We're still in the front end of the pack.  Oh, look; Anna and Elsa are waving at us.  Of course we need a selfie! And another at the mile marker sign.  This is awesome, and I'm making decent time."

Mile 2: "Look at all the fun costumes.  I don't know which is better the cross-dressing men or the human Dinglehopper.  I love Disney.  I love Disney fanatics.  I'm definitely doing this again.  Just not pregnant.  I'll be faster then and have more time to stop with characters.  Mile 2 complete; time for a selfie."

Mile 3: "Is that a contraction?  Yep.  Definitely a contraction.  Just take it easy.  Big sister has been so good about walking with me when I need it.  She's the best cheerleader.  Contraction's stopped now.  We can run again.  Ooo, another mile marker!  Selfie time!"

Mile 4:  "I think I'm gonna need to pee again soon.  At least I know I'm hydrating enough, and there are real bathrooms up ahead big sis says.  She's so prepared. I didn't even look at the course map.  Oh my goodness; is that Epcot?!  Woot, woot!  Oh, look at the funny men on stilts.  Yes, I agree I should get two medals; no, I didn't have to pay two entry fees.  Okay, enough of the preggo jokes, smile for the camera boys.  Now we're officially in Epcot.  I feel like the fact that we're actually in Disney just sunk in.  Awe, look at the sunrise.  More pictures.  I'm glad big sis brought her camera.  This is why she's the older sibling."


Mile 5:  "Awe; it's the place where we got that picture that one time with Mom; we'll take a selfie here and tag her in it later.  'Hi, Mom'.  Look it's Lumiere and Cogsworth.  No, let's not do the line.  We can just do a selfie with them in the background.  But wait, is that the Genie?!  We're totally waiting in line for him!  He's even got the Goofy hat on.  How cute!"

Mile 6:  "Wait a minute, where are we?  The Boardwalk?  Well this is a first. It's beautiful!  Oh, look!  The Epcot ball is getting bigger!  We must be close.  And I think I can hold my pee until the finish.  It's a win-win for everyone."

Finish Line: "This is all so magical.  My first Disney medal!  It's so shiny!  Yes, I need water.  Oooo, and Powerade.  Yummy, snack boxes.  Now just to tackle tomorrow, and I'll get two more shiny medals!  There's J and Monkey with their cute motivational signs!  Oh, look, port-potties.  Yay."    

The Half Marathon
     The Half Marathon was a different animal altogether.  It was my second morning getting up at 0230, and since we went to Chef Mickey's for dinner the night before, I didn't get the early bedtime I was counting on, so I was tired.  Physically, though, I felt good.  As we loaded the buses, the mental game began.  Most of it was baby-related; my biggest fear was that I'd somehow induce labor and ruin not only the vacation, but my son's arrival.  I began to hint to my sister that she could leave me behind at any point should I get too far behind, to which she responded, "Enough.  None of that this morning.  We're doing this, and it's going to be fun.  No negativity this morning."  God bless her for that!  We got to the race check-in, and after ensuring we emptied our bladders at least 3 times each (neither one of us wanted a repeat of the 10K, where we stood in line for 15 minutes for the only porta-potty at mile 1, only to be cut by a fellow "princess") we then preceded to the corrals.  We were in corral F for this race, and I believe that is what saved us from the balloon ladies this time.

Wake up: "Oh sweet mother of all that is holy and good in this world it is too early to be awake...again.  Is that my nephew I hear crying in the next room?  Poor baby.  Better text big sis to let her know I'm up.  Gotta get dressed; gotta get going.  Let me make sure I hydrate.  Two water bottles should be good for this morning.  Fill up the Camelbak again.  Grab the oatmeal.  Okay, let's do this thing!"

On the bus: "Everyone looks tired.  Maybe it's just me.  Maybe I should warn big sis of how I'm feeling this morning.  I just feel off.  I don't want her getting swept because of me.  She can totally leave me behind.  She's a rockstar; if we see the balloon ladies, she could probably take off and still have time to stop for pictures and such.  Okay, she's right; I need to get my head right.  No more negativity.  Game plan time.  Okay, so if we see the princes, the villains, the pirates, or Tiana I definitely want to stop.  Big sis wants to stop if we see Mrs. Incredible.  Sounds like a plan. Oh, we're here."

Corral:  "Big sis is right, we don't need to rush to get to our corral quite so early.  Time for pictures!  Okay, let's head out now; but first let's pee... a few times.  Holy crap, the corals are super far away.  Does this mile hike to the start count towards the 13.1 mile?  It should.  Okay, coral F.  Here we are.  Just a little warm up stretch and one more pee break, and we should be good."

Start Line: "This is it.  Awe, look at the fireworks!  I'm loving this!  I can do this. I did half this distance yesterday, and I've done a half before.   No; I wasn't pregnant, but that's okay.  I'll just be a bit slower.  Look the princess behind me is pregnant too.  She says she's 5 months.  That's cool.  I wish I was 5 months, and not 8.  Oh well.  Oh, selfie?  Sure thing, big sis.    And we're off!"

Mile 1:  "Alright; we've got this.  This is gonna be great!  Look, more cross-dressing princesses.  Those guys are hilarious.  Wait, what?  Mile marker one?  That was quick!  Oh, yeah, no pee break to slow us down this time."

 Mile 2:  "ARE THOSE THE PRINCES?! Yes, we have to stop now, not on the way back.  That line is nothing!  Oh, Prince Eric called big sis 'Ariel' and me 'Sea Witch'.  Guess he got the costumes.  Yay, we can scratch those guys off our list.  Now to find the pirates and/or the villains."

Mile 3:  "Oh, look the Children Miracle Network Balloon.  Omg, is that the sign for Magic Kingdom already?  Man, this race is flying by.  Why does big sis not seem surprised.  Oh, yeah, she read the map.  I really should have done that.  Next time.  Oh, mile marker 3 selfie? Of course!"

Mile 4: "OMG is that Jack and Sally?!  I LOVE Nightmare Before Christmas!!!  Please, big sis can we stop?  Sweet!  Highlight of the race.  Hey, guess what; we're halfway through the Glass Slipper Challenge.  I'm so getting that medal."

Mile 5:  "Wait a minute; this place seems familiar.  We're right outside of Magic Kingdom, right?  Oh, this tunnel thingy doesn't look too good.  It's super crowded.  I'm just gonna go to the far left, up on this taller area so hopefully no one runs into me.  Whew, glad that's over.  Now onto Magic Kingdom."

Mile 6: "My brain feels foggy.  Big sis says stop and take a picture.  Why?  Oh, look the castle!  Wait a minute, that must be what she was taking a picture of.  I feel so slow.  Tomorrowland? How did we get here?  Oh, look Anna and Elsa again.  Wait a second.  This is the castle.  Oh my gosh.  We're here.  We did it!"

Mile 7:  "Okay, we made it to the castle.  Now, what?  No seriously.  That DJ guy on the side of the road said there's nothing out here but trees and suirrels.  So we're almost done now, right?  What mile is this?  There's the mile marker up ahead.  7?  That means we're only halfway through.  Seriously.  Those villains better be around here somewhere."

Mile 8:  "I've been too quiet.  Big sis looks worried.  I swear I'm okay.  Just tired.  I think I'm done.  Only 5 miles left.  I can make it to Epcot.  Wait, what did she just say?  The Incredibles are up ahead?  Run; go get in line;  I'll catch up.  Yay for a stop. I'll just stretch a bit while we wait, and then I'll feel better."

Mile 9:  "Nope, there's nothing out here.  That guy was right.  Just some random guys from the Bachelor.  I hate that show.  No, big sis, I don't mind skipping them at all.  The sooner we get to Epcot, the better.  Hey, look a port-potty behind that med tent with NO LINE.  That's worth stopping for.  That poor lady working the med tent.  Her eyes got as big as saucers when I ran up.  No, I don't need your help, just your porta-potty."

Mile 10:  "Overpasses?  I don't remember anyone saying anything about overpasses.  Thank God big sis suggested we walk up them and run down them.  We must be going pretty slow.  There are more walkers now, and fewer people are using the running etiquette.  It's hot.  I'm gonna start elbowing people out of my way.  No, your whole party of 4 does not need to run side by side.  Stop glaring at me when I call "on your left". Mile 10's done?  Oh, thank God!  Big sis says it's just a 5k from here.  I'll pretend that's good news.  She's trying so hard to get me through this.  On the bright side, the overpass gave me a glimpse of all the people behind us.  There are hundreds!  No balloon ladies in sight." 

Mile 11:  "My Camelbak is empty.  I have to pee again.  My hips hurt; my hips have never hurt before.  My knees hurt.  My feet hurt.  Big sis is trying to pace me, but I can barely do much more than an undignified shuffling waddle.  I'm coming, big sis.  I swear.  She says Epcot is close.  I'm starting to question her definition of 'close'.  Oh, look.  Wildlife."

Mile 12:  "Okay, I can do this. Only this mile and the next, and I get my medal.  I get to sit down.  I'll get to eat.   I see the giant ball.  We're almost there.  Almost there, almost there, people 'round here think I'm crazy, but I don't care.  I love Disney music.  I do love Disney.  This part just sucks.  What? The coachmen?  Okay, humor her and take a picture.  You owe her that much for getting you through this."

Mile 13:  "Okay, we're in Epcot.  No balloon ladies can get me now.  I'm just ready to be done.   No, I don't want to stop for any more pictures.  I shouldn't think like that.  She hasn't asked for much, and she's pretty much carried my slow ass through this.  Okay, we'll stop.  No, I will not stand in line for the Fairy Godmother.  I hate Cinderella.  I'm just ready to be at the end.  Great.  I have to pee again.  No; no stopping; we're so close.  I can hold it."

Finish line:  "Oh my God, has anything ever looked so beautiful?!  No one can judge me for these tears.  I did it.  I didn't think I'd make it, but I just finished 19.3 miles at 8 months pregnant.  Lord, my body hurts.  Thank you volunteer with water, God bless you lady with the Powerade.  You, ma'am, with the medals; you are my favorite.  Oh, look at that; ports-potties!  I'm in heaven."

It wasn't until I got back to the hotel that I actually got excited about what I'd just done, and that's when I decided I liked pictures after all.

 So, here is what I did, and what I'd do differently:

What I Did to Prepare
aka A List of Awesome Blog Links that I Read (and Should Have Re-Read) Before the Races
  • Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide---This one is at the top of the list for a reason; this girl goes through several "episodes" that tackle different aspects of the race weekend. I linked it to Episode V, because it's all about the Glass Slipper Challenge.  
  • Rundisney princess half marathon tips
  • runDisney Tips
  • Don't Fear the Sweeper
  • Of course, as with any race, make sure you train!  I will admit that I did not train like I should have.  Between work and pregnancy I was doing well to get 6 miles under my belt.  I've run a half marathon 3 times now, one official and two during training, but I could feel how unprepared I was by about mile 8 of the half, so make sure you train!
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!!!  Especially since you'll be traveling and all that jazz, it's easy to let your body get dehydrated, and you'll definitely feel it on the course.

What I'd do Differently
After this race, there will definitely be a "next time", but here's what I learned from this one:

  • Not be pregnant: for obvious reasons. 
  • Get more rest:  The night before the 10K, everyone was in bed by 7, which meant 0230 wasn't so bad.  The night before the half, however, we went to eat at Chef Mickey's and even though we had an early dinner reservation, between the dinner itself and transportation back to our resort, we ended up not going to bed like I planned.  That made Sunday morning's 0230 wake up call a pain.  So heed my warning, don't make dinner reservations the night before, just go to bed.
  • Bring your own camera:  My sister and I took turns bringing a small, hand-held camera with us to the races, but we didn't rely on them, thinking "Oh, Marathonfoto has us covered".  Wrong!  Although Marathonfoto did get several candid shots of us running, I was missing all but one character photo from the races when they uploaded our pictures.  This meant I had to spend several hours digging through the "unidentified" pictures, hoping to find one of me with my favorite characters without much luck.  So next time, we'll be more willing to have the photographer or another princess in line snap one or two on our personal camera as well.  I did hear a rumor (from my awesome Disney-savvy sister) that they may be doing away with Marathonfoto and be using the Disney photographers so that all you'll have to do is scan your Magic Band.  Fingers crossed that it's true.
  • Stop more:  My sister and I had great start placements for both races, which meant we had a ton of cushion, even with my slowed pace.  I did not realize just how much cushion we had, however, which meant I was less willing to jump into the character lines for snapshots, but it's runDisney! That's kinda the whole point, right?  Next time I'll try to remember that.
  • Pee before the race:  This is something I got wrong on the 10K, which meant I wasted time in line for a porta-potty at mile one.  No fun!  
  • Post-race take it easy:  After the race weekend we spent 5 consecutive days at the parks, and although it was fun, by day 3 I was exhausted.  I think having a "relax by the pool day" would be a good thing to add.
  • Have a designated area picked out ahead of time for our families to watch for us:  This is a must!  The night before my sister was trying to explain to my husband where to be and what time to be there, because I just didn't think about it.  Bless his heart, even though he tried to be there at the finish line for me at the 10K, he was stepping off of the Disney bus from our resort to come see me just as he got the text message that I was crossing the finish line.  This meant I saw him right after the race, but he didn't get to see me finish.  Next time, we'll have a game plan.   This sort of bleeds into my next point...
  • Pay more attention to the race maps:  There were so many times I looked around Magic Kingdom in the days following the race, and thought "Wait, I think we ran past here".  I think if I would have looked at the maps a bit more, I would have been more aware of my surroundings.  But that brings me to my final point:
  • Take it all in:  You're in Disney for crying out loud!  Look around.  Absorb the magic.  After all, how often are you going to see the sunrise in Epcot?  Or get to see characters like Jack and Sally, the Genie, or Lumiere and Cogsworth?  Slow down and savor it.  

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