For me, the inaugural runDisney Star Wars Half Marathon at Disneyland this January is joining two things I love: long-distance running and the now-Disneyfied Star Wars franchise.
Are you ready to run? Are you ready to make up a half-marathon-in-SoCal-ready costume for the event?
If you’re especially motivated, check out the Rebel Challenge, which awards a special medal to those who complete both the 10K and half marathon races that weekend. There are kids’ races and a 5K to enjoy as well.
Registration opens at 12:00 p.m. EDT TODAY (June 10), so here’s your official warning. At $195 for the half, this might be the most expensive half marathon I’ve ever heard of. Up until this race, the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco (at $180 this year) held the honor.
Act quickly. In March, the just-as-geeky Avengers Half Marathon at Disneyland sold out in less than 2 (that’s two) hours. That race is coming up in mid-November.
Will I be signing up? Unfortunately, I can’t commit this far out. I think my full-time work schedule is going to preclude this from working out in 2015, but I am officially adding this event to my bucket list.
Do you plan to race? Talk about your plans in the comments!
For example, it was about 20 degrees warmer at the start of the race this year. Also, runDisney opened the race up to several thousand more registrants, resulting in a much more crowded field.
On a personal level, whereas last year I went with girlfriends, this year my husband and sons came along and made the brave commitment to rise at 5:00am to watch for me along the race course. This is the first time my kids have been along a race route to see me, and I was so happy about that.
My family decided to take advantage of a couple other tools to help us keep tabs on each other during the race.
A light-up sign. Not necessarily because I’m super fast, but because I submitted a sub-2:15 hours time for a previous half marathon, I was allowed to start in “Corral A” for the race. This meant that I was taking off at 5:35am. With sunrise not until just before 7:00am, the spectator experience for the first 90 minutes would be in the dark.
Last year I remember a spouse of a runner standing near the Shades of Green military resort on Walt Disney World. The sign was a huge cutout of his wife’s head and shoulders with blinking lights surrounding the edge. Running through in the low pre-dawn light, that sign was definitely visible and memorable (and I’m sure his wife was thoroughly embarrassed too).
We wondered if my husband and kids might want to put lights on the sign they were making.
When I ran past the Ticket and Transportation Center around Mile 4, at about 6:20 in the morning, while still dark, it was very easy to find my husband and sons. My husband texted me his precise location “on the left just before the drummers” and I could see the lit-up sign clearly.
The next place my boys could see me was in front of the Polynesian Resort. They walked to that next location and set up about 10 minutes after they saw me pass. This was likely where they had the most time to rest, they were set up about 25 minutes before I ran past. By the time I passed, the sun was shining, but thanks to iMessage, Dave was able to communicate his precise location.
He was able to take pictures of me passing them at the Polynesian.
The poster made a huge difference for me being able to see my boys.
Apple’s Find My Friends App. If you have an iOS device with an Apple account, and if other friends are willing to share the information with you, the Find My Friends app will let you track the GPS-enabled devices. Dave and I turned it on for the race, and he could see me along the route.
Other runners were using similar apps with their smart phones to keep track along the route. For example, MapMyFitness’s newly-launched MVP subscription features live broadcasting with not only the runner’s position, but also the runner’s pace and other data that he/she might be transmitting, such as from a heart rate or cadence monitor. RunKeeper’s Elite subscription offers the same thing.
Thanks to Find My Friends, my husband knew exactly when I would be passing the Ticket and Transportation Center near Mile 4, the Polynesian Hotel near Mile 7, and the finish line just outside of the the EPCOT front gate.
In addition, Find My Friends helped my family as they passed me while riding on the monorail between the Polynesian Hotel and the finish line area.
At the finish line, my husband was able to get several outstanding photos with the telephoto lens. They greeted me after the race with a Mickey Mouse rose and lots of hugs and kisses.
The weather was very hot and I wasn’t quite as well prepared for this race as last year, due to a back injury. All of that combined with an extremely crowded race overall resulted in a much slower finish than in 2012. I completed this year’s half marathon in 2:28, which was 17 minutes more slowly than last year.
But that’s okay; we had a great time, even if my boys were a bit tired during the day. They really enjoyed all the costumes and the Disney characters along the route. When they were at the Polynesian they were position right across the street from Lilo and Stitch, among their favorite characters.
I’d like to give props to the fantastic ladies and gentlemen on one of the Princess Half Marathon Facebook groups that I chose to join. The ladies in the group helped me form a spectator plan for my sons, offered advice about costumes and we gave each other inspiration and compassion through our training runs, injuries and travel woes (thanks to a big winter storm that really made a mess of many of the Princess’ travel plans).
Are you interested in running a Disney long-distance road race? Subscribe to updates through the runDisney website to learn more about upcoming races, such as the Tower of Terror Ten-Miler, a Halloween-themed race through Hollywood Studios starting at 10:00pm!
Disney also features some pretty lofty running goals for those who really want to push the limits! The Goofy’s Challenge can be done during the Disney Marathon weekend in January: runners who complete the Disney Marathon and Disney Half-Marathon in the same weekend will earn a stunning third medal. This year runDisney introduced the Dumbo Double Dare at Disneyland: complete the Disneyland Half-Marathon and Disneyland 10K over Labor Day weekend and earn a commemorative third medal.
While registration is open for the Tower of Terror race, unfortunately all of the Disneyland Half Marathon races are sold out for 2013.
Are you running fans? Do you have friends or family members along the route to watch when you run races?
In case you hadn’t heard it from me before, when Disney puts on a show, they really know how to do it! In the case of the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend, they skillfully blend athletics, beauty, whimsy and inspiration for nearly 20,000 participants (95% of whom are women) to have a magical weekend.
We attempted to arrive at the “Fit for a Princess” Expo as soon as possible on Friday, I was hoping to at least see the Dooney and Bourke commemorative handbags, but unfortunately those were sold out in two hours. Did I really really want one? Not really. I’m not a super-princess-ey type of girl, and there are other D&B Disney patterns I’d prefer.
Nonetheless, I was considering it, so I guess the decision had been made for me.
Otherwise, the Expo was a good time, with plenty of clothing and equipment demonstrations, food and beverage samples and guest speakers.
After visiting the expo and checking into the hotel, we joined a fellow Air Force wife who now lives in Tampa and the three of us enjoyed a fun night out. We met up with Rosalind from Girls are Geeks at the Jellyrolls dueling pianos club at the Boardwalk Resort, who was with a group celebrating her birthday. Rosalind had found me through GeekMom and I was thrilled that a fan was interested in meeting me! This was my first-ever “meetup” with a fellow blogger. We had fun at Jellyrolls!
Tip: There’s plenty of runDisney fun for the whole family! The day before the half marathon, many families start their day with the Tangled Family 5K, and I wish I had thought to run it. Their medal was worth the race! Next year!
It’s also worth knowing about the all-ages races held on the Saturday of the Disney Princess race weekend. From a diaper dash to a 1-mile fun run for kids 13 and under. Check out all your options here!
My girlfriends and I elected to visit Magic Kingdom instead. We resisted the temptation to visit a park that served alcohol (EPCOT and Animal Kingdom), and we ladies took it easy. It was especially fun getting to spend as much time as we wanted in the stores! We three ladies only have sons and we ALWAYS get the short end of the stick when it came to the shopping!
Tip: Be prepared to try to go to bed nice and early. Race day starts VERY early! The half marathon starts at 5:45am…and runners are to maintain a 16-minute mile pace to remain on the route. Strict? Well, yes it is. Because the course needs to be clear in time for the parks to open!
We tried to take it easy Saturday night, since we were planning an early bedtime. We ended up having a later-than planned dinner, then worked on our costumes — but we were simply TOO EXCITED to go to sleep early! Many ladies told me they didn’t sleep at all — but we were able to get about 3 hours before our alarm went off at 2am!
Yes, you read right. Two ‘o clock in the morning.
Tip: Suck it up! Attempt to get on the earliest bus you can from your hotel to the race start area. We wanted to get on a nice early bus so our day didn’t have to be stressful. Typically, I’m the type who tries to get ready for her day in as little time as possible…but I’m glad we allotted extra time that morning. Besides, I was so excited about this — in a child-on-Christmas kind of way — I had no problem waking up!
At 3am we boarded the buses that transported us to the drop off area. Which was nowhere near where we had to report in to drop off our check-through-bags (bags we could stash our jackets and other belongings before the race — they were available for us after the race).
Upon drop-off, we had about a one-mile walk to the bag-drop area. There was water, porta-johns and even a DJ there providing entertainment and music and warm up exercises.
Things started to get a little wonky here. We had instructions that it would be a 10 minute walk to the “corrals” at the starting line. And that we were to all be in place by 5am. But no one was allowed to start walking towards the corrals until about 4:45am. So picture 20,000 people all walking at once.
It was crowded and slow…and you can guess that most of us didn’t get there by 5am. This wasn’t a big problem since we were still 45 minutes from the Corral A start.
Tip: If you run races routinely, attempt to get a 10K-or-greater race under your belt in the calendar year prior to the half marathon. This will put you in the earlier corrals, you will start and end sooner. By some miracle, I was in Corral A. Corrals A-C are reserved for those who had prior 10K-or-longer race times in the previous 12 months. I had submitted a half-marathon time from last April. It doesn’t matter what corral you are in in terms of your net race time, your clock doesn’t start until you cross the starting point, but it was nice to start and end the race up to an hour earlier than some of the others.
While waiting I had the chance to meet some wonderful fellow racers and they let me photograph their creative costumes.
Each corral received its very own grand start, complete with Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother proclaiming “Salagagoola mechicka boola bibbidi-bobbidi-boo” and fireworks! It was absolutely amazing!
Tip: Want to visit the characters? Now’s your chance! The race starts well before sunrise, and since I was in a corral full of “serious” runners who weren’t stopping for anything, many of the photo opportunities had no wait. I skipped the first several opportunities, but the girl I was pacing with said she couldn’t help herself and asked if I’d like to stop with her for photos by the time we got to Cinderella’s castle right after sunrise. It was really easy — so I probably spent about 3-4 minutes of running time getting photographs. It’s okay, you don’t run this race for the records.
Tip: You will get asked to pre-order the package of photos. You don’t have to. Wait and see how many pictures are worth buying before committing. I wasn’t set on buying the professional photos, but for the first time, I made the investment! I didn’t look half bad — typically I look like I’m ready to die by the end of a race, but I had tried hard to look good for the cameras this time around!
The race starts in the EPCOT parking lot and you immediately head north towards Magic Kingdom. You enter the Magic Kingdom near the main entrance, run up Main Street USA, turn right and run through Tomorrowland, Fantasyland — THROUGH Cinderella’s Castle — and out a side exit. Then you run back to EPCOT, through the Future World part of EPCOT, and the finish is back at the EPCOT parking lot just outside of the main gate.
Tip: Train with some hills! Just because the race is in Central Florida doesn’t mean it’s completely flat! The route takes you over several over- and underpasses, but not until beyond mile 10! So make sure you include some hills in your training! I enjoyed the Army Men from Toy Story stationed along one of the hills “motivating” us.
The finish line is pretty amazing — I “ran” into an Air Force Reserve colleague around mile 10 and the two of us pushed each other to the finish — it was so wonderful! I watched several hundred others cross the finish line and the reactions ranges from collapsing to vomiting to outright tears of joy/pain/amazement at such an accomplishment.
I look forward to running it next year! Who’s with me? Who should I dress as next year? I’m trying to convince my husband to join me so we’re looking for a geeky Disney pair — Han and Leia? Mr. and Mrs. Incredible? Woody and Jessie? Giselle and Prince Edward?
Well, I did it! I conquered the Disney Princess Half Marathon last weekend and it was fantastic! I’m also thrilled to have gone on a girls-only road trip – without the kids – for the first time in over 3 years! I was so giddy with excitement about the weekend I hardly slept! But I’ll get more to that in my subsequent post about the race experience.
First, I want to share my costume adventure. That was a journey in itself! I had never done the “cosplay” thing before, but now I think I’m addicted!
My first decision had to be “Pretty” Mulan or “Hooah Warrior Chick” Mulan? Being that this was a “Princess” race, I opted for the “pretty” version. Now that that was decided, I contemplated the popular tulle tutu options. In the meantime, I found a pretty pink running skirt at Cabelas that was on clearance (that particular color was discontinued) — whoo hoo! Pretty AND inexpensive!
As for the rest of the skirt, my plan was to make a double-layered tulle tutu, longer light pink with an additional fuchsia layer cut at an angle on top. I made it, and then tried to run in it. I didn’t survive to the end of the block before returning home and ditching the skirt.
I couldn’t do it. I don’t know how those thousands of other women did it. Therein lies my challenge.
How do I look like Mulan yet still be able to run 13.1 miles in the costume?
It requires a minimalist approach. I decided to stick with the corset and hair. Forget about the rest of it.
Readers, meet my 12-year-old Chinese dress. A souvenir from our Year-of-the-Dragon trip to Beijing in February 2000.
I bought this dress from a street vendor in Beijing — I looked at several vendors for a large enough dress and found the perfect color and perfect size. I even got to wear it to a Christmas party in 2003.
After having had two kids, I stressed the dart seams — you know, those seams that cinch in the waist? — and it caused the silk to get runs throughout the fabric. So this was a great way to “repurpose” the dress!
My first thought was to make a sort of belt, simply my cutting this dress into strips and sewing them into a long-enough belt to have a big pretty bow in the back. But then I considered how the belt would simply flop over and the whole point of the creation might have been lost.
So I cut off the top and bottom of the dress! I left the waistline with the zipper on the side. Like a corset. It was PERFECT!
Then I thought about how to belt the corset. I had a pretty gold scarf, a gift from a friend who was stationed in Europe for a couple of years. It tied nicely and made a pretty princess-ey bow. Mulan’s bow is actually pink, but the gold sash I had was perfect. But as predicted, it cinched up quite a bit and didn’t look very nice in practice.
I sewed a strip of gold to the corset to give the illusion of having a nice skinny waist that didn’t cinch up belts, ha ha!
It was simple to find a silk magnolia flower at my local Hobby Lobby store, and I immediately cut the flower off the stem and glued it to a plain hair comb. I decorated the flower with some pink glitter glue. Seemed simple enough.
Time to test the costume! I had my pink shirt, pink running skirt, blue and gold corset, gold sash, magnolia flower hair comb, and “beads of jade for beauty” — which were merely some green mardi gras beads.
I took a 3 mile “test run” and learned quite a bit. First of all, the corset and sash setup was fantastic. I think it actually helped me quite a bit! But the “beads of jade” were tossed aside, and the flower became unglued almost immediately.
It was time to break out the big guns! In my case, it was floral tape. I found floral tape all over the flower and comb and it seemed to do the trick. I had no more problems with it.
I’ll discuss it more in the next post about the race itself, but my plan was to ONLY stop for Mulan. She was at mile 12 and was the last princess on the route! I ended up stopping many more times and I am so glad I did! Here I am with Mulan, incredibly giddy for meeting her.