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Disney’s Princess Half Marathon Recap 2012

by Meghann on February 26, 2012

It’s official. I’m running every other half marathon from here on out in costume.

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And you can’t stop me. :-P

I had four different alarms set this morning. I was paranoid – not only that an alarm wouldn’t go off, but I would sleep right through all of them! Luckily I shot right up when the first one went off (at 3:05am!). Apparently 5 hours of sleep is just enough when you’re ready to run a race!

We were told the last bus heading to the start line would depart the hotel at 4:00am. We were also told (more like warned) the last bus is also the bus everyone tries to take and we should aim for a 3:30 am departure. Callie, Theodora, and I picked somewhere in the middle and met in the lobby at 3:40am.

Luckily our hotel (Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge) didn’t seem to have many runners. We were able to walk outside and hop on the first bus with minimal waiting. The bus ride was quick and dropped us on at the starting line a little after 4:00am.

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And ‘by the starting line’ I mean a good 10 minute walk to the race village (for bag drop off) and another 10 minute walk to the actual starting line. RunDisney is really organized, but boy do they like to spread things out!

We also had our own little detour along the way.

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Race Retreat is a relatively new perk added to RunDisney’s marathon and half marathon registration packages. For $99, runners can add the Race Retreat perk to their registration and enjoy access to a climate control tent, snacks, private bag check, and private porta potties before and after the race.

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RunDisney was kind enough to pass along the Race Retreat perk to the group of bloggers for the Princess Half Marathon and I about kissed their feet when they did. Our group felt like VIPs entering the private tent before race start.

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I’ll admit that the private bag check and restrooms were pretty cool (especially the no-waiting part!).

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But the pre-race food was what I was really excited about. It didn’t hit me until I had arrived in Disney World that I didn’t bring any pre-race or race fuel for the half marathon. Luckily I was able to buy a package of Sports Beans at the expo and chomp down on a bagel at the Race Retreat.

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One bagel with cream cheese and jam and an orange to be exact.

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Turns out I wasn’t the only one with a love for Belle in our group. Heather, Callie, and I made up the Belle trio in our costumes. :)

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Oh! Speaking of my costume! I was able to add my extra sparkle fabric to my skirt to fill it out a bit, cut the top band of fabric so that I could tie it in the back, and double layered the top wrap around my shoulders. The results definitely resembled a homemade costume, but most people were able to easily recognize me as Belle (bonus point) and the costume survived the entire race without creating any chafing issues (double bonus points).

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What do you think? Did I look like Belle?! ;)

At 5:00am the volunteers began ushering all the runners to the start line. Theodora and I made a pact to run this race for fun together and slowly made our way to the B corral. Theodora and I have run several of the same races, but this was our first time actually running together. Our rule – no princess left behind!

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RunDisney has timed corral releases. Each corral has it’s own send-off with it’s own set of fireworks and a Fairy Godmother blessing. It’s nice; this way no one misses the fireworks (bonus!) and – if you’re in a later corral -you get multiple fireworks. Win. Win. :)

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There’s something empowering about the women who participate in the Princess Half Marathon. As I waited for our corral’s release, I took a good look around and tried to take every person in. Most had some hint of glitter, sparkle, or pink on their person, but all were strong, determined, and about to run a freakin’ half marathon. In those corrals, the glitter, sparkle, and pink became more than just a way for a grown woman to play dress-up, it became proof that we can still get out there and kick major butt – even in a tutu – and we’re darn proud about it. Girl Power!

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The first mile or two of the race was just as I remembered – narrow and crowded. Theodora and I ran on the grass for a bit so we could get out of the masses. Theodora asked if the crowd ever thins out and I told her no – the roads just get wider.

Luckily, we hit the wider road a couple of miles in and hit my favorite set of characters (the princes) for a photo opt.

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See that line? Umm… yeah – we waited in it and about half a dozen that looked exactly the same. There were close to 20,000 runners running the Princess Half this morning and I’d say 75% of them were in it for the character photos. Ok, not the photos exactly (there’s also the bonus of the nice bling at the end and the actual running experience), but I’d say the character photos are a huge plus of the experience. Because of that, many runners stop and wait in line for photos. Some lines are short, but most are long. I’d say we waited on average about 3-5 minutes for each character.

Luckily, Disney is a well-oiled machine and the lines moved relatively quickly. It wasn’t long before we were smiling with the princes, then off and running again.

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Hi boys!

Just after mile three we knew we were getting close to the castle.

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We did have a close call with some evil villains, but we were able to hold them off with a quick photo and were back on our way.

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Running through the Magic Kingdom never gets old. RunDisney does a great job with this part of the race. You run through the ticket and transportation center, pass The Contemporary Resort, and a back entrance before you make your way into the park. Along the way you get a great view of the hotel, Space Mountain, and bus entrance, but Cinderella’s Castle is somehow blocked until you make that final turn onto Main Street. It’s that final turn – when the castle finally come into focus and are really able to take in the large crowd of spectators for the first time – that is my absolute favorite moment of the race. That’s the moment that always gives me goosebumps.

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That is the moment that makes this race worth it. :)

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Theodora managed to find a frog wandering outside of the castle. Was it her prince? Give it 10-20 more years and we’ll see. ;)

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Cinderella’s Castle is a double whammy. You see it as you enter the park, then go for a loop through Tomorrowland and Fantasyland…

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… before coming back around to enter the castle on the back. Those horns playing as you enter? More goosebumps.

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We waved good-bye to Cinderella and her Prince Charming before entering mile 6 in Adventureland.

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On our way out of the park I heard someone shout ‘Meghann!’ at a water stop. I looked to my right to see Healthy Ashley’s smiling face!

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Ashley and I are race buddies who go way back. In fact, I think the last time we may saw each other was at last year’s Princess Half Marathon.  It was so good to see her again – even for just a minute!

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I’ll admit that the first 6.5 miles of the Princess Half are my favorite. The adrenaline high from the beginning, mixed with the anticipation and excitement of running through Cinderella’s Castle, causes the race to peak somewhere around the halfway mark.

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After that, the high wears down and you realize you still have 5 more miles to go before you see Epcot. Five miles of back roads with nothin’ but cones, runners, and signs.

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It was this stretch that I was finally able to track down my twin for the day.

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What do you think? Pretty close, right? Apparently Gaston was not impressed. Where’s the Beast when I need him?!

Theodora and I began to pick up the pace at the point. We were a little bored and just ready to finish and eat (I had some spots beans, but my stomach wanted real food).

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Around mile 8, I saw a familiar yellow tutu that could only belong to one girl.

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Woo hoo! Go Callie, go! Callie was kicking serious butt and taking names. This was only her second half marathon (her first being St. Pete – a mere 2 weeks ago) and she was looking fantastic. I was so proud of her and told her to rock hard in the final stretch.

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By the way… how did I forget the final stretch was full of so many bridges?!?! We like to refer to them as ‘Florida hills’ and -real hill or not – unexpected inclines are never fun at the end of a race.

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So. Close.

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We entered Epcot at mile 11, made a short loop, and gave it our all through the final stretch.

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IIIII seeeeeee ittttttt.

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I’m not sure what I was more excited about – seeing the finish line or Callie’s sisters.

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Theodora and I crossed hand-in-hand at 2:29. Not bad considering my siblings and I ran it last year in 2:44. Woo hoo for a new Princess Half PR. ;)

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While the volunteer was placing the medal around my neck, she paused and said “Wait, do you have a blog? I know you!” Ha! Sweet volunteer – YOU ROCK!

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Actually, she wasn’t the only reader or blogger that Theodora and I saw on the course (or through the weekend). A BIG SHOUT OUT to every reader or blogger who ran, spectated, or volunteered at the Princess Half Marathon. All three deserve a big CONGRATS. Neither are easy, but all are rewarding and amazing in their own way. :)

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What comes after a medal? Fairy Godmother dust!

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And a castle. Every princess deserves a castle! ;)

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This is where the Race Retreat perk really started to spoil us. Not only were we served a hot breakfast…

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But mimosas too!

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Cheers!

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I was STARVING and quickly filled a bowl with oatmeal and fruit and made an extra side plate of even more fruit, eggs, and a potato.

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Did I mention the fruit? I went back for more and half a cinnamon muffin.

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They even handed flip-flops out to all the finishers in the Race Retreat.

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Heaven. Pure heaven.

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We took our time making our way back to the hotel, where we all showered, packed up our things, and said good-bye to this amazing weekend of incredible opportunities.

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! FitFluential and RunDisney for making this all possible. RunDisney races truly aren’t just races – they’re an experience. An experience I can’t wait to experience again and again. ;)

And I lied. I wasn’t ready to leave Disney World just yet. I met my sister in Hollywood Studios for one last hurrah with my Media Fast Pass (aka Disney Gold).

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*sniff* I’m going to miss that thing *sniff*

We had lunch at the Fairfax in the park and I had the salad without dressing.

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And 1/2 a carrot cake for dessert.

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On the way back to Tampa I nibbled on the trail mix that came in our post-race box of goodies

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And made a simple plate of veggies and hummus with cheese and pita for dinner.

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Now I’m hope and ready for some quality cuddling time with my main man and my pups. I missed them!

Good Night!

{ 64 comments… read them below or add one }

1 heather February 26, 2012 at 10:02 pm

I think all races should come with post race mimosas & flip flops ;)
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2 Katy (The Singing Runner) February 26, 2012 at 10:05 pm

Looks like you had a blast!!! :) I so wish I could have done the Princess this year, especially after my DISASTROUS half-marathon at Disney in January (I need to redeem myself!). However I wanted to save my legs for the 25.5 miles of asphalt kicking I’m doing Saturday and Sunday at Gasparilla! :D
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3 Shannon February 26, 2012 at 10:07 pm

GREAT race report! I really want to do this race next year. I have yet to do a Disney race. Would this one be the best first Disney half for someone? Thanks for sharing your race experience! Congrats on finishing and your time! :)
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4 Meghann February 26, 2012 at 10:09 pm

Yes! This race is so first-timer friendly! I’d say this one is the better one because everyone wears tutus :)

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5 Katie @ Talk Less, Say More February 26, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Looks like an amazing weekend! And now I REALLY want to run a Disney race! :)
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6 Adrienne J February 26, 2012 at 10:14 pm

That race looks awesome!! It was so fun to read about all the excitement via your tweets as well as from the other FitFluential girls! :)
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7 Caroline February 26, 2012 at 10:28 pm

This sounds like one of the most amazing races to ever be a part of. I think this race definitely needs to go on my race bucket list.
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8 Caroline February 26, 2012 at 10:30 pm

You’ve convinced me – if I ever get to the point where I can run a half marathon, I want to do the Disney’s Princess one! Such a cool “trophy” too! And you did a pretty good job looking like Belle :)
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9 Jules @ La Petite Maison Verte February 26, 2012 at 10:50 pm

Wow, that looked like so much fun! Yeah, there is the whole running 13 miles (tough work!!) but it really seems like Disney does a great job of making it as fun, interactive and exciting as can be. It must have been nice to be a VIP all weekend long, what a cool experience!
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10 Lena @Fit on the Rocks February 26, 2012 at 10:54 pm

That looks like such a fun race! Oh, and the medals are way too freakin cute. Next destination race for me? I think so!
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11 Jess-ThatJessGal February 26, 2012 at 10:58 pm

I can’t wait to do this half next year. Actually I’ve already decided that my next two foot races will be Disney races: the Everest Challenge and then the Wine and Dine (either as a half or a relay, TBA). Thanks for the great recaps all weekend, you girls really did get the ROYAL treatment! Have you ever considered doing a post on how to work with these big companies to help them market? I’d love to learn more as my blog grows. Have a great week!
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12 Sana February 26, 2012 at 11:01 pm

Hahah, I am glad you were happy with your costume :) It’s good to feel awesome in something you made.
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13 Jen February 26, 2012 at 11:12 pm

This mornings race was my first half ever…your recap from last year totally inspired me to try. I figured if I was going to try to run 13 miles, I should do it atthe happiest place on earth :) I’m so proud of myself and had a wonderful time, thank you for posting such awesome recaps! :)

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14 MrsSwan February 26, 2012 at 11:46 pm

Yeah!! Congrats!!
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15 erica February 27, 2012 at 3:17 am

awesome!!! i love reading about this race!!! it looks like so much fun!
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16 Erica @ For the Sake of Cake February 27, 2012 at 7:14 am

I loved reading your recap!

I absolutely MUST run this race next year! I’m not even a runner, but I serioulsy want to do this! It looks like so much fun; I love Disney!

PS – I remember that carrot cake from my recent Disney trip & it’s delish!

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17 Kathy February 27, 2012 at 7:36 am

You are so lucky…blessed…whatever…it looks like so much fun and the “extra” blogger perks you guys received and wonderful.

At first I wasn’t sure if it were a female only race…princess theme and all…but, then I noticed a guy in one of your pictures (dressed in a pink t-shirt…couldn’t miss) so it must be for all. ;-)

Maybe hubby and I will check it out another year….thanks for your recap.
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18 jana @ newly wife healthy life February 27, 2012 at 7:50 am

What an incredible race! Definitely on my wish list for next year! I am already thinking about costume ideas..:-)
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19 Emily February 27, 2012 at 7:58 am

Looks like you had so muchfun. I like that you are to the point in your racingcareer where you can run some races and just enjoy them, rather than trying to PR all the time. So congrats to you!

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20 Hope @ With A Side Of Hope February 27, 2012 at 7:59 am

What an absolutely incredible experience! It makes me love Disney even more! Congrats on the race! :)
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21 Brittany @ GOtheXtraMile February 27, 2012 at 8:18 am

That is a kick ass time for stopping along the way! I was not expecting those “hills” haha but definitely a great race and a great weekend :D
Brittany @ GOtheXtraMile recently posted..First Half Marathon

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22 Lindsay @ Running the Windy City February 27, 2012 at 8:39 am

It looks like you had a great time!! What an awesome race experience :)
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23 Katie @ Peace Love and Oats February 27, 2012 at 8:51 am

That looks like such an amazing race, so much fun!!! And that’s awesome that you got to use that race tent, plenty of good food! Now I really want to run this!
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24 Meredith February 27, 2012 at 9:06 am

I remember you mentioning that a dietician told you to cut back on carbs and eat more protein (obviously carbs are necessary for running, so the bagel = awesome) but then after your race you had mostly fruit (carbs) and oatmeal (carbs) and barely any eggs. After running a significant distance — 13.1 is significant in my eyes — shouldn’t you be eating way more protein than that? And later you only had a salad with cheese as protein from what I could tell. While carbs are delicious and my best friend, perhaps you could address why you choose to re-fuel post-race the way you do? From someone who knows basic sports nutrition it seems like you aren’t doing your body any justice by depriving it of the protein it needs to rebuild the muscles you’ve just torn down by running.
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25 Meghann February 27, 2012 at 9:30 am

Yes, oatmeal is a big bowl of carbs, but it also has some protein to it. After a race – or long run – it’s amazing how any knowledge of sports nutrition goes out the window. I saw the oatmeal and it looked so good. The eggs? Not so much. I only had a few bites because I knew I should, but it just wasn’t what I wanted at the time. I’m all for eating healthy, but I’m also against forcing ourselves to eat something we don’t want – healthy or not. Usually my big post-run breakfast is a nice stack of pancakes with eggs. And the salad had a good amount of beef chili on it, but it’s hard to tell in the picture.I love Hollywood Studios, but they don’t have the best quick service options. This was the best I could do.

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26 Kelly February 27, 2012 at 9:32 am

Nor did you eat sufficient calories post HM.

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27 Megan February 27, 2012 at 10:56 am

I, too, feel a bit concerned that you didn’t eat enough calories post-race. I understand that Disney is a difficult place to find healthy food options, but after running 13.1 miles your body needs more calories to recover from the stress. In general, it seems as if you’ve been cutting back considerably on the amount you’re eating. Just be careful. I recently suffered multiple stress fractures from eating too little and exercising too much. In particular from not refueling well enough after runs.

Just looking out for you!

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28 Meghann February 27, 2012 at 11:13 am

Trust me, I ate my fair share of calories over the weekend! They fed us well this trip – and I’m sure I’ll make up for it today.

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29 Heather Blackmon @ Better With Veggies February 27, 2012 at 9:31 am

Sounds like a fun race – and love the race retreat perk! I did the Disney Marathon years ago as my first and stopped and took pics with tons of characters along the way. It really was a fun way to experience a race, even if it does take away from your finish time. =)
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30 Tori @ In Love and Peanut Butter February 27, 2012 at 9:49 am

That looks like so much fun! I’ve never heard of the Race Retreat but definitely need to look into it for my next Disney Race.
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31 Tiff February 27, 2012 at 9:51 am

Thanks for the recap, and congrats on the run. I adore your costume. This post makes me really want to run this race next year, in costume, of course!
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32 Heidi @BananaBuzzbomb February 27, 2012 at 10:05 am

Great recap Meghann. Thanks for sharing your experience and all of your photos. Way to represent FitFluential!!
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33 Cat @ Breakfast to Bed February 27, 2012 at 10:15 am

is it weird that i hope my daughter is a runner so we can run this together one day?
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34 Anne P February 27, 2012 at 10:26 am

This looks SO fun. I wish I’d been there – maybe next year! :)
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35 Cait's Plate February 27, 2012 at 10:37 am

Haha! Some of the costumes are just awesome. This looks like the absolute perfect half marathon for you from start to finish!
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36 Alaina February 27, 2012 at 10:53 am

This race looks amazing! I think spending the extra money for the race retreat is worth it. The whole weekend looks like a worthwhile experience!
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37 Poptartyogini February 27, 2012 at 11:01 am

What fun!! Disney really knows how to make things special. Wish I was there right now!
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38 Chelsea February 27, 2012 at 11:18 am

Ahh I need to find the money to be capable of running a disney half haha <3 They just look like a great experience!
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39 Aleyta February 27, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Wow! I’m not a runner but even THAT race would get me to participate! Looks like fun!
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40 Sarah February 27, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Aww so much fun! I want to do the princess half soo bad! Next year for sure!
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41 erinn February 27, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Such a great recap of the race! I came dressed as Tinkerbell and have never had so much fun running in a tutu! You did an amazing job capturing all the pictures (i don’t know how you did it?!) and the spirit of the race. One of my favorite moments was waiting to start in my corral, looking around and see all those awesome ladies next to me – dressed in sparkles, tiaras and tuts all ready to kick some serious butt in 13.1 miles. The beginning is amazing – and you’re right, that moment when you turn the corner to see the castle is PURE MAGIC! I also like the sign at the sign at the half way point – blaring stronger by Kelly Clarkson. Thanks so much for all the great pics and the recap, I got to relive the magic one more day. On to the next one! Cheers from Tampa :)

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42 Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife February 27, 2012 at 1:36 pm

WOW! How fun! FitFluential is the best–I love being a part of such a great group! Great job on the run :)
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43 Gwen February 27, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Your recap almost makes me tear up – what a fantastic race experience. Definitely want to give it a go someday!
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44 christieo February 27, 2012 at 3:16 pm

I didn’t get to see any of you guys after the race but CONGRATULATIONS!!! Makes me wish I had just run-walked it even though I wasn’t trained for it!!!! Hope to hook up to train one day. :) Congratulations on the race! It looks like you all had so much fun!

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45 ~Jessica~ February 27, 2012 at 4:17 pm

To me, your costume is more recognisable as Belle than anyone else’s – I think you did a fantastic job with it in the end :)

Looks like a total blast – I’m not sure I’d have the patience to wait in line for photos but the atmosphere must be amazing.

xxx
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46 Hillary February 27, 2012 at 5:55 pm

I want to run this race SO BAD. I think next year is my year! Great job!
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47 Janice - The Fitness Cheerleader February 27, 2012 at 9:45 pm

Congrats on a great race! It looks like y’all had a TON of fun and I must admit I’m a bit jealous – I want to do that race SO badly!
Congrats again!
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48 Kate February 28, 2012 at 9:35 am

I ran this race on Sunday too, my first time there, and it was SO fun. Totally felt the goosebumps as I saw Cinderella’s castle for the first time, and took SO many photos!

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49 Anne @strawberryjampackedlife February 28, 2012 at 10:50 am

Dang those were some nice perks! As I was running up the ramp and that bridge around mile 11, I started walking with this other runner. We both commented on how mean it was to put these long slow inclines at such a late time in the race. And totally agree that the first 6.5 miles are way more exciting than the last. But I finished! YAY! Time to leave Disney and update the blog when I get home.
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50 Tandi February 28, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Loved reading your race recap! Princess 2013 will be my first half. How did you get hooked up with RunDisney and Fitfluential?

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51 Caitlin February 29, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Nice job! I love all the outfits! Definitely keeps the race fun to see what everyone’s wearing. I also think that’s the coolest medal I’ve seen.

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52 Karla Bruning February 29, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Fun recap! Love your Belle costume. It was great to meet you at the Princess Half! My recap is here: http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/run-karla-run/2012/feb/29/disneys-princess-half-marathon-race-recap/
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53 Jessica February 29, 2012 at 5:41 pm

I was there too! It was my first half and it was everything I had dreamed and MORE! One of the best weekends of my life. Now I wish I would have shelled out $99 for the VIP! Looks fancey shmancey! ;). Great blog by the way!!
Jess

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54 kelly March 13, 2012 at 1:24 am

EVERY race should end with a dusting of fairy dust & free flip flops!

loved your race recap & was thrilled to spend the weekend with you!
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55 Hope August 6, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Hey! What a wonderful race! I was wondering…who took all the pictures of you and friends throughout the race. I don’t know if cell phones and camera’s are allowed, and if I ever work up to this Disney race, I would definitely want to snap some of my own pics via iPhone or Camera. :) Are they allowed? Thanks!

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56 Meghann August 6, 2012 at 12:37 pm

We took all the photos with the cameras we carried on the course. Yes, cameras are allowed. In fact, they’re encouraged! :)

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57 Hope August 6, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Okay, so another question… :P How long did it take you to train up to running a 1/2 marathon? I just started the couch to 5k program and am planning on eventually working up to 1/2 marathons, because I would love to complete the Disney Princess 1/2 marathon! Thanks! :)

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58 Meghann August 6, 2012 at 3:08 pm

I would recommend checking out Hal Higdon’s Novice Half Marathon training program http://halhigdon.com/training/51131/Half-Marathon-Novice-1-Training-Program It’s great for half marathon newbies. Good luck!

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59 Hope August 8, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Are all Disney Princess 1/2 Marathons in February?
Hope

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60 Heather Gaydeski August 30, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Hi there! Love your blog about this race! I am coordinating a group of about 12 ladies that are planning to run the 2013 race and we’re trying to plan for the best resort to stay in that is convenient to the race location. Any insight?

Heather

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61 Heather Gaydeski August 30, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Would you stay at the AK lodge again or somewhere else?

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62 Meghann August 31, 2012 at 11:14 am

Yes! Most people go for the “value resorts” (aka the all-star hotel) when they stay at Disney for the races, but I really liked the Animal Kingdom lodge. There weren’t a lot of people from the race staying at the hotel. So the line to board the bus before the race wasn’t bad (we were able to board the first bus that pulled up instead of having to wait) and we were able to easily jump right on our bus when the race was over. I heard stories of the value resorts having very long waits in the morning and I saw the HUGE line to board the bus after the race was over. Not sure it was worth it. Definitely look into AK!

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63 Julia November 5, 2012 at 10:28 pm

GREAT pictures! I’m running the princess marathon for my first time in February! Hope you’ll be doing it again in 2013! I just started a new blog to track my progress! http://blingandsneakers.blogspot.com

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64 Holly January 2, 2013 at 7:34 pm

Hey! So glad I found your site and this post. I’m training for my first race ever, and it will be the Princess Half next month. Next! Month! I am even more excited about the run after reading your post. I’m also a Florida blogger … maybe I’ll see you there!

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