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Glass Slipper Challenge Recap: Princess Half Marathon 2014

Glass Slipper Challenge Recap: Princess Half Marathon 2014

Hi, guys! I’m back with my final recap from the inaugural Glass Slipper Challenge: the Princess Half Marathon!

Here are my recaps from the expo and the Enchanted 10K, in case you missed them!

As many of you know, the Princess Half was my very first half marathon…so returning this year to run it for the second time felt like a pretty big deal to me because of everything that has changed since then!

I went into this weekend with one goal: to enjoy it. Last year, I slept maybe 20 minutes the entire night before the half because I was just so freakin’ terrified of not being able to finish. I couldn’t fully enjoy the expo or my time in the parks prior to the race because I couldn’t get those “what-ifs” to stop circulating through my mind — what if I didn’t train enough, what if I wasn’t “ready,” what if I didn’t finish, what if I get injured…and so on.

This year, needless to say, I could enjoy myself a lot more because there was no fear. The weekend was all about fun.

More importantly, though, this race also would serve an even bigger purpose for me — to help break me out of this running rut I’ve been in ever since I returned from running the Dopey Challenge in January. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’ve been struggling for weeks, now — I’ve been skipping training runs left and right, and my long runs as of late have pretty much been disastrous, for lack of a better word.

As you also may know, Todd and I will be running the Rock N’ Roll USA marathon in Washington, DC this weekend, so this race has been giving me all sorts of lovely anxiety issues (more on that in a separate post this week). The Princess Half would, hopefully, serve as a distraction…a reminder of just how much I love running and all of the ways it has changed my life since I took on my first 13.1 exactly one year ago.

I began the morning with that surge of energy and excitement that I’ve been missing as of late. I heard the alarm go off at 3:30 and I got dressed in my Princess Jasmine costume and my sister and I drove over to the staging area in the Epcot parking lot. I didn’t feel tired…just excited! She left me to head over to the Magic Kingdom to stake out her spot in the ChEAR Squad viewing area, and I got myself a cup of coffee and soaked up the energy and checked out all of the adorable princess-y costumes before making my loooong walk to the starting corrals.

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I enjoyed my coffee and the entertainment and could not have felt more at ease. I couldn’t help thinking about how jittery and nervous and terrified I had been the previous year. Not that running a half marathon isn’t a big deal — it most assuredly is — but since I was here to have fun and not worry about my time and I was already familiar with the course (especially since it’s ALSO the same as the WDW Half Marathon course and I had JUST run it 6 weeks prior!), I made it a point to just relax and enjoy the moment.

Okay, okay, to be perfectly honest…I sort of figured this would be an “easy” race for me now, given just how many times I have “run Disney” since last February and how many other races I’ve conquered. I guess I figured that if I could complete the Dopey Challenge, then the Glass Slipper Challenge just didn’t seem all that intimidating. (Spoiler alert: I was wrong.)

They let corral D go and I was off. It wasn’t long before I made my first mistake of the race: going out too fast. I decided that my plan of action for the first half of the race would be to run as fast as I could in between characters while we were on the highway/backstage area, and then slow it down to enjoy myself in the Magic Kingdom.

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What I failed to take into account was that the humidity was going to kick my ass — it was BAD that morning. In fact, most of the pictures from my camera came out horrible because all you can see is this foggy mist in the air, and there were cast members working the lines for some of the early characters telling us not to bother with our own cameras because they weren’t going to come out, anyway!

I started out running a solid 9:30 pace, but when I was drenched in sweat and feeling fatigued by, say, the second mile marker, I had a feeling that I’d have to adjust my race strategy quite a bit. My first stop was for the “heroes,” and even though the line was already ridiculous, there was no way I was passing this one up! Especially since “my” prince was there. :) 755043-1002-0048s

Shortly thereafter, we ran through the gates of Magic Kingdom — much like running down Main Street, this is an experience that NEVER gets old for me. :)

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My pace was still hovering around a 9:45-10 minute/mile, which was pretty quick for me given the weather and the fact that I was covered head to toe in blue polyester — or whatever my costume was made of. Still, I was definitely feeling the effects of the weather, so I was excited to stumble upon the villains photo opp next: another MUST DO for me. This line was even longer than the princes, believe it or not, but I waited nonetheless.755001-1004-0031s

I reeeeeeeally had to make a pit-stop — not gonna lie, I had to go before the race even started, but I refuse to stand in line for nasty port-a-potties unless it’s an absolute emergency — so I was looking forward to a potty break at the TTC. Running past the spectators at the entrance to the TTC is always a lot of fun, and definitely helped boost my energy. What did NOT help boost my energy was entering the sauna that was the women’s bathroom at the TTC; I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that the floor was soaking wet from sweat, the mirrors were all completely fogged over, and you could barely breathe in there. Basically, we were all a bunch of hot messes at that point.

It was somewhere right before running through the backstage of the Magic Kingdom that I started to really feel myself struggling. My heart just wasn’t it the way it usually is when I’m participating in a Disney race.

Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was because I went out too fast, maybe I was still tired from the previous morning’s 10K and walking the parks, maybe I was feeling overheated from wearing a costume over running clothes (which really didn’t bother me at all, otherwise, thanks to the fact that I rubbed Body Glide all over any area of skin that the costume might touch, haha). In any case, I started to have my doubts about just how strong I would finishing that day.

Of course, seeing Main Street and the castle made me forget all of my worries. Suddenly, I felt just fine. :)

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I will say that it was kind of weird seeing the castle overtaken by what appeared to be a cloud of fog; you could barely see it in the distance! I turned the corner into Tomorrowland and made the executive decision to pass up a bunch of my “usual” characters like Buzz Lightyear because the lines really were MUCH longer than they were last year (I started in corral A last year, which was before they started making the corrals much smaller).

There’s one photo I’ll never NOT stop for in the Magic Kingdom, though. And this line is always a treat, let me put it to you that way. But, to me, it’s worth it! These guys weren’t in their usual spot right behind the castle this year; there was a lovely crane there, instead. 754999-1018-0015s

I took my sweet old time running through the Magic Kingdom. I just…love it. I can’t explain it. There really is just nothing like it, and it never gets old, and it never makes me feel anything less than giddy with excitement.

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And then getting to run THROUGH the castle is almost as exciting as running down Main Street. :)

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Of course, I then stopped to take some shots with my friends at MarathonFoto. 761349-1007-0039s

And I had my personal photographer in the ChEAR Squad, so I stopped to goof off a bit with her, too. (Side note: I know I wrote  a post recently about how “magical” this benefit is for your spectators, but they have seriously cut back on the perks as of late — namely, the refreshments — and since the price continues to remain the same, you’re now basically shelling out $65 for a spot on the pavement in front of the castle. I’m no longer sure it’s worth it.)

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Pretty soon, I was on my way again, and we ran towards Frontierland. I passed up Woody and a few other characters because I was planning to stop for whatever princess happened to be backstage again this year since I didn’t stop last year.

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It was Aurora. And her line was NOT short, either.

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When we were officially out of the Magic Kingdom, I knew I had a whole lot of boring waiting for me. This stretch of course is, by far, the least amusing and — worst of all — it also happens to be ridiculously crowded and tight and, honestly, I couldn’t really “run” through it if I were being chased by a bear.

I spent some time weaving around walkers and running on the grass to try to get into some sort of steady rhythm. I started to feel myself struggling again, but hearing “Let it Go” playing near the halfway point helped a bit! :)

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I tried to keep a steady, comfortable pace, and since I had spent an inordinate amount of time in line for the “BIG” characters already, I planned to stop only for any photos I really, really wanted. Which included these fine gentlemen and their glass slipper, which was almost as long a line as the wait for Mickey and Minnie — no joke! But, come on, it WAS the “Glass Slipper Challenge” after all…

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I was still feeling pretty “blah” at this point. I wasn’t feeling it. I was hot and bored and the course was crowded and on top of it all, let’s just say I didn’t exactly break-in my new pair of running sneakers sufficiently enough and my feet and calves were really starting to bother me. I welcomed the break to stop for a photo with another one of my special friends.

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As I made it through miles 9 and 10, the feelings that have been plauging me in all of my runs as of late started to take over. I just didn’t want to run.

I am still so ridiculously burnt out that it’s not even funny, and even though I’ve done the bare minimum when it comes to training for the marathon this weekend, I still am just NOT feeling it right now. I was hoping that “running Disney” would help cure me, but in that last 5K, I definitely felt the funk and I just didn’t want to be out there.

Don’t get me wrong; I was still having fun. But only because I was in Disney and wearing a princess costume and surrounded by spectators and lots of hoopla, and I did my best to let all the distractions help keep me moving forward. Had this been any “normal” race, I really, REALLY would have had a tough time.

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My pace had seriously slowed, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the fact that I was already approaching the three-hour mark — even though I promised myself I wouldn’t care about my time and that the character lines I waited in seemed a lot longer than the ones last year — made me feel a little down on myself.

Since this race was supposed to be “easy” for me, I was feeling tired and frustrated and I just didn’t want to run anymore…and I also passed up a whole lot of character photos because I didn’t want to stop and wait in any more lines. My body just felt run-down. There’s really no other way to explain it.

I pushed myself as hard as I could as we made our way up and down the highway overpass (where I ALWAYS stop for a shot with the green army man) and I looked forward to finally seeing the Epcot ball in the distance.

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It seemed to take forever, but, finally, I had made it into Epcot. Almost there!

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After passing the glorious 12 mile marker, I was excited to see the Fairy Godmother again after the previous morning’s 10K, so I stopped to say “hi” before moving on through the park.

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Before I knew it, my brief time running through Epcot was over, and the finish line was in sight!

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I finished the race in 3:26. Last year — my first half marathon EVER — was 3:29.

So, yeah, I was a little disappointed. Even though I was definitely not running for time (obviously), I still expected to do so much better than that, even with all of the character stops and the time I spent posing for various photos. Mostly, I think I was disappointed by that fact that I had a tough time for a large majority of the race, and that taking on Princess again didn’t magically “cure” this running-induced funk I’ve been in.

Fortunately, my disappointment didn’t last all that long. I received my new beautiful medals and all was right with the world. As bad as I had let myself feel on the inside, one of the volunteers at the end of the race congratulated me, complimented my costume, and said something like “you don’t even look like you ran today — way to go!”

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It reminded me that whatever I’ve been going through lately is NOT physical, and that I need to cut myself some slack. And after the race this weekend, it’s time for a BREAK. A SERIOUS break.

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I found my sister and we headed straight for The Magic Kingdom, where I insisted on finding my princess (and prince!) for a quick photo.

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We also were lucky enough to be selected for the Fastpass+ option at Be Our Guest for lunch, so I dined in my Princess garb before changing out of my costume and enjoying my most favorite place in the world for the rest of the day. I forgot all about my struggles from that morning and let myself savor the accomplishment.

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No matter what my time was or how much more difficult the race had been than I expected, I still DID it. If nothing else, I went into this race with confidence. The fear and self-doubt that I have let control me for so long is completely gone now…and that is a really good feeling.

I don’t know if I’ll be back again to run next year, but Princess will always, ALWAYS be a special race for me.

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What’d you guys think of the Princess Half this year?

Have you/would you ever run the same race more than once?

Comments

  1. Bonnie S. says:

    You stopped for all those long lines and still finished in 3:29!? That is pretty awesome if you ask me. We skipped many of those lines because they were just way too long. That humidity was killer I agree. So glad your disappointment didn’t last long. Those medals are great aren’t they? Congrats!

    • Jennifer says:

      Thanks so much, Bonnie! The lines were nuts this year, and the humidity killed me…but, like you said, those medals make it ALLLLLLLL worth it. :-D

  2. I’m so impressed by your time! With all the photo stops and humidity! I can’t function in humidity.

    Good luck on your marathon this weekend!

    • Jennifer says:

      Thanks, Stacie! Yeah, it totally killed me. But it was still a good time.

      Thanks so much — I’ll need it! :-D

  3. LOVE the pics, and I think you should go easy on yourself about the time, you stopped A LOT and took all of those great pics, you probably did wayyyyy better than you safe giving yourself credit for!

    • Jennifer says:

      Thanks, Kim! I know I stopped a lot for photos, I was just disappointed by how much I was struggling that morning…but I know a lot of it is mental and I just really, REALLY need a break to get back to “normal” again!

  4. Way to go! Despite how horrible you said you felt throughout the race, you certainly got a lot of cute photos! And I love your costume. Way to find your prince both during the race and afterwards as well!

    • Jennifer says:

      Thanks, Kathryn! I was still having a fun time (plus, I know how to put on a show for the photographers, LOL), I was just disappointed but how much I was struggling — it was definitely a tough race for me this year! But you know it’s all about the photos for me, clearly…haha. ;)

  5. Those medals should absolutely make you feel better :) Good luck this weekend and enjoy taking time off. Sometimes you just need to take a break to come back ready to tackle another race.

    • Jennifer says:

      Oh, for sure! Nothing better than a runDisney medal. Thanks, Lesley! I agree — I’m sure this is just what I need to get back to normal again. :)

  6. I feel you on struggling during the race. I’m working on my recaps and while it was an amazing experience it was a tough one too. Congrats on finishing strong! Your pics are adorable. I really need to buy mine from marathonfoto soon!

    • Jennifer says:

      Looking forward to your recaps! It was definitely a tough race that morning, but hey…as long as we had fun (and got lots of pictures), right? :)

  7. Great job and congrats on completing this new challenge! You look fantastic (I love your Jasmine costume) and so happy in all your photos, I would seriously never have guessed you were struggling on the inside! I hope that your break after the marathon this weekend helps out with your burn-out! Sending positive vibes for your race this weekend. Will you be running with Todd, or will y’all be running your own paces?

    • Jennifer says:

      Thanks, Lauren! That’s what everyone keeps saying — I just know how to ham it up for the cameras, LOL. I’m definitely hoping that taking some time off will help me find my love for running again — but first, I must cross the finish line this Saturday. :)

      So, as far as running together, the plan is basically to see what happens. I’m sure we’ll run together part of the way, but if either one of us is feeling strong and wants to pick up the pace (and, let’s face it, that’s probably going to be him, haha), then we have full permission to go on. I know he’s anxious to see what he can do — he has trained SO hard for this, so I wouldn’t want to hold him back if I end up not having the greatest race that morning. I know it’s going to be an awesome time, no matter what. :)

  8. The humidity on race day was a killer. When I look at my photos I can’t help but cringe. I look like I just got out of a pool! haha

    You look so HAPPY in all your pics!

    Don’t be too anxious/nervous about the marathon this weekend. You are super tough and will be just fine, plus you can breathe a big sigh of relief after you cross the finish line :)

    • Jennifer says:

      Haha, totally! We all looked like a bunch of hot messes, but we were having fun, right?

      You know I’m happy because I’m in Disney, no matter what happens on the race course! ;)

      Thanks so much, Kristina! Appreciate the vote of confidence! I know it’s going to be a great time, and I’ll do whatever I have to do to get across that finish line, haha. :)

  9. I always enjoy your race recaps! Sorry this race didn’t go as well as you hoped. On the bright side, you looked beautiful! Your costume was absolutely gorgeous! I ran with an injured knee but even though I had fun, I know that I didn’t run at my full potential. For that reason I will definitely be back to run it again. My sister on the other hand has ran PHM 3 times already. I’m hoping she’ll agree to run it again!

    • Jennifer says:

      Aw, thanks so much, Meranda! You guys looked AWESOME, too. Even though it wasn’t the perfect race experience for either of us, you can’t NOT have a great time, right? It’s such a great thing to be able to share with your sister…I’m already working on mine for the half next year, not gonna lie… ;)

  10. Christine AKA "Hopper" says:

    Your forgot to add this in your recap:

    “After giving my sister 2 and a 1/2 hours of sleep after her first 10k (which she was not prepared to run) and keeping her in the park till closing, she proceeded to fall asleep on the monorail. She was tapped awake from her coma by a random stranger. I believe the weekend was a success.”

    Signed,
    Hopper, the “stand up gal”

    or should I say

    The girl who sleeps on monorails.

    • Jennifer says:

      LMAO!

      Dear Stand Up Gal,

      Could you BE more dramatic…?! ;)

      Sincerely,

      The Girl Who Would Like to Remind You That it Was YOUR Idea to Go to the Mexican Restaurant and Order Dessert and Watch Illuminations and Go Shopping at MouseGears… :-P

  11. I’ve definitely described this year’s Princess as “the most fun I’ve had while being completely miserable” multiple times, but I don’t know how else to describe it! The humidity made it awful! I was ready to quit numerous times with only the idea of the 2 medals at the end waiting for me to keep me going. I actually ended up finishing this race 2 minutes slower than my first half (Princess 2012), so I understand the disappointment, no matter how much you tell yourself “I don’t care about time” but the important thing is you finished! Yay! And with lots of pretty new sparkly bling!

  12. Ok, So I HAVE to know where you got your Jasmine outfit? lol It looks so good. I have the skirt, I’m just looking for the top and that looks perfect!!

    • Haha, thanks! I actually bought it off eBay; it’s an older Jasmine costume, but it said it was Disney-licensed and everything. It was actually really comfy, as long as I wore something sweat-wicking underneath (of course).

Mentioned Elsewhere:

  1. [...] guys! Thanks for all your comments on my Princess Half Marathon recap! Even if my race experience didn’t exactly go as well as I had hoped, you KNOW I had an [...]

  2. [...] weekend Todd and I went to replace our sneakers — I’ve been running in the same pair since the Princess Half Marathon way back in February, and that is clearly just NOT acceptable. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve had mysterious [...]

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