This past February I participated in the Disney Princess Half Marathon and I’ll give you an honest look at the process from the beginning.
PART ONE: The Registration
Rewind to July 2016… I anxiously waited for weeks for registration day and the minute it opened I registered myself and my boyfriend as I knew the registration would fill up quickly.
A few tips for this part of the process.
1. BE COMMITTED. This is the single most important piece of advice I can give you. Unfortunately, once you sign up there is no turning back. You’ve spent your $180 per person and there are no refunds, exchanges, or swaps. You can not transfer your spot to someone else and under NO circumstances will they give you a refund. (Trust me I tried)
2. Make sure you know the date the registration opens. Races have been known to fill up within 24-48 hours.
3. Sign up your entire running party at the same time!! I can not stress this enough. If you are running with a friend make it a date for you both to register at the same time. Nothing’s worse than one of you registering and your running partner getting the heartbreaking “SOLD OUT” message.
PART TWO: The Training
If I’m being honest, this was the hardest part. When registering in July for a half marathon that’s in February, it seems an eternity away. Every day that goes by without training you just think “but it’s not until February”. And before you know it, it IS February. (Oops)
When signing up for this race I was hoping it would be my motivation to exercise. My school even had a FREE half marathon training course that I should’ve most certainly taken advantage of; however, with 6 classes and graduation fast approaching, that 7:00 AM half marathon training three times a week quickly became my LAST priority… and honestly, can you blame me? Yuck.
I used school as an excuse and “forgot” to train all together. (NOT RECOMMENDED)
If you sign up for this race I highly encourage you to train as much as possible, even if you hate it, and your body will definitely be thanking you. Don’t wait until 4 months before the race because you read on some Pinterest page that you can go couch to half marathon in 16 weeks. While it is possible, it’s not suggested or fun. Start today and don’t train for the marathon, train so that today you can say you did better than you could have yesterday.
When training, make sure you have comfortable and PRACTICAL shoes. Trust me, after miles of running how “cute” the shoes are becomes irrelevant and how comfortable they are is EVERYTHING. I trained (and ran the race) in Nike Free Run’s-Long Distance. These were perfect because they were practical, cute, and made specifically for long distance running! These shoes were a bit pricey but your feet will thank you in the long run.
A very helpful tip I would suggest is to sign up for other local races before hand. Start out with a few 5k’s, work yourself up to a 10k, and eventually the half marathon won’t seem so bad! Not only is this good training but you will also get those shiny finisher medals that make you feel so accomplished!
PART THREE: The Planning
If you are coming from out of town (and especially if you’re out of state) make sure to start planning your accommodations as far ahead as feasibly possible. The rooms WILL get sold out and/or you’ll have to pay outrageous prices for mediocre rooms. The best place to stay is a Walt Disney World Resort as they have transportation on buses to and from the Disney Princess Half Marathon.
This is perfect if you don’t want to deal with the traffic and parking which I must say is ATROCIOUS. It took us over an hour to get from our hotel (which was two miles away) to the park. So while parking is FREE, the buses are much quicker and save you the stress of arriving late.
Additionally, when I say a Walt Disney World Resort, I mean the true 100% Disney Owned Resorts. Not just hotels that are on Disney property. This is where we made our mistake.
We booked a room at the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista Hotel through hotels.com. It was a beautiful hotel and a stone’s throw away from Disney Springs which was fantastic! However, it wasn’t so fantastic when I found out at 11pm the night before the race that they would not have buses to take the runners to Epcot in the morning.
My assumption was that any hotel within the Disney Property Lines would have transportation to and from the race and I was very very wrong. So before you book, make sure you verify the transportation arrangements so you don’t have any surprises come race morning.
If you are looking for a deal and don’t mind staying in a non-disney hotel, check out my blog post about Money saving tips and my priceline.com hack! I paid $240 for a two night stay at a nice resort right outside of Disney. (Great deal, just be prepared to drive to Epcot extra early the morning of the race!)
PART FOUR: The Costume
Here’s the fun part. While we can claim that we’re doing this race to get in shape, we know it’s really because we get to look cute and dress up in pretty costumes. But as cute as those costumes are, you want to make sure they are comfortable. You don’t want to be miserable the entire time, and trust me 13.1 miles does not go by quick, runner or not.
So make sure you have a good pair of running shoes and a practical outfit and you’ll be good to go. I just threw together a quick Minnie Mouse costume because of easibilty and budgeting. I got this Minnie Inspired polka dot skirt at Amazon for a whopping $12 and everything else I already owned. It was EXTREMELY comfortable and light weight so if your looking for a polka dot skirt, this is the one.
My gal pal, who I actually ran into on the course we didn’t come together, wore a tank, leggings and a tutu. And let’s be honest, a tutu makes any out fit look overwhelmingly adorable! This tutu is lightweight and perfect for 5k’s and running.
PART FIVE: Race Weekend
Now the first thing most people talk about is the Expo; however, unfortunately due to work we were unable to get to Orlando until 7:30pm the night before the race. The Expo is where runners are able to go pick up their bibs, t-shirt, and purchase memorabilia to commemorate the event.
If you’re unable to attend this you do have the ability to pick up your bibs the morning of the race at Epcot. (This is not a very well known secret as they try to avoid mass amounts of people picking up the day of, but it IS a last resort option.)
While this is great because you still have the ability to run in the race, they don’t give you your tshirt and you can’t purchase any merchandise at the race. When picking up our bibs we were told to email runDisney that day and our shirts would be mailed to us free of charge. This was one of my only real moments of frustration with runDisney. The same day as the race I emailed runDisney the requested information for the shirts and I waited to hear back.
I waited about 10 days before emailing again as I figured this would give them enough time after the race to sort through the loads of emails they must have received. Upon my second email they informed me that they had “ran out” of tshirts and there was no way of them receiving more. This was definitely a bummer, not only did I want this shirt to commemorate the 13.1 miles I ran/walked, but I paid $180 for this race!
Anyways, past is in the past, my advice is if you have the ability to make the Expo, GO. This will relieve lots of stress for race day and you will be able to ensure you get all the things you paid for including the T-shirt!
The Final Part: Race Day
Don’t skip breakfast! I can not stress this enough. I overheard many people complaining of hunger and wishing they had eaten more, if anything, for breakfast. While it seems to be the last thing you’re thinking about when your turning yourself in to a princess at 3:30 in the morning, a girl’s gotta eat!
Also, bring a small bag of nuts or a protein bar for the race. It sounds like more stuff to slow you down, but you’ll be extremely happy come mile 8 when all you can think of is FOOD, FOOD, FOOD.
Make sure to get to your corral on time because they do start the race exactly at 5:30am and once those fire works go off remember to HAVE FUN.
This is what you’ve trained for (or not trained for) just enjoy it.
My final piece of advice is that even if you aren’t a runner, you can still do this! No, you won’t be the first to finish, but you will finish. I didn’t train for this and it took me exactly four hours beginning to end. I don’t think it’s the best time I could ever do, but I finished. In one day I walked/ran 13.1 miles, and guess what? I survived! And you can too!