Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide, Ep. V



Hello, runners! *waves*

If you take a look at your calendar, we’re getting close to showtime. Three more weeks until we’re running through clouds of glitter while earning our tiaras and glass slippers!

We’ve come far in this journey of surviving the Princess Half. A wide variety of areas have been covered so far, from pre-travel packing to course layouts. However, I have neglected to talk about one area, and that is for a specific purpose:

It deserves its own episode.

Glass Slipper Challenge runners, are you ready?!



Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide, Episode V: The Glass Slipper Strikes Back… How Not to Get Kicked Down the Palace Steps While Running 19.3 Miles.

For those of you that are going to be embarking on the challenge run that is GSC, I applaud your tenacity and motivation. 19.3 miles in two days is not an easy feat, so props for taking on the challenge! Whether this is your first GSC, or you’re like me and you’re heading for legacy status with your third, (or you’re even considering GSC in the future!), there are certain variables that are different with these types of runs that are in a league of their own when compared to a single run such as the 10K or the half. (Anyone that has completed Goofy, Dopey, Dumbo, or any other multi-day run can also attest to this).

This episode will take us into pre-race and race day logistics that will help you finish upright and with a smile on your face (and not kicked down the palace steps). This will also be a shorter episode than the others, but the information is just as critical.

Got your coffee and snackies? Great! Here we go…

GSC Pre-Race:

First of all, did you arrange your packing to the reflect that you’re running two races? Two outfits, two sets of fuel, animals going two by two? Good.

Logistics: Reminder…if you signed up for the 10K and half seperately, you’re not eligible for the GSC medal. You HAVE to have signed up for the challenge in order to receive it.


When you head to the expo, you’ll go to the HP Fieldhouse. (Make sure you take your picture with the GSC banner at the WWOS entrance!)

GSC banner
They also have banners for the 5K, 10K, and PHM!


All GSC-related things will be over here (check-in, bibs, gEAR bags, etc.). Since you signed up for the challenge, you will be receiving the goodies that come with running a challenge run. Yay goodies! Not only will you be getting three medals at the end of all of it, you will also get three tech shirts at the expo (10K, half, and GSC).

When you find your booth that corresponds with your bib number, you will be identified as a GSC runner. Once you receive your bib, the volunteer will point you in the direction of the photographer that will take your picture with you holding your bib. This is for confirming, at the end of the PHM when you’re getting your third medal, that you really are who you are. Other race series do this, and remember when I talked about bib bandits earlier? Yeah. This is why.

(This can also be found on p. 38 of the Event Guide.)

Deciphering Your Bib

GSC bib

When you receive your bib, you’re going to notice two letters in the upper corner. The first letter is your corral for the Enchanted 10K. The second letter is your corral for the Princess Half. YOU MUST WEAR THE SAME BIB DURING BOTH RACES. There are different designs for each race. GSC is different than the 10K or the half, and has a different numbering system.

^^courtesy of Patty at
^^Courtesy of Julie at



Enchanted 10K

Welcome to the first 6.2 miles of your journey! Yay!

The atmosphere for the 10K will not be as electric as it will be for the half-marathon. It will still be bumping, but with half as many people. I find this to be relatively relaxing, and the chaos levels are not as intense.

While you’re preparing for this first race, keep in mind the following:

-This is only day one. You won’t even hit the halfway mark with the total mileage for the challenge during this race. That’ll be at mile 3.45 during the half:

19.3 miles/2 days = 9.65 – 6.2 = 3.45

…therefore, I highly suggest that you do not go all out during this race, especially if you’ve never done a challenge race before. I speed-walked the 10K in 2015, and while my time suffered a whole hell of a lot, I felt decent for the half. You’re going to be excited and you’re going to want to take off like a rocket ship. I suggest that you don’t. You’ll be saving your energy reserves for the half, which is when you’re going to need them.

-Now, some of you may be gunning for a PR or a placement in this race, or the 10K is “your” distance and you know what to do. That’s totally fine. If you want to focus on this race and take it easy during the half, or vice versa, go nuts.

There will be five corrals (as far as I know. This may change if the field becomes larger). Find your corral and line up. The staging will be in the Explore parking lot, so it’s not as nuts as the half where there are sixteen corrals lined up and down Epcot Center Drive.

-There will be characters along the route for the 10K, but you have no idea which ones will be there until you get there. I do not have a list and am not in charge of character placement, although that would be a super fun job to have.

-There is one major elevation change on this course, and it happens along mile 2 as you head up an overpass.

-After you finish the Enchanted 10K, you’ll get your medal and head down the finisher’s chute. There will be a seperate section for GSC runners. You will receive a wristband at this time indicating that you completed the first half of the challenge. FOR THE LOVE OF MICKEY MOUSE, DO NOT REMOVE THIS WRISTBAND. This is your ticket to getting your GSC medal at the end of the PHM on Sunday. (Updated note: 2014 had wristbands. 2015 did not. I’m curious to see what happens this year, so the wristband thing may or may not be a thing. We shall see!)

-After the 10K, make sure to keep it easy. Stretch out, keep moving, don’t overexert yourself by going nuts in the parks. You have to run a half marathon on Sunday! Eat well, rest, recover, and go. to. bed. early. It may be easier to sleep on Saturday night since you already put your body through 6.2 and change already….


WAIT. Sleep? Sleep is great! Hooray for bed!…

bart chainsaw
Unless you have nightmares about Homer asking if you want to see his new chainsaw and hockey mask, that is.


Now, before you sleep on Saturday…

-Did you put your bib on your half marathon outfit? You did? Good.

-Are you recharging electronics?

-Did you clear out your gEAR bag and put everything in it that you will need for Sunday post-race? (You will be using this for both days.) Is it hanging on the door?

-Did you stretch out and think happy thoughts? Yay 🙂


Princess Half Marathon


bart 400
“Top of the hour, time for the morning news! But of course, there is no news yet. Everyone’s still asleep in their comfy, comfy beds…”


I’m going to be honest with you: one of the biggest obstacles during the GSC is not necessarily on the course, but it’s about multiple days of waking up at ass-o’clock in the morning to run. Just be aware of this. (I can only imagine how Dopey runners feel during their challenge. Four days and 48.6 miles. Insane, and exceptionally admirable.)

You’re probably going to wake up feeling sore and tired. The degree of this soreness will be based on how much energy you exerted during the 10K, and if you decided to walk around the parks a whole bunch afterwards. If you trained well during the last few months, the pain should be mild. If not, you’ll probably be hurting more. The task of completing 13.1 is ahead of you, so now is the time to get focused.

Christina’s Thoughts:


Running can be far more mental than physical. Our bodies are capable of doing incredible things, but it’s up to your mind to get you there. Glass Slipper runners who run the PHM may be revolving their run around willpower, especially in the second half of the course. They may also encounter The Wall. This is a psychological and physical fatigue that can stop even the most elite runners in their tracks. It involves your glyco stores becoming totally depleted, resulting in a loss of energy. Loss of energy = everything goes kersplooey. If you see someone “hitting the wall”, it’s definitely not a pretty sight; there’s a lot of tears, frustration, sheer exhaustion, and talks of, “I can’t do this. I’m so done.” When you think you’re heading south, this is when all those motivational memes and pinterest pictures and songs you’ve been engrossing yourself in for the last four months can be utilized. Change your music if you need to, dig deep, and keep going. There’s shiny bling and bananas and bragging rights just beyond the finish line!


Make sure you eat breakfast (trust me on this; you’re body is screaming to be refueled, and you don’t want to hit the wall due to energy/fuel depletion!), and drink your beverage of choice. Check the weather. Make sure you have your bib and gEAR bag. It’s Princess Half time!!

-There will be twice as many runners from yesterday at this race. Keep this in mind as you’re navigating Runner’s Village and going to the corrals.

-You will be halfway done with the GSC at mile 3.45 (as per the math above).

-Run at your comfort level. If you need extra stretching after a mile or two, veer off the course and into the grass out of everyone else’s way. Your muscles will feel tight during this race to an extent. It’s important that you get to the finish safely.

-When you finish, head through the finisher’s chute just like yesterday. You’ll get your PHM medal first. Don’t freak out just yet….there is a seperate area for GSC runners as you continue on. When you see this, they’ll check your picture and bib number. If you’re clear to go, congrats! You’ll get your GSC medal!

Yes, they’re backwards, but you get the idea.


-Embrace the clank and wear these medals around the parks! You deserve the extra jingle. (They’ll start wearing on your neck after awhile, so you might just wear the slipper medal.) If you plan on taking legacy pictures, or with any combination of medals thereafter, bring these with you!

-Post-race…you’re going to be tired. There’s no getting around this. Keep moving, stretching, and refueling, even if you don’t feel like eating (*guiltily raises hand*) . The powerade and snack boxes will help you tremendously, along with any other food you’re going to use. The DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) you’ll feel in the next few days or weeks is going to suck. Take care of yourself, and if anything hurts, don’t hesitate to see a doctor.


Seems like a fabulous time, right? Run some miles, get some bling. Happy happy joy joy.

But it’s time now for the not-so-fun part…

If You Get Swept…

Hypothetically, if you’ve trained well, you shouldn’t have a problem finishing. That goes for any race. However, race days can be unpredictable, and 923847918273 things can happen that could derail your perfect day.

The bottom line for runDisney challenges: In the event that you get swept in either one of the races, you will NOT get your challenge medal.

Let me repeat that:

If you get swept as a GSC runner, you won’t get your challenge medal.

Yes, they do give out the individual medals.

No, they won’t make an exception for the GSC medal.

Challenges are challenges, and will be treated as such.

The end.


We have now covered all of the racing aspects of GSC/Princess Half weekend. If there is anything that hasn’t been answered yet, please ask it and I’ll do my best to provide an answer.

So you have the medals, your finish times are online, and you’re walking around with your Mickey waffle basking in the post-race high that accompanies the thrill of accomplishment. In the post-race hours, days, and weeks that are ahead, you will be experiencing physical and emotional changes that may affect you. Episode VI, Return of the Post-Race Blues, will be arriving soon…


Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide, Ep. IV, Part II

Hello, runners! We have about three weeks ’til Princess Half weekend! *listens to the cheers* As event guides and waivers are being released over the coming days, the excitement is going to increase tenfold. I know some of you are freaking out…please don’t be. This is why I take hours out of my week to write these guides for you. If I can assuage your fears even just a little bit, then I’m doing my job.

Time for Episode IV, Part II! I consider this the heart of the race weekend, and the meat and potatoes of this Survival Guide. (aka, you better get cozy; this is gonna take awhile!) I have mentioned before: Proper preparation prevents poor performance. Before every race, I sit down with the course map and analyze where all the points of interest are. If you have an idea of what is ahead of you (especially with water and aid stops), you will go into the race a little less stressed. And we all need a little less stress! I will be providing visuals along the way with pictures I have taken and additonal resources from other bloggers and photographers.


Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide, Episode IV, Part II: A New Race…Pees and Sees Along the Course


You’ve crossed the start line and you’re on your way to many magical miles in Disney World! Woohoo!

So, what will you encounter along the routes? Places to pee and things to see, of course! Let’s return to the course maps from the last episode, shall we?…

Enchanted 10K

10k PHM Map

You have an idea of the elevation changes on this course. (Not many. Yay!) You’ll traverse through EPCOT and the Boardwalk. There are characters along the course for picture stops. (These change every year, and there’s no list available before the race to know this, so it’s all a big surprise!) Your water/aid stops/general road map is as follows:

Mile 1: Flaaaaaaaaaat.

Mile 1.25: Up the overpass. (Biggest elevation change on the course.)

Mile 1.75: Water….just over the downward part of the overpass ramp. I do believe there is a character stop over here.

Miles 2-3: This gets a little dull, but Disney has music and videos playing on the jumbotrons.

Mile 3.3-ish: First Aid tent (this is the ONLY med tent for the 10K)

Mile 3.6-ish: Water stop as you’re coming into EPCOT by China.

Mile 4: WOOOOOO EPCOT!! You’ll burst through and be greeted with all of the torches lit up and music playing in the background. It is my absolutely favorite part of the weekend. So many feels.

Mile 4.75: Water again

Mile 5-Boardwalk and Yacht Club.


Mile 5.4-ish: More water.

Mile 6.2 = finish line!


Race Etiquette Pointer:

**When you’re going through water stops, grab what you need and keep going. Don’t always stop at the first volunteer. There are about a dozen volunteers with cups in their hands, and make sure to thank them! POWERADE IS FIRST, WATER IS SECOND. And try your best to get your empty cups into the trash cans.**


Princess Half Marathon


Before I start, one of our teamRunDisney members, Chris Mel, took photos along every mile of the PHM last year. His photos are on Facebook:, and are a fabulous visual representation of what you’ll find on the course:

Mile .8 = water. Yep, you’re getting water pretty quickly.

Mile 1.5 = elevation change. It is one of two changes that are significant in the entire course. Don’t go out too fast and burn yourself out before you hit this point. There’s a downhill part to the uphill, so it’s be a nice relief!

Mile 2.9-ish = water and first aid.

Mile 3.1 = 5K split timer

Mile 4 = there is a DJ over the tunnel by Bay Lake with the big Mickey hands at this part (you may have seen him in others’ pictures before). This is also Cone Alley #1. It is a downhill section (largest negative elevation change of the race), so be mindful of where you’re running and who is around you.

PHM 2013 people

Mile 4.6-ish = water and first aid.

Mile 4.9-5. Passing by Contemporary Resort and Space Mountain. You’re almost on Main Street USA! **Note: watch the trolley tracks  while going down Main Street USA. You might roll your limbs on these if you’re not paying attention.**

**Storm the Castle**

When you’re going through the castle, you may encounter a bottleneck and it may feel like a dawdle through the castle. Typically, you will exit to the right once you’re out of the castle, BUT…during the WDW Marathon, they opened up the left side of the castle exit, allowing for the flow of runners to be far more smooth. If you plan on going down the left side, watch the terrain. I heard that some runners ate it here during the marathon. Plus, don’t stop without checking to see if someone’s behind you if you want a picture. It’s great way to get hurt.

You might need to go to the bathroom in MK. Just gonna warn you now…the lines may be atrocious. Don’t always stop at the first one you see. Your three options are Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, and Adventureland/Frontierland. I have included a supplementary blog post by Julie of at the bottom of this page.

Mile 6.2 = water and first aid. This is right outside of the MK backstage area. Your 10K split will also be recorded here.

Mile 6.5-8 = Cone Alley #2. This is a very literal term: coming out of the backstage area, runners will be funneled into an obnoxiously tight section of the course. I absolutely abhor this area. It is a two-way street, and you’re running on one side of it. There is a barrier of cones on the center line. Do not cross the cones, because you’ll get yelled at. The road is flanked by these cones to the right and a grassy hill to the left. I do not recommend running through the grass. Wet shoes + wet socks + potential for rolled ankles = no thanks.

For those planning race strategy, I would bide my time and patience during this part. The road will open up soon.

You will also be passing by the Grand Floridian and Polynesian Resorts along Mile 7!

You will also reach the halfway point during this time! Woohoo!

PHM 2013 halfway

Mile 8.7 = Clif Station. You’ll see these from down the road by their gigantic flags waving in the wind. There will be four types of gels being offered, if you wish to take them: Vanilla, Raspberry, Citrus, and Mocha. (The Mocha has 50 mg of caffeine in it. Take this with caution if you’re prone to pooping after caffeine consumption.) There is a water/First Aid station just beyond this at Mile 9. I HIGHLY suggest taking your gels and getting to the water station BEFORE consuming them. Taking gels without water will dry your throat out and not taste good. And I think it says somewhere on the package that you should consume with liquid, anyway….

Mile 9: Long. Long and flat. There is a water stop right beofre you tackle the overpass. Mile 9.3 is the 15K split timer.


Coming up the overpass you will see the Mile 10 marker. Make it up the hill, and it’ll go flat for a bit.

EPCOT! Seeing Spaceship Earth is a joyous site, and it means you’re almost to the finish line!

Mile 11: Water and your last First Aid stop. The spectator support will begin to grow exponentially for the final two miles.

Mile 12.25: Last water stop.

*insert EPCOT goodness…loop back around to Spaceship Earth….gospel choir….*



Alrighty, so that’s a basic rundown of the course. Time to talk about other things that are of serious importance…


Balloon Ladies…Love ’em or Hate ’em, They’re Still Here

In order to keep a sense of order regarding pace, runDisney incorporates a small group of ladies (they’re professionals) to maintain a 16 mpm pace throughout the course. So many runners dread seeing them, but rest assured, they want to see you finish. runDisney only has a certain amount of allotted time to keep the roads closed to the public so we runners can finish safely.

The balloon ladies’ job is to adhere to the 16 mpm pace once the last runner in Corral P crosses the timing mats. The time that you see on the clocks at each mile marker is the overall time for the race. For example…if you get to Mile 4 and the time says 1:18, that is the amount of time that has elapsed since the very first corral was launched.

Obviously, the farther up in corrals you are, the more of a time buffer you’ll have for photos and potty breaks. Heed this warning though…don’t get so caught up in taking pictures that you lose track of time and get swept. Yes…this has happened before. Many runners have to make the choice between photos with their favorite character or getting swept. Think about this before the race as a possible scenario.

I have read for the past few months that people are paranoid about being swept. You won’t get swept if you stay ahead of these ladies. There are several sweep points along the route that have big yellow charter buses next to them. I believe these points are around Miles 4 and 8, possibly 10. Officials hate to sweep, but must to maintain course safety.

If you happen to get swept, don’t try to fight about it. It is going to suck, and there will be a lot of emotion coming from your fellow runners as you board those busses. (I was swept at MCM this year, and it was one of the most painful things I’ve ever experienced.) You’ll be taken to the finish and still be given a medal. What you do with this medal is entirely up to you. Some save it as motivation to train harder, others may not accept it at all.


Mile Markers and Split Timing

Many of you are firsties, so the concept of mile markers and splits (not the delicious banana kind) may be foreign. Here’s the quick rundown of how to interpret them.

Mile Markers: The second that you cross the start line, you are beginning the first mile. At the end of the first mile, you’ll see the first mile marker. THIS DOES NOT MEAN ALL THAT DISTANCE BEFORE YOU WAS A FLUKE. Think of seeing a mile marker as a reward: ”I just finished the first mile, yay! Let’s see what character it is and take a picture.” Then you do to mile two. And so on. Each mile marker indicates how many miles you have finished. (Example below: You’ve reached the mile 11 sign. You have finished 11 miles. Woohoo!)

PHM 2013 Mulan

Splits: A split is how races are broken up for timing, or your pace per mile. For runDisney, there are several splits that your runner tracking will record: 5K, 10K, and 15K splits, plus your start and end times. Make sure you step on the timing mats so your chip transfers the data! You’ll see these areas marked by distance flags. (See 15K flag above.)

Once waivers are released, you can sign up for runner tracking that can post your progress and results across Facebook, Twitter, and text message. Before I bought my Garmin, I had my splits sent to Twitter and my phone. This was a great way for me to stay in tune with my times and gauge if I could afford to take an extra picture or spend more time in the bathroom.


First Aid/Course Safety : How to (Literally) Survive a Race

Time to get serious. Yes, I get serious sometimes, and this is a topic I will not be light on. Surprisingly, there is something far more important than getting a shiny medal, and many runners ignore this.

It’s called taking care of yourself. It’s listening to your body when it’s telling you to slow down and take in more electrolytes. It’s not fighting through an injury should it crop up during the race. It’s adhering to the weather and dressing appropriately.

I mentioned this in the last episode, and it needs to be repeated until the end of time: runDisney may be deemed as “fun races”…but they are still races just the same. You will be putting many miles on your legs and your body will go through a grueling test of endurance, no matter what the age or ability level. If you have not been training and eating properly, and you think you can just wing it…you are sadly mistaken.

I had friends telling me that the saw people doing the Dopey Challenge (5K, 10K, half, and full) for the first time (undertrained) during Marathon weekend, and after the 10K, they were in rough shape. How they were going to survive the next 39.3 miles (and two more 2 AM wake-up calls)?

I saw someone getting put on oxygen during the marathon; ambulances made their way down the same path that the runners were on, and we all had to shift to the side of the road. Remember Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah last November, when the heat was so bad that runners died on the course? People pass out in the heat due to overexertion and dehydration, heat cramps and heat exhaustion.

Guys, the danger of all of this is very real. You need to stay alert at all times. The temperature soared last year during the half. I gradually slowed my time and made it to the end safely, albeit sunburned and tired. I knew that a PR wasn’t worth fainting over. Slow your time by thirty seconds for every five degrees the temperature rises. Your body heats up fairly quickly once you start moving, and you will feel naturally twenty degrees warmer than the air temperature. Add humidity and even higher temps, and it’s a recipe for potential disaster.

There is also a Medical Information section in the Event Guide (pages 48 and 49). Head over to and click on the Princess Half Marathon section (it’s under “Runner Information”.) Take some time to go over this, and all of the other sections. This will give you some advice on what the aid stations will be like and how to take care of yourself during the race. The first aid tents on the courses are stocked with all the things. If you need to be treated for something, do NOT hesitate to stop in. If something feels achy, Biofreeze is your friend; if you need to slather it on, there’s plenty of it. Same with Vaseline. The Vaseline will be on popsicle sticks…do NOT, under any circumstances, eat this. (Some think it’s a treat. Then they eat it…and find out it isn’t…)

Again, I implore…please take care of yourself while you’re out there running. You may not be aiming for a PR (I will be…that will be a later post closer to race day), but you’re still exerting yourself with the same intensity. It doesn’t matter whether you’re at a 6 mpm or a 16 mpm…miles are still miles. We will have all covered the same distance in the end.



If there is one thing that runDisney events are known for, it’s the amazing crowd support. This is especially prevalent along Miles 1-2, Magic Kingdom (4-6), and EPCOT (11-13). They’ll be cheering for you, and the energy will give you that push to make it down Main Street U.S.A., or past Spaceship Earth. Cast members will also be out in droves. Make sure to give out high fives and take note of the runner signs! Some of them are quite hilarious.

If your squad has a ChEAR Package, or need ideas for places to go, refer to pages 52-54 of the Event Guide. A Spectator Viewpoint list can be found here, as well.


After the Race…What’s Next?

You rounded the final corner coming out of EPCOT, raced down the last straightaway, high-fived Mickey, and have crossed the finish line! Woohoo, you did it!! Now it’s time to go down the finisher’s chute. This is where celebration and recovery begin.

-Tell your guests in advance that they are NOT allowed down the runner’s chute. This is for runners only. They can meet you at the post-meetup areas in Runners Village.

-First stop is medals. Find a volunteer and get medaled! Admire it for a minute. It’s shiny, isn’t it?

-Water, Powerade, bananas…they’ll all be here.

-Get your picture taken (if you wish!)

-Head by the tents for your recovery box and probably another banana or five.

**Glass Slipper Challenge participants….there is a seperate area just for you to get your challenge medal. I will cover this, and all GSC-related things, in Episode V. That episode is reserved just for you!**

-Get your gEAR bag and smile. You’re done!! Head to the celebration area in Runners Village. Stretch out, take a few selfies with your new bling, congratulate other runners that are around you. You all worked hard to make it here.

-There are additional First Aid tents at the end if you need assistance.

The most important thing to keep in mind while traversing the finisher’s chute is to KEEP MOVING. Don’t let that lactic acid build up in your legs by stopping and plopping on the ground. You’re going to be tired, you’re going to be hurting…but you’ll hurt worse later on if you don’t fuel up during this window of opportunity.


If you’ve made it this far, congratulations. I know this post was insanely long, but there’s a lot of information to be covered. I’ve probably missed something, so if you have questions, please ask them and I’ll do my best to answer!

On a seperate note…



Woohoo! Whether this is your first GSC or your third, I’ve been waiting eagerly to write the next portion of this guide. Episode V: The Glass Slipper Strikes Back, will be tailored to GSC-specific details of race weekend!

Until next time….


P.S. If you’re still feeling nervous, take some time to scour the internet for PHM and GSC recaps and other runDisney blog posts. Thousands of other runners have done these races before and are happy to share their experiences. Pinterest is also a great resource.

Supplementary Blog Posts for this episode:

Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide: Episode IV, Part I

*buzz buzz buzz*

What’s that? A swarm of bees? Or dogs? Or dogs with bees in their mouths and when they bark they shoot bees at you?

(If you got the Simpsons reference, give yourself five gold stars.)

Nope. That’s your alarm.

Today is the day! You’ve trained for many miles, traveled to get here, and are totally excited for race day! No matter what race you’re running, you’re going to have a fantastic experience. This episode is going to dive into the heart of race day. I’m going to give you the 411 on the before, during, and after aspects of what you may encounter. Since there are an umpteenth amount of variables that are associated with a runDisney event, I will be splitting this into two parts. So grab your snacks and tiaras…it’s time to race!


PHM Survival Guide, Episode IV: A New Race: The Ins and Outs of Race Day!

Part I…

You wake up full of excitement and anticipation. You bounce around the hotel room in your race day costume, doing all the wake-up things and nibbling on your pre-race food. You board the bus at 3AM (or jump in your car at 2:30 AM), and soon you’re taking off for the staging area! But as excited as you are, you feel like you’re forgetting something…

Okay. Rewind.

The primary thing you need to do is focus on logistics. RunDisney races are fun, I get that. But they are still races, and should be taken seriously as such. Check yourself before you wreck yourself, and go down through the list:

Before the Race….

  1. That outfit you layed out last night? Are you wearing it? Good.
  2. Do you have your bib?! Yes? Yay!
  3. Are you planning on music/pictures/etc.? How about your fitness watch? Do you have those electronics? Good.
  4. Did you grab your check-in bag that was hanging on the door to your room? You better have!
  5. Did you have a beverage other than coffee (aka water)? You will want to do this. Try to have at least 8-16 oz of water pre-race. Whether it’s going to be hot or cold, you’ll want the extra hydration.
  6. Got your hotel room keys? Don’t lock the door until you check!

Once you have all the things, it’s time to move to your transportation method of choice…


On-Site: If you’re staying at a Disney Resort, there will be shuttles to take you to Runner’s Village. When I was driving to EPCOT on WDW Marathon morning, the fleet of busses was departing EPCOT around 2:00 AM to their respective resorts with first runners boarding around 3 AM. If you are paranoid about missing anything, OR want to go through bag check with minimal people around, I would HIGHLY suggest getting in the queue for this around 2:30 AM. It sounds obnoxiously early, but drivers have been known to get lost and/or delayed. It makes for some interesting tweets to read later.

new car
My wheels for race weekend!


Off-site/driving: If you’re planning on driving yourself, you may have it a juuuust little easier. Since you don’t have to rely on someone else for a ride, you can easily get to EPCOT on your own. Woohoo! Heed this warning though: Leave earlier than anticipated. Once that first fleet of busses starts heading back to EPCOT, traffic is going to be positively dreadful. Like, Master Gracey and the Haunted Mansion dreadful. I left at 2AM and got there about 15 minutes later. Even though I sat in my car for awhile, I was fine.

Driving directions, taken from the Event Guide:

-If you’re traveling I-4 (barf), take exit 64 to 192 West and follow the signs to EPCOT. DO NOT USE EXIT 67.

I repeat: Exit 67 = bad. Exit 64 = good!

-If you’re already on 192, you can use your GPS. I did and had no problems.

I will warn you again…expect significant delays if you’re not in the parking lot by 3 AM. Traffic is gnarly. Also, you are NOT allowed to access the corrals from anywhere else except through the Explore Lot at EPCOT. If you try to jump the fence at Bonnet Creek Parkway or Buena Vista Drive, you’ll get disqualified and definitely yelled at. Public embarrassment is not on the agenda for today, folks! It’s for your own safety. There is a runner dropoff in the Taxi Lot in EPCOT.

If you’re driving, you don’t have to pay the $20 to park. (It’s about the best perk runDisney is going to give you this weekend.)


Alrighty, so you’re traveling..and traveling…maybe singing songs with those on the bus or in the car…and then you’re here! Yay! Here’s what you do next…

Security: Anyone who has a check-in bag will have to go through security. If you have ANYTHING with a zipper (this includes arm bands, belts, etc.), you also have to go through security (be prepared ahead of time by opening the zippers on your items). This may sound overly unnecessary, but for those that are safety-minded, it will put you at ease. Anything is subject for additional searching, and there are K-9 units.

Once you’re through security, it is time for…


Runner’s Village

I’ve mentioned this a couple of times, and now it’s time to explain what exactly this mysterious land is.

This is where everything goes down before the race. Once past security, you will encounter the charity tents and some bathrooms. There will be the Race Retreat/breakfast tent, concessions to buy coffee/bagels/pre-race breakfasty deliciousness (be prepared to sell your kidneys for these, because Disney), info tents, and a main stage where pre-race music will be pumping and people will be dancing. (No lie, this actually happens.) Many running groups and friends will be meeting up during this time, and there are many visual landmarks you can use for a pre-race meetup.

Checking your stuff: Your gEar check tents will be in alphabetical order. Find your tent and drop off your stuff. Easy peasy.

Portapotties: There are about 592 of these all around. Make sure you have your PRPs before you head to the corrals. Potties will be scarce from this point on, and then you’ll have to resort to nature being your toilet.

Race Retreat/Breakfast: (Something that I have yet to experience. If you have experienced this, I’d love your input!) If you purchased tickets, you will head to a large, white tent in the Imagine Lot. Make sure you have your wristband! (You would have received this at the expo). Times for this is as follows:

-Friday: 7AM-9AM (breakfast)

-Saturday: 6:30AM-8:30AM (breakfast)

-Sunday: 3AM-10AM

Sunday Race Retreat:

3AM-5:30AM (This includes breakfast, stretching areas, portapotties, private gEAR check, etc.) ONLY RUNNERS CAN ACCESS THE TENT FOR THE RACE RETREAT.

5:30AM-10AM: Platinum ChEAR Squad guests ONLY, with breakfast from 5:30AM-6:30AM.

7:30 AM-10AM: Breakfast Service.

Stuff About Spectators:

Since I have never had to do a racecation with spectators in tow, I really don’t have a lot of personal experience to share. I do, however, have the Event Guide pages with this information! (If anyone else has experiences to share, please share them! Shoutouts and cupcakes for all that do!)


Oh yeah…one more thing…

MarathonFoto Paparazzi.: I find this to be the most annoying part of the pre-race. As much as I like taking pictures as a photographer, I’m not one for getting in people’s faces about it. I understand that they’re doing their job, but I don’t really like to be bothered. I politely decline and give an outward impression that I have things to do and places to go. Others may choose to ham it up, and that’s fine. To each their own.


Your stuff is checked in, you’ve peed, you’re hanging out with friends. Awesome! Now it’s around 4:45, and people are starting to meander towards the corrals. Now it is time to pay attention. This is when I will begin the great divide between 10K and PHM differences…

10K Corrals: There are five of these (as of 2014 and 2015; 2016 may be different). You don’t have to go far to find these. They will be in one of the parking lots. (The event guide doesn’t have a map for this, unfortunately…)


PHM Corrals: Far more fun. It is about a 20 minute walk to the corrals, and it really is a distance away! Floodlights will guide your way and booming music will accompany you. (Some refer to this as a Princess Death March, or the Herding of the Cows. All in good fun, of course!) Pay attention to the sign at the median: this will tell you which corrals go to the left or right. Follow the road and find the big corral light bulb thingie that has your letter on it. Show your bib to the volunteers and hop on in!

(^^ They’ll look something like this!)

So you’re in your corral and trying to figure out where to start. Line up where you think you’ll be most comfortable. Here is a little guide to help you:

*If this is your first race, start somewhere in the middle to back of your corral, in the middle-ish. If you’re more of the observing type, this will give you a few extra seconds to gauge what everyone is doing in front of you so you can plan your moves. This is also good for anyone planning to start slow and aim for negative splits later on.

*If you plan on running the whole thing, or are a veteran runner who got screwed with your proof of time submission and are a little speedier, go to the left. (Runners on the left.)

*If you’re going to do run/walk intervals, hover around to the right. (Walkers to the right.)

*Line up in the front if you’re absolutely crazy and want to get out ahead of everyone!

Race etiquette:

There will be many runners committing etiquette faux pas. Stay ahead of the game with these tips (and more throughout additional sections)!

-If you want to run with a friend and you’re in two seperate corrals, you need to move to the slower corral. You’re not allowed to move UP, only BACK. (Corral jumpers will attempt to hop the fence, and they have done this in the past. If you see this, report it to security immediately.)

-No more than two runners abreast across the road. Go single file in the Cone Alleys because it’s gonna be tight enough already. Don’t be hogging the road for people wanting to get around you.

-This one is huge: If you’re planning on run/walk/run intervals, nonverbal communication to your fellow runners is just as important, if not more, than verbal. In addition to verbally stating, “Run” or “Walk”, look behind you and move accordingly while giving a hand signal. This is when all runners should be outfitted with a belt that has turn signals on it. Don’t just stop in the middle of the freakin’ highway; someone WILL run into you and you both may be hurt. Also…there are a few runners that are deaf/hearing impaired that run this race. You never know who out there is, so just be mindful of those around you.

-Get those around you excited! You’d be surprised how many runners will be cracking jokes along the way. Interaction is key to staying sane, and you’ll make new runner buddies!

The announcers, especially Carissa and Rudy, will do their best at cracking jokes and keeping everyone engaged in the minutes prior.. The National Anthem will be sung (one of my goals in life as a professional anthemist!), and the Fairy Godmother will wave the corrals off one by one…

PHM Countdown
(^^ Photo courtesy of!)


Salagadoola… mechicka boola…three, two, one, GO!”



Christina’s Thoughts:

You may think that your life changes the second you toe the start line. In reality, this happens far sooner. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone, and that starts the second you decide to sign up and say, “Yes. I’m doing this.” You’ve put the miles in and are ready for your victory lap. Enjoy every moment, and take it all in.


You now have an idea of what happens before the race. Now that you’ve crossed the start line, you’re on a journey that’s fit for a princess! What will you encounter on the course besides elevation changes and a lot of other people in tutus and tiaras? Stay tuned for Episode IV, Part II!

Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide, Ep. III

I’m baaaaack! Who’s excited for race day?! *sees all the hands going up*

YAAAAAY! So glad there’s a bunch of happy princesses ready to rock their tiaras and earn their medals! I appreciate all of the encouragement and feedback that I’ve received from you so far. It really drives me to be the best author I can be, and to think of new and fun things to write! You guys rock my sockies.

We’re getting closer to the heart of race day, and though there is a definite buzz of excitement, many of you (including me!) are probably nervous. Whether this is your first race or your fiftieth, there’s usually a kaleidoscope of butterflies in your stomach in the hours before the race that seem to flutter about with incredible intensity, their wings tickling your insides and conjuring a mélange d’émotions:


We all have our ways of coping with pre-event jitters, and this episode will take us to the night before your race: what to do, what definitely NOT to do, what to review, and how to sleep…maybe.

Author’s Note: I received a suggestion from Lindsey Hardegree to include stuff about spectators! I will be touching upon spectator-related info a little in this episode, and a lot more the next. Thanks, Lindsey!! ❤

Let’s go!


PHM Survival Guide, Episode Three: Revenge of the Pre-Race Jitters: ‘t’was the Night Before Your Race….

You’re standing in your hotel room, and just like your house while you were packing in Episode I, there’s a plethora of things strewn about (minus the dog stealing your socks). Take a minute, take a couple of deep breaths, and follow this list…

What to Do

  1. Find your race outfit and lay it out. Pin your bib to whatever article of clothing you want PROVIDED THAT IT’S ON THE FRONT OF THE OUTFIT. If you want to be identified for race photos later on, your entire number must be visible. All four corners must be fastened on whether it’s with the safety pins, Race Dots, or whatever method you choose.
  2. Charge your electronics.
  3. Set out your accessories (belts, fuel stuff, arm pockets, jars of glitter, etc.)
  4. This one is crucial: If you’re going to take a picture of your pre-race setup, DO NOT, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS MAGICAL, DISPLAY YOUR BIB NUMBER. There are bib bandits out there that will copy the design of your bib and your number and try to run as you, taking valuable runner resources and causing more course congestion with extra bodies. Their fake bibs do not have the ChronoTrack B-chips on them, so their times will not be recorded, but they will be in the way of your race photos and, possibly, medical assistance. (If a runner with your bib is running as you, and something happens to them, runDisney is going to start calling YOUR emergency contacts, and this will result in mass confusion. We don’t like mass confusion.) Bib bandits have caused a lot of trouble in other series in addition to the runDisney series, so stay alert.
  5. Set everything aside on a desk or chair. Double check to make sure it’s all there, then leave it alone.
  6. Pack your check-in bag if you plan on bringing one. This is for everything you’re going to need post-race. Also, MAKE SURE THAT STICKER THEY GAVE YOU AT PACKET PICKUP IS AFFIXED TO THE LITTLE BOX ON YOUR BAG. Volunteers will not accept your bag without this sticker, or any other type of bag for that matter. Make sure it’s there. Hang the bag on the doorknob to the room. It’s an easy visual so that you don’t forget it on your way out the door.
  7. Grab your event guide and review the course. (This will be its own seperate section in a little bit.)
  8. Set out your breakfast. I know that when I get nervous, I don’t eat. BUT, you’re going to be running some sort of distance, so pre-race fuel is necessary. Bagels and peanut/almond butter, fruit, granola bars…whatever you’ve been using during training, use it now. As mentioned in previous episodes, nothing new on race day. You know what works for you. Don’t deviate from it.
  9. BREATHE. This is the most critical part of the night before. Get yourself into a calm state of mind, and visualize your race day. Listen to some zen music, do yoga, stretch out…take this time for you. If you’re a visual person, maybe some positive Pinterest pictures will do the trick. Whatever it takes to get your body calm and ready for sleep, do it.
  10. Go to bed at a reasonable hour, perhaps earlier than what you think you need. You may still be a little jittery after your zen-session, but turn off your social media and SET YOUR ALARM (maybe five). You’ve packed and prepared for this. You deserve rest. 🙂-Reminder: If you have a Pasta in the Park reservation, this happens at EPCOT from 7-8:30 PM with Illuminations at 9 on both Friday and Saturday of PHM weekend. If you’re partaking, you’ll probably get back to your hotel between 10-10:30 PM and you’ll have to wake up about three or four hours later to get ready for your race. This doesn’t leave a lot of time for everything above. Prep for your race before chowtime so you don’t have to do it when you get back.
  11. If you’re driving to EPCOT on race morning, make sure you have your directions ready to go. It’s relatively easy to get there; just make sure you follow the signs! DO NOT USE EXIT 67 OFF OF I-4.
  12. If you have a breakfast packet/race retreat package, make sure you bring your tickets/wristbands for that! (You would have picked these up at the expo, along with any ChEAR Squad Packages for your spectators, at the HP Fieldhouse.)


Now, here is what you don’t do the night before…

      1. Use your “I Did It!” shirt as part of your race ensemble. Ladies…and gents…this is presumptuous and really tacky, in my opinion. You have not completed your task; you are IN THE PROCESS of doing it. Your shirt will not be an electronic billboard that says, “I’m Doing It!” while you run, only to switch over automatically to, “I Did It!” once you cross the finish line. To refrain from getting the side-eye from those around you, please save your “I Did It!” shirts for AFTER the race. You’ll have earned it by then.

        2. Not getting sleep. I know you’re excited, but don’t go on a coffee/caffeine bender trying to make it through the night. It won’t work, and you will crash. Aim to get at least a couple of hours of sleep.

         3. Referring to #4 above, posting your bib number visibly online. Cover it up with something if you’re going to put a, “Find me in this outfit and say hi!” post on social media.

          4. Think that you can pack everything in five minutes before you head out the door. Nope. Nope. Nope. You WILL forget something, and you won’t have time to return to your room if you do forget something. Take the extra time THE DAY BEFORE and make sure it’s all in your gEAR bag and/or layed out in your room if it’s part of your runner ensemble.

           5. Eat something new. I will reiterate this for years to come: nothing new on race day. Seriously. If you try sushi for the first time the day before and get sick, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

           6. Be obsessive over social media and texts. Now is not the time to be glued to your devices. Have a set time where you will say goodnight to your followers and focus on your mental prep for race day.


So we’ve gone over the yays and nays of the night before race day. This next section is going to take us into one of the most critical parts of the entire racecation. Grab a snack and refill your coffee…


The Course Maps: What Exactly Am I Running?

(Note: This section will be a quick overview of the Enchanted 10K and Princess Half course maps. Episode Four: A New Race, will take each race WAY more in-depth with water/aid/food stops, places to pee, stuff to see, etc.)

Proper preparation prevents poor performance. Knowing what you’re getting into will quell most of the jitters, since many of us are scared of the unknown. Turning to your event guide somewhere in the middle, you will find course maps that give you start and end points and all the places in between you will be running. I will give you a basic overview of what to expect with terrain, elevation, and points of interest. Again, like always, I ask my readers for additional information if I forget anything, and it will be noted in the next episode! ❤

Enchanted 10K

10k PHM Map

(^^ map courtesy of Patty at!)

Start in the EPCOT Explore Lot. In the last two years, there have been five corrals between 9,000-11,000 runners total. This is a smaller staging area, and for those that have run the half before, those running the 10K will notice.

Fireworks go off. Boom. Yay. Let’s race!


-Mile 1: Long stretch of road and very flat. There will be an overpass with Anna, Elsa, and friends with snowflakes and “Let It Go” playing. (This was 2014 and 2015, so I’m not sure what will happen this year….maybe Ariel, Sebastian, and Flounder with a bubble machine?!)


-Mile 2: Around the corner and up the highway. This is the only major elevation change in the race. As always, what comes up…

-Mile 3: …must come down! Enjoy the downhill. This is also another looong stretch of highway, but last year there was music and old Disney romance clips of Mickey and Minnie playing on big Jumbotrons!

—-5K halfway! Woooo!—


-Mile 4: This is where it starts getting fun. You’ll enter the backstage area at EPCOT and start going around World Showcase beginning with China. You’ll veer to the left and go past Germany, Italy, America, Japan, Morocco, and France. PLENTY of photo opportunities here! (I think I tacked on about ten minutes taking pictures last year.) You’ll go across the bridge by France and swing left just before the UK to go to…

-Mile 5: The Boardwalk and Yacht Club! Again, this is beautiful and very scenic. IF IT HAS RAINED, BE CAREFUL OF THE BOARDWALK. It may be slippery, and we don’t want people wiping out. You’ll go through here and come back out in Future World of EPCOT…

-Mile 6: You’re almost home free! You go past Spaceship Earth, past many a spectator (they’re in abundance here!), past the traditional gospel choir…

And there’s the finish! Woohoo!Bhz1gBfIcAAzNBh

(You get snackies at the finish. This is the 2014 Enchanted 10K box!)


Princess Half Marathon


(^^map courtesy of the Mickey Miles Podcast crew!

With more runners and more corrals, there is a larger staging area on EPCOT Center Drive. You may be waiting a bit for your corral to launch.

Fireworks again. Yay! Let’s race!


Mile 1: Many spectators, a marching band or two, and flat. Oh, so flat.

Mile 2: More flat highway, and then a little elevation change. 

Mile 3: Downhill, more flat highway…getting closer to MK…


Miles 4-6.9: Hey, it’s Magic Kingdom! (“Caution: Course Narrows Ahead” audio and “Speed Bump Ahead!” signs will greet you throughout this section.) Miles 4-6.2 will involve MK and the castle.

There is a downward hill around Mile 4.5 (known by some as a Hill of Death), and is one of the “Cone Alleys” you’ll encounter, where runners are smooshed onto one side of the road and boxed in by a neverending line of cones…PHM 2013 people


You’ll go down Main Street U.S.A., head to the right through Tomorrowland, New Fantasyland, Cinderella Castle (be prepared for a bottleneck), Liberty Square and Frontierland.


Miles 7-9: Cone Alley Part II. Honestly, this is one of the suckiest parts of the entire course. You’ll come out of the backstage area of MK and get funneled onto one side of the road. You’ll also hit the halfway point (marked by a big sign of sorts), and Luna Bar provides encouraging princessy-signs along here, too!

Mile 10: OVERPASS. This is another huge elevation change on the course. Once you get up and over this (our wonderful green Army men will be hilariously encouraging you up the hill!), you’ll see Spaceship Earth! You’re almost done! (Seriously!)

Miles 11-12.9: EPCOT. You’ll go down the overpass ramp and into the park. You’ll run by Spaceship Earth to a point (you’ll see American Adventure straight in front of you and Starbucks is on your right), and loop back up the other side. If you had run the 10K the day before, this is going to look really familiar!

Miles 13-13.1: Backstage of EPCOT, past the gospel choir…and there’s the finish line! Woohoo!



Everything is prepared. You’ve read over the course maps. And you’re getting sleepy. You shut the lights off and cuddle with your pillows. In a few short hours, it will be race time!

Stay tuned for Episode Four, A New Race: The Ins and Outs of Race Day, coming soon!

Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide, Ep. II

Welcome back! Thank you all for reading and providing such wonderful feedback from Part I. Your energy is keeping me alive and thriving, and so excited to continue writing. Props to you all! *confetti*

I would like to add a piece of information from our very own Ken Alegre, whom you may recognize from social media as #kenthumbsup. He suggested that you remember RAIN GEAR when you’re packing. This is so critical, especially in FL weather, and I can’t believe I missed it! Thanks, Ken!

Today’s adventures will take us to a crticial part of any runDisney weekend: surviving the expo. This is 20% actual race logistics, and 80% not overdrawing your bank account. I will take you through both the important and fun aspects of the expo, and all the things you need to be aware of! (Heads up: I am not one for lingering around an expo. I make a game plan, get what I need/want, and get out. There may be some gaps in information with this article, so if I forget anything, please list it!)

Got your ID? Got your credit card? Got a sense of adventure? Great! Here we go!


Episode II: Attack of the Expo…I Have HOW Much In My Bank Account?!

Before you even go to the expo, you need to know the following:

  1. What times the expo is open. The excitement usually begins on Thursday of race week around 10AM. The times for the 2015 expo were as follows: Thurs 10A-8P, Fri: 9A-7P, Sat: 9A-5P.
  2. How you’re getting there. runDisney has a plethora of on-site shuttles during race weekend. These shuttles will be marked with runDisney signs in the front windows. These busses will start as early as a half-hour before the expo opens. If you’re offsite, head to I-4 and take exit 65 to Osceola Pkwy. West. Hang a left onto Victory Drive and volunteers will be directing you to your parking spot.
  3. BRING YOUR ID AND RACE WAIVER. You will not be allowed to race without your bib (obviously), and if you need to print your waiver, there are computers available in the HP Fieldhouse. THERE IS NO PACKET PICK-UP ON RACE MORNING. Even if you hate crowds and shopping, you still have to go to the expo. Sorry, kids.
  4. Have a game plan. Heading to the expo, especially on Day 1, is like Black Friday (or Black Thursday, or Cyber Monday…whatever shopping holiday you celebrate in November.). Plan for large crowds and those dashing for what I call the Big Three: official runDisney merch, runDisney New Balance shoes, and Dooney and Bourke bags. These are known to sell out within an hour with little to no chance of restocking. runDisney releases the weekend merchandise in the weeks before the race. This gives you plenty of time to plan, mentally and financially. (It also helps to have a set amount that you’re willing to spend at the expo. Once you hit that limit, don’t spend any more. Many vendors have online sites that you can order things from, so you can window shop and have a mental cache of prices if you wish to purchase items later.)
  5. Review the official race weekend guide on You will receive a hard copy of this with your race packet pickup items. This contains vital information for race weekend, including a road map to where everything is located at WWOS. 1512303_1113107575381870_8432471459995632656_n
  6. Make sure you thank the expo volunteers, or any volunteer you run into. They’re busting their asses on-stage and behind the scenes to ensure that you have a great weekend. They deserve so much credit, so don’t turn on the Princess Diva Attitude if something doesn’t go your way.

With regard to the road map, there are two main buildings where things are at. These are the HP Fieldhouse and the Jostens Center. Here’s a breakdown of both buildings:



HP Fieldhouse:

-All packets are to be picked up here. (Kids, 5K, 10K, PHM, GSC). Some are on the upper floor, some are on the lower floor.


-Official runDisney merchandise is here AND in Jostens

-Commemorative items and pre-purchased items. If you ordered extra goodies when you signed up, you’ll get them here.

Runner tracking, volunteer check-in, and additional exhibitors

-Runner Relations

Jostens Center (floorplan posted later on):


-Offical runDisney merchandise is here AND at HP Fieldhouse

-Race-weekend speakers

-Inspiration Station

-Majority of the exhibitors! (This is the Black Friday part I was mentioning earlier.)

-More runDisney merchandise! (I believe that runDisney split this between both buildings so people aren’t stepping all over each other in one area.)

(Rant: I wish runDisney would plan things so that ALL packets and gEAR bags/race shirts were in the same building. Having them in two seperate buildings is a major pain.)

*Aside from the Fieldhouse and Jostens center, the Welcome Center has your Pasta in the Park tickets (if you ordered them), and also theme park tickets should you wish to purchase them.

*New Balance also offers a virtual queue check-in, if you’re planning on purchasing their shoes. UPDATE: 1/20/16,10:35 PM: Meghan Gorny has provided us with a fantastic overview of this!: “The New Balance Virtual queue experience. The queue for New Balance shoes opens at 6am each day of the expo until spots are filled. The first day of the expo, the appointments are for runners only and they will ask for your bib number when you register. When you get to the website, they will ask for what size and shoe that you are purchasing. Spots seemed to go quickly at marathon weekend. I signed in at 6am and got an appointment for 1pm. When you get to the expo, there will be signs showing you where to go check in for your appointment time. When you check in for your appointment, they bring you to the New Balance area, they bring you the shoes that you requested. You can also ask for 5 other pairs of shoes.”

Alrighty. So you know where things are at and what you need to do! Let’s begin…


  1. First and foremost, even if you’re a shopaholic or absolutely hell-bent on being the first in line at 7AM on Thursday to get the Dooney and Bourke bags, GET YOUR RACE DAY ESSENTIALS FIRST. I mean, that’s the reason you’re down here, right? Head to the Fieldhouse with your ID and race waiver (or print it out when you get there), and look for your race and your bib number. There are seperate booths with ranges of numbers. Find what corresponds to you and head on over. You will be greeted by the volunteers. Offer your information, and they will retrieve your items. Be sure to sign yourself in in the binder in front of you: find your bib number and put your John Hancock next to it. Once you’ve signed in, the volunteer will verify the bib number and shirt size on your waiver matching the actual bib they give you. In addition to the race event guide, there is also a sticker that will go on your gEAR check bag. This has your bib number and first initial of your last name. DON’T LOSE THIS.
  2. Next, go get your race shirt and gEAR bag. Stand in line and offer your bib to the volunteers there. (There is a tear-off portion with your shirt size on the bib, which will be redeemed for your shirt!) You’ll get your shirt and check-in bag (which will have safety pins in it. DON’T LOSE THESE.)

It is best if you try your shirt on. There is a place for shirt exchanges if you need to do so. The shirt cut seems to change every year. I have PHM/GSC shirts that are either too small or too large.

3. Now that you have your essentials, it’s time to go exploring! What is wonderful about PHM weekend is that sometimes you can get your picture taken with the princesses! (I cannot guarantee this happens every year since it’s not listed on the road map for the Jostens center. You never know what times they will appear, so you really have to take your chances. I got pics with Minnie, Snow White and Cinderella in 2015.)

There are so many vendors available to runners. You can go to your favorites and restock your gear, or find Jeff Galloway and have a chat with him. Here’s a partial list of fun things you can find at the Josten’s Center! (List from 2015, and it changes every year!)



Bondi Band

Champion apparel

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (race weekend celebratory charity!)

Coppertone (did you get your sunscreen yet?!)

Dannon (free yogurt!)

Divas Half Marathon Series

Endure Jewelry

Fit2Run (I got my Garmin through them during WDW marathon weekend!)

KT Tape (you can get taped at the Expo)

LUNA bar (you can get cheer signs here!)

New Balance

Noah’s Light Foundation






etc. etc. etc.

4. Now that you’ve bought all the things, maybe you’d like to take a breather and attend a seminar. There are a variety of them held throughout the week by various atheltes and motivational speakers. Be sure to check the list in your event guide, as these also vary every year. Some of the seminars from 2015 included:

-Jeff Galloway, “I Can Go the Distance!”

-Danni Allen (Biggest Loser Season 14 winner), “Change Your Life One Step At a Time”

-Luna Pace Team, “13.1 Dream Come True Tips for a Magical Race Day”

-runDisney panel, “Information for Runners and Spectators”

-Jenny Simpson (Olympian), “Go For the Gold!”


So you’ve got your new stuff, heard some motivational words, received race-day advice, and now it’s time to head back to your hotel with all your new goodies and a positive bank account. Woohoo!

And now it’s time for the real talk.37075_580616501964316_1669205870_n


Sometimes things aren’t all Mickey ears and pixie dust.

One thing that you will see post-expo is runDisney merchandise being resold online at a much higher price, especially the D&B bags and New Balance shoes. Princesses (and princes)….it’s going to happen. It has become a staple of runDisney events for those that aren’t even running the races to nab multiple quantities of the merchandise to resell for-profit. Hell, even some runners do this. I’ve heard all the complaints in the book: “This merchandise should be reserved for runners only.” “runDisney should pay attention to the consumer demand and order more to be prepared for race weekend.” “All of it was gone in an hour…why do people suck so much!?”

Stop. Seriously. Put your big girl panties and big boy boxers on and grow up.

It’s going to happen, and there is nothing you can do about it.Take the high road and resist join in the social media chatter about how things are seemingly unfair.  Just breathe in, breathe out, and move on.


Thank you for reading Part II of my series! You’ve officially survived the expo! Again, I ask those that have additional information that I’ve forgotten to add it. I’ll ensure proper credit is given.


You’re sitting in a sea of new things, and eagerly counting down the hours until you get up and get ready for your race! How do you prepare the night before, especially when you’re either A. so excited you can’t sleep, and/or B. you’re terrified and full of pre-race jitters? Stay tuned for PHM Survival Guide, Episode Three: Revenge of the Pre-Race Jitters, coming soon!

Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide, Ep. I



Welcome to runDisneyBelle’s Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide! This is part one of a six-part series I’ve designed to quell the jitters and answer some questions about this popular race. I will be catering this guide to the firsties out there who will be running their very first PHM, or their very first race EVER, and this can also serve as a refresher for the Princess veterans, as well.

PHM is special to me, as this was my first race ever! 2016 will be my fourth Princess Half Marathon and my third Glass Slipper Challenge. I’m excited to share my knowledge with you all!

So let’s get started, shall we? Got your snackies and beverages? Great! Here we go…



Episode I: The Race-Packing Menace….Where Did My Socks Go?

So you’re standing next to your empty luggage, elated and ready to pack for the race! What do you bring? WHAT. DO. YOU. BRING?! You see a sea of sneakers, tulle, glitter, race fuel, clothes, toiletries, etc. on your bed and on the floor around your bed, maybe strewn out into the hallway and down the steps. The dog may have stolen your socks and is hiding them because he doesn’t want you to leave. The scene is chaotic, your mind just went to mush, and you’re about to cry pixie dust.

Never fear. Here is a list of what you should bring for a fantastic PHM racecation!

  1. Personal Items: I’m talking logistical things that will absolutely wreck your vacay if you forget them:

         A. Medications, inhalers, knee/wrist braces

         B. Money/credit cards/cash/etc.

         C. Reservations (plane, hotel, dining/ADR,)

         D. If you’re driving (like me!), your road map/GPS/direction. Speaking of vehicles, make sure to check the important stuff before you leave. Air pressure, oil, wiper fluid…

          E. Magic Bands, if you use them for your Disney Vacation.

2. Race Items (If you’re flying, make sure your carry-on luggage has your race essentials, especially #1.)

  1. YOUR SHOES. If you forget your shoes and have to buy new ones at the expo, your feet will hurt. Badly. Better pick out names for the new blister babies that will form on your feet.

     2. Socks. Go rescue them from the dog right now. I’ve had to do this before:

hoss and socks


3. Undergarments, especially sports bras for the ladies. Wear what you’ve worn during training.

4. Whatever you’re wearing for each race. Put these outfits together and place them into large labeled Ziploc bags.

5. Any accessories (tutus, tiaras, fairy wings, wands, etc.) that will accompany your race outfits.

6. Your FUEL. You can pick up some of this at the expo, like GU gels or Nuun. I use EnergyBits (which have yet to make their way to a runDisney expo), so that goes right in my purse next to my wallet. (I love being #poweredbybits!)

7. Electronics: Cell phone. Fitness watch. Ipod. Headphones. All chargers. Nothing sucks more than getting to Runner’s Village and seeing your devices not fully charged.

8. Armpockets, Spibelts, Flipbelts, water backpacks, vests…whatever you use to hold all the things you’ll need on the course or use for hydration. (FYI, THEY WILL CHECK THESE AT PRE-RACE SECURITY. ANYTHING WITH A ZIPPER IS SUBJECT FOR A SEARCH.)

9. Past medals: If you’re planning on taking any kind of legacy picture post-race or in the parks, bring these with you. Or try your luck and ask someone who DOES have them if you can wear them for your own picture! (I had this happen in 2015. I passed my medals around and I got invited to hang with a group in MK for the rest of the day, including being added on their Be Our Guest dining reservation. Best day ever, and we’re all still great friends!)


10. Any spare space blankies, or throwaway clothing. You will probably be chilly standing around in the corrals waiting for the race to begin. Once you get moving, many shed these outer layers. They all get collected and donated to charity!

Note on space blankets: If it’s cold as hell outside (last year’s Frozen 5K and Enchanted 10K were in the 30’s) and you decide to run with your space blanket, MAKE SURE TO OPEN IT UP AS YOU CROSS THE TIMING MATS. The material used for the blankets affects the ability to transfer the electronic info from the timing chip to the mat, so your times may be inaccurate if you’re running about all wrapped up.

11. Race-related toiletries. I’m talking Body Glide, deodorant, tampons, anti-chafing things, face wipes for after, sunscreen…

12. Sticks/foam rollers/possibly a yoga mat for stretching?

13. Compression items, if you use them: socks, sleeves, etc.

14. More socks and perhaps a spare pair of shoes. If you’re doing multiple races and one pair gets wet, you don’t know for sure if they’ll be dry for the next day. Also, wet socks are awful. Simply awful. Nothing feels better than dry socks after taking wet ones off.

15. Backup outfits for the races. Have one cold-weather outfit and one hot-weather outfit. You’ll be thankful later in case Elsa decides to show up.

16. Sun stuff. Sunscreen (a must), sunglasses, hats, visors (only if you’re used to running with them).

17. Post-race footwear. Your feet will be sore and swollen. Flip flops or other comfy footwear is essential for happy feet.

Other racecation things

1.  Personal toiletries: shampoo/conditioner/body wash/lotion/makeup/ etc.

2. Outfits for park walking/hanging out. Bring articles that you can mix and match easily.

3. OUTFITS FOR BOTH COLD AND HOT WEATHER. Florida weather in February is never really accurate, and you can experience all four seasons in the span of an hour.

4. Extra food you may need. If your hotel has an inadequate breakfast station or you simply don’t want to purchase overpriced park food, consider heading into town and/or bringing your own. (I brought Luna bars and oatmeal with peanut butter for WDW Marathon weekend.)

Okay, your packing list is taped to the fridge and you cross another day off of the calendar. You’re getting excited! Yay! Now it’s time to get real….


We are a month away from race day. This is when things are going to start getting serious training-wise. If you haven’t already, start getting some miles under your legs. Many of you that are following training plans may notice that you have some high-mileage weeks coming up. Starting now, will have three (possibly four) weekends remaining to get long runs in. (I say four if you decide to do a semi-long run on Sunday the 14th, which is the Sunday before PHM). I highly recommend doing at least one “Mock Race Day” where you recreate the distance you will experience. Personally, I have my schedule set for Three Mock GSCs starting on the 30th of January: Saturdays will be 10K, and Sundays will be 13.1.  Wear your race day outfit (yes, that means tutus, too!), use your race fuel, hydrate, listen to your music,…do everything you’re going to do on this run (or these runs) that would emulate race day. IF anything goes wrong, you still have time to fix it. 

Everyone’s training plans are different, and sometimes life does get in the way. (Before my first PHM in 2013, I dealt with wisdom teeth surgery and passing a kidney stone. The longest run I got in before race day was 10 miles, but I finished in 3:25!) Do your best to remain consistent. If you want to taper (set aside a week or two of decreased mileage prior to race day), that is up to you. In the days before the race, keep loose by walking around and stretching, but stay relatively conservative. Don’t blow your energy reserves by staying at the expo for six hours looking at all the shiny things, or walking loops around EPCOT. You will feel it the next day. Trust me.

RW food pyramid

Regarding diet and race day nutrition…now is not the time to be experimenting with new things. You know what works best for you, so use it. Keep your meals healthy, as this will fuel your body. (I cut out 99% of alcohol starting one month before race day, and while some cannot fathom this, I feel amazing, and find this works best for me.) It may be tempting to try new goodies at the expo, but save these for AFTER; you never know if something new will upset your stomach, or (even worse) you find out you’re allergic to it. We all want a happy, magical race, and a tummy episode will kill that dream. I reiterate a race lesson from the 2015 MCM: “Nothing new on race day. Seriously. Not even a good luck charm.”

Quick note on coffee….ahhh yes. Good ol’ java. Can’t really start the morning without it. Trust me, I’m a bit of a coffee junkie and cannot resist a vanilla latte (my favorite!) from Main Street U.S.A. However, thanks to the housekeepers at my hotel who didn’t refresh my depleted coffee supply, I surprisingly didn’t have any for two days during WDW Marathon weekend (day before the race and the day of), and I survived the race without problems. Now, 2015’s PHM was a different story. I purchased coffee in Runner’s Village (you can buy things there!), and ended up getting delayed not just in MK’s bathrooms (long lines just to pee), but also along Mile 10 where I took ten minutes doing my other business. I KILLED my chances of a 20-minute PR due to coffee consumption and I’m still kicking myself in the ass because of it.

If you plan on having it, have it early enough so you can get your PRPs (pre-race poops) out of the way and carry on with your day. The energy at Runner’s Village will be electric at 4AM…you may not even need it!

This wraps up Part One! If there’s anything I forgot, please feel free to add it in the comments or a Tweet or a FB post!

You’ve now landed in Florida and have settled into your hotel. You’ve remembered all the things, and you’re deciding what to do next. Grab a Mickey pretzel (carbs are good!)? Take a nap? Go for a lazy swim? 

How about…get your bib and explore the Expo?


PHM Survival Guide, Episode Two: Attack of the Expo, coming soon!

The Story of the Bow


I like big bows and I cannot lie.

They’re my trademark accessory. Surprising for someone that’s almost 30 years old.

It’s amazing how many people will recognize me out of the blue when I’m sporting one during a race or wandering around places. With this identifiable symbol becoming associated to my name/blog/social media spheres, the possibilities of name branding become endless. I also like to feel girly every now and again. Bows and glitter. Cheering for people on and off the course. Spreading love and contagious enthusiasm.

How did the bow come to be? Well, I’ll tell you…


It’s quite simple.

For PHM 2013, I wanted to accessorize with something girly. I wasn’t keen on wearing a tutu or a tiara or having fairy wings, as it seemed the majority of the running population at the time was shifting towards those items. I wanted something different, yet still sport my excitement and enthusiasm towards my first race and runDisney in general.

I had acquired a pink and white bow from my college’s cheer squad during one of our “Pink Out” basketball games at some point. I may have worn it in my hair a couple of times while I was singing the anthem, and when I was out and about, because…why not? Being a former cheerleader, sporting a bow or ribbons of sorts is like being fitted for a glass slipper: revs up some sort of internal energy and transforms you. (Maybe not that intense, but you definitely feel a new pep in your step!)

So I wore the pink and white one for PHM ’13, and quickly retired it due to the elastic becoming seperated. It still hangs on my medal hanger above that medal as a “first race, first bow, first medal” symbolism.



Enter 2014.

My chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi became active at the end of the 2013 fall term. What better way to sport my fraternal dorkism level than with all things blue and white? I splurged on a jumbo Chasse Cheer blue/white/gold bow. Knowing the symbolism behind the colors, I felt like I could represent my brothers everywhere I went….including the inaugural Glass Slipper Challenge!

In addition to the GSC and Historic Half, I sported that bow at our District Convention. This resulted in a plethora of brothers now recognizing me wherever I went (IRL and social media) just because I wore it. I brought it with me to subsequent conventions, including our recent National Convention last summer in Kentucky. I would tell attendees, “Just look for the bow!”…and they did! (Last weekend at Disney, I had brothers in Florida call for me from across the Boardwalk just because they saw the bow at nationals. It’s really fun to be recognized for your trademark!)


Later in 2014, I added a third bow to the collection: the black and red with stars. I bought that one for the MCM, and wanting to mix up the color scheme a little, didn’t settle on a traditional red, white, and blue bow. (It also matches the MCM colors, which are black, red, and yellow!)

I stuck with bows #2 and #3 throughout 2015. When it came time for the WDW Marathon and the upcoming GSC, I knew I needed something new, something fresh.

*cue bows #4 and #5*


Bow #4 is green, white, and gold (or the “Tinkerbell” bow), and Bow #5 is a pink/white/stilver “Princess” bow (worn during the marathon and as a replacement for Bow #1). The most common phrase I would hear throughout WDW Marathon weekend was, “Are you runDisneyBelle/Christina? I thought so; I recognize the bow!”

*insert excessive giddiness and hugs and “I’m so happy to meet you!” here*

*end scene*


And there you have it. A relatively simple story about why I wear bows, and will continue to do so during running events.

Seriously…if you see the bow, come say hi. I love meeting new friends!

pink bow

’til next time…