I’m so going to PR this race…
I’m on track to PR this race! WOOOO!
…and there goes my PR for this race…right out the window…
The above dialogue essentially explains, in a nutshell, what happened during the Princess Half Marathon for me. But let’s backtrack for just a minute. After all, there’s more to a race recap than highlighting a failed PR attempt…
Just like the previous day, I woke up at 2:30 to get ready for the race. I think I stayed in bed until 2:40, but was immediately up and at ’em. My tummy was STILL giving me problems (as it had all week), so I was curious to see what would happen when I got out on the race course.
En route, it was just a teeny bit busier heading to the starting area at EPCOT than it was for the Enchanted 10K. However, I saw the first round of buses heading there, as well, and I’m fortunate that I didn’t leave a minute too late.
After having pre-security “veg out in the car” time, I made my way through security and to the bag check. I ran into friends (including my fellow Kappa Kappa Psi brother, Chelsea!) and Team Shenanigans members along the way, which made the time go by much faster.
(^^space blankets for days!)
My BRF, Jess, and I made our way to the corrals together and we arrived around 5:15. (It is literally at 20-minute walk from Runner’s Village, just so all you future princesses and princes know. Don’t leave any later than 4:55 to make it there on time.) We were entertained by Carissa and Rudy, and the multitalented Miss America, Betty Cantrell, sang the national anthem (which I totally approved!).
Soon after, the fireworks were launched and the corrals were moving (much faster than they were for the 10K). Around 6AM, Corral I was sent off!
There were a lot of parallels between my 10K and half marathon. Among other things, I once again didn’t run with music, and I was completely fine with it. I had far too much fun listening to the on-course entertainment and chatting with other runners to really miss it much.
Miles 2 and 9 run next to each other on the out-and-back portion of the course. The elites were coming back up the road as I was heading down into Magic Kingdom. I couldn’t help but cheer for all these amazing athletes, including one of my running idols, Heather Schulz! I saw her running past the Mile 9 aid station, and I ran over to the left side of the road, stopped and shouted at the top of my lungs, “GO, HEATHER, GO! YOU GOT THIS! WOOOOOO!”
Just cheering like this for five seconds boosted me up, and I continued on through to Magic Kingdom. I crossed the 5K mark with a pace that would land me my B-goal PR of 2:45…just like last year. I was also taking advantage of Biofreezing the hell out of my knees since there were still a little funny from the 10K. Even with these quick stops, I was making great time.
Hot damn! Let’s keep going!
But that spirit boost didn’t last long…
My tummy started rumbling. Just like the 10K…
…hello, bathroom stop. Again. Stupid Mile 4/5 Curse…
Waiting for the bathroom added ten minutes to my time. SO FRUSTRATING. I kept staring at my watch and making mental calculations for what my pace needed to be to still be on track for a PR. At this point, I was even ahead of the 3:00 pace group by about 5 minutes. I stood in line and simply watched them run on by…
When I did get into the bathroom, almost nothing came out. Phantom pains? Perhaps. Needless to say, I was not happy.
I left and headed past the Contemporary and Space Mountain en route to the Mile 5 marker. At least I caught the sunrise at this point, and another runner and I took pictures for each other.
Running down Main Street wasn’t really fun this year. First of all, it was rather quiet. The music was playing and some spectators were cheering…but most of them were just dead. Not sure if the early-morning wakeup call had them all still sleepy or what, but it wasn’t the most exciting thing to do. Hanging the right and heading into Tomorrowland was nearly identical to 2015: the sun was beginning to rise. I knew the temperature was going to spike.
Running through the castle was THE LEAST CONGESTED I HAVE EXPERIENCED IT, EVER. I was absolutely shocked at the ease I could maneuver through and still come out the other side unscathed. (Dark and blurry shot above, but notice the non-congestion.)
Right after Liberty Square, I could feel tummy rumblings making themselves known. Seriously. Not again. I ducked into the Adventureland bathroom.
I ran out and crossed the 10K timing mat. This was 1:31, and the second slowest 10K split I’ve ever run. I was halfway…. and I had to stop again.
This all happened within the first half of the race. Three bathroom stops and my chance for PR-ing completely shot to hell. At this point, I was just hoping to finish.
The next half of the PHM course begins with the menace known as Cone Alley. As you can see from the picture, it is self-explanatory.
(^^Cones for miles. Yeahhhh…)
According to my Garmin, my Mile 7 pace was 20:00. #MiddleOfTheFieldProblems
During Mile 8 (the Clif Shot mile), the sun came out strong. It was another “Blinded By the Light” moment as we ran past the Grand Floridian and golf courses. In addition to the Biofreeze, I was taking advantage of dumping ice cold water over my head and enjoying the fact I was running in a sports bra and not a shirt or tank top. Trust me, it felt great.
I hit Mile 8.7, and grabbed my traditional Vanilla and Mocha Clif Shots. The sucky part about this section is that there isn’t a water station immediately after. Don’t take your Clif Shots without water; they’ll dry your throat out and you’ll have sticky residue all over. You have to wait about another half a mile to get water to wash it down, so carry them with you until this point.
I was still feeling incredibly grouchy at this point. My mile pace had increased significantly and I was watching my chances at even tying my original half PR of 3:06 sliding away with every step. I started up the Mile 10 overpass, and something in me changed…
I thought back to the Survival Guide, and how it had been a key resource to those that were running this very race. Around me, thousands of runners were striving to reach the finish line, and I knew that the last 5K of this race can be a total bitch. Now, more than ever on the course, walls were going to be hit, spirits would sink, and we would have to pick each other up if we were going to accomplish our goal of finishing for free bananas and lots of shiny bling, in addition to bragging rights.
This overpass makes or breaks runners. Even if I can just boost up one person, knowing that even I wouldn’t achieve my goals, maybe I can help them achieve theirs.
I ascended the overpass, passed the Army Men shouting orders for us to, “Stop texting and run!”, and ran over to the left side of the course. Peering down over the side of the overpass, I shouted to everyone below me…
“YOU GUYS ARE DOING GREAT! KEEP IT UP! WOOOOOO!”
In those five seconds, my entire demeanor changed. As the response from my cheering erupted below and all around me, I accepted the fact that making these types of memories on the course is what makes a race what it is. It’s not about times and being hell-bent on PR-ing (although that’s always a plus). It’s making that difference for runners, even if it is only one out of tens of thousands, that can give them the boost to keep going and not give up. I had been there four years ago in my first race. Giving back to the running community in that fashion was absolutely priceless.
I dashed over to the Mile 11 med tent to re-Biofreeze, and the medics there said we were about 1.9 miles away from the finish. Woohoo!
Catching Spaceship Earth on the horizon and descending into EPCOT at Mile 12 is probably my favorite part of the PHM course (even more fun that running down Main Street in Magic Kingdom and storming the castle). The crowds are ample and the encouragement is electrifying. Plus, it was really shady in some spots. (Thank you, Spaceship Earth!)
Round the corner, pass the gospel choir, and head down the last straightaway to the finish line!
My time? Heh…3:26:19. Slowest half marathon to date. (Even slower than my very first PHM which was a 3:25:41.) But hooray for earning my Triple Slipper! (Three GSCs down, lots more to go!)
I wasn’t very happy immediately post-race. (Even when I was in line to do my GSC picture, I was fighting being grouchy.) I really stewed in my emotions for most of the day. Tack the slow-as-mud time on top of it, and there weren’t many positive feelings left.
It took a few days, but I’m at peace with my performance now. Surprisingly.
Christina’s Post-GSC Thoughts:
- Even if you don’t achieve your overall goal, there will always be more races to compete in to better your time. I’m very happy that I managed one PR out of the weekend. (Just goes to show that you CAN PR in a runDisney event!)
- Runner’s etiquette…ugh. Come on, y’all. Read the manual you’re given at expo time. Don’t be hogging the course by walking 4-6 abreast. That’s annoying as hell. And don’t get snarky when other runners say, “Coming through!” and split the middle of your group because it’s the only way to get around.
- Copious amounts of Biofreeze will make your eyes burn.
- You only get water on the course during the 10K. Electrolyte drinks are provided for the half.
- There’s nothing wrong with a little cold water over the head during the sunny parts of the half…until that water mixes with sweat and runs in your eyes. Many owies.
- Be sure to cheer your fellow runners on and say hi to those you do know! I had the privilege of running into some of my Team Shenanigans ladies on the PHM course and that was a very happy fifteen seconds of my race day. I also met more blog readers during PHM and those interactions kept me going.6A. Even the elites need love, too. If you’re in the position to cheer for those vying for the win, DO IT. I spoke with Heather during the expo and she said that it can get really lonely at the front of the field. These runners are just like us, and they deserve our support!
- Regarding diet...fiber is good for you, especially in the days preceding the race. Make sure your food contains an adequate amount of the stuff, or you’ll end up like me with stomach pains raging.
- No matter the race, RESPECT THE DISTANCE. I refuse to be cutesy and nice about this (and other topics) any longer. If you don’t train for the race, you’re going to be the one who is hurting like hell afterwards. Don’t come crying to those that HAVE done this before and complain about how much you didn’t train, and then try to go out and run it solely to say you did it. That’s not how racing works.
- HAVE FUN. I cannot begin to tell you how frustrating it is listening to fellow runners get so worked up over getting swept and worrying about the Balloon Ladies that they throw any chance of having a great race out the window due to this anxiety. Throw your cares to the wind and just race. The majority of you that were concerned about it probably didn’t get swept, anyway.
- I’m glad I only heard “Let It Go” only once on the course this time.
- The runDisney Easter Egg Hypothesis is raging strong on social media, where the Mile 13 marker is the theme for the next year’s race. If this holds true…next year’s theme will be Snow White!
Congrats to everyone who had a magical race weekend! You’ve earned your medals and bragging rights, so show that bling and post those pictures! Shoutout to everyone who I met on the course and for everyone who benefitted from my PHM Survival Guide. I hope to see you all at a future runDisney event!
Until next time…see you at the finish line!