It’s been a minute! I’m back from the half marathon weekend and I have so much to discuss. Where to start?!
I’ll cut to the chase of the race results first. I completed it! (Obviously.) I finished the race in about 2 hours and 47 minutes, according to my official RunDisney results, although if you’ve ever ran these races, you’ll learn it’s not that exact, give or take 5-10 minutes due to a variety of factors, which I’ll go over. But this isn’t too far off since when I trained, the farthest I ran was 20 km in about 2 hours and 30 minutes time. The half is 13.1 miles, which is about 21 km, roughly. I placed 6115 out of 20100 total finishers, and 4818 in the gender place out of 17106 women who finished.
I can’t begin to tell you all the emotions I went through that day. From the start to the finish, every thing felt like a whirlwind. In retrospect though, I’d have to say it was quite the experience of a lifetime. It really does move you to see what you can do, what you are capable of and everyone around you motivating you as you push forward. It’s an amazing feeling.
Morning of the Race
I woke up feeling so anxious. Actually, that’s a lie. I didn’t really get any sleep that night at all, maybe an hour if I was lucky but I felt like I was up the whole night trying to fall asleep and then gave up at a certain point and just got up to get ready and warm up with my resistance bands for glute activation. So I didn’t wake up, per se, more like I got up at 1am since I had to be on the buses by 3am. The race doesn’t officially start til 5:30am so it was a long morning. I had a banana and a protein bar for breakfast on the bus although I wasn’t feeling very hungry but I knew I was going to need it as race fuel later on. You don’t want to run on empty. I was also racing with one of my best friends, which helped a lot to keep each other company during the long wait, since the beginning of the race took forever. It officially started at 5:30 but they launch in corrals and I was corral F so I didn’t get to start until nearly 6am.
My poor sisters also woke up in the dead of the night to make the mecca with us to the start line. Looking back, they didn’t need to be up so early, but now we know for next time they can just meet us at the Magic Kingdom checkpoint instead. I feel bad making them get up so early but I really appreciate the dedication to being my cheerleaders for this weekend. They were a big part of my trip and helping me push through it and I had such a great time because they were with me in body as well as spirit. They even made posters and held them up proudly. Just them being there and running to each checkpoint, screaming my name out, saying “YEAHHHH THAT’S MY SISTER!,” texting me throughout the race to check in with me and how I was doing, taking all my photos, well, it really did mean A LOT to me. It takes a lot of love to do something like that and it really meant something to me that they took the time out of their lives to come out for me.
Products I Used (for the makeup enthusiasts)
I read a few blogs regarding makeup specifically for races because I knew that regardless of how people warned against wearing makeup during races, I was going to do it anyway so I wanted notes from other racers who had done it. I’m vain, we know that, so let’s get that out of the way. I did my makeup, locking it in with primers before applying anything and then setting the finished look with Urban Decay’s All Nighter Spray, which is why everything still looked intact despite the humidity and my face feeling like it wanted to melt off, for those asking how I was able to cross the finish line still looking like a princess, hahaha. Using both primers to start and a setting spray to finish was double insurance.
I looked into a lighter coverage foundation than my usual full coverage to lessen the damage that might incur from the combination of foundation and sweat clogging up your pores and causing breakouts. I bought Dior’s Dreamskin cushion, which I ended up loving. It’s light and feels great on. It still covers up my freckles, albeit lightly, and I love that it just looks like an enhanced version of my natural skin, similar to a BB cream finish. I used a more natural looking color blush as well, as opposed to my traditional bright pinks. I tried to stay in neutral tones closer to my natural complexion, so that if I did sweat and my makeup started to melt off, it wouldn’t look a complete hot mess. I did choose a nice bright Barbie pink liquid lipstick though with a layer of glitter on top for my lip color. I wanted a punch of color to match my race outfit. Liquid lipstick I highly recommend for long wearing color. A lot of blogs also highly recommended waterproof mascara which I definitely can attest to its recommendation since regular mascara will definitely give you some raccoon eyes after a few miles. I opted out of false lashes for the race though to avoid the lash glue melting if mixed with sweat and getting in my eyes.
I originally wanted to run as my favorite princess, Rapunzel, but then the race medals were released last fall and Sleeping Beauty was on the half marathon medal so I changed gears to fit the theme of the medal. My outfit was simple but actually hard to find pieces to put together. I hated all the frumpy outfits I saw on Etsy. I wanted something simple and flattering but still reminiscent of Sleeping Beauty vibes. I wanted to look like a runner version disneybound of Sleeping Beauty, like what she would wear herself if she ran. Luckily enough after what seemed like endless shoe browsing, I finally did find the perfect pair of running sneakers that were actually affordable compared to everything $100 and up that everyone else was suggesting to me. The extra cherry on top is that most of what I bought, I will actually wear and use post race.
I’m not going to lie or sugarcoat anything, the race was HARD for me. I trained for it but I still didn’t feel ready for it. I didn’t finish with a great time but this wasn’t my goal for my first race. I was simply aiming to just actually finish the race. I was really afraid I wouldn’t finish regardless of all my training. I still wasn’t confident in my abilities. Disney sent out an email before the weekend warning of the predicted humidity and boy did I feel it. I was dripping in sweat in the first 5 minutes after leaving the start line. I had been training in 30 degree weather back in New York so this was definitely a different challenge for me. But there was also no way I couldn’t finish. I would be too humiliated. There was no turning back, regardless of how I felt that morning and if it felt like an “off” day or whatever. I barely got any sleep either, which may have affected my performance in terms of time, but it didn’t affect my energy levels. I was definitely wide awake and running on anxiety. There were definitely points in the race, towards the middle where I felt like giving up, that it was too hard and that my knee was going to start to go. I listened to my body though, slowed down, grabbed more Powerade and water from the volunteers and their beverage stations, chugged it, switched up my playlist to a more motivational setlist, looked up at the cheerleaders on the sidelines, read their banners, and then powered myself up to get back on track.
I do have to say though that Disney does a great job at their entertainment and motivation set up for marathons. They do a lot to help keep your energy high. The races themselves, I’m told are one of the most expensive to pay into, but I would definitely say if you love Disney and you like doing races, these are definitely great. As I was running all morning, there were beautiful fireworks constantly throughout the race, from the start line to throughout the track at so many checkpoints. They also have big screen monitors set up throughout the race, with old Mickey cartoons playing as you race through. There are different DJ booths at certain mile markers. There are even high school marching bands, the Japanese pavilion and their drums, and various Disney characters all around the track for photo ops! They had the princes at one booth, Pirates of the Caribbean at another, villains at another, and different princesses throughout. I didn’t want to lose momentum so I didn’t allow myself to stop for any of them since the lines were so long and I was focused on finishing for my first race. I was afraid if I stopped for too long, my body would catch up to me and feel more fatigued sooner. I did however, allow myself to stop for the front of the castle photo since that line moved fairly quick, but come on, how can you not miss a quintessential empty front of the castle photo op? It was an amazing feeling to make it to that checkpoint at sunrise.
The volunteers! I do want to note at how amazing the people who volunteer for these events are. To be up at such an early hour and to have such high energy levels cheering you on as they hand out drinks and snacks and high fiving you as you dash by. And the family members and community! Everyone was so sweet to me as I dashed by, motivating you to keep going and fighting. It really is an amazing thing.
And then finally reaching Epcot after the long stretch across the two bridges. It felt like death as I still had a mile and change left to go, hahaha! But it’s a great finisher as you’re no longer on what seemed like an endless highway run. With the end in sight, I crossed the finish line so triumphantly and happily because I simply couldn’t believe this was it! I had did it! The whole thing! It was unreal. Actually it still feels unreal.
When I crossed the finish line, the clock at the top clocked me at 3:09:59, and Disney clocked my net time at 2:47:01 but like I said, there are a lot of factors behind this. I didn’t start until nearly 6am, and one of my sister’s friends who watched me on the creepy Mickey Mouse/Zuckerberg runner tracking system said that my time didn’t stop after I crossed the finished line but that it kept going for an additional 4 minutes after I crossed. I also wasn’t at the front of my corral when I started either, but towards the middle, so I didn’t launch like horse races do, but rather had to wait for other runners in front of me to get moving before I could start at my steady pace. It also doesn’t account for any time you take when you step aside for the photo ops (which thankfully I only did 1) or bathroom breaks if you need to step aside and run into a port-a-potty (which thankfully I did not need either). Besides the humidity that hinders you from a good PR, the track is also limited in certain parts. For most of it, you’re running on an open highway, but for some parts, it gets very narrow through tunnels and the course through the parks. So you can’t really go fast or at your regular pace during those points. You have no choice but to wait as you all try to squeeze through a narrow pathway.
And to answer a question I’ve been getting made fun of for, how was I so well prepared for all the photo ops? Hahaha, the model in me is always ready. I also read a lot of runDisney blogs before the race and a few of them mentioned how to get great photos so I simply followed those tips. (Vain, I know.) I tried to stay on the side lanes while running so that the photopass people could catch me and get a good shot without having to filter through a crowd of people if I had been stuck in a herd in the middle lane. I also spotted them easily by looking for the green mesh pop up tents. As soon as I saw them, I knew to put on my best face and slow down a few steps for them to get a clear shot of me and my bib (your photos are slowly uploaded to your Disney account via your bib number). My sister kept texting me to check in with me to see how I was doing throughout the race and despite answering her that I was feeling like I wanted to die, I had to fake it til I made it. So I cheesed it up. You’d never know how much I was struggling through to make it to the end.
Now, the ultimate question. Would I do this again next year? The day of the race, I was in no condition to answer this question as my legs were shot to all hell and I was sore beyond all exhaustion after it. BUT, I was crazy enough to shower and clean myself up to get back on my feet and walk all around Epcot in circles and stayed in the park til an hour past the fireworks without even taking a single nap. And then the day after, I walked all around both Universal parks as well. Well, limping is more like it, but I stayed on my feet. When I finally got home to NY, I had taken an extra day off from work to allow myself to recover and boy did I need it. But after all is said and done, and fully recovered, I texted my friend Kerri who raced with me and we might just be crazy enough to want to go back for round 2! And possibly conquer the Fairy Tale Challenge! (The Fairy Tale Challenge is 10k one night with the half marathon the next night.) One of my sisters is interested in the 5k challenge as well so who knows, I might end up going next year to do all 3 races back to back!
So in response to my last post pre-race a few weeks ago as to my fear of what if I complete it? What if it is everything I’ve dreamed for it to be? What do I do then? Exactly as Tangled said, you get to go find a new dream. A bigger, even better one. I know now I am definitely capable of finishing the half marathon. Now, can I rise to the challenge to do all 3 races back to back? Time will tell. See you in a year, bitches!