Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Final Frontier: the Disney Princess Half Marathon!

I'm back! I know I've been MIA for a few weeks but I had a little bit of a pity party because I felt like nobody was reading the blog anymore. I know you guys comment about the posts on Facebook, and if we happen to talk for some other reason you tell me about how you read it every week (supposedly), but can you do me a favor and leave a comment after a post so that I know you're reading? You can also tell me what you liked or didn't like or what you want to read about in upcoming posts. Sure, I won't listen, but at least I'll know you're there. Okay, back to the post. And this one is long enough to make up for missing three weeks so get a drink and settle in.
Make mine Irish, please

I'll start you right off with our pictures. This song- Kelly Clarkson's 'Stronger'- was the official song of this race. They played it as you were leaving Magic Kingdom so I used it in this montage.

So the weekend we'd been preparing for for so long had finally arrived! All the posts, from the original announce post when I decided to do this run, my attempts at jogging, and all of the sewing (which I will write about later), was finally going to come together. And now I'm going to tell you all about it! Seriously, you need to do this next year. Just ask Shrimp- you can't NOT want to do it once you see it for yourself.
You know you want to........
The run was on Sunday, February 24th, so we wanted to get over there early on Saturday to pick up our packets, settle in, and get some dinner. Helen and her mom had flown in from Virginia Beach the night before (despite a tornado watch, lightning strike to the plane, and the worst customer service from Disney ever) and Shrimp was getting dropped off by Eric on her way home from Amelia Island so we would all meet up in Orlando.

Liz meets me at my house Saturday morning and our first stop is, naturally, Goodwill. Earlier in the week, I had sent an email to the girls reminding them to get a throw-away sweater for the race morning and exactly all of them forgot to do it. So there's Liz, trying to pick out a sweater without actually touching it, and carrying it up to the counter with two fingers like it's radioactive. It was very amusing for me to watch. I picked up another one for Helen but you'll hear about Jen's sweater in a little bit, heh heh heh....

Good news Liz- underwear are half off today!
We get to the Disney Sports Center to pick up our packets and the first thing we see is a glass carriage and two liveried footmen set up for pictures. It took a little convincing, (someone is apparently too good to change in the back of the car), but Liz finally agreed to change into her costume with me so we could get some pictures. I was so fricking excited! Our first pictures in the slideshow with just me & Liz are from that day. It was our big costume debut! By the way, we looked amazing, if I do say so myself. And this is also where Liz found the compression sleeves that we are now obsessed with.

We know you're just jealous Shrimp. So we're all getting you these for your birthday!

At this point, Shrimp had made it over and we were trying to coordinate a hook-up with the rest of the girls. We go out to an early dinner and wander around Downtown Disney because now Shrimp has decided that she ain't going to no damn race in just a plain old outfit so her quest to find a Shrimped-up Disney outfit was ON. I was getting anxious that we weren't all going to meet since it was getting later and later so we finally left to head to the hotel.

On our way, we picked up Lauren, who was there to cheer us on with Shrimp, and headed to the Caribbean Beach resort. Jen and Rho, her friend who came to town just to cheer her on- we have really amazing friends, right?- met us at the hotel and we all headed inside to do the final outfit check. We were initially underwhelmed at the luxury of the room and the smell did nothing to help the situation, but we didn't care at that point. We were all finally together with the exception of Helen, who ended up in a different hotel after her horrible experience. Jen tries on her doll-sized outfit and thank GOD it fit. Now we just had to get Shrimp and Lauren ready. 
Mmm, warm bologna.... my favorite scent. And don't those comforters look comfy and clean? Shrimp sure thought so!

We went to some plaza that had a food court and a little shop where Shrimp found her awesome outfit and Lauren picked up a pair of pirate girl Mickey ears that were adorable and we called it a night. We set the alarms for 3 am and tried to block the musty mold smell long enough to fall asleep. Which was difficult with Shrimp because she refused to actually use the bedspread and instead wrapped up in her 'Cheer Squad' waterproof blanket, which was as quiet as eating pork rinds in a library. And then- and I'm not kidding- she gets up in the middle of the night, crackling along the way, and TURNS OFF THE AIR! I'm pretty sure Liz would have scalped her the next morning if she hadn't been so worn out from sweating all night.

What, you guys are hot? I'm super comfy!

Sunday morning, 3 am: alarms go off and Shrimp immediately springs into action, 'cheering' us awake with her new Mickey clapper (thank you Disney cheer squad). You can imagine what a hit that was after our restless and sweaty night's sleep. If you want an enthusiastic cheerleader who takes her job seriously, she's your gal. But the countdown  to the race is on! We have to all get ready and get to the bus stop by 3:45 am to catch the shuttle to the race if we don't want to have to drive ourselves. Nobody is really super-awake yet but once we get to the race start and meet up with Helen and her mom, we are finally getting excited and raring to go. We take a few final pictures, get our good luck hugs, and head off to our corral to the sound of Shrimp's clapper. It was a sound we would end up hearing a lot of that day. I think next year she's going to accompany it with a kazoo.

America's Official Most Annoying Sound Ever!

It felt like cattle being herded to get to our corral. And it was cold as shit to boot. Thankfully we had our cozy Goodwill sweaters and compression leg sleeves! Jen was already at our corral when we got there but the poor thing did not have a coat so after a few minutes, we decided to hunt down a clothing barrel to see if anyone has dropped a sweater that she could snag. Unfortunately, all there was was a pair of yoga pants which she tried to fashion into a scarf of some sort when luckily a woman came up to us at that moment to hand over her sweater. We were super grateful to her until she informed us that it was her 'travel sweater', which we translated to mean "There's more pit sweat and drool on this thing than the towel used to wipe down Mike Tyson between rounds" but hey, beggars can't be choosers!

Excuse me Mike, do you need a wipe down? I have this nice sweater....

And go!
The wait was the worst part but once the corrals started going, it went pretty quickly. They set off fireworks each time a new corral was released and finally, FINALLY, it was our turn! They announced our start and we were off! We saw Jen's hubby Matt and her friend Rho at the start (Shrimp, Lauren, and Helen's mom had ditched us immediately to go eat breakfast) and we began our 13 mile trek.

It became immediately clear that Helen and Liz were way faster than me and Jen. Let me just reiterate here that I am a SLOW jogger- like barely faster than walking slow- and we could tell they wanted to run faster. We surmised this mostly from how they'd glance over their shoulders every once in a while and look both baffled and pissed that we were still running that damn slow! But they were good sports about it and about 2 miles in, we had our first character picture opp with the pirate ship and Captain Jack. The line seemed to take forever, which was the case with all the characters, but I'm glad we did it now looking back. And a few times while we were in line, people asked to take our pictures because our outfits were so cute. One lady said we were the epitome of the Disney Princess race. Nice! And I'm so proud of Helen for making her amazing outfit! By the way, I'm going to have a weekly sewing class so that we can all make our own outfits for the next run :).

That's code for 'I'm not sewing anymore, bitches!' Except for Teresa. I already promised.

We are all doing great and before we know it, we are approaching the castle. I have to tell you that after the January race at Disney, the crowds were only about a tenth of what they were then so not having the huge cheering crowd was a little disappointing but we had other things on our mind: the castle, baby! We called Shrimp to tell her we were coming in and as we round the corner to head up Main Street, we see everyone there waiting for us and for me, that was by far my favorite part of the race. Having the five of them there just to cheer us on was just amazing and we were so grateful that they got up in the middle of the night and trekked all the way out there just to cheer us on. I'm actually getting all weepy just remembering it! But that could just be my erratic mood swings. But it was a seriously cool thing that they were all there.

We were so excited we wet ourselves! Collectively.
We head around Disney and come back out through the castle and wave goodbye to our paparazzi because the next time we would see them would be at the finish line! We had one more character picture to take and while we were in line, the dreaded 16 minute mile pacers pass us. I had been warned about this but it was a little nerve wracking to see it in person. As you all know, my only goal was not to get picked up by the slow bus. We get our picture taken- I thought Helen was going to crawl out of her skin, she was so anxious to get in front of those balloons!- and take off again. 

That look on Helen's (Snow White's) face? Panic. I don't think she's used to being slow. Me, I'm good with it! I've accepted it a long time ago.

Within the next few miles, we agree that Jen and I will continue our run-walk pace and Helen and Liz will run at their pace and we'd meet up if there were any good pictures to be had ahead. The course narrows to one lane right after Disney and unless you're willing to run on the dirt, you're pretty much stuck walking anyways. I have a great time walking and jogging with Jen and we do pick up the pace a little around mile 8 when the 16 minute pacers yell at everyone to "really push it people, the first sag wagon is up ahead!". We do not want to be on that bus so we put some distance in front of the balloons and resume our walking/talking routine. See, you can totally walk the whole thing and be fine. You may have to skip a few of the longer picture lines but there are a lot of walkers out there.

'Oh, don't you love walking with me?'. 'I'd rather eat ground glass than do another mile with you! What a beautiful day!'

You don't know what you got till it's gone.
From about mile 12 to 13, I have to pee so badly that I can't run more than 50 feet without worrying that I'm going to wet myself. Damn, why didn't I wear those Depends?! We finally hit a bathroom in Epcot right before mile 13 so we stop, use a flushing toilet- woohoo!- and freshen up before our big debut at the finish line!

Right after the 13 mile marker we hear our cheering squad again and run over for our final waves and cheers before going across the finish line. Shrimp and Lauren are so inspired by the age/size of some of these women who had crossed the finish line ahead of us that they decide they are definitely doing it next time, damaged feet and all. I can't imagine being on the sidelines and not being a part of it so I totally get it! And I'm so excited that we're going to have a bigger group next year! It really is inspiring to finish a race, even if you are as slow as me. Just being able to say you finished a half marathon is something you'll be able to say for the rest of your life and it's really inspiring to do it with a group of family and friends like we did. 

The amazing ladies! And me.
Liz- who I'm pretty sure must have smoked some crack in one of the porta-potties- is still so full of energy that she wants to go to Epcot right now. We get our shuttle back to the hotel, get showered, and I promptly fall asleep for 2 hours while they go to Epcot to celebrate. I wake up feeling so much better and head over to meet all my girls for our celebratory drink-fest. Everyone at the park is wearing their finisher medals (except for us) and we all totally relate to the groans of pain anytime there is a staircase to go up or down but we felt great and all in all, it was an amazing day. You really need to experience it at least once and I promise, if I'm not running it with you, I'll be on the sidelines, cheering you on with the most annoying clappers you've ever heard. And a kazoo. Just do it!

This could be you! Okay, maybe not in first place, but across the finish line nonetheless!


Anonymous said...

Chica-you inspire me!!! xoxo Kat

Anonymous said...

If my eggo isn't preggo I am SOOOOOO DOING THIS NEXT YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Anonymous said...

I love it! I especially like the video! btw, Liz and I were not mad at you guys:) it was fun! -helen

Anna said...

Thanks Kathy, you are awesome. Abby, you are so doing it next year! Helen, good to know- we felt kinda bad holding ya back, lol! And I talked to Liz last night and she has pics from that weekend she hasn't sent out yet so when I get them I'll add them to the slideshow. Then I'll get a chance to spell margarita right too on the last slide!