i managed to get a solid five hours of sleep, getting up at what would have been just past midnight back home. ouch. but all of the race instructions told me that i needed to be on a bus heading towards the start line at epcot center by 4am, and since i was completely out of my element here, i wasn't taking any chances by cutting any corners. so 3:45 found me all ready to go in full costume. i hadn't wanted to be one of 24,000 cinderellas/ariels/belles - i like to stand out, dang it - and so i'd chosen to go totally against the grain and show up dressed as the evil queen from "snow white." after my friend rocky totally made fun of my smiling test photo on instagram, i tried to look more the part. instead, i just look angry.
the bus stop had quite a long line of princesses waiting for the shuttle to the start. but it seemed that run disney tried to prepare for this, and in no time there were no less than three giant chartered buses lined up for us to board. i plopped into an open seat and watched what looked like some straight-to-video sequel to "cinderella" on the screen in front of me.
i gotta hand it to our driver - there was a crazy amount of traffic on the road, with nothing but bright red brake lights in front of us. i don't know how he managed it, but we were zooming down the street at full speed, passing up cars and buses like mad. it was impressive, and he got us to our destination in no time. i thanked him as i stepped out and joined the crowd making their way towards the start line.
as i walked along, i checked out the ensembles that my fellow runners were sporting. i came across quite a few guys who went all in and wore tutus and other princess-type costumes, which is always comical. and then i couldn't help but grin proudly when i walked past a couple of non-costumed dudes and heard one of them gasp and say "holy crap, she scared the shit out of me!" muahahahahaha, i am so eeeeeevil.
i spotted these ladies walking along with their fairy wings and all i could think of was how much those straps would chafe after about a mile or so. 'cuz you know, my time with team sparkle taught me that the best way to wear wings for a run is to safety pin those suckers down and not use the arm straps.
i finally reached the start line expo, which was lined with tents manned by the various charitable organizations who had fundraising teams running in the race.
there was a cute set-up of these faux stained glass windows that represented all of the disney princesses.
of course, there was an opportunity to scoop up official race merchandise if you'd missed out at the expo.
i thought this was cute, but i didn't want to lug it with me for 13.1 miles.
there were a handful of food trucks on hand, and another tent that i thought would be very popular in a few hours:
i got in line to take a picture with my archenemy, but the line was far too long and it was time to head towards the corrals. so i settled for a photo from afar and hoped i'd get another chance later:
as we all trudged along, these ladies stopped to compliment me on my costume, and i thought theirs were cute too. like me, they'd opted for non-princessy attire:
the line for the portapotties was stupid long. i didn't take a picture for obvious reasons, but i saw more than a few princesses sneak off into the woods to take a pre-race tinkle. at least, i hoped it was just a tinkle. who knows - after all, i spied some chicks emerging from the trees with a roll of toilet paper in hand.
i can't make this shit up, people.
unlike the runs at disneyland, there were no fireworks during the singing of the national anthem. i was a little surprised, but quickly learned that each wave of folks got their own mini pyrotechnics show. here, the wheelchair folks got their start:
after the elite runners and corral A were released, it was our turn. woohoo!
as with all of the half marathons i've done, the first few miles are a big blur in my head. i remember trying to regulate my breathing and struggling a little with the unfamiliar humidity. because of this, i passed the first mile marker without bothering to take a picture of it. but during the second mile, i hit my stride and was able to catch this:
not long after this, i came upon the first character photo op. i'd told myself that i wasn't really in this to make particularly great time and wouldn't hesitate to stop for great pictures, but my competitive nature still kicked in somewhat and i couldn't bring myself to wait in line.
pretty soon, we were at the entrance to the magic kingdom.
and then, this:
i'd signed up for runner tracking, which would send me (and the hub, the teen and MIL) a text when i crossed the 5K, 10K and finish line mats. i made sure to stomp on the mat at the 5K mark, but i guess it didn't register because i never got the text. oh, well.
now, i did let myself stop and join the line to take a picture with the row of disney villains. it was super long, but come on - i had to.
except that the dude who took my picture totally fucked it up. and while the official race photographer snapped one too, it's not showing up on the webpage with the rest of my pictures. ugh! the ONE shot i really wanted, and i didn't get it. boo. this is all i ended up with:
crappy weather aside, i really did enjoy this course a lot. because their holdings in florida are so freaking vast, the whole thing took place on disney property. this meant that there was lots of entertainment and characters and things every so often, which made it extra fun.
again, i've gotta say it - disney world's castle is FANTASTIC. i love it.
i was enjoying myself so much that i was surprised when i reached the halfway point, marked by this sign and speakers blaring alicia keys at full volume.
i actually did feel like i was on fire, though, i must say. i was incredibly hot (and not in the good way), i was soaked in sweat from head to toe and unlike any other run i've done before, i was grabbing a drink at every single water stop. sometimes two. and i was ever so grateful for the watered-down powerade, which i guzzled down happily. i was so discombobulated by the humidity that i totally messed up my hand gestures for my picture with lilo & stitch.
time for fuel. i grabbed a mocha-flavored clif shot and choked it down with a gulp of water from my hydration belt. i was extra glad i'd brought it, especially since there wasn't a water station nearby to help wash down the goo.
i hate watching runners toss their empty cups into the street when they're done with them. there are trash cans posted every few steps, people! what the hell? throw that shit in the receptacles! but i did find this amusing:
this mile marker was placed right before we turned a corner and had to head up a gnarly ass hill.
and look! i found nemo!
two miles left. as i glanced at the clock, my hopes of at least matching my tinkerbell PR of 2:27 were completely crushed. gah.
knowing that, i decided to just forget about it and hope that i could finish in under three hours. but i didn't let that stop me from smiling for the camera with my homeys.
and then...mile 12. the one that's almost always the roughest one for me to finish.
fairy godmother paused, gave me the stink eye and said "i've got my eye on YOU!" as we took this.
at last, i was back at epcot - and the finish line loomed near.
the joyful sound of a choir gave me a much-needed boost of energy.
here, i held out my arm to have my coast-to-coast challenge wristband snipped off in exchange for some extra bling.
at this point, i whipped out my medal from this year's tinkerbell half and introduced her to a couple of new friends.
um, HELL YES.
26.2 miles, several disney parks and three kick ass medals in the span of a month. who says dreams don't come true?