Princess Half Marathon
The things you would do for your friends.
This all started out Marathon weekend when Danielle told me that she was going to run as Moana and that I was going to be Hei Hei.
Here is Hei Hei.
Do you know how many pictures and tutorials there are for making a Hei Hei running costume? 0. So while my friends are having fun on the weekend, this is what I am doing.
It’s going to be a warm costume, but that’s OK since it’s Feb. and it was freezing cold at the race last month. The top feathers consist of three t-shirts and multiple layers of felt. I had to brush up on my sewing skills.
It was a perfectly good hat.
It was very challenging for me to make. I wanted it to be a good effort, but it was stretching me in my imagination and problem-solving skills. (And I consider myself pretty good at those things!)
My Moana and Tafiti!
I decided that if I was going to be Hei Hei that I was going to fully embrace it. That meant in character for people that cheered for me or in any pictures.
Well, the idea for a warm costume turned out to be killer. It was blazing hot. I ran in a running singlet the day before and now my top half if carrying 5 layers of cotton and felt, but I had a plan just in case…
I was so excited to run into friends Jeff and Barb on the course. Since we are all from Atlanta, they thought I was a KFC known as the Big Chicken. We’ll hopefully be running together at the next series. I ran with Jeff last month but missed Barb. She’s fun to run with.
We had fun stopping at all the character stops! Also notice I’ve got my yellow chicken legs on here.
Once we get to Magic Kingdom, I now for the second time in row, drop my pants on Main Street. This time fully embracing the moment and shaking my tail feathers to the people cheering. It was just too hot for running pants. I was glad that Sharon brought me some shorts to change into.
It’s like Hei Hei has never seen the other side of the castle before.
This may be the best group pic ever. It even looks like its just missing the Runners World logo.
Louis the Alligator didnt really know what to do with Hei Hei.
I thought about trying to eat Woodys hat but they wouldnt let me sit on the rails.
At the end of Frontierland was Goofy in a costume that I haven’t gotten before. I was super excited to meet him!
We also found our Maui soon after. He was nice enough to stop for a picture with us and with a scenic background to boot!
After leaving the park we ran across this sign. How could I not stop??
The Genie and Adventurers Club gang were fun. The lady taking pictures was trying to help me out.
Her: “Sir, you can stand up, there’s room in the picture.”
Me: “I’m good. I’m a chicken.”
Me: *Chew on Mickey Mouse nose.
Her: *Takes picture.
We make it back to the pirates in the daylight. The pictures are always better and there is no line on the way back. I was beside Jack until he saw Moana. He then brushed me aside and made sure he was cozy for the picture.
After making it through the two cloverleafs to Epcot. We see our cheer team. They had some nice cold water for us. It was so nice! Around the bend was Mrs Incredible. She loved us.
Once in Epcot proper, it’s just a short out and back and then you are done.
One of my few “normal” pics. Love the composition in this one.
I feel that Hei Hei would eat the Powerade after the race.
We had such a blast! I didn’t want to be Hei Hei, but I’ll do some crazy things for my friends and it turned out great in the end.
Run your race. Run with friends. Make memories.
The Boston Marathon Weekend!
Princess Weekend: My favorite race Disney race weekend.
- It’s less crowded.
- The weather is more consistent and nice.
- The courses are great and match the Marathon Weekend.
- It’s got a very good vibe to it.
- Great unique characters come out just for this race.
The expo has changed yet again, but I feel like this will be the last major change for awhile. I believe their goal all along has been to create an experience similar to Disneyland. With the addition of another stadium, they now have the room to make that happen. The Expo was in the newly built building. Gone are the lines out in the weather! They have enough space to hold all of the line, plus an expanded area for the RunDisney Merch. They also took the opportunity to update their fixtures and displays as well.
The 5K !
I actually cheered instead of running the 5k. Beth and Sharon went as Dwiddle Dee and Dwiddle Dum. We had some great costumes on the team for the 5k. Everyone had a great time!
I decided to do the dead last start challenge again for this 10k. The running club in rundisneyrun was planning for a big group for the half, so I thought that I would be a good opening act for them. I won’t get into to much detail on what it is, since I’ll do a separate post on what it is and what it isn’t later. The short of it; you start dead last and see how many you can pass by the end.
I did it at The STAR WARS 10K last year to show that you can have a great race no matter your starting position. The fun is where you make it, not what coral you start in. I did it this year for a few reasons.
- It’s my favorite 10K on the East Coast.
- The likelihood of there being any new characters that I needed was small.
- It’s been a while since I pushed myself and this would force me to.
- I wanted to be an encouragement for one of our teammates that was looking to complete their first 10k.
I love the balloon ladies! It was fun to catch up with them and take pictures for them.
When I do dead last start, I’m truly last…..like medical bikes and cleanup crew last.
I’ll get into the etiquette and expectations on the DLS post, but here is the big one: If you ever do a dead last start, you never have the right of way. They are running their race and you are running yours. They should never have to yield space or move for you. You should encourage those along the course, not hinder their experience.
I was looking for a couple of people that day. I wanted to find my teammate who was looking for her first finish and I was looking to catch one Mr. David Thompson. I was so happy to find my teammate closing in on the 3-mile mark. I let her know how far she was ahead of the balloon ladies to give her a boost. It meant the world to me to be able to give her some encouragement. I also knew at that point that she was going to make it the farthest that she ever had. I wouldn’t have been able to give her that insight or encouragement if I didn’t start last.
Now that I knew that she was set to have a great race I moved on to my one target for the day. David is not slow and started all the way up in C, but I also knew he was out having a good time before and during the race. How hard is it to track down one person in a race of over 10,000? Not too hard when they are over 6ft tall and dressed as nerd Merida.
Got him at mile 4!
I also had to stop at my favorite pavilion.
This is probably my favorite picture, even when I look like a do-fuss. Our cheer team was on the boardwalk with our awesome group of matching 10k ladies. I saw them and ran as hard as I could to make the picture. This is the reaction just as I jump in as she takes the shot.
I love this gal. Jennalyn is one of the friendliest and kindest people Ive ever met.
I wasn’t trying to kill myself since I had a half marathon the next day and a ton of miles to go in the parks that day.
Oddly my only finish line pic. Its also a reminder that unless you are first, someone always finishes before you.
By the end, I ended up catching 62% of all the runners and passed 7597 people. I ran about 2 miles on grass so I wouldn’t get in other runners way.
Dead Last Start is a fun variation for a race if you are looking for a different way to challenge yourself. Just remember to be kind and courteous to your fellow runners!
The Princess Half Marathon
Tips on how to get great pictures at Run Disney events
Have you ever been to a Disney race hoping to get at least a couple of good pictures only to find later that none of them turned out like you hoped? Here’s a chance to learn from my mistakes and failures in getting that perfect shot. Follow these steps and you should get just what you are hoping for.
Do The Expo Pic
99% of the runners zip right past the photo booth at the expos. Each one gives you a fun interactive experience with a green screen. The one in Disney World is near the entrance to bib pickup. (It’s right by the stairs that you go down to sign the waivers.) It’s a regular exhibit at the Disneyland Expo. It’s usually near the edge that faces the DJ. Both coasts experimented with video on the last races of 2016. The video is from Wine and Dine.
Decide ahead of time what kind of pictures that you want and know your options.
- The Determined Runner
- Be focused, don’t look at camera
- Trust that they got you.
- You’ll look cooler than you actually are.
- The smile (and wave)
- It’s the classic.
- Higher success rate.
- Makes it look like you are having fun even if you are about to die.
- The jump
- Lower success rate, especially if a bunch of runners are around you.
- If you are in the pocket (see tip 2) you may be able to pull it off easier.
- Zero expectations
- If it turns out bad, it actually might be better.
- Great for character stops.
If I’m solo, I’ll usually do the front half determined and then switch it up the smile on the back half. If I’m running with friends, it’s either smile or funny.
Pocketing as I like to call it, is when you find pockets with little or no runners. Picture most often get ruined because there are a ton of people on top of each other with 25% of them jumping, 25% acting crazy/holding hands, 25% trying to get a normal picture and 25% that don’t care. Often times you’ll see the photographer up ahead before they snap your picture. Look ahead and behind to find that pocket if possible. Sometimes you need to speed up and sometimes you actually need to slow down to get that perfect spot.
Here is a good example of seeing the pocket and speeding up just a bit to get a better shot.
Here’s one where we actually slowed down. It looks like we are running the race by ourselves.
Not pocketing gets you this….
It doesn’t have to be a big pocket either. It just needs to be enough so that the photographer is taking a couple of individual shots and not just group shots of the packs of people coming through. Here is an example of how even a small pocket can work in your favor.
- Adjust and have great posture.
- Arched back, shoulders wide. Suck that gut in.
- Wear a costume if that is your thing.
- Much more likely to get attention from Run Disney
- Make sure you are comfortable running in it before hand.
- Stop for a character stop if it’s someone you’ve never seen before.
- There may be a line, but that’s OK. You’ll do some pocketing later and still get great pics.
- Very few people remember their race time, but all remember the experience.
- There are many rare characters that only come out for the races. You’ll never find some of these in the parks….ever.
- Do the post race pic.
- They always will give you two pictures. One plain and one with the race logo.
- If you are doing more than the 5k and get really sweaty, only wear black shorts. I’ve got too many pictures where it looks like I peed my pants.
- If you are in a group, call out the cameras but don’t point them out. I cant seem to learn this lesson.
- Don’t carry your phone.
The majority of my pics have me carrying my phone. It’s because I usually try to get every character stop and some do not have Disney photographers at them. Some come out weird too so it’s a good backup. If you are in a group, have one person take the course pics and share them with everyone.
Follow these tips (and learn from my mistakes) and you’ll get some great shots out there. If you’ve got any other tips of dos or don’ts for Disney race pics be sure to comment below. Now excuse me while I go and verify I have enough black shorts for my upcoming races.
Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap
It’s day three and I’m actually feeling better than I did during this time at marathon weekend. It could be the weather that was much nicer this time, the fact that I had now done this course before or that my immune system wasn’t in the process of destroying itself. Either way, the race went quicker this time around.
There were more people from the team at this race; it usually builds up more every day of the series. There were also more characters out that Sharon and Beth got to see after I took off. Beth gave them Valentines cards which they all enjoyed.
WDW Radio Running Team!
You already know how much the WDW Radio Running Team means to me and my love for them so I’ll move on….
I was in B corral (The first dudes allowed corral) so I knew I would likely not have too many long lines for the characters. It was a great start, nice and cool, and a solid two miles before the first characters… boy was it a good stop! A bunch of the rare guy characters all together!
Phoebus, Rare Eric costume, Flynn Rider, John Smith
Getting some new characters that I’ve never seen always gives me a boost in the race. This one was no different and I was zipping along on the way to the Magic Kingdom. I didn’t stop at for Aladdin or Jack and Sally. It’s interesting because a year ago, I would have lost my mind seeing Jack….
The run through the TTC was interesting because it was dead compared to marathon weekend. There was a Japanese percussion group that was amazing though! After that there is not much before you enter the Magic Kingdom.
I got a awesome surprise after entering the gates. The team cheer squad had talked about just meeting towards the end to cheer us on, but here they were in the MK as well. It was great to see Angel and the crew when I wasn’t expecting it! Sharon and the kids were also right around the corner. The turn on to main street is one of my favorite moments on this course. If you don’t get the feels from the huge crowd cheering and the castle all lit up, then you are at the wrong race.
Disney makes up for the distance between characters in this park. They are everywhere as soon as you get out of the viewing areas. I passed Buzz Lightyear, Queen of Hearts, White Rabbit, Woody and Jessie. I did stop for the Tremaine’s. They were in their winter outfits and they were retiring the step-mother from the park the next day, so she was about to become a rare character. They are always super fun to see.
I interacted with the Frozen characters as the were on the backside of the castle. (You cant meet them during the race)
me: Kristofffff!!!!!!! (Pointing with both hands up at him)
Ana: Why yes, that is his name!
Kristoff: You sir! Keep going!
Elsa just stands there doing her awkward hand pose thing……
Ive heard of the big bottleneck through through the castle but there were no issues at this point.
This spot is at the bottom of a little curve in a hill, you cant see it until you get close and so far it’s always been a fun surprise. They had one of the floats out with Belle and Aurora out this time. Beast in formal wear is hard to get and the only way you have a shot at him now is when you get a reservation at Be Our Guest. The lighting is not the best, so we have yet to get a good picture with before this race. Mission accomplished this time!
I started to break down the course in my mind at this point, because I was right at the half way point and was getting a bit tired. You go for a good stretch in the back with nothing but a dj so it can be a tougher spot on the course. I made it to the resorts area right as the sun was coming up. I saw Bert and his penguins but didn’t stop.
There had been a lot of stories about the next stop. Originally it was a bunch of guys with the glass slipper. They would sing and people would even propose at this stop of the race. They were now a full wedding party and it was fun crashing the reception! They were hilarious and said that they had been waiting on me to broadcast the wedding on WDW radio. This was definitely one of the favorite stops in the race. Worth the 8 miles to see them.
I had gotten a picture with the vacation Genie during marathon weekend, but there were no lines at characters from here on out so I stopped in hopes of getting a better one. I also had a chance to get a better picture of the Mickey golf cart that they had out.
There wasn’t a whole bunch going on character-wise for a while after this. They had Mrs Incredible out with no wait at about mile 9.5.
It was amazing to see the crowd of people running in towards the Magic Kingdom. I was also able to see the infamous balloon people that carried up the end of the race. I thought that they picked up people, but there were several racers still trucking along behind them.
The Green Army Men were again out on the big curved hill and I was able to snag a picture with some of the regular ones. You can see the leader yelling at runners behind me! It was then off for the final push. It’s definitely the hilliest portion of the course. (You go over three overpasses)
Our running team cheer squad was after the last overpass in the perfect spot to encourage us for the final mile. I rolled an ankle at some point, but was pushing through it to make some decent time. Deanna and Lou didn’t even realize how much just a quick note of encouragement helped me get my mind right.
Around the bend was the coachmen from the Expo, except this time they had the actual coach with them. I didn’t get a picture with them the other day so I stopped to get a quick one with them.
There was not much going inside Epcot at this point. It had not opened yet, and there really weren’t any characters in there. The famous gold choir was there though. It’s a gospel choir that sings at the 13 mile mark. I forgot to get a picture of them at the last series but made sure to get one this time. It’s a good finale right before the turn in to the finish line.
Right as the sun was coming up nicely…
I was pretty happy on how I finished and went and got a massage right after the race. Overall, it was a great race and I was able to pick up several new characters over the weekend. It’s a definitely a race that has it’s own flavor!
Next up: Star Wars (The Dark Side) Series in April!
Princess Enchanted 10K Recap
Don’t stop, just keep going…
It was the enchanted 10K morning. It was pretty cool, but not too cold.
I’m not a big tutu fan. I’ve been in lots of obstacle races where people wear them and get hung up in barbed wire and other things. I thought it would be funny to wear a tutu to one of the races down there as a tongue in cheek type of deal. I also thought it would be funny to see a guy in a tutu running in a sea of women. My wife talked me out of it thankfully. So here is another thing I didn’t anticipate at this series: The amount of dudes in said tutus. The ratio for the races is 90%-95% women depending on the actual race. I would say about 10% of the guys were wearing tutus. 10% of 5-10% of the crowd doesn’t sound like a lot, but that equals about 200 dudes in tutus!
I chose to don my shorty-shorts instead and got ready for the race.
Our team had our typical meet up and we were off to the corrals. I was determined to not end up in long-line-selfie-land today, so I was going to go at a good pace and only stop for characters that I needed. (Which is starting to get harder. We just got our 500th different character on this trip.) Dave from the Mickey Milers joined me up at the front and we got to hang out in the moments before the race. He was going for time and ended up winning his age division.
The way the course works is that it doubles back on itself a little after the first mile. If you look over to the return side you can get a glimpse of the character stop. (This was one of my longest stops at the WDW 10k in January.) I look over and see all the fairies hanging out because no one had made it there yet. That was a good motivator to truck it, so I did and passed the evil hag on the way. I made it and only had a 30 sec wait as opposed to an 8 minute wait the last time.
I have better legs than Terrance.
Many of the characters have a winter set and a summer set that they can choose from. What only a true character nerd would know is that many of the ones in 10k race were in modified outfits, neither fully summer nor winter.
The next stop was Pocahontas. We’ve met her a bunch of times in both her summer and winter outfits but I had never seen in in a poncho before. Another fun modification for the nerds.
The next mile was pretty quiet. You go around back and enter through the back gates to Epcot. No characters back here besides the jester characters on stilts from marathon weekend. I love rounding the corner into Epcot proper at the 5ks and 10ks. It’s just impactful. For these races they had the torches lit, some of the Christmas lights on the edges of the buildings and most of the building lit up in pink. It was a good spin to capture the race series.
I passed by several characters in this area: Genie in his vacation outfit, Jiminy Cricket, and Pinocchio. The selfies were at a minimum here, because I was still in the more competitive group.
There is usually someone in France, and sure enough Cogsworth and Lumiere were out together! They swapped out during marathon weekend, so I missed Lumiere before. Once there the CM says that they are leaving in 1 minute. People start freaking out a little and start trying to get real quick pictures. I make it next up in line and the line gets cut…. They leave me holding a line of people. Meanwhile I’m thinking of that selfie crowd inching its way toward me. Not long later, they come back out and I was able to get my picture.
From there its a trip around the boardwalk and back in to Epcot for the finish. I was so happy to see Deanna and Danielle cheering me on out in front of the bakery. I really do love my team!
The boardwalk is fun because there is usually a fun crowd out and guests are out in front of their hotels cheering too. Instead of the cute coral from yesterday they had these things…… Evil coral?
Around the bend and the ball and its off to the finish again. Beth and Sharon had a good time picking up characters in the pre-race area, while I was out doing my thing. It was definitely better out in front today.
Two down and one to go. The half marathon and Glass Slipper Challenge are up next!
The Princess 5K Recap
You get a selfie…You get a selfie…everyone gets a selfie!
Well here we were back already. It seemed like we were just here for the WDW marathon weekend. I was also coming off a recent setback that forced me to miss the Star Wars races in California. I knew this race would be different, and boy was I right.
The difference was almost immediate from the other Disney races I’ve done. I usually go to the expo early, pick up a few items and hang out with friends before getting some work in that day. There was no quick getting in and out on this one.
We hit the expo itself first. We got there 15 minutes before opening and it was already a mad house in the merch area. I was just looking for a couple of magnets and a cup so it seemed like a lot to battle for a few small items. We also ran in Jeff again. He talked to Beth about some of the benefits kids get from running and exercise. We really do enjoy the little bit of time we get to connect together at each race.
This was the first time we met characters at the expo. Cinderella’s Royal Coachmen
We got in line for bib pickup after getting our things from merch. The line went all the way out past the front entrance to the ESPN center. Luckily it moved quickly and it didn’t take too terribly long to get in the building. From there we had to get back in another long line to exchange shirts. All in all, it took about 2 1/2 hrs to get everything done. Marathon weekend took us about 1 1/2 hrs.
I did something that I didn’t think that I would likely do again, and that was dress up for a race. My daughter Beth was running with me and this was her first Disney 5K. She was excited and wanted to dress up as Frozen so Sharon got her a dress and made me a costume.
There was good weather (a first during my Disney race experience) so they had some characters out before the race. Ariel was the theme this year so she was out and the medals were all her colors for the weekend.
We were able to finally track down our running team (They actually found us) and we got a quick picture together. It was then off to the corral to get ready for the race. Beth was slightly nervous because she thought we were going to get run over by all the people behind us. She did great though and she stopped for all the characters except for a couple that we already had.
They themed the characters out in beach type attire to match the under the sea vibe I think. The mile run to get inside Epcot went well and wasn’t too crowded. After our second character stop, people were starting to catch up to us and the lines started to get longer and longer.
I realized that we were in for some frustrations once we hit the Donald/Daisy line. The line was already pretty long and they rotated just as we were coming up. I think the most I’ve waited in a line is about 8 minutes. (That’s a long time in a race for one stop) This one took us 16 minutes. In that 16 minutes, I stopped counting the number of selfies the girl in front of me was taking at 18. Snapchat, twitter, text, facebook. If I’m sleeping in my bed and I get a text at 6am of you dressed as Tinkerbell making a duck face, I’m probably not going to appreciate it. Perhaps one of the people she was sending pics to did.
Its during this torturous time in line that I realize that everyone is taking selfies! By the 7 dwarfs bush, in front of the light pole, in line, by the bathroom…. everywhere.
I was not prepared for this.
We skipped a few characters at this point that we already had. Heaven forbid that I get back in line with that Tinkerbell! The sun broke the horizon as we were finishing up the race. We stopped to see some really neat coral characters.
My costume is literally falling apart in this picture
We finished out the turn at the ball and crossed the finish line together for the first of hopefully many times. Beth had a great time and we made it back to the hotel before breakfast was over.
Up next…..The Enchanted 10K