I Did It! A miracle for sure…..Princess Half Marathon Survivor

Princess Half Marathon 3- 14- February 27, 2013

One day in early November of 2012 a picture of this beauty awoke a dream in me that I had forgotten about.  It’s magical powers made me believe that there was a chance I could obtain it. So without further ado I set out on a journey to become an official Princess.

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The picture does not do justice to this beautiful medal.  Disney really does know how to make some gorgeous running bling.  It is absolutely beautiful.

For those of you unfamiliar with Disney races they are a ton of fun.  Filled with characters, costumes, entertainment, and a sprinkle of Disney magic so that runners and walkers of all ages, shapes, and sizes have a blast.

Before I tell you about my race recap I just want to say that I barely made it to the race.  A big part of me wanted to throw the towel in before even starting.

When I started training, I decided I would just do my best and see what happened.  I was out of shape and was going to start the training plan late which meant I would have some catching up to do.  I convinced Prince Charming that we needed to do this and asked him if he would train and run this race with me. We had ran the Beauty and The Beast 5K a few years before and we knew how much fun Disney races were so it was pretty easy to convince him.  After a a little over a month of training (you can read more about the training here) I began to believe that not only could I finish the race but maybe I could finish with a decent cushion.  I began to think I might even be able to take some photos.  My time was improving with each run.  I was getting cocky.

Then right after December I got hurt.  My knee was so bad I could barley walk and every muscle on my left leg was screaming at me everyday.

How did it happen?  The long story is, I was doing to much too fast.  The short story is, I tried to push through knee pain during a training run that was slotted to be a nine miler.   The pain hit at mile 1 and I kept going for 4 1/2 miles.  Not a great idea.  I couldn’t walk for days.

I thought the pain would last for a few days and then I would be healed.  I would be running again.  That didn’t happen.

 I was fighting against the race clock and in a full out panic.  How could I run when I could barely walk?

After a week of pain I had went to see a chiropractor.  This helped some.  I saw a dramatic improvement right away.  However, as soon as I tried a short walk/run/limp the pain was glaring its ugly head and I would re injure myself.  I asked the chiropractor how long before I would be able to run.  He said if I told you 3 weeks would you be happy?  I almost screamed No at him.  Well little did I know that the pain would haunt me for much longer than that.

For two months I limped, cried, foam rolled, iced, stretched, took Epson Salt baths and struggled.  I tried everything to finish my training for this race.   I ran through pain.  I cried.  I limped as I ran.  I spent a fortune on KT tape, BioFreeze, Ibuprofen, Vitamins, Chiropractor, and Massage Therapist.  I obsessively read everything I could get my hands on about recovering from injury, stretches, and core strength.   I would start feeling a little better so I would run and then my body would scream at me and I would be limping for days.

 Everyday was disappointing and frustrating.  I was doing everything that I was told, everything I had researched, and still the pain had me limping all the time.

I began to see a massage therapist and that seemed to really help.  She worked the sore muscles out.  The calf pain I had had for two months she magically worked out in 3 days.  Yet still without warning muscle spasms and pain would leave me in tears for seemingly no reason.  Sometimes it would just be from me walking around the house.

The week before the race I was still having muscle spasms daily that often times brought me to tears.  I was trying so hard to accomplish this goal but my body just didn’t want any part of me running.  I kept pushing through and tried to find ways to beat the pain.

You can read my Running Log and see how much the pain effected my training.

I began to hate the idea of the race, the Deadline of Doom.

My good intentions just didn’t seem be working.  My heart wanted this, my mind wanted to exercise, but my body wasn’t cooperating.

The pain was crippling me.  It was making me grumpy and I was starting to feel like all of this pain wasn’t worth it.

It was time for this race and I hadn’t put in the mileage that I wanted and needed too.

I wasn’t ready and I knew it.  Others told me to stop running.

I wasn’t ready and they knew it.

I wanted this so bad but it seemed everyone and everything was telling me to quit.

Then the day of the Expo arrived.  (I have an Expo recap here)

My Princess daughter Princess H began to get under the weather.  I started to feel sick too.  I read reports about the upcoming high levels of humidity, heat, and the possibility of rain.  Saturday, Princess H had a raging fever and I had stomach problems.  I hate leaving my kids when they are sick.  I pumped up the vitamin C.

The weather man kept talking about possible thunder and rain.

 I was wearing 5 year old shoes (long story) but they had very little tread left on them.

My legs were killing me just from walking around the Expo the day before.  How was I ever going to finish 13.1 miles?

I was scared.  I was afraid I wouldn’t finish.  I had nightmares of balloon ladies and being swept.

Maybe this was a higher power telling me I needed to NOT do this OR maybe it was the evil one trying to suppress my dreams.  

Or maybe, just maybe, I had to overcome all of this adversity to really appreciate my victory.

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I decided I had to go out and at least try.  What if I did finish?  What if God some how gave me the strength to push through.  I had spent 4 months on this goal.  I had under gone so much pain and spent so much time focused on this race.  I had to at least give it a go.  Didn’t I?

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I couldn’t quit.  I wasn’t a quitter.  I was a Princess.

I kept thinking back to Disney’s adjectives for a Princess = Commitment, Courage, Determination, Fantasy, Perseverance, and Strength.

 I kept thinking back to my massage therapist telling me, “You got this girl!” I kept thinking to my chiropractor who told me that he knew I would finish and he would probably just have to put me back together again after the race.  (Hmmm…. I guess like Humpty Dumpty). He said he thought their was a 99% chance that I would re-hurt my knee.  Wow!  Great Statistics.  So NOT funny.

I didn’t believe them.  I hadn’t trained far enough. My pace wasn’t fast enough.

But I couldn’t just stay home.  I would hate myself.

So I had do this, to try.  I would always regret it if I did not.

So I forced all doubt from my mind and concentrated my energy on the fact that I WAS going to finish!  I had ran/walked 7.5 miles in training.  If I walked the first 4 (like Jeff Galloway recommended) and Ran/walked 7- I would only have 2 to go.  I could do this!

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On Saturday Prince Charming and my little Prince ran the Mickey and Minnie Royal Family 5K.  Here is a recap of that.

So race morning arrived.  The kids were safely with their grandparents.  Our alarm went off at 1 Am.  I wanted to make sure that we arrived at Disney and were first in our corral to buy us as much time as possible to finish the race.

How Disney Races Work:  Disney puts you in Corrals based on your expected finish time that is submitted upon registration.  After the last participant crosses the finish line a Balloon Lady goes.  She is the official person keeping a 16 minute per mile pace.  If you fall below her you are at risk of being swept.  

What does swept mean? They pull a bus over the road and anyone behind that spot has to board the bus and is unable to finish.  They transport you to the finish line and reports say that Disney gives you the finisher medal for your efforts.  (Officially they say you only get the medal if you finish).  This can happen at any spot on the course when you fall below pace.  They usually give you warnings with orange flags at the mile markers and guys on bikes encourage you to make up the time difference.  

So basically the early corrals have a head start, more time for completing the race and pictures.  

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We left the house around 2am and arrived down at Disney a little before 3am.  No traffic.  It was so nice!  We parked right up front. We were literally like one of the first 10 people that arrived.   All the Volunteers and Race workers were in great moods.

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We went to the bag check area and received a standing ovation and applause from the 10 or more volunteers.  It was so kind and made us feel like royalty.  They were so excited to check in their first bag of the morning.

I had read that some women record a person or thing that is important to them for each mile to help them focus on doing their best.  I decided that this might be great motivation for me so I did it as well.

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Later I heard that it took a lot of Princesses over an hour in the traffic to get from the hotels to the race.  I also heard that some of the bus drivers got lost.  One lady had to get on the monorail at the Magic Kingdom because her driver was lost.  She got off at Epcot and sprinted to the start.  She was suppose to be in A corral and ended up joining a later corral.

I am so glad we got there early and didn’t have to stress about making it on time.  Disney says that if you aren’t in your corral by 5am that you won’t be able to race, but I’m not sure if that is enforced because I saw tons of people running to the start.

A man finally appeared and told us he was going to move the barricade and we were to follow him in his golf cart to the corrals.  Boy what a walk.  It was probably a mile or further.  I wasn’t expecting that.  A mile before the race even begins. Geez!

We got to our corral and we were the first ones there.  Yeah!  Just what we were hoping for.  We moved all the way to the right  because we were planning on walking and sat down to wait it out.  It was still over an hour before the race was to start.

We were filled with excitement at this point.

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I ran into a Princess that was part of a Facebook group with me and we chit chatted.  We were both first time runners working through injuries so we had a lot to discuss.

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This is a photo of the people behind us in our corral.  It’s impossible to see the end of the people and we were in Corral F.

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Finally it was time to start.  The Fairy Godmother counted down for the start of each corral.

(Thanks runDisney for the photos)

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The race began!!!!

 After each corral started the volunteers moved forward the next corral.  We were next to the Porta Potties and it was funny watching all the Princesses running over and then sprinting to their corral.

We got to stand right at the very front of our start.  It was so exciting and then the Fairy Godmother did her official countdown for our corral – 3, 2, 1 -GO!

The first mile went flying by.

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 I met a lady that had mentor on her shirt and asked her if she was doing run/walk intervals.  She said that she walks her half marathons and keeps about a 16 minute per mile pace.  I believe she said this was her 12th marathon. I decided since I was suppose to walk the first few miles I would stay with her.  After awhile I thought, this isn’t so bad.  If I can keep up this pace and walk maybe my injuries won’t flare up and I will be able to finish.  She was a Guardian Angel and a God sent.  I really think because of her I was able to finish my first half marathon.  She encouraged me the entire race and stayed with me and Prince Charming.

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We have a lot of photos with strangers in them.  I knew we wouldn’t have time to take photos because of the pace requirement so I had Prince Charming just snap photos of all the characters and mile marker signs so I would have them for memories.

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Before we knew it the time had come to run through the toll plaza towards the Magic Kingdom!

At this point I had lost Prince Charming.  I thought he got stuck behind us because he was taking photos.  I almost felt bad that I had him taking photos for me and hoped it wasn’t too much for him constantly having to catch up.

After all this was his first half marathon too!

That was until I found out he was like a quarter mile ahead of me.  He was sprinting around taking pictures for me but he was really enjoying himself.  I think it was an adventure for him.  He was zipping around and WASN’T struggling at all.  So much for feeling sorry for him.  This pace was a walk in the park for Prince Charming.

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Mile 3 down.  The miles seem to be flying by.  How come my RunKeeper keeps telling me I have ran further?

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Mr. McQueen made me think of my Little Prince C who is a big Cars fan. I couldn’t help but to smile. Then, this unique photo opportunity, I loved taking a quick glance at these Evil Ladies.

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These drummers were awesome.  I think it was at this point that we crossed under the bridge to head into Magic Kingdom.  Honestly, I was just concentrating on moving forward and the miles seemed to be flying by.  My only goal was to keep my “Mentor” in my sights.  I trusted she would get me to the finish line.  If she would get a few feet away, I would jog to catch up.

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Genie, Luminare, and Sebastian looked liked this when we came through.  However, I saw a video of them lit up for the pre-dawn runners and they were spectacular.

Princess 1-2 Marathon- 47- February 24, 2013-2It was right after mile 5 that we entered into the Magic Kingdom.  My In laws had brought my children so they could watch us.  It was an emotional moment to kiss them.  I was trying to stay with my “Mentor” so I dashed back on the course and kept on racing.  I didn’t realize she had pulled over to say Hi too.

Main Street was pretty packed full of spectators and runners. Honestly most of the Magic Kingdom part of the race was congested.  It was amazing hearing all of the people cheering and running this part of the race.  It was very magical.  Magic Kingdom had characters all over the place.

When I got injured I had began to doubt if I would be able to finish the race.  I decided to make getting to the castle my first goal and actually finishing the race my second goal.  I couldn’t believe how fast the first miles had gone by.  I was still pumped up on race day adrenaline.

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I found this beautiful photo on runDisney and loved it.  Obviously this was a very speedy runner who was ahead of the crowds of the slower runners in later corrals.  When I went down main street it was wall to wall people.

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This is Prince Charming’s Castle photo.  Where Oh Where is my photographer?

Oh yeah, he is hamming it up for his own pictures.

Hmmmm….. Well I guess this is his first half marathon too.

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Buzz from Toy Story and Gaston from Beauty and the Beast.

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Belle from Beauty and the Beast.  Alice and the Mad Hatter from Alice and the Wonderland.

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Mickey and Minnie dressed in their royal attire.

 I so wanted this picture but I never saw these guys. I’m sure the line was crazy long.  Prince Charming never saw them either so they may have been on break.   Thanks runDisney for the photo.


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And then there was the Castle!  The trumpeters greeted us and they were Awesome!

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This is what most runners who sign up for this race dream about- running through Cinderella’s Castle.  It is so Magical.

The Castle was great but by the time we got there it was impossible to run through it because of these crowds.

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Here is a lovely runDisney photo of someone who got to run through the castle.  What a gorgeous photo.

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 Prince Charming is stuck probably a few feet behind me and got this photo of me exiting the Castle.  RunDisney has official photographers that capture you running out of the castle.  They also have video clips.  Watching back I was already limping at this point.   On race day I didn’t even notice.

We rounded out of the Castle, next stop Frontier Land.

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Characters from Princess and the Frog.

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The train conductors were representing and my daughter’s favorite Princess Aurora was present.

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RunDisney lets everyone vote on the half way song choice.  This year the song Girl on Fire won.  They had a fire truck here too.  It was cute.  For awhile the music was blaring and it was nice.

After this is when I started to really feel it.  I began to feel sick to my stomach and I was getting tired.  I had only trained to 7.5 miles because of the injury and I had went the distance that I had gone in training with no problems.

But now I was in uncharted territory, I still had gas but it wasn’t as easy anymore.  The adrenaline had carried me much further than I had expected.  In my mind it didn’t feel like I had already went 7 miles but I was slowing down and my body could tell.

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These were the Chimney Sweepers and Mary Poppins.  I was not sure who these guys were but I’m pretty sure they were representing the Wedding Chapel.

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Lilo and Stich were hanging out at the Golf Course and this Mickey Golf cart was so adorable.

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Genie from Aladdin.

This is another character I would have loved to get a photo with but I was so tired at this point and needed to keep my legs moving.  Plus my “Mentor” had informed me that we were slowing down.

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I don’t remember much entertainment along this part of the course.  I remember it getting really hard.  My mentor told me this is the part of the race where instead of saying you have gone 8 miles you think to yourself only 5 more to go.

It was somewhere along here that she got pretty far ahead of me.  I kept trying to jog to catch up but honestly I felt so sick to my stomach I finally decided I just couldn’t.  Prince Charming and I would just have to finish this race on our own.   I didn’t want to hold her back.

She is so awesome though.  She came back to be with me.  I think she knew I was giving it my all.  I think the Powerade and drinking too much of it early on had made me sick.  It was very hot and humid so at every water stop I was drinking and pouring water over myself.

I was getting so hot and felt so nauseous at this point. Honestly, mile 7 through 10 are sort of a blur.  The miles seemed to go by pretty fast but I was just trying to keep moving.  My back and feet were hurting but mostly I was just tired.  I knew that I had never gone this far in training an I could feel that.  I tried to remember to look at my arm to remember who my miles were for.  Also my hands and fingers had been swelling for awhile now.  At this point they were huge.  I couldn’t even move the zipper on my shirt or pull up the cap on my water.

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Looking at that smile on his face and knowing how badly I was struggling at this point makes me think I want to do some very un-Princessy things to him.  LOL.

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I remember asking if we were like at mile 9 and my Mentor saying we are almost at 10!  I was so numb I couldn’t think straight!

Then it happened!  It was right before Mile 10 that I saw the dreaded balloon lady!  I heard someone say,  ”There is the Balloon Lady!”  I looked to my far left because I was still hugging the right and sure enough in a sea of women there was one lone woman carrying a ballon with a sign on her back that said 16 minute mile pace.  If someone wouldn’t have pointed her out I would not have ever seen her because of the crowds.  (And my mind being foggy)  I think there were actually two women but I only saw one balloon.

We had already passed a few points with big empty buses sitting on the side of the road.  Prince Charming thought she wasn’t the real Balloon Lady but just a pacer. (PBRC Facebook groups (which I’m a member of) have their own pacers and some were carrying balloons)  After all, how had she caught up with us.  We had a little head start and a bit of a cushion.  Another lady confirmed that this was indeed the balloon lady.

I had put my phone away a long time ago because my hands were going numb and were swollen.  Since my mentor was keeping pace I had decided I didn’t need to keep looking at it.  Well apparently she had slowed down a bunch to stay with me because she knew I was struggling.  I didn’t know we had slowed down that much.

I was in a full out panic upon seeing those balloon ladies.   I had spent months stalking blogs and Facebook pages.  I had read everything I coud get my hands on about these ladies and their very unMagical dream killing balloons.  (I’ve heard these ladies are really very sweet.  They are just doing a job)

 I was practically an expert on the art of sweeping, weeping Princesses. This couldn’t be happening.

  I explained to my “mentor” and Prince Charming that we had to run.  We had to stay with the balloon ladies.  Already they were putting distance between us.  I had worked to hard for my dreams to end here.  I couldn’t be defeated!

They both said, “NO!  We are fine!”  Look at all of these people.  Their is no way they can pick up all of these runners.  We were in a huge sea of women.  I had never looked behind me but apparently their were at least 500-1000 women or more back there.  The on ramp was just ahead and my mentor told me once we got on it they wouldn’t sweep us.  I wasn’t so sure.  I know Disney reserves the right to sweep anytime you are behind pace.  I had heard about people being swept on this very bridge.  However, there were a LOT of us.  I had always heard of stragglers getting swept.

Prince Charming and Mentors calm washed over me.  If they weren’t worried about being swept I decided I would just keep on moving forward.  Prince Charming and I had made a deal that if it looked like I was going to be swept he would sprint ahead so he could finish.  He wasn’t worried and I knew he wanted to finish so I calmed down.  In my heart of hearts, I was so tired I didn’t have the gas to stay with that balloon lady.  I think they both knew that.

Mile 10 is the start of a huge clover leaf  incline that is an on ramp.  Basically a very long overpass with a huge curve.  The bad news is -it is an on ramp.  The good news was I didn’t think it was as bad as my very extensive online research (my attempt at humor) had led me to believe and Epcot is on the other side.

Princess 1-2 Marathon- 87- February 24, 2013-2 At the top was this guy. I had read about how cute he can be telling runners to hurry up and this is what we signed up for.  Honestly, I don’t remember him saying anything.  I was feeling so sick by the time I got up the hill.  I think my mind said the hill wasn’t so bad but my body said something else all together.

Then I saw something I hadn’t read about.  Not only was I on a huge clover leaf overpass.  I now had to go down it and go back up another over pass.  What!  My research had failed me!

I was too tired to do anything but keep moving.  (In retrospect I’m guessing most people are so tired at this point they probably just remember this part of the race as Mt Everest and it all blurs together for them.)

I saw all of the runners ahead of me and I took my first and only peak behind me and saw a ton of Princesses.  I finally started to feel like I was probably safe from being swept.

Before going up the second over pass was a sharp around and back where only cones separated you from the skipping the extra distance.  I was so tempted to just go over the cones and joked about it with Prince Charming.  He was like, “Nope, we are doing the entire race.”  The good news is they had a great DJ and LED screen pumping some jams and it helped give me a bit of energy.

One more BIG hill and we were home free.  We would be in Epcot and I knew that I wouldn’t be swept once I got into Epcot.  We were almost there!

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Mile 11!  Only two to go.  I got this!  See the lady waving her mean old orange flag.  That meant we were behind pace and endanger of being swept.

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I saw the character from the Incredibles during my research and knew if she was there I wanted this picture.  If I got this far- I was Incredible too.

  There was no line for Ms. Incredible so I yelled for my photographer aka Prince Charming.  Oh wait! I don’t want to interrupt HIS photo.  He’s over hamming it up again with Mulan! What! Apparently she had no line either.

He made it just in time and I got this photo.   This was my awesome Mentor.  I asked her to jump into the picture with me.

One cool thing about the races are that they have some of the unique characters that you often times don’t see in the parks.

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I have never been more happy or excited to see Epcot.  Right before we got to mile 11 I was feeling sort of dizzy.  My “Mentor” is part of Team in Training and a coach from Team in Training kept asking us if we were ok.  He finally decided I didn’t look so good because he insisted that I drink some sort of sugarless electrolyte drink.  I was too tired to object.  It didn’t taste great but I had energy to do Mile 12 so I think it might have had some Disney Magic in it.

Most people say the last mile is so hard and long.  For me I was just soaking it up.  I was almost there.

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We saw these Beautiful Souls and I lost it.  I knew this choir was at the end and a highlight for so many.

Prince Charming ran ahead to get this picture for me and he turned around and I was full out sobbing.  I didn’t even care who saw me.  It hit me- I had done this!  Against all odds I had completed a Half Marathon.  All that pain and suffering had NOT been for nought.  I had accomplished my goal.   He looked at me with concern and I told him they were happy tears.  I think at that point he might have shed one or two for us, too.

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I looked like I am in pain in this photo.  I don’t remember being in pain.  I remember being HAPPY!

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We rounded the corner and I told Prince Charming I was too exhausted to run.  Their were my mice friends.  I had never been so happy to see the Mouse before.  These are runDisney’s official photos and are too great not to share.  I decided we needed photos so Prince Charming and I took these.

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This is us after we received our medals. Such a great moment of joy.  My heartfelt thanks goes out to the lady in purple “my mentor” and my husband.  God sent them both to help me accomplish this goal.

After receiving our medal I stopped my runKeeper and it had logged 14 miles!  If you count the mile to the corrals I had went 15 miles!  Wow!

I made the mistake of sitting down to talk to a medic at the ice spot and really regretted it.  After that the nausea kicked in with super force and my muscles locked up.  Prince Charming left to get our bag because it was pretty far away.  I was suppose to meet the Grandparents and kids and instead sat down on the ground.  I ate a banana which helped.  I took off my shoes and was shocked to find huge blood filled blisters on both pads of my feet, one on my big toe, and one on my second toe.   I had not even felt them.  I called Prince Charming and he decided to take me to the car in a wheel chair.  I wished I had went to find the picture spots with the Princesses but maybe next year.

So this was my journey during my half marathon.  It was very hard but so worth it.  We had already signed up for California’s Dumbo Double Dare.  I have a lot of hard work in front of me. I want the next half to be a lot faster and not such a struggle.  If you have never ran a race before I highly recommend trying a runDisney race.  They are so much fun and you won’t be disappointed.  The training plans are awesome.

If I can do it, anyone can do it.

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My Heartfelt thanks go out to everyone who helped make this day possible.

 To my chiropractor who helped put this skeptical girl back together.  To my massage therapist who gave me confidence and rubbed away my stress.

To my In Laws who watched our kids every single weekend so that we could train. I’m so blessed to have them.

To my “Mentor” who led me through the race and stuck with me even when I was slowing her down.

To God who sent my mentor and gave me the strength and courage to fullfil this desire of my heart.

To my wonderful Prince Charming who supported, encouraged, guided, and trained me through the good times and the pain.  You’re awesome honey and with out you this would never have been possible.

And  lastly, to Disney for putting on a fabulous race.  If it wouldn’t have been for my first Disney 5K a few years ago, I would never have dreamed of this goal.

Thanks to all of the Princesses and super big Thanks for a lot of much needed Disney Magic on race day.

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Disney’s Mickey and Minnie’s Royal Family 5K

Since I didn’t actually run this I am going to mostly post pictures from Prince Charming’s run our Little Prince C.  Here they are hamming it up before the start of the race.

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The skys looked like a storm was brewing but the rain stayed away.

When we go to the staging area I took my little Princess who wasn’t feeling well and we decided to find seats for the finish.

We heard the fireworks go off on the other side and the first corral was off.  Disney was releasing the runners in corrals and spacing them out a bit.

This was slightly different from what we had seen in the past.

I knew my boys were in Corral C so it would be awhile before I would see them again.




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As we were waiting special guest arrived.

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These are the photos that Prince Charming took on the race

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This was my favorite race photo.

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These boys look like they are having a ton of fun!

I called to see if they were near the finish line so I could try to get photos.

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Dad stopped to take a picture and Little Prince C wasn’t stopping.  LOL.  Daddy had to sprint to catch up.

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I was so proud of my little guy.  He’s only 5!

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This fun run was completed so we decided to head home and take our sick Princess to bed.

Princess Half Marathon Weekend Race Recap- Expo


The race weekend started with the Fit for a Princess Expo.  This year Disney had the Expo at the Cornado Springs Resort and all participants were required to ride a bus to get there from Downtown Disney as parking was not allowed at the venue.  The whole family headed out in great spirits super excited for a great Expo.

Upon entering the expo we were greeted by none other than Cinderella’s coach men.  We stopped for a quick photo opportunity.  This place was packed but the line for the photo wasn’t bad at all.


After our quick picture, Prince Charming, and I went in and decided to divide and conquer the masses.  PC went and got our bibs while I tried to get into the  Official Merchandise area.  Princess 1-2 Marathon Weekend- 08- February 22, 2013Wow!  The crowds were crazy busy.  They were letting way too many people into a very small area.  It was impossible to tell who was trying to pick up merchandise and who was waiting to pay.  After getting stuck in a grid lock I decided to exit the area.  I had a Vinyamation Mickey in my hand with the Princess Half medal and honestly was just trying to escape and couldn’t move.  A Princess from Germany told me we were in line.  I told her I was just trying to put my stuff down and leave.  However she worked her magic and cast a spell on the unsuspecting worker and the next thing I knew I was being shuffled to a register to pay and avoided the hour long line.

My daughters favorite princess is Aurora so I took a quick photo of this banner.

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Next, I wanted to try and find Run Disney’s official trainer Jeff Galloway to ask for some advice in running the Half.  I found him and he was awesome!  He told me to walk the first 4 miles and then to do very short run/walk intervals to avoid aggravating my injured knee.  At first I was thinking that I didn’t want to walk.  I was afraid it would ruin my time and get me swept.  However,  after contemplating for awhile I realized Jeff Galloway is an Olympic Gold Medalist and has way more experience than I do so it only made sense to follow his sought after advice.

We had browsed around a bit so after finding Prince Charming we decided to try to come back tomorrow because this place was packed with Princesses and every booth had an impossible line.

We took some great photos on the way out.

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We had decided my little Prince C was going to run the 5K instead of me due to my injuries.  He was wearing my 5K shirt on the right and it was huge on him.  We were told by the staff at the Expo we couldn’t exchange sizes until after 6pm that day.  Really – not super convenient as it was like 11 am and we live 45 minutes away.

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We left and went to home.  Later that day some very friendly RunDisney people called and informed us that my husband had left his portfolio on the ground by the picture spot above with the next mornings 5K bibs!  Some very nice Princess found it and turned it in.  It also had our commemorative pins inside it.

 Ut Oh!  Change of plans.  We decided we best drive back out as that would be the only way to get to run the next day.

Tip:  The Expos seem to be the least busy in the afternoon.  In the future I will go on the first day and plan on arriving around noon-1ish.  We did this at a previous expo and via Facebook post it seemed calmest at this time for this Expo as well.

We came back around 5 and it was crazy busy, again.  I guess a lot of folks were getting off work and picking up their bibs.  We found RunDisney had ironed out some of the issues from earlier in the day and we were able to purchase the Official merchandise that we wanted to look at earlier in the day  They were limiting the crowds inside the booth and making everyone wait to get in.  This made so much more sense!  We could actually find what we wanted and get out of there so others could do the same.  We bought 3 Vinylmation Mickeys, 2 Princess Half Marathon Commemorative Pink Ears, a jacket and wine glass for me, a Coast to Coast Shirt for PC, and some decorative replica medal pins.  Prince Charming wanting me to get and I Did It shirt, but I passed for the jacket.  Who wants to be stuck with a $40 shirt if they weren’t able to finish?  I would hate that shirt!  I didn’t want to jinx myself.

We left in the evening much happier than we had that morning.

This was my little Princess posing for me.

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My only complaint was that I saw other Princesses with photos with the Disney Princesses.  I think they may have come on Saturday???  Also we waited for over an hour for a bus to get from the Expo back to our car.  All in all -the Expo was Ok.  Many people complained over and over again about the crowds and organization.  I agree in part after comparing it to other Disney Expos that I have attended.  However, to give them credit where credit is due, they did seem to iron out many of the issues from the morning by the afternoon.  The Disney Princess Half Weekend had begun!

Continue on to read about Mickey and Minnie’s Royal 5K and the Princess Half Marathon.

Training -First Two Months Recap

My Prince Charming and I began our training using a couch to 5K plan.

Week 1- Okay. The truth is this was not training but just getting out and moving.  The idea was harvesting in my little mind about running a race.  I was just trying to get active.   Looking back at my RunKeeper app I can’t believe I ran/walked 5 days this first week.  To see the training stats in a nice table you can click here.

Week 2- I looked up 1/2 marathon training plans and figured out that I should be running a distance run on the weekends. I started running the first week with a 3 mile solo run. I didn’t follow a run/walk timed intervals. I just decided to do my best. I ran when I could and walked when I needed too. Usually I ran when it was shady and walked the hills and really sunny patches of the trail. Was it hard? Of course. Was their pain? Plenty. Did I keep going? You betcha! I kept telling myself the speed didn’t matter I only had to finish the distance and by the end my speed wasn’t so bad- for me. 3 miles in 49:15 minutes with the average pace of 16:21. I figured that is almost Disney qualifying.  This planted the seed that maybe I really could do the Princess Half Marathon and not get swept up by the dreaded, evil sweepers.

I ran a total of 6 out of the 7 days.  Hmmm….not such a smart idea.  No wonder I developed IT band issues.

I  started loosely training using the Couch to 5K plan. Prince Charming thought it was important at this point to work towards being able to run at least 30 minutes straight.

On Saturday Prince Charming (PC) and I ran/walked 4 miles. At the end of the run I was feeling good. I felt like I could have maybe even went further.

Official time 1:06:54 for 4.12 miles at avg/min/mile of 16:13.

Week 3- The following week we did 4 total runs and on the weekend we slayed 5 miles while still feeling strong. Time was 1:23:56 for 5 miles with avg/min/mile 16:47. My previous ankle pains (tendon behind ankles) were improving. I noticed my speeds seemed to overall be consistently improving especially on daily runs. I also started trying to run at least 2 miles each day on my shorter runs during the week.

Week 4- Then the following week I rant a total of 4 more runs.  The six miler came and boy did it really wipe me out. Prince Charming and I did 6.14 miles in 1:37:02 which is avg/min/mil of 15:49!!!! Finally below Disney’s 16 min/per/mile. I was staying tired even on non-run days for the entire week after this. I felt great running but when I wasn’t running I wanted to sleep. My calves were getting really sore. I was told by fellow runners I was running too many days a week and not getting any recovery in.  Later, after learning a lot more than I knew then I would realize how true this advice is.  My body’s fatigue was a foreshadow of an injury brewing.

Meanwhile, Prince and I began researching and trying out Jeff Galloways prescription for run/walk method and his different interval times. Prince decided he liked this better than trying to run constantly. Fellow runners advised that going the distance was the goal not running constantly. We decided to slow down and run two days during the week and then the third run would be the long run on the weekend. I switched from the couch to 5K to Jeff’s 30 second run/45 second walk formula.

Week 5- This week we did a total of 4 run/walks. (What happened to only 3 runs a week- I’m so stubborn)

This week I also ran my fastest ever overall time with a 14:58 avg/min/mil. However, that weekend I was in terrible calf pain and was only able to walk a 5K for my long run. I was terribly disappointed.

Prince was aggravated because he thought I might be able to push through the pain but it was too severe. I tried! This was a different kind of pain. I’m learning as a runner that some pains you can push through and others mean stop what you are doing immediately or risk further injury. So we walked a 5K, or should I say, he walked and I limped. I was so sad.

Week 6- But I got up the next day and ran with a 15:20 avg/min/mile. My second fastest time yet! A few days before the Saturday painful run was when I had ran my fastest pace yet. This is probably why I was in so much pain.

We ran/walked 4 days again this week.

The following Sunday our goal was 7.5 and with a lot of hard work we made it! (our avg/min/mil was 15:14) It was very long but we pushed through. I was doing 30 sec run/45 sec walk and had to walk out a few intervals but we survived. Also we ran over a couple of overpasses. I was so excited! And sore. And tired. I don’t know if I could have done much more. The first few miles were hard but they always are for me. Then I got into my super euphoric high and felt awesome until about mile 5. After that I struggled. It was then that I appreciated why I needed to train to do the half. Just because I could go 2 miles doesn’t mean I could go 13.1.

Week 7- The next weekend we had company in town for the holidays and only ran two days.  I decided to only travel 4 miles but tackle some hills. We ran a very hilly course and I upped my pace to 1 min run/1 min walk. We finished very strong and our avg pace was 15:55. This wasn’t our fastest run but we tackled a lot of hills and uneven sidewalks. Feeling awesome.

Week 8-  I only ran 2 days.

Here’s where the trouble begins.

First Mistake: I had horrible problems finding running shoes that were fitting me correctly. I will save the long story for another post, but the short story is I had been running on very old, worn out shoes from the start. Not the best idea.

For about a week I had begun to have some consistent nagging knee pain. A kind of an achy feeling around my knee caps with some crinkling noises at times. Almost like something was rubbing behind my knee cap. I also felt like my knee was locking up a bit as I ran. It felt weak and unstable at times. It hurt mostly after a run and during a rest day . It felt okay while running except a bit weak. I ignored the pain because it wasn’t really bothering me and didn’t seem to be getting worst. Second mistake.

I had only been getting two runs total in for two weeks because of the holidays. Then it was the big day! We were going to run our 9 miler. I was so psyched and excited. It was raining and we nearly rescheduled with our babysitters but decided to brave the elements. I had finally purchased some new shoes that I thought might take me the distance.

Third mistake – new shoes. Not sure if this was an actual mistake. I need the new shoes and finally found a pair that felt great. However I think that the new shoes might have played into what happened next.

I woke up and mentioned to my husband that I might need a knee brace because my knee had been bugging me a lot the night before. Very achy. I had worn my new shoes around the house for a couple of hours to see how they felt. Felt great. But my knee ached a lot that night. I didn’t correlate this with what happened next.
So we set off. We did our first mile in the drizzly rain. Looked down and the first mile was a pace of 14 miles per minute. That was great! Really great for me! This included our 5 minute warm up. Maybe my new shoes were making me speedy.

Then my knee started to ache a bit. Then it got worst- really fast. It had never bothered me during a run before. This couldn’t be! This couldn’t be happening. I wanted this 9 miles today. I wanted to accomplish this goal. My new shoes were feeling so good. Please NO!

Pretty soon my run intervals were hurting. Sharp pains.

I wanted this so bad. I would not give in. I would push through the pain. I could do this. Maybe if I kept going the pain would get better. I tried to stretch. I kept going. Pretty soon I was almost crying in pain but I would not give up!  (so stupid by the way)

I decided to try to walk it out for a bit. Then I tried to run some more. I pushed through till about 4 miles (a lot of which was walking) and then realized that I wasn’t going to be able to run anymore. The pain was just getting to be too bad. We called for a ride because we were 4 miles from home and at this point I could barely walk. I kept walking till 4.5 miles and our ride showed up. I was so stubborn. I was so defeated and sad. Besides my knee everything else felt awesome and it was turning out to be such a nice day.  My mind wanted to keep going, but my body was saying No Way Lady.

I should have stopped at mile one when the pain sank in. If I would have stopped maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad.

I could barely walk for three days after that run. Now it’s been almost a week and I haven’t been able to run at all. It’s Friday and it still hurts to walk if I’m not on Ibuprofren, taping it, and icing it.

I’m praying I didn’t really hurt something. I NEED to run this half marathon. I NEED to train.

I want this so bad.

This is where I am now. Hurt, upset, and afraid that I might be injured for this race.

How it all began….

Once upon a time their was a girl.  An evil spell had been cast upon her and this girl had become unhappy with who she had become.  She didn’t like the way she felt anymore.  She didn’t like the way she looked anymore.  She couldn’t believe the face and body that stared back to her from photos and the dreaded mirror.  She wanted to make a change but didn’t know how to break the spell?  She tried different things but she stayed the same.  The spell was too powerful.  It kept her enslaved.  She couldn’t break free.  She desperately wanted to make a change.

Then one day she found her glass slippers  and an idea emerged.  Maybe she could run?  Maybe if she ran far enough and fast enough she could break the evil spell that held her prisoner.  Was it possible?  She really didn’t think it could be but she had to try? Right?  Could she?  Did she have the courage?  The strength?

Then she remembered a dream she once had.  A foggy dream that whispered to her through the powerful magic of the spell.  She remembered a girl who once ran and started to become fit.  She remembered a girl who once became powerful for a short season and ran a 5K against all odds.   She remembered how the spell had begun to lift.  She remembered how she had worked so hard.  She remembered the joy and excitement of the race day.  How she had conquered so much fear.  She remembered how powerful she had felt.

Then the larger dream whispered through the spell she was under and she was able to remember how she had looked with envy as others had conquered and even larger beast and slayed the 1/2 marathon.  She remembered that day how a dream had settled in her heart that perhaps she too could one day conquer that beast and break free of the spell once and for all. Could she really?  This overweight girl in the mirror laughed at her.  Mocked her.  The spell was so strong.  The fear breathed fire upon her trying to hold her dreams at bay.  She didn’t know if it was possible but the dream didn’t disappear.

With courage one day she put the glass slippers on and ventured from her tower.  She asked her Prince Charming to come with her.  She ran very slow that day but the old injury that had been inflicted on her wasn’t bothering her.  She felt some joy.  Some excitement.  She asked Prince Charming if he would begin to train with her.  Excitement began to break through and the spell weakened a tiny bit.  Could she do this?  The Princess 1/2 was coming up in 4 months.  If she trained really hard could she do it?  She knew she wouldn’t be fast but could she finish? The fear tried to cast his evil doubt, but with each run she was able to push the fear away a little more.  She decided to sign up for the big race with Prince Charming and at least try…..

The spell had to be broken at all cost so she could be the girl, the Princess, that she was meant to be.