Yes I am standing in a hotel room taking a selfie while wearing a crown of leaves. It was part of my Tiana costume
Yes I DO mean Disney’s “Frog Princess”
Why is that?
The reason is the Disney Princess Half Marathon brought to you by runDisney and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
Basically it’s a half marathon (13.1 miles or 21K) with a princess theme. It happens once a year (this is year no.5) and proceeds are donated to a number of children’s charities.
I first heard about this just over a year ago via a magazine article. Unfortunately I cannot recall which magazine it was, but I would like to thank them for putting a bunch of grown women dressed in a combination of excercise gear and tutus and crowns on the front of their publication because that’s what made me buy it! If I remember correctly the opening line was something like “What would make grown women dress up in tutus and run?” And boy was I eager to find out.
MIND,BODY AND SOUL
After reading the article I felt enlightened. It involved running, which meant I needed training which is good for the body, it was for charity which is good for the soul AND….you got to dress up like a princess, LIKE A PRINCESS! Hello HELLLOOO I am so there! That is great for the mind. I couldn’t wait to do it! I went online looking it up the same day! Unfortunately sign up wasn’t avalible for another few months so I had to wait! Uggghhh!
RUNNER I AM NOT
I bet anyone reading this who doesn’t know me might be inclined to think I am an avid runner. One of those people who jumps out of bed already in her sneakers at 5am ready to literally hit the ground running. WRONG! I actually hated running up until 2 years ago. All throughout school I would walk laps at P.E, and I only knew how to walk on a treadmill this is how much I abhored running. Dancing sure, aerobics sure, running no thanks.
One day, just over 2 years ago I found myself at a gym in a country I did not live in. It was very quiet as it was the middle of the day, I was on the treadmill working up a good sweat from speed walking when I just felt this urge to run. I ignored it at first becase “I don’t run” but then more and more I felt as if the only way I could be satisfied with this work out is if I broke into an almighty full speed pelt. I looked around, there was hardly anyone there and those there had no clue who I was so I just did it. That’s when I realised that I loved it! There is something about running that allows all your pent up energy to just seep out. Very theraputic.
Many months after reading the article I went onto the website and signed up. I was barely in time (afterbeing so eager), the event was almost full! My advice is to start checking well in advance so that you know exactly when the event is declared open (July the year be.
After signing up I had to plan the entire trip. The race took place at Disney World Orlando FL so I would have to travel there, find accomodation and of course spending money. Enter POOR PARTY GIRL MODE! Every trip I’ve had since I started working has been a budget trip (ironic no?) so I’m something of an expert by now. Planning a budget trip will be dealt with in another post.
So like I said, this is a princess themed race. Almost all the participants are women and most of them dress up as a princess (so did some of the men). Of course I was going to dress as a princess,I just didn’t know which one!
Should I be one of the original classic princesses like Aurora, Snow or Cinderella? Or one of the modern classic ones such as Ariel (Who would be 41 years old now btw) or Belle or Jasmine. Or maybe I should be one of the new kids on the block like Tiana or Rapunzel or Elsa? I was so torn I never decided who to be until about 7 days before the race. This left me with 7 days to get a costume!
I almost didn’t write a paragraph about this because I almost didn’t train! I procrastinated and when I finallly started “trainig” I’d do it for 2 days then stop for 3 or 4 and repeat this cycle. My excuse was “I’m so busy and tired”. I don’t reccomend this approach. I plan to do this race again and when I do I will have an actual schedule and a training partner to help keep me on track. There are a number of 3 month and 6 month training plans avalible free online(which I still didn’t use), I reccomend starting there.
For about 2 weeks prior I had narrowed my choices down to 2 princesses;Mulan and Tiana. My reason was that these were girls with guts.The hard work and bravery exhibited by Mulan and Tiana was more appealing than the damsel in distress type of personalities a lot of the others had.Finally I chose Tiana.
The night before I left for FL (3 days before the race) I went to a fabric shop in a mad rush. I told myself I could easily find a costume upon reaching FL but my thrifty inner voice reminded me how much that might cost me buying all pre made stuff. So I bought ;
1) CLOTH: 2 shades of green 1 yard each costing me a total of about $8.50 US,
3) GREEN THREAD
From the toy/craft store I bought
4) TIARA-a plastic one and
5) GREEN FELT- to make my Tiana crown.
The total cost of all those raw materials was approximately $14.50 US. I already had my sneakers and I was planning on wearing my workout capri’s underneath the skirt. The only thing I needed was the green top.
Tiana is the frog princess and in Disney’s version she is from New Orleans. Her entire outfit has a natural swampy vibe. Hence her crown is not shiny silver or gold but rather made of leaves. I love bling as much as the next princess but I love this crown.
I used a very cheap plastic silver tiara, probably meant for a little girl’s birthday. I cut out some leafy shapes from the felt and hot glued those babies onto the tiara. It was quick and painless.
SKIRTING THE ISSUE
Making the skirt was neither quick nor painless.
My sewing machine has bitten the dust and
sew so I hand to do it all by hand. I was tired and didn’t have the energy to measure myself so I wrapped each piece around my waist and cut accordingly. I then stitched on some fasteners to hold the edges of each skirt together and also to hold the outer one to the inner one.
For the time I had I give myself a thumbs up, however, considering what an avid DIY-er I consider myself I really could have done a much better job had I put more thought an time into it. This is a mistake that will not be repeated next year.
That’s a blurry pic of me cutting and stitching away
I decided to add the flower to the skirt which can be seen on Tiana’s green ball gown using some of the green felt I had bought.
I drew out, cut out and attatched using fasteners.
I was all set, well almost, I just needed a green workout top and that would be easy right? WRONG!
I regretted my choice to be Tiana more and more with each passing minute when I went shopping for a green athletic top. There was either no green or the wrong green or it costed a small fortune, I just couldn’t win! I figured I’d have more luck at the expo which took place 2 days prior to the race but it was more of the same. I finally settled for the cheapest one I could find which was not the colour I wanted but the closest to it, and it ended up not fitting me as well as I wanted it to.
Nevertheless I was stil totally excited to become Tiana.
I arrived in Orlando 3 days before the race. On the day before I went to collect my package (number and shirt and arm band) It all happened at the ESPN Sport Centre. When I arrived I knew it would be a great day because there was an Oikos truck giving out free greek yogurt!
I got my free yogurt and proceeded to collect my race package.Then I went to the Fit For a Princess Expo (located in the ESPN centre as well)
I have been to expos before but never ever have I ever been to one like this!The sheer number of vendors packed into this 1 room not to mention the customers! This place was overflowing with both merchandise and people.
There was everything you needed and everything you didn’t need. New Balance (the official shoe of runDisney) practically had an actual shoe store set up with back rooms and all!
There were lots of vendors selling headbands and sleeves and socks to match your costume. There were some selling tops and skirts and tutus( some quite pricey I might add). People were selling the modern waist pouches (some blend right in with the top of your pants), athletic tape, energy gels and blocks. I did feel ovewhelmed but I kept it together and just went down one aisle at a time. The only thing I bought was my green top.
Me with my number and some Disney friends
I was up at 2 am on Feb 23rd. The race was set to start at 5:30 am and you needed to be there at least an hour before. I had about 6 different friends message me at that time just in case both my phone and the alarm clock failed me. I had eaten well the day before and made sure I was in bed by a reasonable hour. I slept but not well and when I got up I was groggy, despite all the adrenaline coursing through me.
I put on my DIY budget friendly costume and went to await my pre ordered taxi for 3 am. Myself and the lady I shared my taxi with (Belle) stumbled out into the dark and wisely used the last real bathroom before the port-a-potty craziness was all we had to rely on.
After a long walk in the dark I arrived in a large parking lot where what I can only describe as a full on rave was going on. There was a stage with a backdrop and on it a DJ with his turn tables blasting tune after tune. There were already thousands of persons there in all their princess glory. There were 2 back drops where people were in line to take their pics,food trucks selling brekfast, An area to drop off your bag and a tent for those who had paid extra to have massages and breakfast served and relaxing couches etc
Me by the backdrop
The place was a cornucpia of costumes! The classic princesses seemed quite popular: Cinderealla, Aurora and Snow. But every princess was represented there. The Ariels had some of the most creative costumes with scale print tights and sleeves, actual shell bras, net for skirts, head pieces with starfish. Love Love!
There were princesses in every shape and size, age and race,it was beautiful.
There were those dressed as other Disney characters: lot’s of Minnies,the villans Ursula, the Queen of Hearts and even Malificent, Tinkerbell was well represented (my favourite disney character by far), I even saw some Pricess Leia’s! There were people dressed just as a princess, none in particular and those in no costumes at all.
We proceeded to our corals, another loooong walk in the dark. I was in the last one to start so I actually began my race approximately 1 hour and 37 minutes after the first group. When my time finally came I just ran. I ran and ran and ran. I actually thought I’d have to stop a lot sooner than I did but I impressed myself. When I finally did stop it was to use the bathroom. And after that I just continued. It felt amazing!
This was a real race but it was a fun one too. In addition to the theme and everyone all dressed up there were endless photo opportunities along the way. Characters were around every corner for you to stop and take pics. I would have loved to take some pics with them but the lines were just too long! I said next time when I am better trained and can run this race faster, I’ll be able to stop. What I was able to do however is snap pics of the characters as I went past them.
Captain Jack Sparrow and Prince Eric by a ship
Those are just a couple, there were sooooo many more!
As the race progressed there reached a point where just about everyone was walking. It kind of felt good, everyone was just kind of enjoying each other’s company looking at all the people in front of us and all those behind us. People were popping thier energy gel shots left right and centre (myself included) and gulping water and gatorade. By now the sun was fully up and it was beginning to get a little warm adding to everyone’s decreased energy.
Some of princesses
Finally the end drew near! Around the 11th mile I regained some energy (thank’s to my gel shot I guess?) and began to pick up the pace. As we got closer to the finish (In Epcot near where we started) there were more and more spectators. They were very encouraging and I felt more inclined to run again and run I did!
Finally 3hrs and 9 minutes after starting I completed my first half marathon!
This was a phenomenal experience. I was more than a little nervous leading up to it, but having done it I suddenly realise how much I am actually capable of if I just try. I wanted to do this for the charity and the fun of dressing up and the good it would do my body but what I didn’t expect was to feel so inspired! By others :I saw a lady with severe arthritis walking like a bat out of hell, I saw a lady with a broken leg wearing her boot an coutless pregnant ladies getting the job done, I was also inspired by myself. Three years ago there is no way I would even have considered this. I just wouldn’t imagine I could do it, I would have been discouraged by the naysayers who would have said it was dangerous and a waste of money etc but I did it and of that I am immensely proud.
I have made a little compilation of advice gems(princesses,gems get it?) based on my experience
1) Start Low and Go Slow- I went straight into a half marathon which is 13.1 miles or 21 Kilometres after having never run any long distance race in my life. This is generally not recommended. Most people start with a 5k then move up that way you can adapt and improve so that when youu reach the really long distance you are ready for the challenge.
2) Train- This is something I cannot honestly say I did. Not in any special way. I continued my usual on again off again exercise routine and thought about joininga gym so I could practice on a treadmill.This never happened. Sure I survived but I got shin splints and as I sit here typing this I still cannot go down stairs properly. Yes an injury can happen to the best prepared of athletes but it’s less likely.
3) Eat well- If you are anything like me and most of my friends you are on a perpetual pseudo diet. In the 2-3 days leading up to a big race forget all of that. Eat full meals inclusive of the evil food group we call carbs. Also eat brekfast the morning of your event.
Just as important as eating before your race is eating afterwards. Most events provide participants with some kind of light meal afterwards. It is recommended to eat very soon after completing your race and again 3 hours later
4) Hydrate- Do this before, during and after your race. Also ensure that afterwards your urine is clear and not dark brown or red. Darkened urine may be a sign of rhabdomyolysis a potentialy dangerous conndition.
5) Shoes- Run in the shoes you trained in. I saw so many people buying brand new shoes at the expo, I was hoping they were buying them to wear for after the race for some other reason. It is reccomended that you not run a race in brand new shoes.
6) Sleep- Never underestimate the importance of it. You need to rest before and after a race. Before to conserve energy and be relaxed and clam and afterwards to recuperate.
This is just my anecdotal advice based on what I’ve read and learnt of the years, I hope it helps some potential runner
This has been an extensive post(a half marathon in it’s own right) I applaud anyone who made it to the end lol!
I hope whoever reads this enjoys it and feels as inspired as I do. I leave you with a pic of me showing off my medal (the one everyone who finishes the race gets! LOL)
Have an awesome day!