We got to Epcot and we didn't really wait around like we had in mornings past. I started to make my way to the corrals, which were in a different location than they had been for the 5K and 10K (about a mile or so walk), and Mom made her way to the monorail (I'm going to do a whole separate blog on the spectating).
I sat on the ground for a while, in an effort to save my legs, heard the Paris announcement that I figured was coming sooner or later based on the leaked promo pics they shot a few months back, and before I knew it, the race was starting for the upper corrals and my corral was moving up, up, up, until it was my turn!
I was making pretty good time from the start to mile 1 to mile 2 and the sun was slowly rising. We cheered the wheelchair runner and the woman who won as they passed us by on the other side of the road, and then I could see it...my first magical site of the day.
I continued on my way and soon I was greeted with more familiar sites, like the Contemporary and a pretty famous mountain.
We didn't go through the front gates of Magic Kingdom, so while I knew I was tantalizingly close to being in the Magic Kingdom, I wasn't quite sure where I was. And then we were kind of funneled through a barricade and then there it was...MAIN STREET USA.
The emotion was overwhelming. And it was compounded by the sheer number of people there cheering you on. I've run a couple halfs now, and there are parts of the course where I am all alone with nothing but my thoughts, hoping I've followed the right chalk line on the road and I'm not lost. Disney was a COMPLETELY different experience. There was never a place where I was alone and there was rarely a part of the course where there wasn't someone clapping and cheering and telling me and my fellow princesses that we could keep going. That we had this. I found Mom up near the castle, where, with the help of my friend Hannah, we'd worked out she would be, and I waved "hi!" as I made the turn into Tomorrowland.
I made my first stop of the race in Tomorrowland because these were the first real bathrooms since I'd left my hotel that morning. The line was a little long, but it was worth it to not use a Port-o-Potty. I wound around past the Teacups and the Carousel and the rather new Princess Fairytale Hall. And around the back of the castle was Anna, Elsa and Kristoff...AGAIN! Man those guys are EVERYWHERE!! And then it was time to do the thing that I had wanted to do since I first signed up for this race...RUN. THROUGH. THE. CASTLE.
And more importantly, ALL MY PICTURES OF ME DOING IT CAME OUT. Oh my gosh, running through the castle was everything I'd built it up to be in my head and more. I saw Mom again, which was great, and then it was off through Frontierland and out the back, which was a pretty cool experience, because Parade floats behind the scenes!
I made it out of the Magic Kingdom, told it I'd see it real soon, because we were heading there that day, and then began my run by the Grand Floridian and Golf Courses. I made my second to last picture stop because there was a very short line, and who can say no to Mary...
And then it was just a matter of mind over matter. I was pretty proud of myself this half. Even though it wasn't a PR for me, it was the furthest I've ever gotten without having to just walk the entire time. I made it to mile 10 or 11 before I had to just start walking. And that was nice.
Between mile 10 and 11, I saw one of my favorite race signs ever and stopped really quick for a picture and then it was back to it. I was texting Mom at this point, who had made it back to Epcot, and she was encouraging me to keep one foot in front of the other because I was going to finish.
And soon I was back in Epcot and there was Spaceship Earth! I was going to finish. And before I knew it, I was passing the fabled Gospel Choir at the finish, and there was the sign for mile 13, and it was time for the longest 0.1 mile of the whole half.
I pushed through the pain in my feet to do what I always have to do during halfs: As soon as I can see the finish, I start running again. I always have to finish running. And this was no exception. I searched for mom in the crowd, didn't find her (because she wasn't there, she was past the finish line) and then lifted my arms high, because I had done it! I had finished 22.4 miles in 3 days.
Then it was back on the bus for a shower and a rest, and off to the Magic Kingdom!
We then went to Be Our Guest for dessert, which was a reservation I had been lucky enough to score and was very excited for, since it's the only way to meet the Beast in Disney World now. I tried the Grey Stuff...it was delicious, and I didn't even have to ask the dishes their opinion.
And thus ended our half marathon day. We headed back to the resort to go to bed...and not wake up at 3 am!!!
to be continued...