Wandering with a Purpose

Tag: run disney

Race Recap: 2022 Disney Princess 5K

2022 princess 5K flat runner

We woke up at 2 am on Friday, February 25 for the 2022 runDisney Princess Weekend 5K this was my first Princess Weekend, but it was my mom’s first 5K. RunDisney 5Ks are fun runs with no timing chip. They want you to do it with a 16-minute pace, but no one will remove you from the course.

My mom was nervous about it because she isn’t big into this kind of activity. I thought she could do it if she had the right mindset, and she did. This is a lot of participants’ first 5K, and that is especially true at Princess weekend. In addition to new runners, the costumes at the 5K were so elaborate! I’m sure some people plan to walk the whole way in them, but I don’t understand how they even do that!

2022 Princess Weekend 5K start

The Race

We walked the whole race, which many people did. I tried to push my mom along because even though I knew there wasnt a time limit, I wanted to make sure we finished. I’m jealous of the people who don’t find finishing stressful.

The start was exciting with fireworks to set us off. I think my mom was really excited and impressed with it. RunDisney does a good job, so it’s hard not to be.

The Course

2022 princess 5K course map

This 5K is one of the best courses that you can do a 5K it is almost entirely through Epcot, so you get to see around the world and finish by going past Spaceship Earth with its cool lights.

Character Stops

The 5k is a shorter close, but it has a very high concentration of characters, which is awesome! The downside is the lines are so long. Even this time we didn’t stop because I can’t imagine waiting for 15-20 minutes for a picture. People say they move fast, but I just can’t do it. I do take pictures as I go past, which works for me!

The characters were a lot of Disney Princesses and their prince, which I liked.

The Finish

Watching my mom finish her first 5K was really exciting for me. I’m really glad she went out of her comfort zone to do this with me, and I think she was proud (and surprised) with herself. We crossed the finish line hand-in-hand. Photo Pass photographers got some good ones.

We got our medals, a banana, water, and out box of Disney snacks before making our way out to the photo booths. We did it! Now it was time for a very long walk to the bus so we could shower and spend the day back in Epcot to eat yummy food in Italy and France.

2022 Princess 5K finish

But this was only the beginning for me. I would have another early morning to start the Fairy Tale Challenge with the Enchanted 10K.

Trip Synopsis: 2022 Princess Weekend

My mom and I traveled to Orlando on Thursday, February 24 for the 2022 runDisney Princess race weekend. While I have been doing runDisney races since 2017, this was my first time doing Princess Weekend which is held every February. It is a four day event that includes:

While I had fun and am glad I went, I absolutely prefer Marathon Weekend. My last visit was in 2020 when I did the Dopey Challenge. When I have money to spend on this luxury, Marathon Weekend will be my go-to. I would like to do Wine and Dine one day, but I wouldn’t be surprised if my first Princess weekend was my last.

Art of Animation

Hotel

My usual hotel is Pop Century, which I think is a really great hotel. There are nice rooms and a cafeteria with more affordable food options. It is on a lake with walking paths, the Skyliner to Epcot and Hollywood Studios, and another hotel called The Art of Animation.

The Art of Animation is so cool. I always go there to walk around because there are areas themed in Cars, Nemo, Lion King, and The Little Mermaid. It is more expensive than Pop, so I haven’t stayed there previously. My mom was up for it, so what a better weekend to stay in a Little Mermaid room! The rooms were so cool, and it was neat to walk around the themes everyday.

Overall, I will stay at Pop again in the future. I liked staying here, but (and I know how bad this sounds) but it was full of children and crazy. The cafeteria was overwhelming. I’m not sure if it’s a function of the weekend in February or the hotel. One of the reasons I didn’t enjoy Princess Weekend was there were a lot of “normal people” whereas Marathon Weekend is all runners or their supporters. Whenever I talked to anyone in line or on a bus, they were there just to visit Disney World. I rarely spoke to someone there for the race. On Marathon Weekend, everyone is there for the races.

Thursday

The Princess Weekend Expo

World of Sports
5K Check In

After flying and taking the Mears bus to the hotel (a new process), we took a Disney bus to ESPN Center to get our bibs and see the merchandise at the Expo. It was so busy! Everyone was really excited to be there. Essentially, there are 3 buildings/stops. The first and furthest back was where you got your bib. Instead of printing your waiver form, it was done digitally now. Then you go to your group’s check in. Since the 5K is not part of the challenge, I had to check in at both the Cinderella 5K with my mom and then again at the challenge booth. Here you get your bibs and shirts. I really liked these shirts! they were short sleeves and soft. The 2020 Dopey shirts were really scratchy, and Marathon weekend shirts are always long sleeve.

Next it was time to visit the expo with external vendors. This always overwhelms me because there is so much, and I’m not sure what to make of it. We didn’t spend a lot of time here, but it is great to see so much business support of this event and the sport. I’m sure there are many things to help make running better. The 2017 Marathon Weekend is where my friend told me about Features socks, which I now swear by.

Our final stop was the Princess Weekend merchandise. I’m not a big shopper, but a lot of people there are. People go crazy! Some even get there hours early so they have first choice of things. It’s crazy. Being that I am not that person, I go to browse and maybe pick out one thing.

Pricing was really high, and I didn’t see a lot that I liked, but my mom did encourage me to get this pretty blue challenge zip up with Moana. It has been a good purchase, and I wear it almost everyday.

The big reason to go to the Expo is all of the photo opportunities. There are all kinds of fun signs and stops to take pictures with your bib.

Bib picture

Disney Springs

After the Expo, we went to Disney Springs, by way of the hotel. My mom hadn’t been there before, so I wanted her to see it; plus, I made us a dinner reservation at Raglan Road, the Irish restaurant. It was really good and fun, but we called it an early night because of our early wakeup call.

5K finish

Friday

5K

Today was our first event where we were gong to do a 5K around Epcot. You can read a full race recap here, but we had a lot of fun!

Epcot

Italy in Epcot

This was definitely my favorite park day. My mom enjoys cooking and different foods, so I made a lunch reservation at Tutto Italia in Italy and a dinner reservation at Chefs de France in France. I really enjoyed the food at both places.

We did several rides and attractions. This was the first time I did some of the attractions around the world like the movie in Canada and the singalong in France. We were going to try to see the evening show, but were exhausted after waiting in the Ratatouille ride for over 2 hours. It was a cool ride, but I was tired and had an early morning the next day.

Saturday

10K finish

Enchanted 10K

2:30 am came quickly, but I was ready for the 10K. It was a lot of fun! For a full race report, visit here.

Animal Kingdom

Our big highlight in Animal Kingdom was Flight of Passages. This is one of the coolest rides I have ever done. My mom really enjoyed it, but we waited in line forever! Disney usually does a good job with their estimated wait predictions, but between this and Ratatouille, they were way off. This wait was ridiculous!

10K and Everest

There isn’t always a lot in Animal Kingdom, but we did Bugs Life and the Lion King before heading back to the hotel for dinner and bed.

Sunday

Half Marathon

The final event! A half marathon from Epcot to Magic Kingdom and back. I was able to do several character stops and still finish in a decent time. For more highlights read here.

princess challenge finish

Magic Kingdom

It is always fun to celebrate in the Magic Kingdom! We brought all of our medals so we could take pictures in front of the castle – it is the most magical place in all of WDW. I made two dining reservations: lunch at Be Our Guest and dinner at Tony’s Italian Restaurant. These are two of my favorites, and I think my mom liked them, too. Last time I went to Be Our Guest, it was a quick service place with not great food. Not this time! It’s a formal dining experience, and I was surprised how good the food is. Make sure to try the gray stuff…it is delicious!

We spent a lot of time in Fantasy Land. It is probably my favorite area, and there are so many fun rides. There is a new Genie Pass option at Disney World. I didn’t buy it for the other parks because it is expensive, and I didn’t understand exactly what it was. I did buy it for our last day, and it really did make a difference in getting on more rides in the Magic Kingdom. I’m not sure I would do it for my whole trip, but to have it in Magic Kingdom was definitely worth the money. We weren’t able to get on the Mine Ride or other roller coasters, but it did get us on Peter Pan, Small World, and a few others without such a long weight.

Medals and the castle

Monday

Because of pricing, we had a later flight out which gave us time to relax and walk around the hotel. It was a nice, leisurely morning where we took the Skyliner to the Boardwalk for lunch. Overall, it was a very nice trip. I’m glad I was able to experience Princess Weekend and also had a trip to Disney World with my mom.

2022 Princess Medals

Not to mention I earned 4 more awesome medals! I’m looking forward to coming back in January 2023 to earn 6 more in the Dopey Challenge.

Race Recap: 2022 Disney Princess Half Marathon

2022 Princess Half Run Flat

The final day of the 2022 runDisney Princess Weekend Fairy Tale Challenge was Sunday, February 27. I woke again at 2:30 am for my final early wake-up call of my 3-day running adventure. I was definitely tired but still excited to complete the last day of the challenge which is the Princess Half Marathon. This was also the first time of my previous 9 runDisney races that I wore a “costume.” I would be a version of Minnie Mouse by wearing a black tank top and a red skirt with white polkadots.

I felt good after completing the Enchanted 10K the day before and spending the day in Animal Kingdom. I was able to get back to the room early and get a goodnight sleep.

My goal for the race was to have fun, feel strong, and get some good character pictures.

The Course

2022 Princess Half Marathon Course Map

The course map for the 2022 Half Marathon was similar to all of the other runDisney Half Marathons I have done. I think the only time it differs is for Wine and Dine weekend, but I have never done that one. The half marathon course is my least favorite because there is so much boring highway running.

2022 Princess Half Marathon Start Line

As they do with all races, the runDisney team sends you off in style with music and fireworks. I was in the 3 wave, and since I was by myself, was able to get into one of the first groups that went off. I like the new model, but it’s just less formal than the way they did it in 2020.

My Race

As I mentioned, my goal was to be steady, feel strong, and just have a good time. I did 60/30 run/walk increments. RunDisney is nice with this because many people do the Galloway method. The beginning is a lot of highway running with some characters on side of the highway. You can see picture of some of them below. Even though there is nothing super exciting about this part, it is worth it because it is SO EXCITING when you enter the Magic Kingdom, turn on to Main St. and see the castle in front of you.

The course goes into Tomorrowland and then you make your way into Fantasy Land. When I went past Ariel’s Grotto, I was hoping to see Sebastian (I got a picture with him during Dopey 2020), and I was thrilled to see him and Prince Eric.

Princess Half with Eric and Sebastian
Had to stop for a picture with characters from my childhood favorite movie!

After this, you make your way through the castle where you are given the opportunity to get a picture in front of the castle. They have several photographers and the lines go really quick, so I recommend everyone stop here. This year, I got my favorite castle picture to date. I think it was the Minnie Mouse look that did it!

2022 Princess Castle Picture

After the castle, you wind though the Liberty area to Frontier Land and then leave the Magic Kingdom. You go past the hotels and get back on the highway for more running. At least here there are lot of characters, and they try to keep you entertained. I was feeling really strong and stopped to get pictures with a few characters, which I found really fun.

Making Friends with Donald Duck

Eventually, as the hot, grueling sun beats down on you, you eventually make it to the backstage of Epcot and you know the end is close. I was really excited to see a character stop with Mickey and Donald! I had to stop and get this picture even though I had to be half a mile from the end! As I was standing in line, Mickey had to leave. I was two people away, and the photographer motioned to the girl in front of me that it was her turn. She asked when Mickey would be back, and he said a few minutes. She told him she would wait, and well, if you know Donald, he was NOT happy. Poor Donald Duck! I said I would be happy to get a picture with him, and he was so happy! I felt good making Mr. Donald Duck happy since I know he always feels slighted by being second to Mickey.

Princess Half with Donald

Character Stops

The half marathon by nature is going to have more characters than the other courses, but there were definitely characters we had seen on other days. There were LOTS of princess (as there should be!) I wasn’t able to get pictures of everyone, but I tried. Some of my pictures didn’t turn out because it was just so busy at the beginning.

The Finish

2022 Princess Half Mulan Medal

It was a hot day, so getting to the finish line was very exciting! They also had cold, wet towels to help you cool down. RunDisney always does a great job taking care of their participants.

I finished the half in 2:57:31 with a restroom stop and several character stops, so it was a complete win for me. My goal was accomplished since I had fun and felt really strong through the whole race. I didn’t train as well as I should have, so I was a bit worried about how I felt. Since completing Chicago, I hadn’t done a lot of running besides a few of the smaller races I signed up for in 2022. Completing a challenge is a big accomplishment for me, and it continues to amaze me that I can do 3 days of walking/running and still feel good.

2022 Princess Half Finish

After I got my Mulan medal at the finish line, I made my way to the challenge tent to get my Moana Fairy Tale Challenge medal. Then it was time for my celebratory picture at the photo booth. The sun was out in full force, so I didn’t really get a good picture, but it shows that I made it! Then it was time to get to the bus and make my way back to the Art of Animation for a shower and to get Mom to go to Magic Kingdom for the rest of the day. It was truly a magical trip. I just love runDisney events!

Ready? Set? Disney Marathon!

It takes me a lot of time to make a decision. This particular decision has been in the works for 2 days short of 8 months. I’ve gone back and forth on it, but this weekend, I committed and it is done. I am going to train for and run the Walt Disney World Full Marathon in January 2018. I had resisted because I didn’t think I would be in good enough shape for a full, but I gave into peer pressure.

Seven Reasons for Running Disney 2018
  1. Of any marathon, this is one of two I would consider (the other is NYC). I’m not a good runner and don’t particularly enjoy it, but I love pushing myself to accomplish something. Disney provides entertainment and the opportunity to take pictures with characters.
  2. A unique way to see the parks! I mean, after I complete this I can say I ran through all four parks. My seven-year-old self cannot understand how this can be possible – Disney World is a huge space.
  3. It’s the 25th Anniversary.
  4. Time to check off another bucket list item. It hasn’t been on there for long, but now that I enjoy doing halfs, the next step is to go for a marathon. I am going to train for it and push myself to improve my overall health. You can’t slack on training for a marathon.
  5. “Experiencing” Run Disney last year provided an energy and excitement that convinced me that last year and this year won’t be my only Run Disney experiences.
  6. It’s a fun race, and it isn’t just for serious runners. Last year, it looked like some people hadn’t ever run a half and were doing a full. I know I’ll be able to finish it (even if I have to walk), but I still won’t finish. To run New York – you have to be a good runner. There is pressure. Disney – it’s just magical.
  7. A large group of friends who are doing it. Peer pressure.

Well here’s to my next 6 months of training! It’s not going to be easy, but I’m motivated and ready to run for the Mouse! Who knows, maybe Tinkerbelle will give me a little pixie dust…talk about a happy wandering!

Read my Race Recap here.

Race Recap: 2017 Disney Half Marathon

Yesterday I ran 13.1 miles to finally earn my Donald Duck medal. I couldn’t write about my “magical” trip to Disney World until I could say I finished the race. It was nice because I ran around my parents’ neighborhood, and my dad drove out a few times with my dogs as a “character stop.” Their neighborhood is very hilly, but I finished in 2:46:36.

A group of friends and I made the decision LAST February to run the half marathon. Then, Friday night, Disney made the difficult decision to cancel the half marathon because of possible lightning.

We drove down from Charlotte on Thursday doing a midway stop in Savannah. Disney was just 4 short hours away from there. I went to Disney World as a kid and once in college, but going back as an adult was quite different.

  1. You can drink in the parks – who knew? (not that we did this, but having the option is cool)
  2. The Park Hopper pass lets you travel around the parks. Much easier to do in small groups
  3. It is still a magical experience even though you’re no longer a kid

Our Itinerary

  • Thursday: drive to Orlando with a stop in Savannah. Dinner at Disney Springs (you don’t need a ticket) and checking into the hotel – All Star Music.
  • Friday: breakfast in Orlando, picked up a friend at the airport, lunch at the Yacht Club with friends, wandered around The Art of Animation. This is a great hotel and wonderful for taking pictures. Once we all arrived, we checked in at the race expo. We were going to have an early bedtime for the race but…
  • Saturday: should have been race day (2:30 am wake up), but we slept in instead! After walking around Music and Movies for coffee, we left for Hollywood Studios. It would have been a great day, but we had to go to World of Sports to trade in our half marathon bibs. It took FOREVER! Afterwards, we had dinner with friends at Trail’s End, which was an area of Disney I never knew existed. It’s a buffet and on a lake – you have to take a boat to the Magic Kingdom. That’s where we ended the day and saw the most magical fireworks show over the castle.
  • Sunday: Marathon Day! My friend ran the marathon instead, so we went out to cheer him on around mile 16. After seeing him, the rest of us went to Animal Kingdom. That was my first time there, and it was awesome! Because our schedule got off on Saturday, we had a lot to fit in. We did the highlights of Animal Kingdom but then rushed to the Magic Kingdom. We tried to fit in as much as we could, but we could have spent hours more. Around sunset, we took the monorail to Epcot. We watched the fireworks show there after doing rides, walking around the world, and eating dinner.

My overall takeaways are everyone should go to Disney, no matter their age. It’s very expensive, but there are ways to watch what you spend. Run Disney puts on a great event, but I hope/think this is the LAST time they don’t have a rain plan. They canceled the race for close to 30,000. I am going to go again next year because this is a race I really, really want to do!

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