Tips To Finishing The Disney Princess Half Marathon
It doesn’t take magic to finish the Disney Princess Half Marathon. What it does require is a commitment to training, a whole lot of heart, and an upbeat attitude. With that said, there are lots of tips this recent Princess Half finisher can share to make your first time (or second, or third) running this race even more successful.
Before sharing the run Disney secrets, it’s important to consider which category of racer you fit into when it comes to the Princess Half Marathon. There are those looking for a decent time and those looking to set their personal best or even win an overall or age group award. This can be done—but if you plan accordingly.
This means submitting your best (and recent) half marathon time to get assigned one of the first corrals. It is absolutely possible to PR and still be in a later corral, but those towards the back of the pack face many walkers and slower runners. With congestion on the highway and certain parts of Magic Kingdom, this can hurt average pace.
The second category of run Disney participant is those who just want to run for fun. These have a more laidback attitude when it comes to time, expecting to give it all they have but also to stop for character pictures. If you fall into this group, these tips to finishing the Disney Princess Half Marathon are for you.
1. Get There On Time To Prep For Start
“I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date!” These are words no Princess Half runner wants to have to say on race morning. Set an alarm, then a backup alarm the night before. Get to bed early because you will need a good night’s sleep in order to be able to perform. Do all your typical night before race rituals like laying out your clothes/costume. Get to the “runners village” timely, making sure to allow enough time for waiting for buses or traffic.
Once at Epcot, start your preparation for the race. This means drinking that bottle of water. There is a table with water served before the race. Volunteers also fill up handheld bottles or bladders so take advantage of this. Use this time to eat your race day breakfast and get a dynamic warm up in. You will know it’s time to start heading to the starting line when you begin to see a sea of people walking to the right past the porta potties. There are plenty of bathrooms so now is your chance to do so. Nothing kills a running flow more than feeling like they need to go.
2. Have A Race Strategy, But Be Flexible
Finishing the Disney Princess Half means you need to figure out a game plan for the race. Because one of the most fun aspects of the Dinsey Princess Half is taking pictures with characters, decide if you plan to stop and how many times. There are usual suspects when it comes to the types of characters such as a photo op with Disney princes and villains. However, runners won’t know for sure who is there until they run the race.
One strategy is to skip the first two or three stops to get mileage in first. Use the stops as a “break” and continue running after the photo. Another strategy is stopping only for favorite characters. That might be just one or two stops. Yet another game plan is to only stop at the shorter lines. Some characters might be worth the wait, while others aren’t. Since you can’t plan for who and where they are, be flexible with whatever strategy you decide on.
3. Don’t Rely On Water And Fuel Stops
I never have carried water with me at a half marathon because there are water stations. But I am so happy I did for the Disney Princess Half. This was mainly because of the humidity warnings prior to the race. During the race, there are water and Powerade stations in what feels like every mile. There is plenty of water on the course. But it is hot and humid and staying hydrated is a must. Bring your own water carrying gear and fill up at these stations. Drink water throughout the race to prevent dehydration and cramping.
There is also a fuel station, but this is later on the miles towards the end of the race. Sports beans were given out, but those who prefer gels or chews might not like this option. It’s best to have fuel on hand the entire race. Stick to what the runner likes, knows works, doesn’t upset the stomach and have on hand to ingest based on needs. Having sports beans at mile 11 isn’t best for those already hitting a wall.
4. Run, Walk Or Run/Walk To Finish
For many, the Disney Princess Half is their first half marathon. It takes training and self-belief to know that you can cross that finish line. It absolutely isn’t a goal too far to reach. Keep in mind that there are lots of walkers at the race. Technically you don’t need to be a runner to finish it. All you need to do is finish within the 16-minute-per-mile pace. It is recommended that the participate trains for a pace of 15-minutes-per-mile. All finishers must complete the race in 3:30:00.
With that said, it’s easy to do a brisk walk. There are run/walk pace groups that consist of running for a minute or two and then walking for a few minutes.
Some runners might be annoyed at the volume of walkers, but at the end of the day they paid for their spot at the starting line too and are also going the distance. Remember this is for fun. No matter how you have to get across the finish line, then do it. Even if that means taking a break to walk.
5. Stop Stopping At The End
It is harder for runners to keep up a groove or good momentum when constantly stopping and then running again. It hurts more when you stop than to run 13.1 miles straight through. So when you get towards the end, don’t stop to walk or for character pictures, sorry Incredibles (who were the last character spot of the race). Instead, find a steady pace and lock it in for that last mile or two.
Once in the back of Epcot, volunteers tell runners that they are getting close the end—multiple times. The makes it feel like the last mile is never going to end. It’s boring scenery wise and there is only one more character stop anyway. Just keep trucking. Soon you will go around the bend and then see the finish line. Crowds will line each side and their cheers will give you that extra boost. Minnie Mouse in princess costume is waving at you in joy and adrenaline kicks in. It’s time for that extra kick, so dig down deep and let the emotions move you across the finish line.
The next Disney Princess Half takes place Feb. 23, 2020.