*Drum Roll* I have decided to register for the Run Disney Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon! Just typing that out is scary because the most I’ve run in my neighborhood has been 7 miles, and the only race I’ve done was the 2016 Disney Princess 5K; so to say I’m going to do this half marathon makes me nervous but excited.
Run Disney races are extremely exciting, fun, and memorable, but also extremely expensive for those of us who work part-time and are trying to save up money to pay off Student Loans. When I saw that Disney was opening up a virtual run I literally squealed with excitement! Here’s my chance to be a part of another Run Disney race without having to pay for airfare. I’m not doing it alone though, my sister who has done a Disney Half Marathon before is going to be doing this with me. I told her she’ll have to drag me along after a while, because I honestly can’t imagine running 13.1 miles, but I also can’t imagine not trying.
All the planning for this race has brought back memories of the 5k I did two years ago.
I signed up for the race when I found out I would be down there participating in the Disney College Program. I figured I could cross another item off my DCP bucket list, plus I really enjoy running. I was so happy to be doing the Princess 5k, especially when I found out that Ariel would be the featured princess, because she’s one of my favorites. I planned my costume, but kept changing my mind because I’m quite indecisive, and I ended up not finalizing it until the day before the race. Next time I will have it all planned out sooner, and if I ever get to do another one actually at Disney I will know what to do and what not to do.
Here are some tips from my first Run Disney Experience.
- Stay somewhere on the cheaper side. I was living down there so accommodations weren’t a problem, but when my sister and mom came down for her half marathon, it made it a tad more expensive. Use this as a time to stay at an All Star Resort or even one of the Disney Spring Resorts.
- Go to the Expo! The Run Disney Expos are fun, even for the less enthusiastic runners, and those just doing it because someone dragged them into it. They have booths with running gear, top of the line shoes, and more. My favorite booth is the Raw Threads booth, they have the cutest apparel for runners and even non runners will enjoy the themed apparel. This is actually where I got my shirt I wore for my “costume”. They also have a picture spot set up for the Princess race weekend it was Cinderella’s carriage and for the Star Wars one it was a BB8.
- Skip the extra magic hours. It’s so hard not to stay out as late as you can in the parks, but trust me, you want to be rested for your run the night before, and you can always enjoy the parks after your run.
- Stop and smell the roses. Disney races are supposed to be fun. I personally don’t think it should be a race where you try to beat your PR. There is so much going on around you as you run, such as: character meet and greets, photos-pass opportunities, and goodness, you’re running through the parks! My favorite moment during my run happened as I ran past the France pavilion and up the little graded hill, and as I crossed the bridge I had to stop. The sight before me was mesmerizing. The sun was beginning to rise, making the sky pink and purple, with the lights of the World Showcase sparkling against it. I tried to take a picture but it ended up all fuzzy. The important thing is that I stopped, because if I had just rushed through, I would’ve really missed out. I didn’t stop for character pictures and I kind of wish I had, but the characters available in my race weren’t unique enough for me to stop. My point is, take it all in and enjoy.
- Grab a Buddy. My sister was supposed to race with me, but she decided to do the Star Wars Inaugural Dark Side Half Marathon because it was on her birthday (and the weather in January ended up being bad at home and she wouldn’t have been able to come anyway). I tried to find another person to race with but it sadly didn’t work out that way. I would’ve enjoyed having someone to run or at least someone there at the end for me. Make sure if at all possible do the race with a buddy or at least a cheerleader.
- Dress for the Occasion. One of the best things about a Run Disney race is dressing up! I looked all over Pinterest for ideas, and realized I’m going to want to do a lot of races so I can use all the ideas I found. Some people go with the theme of the race, I did Belle for the Princess 5k. However, others dress as their favorite characters, like my sister who ran the Star Wars Half as Tigger!
- Plan, plan,plan. When/if your plans don’t go exactly as you thought then go with the flow, but I can’t stress the importance of planning ahead. I learned the hard way when I was trying to find something to wear the night before, and when I was calling my mom back home crying because I had no way to get to the race. I had planned on going with a girl from work, but cell phone coverage sucked that morning, and I was awake and ready around 2 am, and didn’t know if I’d be able to even make it to the race. Thankfully most of you who do the races will be staying at a resort or hotel where you can hop on the bus the race provides, or drive to where your race starts. I did not have that luxury. Even staying on property though make sure you know where the bus is picking up, and what times. You don’t want to be late. When we stayed at the Grand Floridian for the Star Wars race we were able to take the Monorail (which is so much fun to take at 2 am when no one else is riding it) but we triple checked to make sure if and when the Monorail was running.
- Also make sure you plan where to meet your party after the race, if they plan to be at the finish line. We thought we’d see my sister run across and see where she went from there, but somehow (and I still don’t know how this happened) but we completely missed her finish, and it wasn’t until 10 minutes later she finally called us and asked where we were, as she was finished and waiting.
- Show off! Be proud of what you accomplished, you just finished a race and made it to the other side. My favorite part after I finished was getting my medal and wearing it proudly around all the parks. Cast members congratulate you, and it’s a great conversation starter with the characters. I rested and washed up after my run then went to see characters all around the Magic Kingdom. I also made a point to treat myself to my favorite lunch at Be Our Guest.
So now I begin training for my first half marathon! Keep watching the blog for updates on how it’s going.
Pictures from My First Run Disney Race