Why I’m not at Princess Half this weekend

This weekend is the Disney Princess 10K and Half Marathon.  I’m not going to be there.  Even though this race was the reason I got into half marathon running, I’ve taken it off of my schedule.  And I’m not the sort of person who has a problem repeating races.

I’ve said it before, but I don’t like what this race has become.  And it’s not runDisney’s fault.  It’s the fault of the racers.  Not all of them, of course, but enough that the spirit of the race has changed.

Let me rewind.

Before Disney racing got really big, this race was a lot of fun.  A friendly women’s race (with a few men along for fun) with great costumes and lots of smiles.  But slowly, the tone changed.  The races started selling out much more quickly and the goal of the race went from finishing to getting the medal and looking fabulous while doing so.

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen posting online about how they haven’t run more than 5 miles (often significantly less), but they plan to go out and do their first half marathon in their fabulous costume and it will be great.  And hey, if they don’t finish, they still get the medal, and they’ve earned it.  (Personally, I believe it’s a finisher’s medal, but I can’t let someone else’s decision to take a medal affect me.)  I’ve heard many people say that the medal is earned during training.  But if you admit you didn’t train, then how can you claim to have earned the medal?

Do I think anyone can do a half marathon?  With proper training, yes.  Do I think everyone can do a 3:30 half marathon?  Most people sure, again, with proper training, but depending on your fitness level, it could take you a while to get there.  No shame if you can’t do it.  As people say, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch.  Start with a race with a longer time limit, or start with a shorter race.  Don’t sign up for a race and not train and be surprised when you get swept.

The race has a 16 minute per mile time limit from the last starter.  That means if you start farther up, you have a bit more time. This has led to people sneaking into faster corrals or even having someone else run under their name in a local race so they can get a good proof of time.  Unfortunately, that just leads to people who are way too slow starting in front of people who are significantly faster than them and then blocking the way.

I think the biggest problem is that many racers have developed a sense of entitlement and it is seen heavily at this race.  I run/walk, and my parents race walk.  I have no problem with walkers.  But you can’t walk five across.  Two is fine in the wider parts of the course, and when the course narrows, you need to stay single file.  It’s just the polite thing to do.  Of course, the walkers aren’t the only problem – there are plenty of runners who have no issue shoving slower people out of their way.  Again, politeness and respect for others goes a long way here.

It’s true that if you’re a slower runner, you probably won’t get to stop for pictures if you want to avoid getting swept.  It’s not unfair.  It’s just how life works.  As I said to April in January, it is kind of a bummer to not get pics, but what you can do is go back after the race, get cleaned up, and then get character pictures in the parks.  You actually end up with cuter pictures because the characters will oooh and ahh over your medal.

Now, I don’t mean to scare people off.  This race can still be a lot of fun.  It just lost a lot of the fun for me.  But it would be nice to see it change.  There’s nothing wrong with being polite to the other runners.  In fact, I think it’s more fun when you find yourself meeting new runners on the course and making new friends.  But as I said multiple times about the Donna Half, “This is what Princess is supposed to be.”  A positive environment, a fun run, and people just having fun.

So if you’re running this weekend, be polite, even if people aren’t polite to you.  Kill ’em with kindness.  And have fun and take pictures of the fabulous costumes for me!

Cigna Blogger Event Recap

Now that I’m almost recovered from my cold, it’s past time I do a recap of the awesome Cigna blogger event that I was invited to during Disney Marathon Weekend.  Cigna is the main sponsor of marathon weekend and it was great to be a part of their blogger event.

This year’s event was themed “Go.  Know. Take Control.”  We learned a lot about preventing common health issues, while having quite a bit of fun in the process.


The event started with a quick meal where we got to meet other bloggers, then we were divided into teams.  I loved this because I got to meet all sorts of new people and meet a few people “in real life” instead of just online.

We learned a lot through playing games.  There were multiple choice questions where you had to perform an action to “call out” your answer.  Doing squats, jumping up and down, all sorts of of fun things.  (Well, I’m not sure squats are ever fun, but you know what I mean.)  I was proud of myself for knowing a lot of the info about things like a healthy BMI and good cholesterol numbers, but some of the facts were pretty shocking.

Cigna did a study of their insurance holders and 45% of them didn’t know they should have an annual checkup.  And if you have insurance, this checkup is free, so all 45% of them were missing out on a hugely important health resource.

I get it.  A lot of people think “Oh, I’m healthy.  Why do I need to go to the doctor?”  And I get it.  I’m relatively healthy too.  But you know what I can’t tell from how I feel or look?  My cholesterol numbers.  My blood glucose numbers.  My blood pressure (okay, sometimes I can feel that rising).  And your annual checkup can tell you other things as well.  Cigna profiled a 50-year-old man whose doctor discovered his cancer thanks to preventative screenings.  Early detection, early cure.  The same goes with my mom and her breast cancer.

As I have discussed before, my test numbers aren’t bad (well, my BMI isn’t good, but it’s getting there).  But they could be improved.  So I have taken charge of my health and am working to prevent any problems before they start.

You can learn more on Cigna’s website.  They have a lot of great tips on how to improve those key numbers.  This is something that I find hugely important, so I’m not just sharing it because I went to Cigna’s event.  I’m under no obligation to write any of this, but I really think that preventative health care is so important.  And if it’s covered under your insurance, what are you waiting for?  GO!

Back to the event.  Apparently, I was at the smart table, because ultimately, we won the competition.  Personally, I think it was all about our skill at picking up penne noodles using a spaghetti noodle held between our teeth.  But look at our delight in winning!


I am clearly super excited here. I like to win.

And then, some special guests came in to say hello.


This girl is never going to turn down a chance to get a photo with Mickey and Minnie – though next year, maybe Minnie can be playing football too.


2016 Disney Marathon Weekend Cheering Recap

Did you see this sign along the race course?  That's me!

Did you see this sign along the marathon course? That’s me!

After the very hard work of 10k running, on Saturday and Sunday last weekend, I was out cheering the half marathoners and marathoners at Disney World.  I was lucky enough to be out with a pretty fabulous group of cheer squad members.

Saturday morning, I was up at 5 (yes, I got to sleep in) and out cheering around 5:45 at the Grand Floridian.  We had a bunch of friends running the half, including my parents, so we were excited to get out there and cheer.  I, of course, had failed to bring my cowbell, so I was stuck clapping.  Cowbells = way more awesome.  Thankfully, Katie had a fabulous cowbell that drove everyone around us crazy.  We showed up in time for the first wheelchair racer to come through and stayed until the “parade bus” (aka the sweeper bus) made its way through.  And yet we still managed to not spot Paula Radcliffe.  That’s what happens when it’s dark, I guess.  I was really impressed by the reactions we got from some of the super fast people.  A lot of them took a second to sort of wave or smile in our direction.  I guess they’re not used to crazies getting up so early to cheer.

Sunday morning was my birthday, so I put on my fabulous birthday hat and headed back out.  Katie’s mom had made me the fabulous birthday sign above.  I’m pretty sure I’m in a lot of pictures.  I also discovered a lot of people share my birthday and chose to run a marathon to celebrate.  While I admire their spirit, I do not regret my decision to cheer instead.  We started out at the Grand Floridian, cheered for every single racer, including the sweeper busses and trucks picking up the equipment.  I think the cast members enjoyed the applause they got from Nathan.  He certainly enjoyed the trucks.

We had a lot of friends running, but I was mainly stalking my dad and Kim, who were somewhat running together.  They hadn’t met before that morning, but when Kim swore to me that she would find him at race start, I knew it would happen.  As everyone came past, we had lots of happy runners, which we enjoyed seeing.  This year, we didn’t see anyone trying to jump into the race at mile 7, which was reassuring.  Of course, we heard about numerous cheaters later, but it was nice to not see it in person this year.

After the last runner came through (and the trucks), we took our cheer break and went inside to eat a delicious and nutritious breakfast.  Cheering is hard work, and let me tell you, those people aren’t lying when they say their arms are tired from holding their sign.

Then it was back out and over to Epcot to cheer runners as they exited the park and ran past the gospel choir.  It’s a great spot to cheer because we see runners in every emotional state.  Lots of smiles and laughter, lots of happy tears, and lots of people just gutting it out to finish.  And of course, lots of people who have stopped to get snacks along the way.  We saw lots of beers, margaritas, frozen drinks, hot pretzels, and even some tacos and fish and chips.  Which is not what I would want to eat after running 25 miles, but to each his own.

Lots of friends came through, including my dad, who had this look on his face that said “What the hell am I doing?”  This is why I am in marathon retirement, Dad.  But then he saw us and smiled and headed to the finish.  We got lots of sweaty hugs from lots of awesome friends and cheered all the way to the last runner.  We even saw our new cheer friend, who we met Saturday morning.

One girl was slogging along very close to the end of the runners and all of a sudden, she put on a huge burst of speed and tore towards the finish.  It was hugely impressive and everyone cheered for her.  She was going to finish no matter what.  It was also great to see all the Team in Training coaches helping people along, even people who weren’t TNT members.  Those coaches have to put in an insane number of miles during a race.

And then the race was over and it was off to celebrate everyone’s accomplishments.  What a fun way to spend my birthday!

Race Report – Castaway Cay 5K

IMG_2102.JPGLast week, I also ran the Castaway Cay 5K.  This was my second running of this “race,” and I will admit, the only reason I was so gung-ho to run it was because of the rumor that all racers would receive the new medal.  (Rumor confirmed.)

We didn’t have the world’s best weather for our cruise last week.  We cruised on the Disney Dream from Monday til Friday.  Monday and Tuesday were nice, and I spent some time in the sun those days.  Wednesday, we arrived at Castaway Cay and the weather was ominous.  Lots of clouds, lots of wind.  We were convinced it was going to rain.  So convinced, in fact, that rather than bringing all of our beach gear with us, we planned to head back to the ship after the race to change.  We were afraid that we would end up drenched.

Who is this we I speak of?  Well, I convinced my dad to run with me since he’s training for Goofy, and my sister and mom joined in as well.  My brother and SIL opted to sleep in.  Lazy bums.

I planned to go out and run my 1:1 run/walk pattern.  I was finally no longer sore from the weekend’s half, so I figured I could push.  Thankfully, it was much cooler than it was when I ran this in 2013.  One benefit to the gloomy weather.  Dad decided to try to run with me.  He’s not a big runner, having mainly walked half marathons, but he does spend a bunch of time on his rowing machine, so he’s in good shape.

Poor guy didn’t know what he was in for.

We completed the first mile in about 12 minutes.  This was perhaps a bit too fast for Dad, as I was jabbering away and he was focusing on breathing.  This is why you train, friends.  You CAN race without training, but you won’t like it.  So we slowed down a bit and Dad stopped swearing every time my watch beeped for the end of a walk break.  Caitlin was not too far behind us and Mom walked the race with a friend she made on the course.  She even had her umbrella with her, just in case.

Thankfully, the rain held off and we all got our fancy drinks and fancy medals.  Dad and I finished in about 39:30, which is fabulous for a 5K, and awesome for a fun run.

DDR-150218-Fresh_Catch_8x10-15886841So it remains true – I can’t go on vacation without a race.  But this one was a lot of fun and we got it in before the rain started.  Not the ideal beach weather, but a pretty fun day nonetheless.


Cheating at the Disney Marathon

I’ve had a couple of people find my blog recently with search terms along the lines of

disney marathon cheating

I guess people perhaps saw some of the things that I saw during marathon weekend.

I went out to cheer during the marathon.  I met up with Katie and Jenny at the Grand Floridian around 5:30 in the morning.  We headed out to the main drag to await the runners.  By getting there that early, we ensured ourselves a good spot along the route and also ensured that we would get to see every single runner come through, from the very first, very fast runners to the stragglers at the end, hoping to not get swept.

We had been out for a while when a woman in running gear came out to join us.  She was easy to spot as she was wearing a bright red hat.  She had on running tights and a top, which wasn’t entirely suspicious, but what was suspicious was her running belt, complete with a Snickers bar strapped in.  (Side note – I can’t imagine eating a Snickers while running, but that’s just me.)

I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe she was just going to be pacing someone.  Of course, that’s completely against the rules, but somehow, in my mind, that’s less of a “cheat” than what she actually did.

She clearly didn’t plan well because she was out there quite some time when a guy came running up to join her.  It was hard to tell, but it looked like he gave her a bib he was carrying all folded up and she walked back towards the treeline to pin it on.  It probably wasn’t obvious to the other runners, but it was definitely obvious to us.

Jenny even took a picture of the two.  Both were wearing Goofy bibs.  She was planning to cheat to get that Goofy medal.

I checked their times a few times through the afternoon and I’m not sure they actually finished.  I stopped caring after a while.  After all, her cheating doesn’t affect me and that’s how I have to look at this.

But she wasn’t the only case of cheating we heard of.  Apparently, a number of runners took spectator buses to Animal Kingdom, hopped out, and joined the race there.


I’m sure people also crossed the median near Wide World of Sports and skipped from mile 17 to around 20.  It happens every year.

We stood at our spot at mile 6.5 until the sweeper buses came through.  We saw a woman behind the “balloon ladies” (the women who keep the 16 minute mile pace) who was in tears.  She was running Dopey and her body had given out.  She was still moving forward, but she knew the end was in sight.  I give her all the credit in the world.  She may not have crossed that finish line, but she gave it her all.

While the cheaters don’t technically take anything from anyone else, I feel like they disrespect all of the other runners who are out there doing what they can to finish.  I had multiple friends opt to not start the marathon due to injury or illness.  It was a hard choice, but one they had to make.  They weren’t going to cheat.  They were going to do what was right.

After all, what’s the point of a finisher’s medal if you didn’t actually complete the race?  What do you get by doing that?

I know it doesn’t affect me, and I shouldn’t let it bother me.  I just have no respect for cheaters.  They disrespect the rules, they disrespect the race, and they disrespect the other runners.