runDisney Princess Half Marathon Race Recap 2013

I did it. I beat the odds. A lot of things were stacked against me going into the runDisney Princess half, but regardless I still managed to have a great job and pull out an almost four minute PR. Did I mention I did it in a tutu? How cool is that?!?


I was worried about this race for a few reasons. 1.) I have been suffering from calf cramps whenever I run fast (going on since October), so I was petrified it would happen again despite my best healing efforts. 2.) I ate like crap the week leading up to the race. It’s hard not to indulge when you are in Disney. 3.) I ran a hard three miles on Friday at the meet up, then I ran the 5k Saturday morning…then the half Sunday. Fresh legs? Not exactly. 4.) It was hot and more humid that the Disney marathon in January. I was drenched and it was pretty gross and hard to breathe. There were heat advisories and my buddy Jeff Galloway reminded everyone to take it easy. However, this competitive girl just couldn’t do that with my probably last chance to race a half this season. Let’s back up shall we?

Oh, 2:45 how early you come in the morning. Nevertheless, I was up and ready to go in my Rapunzel costume. (Arm sleeves by Katie, tutu by Rachel).

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Jen, my mom and I snapped some photos then mom left to get on a bus and Jen and I headed up to the hospitality suite for breakfast.

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We hoped on the VIP bus and saw the traffic and were SO glad we weren’t driving ourselves! The bus went in the back way and parked next to the starting line. It was nice to have a bathroom on the bus and to sit and hang out until time to get into the corrals.

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Chillin with Jeff Galloway on the bus

After awhile, I started getting antsy and at 5:00 I texted Bobby and found out he and my dad were at the starting line. We were going to be put in the corral at 5:15, so we went ahead and walked to the start to try to find the guys and take a couple photos.

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Getting excited/nervous on the bus

When we were waiting at the front and I was texting Bobby to find out where they were, one of the photographers covering the event asked to take pictures of me and Jen, and one ended up making the official album on the runDisney Facebook page!

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I finally spotted the boys on the other side behind the stage so I ran over to say hello and take some pics.


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The guys followed me back to the front of A and took a couple photos of me and Jen after we got into the corral.

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Can you tell we are wearing fake eyelashes? You should have seen us putting them on the night before. Hilarious.

Sean Astin showed up next to me, ready to jump in during corral C. Poor guy was having a hard time untangling his headphone cord. I wasn’t sure how to help, so I just took a picture of his plight instead! I am SO kind.

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Before I knew it, we were singing the National Anthem, and were about to start! The Fairy Godmother was on hand to see us off, and with a wave of her magical wand the fireworks started, and we were crossing underneath a beautiful banner for a 13.1 mile journey.

We started off running conservatively. I finally learned that it takes me a while to warm up and so I run better for the half distance when I give my body a chance to get used to the idea of 13.1 miles. Our goal was to stay between 10:00 and 10:15 minute miles for the first few and then see how I felt leaving the Magic Kingdom.

Those first few miles were pretty uneventful. I was grateful for the darkness because it was about 97% humidity out and it was quite warm. We chugged along, not stopping at the first water stop. Jen took a bathroom break and caught back up to me. We chatted, and then quickly came upon the Magic Kingdom…and I felt like I was just there. (Ummm..I was, hello Goofy!)

I was very grateful for the big crowds around the Transportation and Ticket Center. Crowds always pep me up and make me run faster, so we took advantage and had some fun. We started doing the “princess wave” and thanking everyone for coming out to see us. As we would run by, I would ask spectators if they had seen Flynn, and Jen asked people if they had seen Prince Charming. Everyone got a kick out of it and waved back, took pictures, and cheered for us. We even had a couple of stalkers follow along and “run” on the sidelines taking video of us. It was a bit odd but I guess we asked for it!

We made it up the crazy steep hill before making the turn into the Magic Kingdom. My absolutely favorite part of the race was upon us, and it did not disappoint. We hooked right onto main street as cheering filled the air, and I did my princess wave the whole way towards the castle.


You can see how absolutely covered in sweat I was, it wasn’t even halfway into the race!

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I smiled the entire stretch, so thankful to be there and have the opportunity to race in Disney yet again. It was strange to me, because I have never “raced” a Disney race, and so the lack of runners was very nice. We made our way over to the same spot I took my castle photo in last year, and they had it blocked off for some reason! So we stopped next to the area and took a couple of quick photos.

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We soldiered on through Tomorrowland, where there were characters standing there waving at us, with no one in line! A sight I had never seen before. We made it to Fantasyland and to the back side of the castle.

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We ran through the middle, and smiled at the photographers as we went by.



We wound our way through Frontierland and out the other side of the Magic Kingdom. I looked at my Garmin and realized I had slowed down way too much running through the Magic Kingdom, and it was time to get serious. I told Jen no more silliness, let’s do this thing, and we turned onto Floridian way.

I started paying more attention to my pace, and we stopped at every other water stop. I had been taking a gel every three miles along with water and sports drink at every other stop, and it seemed to be working for me. The sun began to rise in the sky as the road opened up and the runners thinned out. I would like to mention I cannot even count how many times people would say “Hey! she’s got a frog on her shoulder!!!” Um…excuse me. If you have seen Tangled you know Pascal is a LIZZARD and not a frog thankyouverymuch.

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Jen was a GREAT encourager/coach the entire way. Telling me I could do it, giving me ways to motivate myself and telling me the pain is temporary and I would get to bask in the glory of my PR forever. I was doing great until about mile ten. The humidity was really starting to get to me and my already labored breathing was getting faster. Circling around the big hill where the army man stands was brutal. My IT bands were screaming, and the solider kept saying this was the last hill. Umm…no it’s not, don’t tell people that! I walked for about 15 seconds to regulate my breathing and we were crossing over the overpass before long. I knew this was the final stretch, just 2.5 more miles and I would get to stop.

I went up another hill towards EPCOT and grabbed some water at the water stop. Jen told me no more stopping, this was it until the end. We made it around the circle where everyone shouts where they are from and Jen yelled “NEW ORLEANS!” For me. I halfway smiled but kept my head down and kept going.

I kept praying those last three miles, over and over, simply saying “Lord give me strength, Lord give me strength.” It was the only thing I had the energy to think of, and I kept clinging to it. I kept trying to talk and Jen politely (haha) told me to stop talking to save my energy. We had one more beast of a hill to go up, and it was a killer but I kept going. We hit mile twelve and I knew this would be the hardest mile of my life. We started seeing some spectators and Jen would yell “cheer for my friend Heather, she is about to PR!” and then everyone would yell for me.

I kept my eyes on the ground in front of me, trying to focus on the task at hand. I was cursing myself for running the prior two days before this, and for eating so poorly all week. All of my professional photos show me looking at the ground at this point, and I don’t look happy! We made it to the turn around in Epcot, and I was pushing as hard as I could go. I glanced down at my Garmin and saw we were running low 9:00’s, woo hoo! Jen told me I was absolutely going to PR, now I just had to decide if a PR was good enough, or if I wanted to work my butt off and get as big of a PR as I could. Obviously, I was going to kick some butt, so I just nodded and kept pushing. Jen had been texting the boys the whole time letting them know where we were so they would be ready at the finish.

We passed the gospel choir and I honestly did not even look up, but I could hear them, and I knew I was going to make it. We passed mile 13, and made that final turn towards the finish line. I could SEE it, I was about to finish my 19th half marathon, and finally PR in the distance after a year of injury and disappointment. I had so much determination in me that final 200 meters, I kicked hard and looked straight ahead.


I glanced over to my right at the VIP area and saw Bobby and my dad, holding up a sign for me. I had made it. I smiled as I went by, so happy to have them there cheering me on.


Pain mixed with determination

Carissa the announcer yelled out my name. She knew I was going for a PR and she asked me if I did it, all I could do is give her a thumbs up as I ran by. They congratulated me as I raised my hands in the air triumphantly and crossed over that sweet finish line. To be honest, I didn’t cry like I thought I would. I was so focused, and just so glad it was over, I don’t think I had the energy to cry!



I stopped my Garmin and had to look down at it because I didn’t even see the clock as I went by. I had done it, 2:11, a near 4 minute PR in less than ideal conditions. I know a sub 2:10 would have easily been in my reach on a normal race day eating normal food the week before and without a 5k the day before, but regardless I was happy. I worked hard, and accomplished yet another goal. This is proof that no matter what injury you may get, or sickness you may deal with, you CAN come back stronger than before and reach your goals.

Jen snapped the below photo of me right after I crossed. Pascal was happy to be done, too.

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Here is the video of me crossing the finish line:

Excited Bobby caught this special moment on video! We got our beautiful medals, and headed off to the VIP area where we reunited with my dad and Bobby. This was followed by lots of picture taking.

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We went into the tent for some breakfast (omelets, french toast, amazing bacon…yes please!) and had some champagne to celebrate.

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I finally had the nerve to take off my shoe…I knew my foot was bleeding, it was hurting and it felt…sticky. Surprise! I was right.

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You’re welcome.

After eating and resting for a bit, we went back outside to take some photos and wait for my mom to finish. I found the super speedy Tara

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As well as Biggest Loser sweetheart Ali Vincent

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We kept waiting for my mom, I was so nervous for her. I know she was struggling (I had talked to her on the phone at mile 11) and was just ready for her to cross.

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Waiting on my mom to cross

We finally spotted her, and we yelled and screamed and I held up her sign. She had a huge smile on her face and Bobby got the best photo of her.

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Jen and I ran around to the other side of the finish to grab her before she got lost in a sea of people. We of course, had to take some pictures. I am so proud of her, she finished in 3:01!

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I was so happy she made it in ok, now we could relax and celebrate. More mimosa’s anyone? We ate and relaxed and stood on the sidelines cheering for the rest of the runners. It was such an amazing morning and I am so glad I got to spend it with my family and friends in my favorite place on earth.

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Here is my Garmin info from the run:

Mile 1: 10:06

Mile 2: 10:10

Mile 3: 10:18 <— stopped for gel

Mile 4: 9:51

Mile 5: 10:02

Mile 6: 10:37 <— stopped for gel

Mile 7: 9:59

Mile 8: 9:41

Mile 9: 10:15 <— stopped for gel

Mile 10: 9:43

Mile 11: 9:38

Mile 12: 9:43

Mile 13: 9:24

Mile .27: 2:20

13.27 miles

avg. pace 9:56

Hooray for negative splits! Smile

Overall this race was amazing. I was blessed to get to run with my best friend, PR in a tutu, and do it all at my favorite place on earth. What more could a girl want? Better weather of course but that’s not Disney’s fault! runDisney did an amazing job as usual. Everything went so smoothly with the race, I have no qualms at all. As I always say, they keep outdoing themselves and I have no idea how they are going to keep it up. I highly recommend this race, especially for a fun girls weekend with some friends. The excitement in the air was amazing, I loved seeing all the strength and the girl power, and I can’t wait for my next runDisney race.

*You can now sign up for the Tower of Terror ten miler!

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QOTD: How do you adjust when conditions are not ideal? Who is ready to run Princess 2014?

Disclosure: runDisney invited me to this fun weekend as media, which means my hotel accommodations, race fees, etc. were taken care of. However, all opinions are my own, who doesn’t love runDisney races?!?

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  1. Congrats on the PR – amazing job!!!! Love your costumes! (Isn’t Pascal a chameleon…?) 🙂

  2. Congrats on your PR!!! What an amazing race to PR at!!! I ran the Princess last year with Pascal and I also heard a million comments about my “frog”!!! Grrrrr!! Hoping to run again in 2014!!! Way to go!

  3. Jennifer@ knackfornutrition says

    Congratulations on running such an amazing race! Y’alls costumes are perfect!! I don’t think you should ever run a Disney race out of costume again! 🙂

  4. Way to go Heather. You are a rock star!

  5. I am READY! OK, I’m far from ready, but I got teary just reading your recap. I’m discouraged with a sore knee today, but I can’t wait to do this! Have a large group of friends coming together!

    Congrats on your PR!!

  6. Congrats on an awesome race!!! You did it! Love the video at the end and your new medal! :0)

  7. MUST

  8. lisa fine@vermont vittles says

    Congrats, Heather! Love this awesome recap – so detailed I felt like I was there too (wish I was!).

    Hoping to get back to WDW one day to run another race. But for now in living vicariously through you. 🙂

  9. Congrats on the PR, it was an awesome weekend for sure!

  10. Congrats on the PR Heather! Again, I love love love your outfit! You always have the best running costumes!

  11. congrats to you and your mom!! you look adorable even after running a 1/2 marathon!

  12. Congrats on the PR, and getting through that weather. How did you get Pascal to stay on your shoulder the whole time?

  13. Getting a PR is always something to celebrate, but you totally rocked this half by knocking it back 4 minutes! I’m going to do my first half marathon at 2014 Princess Half. (I’m doing my first full marathon this year in Oct).I’d love to see you there!

    • Thanks! I do hope I am at Princess next year!

      • I almost forgot! I wanted to ask you if you like your Garmin to track your runs? Any things about it that you wish were different? I really want to buy a tracking device and with so many out there I want to get the most bang for my buck. I hope you can help! Thanks!

  14. What an awesome recap Heather! I had tears in my eyes as I was reading it! Congratulations girl!!!

  15. SO proud of you! You did amazing, and I had so much fun running w/you and that frog 😉

  16. RunningBratt says

    Heather! Great recap- love the pics and very inspiring that you PR’d with the weather, heavy legs and the rest! I guess sometimes when we think we “don’t got it” we don’t think about it as much, and can just RUN! Very happy for you! Thanks for sharing

  17. I LOVED reading your race recap. You are a huge inspiration to me. I loved all the photos. I also loved that you were honest about how it wasn’t a piece of cake to run the race.

    I hope our paths cross again-it was great meeting you at Splitsville. Sorry we didn’t get a chance to talk at the Epcot reception. I hope to see you at TOT!

  18. Congratulations on the PR! I love reading your race recaps! They are so detailed, I feel like I was there. I had tears in my eyes this time! You are one of the reasons I have started running…so thanks for all your inspiration! I hope to see you at a runDisney race in 2014. Keep up the good work!!

  19. Congrats on the PR, you should be so proud! And you looked fabulous, love all of the costumes! I have done a 5k in costume multiple times but never a half marathon! Wow, that crazy! That race looks like a great time, inspiring with all of the women and running through Disney!

  20. Kimberly L. says

    Congratulations Heather. You did great. I love reading your recaps. I would love to be as fast as you and hit the times you do. You are a very inspirational person.

  21. Congratulations! All of your hard work paid off. I’m sorry I didn’t get to meet you over the weekend, but hopefully I’ll see you at a runDisney race soon! Congrats again and great recap!

  22. Congrats on the PR! I’m new to racing and signed up for the Disneyland Half, any tips for a newbie? I’m nervous and excited!

  23. Way to go Heather!!!!! You looked beautiful and PR’d!! Awesome!!

    I finished in 3:41 and was darn skippy proud of myself! I appreciate your answering my questions on your recap from last year. I like knowing what to expect and you made that so easy! I didn’t even see the sweepers!! 🙂

    It was super hot and humid like you said, but that didn’t seem to bother me too much. I lived in South Carolina up until a few months ago so I think I was more used to it. I thought the expo could have been a bit better. I am actually going to contact ESPN and say a word. All I wanted was an I Did It shirt and they were out, but there is a website where they are selling them for double! I didnt’ think it was fair that a vendor came in and bought over $2500 worth of race gear. I think we should be able to pre-order. Other than the expo, I was in heaven!

    This was my first half but my fourth time at the Princess race. I have done the 5K with my girlfriends! It is the BEST girls weekend! I can’t wait to do it again next year! Thanks again for always being so open and answering all the questions!

  24. Congrats on the PR! I would LOVE LOVE to run Princess 2014 – maybe after Dumbo I can convince my hubby 🙂

  25. Congratulations, my favorite pic is with you doing the royal wave, thanks for sharing!

  26. Wow! Loved the recap. A couple of things:

    1. Isn’t Pascal a Chameleon? NO biggie. Actually I think I called him Pacal in one of your FB pics. LOL

    2. The Boston Red Sox could not write a more triumphant story. Bloody sock and everything!

    3. The Belle outfit was awesome but I think you topped it this year with Rapunzel.

    4. The fact that you PR’ed after having such a tough time with injuries AND running essentially two races before the Half makes it even more wonderful.

    5. Your recaps make me want to pack my bags and go runDisney right now!

    • thanks so much lol! It’s a chameleon a type of lizard? I hope so!
      The bloody sock was pretty gross, battle wound, right?

  27. Wow, fantastic! You and Jen are too cute. And if you got a 4 minute pr in that kind of humidity, you have even more speed in you. 🙂 Congrats, Heather!!

  28. Congratulations!! What an awesome race! you’re costume was awesome, and setting a PR in a tutu is amazing!

  29. Congrats! Added your link to our growing list of 80+ Princess Half Marathon Weekend recaps! 🙂

  30. Jessica Mullins says

    So motivational!!! Congrats on the PR and thanks for the info! My girlfriends & I really want to make this our first Half next year. Question…you mentioned so much cool stuff regarding VIP. Was that because Disney had asked you to cover the race or was it something regular joes could get in on? Thanks for all the motivation you give us ladies! Girl power 🙂

  31. Congrats to you Miss RunDisney and Mama RunDisney too!!! I love your costume even though I’ve never seen Tangled, I just love pink and purple. You chose the perfect shoes! The only half I’d ever do I think is a Zooma half or this half! The medals are so pretty and I saw this year’s purple tees, too cute. Great job on your PR! Also LOLing at Sean Astin in the tiara!

  32. I want to wear your TUTU. that is all.

    No wait…

    CONGRATS!!!! 🙂

  33. Congrats on the PR! You absolutely brought it home….especially with the humidity! This was a slow race for me, which I had expected- looking forward to running it again next year and hopefully coming closer to racing it. (also-It was great meeting you the first night!)

  34. Erica @ For the Sake of Cake says

    Loved reading your recap! 🙂 Congrats on the PR!

    YES to the humidity!!! Dear God, I was NOT used to that after training in 30* weather!

  35. Congrats!! That humidity was brutal!! And to PR in it? Awesome! Way to go! Love your costume and loved reading your recap.

  36. Katherine says

    Amazing and inspirational, plus a fabulous costume (especially impressed that Pascal stayed in place with just safety pins)! My first race ever was the full WDW Marathon in January. I didn’t sign up for Princess because I wanted to take it slow after a marathon (and I have been), but I’m dying to runDisney again, especially seeing all your great photos! Congratulations!

  37. Such fun pics!!!! Congrats!

  38. See, now all of your races must be run in a tutu… but let’s keep that bloody-foot-fiasco for this race only.

    Congrats Princess.

  39. Congrats to all of you! Your tutu and royal wave were divine. If I could run one Disney race, it would be the Princess!

  40. Both of your outfits were super cute! Congrats on your shiny new PR, Heather!!

  41. Emily Alkire says

    I loved reading this! Congrats on your PR. I’m training for my first half marathon in Disneyland and you are truly an inspiration! I was wondering how you got your name called out as you crossed the finish line, because that was really cool.

  42. Congratulations, Heather! Your costume looks beautiful, and you are AWESOME. I want you to know that I just ran the Princess — my first half ever — and I’ve found so much inspiration in following your blog and beginning my own running journey. So, thank you! I am officially RunDisney obsessed! 😀

  43. Great recap Heather! So much fun to read. Congrats on your PR!! Both you and Jen’s costumes are awesome. And your mom! I love that picture of her crossing the finish line and she looks so cute in her RunningSkirts gear! Congrats to you all.

  44. That sounds like the greatest day ever! This blog was so much fun to read!!!!

  45. Kinnereth says

    Congrats on your PR!!! Love the princess race 🙂

  46. Congratulations on your PR! I know how excited you must have been. I have a half marathon in 2 weeks and then another one in May and I am hoping to get under 2 hours for at least one of them. During training I think that there is no way that will be possible, but race day can bring out the best in you!

  47. I thought it was the coolest thing that I’ve been following your blog before the PHM which was my first half and then I ran into you during the tangled (no pun intended) mess that was bag/t-shirt pick up! You are as sweet as can be. Congrats on the awesome time! I love your blog and I was excited to read the recap for this after running in the same awesome race!

  48. Hi Heather,
    Just wanted you to know I mention you as one of the 2013 Top Ten Best Dressed Walt Disney runners!

  49. This was so great to read. While attempting Goofy I tore my achilles tendon. I have been resting and only now starting physical training. It’s been a long road and all I want to do is run again, get faster, sign up for more races, and I can’t! It really gets me down, just sitting around or doing weights 🙁 This is a good reminder this isn’t forever, and before I know it I’ll be back out there again. Thanks for that. 🙂

  50. It looks like you had a great race and that costume was super cute. I was there, somewhere in the back of the pack and I am itching to go back again. Congratulations on the PR and nice bloody sock picture!

  51. Congratulations! I’m so proud of you & your mom! What a great accomplishment! Was this your first Princess 1/2? I recall you running before in a yellow tutu…

  52. Congratulations on the race! I have been following you for about a year now just rarely comment. I love your pink shoes and was wondering if you have done a post/review on them?

  53. Just found your site and this is the first thing I read. I cried as I read it reliving the race myself. Remembering many of the things I forgot about on the course because I was so out of it. Especially the gospel singers at the end. I couldn’t tell you what they were wearing, but now that you mention it I remember hearing them sing. It was my first race, not just Disney, but my first race ever. Yeah I went a little crazy when I decided to start running for the first time in my life and pick a 1/2 to do 6 months later. I ended up very sick days before the race, but that did not stop me, just set me back quite a bit in time. I hope one day to be in Corral A with you setting PR’s!!! Congrats!!!

    PS I think I am now slightly addicted to runDisney races. I want to sign up for them all!!!

  54. Thank you for writing your experience down! My BFF and I are planning on doing the 2014 Princess. I am so excited. Back to running after baby and it is kicking my butt right now but I will get it! Your outfits are super cute (Belle and Rapunzel) ! Where do you get your tanks from??? They look super comfy!

  55. Jamie Thornton says

    Thank you so much for all this info on running and runDisney. I only really started running a couple years ago after having children. Not athletic by nature. I am going to run my first ever half marathon in September. I hope to run the Disney Princess Half one day as well. I haven’t read through all your posts, but was wondering…have you ever run a Disney race by yourself? I don’t have really any running friends. Also, I love the idea of the Glass Slipper Challenge. But I’ve always heard not to run the day before your half or full marathon. Thoughts?
    Thanks for a great inspirational blog.

    • Yes I ran the Disneyland 10k alone and had a blast! There are so many people on the course you never truly feel “alone”
      A lot of people run on back to back days, you just have to be realistic about it and know your best effort won’t be your best time ever on your second day, I just did dopey (4 back to back races) and just had fun with it!

  56. Love reading these race re-caps and congrats to you on all your accomplishments. I’m getting super excited to run my first Disney Princess Half next month AND my first half since having my first child 7 years ago! It’s so nice to be training again. Question – I’ve tried your tutu link several times and it takes me to my fb page. How can I contact the person who made your tutu? They’re fabulous! Thanks!

  57. I absolutely love your Disney race posts! You have inspired me to run the Disney Princess Half for my 30th…a few years away yet, but that would make an awesome trip!

    Congrats on your PR! Loved the outfit too!

  58. thank you!

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