The Princess Marathon Chronicles: The First 10K

Part 1 of my Princess Marathon Chronicles – The Preparation!

As I crossed the Start I thought, “Everything seems to be okay!” as my back was not being too cranky and everything else seemed fine”¦except I could not get my watch to start. Hoo boy”¦in January I had issues getting my iPod to start with the right song and now, in March, my watch was on the fritz.

Have you ever started a race and had issues with your running watch?
It does not do anything for your running pace and frustration sets in immediately.

I decided to stop fumbling with my watch and just concentrate on running…but was a bit stressed because I was now looking at trying to figure out how fast I would be going.

In hindsight I’m thinking I should have stopped off to the side of the course, take a minute to get the watch going, and then get back in the race”¦but I panicked and said, “Forget about it!” and plodded on.

About ¾ into the first mile I saw a woman rolling on the grass on the right side of the course. She was holding her calf and was in some definite pain.

Luckily there was an emergency crew attending to her.

My thought was that she might have committed a cardinal sin of running on the grass. It is so congested at the start of these races that frustration sets in quickly and people zig and zag around the slower runners or sometimes run on the grass.

Here are the problems and dangers of running on the grass for this marathon.

First and foremost it’s dark for the first 45 minutes of the race so why risk running in the dark on something other than solid pavement?

Pavement offers a flat even surface and who knows what uneven surfaces lie in waiting along the side of the road on the morning grass.

Morning grass is also slippery grass so if you add slippery to uneven what do you get? You get a slippery uneven surface”¦.ready to attack unsuspecting ankles.

So as I passed this fallen runner I could only imagine that she got frustrated with the slow pace early on and tried to speed ahead by running on the grass and may have turned an ankle.

I know a little something about ankles.

My watch was still not responding but interestingly enough my concern for the watch had me completely forgetting about my back issues and by the time I remembered that I had some back issues the sciatic muscles had loosened up and I had virtually no pain”¦I just didn’t no how long I would be running in this painless state.

So with me hoping to do better than I had in January how was I to figure out how fast I was going? Well as I approached the first mile marker I recalled how we started 14 minutes after the official clock start so whenever I would pass any mile marker I subtracted 14 minutes from the time and used that as my time reference. I hoped I was right.

There was quite a difference between the January Half and the March Princess Half…and the big key was the weather although I must say that the mile markers used for the Princess Half were very much welcomed as they each had a Disney theme.

Along the way to The Magic Kingdom, about a half-mile before the toll plaza, runners were treated to the sight of a huge pirate ship and several pirates hanging around in the predawn hours.

Some runners actually stopped for photos”¦not me; I was on a mission.

About a hundred yards beyond the pirate ship was a staging that held all the famous Disney princes including Aladdin, and Tarzan”¦again”¦no pictures for me.

One of the issues I have with this particular course is that every once in a while there comes a point in the course that reeks havoc with your attempt to achieve a Personal Record.

One such area is near the Ticket & Transportation Center. All you veteran WDW runners know what I mean”¦as you approach the area where the tickets are sold the course narrows to the point where you almost have to walk.

I decided that I would take this opportunity to make use of the TTC men’s restroom.

The problem, however, was that on this day”¦both the women and men’s restrooms were being stormed by the 14,000+ women running this race.

Thus I found myself in my first Walt Disney World unisex restroom”¦something to tell my grandchildren, “Yes”¦it was back in 2010 when”¦”

Now the course turned to the Magic Kingdom”¦it’s exciting to approach the Contemporary and I knew Deb Wills would be looking for me and I also know that Deb would be smart enough to stand somewhere remotely removed from the crowd.

I found her on the left side of the course and made sure she saw me.

Mike Scopa Princess Half Marathon

I took off for the Magic Kingdom. I was approaching “Ankle Alley” which is where in 2006 I had broken my ankle…the memory is so vivid that I always take care around the guard shack before going into the Magic Kingdom.

No matter how many times I do it I still get a thrill running up Main Street, USA.

Running through the Magic Kingdom is one of those carrots which draw runners to enter this race and I never get tired of the feeling of running towards the castle”¦.the problem is that it is too short”¦before you know it you are done with Main Street and are heading through TomorrowLand and FantasyLand.

I’ve done it five times now and my time in the Magic Kingdom is probably a cumulative 15 minutes”¦but it’s the shortest 15 minutes on record.

During this particular race, as I approached the Castle from the Carrousel I saw a line of runners waiting for a chance to have their picture taken with Cinderella.

I made a quick count and found the number of people in line to be 20…do the math…would you risk 30 minutes of your running time for a picture with Cindy?

Not me”¦now if we were talking Belle there may be some merit for discussion.

I’ve often said that when you train for the Walt Disney World Half-Marathon you are basically training for not the first half of the race but the second half of the race.

The first 6.2 miles (10K) are relatively easy thanks to the adrenalin pumping through your body, because, hey, you are running towards and through The Magic Kingdom.

However, once you leave the Magic Kingdom and face the last 6.2 (or 6.9) miles, including the Heartbreak Hill Trinity, it’s then that you begin to appreciate all those long hours training and running all year long.

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Team AllEars 2011 Launch Announcement

On Monday night, April 5th, 8 – 9 P.M. ET we will be launching Team AllEars 2011: Running with Purpose on MouseWorldRadio.

This is a live podcast that will also offer an opportunity to speak with Deb Wills, Michelle Scribner-MacLean, and yours truly.

You can be a part of the Team AllEars 2011 Launch show by calling in at 914 202 EARS (914 202 3277).

Spread the word.

Team All Ears 2011: Running with Purpose goes LIVE, Monday night, April 5th @8 P.M. on MouseWorldRadio.

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4 Replies to “The Princess Marathon Chronicles: The First 10K”

  1. Hi Mike!
    I’m a listener who loves her dose of WDW Today. And I have to thank you on behalf of my family. three years ago we tried the Dolewhip on your suggestion and loved it. Last year we stayed at Pop and you’re two for two now! Thanks Mike!

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    Thanks Heather…maybe I should quit while I am ahead


  2. I’m dying here, where’s the second half? I can’t wait any longer, I must know about the rest of the race!!! Thanks for the awesome coverage.

  3. Howdy Mike~ I’m a beginning runner training for the WDW Wine & Dine Half in October… stumbled across your blog while planning my travels. Very much looking forward to reading more about your perspective on running at WDW since this is all new to me! It’s nice to “meet” you!

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    Howdy Amy.

    Nice to “meet” you too.