Runners entered the Magic Kingdom on a side service entrance. Once we turned the corner, I looked up and there is was—Cinderella Castle. I could feel the emotions bubbling up inside of me again. This was the exact second I had in my head during all those long training runs. I ran hard and fought it back as we turned the corner into Tomorrowland, after all—I wanted my pictures to look good. After Tomorrowland, we continued on to Fantasyland and then through the castle! This was my first photo stop. I HAD to get the castle shot. The line was not that bad, so I stopped for a second. After the castle, runners ran through Frontierland, then we out of the Magic Kingdom.
We exited the Magic Kingdom to the parade staging area. Right there was a character spot I had never come across. It was Princess Aurora with her prince and the three good fairies. I had to stop! The line was the longest I had seen yet, but my time was good so I stopped. A mile or so later, I came upon the photo stop I had been waiting for—Belle and the Beast. I always joke with my husband that he is my beast, so this picture was a must for me! The line was again long, but I did not care this time. I had to get this one.
About a week before the race, runDisney put up a Facebook poll of what song we would like to hear at mile marker seven. Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” won the poll. It was fun hearing that played. Most of the runners know the song was from the poll. runDisney knew what they were doing. The song worked to get a lot of the princesses going again, including me.
Around mile eight, my feet started to hurt. One mistake I think I made in my training was doing mostly trail running. The trail is softer and more forgiving than the road, so I suspect that is why my feet hurt so much. Once we hit around mile 10, there was a killer over pass to run around and up. I found this part of the race especially difficult because of the grade of the road. The slant of the road was hard on my knees. At this point, a cold rain started falling. I was really regretting tossing my jacket back around mile two. From the top of the overpass, I could see a sea of people that were behind me on the course. Once I was past that, EPCOT was in my sight. I was almost done. What a great feeling!
One of my favorite parts of the whole races is when readers recognized me and introduced themselves. The first came very early in the race. A reader recognized me around mile two. We ran together and chatted until around mile four when I had to make a tissue stop. The next reader that recognized me was just after leaving the Aurora character stop. Sadly, we did not spend that much time together. When I stopped for a picture with Belle and the Beast, she kept going. The last reader who found me along the course was just before the finish line. It was a reader and her prince running together. That is why I started this blog—as a place to meet friends, to find support. Each of you found me at particularly difficult parts of the course for me. I thank you for introducing yourselves to me! You have no idea how much it really means to me.
There I was, the very last part of my very first half marathon. As I turned the corner to exit EPCOT, I knew I was almost there. All of those emotions from before came back tenfold. I kept telling myself, hold it back until after the finish line—you don’t want to ruin your finisher pictures do you? At mile thirteen, we were treated with songs from a gospel choir. We turned a corner again and there it was—the finish line! I started to run hard. I snapped a few pictures and then decided to just enjoy and soak up every second of it. It felt almost like a dream. I just kept running. People on all sides of me were cheering. When I crossed the finish line, I heard the announcer say “congratulations princess Amy,” as he did for each princess that crossed the finish line.
There were volunteers all over putting medals on finishers. I made eye contact with a volunteer and he come up to me. He placed the medal around my neck. I grabbed my medal and held it up to look at it. All that hard work and there I was, holding my medal. I just stared at it I awe. It was so much more beautiful that I had imagined. It was heavy and thick, with a purple diamond shaped stone and lots of little diamond like stones all over it. From there, I continued on to get my finisher photo taken.
Since I crossed the finish line and got my medal, all I could think about was how much I wanted to see my husband and my daughter. After a quick walk through the food tent and bag check, I rushed to the family reunion area. There they were waiting for me. I went up to my husband for a hug and picked up my daughter. She grabbed a hold of my medal. I felt so proud of what I had done and was so happy to be able to share it with her.
A dream is a wish…