Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Disney Princess Half Marathon Recap

When I got off Exit 149 in Byron last Thursday, I was greeted by a sign I have passed thousands of times before. Only I never noticed it. It said, “FORT VALLEY – 12.

My reaction was an out-loud “OH SHIT” and a feeling of sheer panic flooding over my body.

I was going to have to run farther than from Byron to Fort Valley. Standing up. In a time limit. Without dying. With people waiting to hear how I did.

Less than a year ago, I would have laughed in your face and told you YOU were insane if you’d said I would ever run a half marathon. I had ankles that were the size of my knees from swelling and pain, I had an extra bazillion pounds on me and couldn’t run more than 30 seconds without feeling like I was dying.

I don’t make decisions easily, but for some reason, waking up one morning and signing up for Couch to 5k and about a week later deciding that I would run the Princess Half with the Ronald McDonald House were decisions that I made with hardly any second thoughts.

There are a million moments I want to share from the weekend, but they’ll have to come at different times. It’s too overwhelming to wrap it all into one neat post.

Last Sunday, we’ll call it Race Day, we were up at 2am. We had time to have a little coffee, fuel ourselves with bananas and banana bread (probably not the best choice, but it was delish), get our costumes on, wake up a little, and be at the bus around 3:15.

The buses were filled with an energy that was hard to describe. It was 50% excitement, 30% panic, and 20% OHMYGODIMGONNAVOMIT.

Once we got there, we walked. And walked. And walked some more. I swear we walked 5 miles just going from bus to tent village to the start line.

A pit stop at the RMHC tent got us another banana and a team picture.


Team Charlie’s Angels: Princess Leia, Elastigirl from The Incredibles, and Rapunzel

Here’s where it all got blurry… the long walk through what I assume was the back lots of Epcot.

These signs were all along the way. It was too late to turn around, though.

wrong way


Headed to the corral – E for EVERYBODY WHO IS AWESOME. I met up with a twitter friend Amy (@selfishmom). She was lovely and fun to hang with while we waited to run.


The excitement was escalating. The tempo of the music was increasing and the adrenaline was flowing freely now. There was nowhere to go but the finish line.  At 5:30am, they started releasing corrals. Our corral was set to start at 6:03 and in true Disney fashion, it was right on time.

With a Fairy Godmother giving the magic words, “Salagadoola mechicka boola,” she counted down 3-2-1 and the corral was sent off in a fanfare only Disney could provide. Fireworks in a parking lot at 6 in the morning with characters and fairy dust and magic. JUST MAGIC.


The race itself was a blur. Amy and I ran together the whole time. I’d be lying if I said we ran most of the way. We walked a LOT. She was a trooper and stayed with me (her choice, I tried to get her to go get a better time). Karen took off and kicked butt! So proud of her.

I’ve found that I get dizzy during races. The bouncing up and down and moving side to side and flippy ponytails of people make me lose my center and get all discombobulated. With thousands of people in costume and music and noise and chatter all around, it was easily confusing.


There was entertainment every mile. Everything from a marching band to characters to a gospel choir.

There were markers every mile. It’s awesome when you happen to miss a marker and wonder, “Where in the hell is mile 11?” and then you see mile marker 12 and realize you’re AL.MOST.DONE.

The pain was a blur, too. I know I hurt lots of the time, but it’s like childbirth and I don’t remember. (Full disclosure: I remember childbirth and would NOT do that again.)

As we turned the corner around mile 11.5, there was a girl with a microphone asking where people were from and what they were running for. I stopped and grabbed the mic and shouted out, “GO TEAM CHARLIE’S ANGELS!”

What a cool moment!

Right after that was the most vivid part of the race. Shooting pain in my left heel where a blister apparently burst. It was a horrible feeling. For a while I thought I surely would have a bone sticking out of my foot when I took off the shoe. But it was just a blister. On top of a blister. OUCH!!

With less than a half mile to go, there was a gospel choir singing and let me tell you… that’s when I knew I could finish. I was almost there.

Amy grabbed my hand and started singing “Jesus Loves Me,” the song that Aunt Diane started singing after Charlie was baptized in the hospital room. Amy sang it as we crossed the finish line and then, right then, I realized something.


I can do anything I set my mind to.

I have done the hardest thing anybody can do, and I survived.

Running 13.1 miles was nothing compared to hearing the words, “time of death…”

I did it for Charlie. I did it for Henry and Jason. I did it for people who might’ve thought I couldn’t do it.

I did it for the families whose lives will be blessed because of the Ronald McDonald House.

I did it for you, because you supported me in all my (half) insanity.

But most of all, I did it for me.

And now, instead of saying, “Oh shit that’s a long way to run” when I see the sign from Byron to Fort Valley, I’ll say, “I could run that if I wanted to.

ps: Now I feel like I need a medal for finishing this post.

pps: Yes, I will do another one.

ppps: No I won’t do a full, but two halves make a whole, right? :)


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  1. Perfect. You, this post, that day…. Perfect. So glad I got to share it with you.

  2. So awesome, just so stinkin’ awesome! Proud of you – I knew you could do it, because you’ve always been a real superhero to me. :)
    Amy Hiley recently posted..The Clarks and EasomsMy Profile

  3. Amanda Gee says:

    So proud of you. And I know the feeling of starting a race at Disney. Magical doesn’t even describe it.

  4. I am so very proud to call you my friend, and I love you!
    Kim recently posted..Brain Farts – end of month editionMy Profile

  5. I’m so impressed with you. And you are making me cry and my husband is all, “Why are you crying? Oh, you’re reading blogs again.”

    Tricia O. recently posted..Sunny Ledfurd goes to preschoolMy Profile

  6. Way to go, Jana!!!!!!! All I can say is W.O.W.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. That is just awesome, Jana! The last few paragraphs were a perfect way to tie this up, and it must have been even more wonderful to experience those moments.


    Casey recently posted..A second new beginningMy Profile

  8. This was great. It was a long day ha! But a fun one. Just thought that my father’s name was Charles (and he went by Charlie) and my youngest is Charles too (after my dad and granddad). Though we call him by his middle name Joseph. It was great to meet you and you are right — you can do anything. Even a marathon. Some day if you want. — You are still young. I don’t think I ran my first till I was 45. :)
    Jamie@SouthMainMuse recently posted..Ordinary Good.My Profile

  9. I’m so very proud of you. You rocked this. You are awesome. You can do anything!

    (and, yes, two halves DO make a whole!)
    Tracie recently posted..Merry Go Round And RoundMy Profile

  10. You rock. You inspire me. And now I want to do this same thing.
    Julie recently posted..Postcrossing…My Profile

  11. Damnit woman, you have me in tears. This was a beautiful post. But more importantly, you’re a beautiful soul. I knew you could do this, and I’m so proud of you. Thank you for being an inspiration to all those who say “I don’t know if I can do this”.
    Dawnie recently posted..I went to Shedd Aquarium, and I didn’t steal a penguin. Which means I’m not banned yet.My Profile

  12. You’re an inspiration for my 1/2 in May! BOOYAH!
    Jenna recently posted..17 Days of Green: The Second #17daysofgreenMy Profile

  13. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who teared up reading this recap! I’ve been pushing myself to do a half marathon but got side-tracked with life – this has been such a motivation and inspiration to me!!!
    Michelle recently posted..Focus on Divatude – Week 8My Profile

  14. I’m so proud of you! You totally rocked it! YAY!
    Ewokmama recently posted..Misunderstood…or Complicated?My Profile

  15. What a great post! It was so nice to meet you.

  16. You are amazing. A half is a secret dream of mine. I worked up to and did a 5K and haven’t run since. And have put on 50 pounds. I feel like I’ll never run again. I loved reading this post. I hope to be there one day.
    Denise recently posted..PYHO: Yoga, Take Me AwayMy Profile


  1. […] Hey y’all! Thank you so much for giving me a pass last weekend while I was otherwise occupied – you know, running 13.1 miles through Disney World. […]

  2. […] This is probably a bad idea. In one part of my mind, I feel like it’s going to be a complete disaster and I’ll get swept by the infamous “balloon ladies.” But in the other part of my mind – possibly the crazy part – I feel like I’ll finish faster than I did for the Princess Half. […]

  3. […] I recapped my February half marathon after I processed it […]

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