By Pink Diva
Can you walk the Disney Princess Half Marathon? This was the question I asked myself a little over a year ago. I am NOT a runner. Not even a little bit. But, I’ve been to Disney during the Princess Marathon Weekend. I’ve seen the medals around the necks of the racers. I’ve seen the hype online and how excited everyone was to complete the race. I wanted to do it, but wasn’t sure if I would be able to finish.
So, I did some detective work. You have to be able to keep a 16 minute mile pace. That gives you 3.5 hours to finish the race. I knew if I signed up in June, that would give me 9 whole months to train. During all of my research I found that the 3.5 hours doesn’t start when you cross the starting line, instead it starts when the Balloon Ladies cross the starting line. The Balloon Ladies are the last ones in the race. The keep the minimum pace. If you fall behind them, then you will get swept and not be allowed to finish. You will get your medal, since you paid for it. In all reality you have about 4 actual hours to finish. I figured as long as I was a few minutes ahead of them, I could slow down a little and still be good.
I signed myself up for my first half marathon for the February 2020 Princess Half Marathon. My co-worker also signed up as well. We vowed to train together and keep each other going. Lucky for me, she is not a runner either. We ended up seriously starting our training in September. We found a training program we liked and started walking.
At first I thought that it would be fine. A 16 minute mile was doable. That it wasn’t too fast. I was in decent shape, under 40, and enjoy walking. I could do this! Then I tried it. And, oh wow, it is much faster than you would think! It’s not too bad for a mile or two, but 13.1 miles? That’s a fast pace to keep for 3.5 hours.
We were determined not to get swept by the Balloon Ladies. We paid our money, put in lots of hours and miles, and we were ready. In preparation for the race we ended up doing 70 miles in January alone! Every Saturday morning was spend doing 8-10 miles. When the week came to do a practice marathon we finished in 3 hours and 38 minutes. Not too bad for a first go at it! We hoped that with all the excitement at the actual race and if we saw the Balloon Ladies we could speed up a bit.
Half Marathon Weekend
Race weekend was upon us. We went to the Expo and picked up all of our information, bibs, and souvenirs. The souvenirs alone is a good reason to sign up for a race. There was so much great merchandise. If you absolutely have to have a particular item, make sure you pre-order it when you sign up as it may not be there when you want to buy it. The Spirit Jersey’s were sold out the first day of the Expo.
The race starts very early. Which means you need to get up super early to be there on time. We were put in the last corral since we did not submit any times. The Balloon Ladies would be at the very end of the corral so we wanted to be as close to the front as possible. We succeeded and were in the first group in corral H. There were a few race pacers behind us, so we were confident in our training.
What I didn’t know going into this is that there are pace runners who keep a particular pace the entire route. It appeared they paced every 15 minutes. The 3 hour 15 minute pacer was right behind us in the corral. We could see the flag for the 3 hour 30 minute pacer. If you are worried about your pace, then you can stick with the pacer groups. There was always a group around the pacers using them to keep them on schedule. They do a run/walk pace and announce before starting and stopping each run/walk.
We planned to walk the entire 13.1 miles. We ended up jogging a bit with one of the pacer groups. After the months of training, a little running wasn’t too hard. We kept up our 16 minute mile pace for most of the race. There was one spot where we were bottle-necked and came to a stop. A few other times we did have to slow down as it was getting crowded. We never saw the Balloon Ladies! Our pace was good and there were plenty of racers behind us.
You get your stats at the end of the race. The race started at 5:30 am. I started at 6:28 am and finished at 10:11 am. I did the Princess Half Marathon in 3 hours, 42 minutes, and 39 seconds. My average pace was 16 minutes, 59 seconds. It was a little higher than I wanted, but my whole goal for this first race was to finish. And I did!
Because I loved it so much I am planning to not only do the half marathon again, I’m planning to do more and complete the Fairy Tale Challenge. That is the 10k on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday! Since I couldn’t wait until February, I have already signed up for the Wine and Dine Challenge in November 2020. I will be doing the 10k on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday.
Now that you know you can walk the Disney Princess Half Marathon, would you do it?
Wow! I just read this. My first half marathon was the same Princess Race – Feb 2020. I did a walk 5 minutes; run one pace and had a similar finish. So accomplished! My daughters also were there for their first half but they were in higher corrals since they had decent proofs of time. I also signed up for the W&D challenge but I suspect that both of us are doing this virtually. ?. (Unless you took the refund). Hoping to try this next year at a race – couldn’t get the January one and was so devastated that I’m waiting for the races to come back to normal.
I’m doing the challenge for wine and dine this year and I’m so nervous cause of the half since I’m not a runner. I usually do the 5k and they are super easy. I’m determined to get that challenge medal.
Good morning Chelsi,
Congratulations on signing up for the challenge! You can certainly walk the half marathon, as long as you are able to meet the pace requirement of an average 16 minute per mile pace. A few things to remember…the pace time is based on the last person that begins the race. I’m sure you’re aware that most races offer staggered starts based on corrals. The 16 minute per mile tracker will begin when the last person, in the last corral, crosses the start line. So if you are in a higher corral, you will have a bit of an advantage. For example, the 2017 Princess Corrals began with the Elite runners then began corral A-P. I started in H, beginning at least an hour ahead of the last runner. That bonus start increased my overall minimum allowed finish time from 209 minutes to 269 minutes (13.1 x 16=209:36; 13.1 x 16 + 60=269:36). That increases my pace time from a 16-minute minimum finish to just over a 20-minute pace. So, you will do really well if you can get a higher corral. If you do happen to be in the last corral, try to move all the way to the front of that corral group to start. You will still have a bit of a time advantage. And if you are worried, throw in a few run-walk intervals! I run the entire half using 1 minute walk/2 minute run cycles and finish in 2.5 hours. You can do it! (And I hope my explanation makes sense!)