- It's completely focused on women. The men definitely take a backseat in this race. It's practically impossible to find men's clothing or shoes at the expo. Instead all the booths are dedicated to things like running skirts and cute headbands for the ladies! It sounds cheesy, but it feels great to be surrounded by so much girl power for a weekend!
- Glitter, tutus, and tiaras abound. I'm a true girly girl, so I love anything that involves lots of pink and sparkle! My first time I didn't feel like a confident enough runner to really dress up, but I plan to change that in future races! I do have my pink tiara Bondi Band, but I'm ready to add a tutu to my race day ensemble!
- The course is nice and flat. There is, of course, the painful run up an exit ramp around mile 11, but the rest of the course is flat and easy. I'm certainly not running through hill country here in the North Carolina piedmont, but my neighborhood (where I do 90% of my running) has several small hills. I try not to exclude the hills from my routes and it made a huge difference when I was running in Florida. I felt like running required a lot less effort!
- There is plenty of entertainment. I knew before I ever started running that I would struggle with getting bored during runs. When I ran the Princess, it flew by because there were so many fun things to look at - Disney scenery, marching bands, gospel choirs, character displays. I spent the entire race going, "Pete! Look, it's Splash Mountain! Pete! Look, there's a pirate ship and Captain Jack Sparrow!" Not to mention you get entertainment just from looking at the costumes of other runners on the course!
- There are water stops at practically every mile. I didn't realize how amazing this was until I did a 10 mile race a month after I did the Princess and there were only 2 water stops for the entire course. I was so thirsty! I definitely got spoiled at Disney where there was a water stop at almost every mile marker. I don't like to carry water bottles when I run so this is a huge plus for me.
- Everything is incredibly well organized. Yes, it's a pain to get up at 3am to catch a bus to Epcot and then you have to walk about a mile to the start corrals, but it's worth it because everything at Disney runs so smoothly. Everything is always on time, it's clear where you're supposed to be, and they make sure to provide plenty of entertainment while you wait. If you stay at a Disney Resort you get free bus transportation to the start line and back to your hotel after the race, as well as to any other pre-race events like the expo. It's wonderful not to deal with the stress of driving somewhere and parking issues the day of the race!
- The medal is awesome. Run Disney medals are without a doubt some of the best I have seen. I love my Princess medal so much! I can't wait to add to my collection!
Today I noticed that the date has been set for Princess 2014 - February 23! I've got it on my calendar already. I can't wait to get back in shape and start training in the fall!
I've been thinking a lot of about the races I want to run in 2014. Princess is, of course, on the top of the list. I've also set a goal that I haven't told anyone else yet - I want to run 3 half marathons in 2014. They'll probably all be in the early spring, but it's possible I could run one in the fall as well. Running one in the summer would be brutal in the North Carolina heat.
For my second half marathon of 2014, I plan on running the Quintiles Wrightsville Beach Half Marathon. Pete actually found this race for me. It's about 4 hours away from where we live and it's at the beach, so that's a nice perk! The course is flat, there are plenty of water stops (I checked), and I think it will be a good race for me. The race is usually in March so it will come about a month after the Princess. Since half marathons aren't completely brutal on the body like full marathons, I think I'll be well prepared to run another one that soon.
I'd like to run the third half marathon in April, but I don't have one picked out yet. I know there are a few in Charlotte around that time so I need to start researching. The Tar Heel 10 Miler in Chapel Hill is also in April and I definitely hope to do that again as well! It might be tough to plan 2 race weekends in one month, so half #3 might have to wait until the fall.
It's a bummer to have race fever so bad when you're 34 weeks pregnant, but I'm having so much fun planning out next year's race season! And hopefully this summer and fall I can squeeze in some local 5Ks once I'm up to it...maybe even with jogging stroller in tow!