The Princess Marathon was not part of my running plan until my friend Trish asked if I wanted to run it. My initial thought was no. I had just done my first half marathon and I didn’t see the point of doing another, but a few days later I signed up. I enjoyed the inaugural Princess Marathon so much; I did it again the next year.
Running 5 consecutive Princess Runs never occurred to me until Jim and I went out to Disneyland for the half marathon. It was the 5th year for the race. Something during that weekend clicked. I made it a goal to run the first 5 Princess Marathons.
The 2013 Princess half was the 5th year of the race and I reached my goal. I am one of 324 runners deemed a perfect princess for running all 5 races. I’m not sure what I expected this year, but the magic that kept bringing me back to this race seems to have run out.
This year the emphasis seemed much more on stuff and excess than on fitness and running. The expo was cram packed with people who needed to buy everything they could get their hands on. I freely admit my husband and I bought our max allowable Dooney & Bourke purses with the plan of keeping one and selling the rest. (However that plan changed when we sold one to a friend who didn’t get a chance to shop at the expo and gave one as a birthday gift.) And I bought the Disney Princess sweaty bands because sweaty bands are part of my race traditions. But watching people stand in excessively long lines for New Balance shoes, running to be first to get a purse, and grabbing handfuls of official race merchandise left me with an odd feeling.
Social media was the other big difference. I got the impression posting pictures to instagram, sending tweets, and updating facebook status during the expo and the race was a priority for many runners. The goal was less about running and more about documenting every step along the course. One of the perks of doing a RunDisney race is the entertainment and characters. I stopped twice during the run to take a photo with a character because there was no line and Mehgan didn’t get any pictures during the run last year. I guess I think the run should be the main attraction, instead of the entertainment being the main attraction.
While the race has grown and evolved into something very different than just a celebration of women, fitness, and running, I recognize I have changed too. I am not the same runner who started doing this race series in 2009. The moment I recognized it was when I was really excited to see mile 7. We were no longer in the Magic Kingdom and we were on the road. In the past I dreaded the back half of the course because we left all the fun, but this year I felt like the fun was just about to happen.
I didn’t PR this year, but it was one of the best races I’ve run. We managed negative 5k splits. I also helped Mehgan get a new PR.
In a way this feels like a break up. The Princess Marathon Weekend was one of my first running loves. We grew together, but after all these years we ended up growing apart. I guess I always hoped it would last forever, but the magic is gone. I guess I’ve grown into a different kind of runner and the Princess Marathon has grown into a different kind of race. I really hope we can stay friends. It’s not you, it’s me.