Bristol Life

As Disney Princess Half Marathon test nears, the prospect of facing the “balloon ladies” looms

The 2013 Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon (Photo credit: Preston Mack)
A runner crosses the 2013 Disney Princess Half Marathon finish line. (Photo credit: Preston Mack)

Editor’s note: Two ESPN Communications colleagues, Vice President, Corporate Communications Katina Arnold and senior publicist Kristen Hudak, are training together to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon in Orlando, Fla. on Feb. 23. Last month, Arnold provided a first look inside their approach to training. Below is Katina’s latest update:

Not only did I not know a lot about marathon training when I decided to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon, I knew nothing about the “balloon ladies.” Fellow ESPN-half-marathoner-in-training Kristen Hudak told me about them through this Wall Street Journal story.

Just two weeks before the race, Kristen, my sister Mimi — another novice runner who decided to join me in this lofty effort — and I are in total fear of them. If we cannot meet the minimum 16-minute mile pace, we will be in danger of getting “swept up” or forced to quit the race by the balloon ladies who are volunteer pacers for the event. They’re called the balloon ladies because they hold balloons so you can easily see them; as the WSJ story says, “If they pass you, the next mile marker may be your last.”

Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon (Photo credit: X)
Disney Princess Half Marathon (Photo credit: Disney Parks)

I guess I’m more in fear of them than Kristen and Mimi are. Last weekend, I trained with another ESPN marathoner runner, Caroline Bilodeau. I finished our goal of 10 miles, but it was the worst run I’ve had so far during my training. I guess a fancy dinner out the night before didn’t help, and I was so dehydrated I felt almost delirious toward the end.

Some new aches and pains appeared out of nowhere. I’m told this can happen when you add mileage. Caroline told me all of these experiences are good lessons and typical of the training experience.

I’m really trying not to worry. I intend to be positive, and trust that my training and the adrenaline of the Disney experience will get me through.

I have one more long run to go and then I’ll begin to taper my mileage and rest up before the big day. In the end, I’m glad I made this goal. I am enjoying this experience with my sister, college buddy Jackie and ESPN colleagues Kristen and Caroline. Thirteen days to go!

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