donderdag 18 februari 2016

Why I’m not at Princess Half this weekend

This weekend is the Disney Princess 10K and Half Marathon.  I’m not going to be there.  Even though this race was the reason I got into half marathon running, I’ve taken it off of my schedule.  And I’m not the sort of person who has a problem repeating races.

I’ve said it before, but I don’t like what this race has become.  And it’s not runDisney’s fault.  It’s the fault of the racers.  Not all of them, of course, but enough that the spirit of the race has changed.

Let me rewind.

Before Disney racing got really big, this race was a lot of fun.  A friendly women’s race (with a few men along for fun) with great costumes and lots of smiles.  But slowly, the tone changed.  The races started selling out much more quickly and the goal of the race went from finishing to getting the medal and looking fabulous while doing so.

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen posting online about how they haven’t run more than 5 miles (often significantly less), but they plan to go out and do their first half marathon in their fabulous costume and it will be great.  And hey, if they don’t finish, they still get the medal, and they’ve earned it.  (Personally, I believe it’s a finisher’s medal, but I can’t let someone else’s decision to take a medal affect me.)  I’ve heard many people say that the medal is earned during training.  But if you admit you didn’t train, then how can you claim to have earned the medal?

Do I think anyone can do a half marathon?  With proper training, yes.  Do I think everyone can do a 3:30 half marathon?  Most people sure, again, with proper training, but depending on your fitness level, it could take you a while to get there.  No shame if you can’t do it.  As people say, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch.  Start with a race with a longer time limit, or start with a shorter race.  Don’t sign up for a race and not train and be surprised when you get swept.

The race has a 16 minute per mile time limit from the last starter.  That means if you start farther up, you have a bit more time. This has led to people sneaking into faster corrals or even having someone else run under their name in a local race so they can get a good proof of time.  Unfortunately, that just leads to people who are way too slow starting in front of people who are significantly faster than them and then blocking the way.

I think the biggest problem is that many racers have developed a sense of entitlement and it is seen heavily at this race.  I run/walk, and my parents race walk.  I have no problem with walkers.  But you can’t walk five across.  Two is fine in the wider parts of the course, and when the course narrows, you need to stay single file.  It’s just the polite thing to do.  Of course, the walkers aren’t the only problem – there are plenty of runners who have no issue shoving slower people out of their way.  Again, politeness and respect for others goes a long way here.

It’s true that if you’re a slower runner, you probably won’t get to stop for pictures if you want to avoid getting swept.  It’s not unfair.  It’s just how life works.  As I said to April in January, it is kind of a bummer to not get pics, but what you can do is go back after the race, get cleaned up, and then get character pictures in the parks.  You actually end up with cuter pictures because the characters will oooh and ahh over your medal.

Now, I don’t mean to scare people off.  This race can still be a lot of fun.  It just lost a lot of the fun for me.  But it would be nice to see it change.  There’s nothing wrong with being polite to the other runners.  In fact, I think it’s more fun when you find yourself meeting new runners on the course and making new friends.  But as I said multiple times about the Donna Half, “This is what Princess is supposed to be.”  A positive environment, a fun run, and people just having fun.

So if you’re running this weekend, be polite, even if people aren’t polite to you.  Kill ’em with kindness.  And have fun and take pictures of the fabulous costumes for me!

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