Disney Princess Half Marathon: Cosplay with a Twist

What are the chances? I "ran into" an Air Force Reserves colleague during the race! We pushed each other to the finish! Photo: Patricia Vollmer

Well, I did it! I conquered the Disney Princess Half Marathon last weekend and it was fantastic! I’m also thrilled to have gone on a girls-only road trip – without the kids – for the first time in over 3 years! I was so giddy with excitement about the weekend I hardly slept! But I’ll get more to that in my subsequent post about the race experience.

First, I want to share my costume adventure. That was a journey in itself!  I had never done the “cosplay” thing before, but now I think I’m addicted!

I had presented a sneak-peek last week with my preview post about the race.  So you already knew that I planned to run as Mulan.  And I gave you a glimpse of why I chose to run as Mulan (Asian girl, Army brat, etc.).  Let’s talk about how I came up with the costume.

My first decision had to be “Pretty” Mulan or “Hooah Warrior Chick” Mulan?  Being that this was a “Princess” race, I opted for the “pretty” version.  Now that that was decided, I contemplated the popular tulle tutu options.  In the meantime, I found a pretty pink running skirt at Cabelas that was on clearance (that particular color was discontinued) — whoo hoo!  Pretty AND inexpensive!

As for the rest of the skirt, my plan was to make a double-layered tulle tutu, longer light pink with an additional fuchsia layer cut at an angle on top.  I made it, and then tried to run in it.  I didn’t survive to the end of the block before returning home and ditching the skirt.

I couldn’t do it.  I don’t know how those thousands of other women did it.  Therein lies my challenge.

How do I look like Mulan yet still be able to run 13.1 miles in the costume?

It requires a minimalist approach.  I decided to stick with the corset and hair.  Forget about the rest of it.

Readers, meet my 12-year-old Chinese dress.  A souvenir from our Year-of-the-Dragon trip to Beijing in February 2000.

Before you panic about the scissors next to that pretty dress, please understand that it's been unwearable for several years already. Photo: Patricia Vollmer

I bought this dress from a street vendor in Beijing — I looked at several vendors for a large enough dress and found the perfect color and perfect size. I even got to wear it to a Christmas party in 2003.

From my one-child, active duty days. I went stag to my Air Force unit's Christmas party in 2003, my husband was in Iraq at the time. Photo: Used with permission by Patricia Vollmer

After having had two kids, I stressed the dart seams — you know, those seams that cinch in the waist? — and it caused the silk to get runs throughout the fabric.  So this was a great way to “repurpose” the dress!

I tied a lacey gold sash around this corset so I had a pretty bow in the back. Photo: Patricia Vollmer

My first thought was to make a sort of belt, simply my cutting this dress into strips and sewing them into a long-enough belt to have a big pretty bow in the back.  But then I considered how the belt would simply flop over and the whole point of the creation might have been lost.

So I cut off the top and bottom of the dress!  I left the waistline with the zipper on the side.  Like a corset.  It was PERFECT!

Then I thought about how to belt the corset.  I had a pretty gold scarf, a gift from a friend who was stationed in Europe for a couple of years.  It tied nicely and made a pretty princess-ey bow.  Mulan’s bow is actually pink, but the gold sash I had was perfect.  But as predicted, it cinched up quite a bit and didn’t look very nice in practice.

I sewed a strip of gold to the corset to give the illusion of having a nice skinny waist that didn’t cinch up belts, ha ha!

My next task was the flower in Mulan’s hair.  In typical GeekMom fashion, this took some research.  But I was fortunate: someone did the research for me!

It was simple to find a silk magnolia flower at my local Hobby Lobby store, and I immediately cut the flower off the stem and glued it to a plain hair comb.  I decorated the flower with some pink glitter glue.  Seemed simple enough.

Time to test the costume!  I had my pink shirt, pink running skirt, blue and gold corset, gold sash, magnolia flower hair comb, and “beads of jade for beauty” — which were merely some green mardi gras beads.

This is the flower I wore in my hair. On a test run I learned that the hot glue wasn't going to be enough to stick through the impact of thousands of steps. I used floral tape for extra insurance! Photo: Patricia Vollmer

I took a 3 mile “test run” and learned quite a bit.  First of all, the corset and sash setup was fantastic.  I think it actually helped me quite a bit!  But the “beads of jade” were tossed aside, and the flower became unglued almost immediately.

It was time to break out the big guns! In my case, it was floral tape. I found floral tape all over the flower and comb and it seemed to do the trick. I had no more problems with it.

I didn’t see any more Mulans on my race, although I’d communicated with a girl planning her own costume through a Facebook group, and this girl from Virginia was apparently ahead of me.

I’ll discuss it more in the next post about the race itself, but my plan was to ONLY stop for Mulan. She was at mile 12 and was the last princess on the route! I ended up stopping many more times and I am so glad I did! Here I am with Mulan, incredibly giddy for meeting her.

Just my luck! Mulan was at mile 12 out of 13.1...and each stop was getting more and more difficult for me. But of course I had to meet her! She told me she was honored to have a fan! Photo: Used with permission, Patricia Vollmer.

I’m already thinking about next year! Mrs. Incredible? Princess Leia? I am trying to talk my husband into running with me — over 1000 men ran the race, many of whom were dressed as male characters. I enjoyed this race recap by Washington Times writer Karla Bruning, who ran as Cinderella with her fiance as a very convincing Prince Charming!

Help me out readers! Who should I run as next year?

Patricia Vollmer is a geeky meteorologist mother of two emerging geek sons, ages 11 & 13. Patricia blogs about her family's nomadic military life at Ground Control to Major Mom. Home is always where the Air Force sends her family, which for now is in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Hobbies include running, despite no one chasing her, and exploring the world with her boys. Ask her why the sky is blue at your own risk.