You know, one of these days I’m going to go spend time at Walt Disney World where I don’t have to wake up at 3AM and run some ridiculous distance.
Last Saturday was not that day.
Last Saturday began much like a familiar weekend, one month previous – the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend – with me stumbling out of bed and hitting the “on” button on a coffee pot. We were staying in a roomy studio at Old Key West Resort (our first time staying there) and I Greg and I had slept Ricky and Lucy style with each of us in our own queen bed. We are both long of limb. This was an arms and legs akimbo luxury for both of us, but it also meant I didn’t have to jostle Greg as I fumbled my way to the bathroom where I had laid out all my race gear the night before.
I took a cool shower in a desperate attempt to lower my body temperature in the face of the moist warmth of Florida’s climate and snacked on the Luna Bar from my race kit. Before long, I was ready to go.
We were super close to the main building at Old Key West, so I grabbed a bus there almost immediately. I chatted with my seat-mate on the way over to Epcot for the start about races, runDisney and living in California. I’ll tell you what, warmer climates sound pretty good right now.
Once at Epcot, I breezed through the “no bags” line. I wasn’t the most organized when it came to packing for this weekend so I didn’t have my “bib dongles” for my SPI belt, so that stayed at the resort. I also forgot to pack my hydration belt, which was fine. After not wearing one for the half marathon back in January, I knew I wouldn’t need it. No bags = no inspection.
I made my way directly to the very quiet Race Retreat tent and grabbed a bagel, a banana and some water. I thought about looking for the various Facebook groups I participate in, but I opted to sit quietly and think about my plans for the morning. I kept repeating “Take it Easy” in my head. That would be my mantra for this race.
I know me. I know I don’t like being behind people. I know I enjoy passing people. I know I always think I should be going faster. Today was not going to be about that. Today’s run was going to be about getting acclimated to the humidity and the temperature, and taking it as a slightly longer than usual “shake out run”.
With that thought pattern organized in my head, I looked for some familiar faces and found some!
I caught up briefly with Jodi of 2 Princesses on the Run and Laural of Running a Balance. It’s always a treat to see them, they’re both super sweet and super positive and I loved seeing some friendly Canadian faces. They were both earning their awesome Coast to Coast medals the next day, which was really exciting. I bid them a fond farewell and made my way outside where I encountered this:
At the Expo, around the New Balance booth there were walls with the names of everyone running the Enchanted 10K and the Princess Half Marathon, but I could not find a wall for the Glass Slipper Challenge entrants. I thought I was going koo-koo. Turns out, while I may be koo-koo for other reasons, missing the wall was not one of them. The wall was located at the Family Reunion area. Well, neat.
I made my way over to the start area and took in the mayhem. I was glad to have had the private portopotties at the Race Retreat, because the portopotties near the corrals were in the potty business, and business was good.
I managed to snap a quick shot of the start line on my way over to Corral C.
While in the corral, I listened to the banter of the race announcers Rudy Novatny and Carissa Bealert. Speaking as an entertainer, the incredible work these two, along with Race Director Jon Hughes cannot be understated. When I think of the hours they put in, their (probably insane) call time to get to the course, the effort required to keep up the energy… They’re truly amazing. I’ve seen a lot of MCs, hosts and Cruise Directors who would do well to observe these fine folks in action. What a fun job.
Before long, it was time to start the race. After a moment of silence to honour the troops, a lone trumpeter played the Star Spangled Banner. As he played, slowly and softly the women in the corrals began to sing along, growing louder as the anthem went on. It was a goosebumpy moment. Truly touching, it felt very natural.
Shortly after the anthem, accompanied by a little fireworks display, the first runners were off. With the 10K, they seem to hold to a 5 minutes or more break between sending off the corrals, but eventually it was Corral C’s turn.
3… 2… 1…
I had placed myself about a third of the way back in the corral with my “take it easy” goal, but I still didn’t anticipate the literal STROLLING people were doing over the start line and beyond. I dodged and weaved my way as clear as I could and kept moving.
On the upside, I ran into my friend Penny during this first mile, and we had a quick chat before we parted ways. I had my camera out and I forgot to take a photo – what a dope! But I was marginally distracted by what was before us: I know people were hoping the Princess from Frozen would be featured this year, and runDisney did not disappoint:
There she was up on the overpass before we got to Mile 1, and she was making it snow on us runners below. I looked up, mouth open in wonder before I snapped it shut and lowered my eyes.
Florida snow = soap.
I wondered how slippery the road under that bridge would be after another half an hour.
Just past the bridge I caught sight of Mile 1. The mile markers were the same ones they used during Marathon Weekend, so while I snapped shots of them for the 10k, I already knew I wouldn’t be bothering tomorrow.
I carried on putting distance behind me, once we’d made our way up the overpass the crowds thinned out a little bit. The lines for characters, however, we longer than I’d ever seen before, and we were only the third corral. I didn’t see how people in the later corrals were going to have a crack at character photos and beat the sweepers unless they hustled. I guess it’s a “pick your battles” situation.
As I ran along, I also passed a lot of people walking from the earlier corrals. I’m not talking run/walk folks who earned their placement (hey, I’m one of those people). I’m talking people who may have gotten their corral placement via less honest means. Seems like runDisney and Track Shack still have some kinks to work out of the whole “proof of time” effort.
As we came back into Epcot near China, all I could smell was bacon. That was mean.
I made myself stop for a few photos to slow my pace even more.
Of course there were the Marathonfoto guys out there, too. I noticed (and I’m not the only one) an increased level of “crazy” this weekend when it came to people trying to get their photos taken. Lots of cutting off, stopping, doubling back. Ladies. Take it down a notch. Your costume is very cute, but you’re going to hurt someone, possibly yourself. I say this with love. No one likes to see a bleeding Cinderella.
Around Mile 4, I was really regretting the lack of protein in my breakfast. I was STARVING. I took a pack of ENERGYbits and that helped, but I was really looking forward to breakfast in the Race Retreat tent. My mind drifted back a mile to the bacon smell around Norway/China. Remember bacon, guys?
I had a momentary thought that I should hit the Boardwalk Bakery for a snack, but thought better (?) of it and kept going.
Bacon, bacon, bacon.
Even though I had run the course just last month, I genuinely thought we were going to have to run up past the fountain and do that double-back at the World Showcase that the Half Marathon course does, so I was delighted when we were waved straight ahead through Future World towards the exit.
I easily loped my way to the finish line, grinning from ear to ear. I collected my medal and a nice volunteer took a photo for me.
I grabbed some water and PowerAde and started gulping it down before I even exited the finishing area. I bypassed the runner’s snack boxes since I knew there was bacon on the horizon. I made my way over to collect my Glass Slipper Challenge wristband and baconed my way to the bacon tent for bacon.
Official Time 1:21:09
My Take-Aways from the 10K:
- Get to the front of the corral – but only if you belong there. For whatever reason (wanting “extra time” for photos, fear of sweepers, what have you) the consensus seems to be ‘always get to the front of your corral’. That’s not really a fair thing to do though, is it? Internally, the corrals should be a representation of the overall set-up. If you’re in the slow end of your corral’s pace, logic dictates that you should place yourself towards the back of it. Based on what I saw in the 10K, I needed to be at the front of my Half Marathon Corral the next day.
- Have more breakfast. I find I tend to eat more before a run than other runners I know, but it’s what works for me. I needed a bigger breakfast if I was going to be successful in the Half Marathon. A shopping trip was in order.
- Handanas are a genius invention. I was mopping sweat off my brow, my cheeks, my chin within the first mile of this race. I needed another one.
- I needed to tape up. My Plantar Faciitis was flaring up a bit after the 10K. I figured a tape job on my heels and my knee from the KT Tape booth at the Expo were in order.
- 100% Humidity, while a bitch, wasn’t a total deal-breaker. It’s the HEAT that gets me. As long as the temperatures didn’t get up into the 80’s the next day while we were on the course, I’d be ok. Fingers crossed.