With the first shuttle leaving the hotels at 3:30 AM, Steph and I had to be up early. Incredibly early. In fact, it was practically still Friday.
I’m a morning person, but this was ridiculous.
However, there was nothing to do but get up, get dressed and get out.
We were on the first bus from our hotel and made it to the race staging area quickly. There were no lines for the security check and we were into the waiting area in no time.
We got in line for some photos, and kept an eye out for my friend, Glorea.
She was one of the lovely women who stopped to help me when I imploded during the marathon last year, and we have stayed friends over the last year. I was so excited to see her and give her a huge hug.
Later in the morning, Megan, another of my marathon heroes, would catch up with us: we dressed as Cinderella and the wicked stepsisters.
(That feather headpiece never moved.)
It was finally time to head to our corrals. For the 10K, runners were organized in waves from A through F, and I was thrilled that we were in B. I don’t think I’ve ever been placed so high in a major race. We checked our shared bag in the appropriate area, hit the portapotty one last time and positioned ourselves towards the front of the enclosure.
I was wired and couldn’t calm down. Steph and I hadn’t worried too much about strategy. Originally, this was the run I planned to “race”, while “enjoying” the half marathon a little more, but with my hip, I wasn’t sure what I would be able to accomplish on the course. We talked a little bit about easing up, getting photos and just taking it all in, without worrying about our pace, but when the fireworks for each corral started going off, all such plans went out the window.
We were off.
The first “sight” we encountered had nothing to do with characters. As we started over the timing mat, about 15 runners broke off, sprinted into the grass and, well, did some business. There was really no cover besides the semi-dark of early morning, and we could see pretty much everything. I get that when you have to go you have to go, but there are tons of restroom opportunities before, along and after the races.
But once we got through that less than magical moment, we settled in to our run quite nicely.
It didn’t take long to get to our first character stop (I believe it was Snow White’s wicked witch), and Steph and I considered stopping…. but then we didn’t. That was kind of the theme of our run. We would talk about stopping for photos, or we would pull off to get in line, but then regret it when we watched other runners zipping on by and hop back on the course. In fairness, the lines weren’t really even long – we were just too pumped up to stand there while everyone else was passing us.
Aside from the character stops and on-course entertainment, the first few miles were pretty uneventful. The course was crowded with runners, especially along some of the tighter turns, but we don’t have to weave all that much. We just went with the flow, easing up and slowing down as needed. At the end of the day, our time was only about 10 minutes slower than an average 10K, and we were happy with that.
Everything changed as we turned into the World Showcase in Epcot. Music played, all the buildings were illuminated, and it was stunning. I don’t think I’d ever experienced anything quite like it.
It was a huge boost: we finished World Showcase, popped out onto Disney’s Boardwalk (which was a bit slippery from rain or sprinklers or humidity), and then back into the front of Epcot for a grand finish in the Epcot parking lot.
We finished the 6.2 miles before the sun was even fully up and we were both feeling great. Tired, but great.
I had to get this picture with another set of wicked stepsisters. We saw and chatted with one of them on the course, and just happened to be in the medal photo line at the same time. Their costumes were phenomenal and they were totally happy to pose!
Back in our room, we showered and changed, and we even got a little bit of a nap. We would eat the resort food court before grabbing a shuttle bound for Hollywood Studios.
We did some rides, and spent a lot of time visiting characters. There are some big changes coming to Hollywood Studios, and we loved all the extra Star Wars touches.
Chewbacca was kind of ticked that we were wearing medals and he didn’t have one. He made us all turn around and proceeded to “threaten” to tear the arms off his handler. It all worked out well. At heart, he’s a hugger.
Kylo Ren, on the other hand, was less warm and fuzzy. Even though he’s quite a tantrum-throwing princess, we were both terrified of him. Yes, I hid behind Steph as best I could.
It was hot and after some wandering around, we were absolutely ready to call it a day. But not before selfies with Sarge.
We had an early dinner at The Hollywood Brown Derby (Cobb salads and wine!), and then headed back to All-Star Sports.
I was craving dessert, so we bought Mickey bars and sat by the resort pool for a few minutes.
We were both pretty amped up, but we knew it was important to sleep. We put out our outfits again, and set the alarm for a little earlier than the day before. The shuttles for the half marathon would start sooner, and we needed to be ready to roll!
One race down, one to go.
The day had been fabulous. This was my first runDisney 10K, and I thought it was great. I heard a lot of complaints about fewer characters on the course – even though we didn’t stop for photos, we kept track of those we passed and noted the following: Snow White’s Evil Queen, Tinker Bell and friends, Pocahontas and Meeko, Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket, Cogsworth and Lumiere, Genie (in his tourist clothes) and Sofia the First. The only thing I thought was a little disappointing was that neither Ariel, nor any of the Little Mermaid characters were out and about. For a Little Mermaid themed race, that didn’t seem right.
I was also blown away by the volunteers. They were everywhere: manning the water tables, the gear check, helping to take photos, directing runners before, during and after the race. They even lined up at the exit to Epcot to give a final push to the runners on their way to the finish line. I couldn’t help but to give them a round of applause. They helped make the race even better.
Up next? The Princess Half Marathon, to wrap up our first Glass Slipper Challenge!
What’s the earliest in the morning you’ve had to run a race?
Do you ever start chatting with and befriend strangers on the race course?