Fun fact: I’ve never run a Disney race twice.
I kicked it off in 2012, tackling Princess as my first half marathon and doing the 5k for funsies the day prior (and friends thought I was nuts). From there it’s been a whirlwind of the Castaway 5k, Tink, Wine and Dine, Disneyland 10k and half (again, with the nuts comments – they obviously don’t know many who have done Goofy/Dopey), and most recently the Walt Disney World half this past weekend.
Anyone who has run a Florida runDisney race knows about the dreaded early wake up time.
Anyone who has not run a Florida runDisney race but wants to… you may want to set your alarms now for 2:45am and practice that along with training. Because yes, that’s what time you get up for these races.
The struggle is real.
Brooke and I decided that we would be Newsies. We also decided that we would wear cute little tanks and running skirts. And then Mother Nature decided that she was going to throw a curveball at all of northern Florida and make it fairly chilly. Warmth took precedence over cuteness.
Sleep nearly took precedence over the race, if I’m being quite honest. Have I mentioned how early it was?
We stayed at the All Star Movie Resort, which made our travel to the start very simple; buses are scheduled non-stop starting at 3am. We didn’t check bags so we gathered our SPIbelts, food (wheat flats, almond butter, and bananas), and braced ourselves for the cold weather.
Donning our pajama pants and Brooke’s husband’s sweatshirts we found ourselves at the start village. Our dear friend, Ashley, was doing her first half marathon and our plan was to find her before the race. Attempts to track down Kristen and Suzanne were made, as I knew they were starting in our corral but to no avail.
The walk from the start village to the corrals is about a mile or so and while I found it daunting during the Princess half (remember, that was my first half ever), this wasn’t bad at all. The flow of traffic was smooth and we were able to get to the corrals with no issues. Our walk consisted of us geeking out over Universal’s Harry Potter world and books in general.
These are my people!
Soon we had to split off and go to our separate corrals, so we gave hugs and high fives to Ash and her friends before heading to corral J.
Thanks to social media, Brooke and I knew which skirts Kristen and Suzanne were wearing so we spent a good long while walking around the corral, peering at people’s legs. Yes, indeed. Sadly, we didn’t find them (but hey, it was a way to pass the time).
The earlier corrals began to cross the start line and we both shimmied out of our pajama pants, tossing them into the collection boxes. We listened to the announcers banter and watched the fireworks at the start of each corral.
Before long, it was our turn!
Our plan for this race was to HAVE FUN and I would say we succeeded! We thanked volunteers left and right. We ran when we felt like it. We walked when we felt like it (or when the course narrowed and there wasn’t much of an option). We cheered for other runners.
We pulled to the side and took selfies.
This course is the exact same as Princess so we knew what to expect. But honestly, my feelings toward this race couldn’t have been more different. My first half, it was all about getting through it. This? This was just about having fun and spending time with my friend. I didn’t hurt. I didn’t push any limits. I just had fun with Brooke.
The park is always crowded, as you can see in this video. There are people cheering and there’s not much room to navigate if you want to go faster than the people in front of you. What’s a courteous runner to do? Just roll with it. Soak it up, enjoy the moment, and smile.
If you’re a middle to the back of the pack runner, realize that you probably won’t get that awesome running shot of you coming out of the castle. I know for me, it was slightly disappointing when I first ran a Disney race. However, there are photographers stationed right in front of the castle if you want to stop and grab pictures with the castle in the background.
Miles 7-11 are what I like to call “the boring miles.” You exit Magic Kingdom and it’s lackluster. I feel like Disney could do something MORE in these miles to make it less tedious. I said that 2 years ago during Princess and I’m saying it again.
That’s not to say that the boring miles only pertain to runDisney, it’s really true of any half marathon. They are just sort of ho-hum, are we done yet? miles. For the record, the answer is no. You’re not even close to being done.
Which is why when you run into Kristen and Suzanne, whom you’ve been looking for the entire time, you basically lose your ever-loving mind and make loud squealing noises!
We hung out with them for about a half mile (I’m guessing – my watch was set on kilometers so I wasn’t exactly knowledgeable of anything in the distance department) before I pulled to the side because I had something in my shoe. It was so wonderful to see them and it definitely made those “boring miles” way more exciting!
Since the race is mostly on access roads, it’s hard for spectators to get out to the more remote areas. That’s why I totally have to give kudos to this guy! This was mile 10, just before going up the access ramp.
Brooke and I kept chugging along although we were straight up speed walking at this point with the hopes of finishing up faster. Right outside of Epcot there were people cheering and it was wonderful to hear my name being called. Only LATER did I realize it was Bonnie! OH MY GOODNESS, I love that girl!
When you hit Epcot, you hear the same thing over and over. “The finish is just around the corner.” But we knew the course and we knew that it was NOT. You have to wind your way through Epcot a little before that corner finally comes. However, this is how you know the corner is really the actual corner and not a fictional one.
That’s right! There’s a gospel choir! You can hear Brooke WOOing them, like a good Woo Girl should.
Then, and only then, can you expect to see the finish line around the corner.
This is the moment that you’ve been waiting for for 13.1 miles. You take it in. The crowds cheering. The people in front of you holding hands. The far off sound of medals clanking.
The sound of Brooke as she exclaims, “WAIT! Is that Minnie Mouse?”
The finish was wonderful. Filled with great medals and snacks because runger is a real thing. Oh, and banana phones.
W stayed at the finish area, snacking and stretching, so we could meet up with Ashley after she finished her very first half marathon. Mark my words, next time we are running TOGETHER.
Different races have meant different things in my life. Some are for PRs, others are for fun with friends. This one, and this weekend in general, was therapeutic. It was good for the soul and exactly what I needed.
Do different races hold different meanings in your life? When is your next race? Anyone entering the Broad Street 10 Miler Lottery? The next 5k I’m registered for is the Adrenaline Run 5k. After that it’s the Atlantic City April Fools Half. Will I see you at either of those?