Thursday, March 25, 2010

My First Walt Disney World!

It’s been nearly three weeks since my first-ever 5K at Walt Disney World. I guess it’s time that I take a few minutes to blog about it!

Friday, March 5th:I woke up obscenely early so that I didn’t have to feel rushed or worried about getting to the airport in time. I’m talking early like 3:00 a.m., which is only technically morning. In reality, don’t we usually consider 3:00 a.m. to be nighttime? I’ve closed bars later than that! Oh, so back to the story, I got up early, I drove to Michigan City, I hopped on the Coach USA aiport shuttle, and within an hour and a half or two hours I was at Chicago’s Midway Airport checking in with Southwest Airlines. I was like three hours early for my flight. I could’ve taken a bus two hours later, but I worry, and I pictured the bus breaking down and me not making my flight…I would rather allow too much time!

By mid-day, I was on the ground in Orlando, where I boarded Disney’s Magical Express which would deliver me to Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort. (With the Magical Express service, you don’t even have to go to baggage claim! They send you special luggage tags in advance, you use them, and they grab your bags and deliver them to your room within 3 hours of your arrival!) Once at All-Stars, I met up with Anne and Jeremy (sis and bro-in-law) and we headed to Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex where Disney’s Princess Half Marathon fitness expo was going on so that I could pick up my packet for my 5K and my “ChEAR Squad” packet for Anne and Jeremy’s half-marathon.

That night we met up with Jeremy’s friend Dan and his family for dinner at Disney’s Polynesian Resort… the “Spirit of Aloha” luau dinner show. It was a nice evening. From there, we high-tailed it to Epcot, as I wanted to take a quick stroll around Epcot to re-familiarize myself with the place since I’d be running around it the next morning! After a speed walk around Epcot, it was probably after 9:00 p.m., so I ditched Anne and Jeremy and hopped a bus back to the All-Stars so that I could take a shower, get my race day stuff organized, and try to sleep despite my first race “jitters”!

Saturday, March 6th:
My 5K day was another early morning. I think I got up around 4:00 a.m. so that my cheerleaders/photographers (Anne and Jeremy) and I could hop a bus by 5:00 a.m. to the starting line at Epcot. My run didn’t start until 7:00, but as I previously noted, I think being early is a good thing! The theme of the 5K was Disney’s Princess and the Frog, so Princess Tiana was there before the race posing for pictures, also there was a DJ playing “pump up” music while my fellow runners and I anxiously anticipated the starting time. It was cool while we were in Florida…I’m talking in the 40s early in the morning! Didn’t seem all that bad, since there was no snow!!

Finally they called us into the corral, and I placed myself near the front of 9-11 minutes/mile section. Before too long it was go time! As we took off, I felt like a million people passed me. As it turns out, it only seemed like everyone passed me*. The first mile was all around a parking lot, and as we neared a “backstage” entrance to Epcot’s World Showcase and the 1-mile marker, we turned a 90-degree corner and I looked back and saw that there were way more people behind me than in front of me. (*On a side note, I suspect lots of those people that shot off fast and passed me right after the start probably fizzled and were among those that I later passed by!)

It was in that first mile that I first noticed a young girl, probably 12 or 13 years old, who was dressed in a Princess Jasmine costume, who was pacing right with me. As it would turn out, we pretty much ran together the whole race and I’d sputter some encouraging words her direction once in awhile. When we entered the World Showcase at Mexico, Donald Duck was the first character to greet us, waving as we ran by. There were characters all throughout the course, and I always made sure to wave and smile, ‘cause how could you not?? The young Jasmine and I were running in sync when we passed through Morocco and saw the “real” Jasmine and Aladdin. Aladdin spoke up and said to “little Jasmine”, “Jasmine, my princess, I should be running with you!” or something like that, as he trotted out from his spot and ran several yards with us. Once he retreated, “little Jasmine” said to me with a priceless and serious expression, all starry-eyed, “Wow! I never would’ve thought THAT would’ve happened!” (A few days later I saw the same Aladdin, and told him the story. He remembered doing that and appreciated hearing about the girl’s reaction. And I got a hug!)

As I ran the course, once in awhile I’d feel like I was just coasting, so I’d put it in high gear and pass a few people, which would give me an energy boost. The boost that came with passing people probably really helped contribute to having a better finishing time than expected. Another thing that I discovered in my first 5K was that I wasn’t sure how to handle the two water “stops”, so I did it how I figured the hard core runners do… I didn’t stop, I grabbed on the run, said thanks to the volunteers, threw the cup toward my mouth, and then launched the cup into the nearest trash can! (Thus the big wet spot that might be visible on my shirt in some of the photos!) I mean, I didn’t want to wreck my time just so I could wet my whistle!
We ran and we ran and eventually we left the World Showcase and headed toward the front of Epcot and back out to the parking lot where we had started. When I was within 100 yards or so of the finish line, I felt like I really kicked it up a notch and sprinted for the finish line! It was an awesome feeling! I finished the race in 29:45 (and little Jasmine was right there with me). Just past the finish line was the medal distribution point, where some great race day volunteer placed a medal around my neck! Then I stopped at the snack pack table and got my official race photo taken before reuniting with Anne and Jeremy.
The race was not so much a race as it was a fun run, meaning finishers were not placed and there were no official times. There were clocks running at the start, finish, and each of the mile markers so you knew how you were doing. Though the nature of the fun run makes it unknown, Anne and Jeremy estimated that no more than 150-200 people finished ahead of me and there were THOUSANDS in the event!! I’d say that’s a pretty good first 5K for a fat girl!!
Once my race was over and we were showered and ready for the day, we headed to the Magic Kingdom to celebrate my victory! It felt great to be done with what I went there to do, it was such a relief to just be able to enjoy my day without all the nervousness that I was having prior to my run!

I think that’s enough writing for now. Maybe if I get around to it in the near future, I’ll write about the rest of the Disney vacation, particularly the good times I had being Annie and Jeremy’s cheerleader the next day for the Disney Princess Half Marathon!

1 comment:

  1. Well done and congratulations, time to plan the next one.