I had started my running blog for about a year or so before I made the silly choice to go off the grid for awhile. I deleted all of my posts associated with my first race (Princess Half 2013) and everything thereafter…but for some reason, I saved the recap. I have a terrible time keeping myself accountable for writing about all the fun things in my life, so we’re just going to play a little game of catch up for the next little while! (Keep me accountable! I still need to recant the tales of Glass Slipper 2014 and Historic Half 2014 and my Scotland trip.)
Today, we’re going to revisit my first ever race. My cousin, Adriane, posted on Facebook one October day that she was running PHM and asked if anyone wanted to join her. Now, she and I we were in constant wars with each other growing up, so I was a little hesistant to say yes initially. At this point, in October 2012, the Princess Half WASN’T EVEN CLOSE TO SELLING OUT. The current percentage full hovered around 75-80%. However, I figured it would give me the kick in the pants I needed to really start running
(Side story: I found out about runDisney back in 2010 while leafing through my first ever copy of Runner’s World, and always wanted to give running a shot. Ex-boyfriend at the time, who was a star cross-country runner and phenomenal swimmer, wasn’t much help in the enthusiam and motivation department; he came more from the Land of Criticism and Egotistical Athletic Attitudes. This was a major turn off, and I didn’t bother with running after that. I mean, if you’re not getting the support from those that are closest to you, it’s a major letdown.
Lesson: Surround yourself with your cheer squad, and the energy will multiply tenfold. If you need to find better cheerleaders, go right ahead.)
So yes, I started out with a half marathon.
No, I had not raced any other distance prior to.
To this day, I STILL have yet to run a 5K race.
I was coming off of a terrible grad school semester due to failing a class on account of dealing with impacted wisdom teeth torturing me for 16 weeks. After getting that surgery done, passing a kidney stone, and getting my “failed class = expulsion from grad school” verdict overturned, I was finally heading to Disney World! I battled a lot to get to that point, and my last long run prior to was ten miles. My excitement wasn’t waning though; this was also an anniversary race! In the House of Mouse!
Anniversary race = kick-ass medal. House of Mouse = Disney geeky goodness.
So without further ado, here’s my recap!
My alarm was set for 2:45 AM, but I found myself up at 2:20 AM. I rolled over in my bed at the Pop Century, and got all the fuzzies that come with race-day excitement. By the time Adriane got out of bed at 3, I was already dressed and scarfing down my bagel and banana. We were out the door by 3:30 and heading for the buses. On the way there, I could see all the traffic heading into the staging area. My thoughts were, “Holy traffic, Batman.” It was nuts! We got to the meeting places around 4:15 and parted ways, agreeing to find each other at the end (easier said than done, especially with a semi-dead phone).
Bag check was flawless and easy. Line for the bathroom was long but I found myself engaging in conversation with a woman behind me. If my memory serves me correctly, she was running her fifth half marathon, plus she was a cancer survivor! That was inspirational. After the bathroom break, we all walked towards the corrals. A-E branched off to the left and F-H went to the right. The people around me and I agreed that the others were heading to the slaughterhouse and we got to be free, happy cows in the fields.
I got to Corral F with plenty of time to stretch out and chill. Slowly, the corrals began to fill up. I appreciated the Jumbo-Trons that displayed runDisney TV. After the playlist that included Gangnam Style, YMCA, and Don’t Stop Believin’, the national anthem was sung (VERY professionally, which I give the singer points for), and we were ready to start the race! Every seven to ten minutes another corral was released by the cue of pretty fireworks. Finally, our corral started moving forward. I couldn’t believe it. I was actually going to do this!!
Three, two one…GO!
The corral started slow, then slowly picked up speed. I ran with my phone in my hand the entire time while tweeting and Facebooking the adventure, and I think that helped me keep a relaxed form. I kept a steady pace and just soaked in all the sights and sounds you could when it was still dark outside. I called out mile markers and listened for the cheers in response. We saw the elite corral A runners passing by us on the other side of the highway when we were around Pirates of the Caribbean. Maybe some day I will be one of them, but not now…I was in it for the fun!
(I later learned that Rachel Booth had crossed the line in 1:17. I took a picture at Mile 3, and that time had read 1:18. It’s amazing that someone can maintain a 6 minute/mile pace for thirteen miles! Major props to her!)
I got really excited as I saw the sun rising through the trees and over Magic Kingdom. I still couldn’t believe I was plowing through this run. With the amount of people on the course, we had to funnel and fan out appropriately. It felt nice to have room entering MK, but then we funneled back in heading down Main Street. I started running on the sidewalk so I wouldn’t run people over or get run over. As a musician, I appreciated the fanfare heading into Cinderella Castle. As a runner, I wish I could have flown through the castle like I see those runners do in the Runners World magazines. BUT, I did get to see the murals on the inside of the castle!
Before Mile 6, it was definitely bathroom time, so I zoomed into one before leaving the MK. I was happy that people were getting in and out quickly; I don’t think anyone wanted to get swept while taking a bathroom break!
By the time mile 7 came, my legs were on autopilot. BioFreeze became my best friend on this run, and I was careful not to get it all over my phone! I was starting to run in the grass just to get by people around mile 9, which was nice on my legs and knees. Along the second half, I ran into a girl that I met on the bus going to the motel on Friday. Her name was Valerie and her friends were dressed up as the Dalmatians! We ran together for a few miles, evaded the evil Sweeper girls, and got up those pesky hills.
When I saw the outlines of Spaceship Earth, I knew the end was coming. I saw a woman with all five of her Princess Medals on cheering us up that last bypass. I turned around and saw the throngs of people behind me…
Holy people! I was relieved that I wasn’t going to be the last person to finish, and I kept going, soon landing in EPCOT. Home stretch! Down the main strip of EPCOT, back up, around the corner, go backstage…
–hey, there’s the gospel choir!–
…and there’s the finish line!! I ran down that street and I knew I was on top of the world. I totally felt like a rock star.
I knew I wanted to make my first run memorable, and what memorable way to do it by running in Disney!
Super cute, right? You always remember your first race.
Lessons that I can remember:
- Running with a phone in your hand….gaaaaaah. That was simply annoying. As easy as it was to have quick access for photo taking and whatnot, it slowed my time down considerably. I know I was only in this first race for fun, and I did it in 3:25:31, but I had to tear the battery out and let the phone reboot a few times, plus it was all sweaty and gross. For 2014 GSC, I invested in an Armpocket. Best decision ever.
- Invest in legitimate running clothes. For this race, I sort of went into it blindly when it came to clothes. (See pictures above.) My shorts were fine, my trademark bow was pink and cute, but my top was a different story. I used a tank from Old Navy…and a cotton sports bra. Not one of the fancy ones. This caused uncomfortable chafing for a few days after. I soon invested in a VSX sports bra from Victoria’s Secret and it’s been my go-to style ever since.
- Don’t immediately get on your flight a couple of hours after the race. We had thought the resort would have given us a later check out due to the race. But this wasn’t the case. Once off the course, we had to find the bus, get back to the hotel, pack, and immediately take off for MCO. This was so inconvenient, plus painful. I hadn’t had time to shake it all out after (I’m talking hours of walking in EPCOT or Magic Kingdom in the days after a race), so I was stiff and sore and limpy for about a week. So…take the extra day or two and stay in the parks. You can get your Disney geek on while walking and stretching.
- runDisney. You have to do it at least once. The hype is incredible. Registration can be messy. But if you’re willing to put the time and patience into training and planning, every mile truly is magic!
Do you remember your first race? Did you start off with a 5K and slowly increase mileage, or go crazy like me and decide to start off with a huge distance for your first race? Was it runDisney, or another series?
If you’ve made it this far, congrats! Thanks for reading, and if you’re running this weekend (*cough*WineandDine*cough*), best of luck!