Time to Run!

Walt Disney World Travel Blog

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blurry but shows the dark before the race

We were up by 3:00, out the door by 3:30.  Waited a half hour to catch the bus.  There were a LOT of runners and spectators at the pick up and just no buses.  I was confused.  It's not like the Disney buses are taking guests to the theme parks at 3:30 in the morning.  Then I slowly realized that Disney was not using their own buses for the running crowd and had rented out a herd of other buses and their drivers to complete the task.

When the bus pulled out of our resort's drive, we noticed some glowing balls with letters on them lined up along the road.  Someone remarked that those signs looked like start corrals, but I wasn't sure.  The bus pulled into the lanes leading into EPCOT, and I felt a thrill at seeing Spaceship Earth lit up at night.

my medal
  We hiked across the parking lots to the left and made our way into the bag check.  After that we had a twenty-minute wait for a Porta-Potty.  Ironically, once we had used the Porta-Potties, we noticed a whole other row of them with probably a 5-minute wait.  Janie made note of that situation for tomorrow's marathon.  We knew we still had a distance to get to the corrals but the line of people suddenly slowed and stopped.  No one was moving.  We would hear that Disney had only started to let people over to the corrals at 5 so that explained the jam up.  I was just relieved when people started shuffling forward again.  Despite the dark skies of pre-dawn, the path itself was brightly lit by temporary lights.
Megan's shoes final race
  We saw a few discarded trams from Catastrophe Canyon and I think a boat from the Jungle Cruise along the path.  As the crowd continued to move traffic-jam style, I felt my nerves build.  Although I overhead other runners saying that the start would have to be delayed, my gut told me otherwise.  Disney ran a tight ship and I doubted that there would be any delay.  The three of us joined other racers who stepped off the paved path and cut across the grass.  Here, the light was dimmer but we watched our steps.  We jammed up again as we approached an intersection.  We listened to the announcement about which way to turn and then headed left.  It was here that we noticed those same blue balls next to the drive for our hotel; we really were a five minute walk from Old Key West :P

When we reached "B" corral, Janie decided to slip in between the fences and join that group instead of continuing up to A.

Megan, Janie, and me
  We really did not want to be outside the fences when the race started but Megan and I took a chance and it paid off.  I stayed in the very back of this lead corral.  I was probably only ten feet in front of the B group.  We had a minute or two left so I pulled off my black throw-away shirt and hung it over the fence.

The announcement (delivered by Disney characters of course) that the race was about to begin focused my attention ahead.  For the first (and probably only) time I was about to start a big race at the actual beginning for runners (wheelchair racers having already started) and with the elites.  It was a thrilling feeling.  Fireworks blasted off and we were moving forward.  Despite being in the very back of my corral, I was soon crossing the start pad.

my temporary tatoo

It was strange running in the dark, I've only ever run one night race before.  Disney, however, puts on a good show.  We passed a pirate ship complete with Jack Sparrow and movie music somewhere around mile two.  Next up we briefly ran through brightness at the Ticket and Transportation Center, the pathway lined with cheering crowds.  It was exciting :)

We ran back into the darkness and past the Contemporary Hotel.  By now I was in a groove, my eyes checking the pacing bands on my wrists at each mile.  I glimpsed the new timeshare towers at the Hotel and then the Magic Kingdom ahead on the left.

Nearing the bus drop-off for the MK, I was very briefly blinded by flashing security lights, a stark contrast to the darkness.  We detoured into the park through a back entrance and I smiled as park workers waved us on.  A moment later, I broke into magical lights and more cheering crowds as I entered a side pathway on Main Street.  A turn to the right and I grinned widely as Cinderella's Castle decked out in lights came into view.  Running up Main street I think I experienced one of my greatest runner's highs in the last two years since I started running seriously again.  We curved into Tomorrowland where I think I briefly saw Buzz Lightyear.  We traveled past the new Fantasyland which to my disappointment I could not really see much of.  We charged through the castle as photographers snapped shots, the flashbulbs going off crazily.  Guides directed runners interested in a more formal photo in front of the castle to the left while those of us more focused on the race headed to the right and Liberty Square.

I was running through familiar territory for this stretch even once we exited by the railroad.  I had been in this part of the backstage twice before with my high school and college marching bands.  There were more characters even back here; Princess Aurora provided a photo op.

Past the Polynesian and the halfway point, I began considering eating my energy blocks but needed a water station.  Right about mile eight in the greyness of just-before-dawn my stomach started to hurt and I ran in discomfort for the next mile.  At mile nine I slowed to a walk at the water station and ate my two blocks.  I was still not 100% but my energy increased and soon I was approaching the 10 mile mark, the spot where I won the mental game with the half because now it was only a 5K to the finish.

We met a set of "hills" in this last stretch, ramps leading to overpasses, three of them.  On the first hill a green army man was cheering us on and telling us that once we got to the top, it was downhill.  I must have mis-interpreted him because I thought this would be the only hill but once I crested the on-ramp, I noticed another hill coming up.  If I wasn't trying to run 13.1 miles, I might have wanted to go back and file a complaint with the green army guy.  We reached a tight curve where our images popped up on a huge screen and an announcer was yelling out our hometowns if we had the energy to tell him.

Mile 11 came on another overpass and I started to feel excited again as I checked my time.  By now I was nearly assured not only of a sub-2 hour time but was running close to my time in the other half I did last year.  Mile 12 was just inside EPCOT before the public part.  Here was one more water station but with a glance at my watch, I passed.  I was going to PR if I didn't stop (I would figure out later I could've taken a short stop and still run my best time but at the moment, I wasn't sure of the math).

We trotted into the park under the shadow of Spaceship Earth.  Past the fountains and down to the lagoon where we turned to double-back towards the entrance.  I felt good as I neared the exit on the right; a photo taken by Disney photographers caught me in mid-stride, both feet off the ground.

Mile 13 mark was accompanied by a gospel choir and then there was the end with Goofy high-fiving the runners.  I was tired but happy and proud of my time, just under 1:53, a PR by two minutes :)  I went through the guantlet of photo ops and food and picked up a box of food and a bottle of water.  I found my sister at our meeting spot after getting my bag from bag check.  She was a little sore but had run well ahead of me.  It was hot in the sun as we waited for Janie; the sun had come up fully sometime before I hit mile 10 even though I finished before 7:30, still too early to call my parents to relay the good news of our success.

After Janie finished and found us, we posed for a picture and then caught a bus back to the resort.  The bus had to wait to get more passengers but the seats were comfortable and the wait wasn't that long.

vances says:
Congratulations on the PR --- nicely done!

Posted on: May 11, 2013
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blurry but shows the dark before t…
blurry but shows the dark before …
my medal
my medal
Megans shoes final race
Megan's shoes final race
Megan, Janie, and me
Megan, Janie, and me
my temporary tatoo
my temporary tatoo