I ran my first Disney race (The Disney Family Fun Run 5k) two weeks ago during Disney’s Marathon Weekend.
THE NIGHT BEFORE THE RACE (EXPO)
On Wednesday night Lucky Charm and I headed to the Expo where we had to pick up our packets for our races, and check out some of the gear they had for sale. We drove straight to the Expo where we were parked way out in the back fields of Disney’s Wide World of Sports. I put her in the stroller and we walked (ok, I admit I was a little excited so we may have speed-walked) up to the front gates where they had some fun banners for people to take photographs with for their corresponding race. Lucky Charm didn’t want to take my photo, so I just took a photo of the banner.
Packet pickup was pretty easy, we had our signed waivers ready and went to the counter with the appropriate corresponding number (which was printed on the waiver) and had to sign that we picked up our materials. I had previously purchased (during race registration) the commemorative Kids Race Mickey ears for Lucky Charm, as well as the commemorative pin for the 5k, so we were handed those with our race materials including our race bibs, and gear bag. Lucky Charm’s bag had the marathon guide, her ears, pin, t-shirt, and race bib. My bag had the race guide and bib, and we were given a paper to take to pick up the t-shirt at another location.
As we approached the Josten’s Center (where the majority of expo activities were held) we were told that strollers were not allowed in the building, so we parked the stroller and headed in. Lucky Charm has some anxiety around large groups of people and since we arrived at the Expo around 5:30PM the traffic inside the building was growing by the minute. This triggered her into a lovely little spiral of anxiousness which resulted in her throwing herself on the floor in the middle of the Expo screaming. I just stood there dumbfounded knowing that there were 50 people staring at her, and I at that very moment. I asked her if she was done, and if she needed a hug, and she continued to throw a fit. After three rounds of this vicious cycle, I ended up carrying her through the Expo and leaving. My only purchase was three lovely bondibands. I was disappointed in the availability of 5k merchandise – but can understand that it is the smaller of their events and they were focused on the bigger achievements that weekend.
After we left the Expo, we headed to our hotel which was in Lake Buena Vista (just off Disney property). I got my race gear set out for the next morning and we got ready for bed. The alarm was set for 3:45AM. Mr. Lucky had to work until 10pm so drove to the hotel when he got out of work. I ended up falling asleep with Lucky Charm before he arrived so I got up and went down to let him into the hotel and climbed right back into bed.
The morning of the race I was so pumped. I had Pandora playing my favorite workout station as I got ready and that just psyched me up even more. We got Lucky Charm dressed while she was half asleep, and loaded up the backpack and mini cooler for our adventure.
We left the hotel around 4:30am since we were told we had to be in our corrals by 5:30am. I wasn’t sure what to expect traffic wise knowing that marathon weekend traffic results in road closures. We got there very quickly, and we got parked close to the first set of tents. We sat in the car for a few minutes and I ate a banana for breakfast. All of us really enjoyed watching the costumes people had on as they walked by our car. As we walked towards the tents we were directed to an area where bags needed to be inspected and then through to the main area where there was a stage set up with a DJ and a concession tent with coffee, hot chocolate and breakfast. The DJs were very good at getting the audience engaged and warmed up with music and communicating the happenings of the day. At 5:00 we were let through to the corrals to take our places. There were lit balloons that indicated the corral assignment (A through E). I was assigned to corral D and I was very thankful I was not in the very last corral. It had started to sprinkle and it was not even 50 degrees outside, so I was very chilly, and regretting my decision not to bring a sweatshirt with me. I knew that we could have a sweatshirt and throw it before the race, but I don’t own any that I can lose like that, so I wasn’t prepared. I noticed that many people were running in groups with their friends/family, and there were very few of us running alone. I was excited to run alone and do this just for myself, by myself. Although, I am really looking forward to lining up with LMM for the Princess Half Marathon, and couldn’t stop thinking about how awesome that experience is going to be.
START OF THE RACE
As 6am approached, they let corral A line up near the start line, and shot off fireworks as the race began. Slowly each of the corrals ahead were led to the start line and finally it was time for corral D. I was really chilled by this time, but I was pumped to start my run after waiting patiently for over an hour. When the fireworks went off we headed out and I watched for my family on the sidelines and waved to them as I jogged by. Neither of them saw me, but Mr. Lucky was recording so I was sure he would see it afterwards. It was a little crowded in the beginning but most everyone was pumped up and ready to get on their way. First, we navigated through the parking lots of Epcot, cheered on by cast members along the way. This part of the race was somewhat boring, but it was interesting to run through the back side of Epcot where the general public is not typically allowed. As we entered the world showcase, it was still dark and the ball was lit up so beautifully. Running through the showcase was really beautiful, and I saw one character (Dopey) who had a VERY long line of people waiting for photos (more about the Dopey Challenge later!). Each mile marker was beautifully displayed and there were lines of people posing for photos at each one. I stopped briefly at the first water stop to get a drink, and quickly got back on course and on my way. Even though I knew I was making decent time, I refused to stop for more than a second to snap a photo. I didn’t even see any of the characters that others saw during the race because I was in such a zone! I still can’t believe that I missed them, I seriously only thought that there was just the one character on the course! I was starting to get hot and tired when I was approaching the ball, but I knew that was the final stretch, and it motivated me. I stopped for a quick selfie, and then headed to the finish line. It was so amazing to cross that finish line and the feeling of accomplishment is amazing. The cheering crowds are definitely a bonus.
AFTER THE RACE
I scanned the crowds for my family and when I found them I stopped for a photo and told them where to meet me. I got my medal, and stopped for a final photo. I was very grateful to the woman behind me for taking my photo for me since the photographer was not allowed to, and I didn’t have anyone with me. After the photo station, there were tables set up with post race refreshments. I grabbed a snack box, a banana, a water and a powerade. I met the Lucky’s and we walked back to the car. We didn’t hang around to see Pluto or his friends after the race or enjoy the entertainment because it had started to sprinkle and I was freezing and hungry. When we got back to the hotel, we celebrated Mr. Lucky’s birthday with some cake for breakfast, and then all curled up together for a nice little nap!
Stay tuned for more about our post race celebration and Lucky Charm’s first runDisney Kid’s Race!