Thursday, November 29, 2012

2012 Jingle Jungle 5K - Race Recap

I am way, WAY overdue for a race recap on Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K.  But it’s a tough one about which to write.  Though I can sum it up succinctly: It. Sucked. Royally.

To be clear, the race didn’t suck due to any wrongdoing by runDisney.  Nope, they did a superb job of putting this one together!  What sucked was my injured state.  And my child’s attitude.

My bout with IT Band Syndrome is already well documented in my blog, so I won’t rehash that.  Suffice it to say that I was still battling it and shouldn’t have run at all that day.  But I hadn’t been running in almost two weeks and felt great at the start.  Aaaaaand… look what corral we were put into:

Pictorial evidence.. 'cause it'll never happen again.

How can anyone start in corral A and not run the start of a race?!  I have no idea how we wound up there, but I wasn't about to be the only person walking through the start in A.  Pride cometh before a fall, right?

My son, Leo, didn’t train for this race at all.  I forced him to run with me a few times, but he was so miserable, I stopped bothering.  Still, he wanted to do the race and was excited about it, despite having had a very difficult week prior thanks to a burgeoning pre-teen ‘tude.  On race morning, he was sullen and sulky.  He was cold, but refused to do any stretching or moving around to warm-up.  He said he wanted to be there, but frowned and complained about the loud music.  He did perk up some once we started running, though.

The course itself was okay.  Lots of parking lot, lots of backstage area of Animal Kingdom (AK), and a little of the park, much like the course for the 2012 Expedition Everest Challenge we ran in May.  It was MUCH nicer to run the AK in daylight, though.  I never noticed as a slow-moving park guest just how lumpy, bumpy and uneven most of those walkways are… but I sure noticed as a runner!   Between scanning the ground before me and keeping track of both Leo and the pack of other runners, my mind was too busy to notice the growing pain in my knee until it was too late. 

Hi. My knee feels like someone's trying to rip it out, piece by piece. But looky how cute I am!

Despite a good deal of walking, by the second mile, I was way beyond “discomfort” and every other step was pure agony.  It ruined the race, as nothing could distract me from that pain.  I wanted to feel elation when we rounded a turn and saw the Finish, but all I felt was a loud cry from my knee, “Oh sweet mercy, we’re almost DONE!!!”  Adding salt to the wound, Leo shook me off when I reached for his hand to hold as we crossed the finish line.

I know he’s 10 and I get that he’s moody, temperamental and seeking independence.  But I was really hurt by his refusal to help his mom across the finish.  Doing my best to dam the flood of tears threatening to overflow, I accepted my very-cool medal, grabbed a water and snack box and led the way out of the finish chute.  I even managed to smile for a picture with Leo and our medals.  I made it to a medical tent for ice and we ate our snacks in equally icy silence in the middle of the parking lot.

My unofficial finisher's photo.

Finally, I explained to Leo how upsetting it was for him to refuse my hand at the end and asked him why he’d done that.

“I just didn’t feel like it,” he shrugged.

Ah, boys.  They say what they mean, and they mean what they say.  He just “didn’t feel like it.”  It wasn’t a commentary on his feelings at the time, nor was it a belligerent attempt to tick-off his mom.  We had a continued discussion about taking time to think of how our actions affect others and, on my part, not taking every little thing so personally.  Leo gave me a big hug, helped me to my feet, and asked, “So, we’re gonna go do some rides now, right?”

Oy.  I had indeed promised that we’d hit a few rides after our race, before going back to our hotel to rest and clean-up.  I’d been hoping my knee would be numb enough by then that I’d not feel the pain, like had happened after the Tower of Terror 10-Miler a month earlier… but no.  I winced with every other step, sucking in big breaths with the stabbing pain as we walked slowly toward the park entrance.  It remained at or around that level of pain throughout the day, finally abating with a double dose of Aleve, followed by a martini. Don’t judge.

My culminating thoughts on the race?  The Jingle Jungle was part of the Wine & Dine Half-Marathon weekend festivities, so Disney had a lot of race-type folks to handle all weekend.  Packet pick-up and the expo were really well-engineered – plenty of space for all and easily navigated.  The race logistics, too, were really well handled.  Putting us into lettered corrals was a nice touch, even if we did all start at the same time; it made for a lot less craziness at the start than I’d seen with either the Everest Challenge or the Royal Family 5K.  A metric ton of volunteers were fantastic cheerleaders, helpers and directors – they deserve a big round of applause.  And the Jingle Jungle medals were pretty darned spiffy.


I’m not real sure we’ll do another runDisney 5K anytime soon.  For one thing, the cost is prohibitive.  The registration fee for the 2013 Expedition Everest Challenge has almost doubled to$110 per person.  That’s INSANE for a 5K distance.  Sure, it includes an after-party at the AK, but we’re Floridians with annual passes; we can go to AK any time without extra cost.  And, honestly, I’m finding that I enjoy the quiet solitude of my training runs so much more than the overstimulating, crowded conditions of Disney races.  Our local races are much closer approximations of my soothing training runs – only, you know, faster.  And.  Cheaper.  By a lot.  Add in one cranky pre-teen boy and I’m pretty unwilling to shell out a bunch of cash for a short race at Disney. We’ll see…

Still, I have that Princess Half-Marathon looming in the ever-decreasing distance.  Will my stupid leg EVER get better?  Stay tuned!

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