Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Princess Half weekend - final thoughts and TIPS to run Disney!

As of now, I’ve participated in every runDisney race weekend offered at Walt Disney World:

Royal Family 5K (Princess 1/2 Marathon weekend), 2012 and 2014
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler, 2012 and 2013
Princess Half-Marathon, 2013 and 2014

With all of those under my belt, I feel properly equipped to offer some TIPS for those thinking of running Disney!

Embrace the fun – don a costume!  I know – it feels weird to dress up in costume for a race.  But trust V; it only feels weird until you actually get to a runDisney race… once there, you won’t feel out of place at all!  You’ll see a huge variety of costumes put together with varying amounts of effort and detail.  Here’s the thing: it doesn’t need to be complicated, it doesn’t need to cost a lot, and it really should be comfortable, especially for longer distance races.  My advice is to work with items you’d wear to run in the first place: shirts and bottoms made of soft, comfortable wicking material.  You can add items and embellish from there without breaking the bank or your resolve to finish your race!

The 2014 Princess Half-Marathon weekend was my first time putting much effort into costumes, and I’m very glad I did – it upped the fun quotient by a LOT!  My favorite was the Cinderella-themed outfit I put together for the Royal Family 5K:

This was absurdly easy… I bought a Cindy-blue running shirt on clearance online for less than $20 and paired it with a matching $25 skirt from Sparkle Athletic.  I’ll use both again, so the cost can really be pro-rated by a number of years of wearings.  Under my skirt, I wore a pair of compression capris I already owned, and around my neck I wore a black satin choker left over from a Halloween costume I wore a few years ago.  A $2 pair of white knee socks worked as “gloves” – I simply chopped off the feet.  And I topped the whole thing off with a tiara I’ve had for ages, though a blue ribbon would have worked, too.

See? Easy, affordable, comfortable, and, most of all – FUN!

Take pictures. Lots of ‘em.  Okay, if you’re a friend of mine on Facebook, you’re probably sick to death of my many race pics.  Sorry.  But, you know what?  I almost wish I’d taken more!  Especially from past races.  While it’s fun to share images from your races with friends and family, it’s even more fun to look back at them yourself and remember the good times you’ve had!

Taking a lot of pictures when you’re trying to run a race isn’t the easiest thing to do, and I’ll be the first to admit that I thought it would be hugely burdensome over long distances.  Hence the complete lack of on-course photos from my first few long distance races.  But I discovered some tricks over the past year that’s made it pretty easy to score more photos…

First, if you’re already carrying a phone that has a decent camera in it, use it.  I carry my iPhone 4S in an arm pocket and thought it would be a royal PITA to take it out and put it back in repeatedly, but I quickly realized a couple things: 1. With a little practice, it’s really not that hard to maneuver, and 2. I tended to take three or four photos in a row, then run a mile or more without any before wanting my camera handy again – so it was easier to run with my phone/camera in my hand between photo stops, then put it away for a while before pulling it back out for a few more shots.

Also, know that there is almost always someone available to take your picture, so make sure you’re IN some of them!  At designated course photo stops, you’ll find volunteers or Disney staff on hand to snap your pic with characters and props.  Don’t worry – they’ve seen every photo-taking device known to man and can use all of ‘em without instructions. Should you find yourself wanting to be in a shot without a dedicated photographer, look around and ask for help!  Chances are other runners are taking the same pic and will happily take your pic.  Be sure to pay it forward and take theirs, too.  Race volunteers and theme park staff members are also happy to help you out.

Plan out timing and transportation ahead of time.  Like, not at 3am.  Are you driving to a race?  Read the race materials carefully to learn the appropriate route/s and road closures.  Make sure you have gas in the tank.  And don't forget to turn on your headlights - 3am is freaking dark.  (Yes, I saw quite a few cars on the way to races with no lights on. Skeery.)  Figure out ahead of time how you'll store your car key while running.  Write down or take a pic of where you're parked.

Taking a race bus?  Find out ahead of time where it will be making stops - this varies by resort.  Locate your stop and walk to it in daylight from your room so you'll know where to go in the dark, wee hours of the morn.  Take a look at the race materials to determine where buses will be after the race, then follow the signs to your bus when you're ready to go. 

Most importantly, leave plenty of time to get to the race.  If buses start running at 3am, you can bet I'm on a bus or in my car no later than 3:05.  Because every race, at least one bus driver gets lost and takes forever getting to the race and the poor runners on board have to scramble to make it to their corrals on time.  And at every race, there comes a time when traffic is heavy and cars back up trying to park.  Leave early, don't get stuck in traffic, and enjoy the extra time to relax before your race.

Know thyself.  Race weekend is not the time to abandon your routine.  After months of training, and years of living in your own skin, you'll know your individual needs - do as much as you can to meet them.  How much sleep do you need to feel good?  What kinds of foods can you eat and how often do you need to eat?  Can you walk around all day and still feel good to run double digits at night?  Does heat and sun exposure wipe you out?  Do large, noisy crowds stress or invigorate you?  Think carefully about what you need to feel strong and healthy, and adjust your plans accordingly.

I happen to have a cast-iron stomach; pretty much nothing makes me have GI issues, so I don't worry much about food, but some folks need to eat very specific items to race well.  You can find menus for all WDW restaurants at - check them out ahead of time and make meal plans accordingly.  Bring favorite items with you from home, or plan a trip to a local grocery store.

I need adequate sleep to be of sound mind and body, so I plan to be in bed by 7pm before early morning races.  I also can't spend much time on my feet before night races, so I spend afternoons before those napping.  It means forgoing some park time, but I know I'll be better for it.   If you don't need much sleep, or aren't bothered by time on your feet before racing, hit the parks and have fun!

Lots of folks bring nothing more to a race than what they'll carry on the course.  I am not one of those people.  I MUST foam roll before and after running, and I like a change of clothes after the race, and I need my reading glasses to read the eight-million new text messages and social media posts after racing.  Lucky for folks like me, runDisney's bag check bags hold a ton of stuff and are very easy to drop off and pick up.

Find a race buddy!  If your'e running a race with a friend, and you're in the same corral, and you're planning to run the same pace - great!  You're all set.

But the planets don't usually align that perfectly for most runners.  And it's totally fine to go it alone - I've done that more times than not.  But I promise - you'll have more fun at a Disney race with a buddy.  And it's pretty darned easy to find some...

Have a friend starting in the same corral? Super! Agree to hang out together in the corral, but run your own pace once the race starts.  Don't worry - you'll find more buddies soon...

Take a look around you in that first mile - is another runner going the same pace as you?  Do you keep passing each other on opposite intervals?  Did you both pull over for the same photo?  Say something!  "Hee hee - feels like we're playing tag here!"  Or, "I'll take your pic, if you'll take mine!"  Or maybe, "Have you done runDisney races before?"  Nine times out of ten, a short conversation will ensue and you'll find it to be fun!  Don't worry if you lose each other after a few minutes - there are more race buddies to be found...

Chat with someone in a porta-potty line.  Compliment a fellow runner's shirt.  Ask where she got her super-cute headband.  In the middle of my solo Enchanted 10K, another runner asked if my 5K and 10K tattoos were real - I told her they were temporary and where I got them, which led to a chat about running skirts, which led to talking costumes for future races, and in no time a mile had flown by!

A race buddy, even if he/she is a temporary one, is invaluable when your feet hurt, you're tired, your head's no longer into it, and you're ready to quit.  If you spy a friend, reach out, tell him/her how you're feeling, ask for a word or two to boost you up.  Look for other runners who seem to be in the same place and say something encouraging to them; it'll help you feel better, too.  Lead a cheer of "KILL THE HILL" and help a couple dozen other runners get through that final overpass.  When it comes down to it, we're all each others' race buddies, which is a pretty beautiful thing.

Which brings me to...

Join a running group.  Listen - I'm not a social runner.  A large part of what I enjoy most about running long distances is the chance to be alone with my own thoughts; out on a long run, I'm not Mom, or Friend, or Employee, or Blogger - I'm just me, free to let my thoughts run without interruption, or to blissfully not be required to think at all.  So I'm here to tell you that you don't need to be an outgoing extrovert to join a running group.

That's because running groups come in all sorts of sizes and packages.  There are local groups who meet to run and socialize, and local groups that meet to train hard.  There are online groups that "meet" across the miles in social media groups.  There are groups that welcome new runners, and groups that cater to elites; groups that chat only about running, and groups that talk about anything and everything; groups that focus on a certain race or series of races, and groups that aren't specific to any race at all.  There is truly a group for every runner, of this I am certain.

The key is to find a group that makes you feel supported, encouraged, secure and confident.  I had to try on a few different groups to find "my" running group, and when I did stumble upon it, I wasn't sure I even wanted to be part of a group at all.  But in the year+ I've spent with the amazing folks in my group, I've found a family of runners with whom I can be myself.  I can tell or ask them almost anything and get well-thought, honest answers and replies.  We can all have lousy runs and hear from our friends that we're not alone and tomorrow will be a better day.  We support each other through illnesses and injuries, and shout to the rafters to cheer each others' successes.  At races, we make time to connect in person through meals and meet-ups, on race courses and in Disney parks.  Though we may joke and lightly tease about silly things, we never go on the attack over differing views or life choices.  We encompass all ages, speeds, sizes, colors, genders and occupations and, though we have so many differences, our love of running trumps it all.

I can honestly say that I would not have run at least one race without the support of my running group.  Injured and afraid, I was 99% ready to bail on the WDW Half-Marathon this year.  It wasn't the kind of thing I wanted to admit to anyone, but I did to my running group - who promptly circled their wagons and convinced me that while I might not feel up to going for a new personal record, I could finish the race and have a really fun time doing it.  They were absolutely right.

Can you run happily without ever joining a running group?  Of course!  But I promise, finding a group that fits you and your needs can only be beneficial and is totally worth the effort of finding. 

TOTALLY worth the effort of finding you - GO TEAM!

I think that wraps it up!  Thanks for reading along - do you have more tips for running Disney races?  Share them in the comments, or do your own blog post about them, let me know, and I'll link to them here!


I've got one more, non-Disney long distance race next week, and then I'll be going into my off-season for the summer.  Because summer in Florida is freaking HOT, y'all.


Remember how I was done with the Tower of Terror 10-Miler after the last one?  Yeah, well... I'm signed up for another round.  And the 2014 Wine & Dine Half-Marathon, too.  So in another six months, I'll be back to running Disney :)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Race Recap 3: 2014 runDisney Princess Half-Marathon - final leg of my Princess Triple Crown!

2am.  Stupidest-Early EVER.  Time to get up, get ready, get to the race.  Yet again.  ~yawn~

That's how it felt, too.  The joy and excitement of three consecutive days of racing had left the building faster than Elvis and had been replaced by... well, by ambivalence.  It's not that I was dreading another race, so much as I didn't really care much about it.  I just wasn't that into it, if you will.

#ALLTHERACES! Temporary tattoos from Sparkle Athletic - thanks ladies!

Still, I had people to see, things to do, so I hauled my tired ass out of bed and into the shower, pulled on clothes, and got out the door in search of a bus stop.  NOTE: I strongly suggest figuring out where is your nearest bus stop A. in the light of day and B. at a time other than Stupidest-Early EVER.  I knew I was too tired to operate my vehicle by that point, and really didn't want to drag myself another quarter-mile after the race to get to my car, so I opted to take a race bus.  Only, I went the wrong direction, in search of the bus stop.  Halfway across the parking lot, I saw a Princess heading toward me with purpose... and I asked, "Am I going the wrong way for the bus?"  She smiled, said "Yes! Come with me - I'm going there, too!" and led me in the proper direction.  Thanks, fellow Princess!  

The bus took a while going through its many stops around the Caribbean Beach Resort (CBR), but arrived at the race with plenty of time before the start.  A short walk and very speedy, efficient security check later, I was in the Race Retreat tent, sitting with a few running group friends.

Ah, Race Retreat.  Where I could eat breakfast, lay my weary head upon the table for a 5-minute nap, use a semi-private porta-potty, leave my race bag at the last possible moment, and return later for a full breakfast, more semi-private porta-pottying, and quick retrieval of my race bag.

What is this mystical Race Retreat?  In runDisney's words:

Race Retreat is a great way for runners to prepare for their race, get pampered, and reunite with friends and family once the race is over.

Race Retreat Package Features
Pre-Race Amenities
  • Pre-race bagels, fruit, coffee, water and PowerAde
  • Temperature-controlled tent with lounges
  • Private restrooms and bag check
  • Padded stretching area

Post-Race Amenities
  • Internet access to check live results
  • Breakfast with hot and cold beverages
  • Changing tents
  • Self-treatment station
  • 10-minute massage for only $10 (subject to availability)
  • Designated location to meet friends and family to celebrate your accomplishment!*
Other Amenities:
  • 2014 Disney Princess Half Marathon commemorative item
  • Disney Character greetings
  • Live video feed from the Finish Line
  • Information Station

All this could be had for the 2014 price of $120.


Yeah, it was a lot.  But... when I worked a little Fuzzy Disney Math (FDM), it totally made sense to add Race Retreat to my half-marathon day!  I'd have bought myself breakfast somewhere, anyway ($12), as well as some hot cocoa ($3), water ($5), Powerade ($3) and a banana ($3).  I'd get some kind of "free" Race Retreat gift ($15), too.  I'd save gas and mileage on my car ($10).  So for around $70, I'd get a place to eat, take shelter from any inclement weather, semi-private facilities and a quick bag check.  A relative bargain when it comes to Disney, right?!

So, yeah - I spent some pre-race time trying to wake-up in Race Retreat before the call to corrals came and we headed out.

The Princess Half-Marathon corral situation is very different from the 5K and 10K setup.  There were many more corrals - A through P, to be exact - and all were located a half-mile or so from the pre-race staging area.  25,000ish of us slowly made our way over and our little group split up to take final potty stops and to get into our respective corrals.  I'd been assigned to corral I, but no one left in my group was in I, so I opted to move back to J with two great ladies from my running group.  Anxious though I was to get the race started and over with, I wanted even more to start with some familiar faces as I began the final leg of my own Triple Crown and runDisney's Glass Slipper Challenge.

The announcers worked up the crowd, the national anthem played, corrals A - I took off, and BOOM!  so did we.  No pic this time, but I'm pretty sure we got something fancier than roman candles for that race.

My plan was to walk a huge chunk of the first few miles, alternating 1/4-mile walks with 1/4-mile run/walking and I quickly lost sight of one of my friends as she took off at her much faster pace.  My friend Anne (go visit her at Outrunning the Fork!), though, was walk/running a similar pace and we wound up playing a little game of tag through the first couple of dark miles before losing each other.

I don't remember much about the first 3 or so miles - I didn't really feel awake, it was still dark, and I had a hard time getting into a comfortable groove.  Oh, and it was even more humid than the day before.  Hard to imagine?  Here's a visual for ya:

At some point, "humid" no longer applies.  What was going on there was just plain WET air.
Like running through a tunnel of WET.

With no time goal in mind, I had it in my head that I'd stop for a fair number of photos.  And having missed it in the 2014 WDW Half-Marathon, I got myself over to course left to grab a pic with the hothothot exotic car display!  

Everyone else was posing with the drivers and the NASCAR car to the right.  I only had eyes for the Lambo and the photog worked my phone to take a pic without the race car... but driver dude couldn't resist jumping in. FAIL.

Three miles done, 10 more to go and I was feeling okay.  Not stellar, but not bad - okay.  As the sun came up, I started feeling more awake and able to take in my surroundings.  I chatted with a few other runners as we wound through the Ticket and Transportation Center parking lot, and grabbed a shot of the awesome Japanese drummers out at Stupidest-Early EVER to keep us going.

The thought of entering the Magic Kingdom - and stopping for a few pictures - kept me plugging away through Mile 4 and next stop...

Sun's up, but note the shroud of WET surrounding Cindy's castle.

Main Street, USA!!!

Folks, if you haven't experienced this, let me say - entering Main St. after a relatively quiet few miles will get any runner going!  The roar of the crowd, the smiles on your fellow runners' faces, the excitement of being in the Happiest Place on Earth - it all makes for an easy, almost too quick, jaunt through the park.  This portion of the course has gone by MUCH too quickly for me in previous races, so I made a point to slow down, take it all in, and, yes - stop for more pics...

Entering Tomorrowland from Main St.
About to run through the castle - see the trumpeters up there?
They busted out a wicked-good herald of the theme from Rocky!

I had promised myself and others that this time, not only would I stop for the iconic photo in front of the castle, I'd make it an epic shot.

I think I succeeded!

Princess air, baybee! Still waiting on a good package to purchase...
I'd also been tasked by a friend with getting a few unusual photos during the race.  I failed pretty epically on most of the list, but I did get this.  And I am super-crazy glad I did - it might be my favorite photo from the whole damn race weekend!

Can you believe this isn't an official photo stop?!  Luckily, a very nice Cast Member was right there, taking time to cheer us on, and he was happy to snap a pic for me.  Thank you!!!

Although... this one is a contender for Favorite, too. :)

Louis, my favorite character in The Princess and the Frog!

Louis had a pretty decent line, but I was glad to stop moving for a bit.  In fact, not moving felt pretty darned good.  By the time I got up to Louis, I was enjoying not moving very much and was starting to feel sleepy again... and Louis was soft... and plush... and I seriously could have closed my eyes right there and been asleep in seconds, resting my head on his shoulder.  I wasn't even remotely bothered by the fact that Louis' plushy softness was no doubt slathered in the sweat and germs of 10,000ish previous runners.  That's saying... well, something.  

After exiting the Magic Kingdom around Mile 6, I mentally prepared for the next chunk of my race.  I'm a second-half runner: give me any distance, and odds are I'll run the second half faster than the first.  It's a strategy that's good for my body, as it has lots of time to warm-up and find its groove, and for my soul, as it nearly always means passing lots of other tired racers in the later miles.  Second-half racing worked beautifully for me when I ran the 2013 Princess Half - I wound up finishing that one feeling strong, fast and energized.  And I had expectations of the same this year.


I dug deep, prepared to do less walking, more running and pick up the overall pace, and... nothing.  I just had no motivation at all.  Thinking maybe I just wasn't quite ready to pour on the speed, I pulled over for another photo...

I don't even particularly like this guy, let alone his movie!
I'd have done almost anything at that point to not run.

I stopped even thinking about running after that.  Walking along, I began entertaining thoughts of dropping out.  I wasn't very serious about it, but pulling over to sit a spell sounded good.  And if the sweeper unit came along to bus me to the finish, so be it.  My feet were hurting, and my right shoulder was tight, but I wasn't injured and nothing was debilitatingly painful... I was just tired of running.  And.  Walking.

And then... I saw Anne.  ANNE!!!  I don't even recall if I caught up with her, or she caught up with me, but man-oh-man, was I happy to see a familiar face.  As we walked together, I told her how OVER the race I was, she expressed a similar sentiment, and I'm pretty sure we agreed there and then that we'd neither of us do Princess weekend again, lol!  But, we agreed, we were within a couple miles of the finish and it was silly to quit.  So we kept plugging along with the agreement that if either of us felt like running, we'd run, and the other could choose to run or not, and we didn't want to hold one another back if we managed to find some hidden reserves of energy.

We snagged this...

Barbosa does NOT do Jazz Hands.  Aaaargh.
... and kept on keeping on.  We walked, and talked, and ran a little, and pulled over for big globs of Biofreeze to smear on any parts in need of numbing and refreshing, and eked out another couple miles.  We yelled out to some friends who passed us and did some leapfrogging as I ran the uphills and walked the downhills (IT Bands HATE downhill running, trust V), while Anne walked the uphills and ran the downhills.  And soon, there it was... the Big Ball, off to our left, behind the Epcot parking lot!

From our vantage point atop an overpass, we could see thousands of runners still behind us.  THOUSANDS.  As slow as we'd been moving, that was incredibly comforting.  Laughing that we could literally crawl the rest of the way and not be swept (um, yeah - in hindsight, I suspect we were a lot closer to being swept than we thought...), we strolled slowly a little longer, got through Mile 11, and made our way into the backstage of Epcot.

I didn't stop for any more pictures, and I thought I remembered feeling only slightly more energized by knowing we were only a mile away from being DONE, and thanks to some very un-Princess-like folks pushing and jumping their way in front of us at each race photographer, I didn't think we'd have any photographic evidence of our exhausted selves dragging it home...

PROOF... that we had fun!

Wow - for a couple of tired ladies who were totally DONE, we sure looked to be having a great time!  Okay, maybe we were just delirious and veryveryvery happy to be near the end, but I think there was a healthy helping of having fun, too.

We walked a bit more through Epcot and back to the Big Ball and agreed that we'd run from there to the Finish.  I willed whatever I had left into my legs and beat feet through the finish line with a "WOOOOO HOOOO!" and immediately turned to Anne, to offer a huggy and heartfelt "Thank you!!!" for helping me through those last few miles.  I know I could have gotten through them alone... but I'm awfully glad I didn't have to!

Anne and I grabbed our medals, made our way back to Race Retreat and pretty much dove into the buffet.  I don't think I've ever been so happy to see eggs.  And potatoes.  And melon.  And brown water labeled "Coffee" mixed with brown water marked "Hot Chocolate."  

Worth. Every. Freaking. Penny.  

Another runner joined us at our small table and it was so nice to sit back, relax, sip coffee and water and chat about our individual races.  And as we sat, a big-screen TV played live footage of the race... we got to see the very last person cross the finish and, for me, that was the moment I finally felt DONE with the race.  #ALLTHERACES had been run and were closed, I'd gotten through my self-afflicted Triple Crown Challenge, and I had four medals to prove it.  That pretty much required a champagne toast to celebrate!

To us, Princess Anne - ROCKSTARS, the both of us!
Anne and I parted ways and I grabbed a bus (yep, I was, indeed, happy not to have to schlep all the way back to my car) back to CBR, where I rushed through the fastest shower I've ever taken post-race, into clean clothes, and out to my car.  Within an hour of finishing the Princess Half-Marathon, I was racing back to the Magic Kingdom to meet my running group for medal photos.

Only four of us made it, but it was worth the effort - I'm not sure I'd have managed to get this otherwise...

FOUR medals!
5K, 10K, Half-Marathon and Glass Slipper Challenge - a medal for each.

I said goodbyes and thank you's to the fabulous folks with whom I chat online almost daily, and headed into the park for lunch, but faced with insane crowds and endless lines for food, I quickly returned to my car and headed back to CBR, where I enjoyed a long, leisurely lunch in the shade by the marina.  It was the perfect way to rest my legs, get in some calories, and reflect on a very long weekend of experiences and accomplishments.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Race Recap: 2014 runDisney Enchanted 10K! And other Princess stuff...

Before I get to the second leg of my Princess Triple Crown endeavor, I need to share a little bit about the rest of Day One.

After completing the Cinderella Royal Family 5K Friday morning, I headed back to my motel to eat, shower and rest a bit.  I may be the exception here, but I was surprised by how much TIME of my race weekend was taken up by eating, resting and readying.  It felt like I was constantly eating; I’d had a bagel before the race, a protein bar immediately after, and I was totally ready for a full breakfast again after.  I also found that stripping off my race outfit, hanging its parts around to dry, and readying my next day’s race outfit took some time.  After all of that, a long shower, some checking in on social media, and a call home to see how things were going in my absence, I didn’t have the time or energy to hit a theme park.  Instead, I got back into bed and took a nap for an hour or so.

After a nap, it was time for a Princess-worthy tea at the Grand Floridian!  A small (small because that’s all we could fit – reservations for the Garden View Tea go early and fast!) group of us ladies gathered for high tea to celebrate the race weekend.  I won’t go overboard on details, but wanted to share because it was such a nice way to take a break from the race action, enjoy some non-running time with friends, and… EAT!  Again.

Four mini sandwiches, followed by assorted pastries and strawberries & cream.
And I was hungry again a couple hours later.

I highly, highly recommend adding this to your race weekend, should you be running future Princess events! 

After tea, I headed over to the Polynesian Resort’s beach for another non-race get-together.  I’d been invited to #runnerslove, a gathering of fellow Princess runners/bloggers/blog readers, with the promise of many, many giveaways.  Confession: this isn’t my kind of thing.  I’m a bit of a loner, get very anxious about new social settings, and am quite wary of any event promising “free” stuff.  But with a number of running friends going, too, and having already “met” the meet-up’s leaders online, I decided to give it a chance.  I am SO glad I did!

Kristy (of Kristy Runs Kato – go read it) and Meg (of Runaway Royalty - go read it, too) were terrific hosts, making us all feel welcome and excited.  They also get mad props for dealing with both an impending rain storm and noisy construction going on behind us.  I really wondered if either had any voice left afterward.  Well done, ladies!  And the giveaways?  PLENTIFUL!  I don’t think anyone left empty-handed.  Including me:

How did they know I was in need of a new visor?!  Perfect!

After the meet-up, I headed into the Polynesian to grab a quick dinner, then drove back to my motel to decompress, get everything ready for the next morning, and get some shut-eye.


Day Two, Race Two: the Inaugural runDisney Enchanted 10K, the first event of the Glass Slipper Challenge!

This one required an even earlier Stupid-Early wake-up: 2:45am to get out the door by 3:30am.  Really, I should have gotten up at 2:30am; I woke with a pounding headache, tight muscles, and the need for a long, hot shower.  I settled for a short shower and I think I managed to hit the road by 3:45.  I again drove to the race, which also started and finished in the Epcot parking lot, and was again parked within 10 minutes of leaving my room.

Despite eating a bagel with peanut butter and downing some caffeinated brown water (NoOffenseJoffrey's), my headache continued to get worse as time went on.  I sucked it up and smiled my way through another pre-race meet-up with my running group (which was pretty easy, since despite the pain, I was happy to be there!), and jumped in line for a final porta-potty stop before it was time to get into our corrals.  The lines were much longer that day, and by the time I got done, corrals had been called and my friends had all dispersed.  I was on my own for this one.

I'm not complaining - I like running on my own!  It's actually a surprise to me that I've come to enjoy running with friends so much.  So I was fine with being on my own and got ready to settle into my corral (C) to wait my turn to start.  And, actually, I wound up having a nice chat with a lady next to me about runDisney events, the crazy recent weather, and race costumes.  The time flew by and next thing we knew...

THREE roman candles!  Oooo, aaaaaahhh...
... we were OFF!

My goal once again, was to take it easy: lots of walking, a little easy running, no sprinting. Get it done, remain uninjured, live to run the next day.

For the first few miles, I did just that.  The on-course crowding was significantly less for me than in the previous day's 5K.  I had plenty of room to walk, run, pass, be passed, and pull over to tie my shoes.  Repeatedly.  I wore my new Brooks Ravennas and quickly discovered that their laces were still pretty stretchy; no matter how tight I tied a knot, the laces kept stretching, and I kept pulling over to tighten them up.  Good thing I wasn't looking for a fast time, I guess.

The first three miles took us out of the Epcot parking lot...

With Elsa making it snow from an overpass above us!

... up what is normally a ramp down to the parking lot...

Trust V - in the dark, wee hours of the morn, this is HI-larious.

... and up over another overpass before turning back down to the backstage area of Epcot, from where we entered World Showcase.

I'd like to mention something at this point.  See how fuzzy that pic above is?  That's only partly due to camera movement.  The rest is due to extreme humidity.  I believe it was in the high-60s that morning, with around 100% humidity.  Which was NOT helping my headache.  At all.  Every running step made my head throb, and I could feel a migraine hovering in the wings, ready to take its curtain call at any moment.  So I slowed way down through World Showcase and made myself stop to take some pictures.

Snow White and some topiary dwarves. This seemed like a brilliant shot at the time.
Now, it looks s little odd - Happy looks ready to attack and Grumpy looks like he might cut someone.

"Temptations. They're the wrong things that seem right at the time..."
Like, oh, say... three races totaling 22.4 miles over three days, Jiminy???

I. am. SO. glad. I stopped for this!  Jiminy had a long line, but it was time for me to eat (again) anyway, so I parked it in line, ate a Cliff Bar and finished just in time for my photo turn.

With some fuel in me and the morning dew beginning to burn off some, my head started to feel a little better, and I picked up the pace to get through the remainder of World Showcase and out to loop around the Epcot resorts.

I really, really enjoyed that part of the course!  I've run the Boardwalk/Epcot Resorts loops before, and have strolled that loop more times than I can count, so I was already very familiar with the setting and knew where I might want to break off for a quick pic or two.

Had this been open, I'd have been buying.  A cold 'rita on the rocks sounded wonderful!

Back story: about a decade or so ago, I was an avid swing dancer and spent quite a few evenings at the Atlantic Dance Hall, listening and dancing to the amazing big bands that used to play there almost weekly!  It was a fun, fun time in my life, so I had to pull over, break into a little Charleston, and ask a maintenance guy to document the moment with my camera.  I neglected to ask him to skip the ambulance.  Tho.

The rest of the race is something of a blur to me... I finished the Epcot Resorts loop, reentered Epcot through backstage (saw more kegs, but didn't stop for another pic), raced past the Land pavilion and the Big Ball, and crossed the Finish feeling strangely better than when I'd started!

I had a nice time running the Enchanted 10K.  Yet, when I came across some running friends afterward, I heard myself saying I thought it was a "one and done," that I had "no burning desire to run that course again."  And at the time, I really didn't.  I was surprised at how little entertainment there'd been in the early miles and it just didn't feel like a good value for the cost, especially compared to the Royal Family 5K.  This, from a gal who's proclaimed repeatedly that she doesn't need all of that Disney stuff to enjoy a race!

In retrospect, I think I was feeling much worse than I was willing to admit.  My head continued to pound all day and I was feeling the effects of not enough sleep.  With some time passed, I'd actually like to run that course again - 10K is a great distance: short enough not to be too taxing, long enough to have some fun and get some decent running in.  I honestly think that if I didn't have the half-marathon looming the next day, I'd have enjoyed the Enchanted 10K much more.


The rest of my day was spent cleaning up, getting things ready for the next race, resting a bit, and eating (again... and again... and again.)  I had a yummy dinner meet-up at Beaches & Cream with my running group, so I popped over to Epcot first to take care of renewing my annual pass.  With no real nap that day, I hightailed it back to my motel after dinner and got myself into bed by 7pm.

And then tossed.  And turned.  And stretched tight legs.  And got up for some water.  And to use the bathroom.  And finally fell asleep somewhere around 9:30pm.  Much later than I wanted, with Even Stupider-Early right around the corner...

Next: the main event... the Princess Half-Marathon!