The first week of November was more magical than I could have ever dreamed.
As many of you know, in April I decided to start my running journey and train for a half marathon in January. Being a frequent visitor of the parks, I had been aware of the huge races that Disney held, but I never considered myself to be a runner. In fact, I loathed it. I would groan every time I was told that we were going to be doing laps in school, but somehow here I am. I am on my way to my first half marathon.
I impulsively signed up for Disney’s Wine and Dine weekend this summer, and it did not disappoint! I have run local races before, but nothing that compares of the craziness of a Disney race. I wish I could say I was cool as a cucumber, but the week of the race I was nervous and didn’t know exactly what to expect.
Our first stop was the Expo at the ESPN center! I was afraid that we would have trouble finding out where to go, but all of the employees were so helpful. I stopped by to get my bib, and then I went to go get my free race shirt.
The Expo was filled with booths upon booths that had everything a runner could ever dream of. They had accessories, shoes, watches, nutrition bars, and fun photo ops.
The Night Before
At this point, we were extremely hungry since we had just driven all the way from Atlanta. As much as I wanted all of the yummy treats and drinks at Disney Springs, we settled on eating at Earl of Sandwich. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t feel sluggish the next morning, so I opted for a healthy dinner.
I made sure to lay out everything I would need for the morning, and checked my list twice!
- Race bib
- Socks & shoes
I knew the races started early, but not THIS EARLY.
I set my alarm for 3am, that way I could be at the Epcot parking lot by 3:45-4:00. From there, I was dropped off and I was shuttled to the Magic Kingdom parking lot. Disney did their best to keep us entertained with DJ’s and characters, but this was easily my least favorite part of the day.
We mostly sat around for 2 hours before the race started. I think if I had been with a friend it would have been no problem, but I did find myself a little bored (and cold).
And They’re Off!
All of the runners are split into corrals based on their estimated finish time. I was placed in group E because I had not been able to submit my POT(proof of time) before the cut off. Corrals help make sure that slower runner do not get in the way of those who are significantly faster.
This is when the Disney magic began to set in for me. Fireworks went off as each corral was released and they blasted nostalgic Disney music as we began. The course started in the Magic Kingdom parking lot, ran through overpasses, and then led us into Epcot.
The atmosphere was electrifying and I found myself having even more energy than I am used to when I run. The course was extremely packed, so I had a bit of a hard time maneuvering around others, but it became easier once we got to Epcot.
We entered the park next to Figment, made our way around the world showcase, and then exited by the Mexico pavilion. The speakers were blasting the Frozen soundtrack, so I took off my headphones to soak in the experience. Photopass photographers were placed throughout Epcot, and I did my best to strike a pose as I ran past. Some turned out great!
Others not so much!
There were also special Disney characters scattered throughout the course. The lines were a little too long for me personally, but I know lots of runners love to get pictures with these characters that rarely make appearances.
The Finish Line
Just as I was on the final stretch, “I’ll Make A Man Out Of You” played through my headphones.
There were so many spectators who came out to support their loved ones, and I was filled with happiness when I heard them cheering for us runners.
All I could think as I crossed the finish line was, “I did it. I did it. I did it.”
Just 4 years ago, I was bedridden and in the height of my chronic illness. Walking around the grocery store was a challenge, and somehow I was able to do this 10k. I thought I would live the rest of my life in that bed, but here I am. Living.
I wish that I could explain what running has done for my life. It has brought me immense joy and confidence. It lifts my mood without fail, and has made me feel strong for the first time.
This was my very first Rundisney race, but I can assure you that many more are in my future. I can’t wait to run my half marathon in January!