“I am on my way
I can go the distance
I don’t care how far
Somehow I’ll be strong
I know every mile
Will be worth my while
I would go most anywhere to find where I belong”
Lyrics from “Go the Distance” from the Disney movie Hercules, just one of many Disney songs on my runDisney playlist.
I’ve never been a big runner, I’ve done it on and off for years. I’ve even done a couple of races here and there but they were always “fun with friends” never anything competitive. A couple of years ago, I decided to pick it back up again. AND I decided I was going to sign up for the runDisney Princess 5k! Since I was in no way shape or form yet to be competitive, I decided this was going to be just for fun and a Disney experience I haven’t had yet.
I was online and ready to go the day registration opened. I had already booked my room at POP Century Resort and I had my Annual Pass. As soon as I hit submit, I was over the moon excited. Well, the excitement waned. It ebbed and flowed and I never really “trained”. “It’s going to be ok” I kept telling myself. And you know what? It was!
runDisney races are comprised of many elements. They are spaced out over a long weekend in many of their parks. The 5K starts on Friday with the 10K and Marathons taking place on Saturday and Sunday. There are also kid’s races on Friday and Saturday. The Expo starts on Thursday as runners have to pick up packets in person. The Expo is held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex located on Disney property. When you arrive at the Complex you will see signs directing you to packet pick up and to the exhibit hall. If there is anything you forgot at home to make your race a success, you will find it here!
I headed down on a Thursday morning for my first Princess Weekend. We checked into our room and headed for the Expo. You have to go to 2 different buildings, The Fieldhouse to pick up your number and the J Center for your t-shirt. This is also where the Expo is. Packed with everything from running shoes, shirts, running skirts, headbands, powerbars and more you are sure to find the perfect souvenir to take home. With my packet in hand on Thursday afternoon, we decided to head to Disney Springs for a stroll and back to the resort for a light dinner. I was concerned about breakfast the following morning as I had to be up so early for the bus. While having dinner at Everything Pop, I found a Marathon Power pack that contained a bagel, peanut butter, blueberries, raisins, banana and a Special K snack bar. Perfect! I was set. We were back in the room pretty early. I was terribly concerned I would oversleep and miss the bus plus I wanted to be well rested
My alarm was set for 4:00am. For this 5K it was recommended you be on your bus by 5:00am to make it to your corral on time. I made my way to the bus stop around 4:45. There were quite a few people there but we all got on the next bus that arrived. We were being whisked away to Epcot! I should inject here that I have a bit of a crowd phobia. Normally I am fine at Disney, but this was different. I was alone and didn’t know what to expect. Running with thousands of my new friends all alone? Whew, it was a big step for me.
We arrived at Epcot right around 5:30 and I made my way to the party!! Music, strobe lights, characters and more. The was so much to see and do! Again since I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t hop in line to meet the characters. I know now, that I would have had plenty of time for this and will do it in November for the Wine and Dine 5k! I danced a little, sang a little, spoke to other runners and admired everyone’s costumes! Before I knew it, the time to corral up was upon me. I stayed towards the back, for some space and my sanity, stretching and setting up my run app on my phone. I was getting more and more excited and not to mention brave as I moved up in the corral a little. Soon it was time for my corral to go off. I had seen the countdown and fireworks for the others but to be standing there ready to go was so exhilarating. WE WERE OFF!
I was terribly afraid I was going to hold people up, be stuck in a big mob or just freeze. But it was wonderful. Everyone was cheering each other on. Men and women of all ages, and even some kids. There was a lady who survived breast cancer running her first race. A young lady with her grandmother who was running her 25th race. A gentleman who had lost 200 pounds running his 2nd race. A group of girlfriends running for their friend who lost her battle and could not be there this time. So many wonderful stories out there, it brought me to tears. Don’t be afraid to speak to other runners, you just might find some extra inspiration out there!
I had a good pace starting off. I will say, there are a few tight spots as you make your way backstage at Epcot and it is hard to bob and weave around other runners/walkers. There were also a few spots I had to walk because of the crowds. I think if you are at the front of your corral this will not be an issue. I didn’t stop for character pictures but I did slow down for a few backstage pictures, selfies along the way and got some AMAZING shots of the sun rising over World Showcase. That’s not something you see everyday! As you make your way to the finish line, you begin to hear upbeat music pumping thru the parking lot and the cheers from the spectators. As you round the bend to the finish line you are welcomed by cast members clapping, grandstands along the finishing stretch cheering and congratulating you. After crossing the finish line, there are many volunteers and cast members passing out medals, drinks and power boxes containing post-race snacks. There were also tables of fruit and sports drinks to pick up. The lot is well marked for you to find your bus back to your resort following the race.
I can admit without a doubt that I am HOOKED! Disney does a fantastic job providing a fun and safe environment even for solo runners. From beginning to end, it was an experience I will never forget and one of my favorite things I have ever done on property! I have since completed a Wine & Dine 5k, the Castaway Cay 5K, a Summer Series and I am currently booked for the 2018 Princess 10k!!! Dates, registration and any other race information you may need can be found at http://www.rundisney.com/ and don’t forget to contact us at Wishes Travel to book your resort for the race! See ya at the finish line!