Last spring, I was heavy into speed work, eating healthy, strength training and set a huge goal for the WDW 10k race. I decided to “just” register for the 10k (we need a better word for that, “just” and “only” sound so negative and dismissive) because I wanted to run it FAST. If you are a regular reader, you know that my summer did not work out as expected and my weight went up and I got slower. My training was sporadic between work, Eli’s hospitalization and the whole family suffering from the #Plague2014. Recovering from the virus/flu was harder than I expected and my last “long” run before this race was only 4.3 miles and I felt awful. So instead of shooting for a sub 9 minute mile pace for the 10k, I was just hoping to be able to finish. Having run both the Wine & Dine Half and Space Coast Half just a little over a month ago, it was frustrating to have my endurance so low but I was determined to get out there and walk the stupid race if I had to!
We were staying at Port Orleans Riverside and I walked to the bus stop around 3:15 am. The main bus stop had four buses waiting and I was the first person on the first bus (I guess the 10k runners aren’t as gung ho to get on the buses as early as the half marathoners).
It did fill up very quickly and headed off to the Epcot parking lot. I hadn’t even looked at the race course, so I was expecting to head to Wide World of Sports instead! It was very chilly, but I had a really thick throw away jacket (runDisney collects them and donates them to charity).
Unlike the last few half marathons I’ve run at runDisney, there were no characters out for photos before the race. They did have several coffee and breakfast/snack vendors out which was really nice. I got a coffee since I forgot to grab my Diet Mtn Dew.
There were some picnic tables set up, so I sat at one and drank my coffee and ate my Clif Bar for breakfast. I met a really nice runner (I never got her name) who I chatted with for a while (practicing my “being outgoing” skills!).
I headed to my corral (A!) early and bundled up in my jacket with the hood up. Apparently in Corral A, people do a lot of running before the race. There were lots of runners doing laps in the corral even an hour before the start. And I was freezing, so it was almost painful to see the guys in singlets and shorts, the girls in tanks and tiny skirts and worst of all, the girl running in a sports bra and tiny shorts. I get running in less clothes because you warm up, but this was before the race! Brrrr…
I set my Garmin to do 5 minute run/1 minute walk intervals. I don’t usually use walk intervals for anything less than a 15k, but my training runs had been so tough I didn’t want to have a miserable experience. Corral A never really filled up, and before I knew it we were heading out to the start line. After a moment of silence for our soldiers and the singing of the national anthem, the fireworks went off and we started running. Corral A also starts running before the start line. In later corrals, people don’t seem to run until they hit the start mats!
I made sure to position myself towards the back of the corral because I knew I wasn’t as fast as I’d hoped to be for this race and I didn’t want to slow anyone down. I was surprised that even at an 11 minute/mile pace I was passing quite a few people in the first few miles. It made me feel a little better about staying in A instead of dropping back a corral. Pretty early in the race, they had Anna and Elsa up on an overpass. I think it was the same location as in the Enchanted 10k last February.
The first half of the course is all parking lot and roadway and would be kind of boring if runDisney didn’t keep up the energy with lots of music and characters. Although my Garmin was set for 5 minute run/1 minute walk intervals, I was feeling pretty good so I didn’t stop for any walk intervals. I kept my pace around the 11 minute/mile range hoping I’d be able to maintain that the whole way.
I didn’t stop for any characters all along the roadway or even when we entered Epcot and ran through the World Showcase. I just adore running through Epcot. Ok, ok, I love running through all the parks!
We looped back out of the park and then ran along the BoardWalk and I saw a short line and Mickey Mouse in a football uniform! I had to stop. The lines for Mickey Mouse are usually just huge. I guess being in Corral A and not stopping for photos or potties was paying off!
I probably waited about four minutes for my photo and then started running again. We went back into Epcot and ran through Future World and then I saw my all time favorites! I just had to stop for a quick photo and I always give Chip a little peck on the cheek because he’s my favorite (don’t tell Dale!).
Somehow I got this huge burst of energy and just sprinted to the finish line from there. I think I was just so excited that I was feeling so good despite my recent horrible training runs. I passed a ton of people in that last half mile and loved crossing the finish line. Right as I was crossing, I heard the announcer say that Jeff Galloway was finishing and I turned to my left and sure enough, we’d finished right at the same time! Most epic finish line photo ever!
I’m even on the runDisney 10k highlights video because they were showing Jeff finish and I was just a few steps ahead of him. You can see me at 1:03!
After getting my medal, I hung back a minute to chat with Jeff and (as always) he was so generous and welcoming. I spoke to him about the advice he gave during a meet-up last year about using positive mantras and statements when you’re feeling tired or discouraged on the course. For example, if you’re feeling like you’re running out of steam, you should say (to yourself or out loud) “I’m feeling strong!” or “I’ve got plenty of energy!”. It sounds strange, but I’ve tried it and it really works! It was great to speak with him for a few minutes and to get that famous Jeff Galloway hug.
The buses were already lined up and I was able to hop right on one to head back to Port Orleans Riverside. I caught up with my family and we grabbed some delicious breakfast. I finally got the Mickey Waffle I’ve been craving for an entire year. And it was as delicious as I remembered!
Overall, I think this was a really fun and well done race. I liked that the last half is in Epcot. They had a good number of characters on the course. Being in Corral A was just amazing. I really loved how uncrowded the course was and getting to finish so early. Now I just need to step up my training so I can “earn” that coral placement in my future races (I’m looking at you Wine & Dine). I didn’t finish in my time goal (sub one hour) but I am so pleased with how well it went and I still plan to meet that goal this year (soon!).