The day is finally here! My alarm went off at 2:45am. Which is the middle of the freakin night! Every time I am at a Disney race, and my alarm goes off at this insane hour, I always swear that I am going to implement a new sign up procedure - on the day that race sign ups open, I am going to wake up in the middle of the night, and go sit in my driveway for a few hours in the cold. And if I really still want to register, then I can go back into the warm house and do it. However, somehow I always manage to forget how horrid those early mornings are in the instant I cross the finish line and get an awesome medal. I blame Disney and their dang magic :-)
So I got up and got my stuff together and we made it downstairs right around 3:30. Since we were checking out that day, and had lunch reservations at 11:30, we needed to have everything packed up to take with us. We left our suitcases with the concierge in the lobby and went outside. There was a bus waiting for us, and another one waiting right behind it. Thankfully my bus luck has continued for another race! There were about 10-15 people hanging out in the lobby when we got down there, but in the 5 or so minutes it took us to take care of leaving our suitcases, the bus arrived, and the lobby cleared out. I took advantage of the nice warm bus ride to eat my bagel and peanut butter.
All too soon we arrived at EPCOT and made our way to the pre race waiting section. It seemed like there were a lot more people than were here in January, but the races were about the same size, so I am sure the crowds were about the same...unless us Princesses just drag more spectators with us? I hung out there for a little bit and tried to arrange all of my race crap. I opted to skip my iFitness belt and just stick with the pockets in my skirt. I tried to pack light, but still ended up with my inhaler, iPod, headphones, 3 GU, tissues, and my camera. All shoved into 2 pockets :-)
I eventually decided that the lines for the bathrooms were entirely too long to wait in in this area, so I said goodbye to mom, checked my bag and started the trek to the corrals. There were tons of porta potties along the way, and while the lines were fairly long, it was nothing too crazy. I made it into Corral E without any issues and just sat down and tried to stay somewhat warm while I waited. I had sweatpants on under my skirt, and was wearing a long sleeve shirt, but I left my gloves thinking it was not that cold out. By the time I got to my corral I was freezing. Of course, I am a wimp, but still. I should have brought my blanket!
Before long, the Fairy Godmother was there to send us on our way! Each corral had fireworks at the start and there was about 6 minutes between each start. So it took about 25 minutes or so after the "official" start for me to actually cross the starting line.
I think this course is the same as the one in January, but I never remember and tend to not pay very good attention to where I am going. I know: start in the middle of nowhere at EPCOT, run to Magic Kingdom, through castle, along boring road back to EPCOT, up mountain (aka on ramp), into EPCOT, past choir, finish. As far as the specifics, I swear there are things every time that I notice new, but I think they are always there. This time, I remember going through the Ticket and Transportation Center, and there were tons of people on the road and on the monorail ramp, and a mini inverted hill, but I swear I have no recollection of this in January. Sometimes I think I just zone out and run. I am not sure if this is a good thing or a bad :-)
The first few miles of the race are really not too exciting. Carrying everything in my pockets was not working - I was having to stop like every 5 steps and pull my skirt up! It would not be very princess-like to lose my bottoms! I took one GU and my tissues, and put them in the pockets of my sweatpants (and then of course forgot to take them back out when I tossed my pants at mile 3...oops), and carried my camera. I carried my camera for the 5K, so it wasn't too big of a deal, plus I was always ready for a quick picture, and I no longer had to fidget with my outfit so it was win win :-)
Once we made it to the Magic Kingdom parking lot, I had to stop and take a picture!
And thanks to having Garmy with me, I knew that I was keeping well above pace, so I decided that I was going to slow my roll and enjoy the park. As usual the Magic Kingdom was amazing!!! Although, there is some construction going on at (I think) Main Street Bakery. So they have this little fake building like thing set out that covers the sidewalk and goes all the way to the curb. This fake blue house thing was somewhat interfering with the immediate view of Cinderella's castle that you get when you make that first turn onto Main Street. So I jumped over to the left side of the road :-) Must maximize the happiness! I stopped to take a picture in front of the castle before making the turn into Tomorrowland.
Somewhere in between Tomorrowland and Fantasyland I ran into these guys, and the line was short, so I figured I would make another little pit stop!
Just past them, we came back around and could see the back of the castle. They had the trumpet player people up on the top which was cool, and royal Mickey was there just before we ran through. I thought about jumping into that line for a picture, but it was super long, and I was excited to go through the castle...seriously, why is that so awesome? So weird I know! But that tiny mile through the Magic Kingdom is well worth the price of admission :-)
Mom was standing in her usual spot...so as I came down the path out of the castle, I made sure not to be making any doofy faces since I knew there were cameras sitting all over the place right there. But once I made it down the little hill, I went into search mode and practically fell over another photographer sitting on the ground! Oops. I am sure that picture will definitely be a keeper! When I saw mom, I gave her my camera, knowing that the characters out on the road had long lines, and I wouldn't stop anymore anyway. Of course as soon as we turned the corner, Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen were right there with a decently short line, but oh well.
We ran through Frontierland and eventually back out of the park for the journey back to EPCOT. This is the point where I decided I was starving. I had forgotten to take my GU out of my pants pocket, and I had already eaten one, so I was down to one, with 7 miles to go. So I decided to wait until I hit mile 10 to eat it, to try to space things out a little. Ordinarily, towards the end of a race, Chocolate GU is my absolute favorite snack. Its like chocolate cake batter! So yummy! For some reason though, I had to choke it down this time. I have no idea why. I can never stomach any of the fruity flavors, but Chocolate, Chocolate Mint, and Vanilla I am usually good to go with.
Mile 10 is also the point when I ran out of energy (should not have waited to eat that stupid GU, oh well). My legs were killing me! My shins and calves felt great (thanks to my compression socks), but my quads and hamstrings were totally revolting against me for making them do all this running. I still trucked on though :-) And then just as I was making the final turn to head through the EPCOT parking lot into the park, it started to rain!! Cold, misty, miserable rain. It was not really heavy thank goodness, just enough to soak me, annoy me, freeze me, and then stop :-) Figures that this would be the first race ever that I wear a white shirt in! Which thank goodness was fairly thick so no one got any kind of free show!
The final stretch into EPCOT was great! There were lots of spectators cheering, and one lady holding up a sign that said something like "Complete Stranger I am proud of you too!". It was awesome, and she could not have picked a more perfect spot to be. It was a nice little boost to push us through the last mile or so of the race. I have no idea where we wind through the park, lol...I know we make an out and back somewhere, but no idea where. Its part of the 5K course, because I do remember running it the day before, but beyond that who knows. Told you, I am not observant! The best part of EPCOT was having the Fairy Godmother out taking pictures! I have never seen her out on the course, and it figures I did not have my camera, and her line was not all that long. It was just not meant to be. But really, at that point I knew the finish line was super close and was not about to stop running!
Just around the corner was the gospel choir, and they were exceptionally upbeat! They were cheering and giving high fives to runners. They started to sing, but I cannot remember what they were singing - shocking right! It was something I had heard before, and the girls in front of me started singing along...maybe something from Sister Act? Joyful Joyful or Oh Happy Day? Beats me. I booked it past the mile 13 sign (which says "Finish" on it, even though there is clearly another .1 to go...whats up with that?) and down the path of cheering sections to the finish line. I actually remembered to stop my Garmin when I crossed, usually I am wandering around after getting my medal and realize it is still running, but I was watching that bad boy like a hawk, so I managed to stop it at the right time. It was a 3 minute PR, and 17 minutes faster than last years Princess. So that was pretty exciting! Its still no where near being any kind of fast, but at least I am heading in the right direction :-)
I collected my tiara medal, and grabbed some snacks and my checked bag. It had started to rain a little bit at this point, so I grabbed my jacket out of my bag and tried to somewhat organize all of the stuff I was trying to carry before going to look for mom. I shuffled very slowly and painfully out to our meeting spot, and we began the 800 mile trek into EPCOT (it was probably only a couple hundred feet, but my entire body was in pain at this point, so it seemed like the longest walk ever!). Once in the park I changed out of my rained on race clothes so that we could go to Canada and Le Cellier for lunch!
It was accidentally brilliant planning on my part because not only was Le Cellier amazing, but it is also the first country in the World Showcase so I did not have to hobble halfway around the "world". We got there just as they were opening, and all of the servers came out into the little entry waiting area and sang "O Canada". In French. Lovely singing, no idea what they were saying :-) I will google it later!
We sat down and began what is now officially my favorite meal in all of EPCOT, and I have had some good ones!
We started out with the Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup and Pretzel Bread. Whoa yum! I mean, what brilliant human being thought about turning a pretzel into bread and serving it with soup! It tasted like regular soft pretzel, just a little bit thicker, and in the form of a breadstick sort of. I am hungry just thinking about it. There were some other kinds of bread in the basket, but I did not even touch them. I am sure they were equally good though :-)
The restaurant was sort of dark, so my pictures did not come out all that well. You get the idea, but my photography really does not do any of the food justice!
Then we each ordered the Mushroom Filet Mignon. Mom kept the mushroom risotto with hers, and I switched to the cream cheese mashed potatoes. I am not a huge mushroom fan, so I was a little nervous that the risotto would be too much for me. But honestly, it was absolutely amazing. The mashed potatoes were delicious as well, and I am glad we got a chance to try them both, but next time I am sticking with the risotto!
I only ate about half of my meal because I needed to save room for dessert....Maple Creme Brulee! Oh my dear lord it was so amazing!! I thought the Creme Brulee in Les Chefs de France was going to be my all time favorite, but this quickly ousted it! I would have considered licking the bowl if I were at home :-)
After lunch, we rode the bus back to Animal Kingdom Lodge, picked up our suitcases and headed home. Another successful race in the books :-)
I love this race!! I am all about wearing my tiara and being called a princess. Its a shame that it is not appropriate for me to wear my tiara on a daily basis. In fact, I forgot I had it on when I pulled into my parking lot, and got a few strange looks from my neighbors :-) I mean, sure there are always things that could go better, but honestly, for there being 19000 ish runners, I think its a great race. I cannot wait for the next one! No one does it quite like Disney!
I was really lucky and constantly had cheerful and friendly people around me. I did not hear any kind of negativity or snarkyness, which thankfully I have found to be so rare at running events. Oh except at the very end, and I mean the very end. Past the choir and just before hitting the last straightaway to the finish line, we are on a sidewalk, and the sidewalk splits and there is some grass/bushes/nature-like stuff in the middle. I came up on two girls that were walking, and I was already too late to just jump onto the other part of the sidewalk, so I stepped onto the grassy part to go around them. It wasn't a big deal or anything, I just took a step or two of offroading. I was bound and determined to run that last tenth of a mile to the finish. As I passed them, the one girl started yelling something about how they were at the finish and people were having to go around them because she was walking. At first I thought she was yelling at me, so I turned around to get a better look at what was going on, but she was yelling at her friend, who was walking, and did not look very happy. Dude...yelling is not encouragement. Its not nice on any regular day, it is certainly not nice after 13 miles of running - no matter how fast or slow you are moving. This is why I prefer to run on my own. Not that I have friends that would yell at me or anything, and not because I would ever yell at someone else, but this way I do not have to worry about disappointing any one else if I am just not having a good day. Although, for the record, 99.99% of the rest of the runners who were either in groups or alone, were super encouraging to each other. This girl was definitely the exception, not the rule. Thank goodness!
I hope all the people out in cyberspace who are considering running this race (or any other Disney race) in the future can weed through the negativity and complaining that inevitably seems to pop up right after an event and find the great experiences and stories out there that make the race special. I know I am already excited for next year...and cannot wait to see what will be in store for the 5th Anniversary!!!!!