Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Running Disney...

Wow...this is one seriously overdue post! I can't believe its taken me this long to write about what was such a seriously important moment in my life. Shame on me...hope this was worth the wait. :)

On January 17 I fulfilled a goal I had set for myself almost a year ago....I competed in my first organized running event. The Neverland 5k event at Disneyland as part of the Tinkerbell 1/2 Marathon weekend. And I finally got to take a selfie where I was sweating, smiling and holding up my first (non-metal) race medal.


Sheesh...talk about starting at the end of a story...let's go back to the beginning shall we?

When I first set this goal I did so figuring there could be no better incentive to train for a 5k event than having to vacation in Disneyland to complete it. Little did I know how amazing (and inspiring) it would be.

A full account of our trip to Southern California deserves a separate post...and will get one...so this one will be all about my run.

I had heard nothing but amazing things about all the runDisney events.  Not only about how much fun they are but also how seamlessly organized and executed they are. I would have expected nothing less from a company like Disney...

Before we departed I was feeling more than a little apprehensive about the run.  The Christmas holidays had seriously interfered with my training program (and my eating habits) and so by the time Thursday night rolled around (the night before the day that would be) I was really getting anxious.

I laid out my running costume and set my alarm for the god-awful time of 5:00am.


And then I tried to sleep. Try being the operative word. By the time the alarm actually went off I think I had had about 3 hours total. I suppose the adrenaline had already kicked in though because I jumped out of bed, dressed quickly and left my sleeping family behind in the hotel room.

Okay...the costume. I was pretty excited about getting to dress up like Snow White for the run.  I found the perfect inspiration on Pinterest, ordered my Team Sparkle skirt, purchased my bright blue tank top and red velvet bow for my hair.  I decided the sleeves and collar were a little above my sewing ability (and I really wanted to make this all myself)  so thought I would make do with the cape.

 I have to admit I was only somewhat satisfied with the result. I think the sleeves and collar were actually pretty key components and I should have at least attempted them. Also...the girl on the left is just a teeny bit smaller than me. Making my expectations slightly unrealistic.

No matter though...because the one thing I did have that my Pinterest inspiration did not...was a super duper awesome bib with my name and number on it. Another first....


So with my race bib secured, a bow in my hair and a spring in my step I made my way over to Disneyland...along with several hundred other similarly dressed zombies.  It felt very odd to be walking into Disneyland Park so early in the morning. It was hard to keep the smile from my face.



just noticed the old dude in the plaid shirt behind me. Wonder what his finishing time was?



There were so many people...the excitement was infectious. For a few moments I even forgot that I was about to run a race distance I had only completed successfully once before.

No matter...because Disney was about to do one of the things that Disney does best. They took it up a notch...



 Yup...that's Tinkerbell herself soaring over our heads with the castle in the background. Oh...and some fireworks.  Because...you know...it's Disneyland for crying out loud!

As the smoke cleared...it was go time and my nerves returned. It was around this point that I really wished I had a running partner with me. I was one of the very few that didn't and I must admit I was feeling a little lonely.  As my corral moved closer to the start line I focused my thoughts on the task at hand.  And before you can say Neverland...we were off and I crossed my first start line...

And I was running through Disneyland. It was so freaking AMAZING! I took at a left at Sleeping Beauty's castle, went around the Matterhorn, past It's a Small World and then we were behind the scenes and running past the buildings where all the work is done. And all along the way Disney staffers were lining the route shouting encouragements and giving high fives. It was awesome.

Even more awesome? The fact that I was running and not feeling tired. The fact that I had to weave in and out of the walkers so that I wouldn't have to stop. The fact that when I eventually did have to stop because the course narrowed I was slightly annoyed.

As the route came back into the park I passed by Captain Hook and Smee taking photos with the runners. But I didn't want to stop...I wanted to keep running. Then I passed by a band of pirates offering photo opps. Same thing.

Finally...around the 2 mile marker I had to walk for a bit. And grabbed a water.  And took a few more photos.
"No no...Disneyland Third Shift Custodial...THANK YOU!"


The sun was rising by the time I made my way to front of Disneyland Park. I could see that some spectators were lining the fences to cheer on the runners and my heart leapt at the prospect of seeing my family.  I checked the time and figured it was unlikely as they were probably on their way to the finish line. And then...there they were.

I was so happy to see them there that I instead of capturing the moment on my camera I just lived it instead. It was energizing...

I kept going and found myself in a tunnel going under the main entrance way. Now I'm going to put it out there that I think putting the only uphill portion of the course at the 4.5 km mark is a little cruel. But it was a nice excuse to walk for a bit.

Also - I figured I needed to slow it down a bit to make sure my family had time to get to the finish line before me. so I walked with a lovely older couple and chatted about the race and the weather, etc.  Then I stopped for a few photo opps in California Adventure Park.




And then I put it into high gear and headed over to Paradise Pier where my very first finish line was waiting for me. Not even a chance for a photo with Peter Pan himself could deter me from me goal. I could see that archway....my goal was just a few feet away.


I crossed the line and checked my Runtastic app for my results. I was pretty much speechless. Not only was a personal best but I blew my old times out of the water.

All of my bobbing and weaving around the walkers had turned my 5k into an almost 6k and I completed it in just over 40 minutes. Seriously?

At that point someone put my first medal around my neck, someone else handed me a Powerade and a banana and I spotted my  mum on the sidelines. I made my way over to her, she hugged me and told me how proud she was of me and as she did that the realization of what I had just accomplished started to dawn on me.

Yes I had run almost 6km and done it in a time that surprised everyone. But more importantly I followed through on something that was just for me. I set a personal goal and I achieved it. And I did so despite pulled hip flexors and busy schedules and bad weather.  It was a very good feeling indeed.

And to have my family there to see me accomplish it made the feeling that much sweeter.

blurry picture due to my shaking hands...
After getting my official "race finisher" photo taken and eating that banana somebody handed me it was time to bid adieu to the Neverland 5k experience.

And it was over to the IHOP for all you can eat pancakes. They were the BEST. PANCAKES. EVER! (I may have been a little hungry...)  And then it was back into the park for the day. Because run or no run...there were 3 little girls with us that had roller coasters to ride and princesses to meet.

And there you have it. My first race report is in the books. Thanks runDisney for the magical experience...it was the perfect first race for me and I know I will be back. The Tinkerbell Half Marathon in 2015 seems a good goal to set.

See you then Tink...

One last thing... I almost registered for the 10K event but decided to stick with my original goal.  I have to tell you seeing all the runners the next day with their beautiful (and shiny because they were actually metal) medals was serious motivation to run the longer distance next time.  Everyone told me that the first 5k was the hardest. I think I know what they mean....


1 comment:

  1. Woo Hoo!!!! So excited to be reading this post. What an incredible thing to accomplish! Looking forward to reading about your next one

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