The Road to the 5k
aka What Was I Thinking
It’s hard to believe that it was only two weeks ago that I was on a plane with Bob and Zack for a whirlwind trip of a lifetime. I mean who flies across the country just to be a part of something known as Tower of Terror Weekend? Apparently if you live in my house or in the houses of every other Disney Gal, that’s exactly what you do-you jump on a plane and go. Bob, in fact was supposed to be at his brother’s wedding that weekend but thanks to Kirsten and the magical team at Tink’s, he too was WDW bound.
So many incredible, first time experiences happened for us in those magical 4 days. First, foremost and always, it was the first time all of the Disney Gals had ever been together! MNSSHP, the Mom’s Panel Luncheon, Food and Wine Festival at Epcot and yes, the now infamous “What was I thinking when I signed up for this event” The Happy Haunted 5k Trail Fun Run. I am not a runner, truth be told I am more of a walk with purpose kind of gal but as we all know, I will do anything for a tee shirt-it is always about the tee shirt so far be it from me to pass up a chance to add to my tee shirt collection. But in my mind, how hard could this really be? I mean small children and people much older than I did these types of things all the time so of course I was sure this would be a piece of cake. After all, it was called a Fun Run so it had to be easy right?
The day before the race, we boarded the race buses at the POR, one of the host hotels to head off to Expo to pick up our coveted race numbers. Expo was huge with information everywhere for the ‘real runner”. I must admit to be a tad disappointed that while there were tons of jackets, hats, tees, sweats and everything in between for those participating in the Tower of Terror 10 Miler that night, for us, the pickings were very slim. Along with your race bib, you are given a bag to put your belongings in for the day of the race, and they gave us our tee shirt right then and there! My family tried to convince me that since I had the tee shirt already, there was now no need to do the actual race, but now the motivation had changed from the tee shirt, to the Mickey Medal that was waiting for me as I crossed the finish line. Once we were done at Expo, it was off to MNNSHP for a night of scares, dares, screams and Boo to You. Two important things worth mentioning here: 1) NEVER wear a Cheshire Cat fleece blanket sleeper Halloween Costume to MNSSHP in Orlando at the end of September and 2) Don’t stay out at MNSSHP until 1:00am when you have to be up at 4:00am to catch the race transport over to ESPN Wide World of Sports.
4:00 am came VERY early the next day, and I must admit, at one point I was ready to cave, crawl back under the covers and go back to bed but I knew in the end that I had come all the way to Florida to do this race and this race I was going to do! Like everything Disney does, race morning is a well-oiled, fine-tuned machine. The buses ran every ten minutes and once arriving at the starting line, the excitement as well as the sheer terror of what we were about to do really set in. After posing for prerace pictures with the main Mouse himself, Mickey, it was time to head to our starting corral. Racers were divided into one of 5 starting corrals and to this day, I am still not quite sure how we ended up in corral A with the elite runners but in the grand scheme of things, it was the perfect place for us. After a 15-minute or so delay while waiting for the sun to come up, the guns were fired and we were off on the “run” of our lives.
Each race corral was released to start approximately every 5 minutes. The course led you through the Wide World of Sport Complex and out into the back, muddy woods. In our case, this worked out perfectly as by the time we had passed the one-mile marker, we could hear that the third group was just leaving the starting line. Along the way there were characters to pose with, pirate ships to play on, gravediggers offering to bury you broken dead corpse and just plain fun around each and every turn. At no point did it ever seem like an insurmountable feat. It literally was just a fun, casual 5K stroll in the park. After about 45 minutes, we found ourselves emerging from the woods with the cheer of the crowd’s audible in the distance. You could feel that the end was within your grasp.
The feeling we had coming through the gates back into the complex and rounding the track for that last half mile must be what any Olympic marathon runner feels-only better! The yells of the crowds, Mickey waiting for you at the finish line, the overwhelming emotion of “I DID IT” as they put the medal around your neck-the feeling and sense of accomplishment knowing that you just checked off one of your Bucket List items-and you had a blast doing it-it just doesn’t get any better than that. Thank Run Disney for showing me to believe in the possibilities and to truly live my dreams! I think I may even give the Princess a shot in February-and no, there still will be no bows or tutus on this Gal.