I dream, I test my dreams against my beliefs,
I dare to take risks,
and I execute my vision to make those dreams come true.
Walter Elias Disney
Not very long ago the idea of running even a mile was not something I ever considered doing. I would see TV shows or movies where people talked about why they run and they would say things like “It is what I love.” or “It clears my head”. I would sit in my chair and think these people must be nuts. How on earth could running be enjoyable? Well a couple years ago things changed and I guess I must be a runner because I do “get it”.
Friday morning we woke up to do the 10K. When I signed up for this race a year ago I had just finished my first half marathon with a bone spur and was not even able to run at the time. I guess even then I must have been a runner because I knew once I finished with PT the first thing I was going to do was run again.
So we were under the impression the 10k was not going to have sweepers. Some people had said that volunteers told them they weren’t going to. They were wrong.
The 10k was a comedy of errors. I initially thought I was in the same corral as Bill which I have been every race we have ever run I was not I was in the last corral. Nicole and Bill decided to come back and walk with me so we could have fun and get some great pictures. We get to our corral and move into the start and look back and there are two bright sparkly Mickey balloons. Oh great. They were about ten feet behind us. For those that don’t know there are a few ladies that run most of the Disney races. They are the pacers and keep at a 16 minute per mile pace. If you are not in front of them before some mile markers you are boarded on a bus and driven back to the start where you collect your medal and go home. This is about when I realized I should have brought something to eat as my stomach started growling. I grabbed a nut butter and stuffed it in and hoped it would be enough for the next while.
We got started and with the huge crowd of people over stuffed into the corral it took us a solid 5 mins just to get to the starting line once our corral started. At last years 5k there were 5,000 runners with corrals A-E. This year we have 10,000 runners and the same number of corrals can you say crowded? We finally get out and things start to spread out and wouldn’t you know right about 0.4 miles into the race the balloon ladies saunter past. Crap.
In training, due to my injuries, I have barely kept a 17 min per mile pace. I know if I have a buffer I can finish the race but now I have no buffer. I tell Bill and Nicole to head out because they have a Dopey to finish. The lovely balloon ladies are quite nice but I am currently hating them. They were telling people that there was going to be a big sweep at mile three but then you would be inside the parks and they didn’t know if they would sweep after that. Three miles never seemed like eternity before.
I am a tad ridiculous about my running costumes, as you may know. Well this race we were Mickey and Minnie and we were carrying the giant gloves. Bill had one and I had one. Around mile two I realize I am going to have to have another nut butter if I plan to finish this thing. I am fighting to keep a pace I have never kept before while trying to open the little pack while trying to hold on to the glove. Well that is where I lost the glove. I cussed as I tossed it off to the side.
We hit the mile 2 marker and the balloon ladies are ahead of pace. Of course they are! They just wanted to see if I could keep up with them. They stand off to the side at the mile marker until their 16-minute pace hits and then they start up again. I look down and I have just beaten my Personal best mile by over 40 seconds. Mile 3 was only a few seconds slower then that.
We finally get into the park and I realize there is no chance I can keep up the pace. If they are sweeping in the park there is nothing I can do about it. I slow to a manageable pace and just keep chugging along. There are still several hundred people behind me after mile 3 so I feel good about my chances. I honestly couldn’t tell you what characters stops or even mile markers looked like up to mile 3. I hoped that Bill was taking pictures as he went by. Right at the curve around mile 1 I did see Captain Hook and Smee but then I was just doing my best not to cough up a lung while I chased the balloon ladies. Being sick definitely wasn’t increasing my pace.
One of the reasons I run Disney is because I really love running through the parks and seeing the characters. At some point when I can actually run more then a couple of months without injury I hope to run fast enough to stop for some character photos. Once in the park I saw Genie in Morocco, Then Football Goofy on the Boardwalk by ESPN.
The back of the pack runners are some of the coolest people. I chatted with several different people and we all have our own stories. I swear I am going to bring our GoPro to one of these races and do race interviews with the last 100 people to finish the races. We all chugged along around the Boardwalk. Once we got a substantial way around I looked across the water and still saw people entering the Boardwalk area from Epcot so I knew I still had a lead on the sweepers if they were picking people up. The miles around the Boardwalk were a lot of fun. I haven’t run through that area before and so it was nice to run somewhere new. Around mile 6 we headed back into Epcot and I saw Dale standing off to the side about to leave. I used the last burst of energy I had to run ahead and hollered to please wait. Dale stopped and grabbed his handler and they waited for me. I was able to get my very first character shot on course and I will always adore Dale for waiting.
I was finally getting close to the finish line and the finish line for most of the Disney races I have done is the same area coming out of Epcot and into the Epcot parking lot. I started running as much as I could and had a great finish line photo. Come to find out I was less then two minutes behind the balloon ladies. It was a great course and I love the medal. I knew I had the Half the next day which was my priority for the weekend so I was just glad I finished. After crossing the finish line Bill was waiting off to the side for me and walked with me through to pick up my medal and to see a few other friends that had run as well. We decided not to wait for a photo with Minnie because the line was insane so we headed back to the hotel for showers and ice baths.
All in all I loved the race. I know I need to work on my speed but I am glad I was able to finish. I would absolutely do this race again without any hesitation.
And here is what Bill has to say - It was day two of the four-day Dopey Challenge - so going into the 10K I was 25% done (unless you look at the mileage in which case I was all of 6.38% done). The 10K was scheduled to start at 5:30 so we had to get up a bit earlier than the day before to get ready. We also decided to take the Disney bus so we had to be out in front of the resort no later than 3:30am. It is a good thing that we worked on moving our schedule before we left the west coast or we would have gotten up before we normally go to sleep.
The Start line always looks so calming when there is no crowd of 10,000 people waiting to run.
When we went to the staging area we met up with some of our friends doing the Dopey, Niki and Nicole and saw Anna and her family for a moment. After hanging out for a while it was time to move into the corals which is when we realized that Leslie was in coral E not D with Nicole and me. Since we were all going to walk the 10 I suggested that we just go back to E with Leslie (you can move back in corals, just not forward). As we were waiting to start, we turned around and realized that there were balloon ladies not far from where we were standing. Well that is going to change things.
Getting swept was just not an option for Nicole and I – if we did we would not get our Dopey, so when Leslie said we should go, we did. Nicole was recovering from an injury so she could not really run much so for the first few miles we continued to look over our shoulders and ran some here and there to keep ahead of the balloons and the sweepers.
The course was very different than the 5K – when we got to the edge of the parking lot we turned left instead of right and head out the entrance to the parking area and then turn on Epcot Center Drive and head back towards the other side of the park. Shortly after mile 3 we were off the road and heading back into the backstage area by Test Track. I texted Leslie again and asked if I should wait, she did not want me to incase they were sweeping so I continued on with Nicole.
When we did the other races Leslie always wanted pictures of the mile marker signs, so I guess I got trained to. I would stop and take pictures and then catch up with Nicole again.
When we went by Germany I looked, but Dopey was not there this time, so we continued on. We exited the out the International Gate and I stopped for my only character pictures this race – with Genie. We then did the boardwalk loop before heading backstage in Epcot reentering the park by the Journey with Imagination ride.
I did manage to trade pins during the 10K. I got a Fast Pass pin (hoping me that I could just skip ahead to the finish of the Marathon). It is interested to note that this was the “inaugural” Dopey, however it was the “inaugurual” 10K as noted on Leslie’s bib.
Overall the 10K was a lot of fun and I felt good that I was 50% done (unless you are one of those people that care about mileage in which case it was only 19.14%).