We woke up at 3am on race day to get ready. It was very early and we were pretty bleary eyed, but we got energized fast because we were excited!
The night before we picked up whole grain bagels and peanut butter from Panera Bread to have for breakfast. We packed a little bag with these along with some bananas and water to eat once we got to the start line - we knew we'd have plenty of down time before we started.
There was a long line waiting for the buses at the hotel, but it only took about 10 minutes for us to get on the bus. Once at Epcot there was a little party set up, complete with DJs and vendors, to entertain the Princesses until they were ready to race! We had our breakfast and then made a quick bathroom stop, and then began the trek to the start corrals. Lots of people complain that you have a roughly 20-minute walk to the start line for all Disney races. I didn't think it was that bad and actually enjoyed the chance to warm up my cold muscles a little bit. They also warn you about it in advance so you'll be prepared.
Pete was placed in Corral D and I was allowed to drop back from my corral to join him so we could start together. We had about a 45 minute wait from the time we got to the corral before our start, so we sat on the ground and enjoyed listening to the music and to the race officials interview various Princesses. We had worn some long sleeve shirts over our race clothes that we planned to discard (race volunteers pick these discarded clothes up and donate them to charities), so those kept us warm. It was 50 degrees, so really not that cold, but we were glad to have them anyway.
At 5:45am, the wheelchair racer started. Not long after, Corral A, Corral B, then Corral C...and all of a sudden, we were at the start line!
Fairy Godmother started us off with the words, "Shalamazoo, Menchickaboo, 3...2...1...GO!" And we were off, with fireworks and everything!
Pete had told me ahead of time that he was sure I would speed off at the start and leave him alone, but I decided to stay right there with him to control my pace and hopefully avoid some leg pain. It wasn't long before we saw the first sideline entertainment - a high school marching band! It was really cool that those kids came out at that ridiculous hour of the morning to support all the racers. We high-fived them as we ran past!
A little while later, we came across a pirate ship where Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbosa were posing for pictures! They were also playing the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack, which I find incredibly motivating, so I really enjoyed the stretch of road where we could hear the music!
I remember looking at Toby at various points and thinking, "Wow, I've ran half a mile and my legs don't hurt yet...Wow, we've run a mile and a half and haven't had to stop and walk... Oh my goodness, we made it to three miles and we still haven't walked!" After the 3-mile mark, I stopped looking at Toby and being shocked that we hadn't walked yet. We were running along a stretch of highway that led to the Magic Kingdom and on our way we saw all the villains posing for pictures - Malificent, the Queen of Hearts, Evil Stepmother and Stepsisters, Cruella DeVille, etc. - and also saw all the Disney princes! They were fun to look at but we were focused on our run so we didn't stop for any pictures. I did carry my camera with me for the entire race, but I didn't end up with many photos that weren't super blurry since I kept moving the whole time. Any high quality photos in this post are professional event photos from Brightroom Photography!
It seemed like no time at all when we came upon the entrance to the Magic Kingdom! I got really excited at that point!
Running through those gates was so much fun and at this point I forgot about distance completely. I only checked Toby occasionally for pace and to see if we were at the castle yet, because I knew that would be between miles 5 and 6. It was a long time after running through the gates when we actually came through a back entrance to the Magic Kingdom and suddenly we were on Main Street USA! That was really exciting and I couldn't wipe the grin off my face! I knew my mom was going to be here watching us so I ran close to the side near the spectators, and then we saw her! She snapped a picture as we were running by and gave us high fives!
Then came the very best part - running through Cinderella's castle! Mickey and Minnie were there waving and high-fiving the runners, and trumpeters on the balcony heralded our arrival! It was definitely one of the most fun experiences I've ever had.
We ran through Tomorrowland and Frontierland, spotting Jessie and Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story on the way.
Far too soon we were out of Magic Kingdom, and this is when I started paying more attention to the distance. I was still feeling good and told myself I wouldn't take a walk break until we at least passed 6.55 miles, the halfway point. Around 7 miles I knew I was ready for a short break and I also wanted to eat the Gu I was carrying in my pocket. Pete said he didn't want to walk so I told him to keep going. I ate my Gu pretty quickly and could see Pete easily in front of me, so I decided to speed up a little to catch him! This actually proved to be very easy because right at this point there were speakers playing Stronger by Kelly Clarkson, which has been my theme song of late, so it gave me the extra push I needed!
From that point on we were retracing our steps back to Epcot and saw lots of the same characters we had already seen, like Jack Sparrow and the princes.
At mile 7.5, Pete and I both said that we had reached our tired point. We started taking walk breaks for a minute or so every time we passed a water station so we could drink our water and recover a little bit. We kept trucking along, and it was around mile 10 that I really started to get tired.
I don't remember what characters we saw from that point on, but I do remember that we hit 10 miles in under 2 hours and I was incredibly excited about that! I knew that my 2:30:00 goal was within reach, but I was feeling so tired I was wondering if I had enough left in me to speed through the last 30 minutes. I decided not to worry about the total time, because the overall run had been so amazing and so good for me that I was proud no matter what my finish time. Pete probably could have sped up and finished in 2:30:00, but he was a sweetheart and stayed with me so we could cross the finish line together.
At miles 10 or 11 there are some exit ramps you run up, which are pretty steep hills. I wasn't too worried about them because I trained on a lot of hills in my neighborhood and the rest of the course was very flat, but after you've already run 11 miles, a big hill is the last thing you want to see! We made it up the hill and back into Epcot, and I didn't pay attention to hardly any of the sights in Epcot as we made our way to the finish line. I do remember passing Fairy Godmother, but I was entirely focused on getting to that finish line!
About a tenth of a mile out from the finish, I spotted my mom and she waved us on and snapped another photo! That was energizing and gave me the last little boost I needed.
Pete and I crossed the finish line at 2:34:40, hand in hand!
We were exhilarated but exhausted! We took time to pose for a few pictures, and then we loaded up on bananas, Powerade, and snack boxes and got in line to take the bus back to the hotel! It was definitely time for a shower and a nap!