It’s Monday, and I’m back home and into the grind. I thought I’d kick off the week by walking you through my Disney Race experience. I know some of you dear readers are looking forward to your first 5k and want to know what will actually happen. The Disney Race experience is different from many other races simply because it’s Disney. Perhaps I will write a few short recaps of some of the other 5ks to let you know how different they all are!
Friday, I checked in to my resort and took a nap. A great beginning, no? I ended up flying solo this time because we had a sick kid. My wonderful husband stayed home with the kids and I had a couple of days to myself! What a guy! I digress… After my nap, I ate a late lunch (grilled salmon salad) then went over to the “Fit for a Princess” Expo.
The main reason for going to the Expo, is that you are required to pick up your race packet there the night before the race. Sometimes they have late pickup before the race, but I really don’t recommend that. At this particular race, the race packet included a goody bag, race t-shirt, race bib, and various samples of things including a card for 35 free music downloads, technical socks, eye drops, flyers for other races, and other miscellaneous items.
In order to pick up your race packet and goody bag, you must have a waiver signed along with photo identification. This is very important! If you forget to print it out at home, you can print it at the check-in. This is only for Disney races. The actual goody bag this time was just a clear plastic drawstring bag that says “Disney’s Endurance Series” on it. Keep this bag! For baggage check-in before the race, you must use this bag! Also, don’t forget to pick up safety pins when you check-in. You will need 4 to pin your race bib onto the front of your shirt. It is critical that you pin your number on the FRONT. This is how ASI (sports photographer) identifies you in the thousands of pictures they take throughout the race. If you want that finish line photo, put your number on the front!
On the back of your race bib, there is a form for emergencies. You will want to fill this out in ballpoint pen (not a Sharpie!). I also wear my RoadID during races and any other time I’m doing a fitness activity.
The Expo was at the Jostens Center located at the ESPN Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World. This is a fantastic sports complex. They host some spring training games, sports competitions, and all sorts of other sporting events.
I saw a women’s lacrosse game going on, as well as several baseball games, all simultaneously. They also hosted the World Cheerleading Championships. It’s also the Spring Training home of the Atlanta Braves. There is a pretty good sports cafe/bar, as well as several other indoor venues before you see the massive outdoor sports fields.
This whole center has been re-themed and revamped with ESPN’s sponsorship, and it’s definitely for the better. It has a solid sports feel throughout the venue. It’s worth a good walk around it to see everything there.
The race itself started at 7am on Saturday morning. If you were staying on property in a host resort (I stayed at All-Star Movies Resort), it is strongly encourage to take the bus transportation to the race. I always take the bus transportation to the Expo and the races. It saves you from worrying about getting there on time with the road closures and directions. Parking is crazy at the expo, and the bus drops you off right at the entrance, so you’re better off on the bus.
On race day, I set my alarm for 4:30am and had a wakeup call for 4:35am. Disney wakeup calls are very cute with Goofy, Mickey, and a whole lot of craziness to wake you up! I got up, took my meds, took a shower, dressed, stretched, and ate a banana and a Mix1 drink at 5:30 while I walked over to catch the bus to the race. I checked my bag with my sweatshirt in it at 6am. It was cold, so I stretched some more and jogged in place a little while waiting for the start. I placed myself in the slow people corral near the end of the start lineup. I got between the 13-15 min/mile sign and the walkers/strollers sign. This was a pretty good spot for me, since I’m looking to hit a 15-minute mile.
I believe there were about 3500 participants in this 5k, but that’s just a guesstimate. There were a lot of folks there! The first quarter-mile is really crowded while runners begin to sort themselves out according to pace. I think some people are very optimistic about their pace. This does not help anyone to be in an inappropriate corral! Having to run around people is sort of exciting because you’re passing people, but can also be dangerous. Also, runner etiquette is a problem. Racers in groups should not run/walk more than 2 abreast. It’s a huge obstacle when you have 5 people walking together in a line across the route. Don’t do this! New racers do not know some of these things, so do your homework! You will have a much more enjoyable experience that way!
This race started at 7:00am, however, the first start was for racing wheelchairs at 6:58am. Do not be confused by this! The 7am start was marked by a huge countdown and fireworks! You won’t miss a thing!
The course for this race started in the Epcot parking lot, then went around World Showcase, down around Spaceship Earth and the monoliths, then finished up back in the parking lot. Along the route were plenty of characters and great photo opps. That’s one good reason to have a partner for this race, so you can take pictures of each other! Cast members are also readily available to take your picture, too.
Going to the finish line is very exciting! You want to make sure you are putting forth your best effort when you are crossing the line. ASI takes a lot of finish line photos and you need to be doing your very best “Rocky” look for the cameras!
When you cross the finish line, you head toward the volunteers with the finisher medals. They will give you a medal and you will grab some Powerade and/or water, then get in line for an ASI photo opp in front of a nicely themed backdrop. You also have the option to skip that and head right to the food. This time, they had a bag for each runner that included an orange, a banana, and a muffin. Not fabulous, but pretty good.
Remember that the optimum time to refuel after a hard race is within 20-30 minutes post-race. It will reduce your recovery time to a quarter of what you might normally endure. This is the time for a carb/protein combo like a protein shake (like Mix1!) or an apple and handful of almonds. This is important! Okay, after the food line, you can hang out and watch the rest of the finishers, use one of the hundreds of port-a-potties, head back to your resort on the bus, or go to your car. It’s fun to stay and watch the folks behind you and cheer that last person in! Someone has to be last in every race, and one day it could be you! Stay and cheer!
That’s really about it. I had so much fun and can’t wait to go to my next Disney race! Until then, I have a pretty packed schedule over the next 2-3 months! Don’t forget to stay and cheer for the last finisher! They are still a winner!