Today is 5k day. The first of 4 running days making up the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend and the Dopey Challenge. That thing we’ve been training for, that thing I really wanted to do again for some unknown reason, well that thing starts here.
Before we fell into bed after Expo day we got sorted. I woke up at 1am again but dozed off for the alarm to wake me at 2.30. We are still pretty much on UK time so it really didn’t feel that bad. We had a drink in bed and a bagel we’d picked up yesterday. They were dry though so not that nice. Normally I wouldn’t eat anything before a 5k but as we had to be there such a long time before actually running I didn’t want to be really hungry by the time I set off. We got on the first coach at 3.30 and tried to find our inner zen. It was cold! I had planned on long sleeves anyway but I was so glad I decided to wear the official 5k t-shirt over the top. I was still cold.
From the coach parking area we walked a short distance to the security, we didn’t have bags so walked pretty much straight in. I remember last time we did Dopey I was completely overwhelmed on half marathon day because I’d presumed the crowds would be the same as for the 5 and 10k races so I must remember that things will step up significantly on Saturday. Anyway, in the waiting area they had characters for pictures but the lines were really long and we didn’t want to stand in a queue for half an hour minimum. We went to the loo. Event organisers take note – no queues! There were sooooo many loos. We found a bench and huddled together trying to keep warm and watched people and listened to the DJ until it was time to move on to the corrals. There were only 3 for this race and we were in B. It was actually nice to be in a crowd, it made it quite a lot warmer.
We went through about 4.30am and waited and waited some more. The hosts, presenters, whatever you call them did a pretty good job of entertaining us. Just before 5.30 there was the usual National Anthem and then we were off. Once we started moving from the corral it seemed to just move along ok. It probably took us just over 20 minutes to cross the line. They released little mini waves from within each corral at two minute intervals. So, I thought as I came to the line, this is it, Dopey her we go.
The run was amazing. The first couple of hundred metres were a bit stop/start and very slow because people were still clustered together and many were walking but it soon thinned out and people found their pace. I settled in. I had no idea how fast I was running at all. I didn’t care. I felt good and the pace felt comfortable. We made our way out of the Epcot parking lot and into the backlot entrance and then into the park. There is something truly magical about seeing Epcot in the pre-dawn darkness. I was in danger of being overwhelmed again but instead I realised I was grinning like the Cheshire Cat. We ran a chunk of the world Showcase and turned left after France and round a little backlot and came out in the UK. I don’t even remember now what the music was but I was humming along as I ran.
There were quite a few characters on the route but I didn’t want to stop, I was having too much fun running and soaking it all up. We turned towards Future World and the ‘golf ball’ looked spectacular as we did a loop away from it before returning and exiting the park into the parking lot and across the finish line. I know I loved the 5k last time too but this was even better. It was easy running, I was just having fun, running confidently and comfortably, not worrying about pace or anything. It was the perfect start.
We picked up our medals. I love the Oswald medal. Obviously I haven’t seen the others properly yet but I think this one might actually be my favourite. Again, race organisers take note, there was lots of space, there were lots of volunteer to first give you the medal, then water and Powerade, then space blankets, then snack boxes and bananas. Once we’d got all that we headed for the buses and encountered a rare Disney logistics fail. The buses could not depart until all runner’s had started and cleared the parking lot section of the race. This seemed idiotic. We waited longer for a bus than it had taken us to run. We had thought about going straight to the animal kingdom which opened at 8am this morning but there was no way of doing that. Given that we had to go to a Resort first we thought we might as well dump our stuff and get changed.
We had a lovely morning in the Animal Kingdom and then came back to the hotel. We’re both really tired and are trying to stay off our feet. Today’s a 21000 step day, that’s very light for a Disney theme park day. Apart from being cold pretty much all day, today has been a great day with lots of fun and smiles. Anxiety levels crept up a little as I got more tired later in the day and I had a few really self-conscious moments today too but overall another really good day. I’m about ready for sleep (it’s about 8pm) and ready for another 2.30am alarm. 10k tomorrow. We are all set. I’m excited about it and a little nervous but really only a little.