Checking the weather forecast for the 5k was daunting, but not something that my wife and I weren’t unprepared for. In the days leading up to us leaving we checked Orlando weather and saw that it was going to be really cold so we made sure we packed for all the conditions possible, and thank goodness we did!
We prepped all of our running gear the night before, all the better to be able to roll out of bed and just get dressed, saving precious minutes that early in the morning. Since it was going to be below freezing in all likelihood, a lot of standing around and running at a pace a bit slower than normal for me, I decided to dress warmer than I normally would and elected for a pair of fleece lined running tights, my favourite merino wool long sleeve top, a tee overtop that, then my wind/waterproof running jacket to top all that off. Would finish the look with a merino wool buff, toque and running gloves. Knowing what I’m like once I get moving, I knew I’d be more than warm enough once I got moving…it was just the waiting for the race to start that had me concerned that I might not be warm enough.
The day dawned (or at least started…we were back to the hotel before dawn) at about 3:00 when the alarm went off to wake my wife and I up. Quickly dressing, we headed down to the main lobby of our hotel to grab one of the race-day shuttles to the start area. Very little wait once we got there, we were quickly on a bus and off to the first race of the weekend.
Crowds weren’t too bad at all in the waiting area (this was one of the smaller events, the 5 and 10k only had about 12,000 entrants, compared to the 20-25,000 entrants of the half and full marathons). We picked our way through the crowds to the Athletes With Disabilities tent to wait for the time to head to our corrals to start (we’d follow the wheel athletes to the start line). The tent was unfortunately not heated, but it was a bit warmer than not being in the tent, keeping the slight breeze at bay.
About 4:45 we made the short journey to the starting corral…and this is where I made the first (and only) real mis-step of the weekend. Once we got to the corral areas one of the runDisney volunteers asked if we wanted to continue following the wheelchairs to the start line, or if we wanted to just go to our corral. Without thinking, we decided to go to the corral, not realizing that we could have actually started up front with the rest of the AWD. While it wasn’t a problem in the grand scheme of things, it did mean that this was the only race all weekend when I had to deal with crowding on the course.
Anyone who has done a runDisney race knows there is a lot of hurrying up, getting into position, then waiting for ages for things to start…and this was no different. In place for 4:45, then get to wait for 45 minutes for the actual start of the race. It passed fairly quickly, and luckily wasn’t too terribly cold, so didn’t end up being that unpleasant.
I hadn’t mentioned this yet, but not only was I excited to have my wife guide me for the first time ever in a race, but this would also be her first time running a 5k as well – so lots of excitement that morning!
The 5k course starts (as do all Disney races this weekend) in the Epcot parking lot. You make your way along an access road in the “backstage” area for about the first 2km. You then turn onto the “onstage” area in Epcot in World Showcase, running clockwise around World Showcase, back out of Epcot and to the finish line. Short and sweet course, but it has a really nice amount of “on stage” running and is a decent 5k course.
We started out fairly well, but it was soon apparent that this was going to be a run with a few difficulties. The first one being that, because we both stood around so long in the sub-zero cold and didn’t get to properly warm up, it really hampered our legs abilities to run properly. That also wasn’t a huge issue, since the course was so crowded that I don’t think we could have run as freely as we could have hoped even if our legs were co-operating.
None of that mattered at all really, because when you runDisney, you really need to do it for the fun and experience of running at Walt Disney World and check your competitiveness at the door. These aren’t races to race, these are races to experience, and we definitely did that! We had a great time enjoying the music on course, the sights and sounds of World Showcase and just enjoying running with thousands of other like-minded people. My wife did an amazing job in her first 5k, we had a blast running together in our first race and headed back to the hotel, medals around or necks and dreaming of the hot shower to come.
My kids arrived that morning with my parents, after they got checked in and settled we made the attempt to go to the Magic Kingdom for a few hours in the afternoon, but to make a long story short, it was a disaster, crowds were the busiest I’ve ever seen at WDW, and we walked in the gate, fought our way down Main Street, then basically turned around and walked back out. I wasn’t interested in burning my legs up fighting crowds like that!
10k morning was very close to that of the 5k weather-wise, although it followed the weekend trend of getting incrementally warmer each day. I’d be joined by my friend and previous Disney guide Cheryl, and knew that I’d have a much better opportunity to run the course this morning, so dressed accordingly. I essentially wore the same outfit from the 5k morning (since I never got sweaty at all) minus the jacket, knowing that I’d be chilly waiting for the start, but once I got moving I’d quickly warm up and be fine. I was able to supplement that outfit with a throwaway sweat shirt and windproof shell jacket that my parents had brought for me. Toss a space blanket from the day before over top that and I was actually quite comfortable waiting!
This morning I did something a little different, rather than breaking off to my corral for the start of the race, I followed the rest of the wheelchair athletes to the start line, which allowed me a much less crowded (and stressful) start to my race, which was a really great way to start my race! Cheryl and I even got interviewed by the pre-race entertainment, which was fun!
Race went really well. It again starts in the Epcot parking lot, you essentially go out the other way from the 5k, turning left out of the start rather than right, then running an out and back before you re-join the 5k course, through World Showcase in Epcot, then running out the International Gateway, around the Boardwalk/Yacht Club/Beach Club resort areas, before coming back into Epcot, running through Future World then to the finish.
I found it another really fun, enjoyable race, and it was much easier to run with fewer times being cut off because of the start position. Cheryl is also a great and experienced guide, so it was really nice to run with her again. Legs did have a problem getting moving at the start just because they were so cold, but once they got moving the running was easy. Once more it was race done and back to the buses to the hotel to warm up in a shower.
I knew this day I wasn’t going to even hazard going to a park at all (though I REALLY wanted to) but decided to just hang out at the hotel, lounge in the sun, hit up the hot tub and have a quiet day saving my energy for the big races to come that weekend – and was a lot easier to do than I thought it would! I found a nice bench by the main building in the sun and out of the wind and was nice and toasty warm. Sat there people watching, chatting to a few people that walked past and generally had a really nice day to myself, getting myself ready for the two big days to come….