This isn’t your typical race recap because this wasn’t your typical race.
Long story (kind of) short…my foot started hurting three days before the race. My stress fracture foot. Not necessarily a pain, but definitely a noticeable sensation that I couldn’t ignore. After two months of regular exercise I was shocked and discouraged that I could possibly be injured again.
Being the worrier that I am, I immediately rested, iced and Googled non-stop about phantom pains and calcium build-up. While that reassured me some I also knew that I DID NOT want to (for one second) set my recovery a step back. My cousin and mom both told me many times to just take the race as it comes and to not make any judgements before I need to. That was easier said than done.
I pride myself in making well-thought out decisions, but I tend to go overboard with the caution (I like my comfort zone, obviously). In this case, all I needed was a plan. If I feel OK, run. If my foot hurts, drop out. I wish my mind let it be that simple but (surprise!) I blew things out of proportion. I had myself convinced I was injured before the race began..when I didn’t even know if that was actually the case. Not a good move.
It took me until the halfway point of the race to admit that, not only did I feel fine, I felt great. I had zero pain and I was having fun. I remembered that I love running and I love the race atmosphere. Once I relaxed and took one mile at a time, I felt embarrassed for overreacting. So much of running is mental. This race was a prime example of negative thoughts taking over and doing damage.
This doesn’t mean you should run through injury-related pain. Don’t be stupid. This means you should relax and not be fearful of what’s to come. If I needed to drop out I would have in a second, but there was no need to assume the worst right off the bat.
Now that I got the sob-story out of the way, here are a few other race highlights.
The expo: Disney puts on a well-organized expo. It’s always crowded but there are good vendors to browse. You can be in and out in like 15 minutes if you choose.
The start: 5:30 a.m., however, the corrals are a good 20 minute walk from the parking lot. Add in traffic and that meant waking up at 3:45…and that meant a nice, long afternoon nap. The weather was beyond perfect. High 50’s and low humidity. My cousin and I still wore sweatshirts and sweatpants that we tossed when the race started.
The course: Starts and ends in Epcot. You run about 1 mile in Magic Kingdom but the rest is service roads and highways. This is typical of Disney races, unfortunately. Running down Main Street and under the castle is always cool, though. Speaking of that, since I know the course well I thought it would be fun to video what it looks like running down Main Street. If you’ve never been to Disney, it’s the entrance/exit to Magic Kingdom and gets you in the Disney-spirit. I was obviously running so the video is pretty bumpy.
Also, at every mile there was a Disney character(s) for photo-ops. You’d be surprised how many people stop (and wait in line!) to take photos.
Costume: If you’re going to run a Disney race, dress up. Since I’ve done a princess costume three times, my cousin and I changed it up and dressed as two of the characters from the movie “Inside Out.” She was Joy and I was Disgust. I hinted at it last week but my mom is convinced Disgust was modeled after me (I’m pretty opinionated, honest and dramatic). I must admit, I make a pretty good “disgust” face.
Experience: It was honestly a blast. For the past two years my aunts and cousins flew down from New England to race, cheer and escape the cold. Last year we even had seven people running! This year we were down to two. Next year there will be zero- we need a break from Disney! My only goal for this race was to have fun (no time goal as I was un-trained and coming back from injury). Major success in that area!
My cousin and I ran together and I “helped” her get a 2 minute PR. I put “helped” in quotation marks because she had to actually do the hard work and run the race ;) I told her to mentally get me through the first half and I’ll get her through the second. It always takes me a good five miles to get into the run so between that and my foot I needed the extra support. We cross the finish line side-by-side in 2:06:42.
Lastly, even though I’ve run many Disney races (this was my sixth!), I can’t ignore the fact that it’s a well-organized and fun atmosphere. They seriously have these races down to a science.
I went into this past weekend the most nervous and unprepared I’ve ever been for a half marathon. I ended this weekend relieved, re-energized and motivated for my next half in April.
I’m on a post-race high and feeling very grateful for quality family time and a healthy run.