And then the alarm went off at 4AM and the fun begins!!!
I stumbled out of bed and started to get ready. Fortunately the bed in my hotel is really comfy so I was out like a light at the end of the day. I managed to get out the door by 4:45am. The drive to the parking area only took me about twenty minutes (its gonna take a lot longer in the next two days as the crowds get a LOT larger) and then I headed to registration and only had a to wait a few minutes before it opened. I got that taken care of and then followed the masses to bag check and took care of that and then headed to the start area. Disney wants you there stupid early for their races for some reason. This being my first time I obliged. I have to say theres no need for the 5K to get there that early. The 1/2 and the full absolutely... but not the 5K. There were 5500 runners today. So not such a big crowd. Anyway... it was about 42 degrees at the start and fortunately not windy. I had checked all my warmup clothes and now got to stand out in the cold in a pair of running tights and a thin long sleeve top. I was FREEZING. Fortunately though the DJ was playing some fun tunes (and not too loud for a change... I dont know why but marathon DJs think its fun to deafen runners before they race. This guy had it loud enough to be fun, but not hurt so kuddos to you Mr. DJ. However... you need to learn about how to tweak delay zones as your speaker setup was AWFUL!) and the crowd was really into it. Actually the whole entertain the crowd thing was kind of fun. There was a good sized group dancing and goofing off and Buzz Lightyear and Woody from Toy Story were there as well. So it was good silly Disney fun. There was a particular group of 4 teenage or college aged boys dancing up a storm right at the front of the chute dancing away. More on them later....
So they let us in the chute at 5:30 and keep telling us to line up and they start to shuffle us by pace. So the 5K is not an officially timed run. Its a "fun run". So although there are clocks... you don't get handed an individual time. There are no winners or anything. So a lot of the people there are family members of runners doing the half or the full marathon or they just want to do a fun Disney 5K. So this means you see some interesting and scary things along the race course. Maybe the fact its a fun run means the serious runners stay away. Although there were some serious people there.... they did however look a bit out of place. In fact I felt a bit out of place too.
So finally we get close to the start, and Buzz Lightyear gets up on stage and starts the race with "To Infinity and Beyond!" and were off! And man was I glad to be running as I was dressed perfectly for the 45 degree weather at race time, but not to stand around in it.
So to backtrack for a minute... as were all lining up to get started there are pace signs along the chute. And they constantly announce that people should line up accordingly. This was a total joke. There were people that were 100lbs overweight lining up in the Under 7 minute mile area. There were 5 year old kids in there and all kinds of other people that could never manage their pace. In fact there were some really little kids in there and a mom that I almost went and talked to. Those kids were gonna get run over and I was going to suggest they move so they wouldn't get trampled but Mom started looking nervous and moved them off to the side so I was glad to see that. I kept trying to figure out where to start. I didn't want to "race" the 5K. I planned on running 9s. But no way was I going to line up in the 9 minute mile as that was behind all the people that looked like they had never run a sub ten minute mile in their lives. And I don't mean to be rude about it... but it was obvious. So I lined up in the seven minute mile area. I figured I could run a 7 to get out of the gate and settle into something relaxed if I wanted to a half mile later. And then that corral filled up with all the wrong people so I said screw it and started about ten people back from the front row. Which in the end was still too far back.
So back to heading towards infinity and whatnot. Gun goes off and were off and running. A big burst of tweens goes flying off the front line as fast as they can. They led the race for about 100 feet. And then they hit the wall and exploded and fell apart. It was kind of funny to watch. They had these priceless looks on their face that they couldn't understand why they couldn't hold their arm flailing pace for 3.2 miles. Surely that distnace wasn't THAT far! Anyway... that was pretty funny. The first mile of the route was decidedly unscenic. Most of it was in the Epcot parking lot as we head towards the back side of the park where all the countries are. Pretty much right at mile 1 all those teenagers dancing up a storm in their running gear blew up and fell apart (too much energy spent dancing! And they exploded too. They also looked stunned they couldn't hold their pace. I ran the first mile at 7:30. Which I figured was ok. However I decided I shouldn't go any faster than that in order to save my legs. I felt good though which was nice. Then the course finally got into the fun parts of epcot where we ran through all the countries. At this point someone in costume tried to pass me. I decided I'll have NONE of that!!! No costumed moron is going to pass me! Disney or not! So I picked up the pace and dropped the guy dressed as a princess like a bad habit. Take that Tinkerbelle! Now I was having fun. I like going fast. So I started picking people off. Including lots of young children. Very fast children I might add. I was impressed with many of them. But I still picked them off. I ran mile 2 at something like 6:30. ooops. So much for behaving myself. At this point I started to worry I was gonna do something stupid so I started to ease off and head into a more relaxed seven minute pace.
I kept trying to find someone running a pace I liked that I could lock into but instead I just kinda kept passing people. After mile 3 which goes right past the giant golfball (spaceship earth) it was back into the parking lot for the big finish. Now here's where Disney REALLY did it right. They built grandstands near the finish area for people to stand and cheer in. Nice touch! I was impressed and there was lots of cowbell and cheering once you rounded the corner. So you run past several hundred people cheering at the end which was fun. I bet on marathon day it will be PACKED! so that will be cool. I crossed the finish line pretty much at 22 minutes exactly which is pretty much a seven minute mile average. So a bit faster than the 9 minute mile average that I would have preffered but oh well. I had fun!
After a quick stop for real coffee at Starbucks I was headed back towards the Expo. When I was waiting for the 5K to start the Disney folks started announcing some fun facts over the PA. Apparently there are close to 30,000 people running the half marathon tomorrow and about 20,000 running the full! WOW! Its gonna be packed! No wonder they want us there so early. Thats gonna be crazy! So I started wondering what the expo was going to be like and thats when I ran into the wall of traffic trying to get to the expo. There were cars everywhere and it took me a long time to get into the parking lot. They had us parking forever away from the building. I easily walked a mile just to get to the expo. Not what I should be doing!
The expo was a zoo! There were three very large areas... one for the half and full marathon registration, one for the goofy participant registration and another to then go pick up your swag bag and where all the booths at the expo were. (speaking of swag... doing the Goofy gets you three very nice long sleeved tech shirts. The 5K cotton tshirt however was super ugly!) The registration process for the goofy was pretty painless and they make it easy by handing you both your half and full marathon registrations at the same time which was nice. I found myself looking at the other people registering for the goofy and wondering what made them do something so ridiculous too. Incidentally there were a lot of traithletes (evidence by their hats/tshirts) picking up packets at the goofy area.
About halfway around the expo (there were a LOT of booths!) I realized how tired I was. The long workday yesterday combined with the 4 hour drive, not much sleep and the race this morning and then all that walking at the expo had me feeling really tired. So I rushed through the rest of the expo and then ran a couple quick errands to pickup some bagels and peanut butter for dinner and now I'm back in my hotel room. I've prepped everything for tomorrow AM so I'm good to go. Fortunately I feel like I can fall asleep at any minute. So I hope to do a few more things here and then go to bed by 6pm as I have to getup at 2am. UGH! Plan for tomorrow is to leave here by 3am and arrive no later than 4am at the race site. Apparently traffic is EPIC on this day. So if I'm ready before 3 I'll head out early. I can always relax in my car for a bit before heading out. Apparently its also a 20 minute walk to the race start. So figure that plus waiting in line at bag check and I'd better get there early. I can always chill in the car if need be.
Ok... thats all I have the energy to type today! Time for a LONG nap before the half marathon!