Enchanted 10k – My First runDisney Event!

Enchanted 10k – My First runDisney Event!

By Nick

My story begins several months ago when my Disney Exchange Podcast co-host Lisa started talking about the Princess Half Marathon Weekend.

Somehow, I was convinced by her and my other co-host Dave that I could walk the Enchanted 10K. I’m not supposed to jog due to a spinal injury suffered as a child, but I was assured that a brisk walking pace would be adequate. I just needed to train to do a 16 minute mile. 6.2 16 minute miles to be precise.

Lisa, Dave and I started talking about the many things we would do during our brief time together. I also agreed to start training. And I did begin to train. 6 weeks before the actual event.

This was a point of concern with my co-hosts. But I had no doubt. Okay, maybe a little.

Within a couple of weeks, however, I was averaging a 14 minute mile, and the week before the actual 10K I walked out the entire 6.2 miles on a treadmill in under an hour and 30 minutes, which really boosted my confidence. Really, I’d actually been losing sleep with thoughts I may not be able to do it!

I arrived at Walt Disney World Thursday, February 18th, a day earlier than Lisa and Dave. I’d mentioned to them my plans to walk 4 miles Thursday and 5 Friday as a warm up to Saturday, and I’m really glad I did because they told me that wasn’t a good idea, and that all the walking around the parks Thursday and Friday would be plenty enough of a warm up! And they were absolutely correct!

After a full day of walking around Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, I was alarmed when I woke up Friday and had pain in the big toe on my left foot!

At this time I’ll bore you to tears I will very briefly tell you about that spinal injury I mentioned above.

Back in 2006 I started jogging with the intention of doing a Disney marathon. I developed such severe pain in my back and hips my chiropractor sent me for an X-ray. She took one look at it and told me I needed to go to a back specialist immediately. It was a white mass on my spine.
I said “Is that cancer?”
She said “I don’t know.”
Went to the back doctor.
He looked at it and said “I’m sending you for an MRI tomorrow. And when you come in for the results, bring your wife.” 
Me “Is that cancer?” 
Him “I don’t know, I’ve never seen anything like it.” 
Get the MRI. 
Doctor “When did you crack your L5 vertebrae.” 
Me ” When did I do what, now?” 
The only thing I could think of was I had a bicycle accident at 7 when a friend was riding the handlebars and I hit a fence and flipped over and landed hard on my butt. He said that my white blood cells went to town and healed it in a way he’d never seen! It encased it in calcium. 
And it’s inoperable because the scar tissue would potentially be more of an issue. 
It also happens to pinch a major nerve cluster which causes all sorts of fun and exciting random pain in my legs and feet.
Hence the pain in my big toe.

I’ve been dealing with this fairly new addition to my almost lifelong list of random pain on and off for a few months, and knew that stretching would help alleviate the discomfort to some extent. Still, it was more than a little disconcerting to be dealing with this considering the 10K was just a day away!

I soldiered on, and met up with Lisa and Dave at the Health and Fitness Expo at The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. It was the first time I’d ever seen this area of WDW!

I’d gotten there via bus from the resort. One of my concerns had been about getting around from the Animal Kingdom Lodge to the expo and the race, and I was told there would be signs posted telling me exactly where and when to get a bus. And there absolutely was! Disney makes this very convenient, with the information in the lobby.

Back to the Expo. I met up with Dave and his wife Anne, and they showed me where to go to get my race packet.

We then made our way to the Expo building where we met up with Lisa and her husband Raymond.

This was the first time Lisa, Dave and I had all met!

Raymond, me, Lisa, Dave, and Anne

I picked up my t-shirt, and we spent some time walking around the Expo, before saying good afternoon. 

I then met up with my wife’s cousin Jill and her husband Zach, and friends Ryan and Amber, and spent more time walking around the Expo. This was followed by The Wahlburger Incident, and a full accounting of that can be found here.

I woke up Saturday morning at 2:30am, having gotten about 4 1/2 hours sleep, and since I’d had my alarm set for 3 and was way to anxious to try and sleep any longer, just got up, dressed, and headed to the lobby at about 3:15, where I met with other similarly amped up race participants.

My toe was sore, but not debilitating.

The first bus heading to the starting area arrived promptly at 3:30, and we got to Epcot’s parking lot by 4am.

It was already fairly crowded. I followed the crowd to the corral area, texting Lisa and Dave along the way to try and get their whereabouts, and met up with Dave and Anne while I waited in line for a photo with Belle. Anne was kind enough to join me for a photo.

Lisa came a short time later, and we all headed towards our respective corrals. 

Dave and Lisa were in A, Anne in B, and since this was my first race, and I had no time submitted, I was in E. Dave had volunteered to walk the race out with me, and I told him that was not necessary, I had this, but he was coming down with what would turn out to be a fairly nasty flu, so said walking with me was the preferable option.

At 5:30, corral A started. And we waited. And waited. And… it was 10 minutes between each corral! We didn’t even get to the starting line until 6:13!

I started off at about a 14 minute mile. My legs moving at a pretty quick pace. Dave, being 6 foot something, seemed to take 1 step for every 4 of mine. Within a few minutes we were passing people and Dave said “You know, you don’t really need to even be moving as fast as you are, look around, you are not going to have a problem finishing, and you are going to be at the parks 4 more days, so there is no point in overdoing it.” or something to that effect. 

And he was right! I slowed down. Often, due to bottle necks, we had no choice. It seemed a majority of people were walking. 

The first leg of the 10K is on roads and fairly boring, but then, as daylight was breaking, we entered the backstage area of Epcot

At one point during the walk, I straightened my back, heard a crack, and my toe stopped bothering me all together! Like I said, random weird pain. 

Then we were walking around World Showcase as the sun was rising. It was a beautiful morning. I actually started getting a bit emotional. I was doing it! My first runDisney event!

We walked around the Boardwalk area, and I got even more emotional, wishing for all the world my wife was there with me, as the BW is her favorite resort. 

  Then we were past the Yacht and Beach Club and into more backstage area of Epcot where I will never forget, as we neared mile 6, Katy Perry’s Firework was just starting.

Before long back into Epcot by Imagination, and then, there it was! The finish line!

I’d done it! Dave was a great walking buddy! Thanks again Dave.

I proudly wore my shirt around the parks all day!

A note: some friends have said they would like to do a runDisney event, but they would also be walking it. They have heard that runners look down on walkers. I say “Pft” to these negative naysayers. Any exercise is better than none. And walking 3, 6.2, 13.1 or 26.2 is an accomplishment! I used to let these doubts about walking versus running get to me. Never again!

I am now hooked. I am signed up for runDisney updates. I may not make it back this year for an event, but will most certainly be doing more 10Ks, 5Ks, and, maybe, just maybe a half down the line!


You can follow Nick, his wife Barbie, and friends on all their Disney adventures:  Disney Musings Blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, On Instagram, On Pinterest.  You can listen to Nick, our friend Dave and me on The Disney Exchange Podcast where we talk about all things Disney.

My First runDisney Events – An Overview

RM-RunDisney-RoadYou might remember this post from last summer where I shared the story of why I run.  I didn’t start running until I was in my 30’s, so if you’ve been toying with the idea of giving it a try, it’s never too late to find your inner athlete.  If you think you don’t have one, you’re wrong…he/she is in there somewhere and it’s just a matter of patience and commitment to locate him/her.  In fact, if you’re a Disney fan, perhaps what I’m about to share might be just the motivation you need to stop thinking and start doing.  I’m not saying everyone should run.  I’m saying that if you love Disney as much as I do, there’s no better place to participate in an athletic event that in Disney parks!

I’d explored the runDisney site thoroughly and even then I was still completely unprepared for the reality (the magnitude & magic) of a runDisney event.  My friends, family and coworkers might have thought I was crazy (many of them were very verbal about it) to enter three races over three days, but I was highly motivated by both the entrance fees (on the expensive side & I planned on getting my money’s worth) and wanting to enjoy myself by training enough to be comfortable for all three events.  I chose the Princess Half Marathon weekend because of its February date which worked well with my schedule.  I chose the Glass Slipper Challenge (the combination of both the Enchanted 10K on Saturday and the Princess Half Marathon on Sunday) because I’d run several half marathons and thought the challenge of the two races would be, well, challenging (in a good way).  Raymond pointed out that if I was going to do the 10K and the half and we’d be at Walt Disney World anyway, I might as well add Friday’s Frozen 5K and get another medal.  Sure, sounded reasonable to me, so I added that too.

Some things I had to do between registration and the actual events:RM-Donald-costume

  • Submit a proof of time for the half marathon or start in one of the last corrals.  I chose the only event near home that I could do by the December 1st deadline which ended up being a cold and rainy East Texas Half Marathon on my 50th birthday.
  • Figure out some sort of outfit or costume to wear for each race.  A tutu for me would be too-too much, so I was committed to dressing up in my own way and style.  I decided on a Donald Duck themed outfit for the 5K, a Minnie tribute for the 10K, and my favorite, an Evil Queen ensemble for the half marathon.  I picked up pieces for the outfits here and there over the months leading up to our trip.
  • Book Advance Dining Reservations for dinner (ADRs) bearing in mind that I’d be getting up incredibly early the morning of each race.  Sadly, I’d have to go to sleep between 8:00 and 9:00 each night or I’d be too tired to function.  Thursday:  Kona Café, Friday: Le Cellier, Saturday: Il Mulino (at the Swan).  Sunday we planned to celebrate with our last dinner of the trip at Yachtsman Steakhouse and it was fantastic, but turned out to NOT be our last dinner of this Disney visit.  More on that another day.
  • Plan park days with careful consideration about the amount of walking that would be required and select some attractions for relaxation rather than thrills.
  • Run a lot of miles.  That’s the downside (or upside depending on how you look at it) for choosing February races – a bunch of mileage had to happen throughout the holiday season.  It was hard to fit in all the time I needed, but the happy side effect was that I did not gain a single pound over Christmas.  I’m fortunate that Raymond loves to bicycle and was willing to go with me and ride while I ran my long runs every weekend in my favorite place to train, the Vicksburg National Military Park.RM-Disney's-Wide-World-of-Sports

I will do actual (shorter) posts on each race because they each had their own charm.  Today l want to share my overall impressions from my very first runDisney experiences:

I’m hooked!  I plan to be back again next year to do it again.  This was, without a doubt, the most fun I’ve ever had in any event anywhere.  From the volunteers to the medical and security teams, to the Cast Members, photographers, and characters – everyone was kind, caring, and professional.  I’ve never been congratulated so many times for crossing a finish line before.  The races are not just well-organized, they’re overflowing with magical Disney details far beyond anything I’d imagined.RM-Half-Corral-Walking

RunDisney events are designed to delight both first-time racers and long-time runners.  Also, these races are great for families.  There are also kids’ races held during the weekend.  Mothers and daughters, sisters, couples, groups of friends – there were a lot of people participating together and all of them were having a wonderful time.  It’s hard to get “swept” – there’s a very generous time limit so more people will be successful in finishing.  That’s the goal – simply finish and have a blast along the way!  There’s no pressure to be fast, in fact, runners are encouraged and enticed to stop many times along the way for a variety of unique and very special photo ops with a variety of characters – some of whom are rarely seen together.

Check back for more details about my adventures in the 2015 Frozen 5K, Enchanted 10K and Princess Half Marathon.

Are you a runDisney fan?  Do you want to be?


The Road to RunDisney – An Update

RM-Running-ClothesWhen last I spoke on this topic (here), I had just registered for the Glass Slipper Challenge for February, 2015.  It’s now just three months away and I’m stoked! – Still very much committed to this endeavor!  I’m excited about combining two of my most favorite things in the world:  running and Disney!  The Glass Slipper Challenge consists of two races, the Disney Enchanted 10k on Saturday and a Sunday half-marathon, the Princess Half.  I’m also running the Disney Princess 5k being held on Friday because, heck, going all that way…why not.

In all of the registration materials, there was an emphasis on submitting a “proof of time”, which, when registering for the Princess Half, I did not have.  Here’s what participants are told:  “If you believe you will finish in less than 3:15 hours, proof of time is required for start corral RM-Running-Snowman-Sockspalcement.  Deadline to submit proof of time is December 1, 2014.”  I’m pretty sure I can still run a half-marathon in less than 3:15, even though it’s been 4 or 5 years since I ran the last one.  So, I need proof of time and I intend to have it before the deadline.  I’ll accomplish this by running the East Texas Half on November 16th, which coincidentally also happens to be my 50th birthday.  Believe me, I did not look for a half marathon in my area to run on my birthday specifically, it just happened that my schedule and the nearest half marathon lined up this way.  As of this minute, the forecast is for a slight chance of rain, a low of 24 degrees, and a high of 52.  I’d be lying if I said I thought that sounded just peachy.  It sounds cold.

RM-Running-in-VicksburgThey say with age comes wisdom – Which sounds weird to me.  I say with age comes about 20 extra pounds.  There is a bright side though.  I don’t know if I’d call it wisdom, but I have noticed as I’ve put in the lonely training miles for Sunday’s race that I seem to be a bit mentally stronger than I’ve been before.  When my brain tries to trick me into slowing down or taking a walk break or worse, quitting alltogether, I seem to be able to beat back those negative thoughts and impulses much easier than I could in the past.  I guess that might be a sort of wisdom afterall – the ability to push the wall away by sheer force of will.  I like it.  If that’s a superpower I get for turning 50, that’s not a bad deal at all.

My longest runs have been between 9 and 11 miles and all took place in the hills of Vicksburg, Mississippi in the National Military Park there.  It’s been awesome running through Civil War history every weekend!  I’m as ready as I’m going to be to get out there and earn a Vicksburg-National-Military-Parkdecent “proof of time” time.  If you’re following over on Facebook or Twitter, I’ll be posting updates on Sunday before and after the race.  If you know anything at all about Nacogdoches, TX and care to share any travel tips or race advice with me, please do!

Oh, and please wish me luck – I’m going to need it!!!

The Road to runDisney Begins With a Single Step

A Woman and her DogIn the following post, I share more personal information than usual (or ever).  If you’re here for one of my normal discussions about Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line, Disney recipes, crafts, movies, or collectibles, come back tomorrow for our regularly scheduled program.  Please excuse the interruption.

As many of you know, I’m about to turn 50 – and I’m not all that broken up about it.  Many people get sad or mad or depressed or, God forbid, go into midlife-crisis mode – not me, though, not my style.  I haven’t yet reached an age that has triggered any unhappy feelings.  I’d be a lot happier if gravity would go pick on somebody else for a change, but I feel good, in general, and I have many blessings to count each day.  I do sometimes feel that life’s going by faster and faster all the time.  Then I get to thinking:  Maybe I should knock some stuff off my to-do list before more time gets away from me.

I am not athletic.  I’m a bit of a girly girl with tough guy tendencies and I didn’t grow up playing My Haunted Mansion-themed Running Shoessports – there’s absolutely NO eye-hand coordination in the end of the gene pool from whence I sprang.  I never aspired to be athletic – I mostly wanted to have fun, eat good food, and pursue happiness.  Happiness that did not involve sweating or getting dirty or making my body do anything uncomfortable.  I’m not tall, I have a long torso and short limbs.  I’m what I describe as sturdy with some buoyancy that makes swimming my best athletic endeavor.  Get the picture?

For most of my life, I felt blissfully uninspired to become one with my inner athlete (if she even existed!) – even after losing my father to heart disease when I was 19.  I was able to maintain this mindset all the way until almost three years after I had my second (and final) child at age 30.  The baby weight was not going to fall off on its own.  I was not going to spring back to looking like I did in my 20’s.  Eating, drinking and making merry were not good lifestyle choices – and that was becoming more obvious by the day!  But HOW do you change that?  I’m sure the answer to that question is different for every person, but for me, changing what I didn’t like about my physical condition   (and my attitude towards Triathlon Picturehealthy food choices) meant taking a single step.  Literally – just getting up, forcing myself to make time for ME and my physical condition (for which I accepted complete responsibility) and taking one step forward.

I think the moment your foot makes that single step forward is no sooner than the exact time you are really and truly ready to do it.  I imagine it’s like people who stop smoking, stop overeating, or stop working at a job they hate – it will only happen when they’re ready.  It can’t be for anyone else, for a class reunion, for an upcoming wedding – it has to be at a time that may feel like a monumentally selfish moment…but it’s not.  It’s a very simple fact that in order to be lovable, you have to love yourself.  In order for you to be the best person you can offer your spouse, your children, your boss, your parents, your friends, your pet – you have to love yourself enough to put yourself first – at least with regard to doing what it takes to love who you are.  For me that meant taking a step off the couch, away from the table, and out onto a lonely country road.IMG_4160

I chose mornings to carve out some time for my project – the project of making me the best I could be.  I started long before the current walk/run training craze with, oddly enough, that exact training technique – it was all I was capable of!  I walked with some short jogging thrown in.  It was hard.  I had to buy new shoes, some decent shorts and a sports bra, and have my ankles taped daily due to shin splints (thanks, Raymond).  That felt selfish, but I did it anyway.  In March, 1998, I ran my first mile without stopping.  In January of 1999, I ran my first marathon and never looked back.  All the things I’d hated about myself my whole life – bulky, short legs, 5′ 4″ height, square shape – suddenly looked completely different to my own eyes.  I’d lost weight and, short legs notwithstanding, ran continuously for 26.2 miles in 4 hours and 20  minutes – I was proud of me – and that was an amazing feeling.  All because I got up a little earlier one morning and took that first step.  Don’t get me wrong – I could never EVER have accomplished my goals without the support and sacrifice of my family – They have always been and continue to be my biggest fans and my gratitude cannot be expressed in words.Post-5K shoe picture

So, here I am now with two full marathons, four half-marathons, over 30 triathlons (turns out riding a bicycle does not require all that much coordination!), and countless 5k races behind me.  16 years have flown by and that brings me back to the original point of all this disclosure.  I’ve wanted to participate in a runDisney event for quite some time now.  In spite of my passion for Disney and all the events I’ve participated in before – I’ve been honestly intimidated by those princesses, those younger people, those tall, willowy runners they show on the runDisney web site – the perky ones with the cute costumes and happy smiles.  I got up this morning, looked in the mirror and reminded myself of a really important lesson – I just needed to take a single step forward.

As of 11:01 Central Standard Time today, I am officially registered for the Glass Slipper Challenge next February (2015) at Walt Disney World.  I will run the Disney Enchanted 10K on Saturday, the 21st and The Disney Princess Half Marathon on Sunday the 22nd.  I will be 50 years old by then – I’m not a princess, not young, and most certainly not willowy, but I will be there…knocking something else off my to-do list before any more time gets away from me.

If you’re planning to be there, too, I’d love to hear from you.

Thank you for reading….Lisa