Enchanted 10k – My First runDisney Event!
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.