Monday, January 4, 2016

RunDisney for non-runners: Part 2, the race!

The most exciting part of a RunDisney race, is without question, the race!  You've trained, you've prepared, you've got your amazing outfit... and now it all comes down to race time.  The excitement is mind-blowing.  There are thousands, literally thousands of people running this race with you and they ALL want you to succeed.

Seriously - look at all these people

Disney races start incredibly early - generally around 5am.  Why 5am?  Because you need to get through the parks before they open for the day.  Oh yes, you get to run through Disneyland/World while it's closed.  

As I said in my last post, we've only run the Anaheim races, so I can't speak to the Orlando courses, but I imagine the concepts are similar.  

Star Wars 10K map 2015

Look at that!  While we did start off by running to the highway and back, we circled back and ran through both Disneyland and California Adventure... not just the parks, but the backlots that guests normally don't see.  3 1/2 of the 6 miles in the 10K course were in and around the parks themselves.  Going through the parks is incredible.  There are hundreds of cast members standing out cheering the runners on, giving high-fives, and generally making everything exciting.  The city of Anaheim also provides some cheerleaders, marching bands, and random citizens to make running down the road tolerable.  During the Avengers race, there was a huge cos-play group decked out in full costume by the side of the road during a really boring part.  So, not only are there thousands of fellow runners hoping you succeed, there are thousands of cheering spectators rooting you on!

But, I digress.

So, it's 5am, you're in a crowd with 10,000 other people dressed like Chewbaccas and Storm Troopers (or whatever the theme may be), and you're waiting.  There's a lot of waiting for your turn.  So, you meet new people, talk about random Disney things and mentally prepare.

Our race experience has been "winter" races - November and January, so it's pretty chilly at 5am.  But, after running 6 or 13 miles, it's anything but.  I wear a throw-away sweatshirt while I'm standing around and leave it at the start line.  Disney actually collects them up and donates them to a local shelter.  It keeps me warm while I'm waiting, but I don't have to carry it with me.  Some people toss them later on the course, but I'm ok once I start going.

Buy it at Goodwill and throw that bad boy away!

Besides - I want to look awesome the entire time I'm running.

Look at my muscles!

So now --- 3... 2.. 1... Go!  Disney starts in waves, so about 20% of the group will go, then there's a 5 minute wait before the next group, and so on.  You're assigned a group when you register and unless you have a provable history of running fast, you'll be somewhere towards the back of the pack.

It's finally your turn... and off you go!  Some people will be faster than you; some people will be slower than you, and it's all ok.  Go your own pace.  Unless you are the very last person in the very last group to start, you have a little bit of leeway in your pacing.  The official Disney rule is that you have to maintain a 16 minute mile.  But what that technically means is they start timing 16 minutes per mile after the last person crosses the start line.  Honestly, my final time for the Star Wars 10K last year was almost 17:20 per mile... and I finished ahead of about 800 people.

As you go through, enjoy the sites, take a couple of selfies as time allows, and if you're really ahead of schedule, get a couple of RunDisney photos.  There are a number of character and site stops throughout the race.  Some of them have longer lines (Darth Vader was SUPER long), and some of them are short (Cinderella's castle).  Depending on how you're doing, you may be able to pause for the photo-op.  Mike liked taking selfies.

Mostly, I recommend having an amazing playlist programmed onto your phone and just enjoying the sites.  It is hard.  You will be tired, but you'll eventually finish and then you'll get your medal.  And you want to know a secret... it's the same medal everyone else gets.  No one knows if you're first or last, you finished... which is more than most people will ever do!

I was super-slow... but I got it anyway, because I finished!

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