Sunday, November 24, 2013

My First runDisney Race: Recap, Part I

I'll cut right to the chase: My first runDisney race was a smashing success, an experience that had me hooked from the start (no surprise there, right?), and left me itching to register for another race!

I participated in the 2013 Jungle Jungle 5K, part of Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend!

I'm a novice runner, but I had been reading about runDisney races for a long time, on friends' blogs and twitter feeds (lookin' at you, Vanessa, Patty, and Krissy). After running for the first time this past spring so that I could be my daughter's "running buddy" in a Girls on the Run race, I decided I wanted to keep at it- and runDisney was the perfect motivator.

I knew I needed a race buddy, and my sister was the ideal choice. Not only is she a seasoned runner, but I knew I could probably "twist her arm" for a runDisney race- she's my usual partner in crime for Disney getaways. Though my precarious job situation left the whole thing extremely tentative for me, I was finally able to work out the details and we took the plunge....

Training: On the advice of an online runner friend, I started training using Jeff Galloway's run-walk-run method. At first, I thought of it as a stepping stone- just a way to get me going while I built up to straight running. I tried increasing my running time and tried to wean off the walk intervals, but it always set me back to a place that just didn't feel right. I felt like I was "failing", I spent a lot of time feeling pain during and after running, and I just plain wasn't having fun. Once I fully committed to the run-walk-run training, I felt my strength increase, and I felt good after running. It works for me. I struggled with friends and family members who don't think this is "real" running. I know everyone has their own opinion on the topic, and I do get some of their points. But...I had to concentrate on what was best for me. A year ago, I had never run a day in my adult life. I'm not built for running (don't even get me started on the whole sports bra saga- far too complicated and TMI for this blog!). I just had to keep reminding myself of that old adage- regardless of how slow I am, how many walk intervals I do, or how many breaks I have to take- I'm still doing a whole lot better than the people still on the couch. Not to mention, a whole lot better than I was at this time last year!

Costume: runDisney races mean costumes. Not everyone wears a costume, but I think it adds to the fun! As a former theater major, I'm all about the costumes, and I relish any fleeting opportunity to wear one. I'm not a princessy person, so I knew I'd have to go in a different direction. Peter Pan popped in my mind right from the start, and I honestly never really considered anything else. I had some good ideas for a simple Pan costume that was running-appropriate, and it all worked out really well. My sister put together a pirate costume to complete our team look.

Online Registration:  I was super excited to finally complete my registration for the race online. I had to delay for a while because of my trip uncertainty, but when I finally was able to do it, the process was quick and easy. And I had to get the pin- how could  NOT get the pin? I'm a pin collector, and this was my first runDisney race. Oh yeah, that pin was going in the shopping cart. Not only did I get that limited edition Jingle Jungle 5K pin, my sis also got me a runDisney pin. Two great additions to my collection!

Packet Pick-Up & Expo:
I admit, I was a bit apprehensive about this. I had read some scary stories over the summer from the Disneyland Half about lines, crowds, mix-ups, and general mayhem. We had such limited time for our trip, I didn't want to spend the entire day- one of my few park days- at the ESPN complex. I'm happy to say, it couldn't have gone more smoothly! We got the first bus from the Polynesan at 9:30 am, and we were at the ESPN complex in no time!

We were directed to the packet pick-up area first, and I was unsure of what we'd face when we got inside. Crazy crowds? Confused massess? Endless lines? None of the above! We walked in on the upper level and had a great view of a very organized area, very few lines, and an orderly system for merchandise.

We made our way down and found the window for our bib numbers. 
There was nobody in our line. 
The volunteers were happy to have us walk up!

Signing for my bib and pin...

Bibs in hand, and ready to hit the merchandise booth!

Non-buyer's remorse.
Why, oh why, did I 
not get the beautiful wine-colored long-sleeve rD shirt??
I had a feeling I'd regret it, and I was right.

The official merchandise area was well-organized, shelves were stocked, and they seemed to have a quick and efficient system for moving people through. We made a few purchases, then it was time to check out the expo. First stop was getting our race goodie bags and race t-shirts. (Mental note for next time: there's a definite divide between the 5K goodies & t-shirts, and the other races. 5K stuff: not nearly as cool!)

Running-related items as far as the eye could see! 
Shopping: The variety of items offered throughout the expo was a big surprise to me. I expected booths with some running gear, some footwear, maybe some water bottles... wow, was I pleasantly surprised by the number of vendors, the selections, the items I never knew existed! I could see spending some serious time (and $$) here in the future! For today, though- we were keeping it quick. Except for this...

My sister- a runner who's a very busy mother of 4 with a crazy hectic family life- bought the best shirt ever:

front                                         back

Wine and Dine weekend medals! The middle would be mine!

Awesome social media interactivity all weekend!

Look at all this runDisney race bling! 
Have you earned any of the race medals above or below?

We were into the ESPN Complex, packets picked up, tshirts and goody bags retrieved, merchandise secured, and back out to the buses in just over an hour! Strolling the Food & Wine Festival by lunch time!

Stay tuned for Part II of my first runDisney experience recap: the race itself! Did she wake up on time? Did she manage the costume? Did she deal with the porta-potties? Did she finish the race? The answer to these and other questions will be posted soon...


  1. What a wonderful experience! Thanks for posting all the great feels like I was there. ; )

  2. This is a good review of your first run. This inspires me to get in shape and take on the challenge.

  3. I've been waiting for this! YAY!!!!

  4. Thank you for sharing this. Yes, the Disneyland expo this summer was a definite departure from the regular organized norm of expos in that location. I understand why you'd be concerned. Having heard stories about last year's Princess expo, I was worried about the Walt Disney World Half in January. Your post made me a little less concerned about that one! I'm glad it was a good experience for you.