My First Disney 5K Experience
We are not guaranteed tomorrow….so why do we wait to do things that we can do now? It was that thought process I had going into signing up for my first 5K. I had friends who ran, even family, and I always wondered why they liked it so much. What if? What if I just went for it and tried? What was I so scared of? This is my running story.
I don’t care if you can run a mile or 26.2, a mile is a mile and it is HARD WORK. I had ran over 20 years ago and I thought I would never really get into it again. Time, kids, weight gain, and age played on my mind that I just wasn’t good enough to try. Not even do it, but try. In my head a runner was slim person who lived and breathed it, that just wasn’t me. Not now anyways. But then things changed in my life and I began to look at things as opportunities instead of mental road blocks..and that’s when I signed up online for “Mickey’s Jingle Jungle” 5K.
You sign up for it months in advance, and I’m not sure if this one sold out or not, but it seems the bigger the race, the faster they sell out (for runDisney anyways). I made an account on Active.com who then sends you helpful emails along with information for the race day and event. You see, I am a runDisney virgin. Yes, I said it. And when you don’t have a CLUE on how it all works, it can be VERY intimidating on how to handle it all. So my best resource for my first race was my friends. They had run several of them already, so it was so nice to ask them questions and have them literally walk me through the motions.
Race weekend was here for the Wine and Dine, and you can pick up your race packet at the ESPN Club. Ok, I know you are all going to laugh, but I had never been inside there before. It is VERY cool!! Wendy, Shelley, Eric, and I with Shelley’s Mom along for the ride, picked up our bib in one building and then picked up our bag of goodies in the other. I was STOKED!! Holding that number in my hand for the first time, I won’t lie, I got a bit teary eyed. It represented something I was about to do that I never thought I would even attempt again. It. Was. Magical.
And the Expo? Were you all aware of the running merchandise out there? My God there was everything and anything for running- who knew? Headbands (which I fell in LOVE with), shoes, shirts, medal holders, stickers, tape, and some kind of stick to roll all over your body to work out the kinks I guess. For this first timer, it was not only super cool, but also very inspiring to see everyone else so excited for what was to come. I bought a couple of stickers and a Minnie Mouse headband – the reason I bought that one was because it is like the Minnie shirt I have that is also shown on our logo, so I thought it fit well.
I headed to bed, and no sooner than my head hit the pillow, the alarm was going off at 4:30 and it was time to start my groundbreaking day. Don’t take life’s moments for granted, you never know how many you are going to get. I was full of pep and my awesome hubby had me in the car and on our way to Animal Kingdom. We were in the parking lot after 5 a.m. and got a parking spot with no problem. They had photo opps with Mickey and Minnie, along with other backdrops with the race signs. There isn’t much to do before the race starts, so we got in line for Mickey and Minnie while waiting for Wendy and Eric to arrive.
When I got up to Mickey I told him I was nervous that it was my first and he hugged me over and over again, it was a nice boost to my nerves. With the picture checked off, Craig and I watched the DJ for awhile until our friends arrived. I was super happy to see Wendy and Eric because they were also running it and it’s always nice to know someone else doing it. We danced to “Call Me Maybe”, I kissed Craig for good luck, and we were soon in our Coral. Because I am a newbie, I was in the last one.
Because I have AWESOME friends who love me, they started in my Coral with me, even though they were meant to be in the first one. It was nice to start it off with them, especially since it was my first one. I stood there with our Coral ready to leave, and I a wave of emotions came over me. I was so psyched to start, so nervous to fail, and scared to let myself and Craig down. Wendy grabbed my hand when the start went off, and we were moving! Well, we were walking….slow. See when there are SOOOO many people in one area, and you are walking on an “itty bitty walking space” it is nearly impossible to run. Maybe if you had a jet pack could you possibly FLY faster over the crowd, but that would have been the only way to get anywhere at the starting stages. It would take awhile before the running began, but it did, and I was ALIVE.
I ran into Disney’s Animal Kingdom, a place I had casually walked into so many times, and held my head up proudly as I pounded the pavement. I ran up the hill, then down towards the Tree of Life. Into Africa, and I would walk on occasion to catch my breath and not push it. For most the 5K is just a casual thing, but people forget that MANY work TOWARDS doing a 5K as THE pinnacle of their racing career. With that said, it felt that many who took it casually didn’t want to move over for those who really did want to run it. I was told to stay on the right if I was going to walk, which I did. But MANY walked in groups that extended across, so it was near impossible to pass. Possibly a running lane may be needed for such races, because I did want to run and others made it harder to do so.
Mile 1, Mile 2, I was doing it. I was not only running, but I wasn’t killing myself doing so. My knees felt great, my red running shoes looked and felt fabulous, and my spirit was intact. There were Character Meet and Greets along the way, but no one I couldn’t meet any other Park day. I feared stopping may stop my momentum, and even though time wasn’t an issue for me, I wanted to go for all I could. I did make one stop, the gator with the santa hat was too good to pass up. I had no clue how to sit on the darn thing, so I apologize of how silly it looks. As I was running around one corner, Eric and Wendy caught up to me at one point and started screaming “GO AMY!!” – it was so sweet!!
We hit mile 3 and the Cast Members were cheering that we were almost at the finish line…OH MY GOD it was going to be my first Finish Line. There was NOTHING on this Earth that was going to stop me from finishing strong and hard…and I went for it. I ran, and I wore the biggest smile on my face ever. The tears were welling up, I was doing it. I was actually doing it… and there was the line. All I had to do was cross it and I had done it. I crossed it and nearly ran over a small child…to me it was humorous because it was just the kind of finish I would have.
I had done it… and even though it was just a 5K, it was something that I had done and succeeded at it. I got my first medal, and then I saw Craig, and I ran up to him, crying my eyes out. Sometimes you can get in your head that you aren’t good enough, that those around you make you feel small and unimportant..and then the only one that matters is there with open arms and there is NOTHING like it on this planet. To the love of my life, thank you for always being my biggest supporter…you will never know what you mean to me.
So that’s my story…I did it. Wendy and Eric found me after and I was so proud to be with other runners who have done this way more than I ever had. I felt like I was part of the club now, and it felt awesome. Next is the Half-Marathon in February, the Princess where I signed up under Rapunzel. Only fitting for a blonde girl who had a dream to live in Florida, and now run, and has made them both come true. Yep….I finally saw the light…and it’s been beautiful.
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Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!