Disney Race Recap: I Must Be a Runner…


I don’t remember smiling for this. Don’t worry, I paid for the image, but I just don’t have access yet.

… because despite killing my previous PR, I’m a little bummed that I fell short of my 1:50 goal. I was on track for it through mile 8, but I had stomach issues, something that I’ve never had before. I think it was partly due to it being a race that started at 10pm.

Here’s a recap:

I had to board a bus around 7pm to ride from Epcot to ESPN. When we arrived, I went straight to the line to get my picture with Mickey. While we waited, a DJ hosted a dance party. I wasn’t really up for dancing, but it was fun to watch people. So many in costume! My favorite was an overweight couple dressed as King Triton and Ariel, both with bare bellies hanging out over their bike shorts. That’s chutzpah.

The weather was humid and a little warm for running, but not bad. This is Florida, after all. I’d been running on the treadmill as well as outdoors, hoping the treadmill indoor temps would keep me acclimated to running in warmth.

The start area had tons of ports potties, but the interiors were dark. We could’ve used some overhead lights to help us out in there. But I liked that they had a place to wash our hands after.

We loaded into our corrals at 9pm. I’d eaten light, just my usual sweet potato and beets purée. I also drank coconut water. I was in corral B, and we were sent off at. 10:02 to fireworks! I loved that.

My first mile felt easy. I tried to figure out if there was anyone going about my goal pace so I could hang with them, but some people were too fast and others slow. I did manage to generally stick with several different runners in my pace group. I recognized them by costume in some cases.

The first several miles were highway in the Disney park. Although they had some characters and places with recorded music playing, there were no live bands and zero spectators save Disney Cast Members. Not the most exciting stretch.

There’s something a little artificial about having paid spectators. I imagined the Disney staff having an employee briefing about how to cheer us on, giving key phrases and the like since pretty much all of them said the same thing. I missed having signs and kids and families on the sidelines.

I hit 5k in 25:45. This is my second fastest race 5k, but it felt a heck of a lot easier than most of my 5ks.

Around mile 4, we entered the Animal Kingdom park. It was a little tricky in there with narrower pathways and lots of curves. I don’t remember much about this segment because I was too focused on all the turns. Although my foot has felt fine, I didn’t want to risk pulling the tendons from all the directional change.

We were spit out of the park and back onto the highway. Again, not so fun. I guess I thought Disney would do more entertaining along the more boring stretches. I suppose if I’d run with someone else or wanted to stop for pictures with the characters, it might’ve felt differently to me.

I hit 10k in 53:05, another PB in a race.

My stomach wasn’t feeling so great at this point. It had escalated from slightly sour to full on nausea. Around mile 8, we hit a hill up a ramp, and I thought I was going to puke. I made it up the hill, but walked a couple seconds to regroup my belly.

I was needing some new fuel as my legs were beginning to feel sluggish, but I knew my stomach wouldn’t be able to handle it. It was barely tolerating the water.

I ran past the fuel station, where they were handing out chocolate Clif Shots. I worked at trying not to hurl thinking about chocolate anything.

I should add that the water/Powerade stations were very well run. I don’t know how they cleaned up most of the discarded cups, but this race was very efficient in passing out the drinks and keeping the course clear for runners.

Next we entered Hollywood Studios. Here the race course featured several places with fancy strobe lighting and a disco ball, both of which made me queasier. A bit later on, we entered the street of America (or something like that — by day it looked like a neighborhood in NYC), which was lit to the gills with Christmas lights. Which made me queasy. There’s a theme here.

I don’t remember too much about leaving Hollywood Studios except relief at being out of the lights. Which was a shame because I’m sure most of the runners enjoyed it.

Somewhere around here I hit the 15k mark. I was doing ok, albeit slower, except when I inhaled my gum and some water and coughed and sputtered a bit. I wished I’d been able to throw up because I might feel better, but there wasn’t really anything in there to throw up. I’d likely end up dry-heaving my way into the medic tent. So I soldiered on.

The course then took us through the Boardwalk resort section. Real spectators! Not many, but it was very welcome. I liked this stretch quite a lot. It was park-like and peaceful.

Just after the 12 mile mark we entered Epcot. Most of the course was fairly flat with some rolling hills. Most of these didn’t bother me too much. But there was a slightly arched bridge into Future World that I was not happy to have to get over. But I knew my husband was going to be around the corner and I didn’t want to look lame in front of him. Just keep running.

Sure enough, in a weirdly too dark section in front of the Land pavilion, I heard, “Go Judy, go!” I looked around and spotted my husband running behind the spectators to keep up with me and snap pictures. I’d missed seeing him on the course. He likes to try to catch me in different places to both entertain himself with jogging place to place and cheer me on. Instead he was stuck hanging out alone in Epcot for 5 hours. I was really happy to see him, but my energy was flagging with less than half a mile to go.

I then passed the Spaceship Earth and was sent out towards the parking lot via a path behind some building. No spectators, just other runners. I was nearly out of gas, and I stopped to walk. A runner coming up behind me called out, “You’re almost there! Pick it up!”

Thank you random kind runner! I’m highly suggestible when I run, so I started running and didn’t stop.

He might’ve been less glad he encouraged me after I passed him.

We had one last stretch under a laser tunnel that I did my best to ignore. I’m sure loads of runners thought this was cool, but I was sick of the fancy lights. Literally.

Right before I crossed the finish line, the announcer called my name. I love it when races do that.

I crossed the finish line before midnight with a time of 1:57:14, #37 of 1,081 in my age group and #909 of over 14,000 overall (a bunch didn’t finish).

I collected my medal, a banana and some water and even managed to pose for a photograph (afraid to see how green I look in that one), then made my way back to Epcot to meet up with my husband.

We didn’t stay long at the after-party. The food all sounded awful to me because of my nausea, which was sad since there was so much I’d wanted to try when I’d per used the offerings earlier in the day. I ate one tiny harissa chicken roll from Morocco and a mini cannoli. I had to force myself to not think about the escargot, Polish kielbasa, kimchi and calamari.

One highlight before we left was getting our pictures taken with Belle and Beast. Early in our relationship, my husband and I saw Beauty and the Beast on a date. I also got my picture taken with Mulan, who asked me which country I had saved to earn my medal, since she saved China and received a similar reward. I said, “Lithuania?” To which she replied, “Well, that was random.” Who knew Mulan’s slang was so modern?

When we got back to the hotel, I puked up my meager dinner, took a shower and was in bed by 2am. I feel ok today except that a stomachache kept waking me up.

If I do another distance race at night in the future, I’ll have to be sure to have practiced eating a little better. Live and learn.


9 thoughts on “Disney Race Recap: I Must Be a Runner…

  1. Thanks for sharing your adventure. I wonder if part of the problem was simply the change in time. I know my body clock is more OCD than I am, if that’s possible. Actually, you had a lot of changes in your routine on this one. Interesting to realize how much energy you draw from the crowd. 🙂

  2. I can’t imagine doing something like that at that time of night. I once did a 5k swim outdoors (in a heated pool granted) in Feb – it was snowing! The attendants had to change every 15 mins as it was so cold! That started about 7pm I think – that was way too late. Worst time ever for a 5k and a headcold for weeks afterwards!

    Anyway – congrats again… and I can’t believe you are smiling in a race of that length at all! 🙂

  3. Doug Hart says:

    We drink coconut water a lot in Texas. I don’t know of it’s nutritional value. We are so close to Mexico it has found it’s way up and into our convenience stores.

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