Last time I left off my husband, Rob, and I were headed down I-95 on our way to Walt Disney World so that I could complete the Princess 5K. Although I still don’t consider myself a “runner” I was looking forward to this new adventure I was about to start.
The 18-hour drive from PA to Pop (Century Resort, that is) tired me out a little, but after a good night’s rest and Mickey waffles that morning I was ready to open the Magic Kingdom! We strolled down (or is it up?) Main Street, took a left at Casey’s, and began working our way through the park. We climbed to the top of Swiss Family Tree House, sailed through Pirates, and before visiting the Country Bears I talked Rob into exploring Tom Sawyer Island with me. We wobbled over Superstition Bridge, felt our way through Injun Joe’s cave, climbed the steps of Fort Langhorn, and then escaped through the secret passageway. We stood in the 45 minute line for Pooh (I LOVE the line for this ride and can’t resist seeing my handprint on the wall!), and waited (even with our Fast Pass) for the Mine Train.
By the time we entered Tomorrowland, I had logged 6.3 miles on my Vivofit. I dragged myself up the Peoplemover ramp, which, today of all days, was not working. As I fell into the car of my favorite go-to ride when I need to rest my park-weary bones, I looked at my aching feet. These babies needed to carry me 3.2 miles in less than 14 hours! What had I been thinking? (I had been asking myself that question a lot.)
Well, by late afternoon I decided we had probably better head out and tackle my next worry—finding the ESPN complex and figuring out how to pick up my packet. Being the unathletic sort I am, I had a vague notion that those letters referred to a sports channel but I was completely unacquainted with this part of Disney property. Having seen some of the sports teams during stays at the All Star Sports Resort, I had in my mind that I would be going into a big tent with some tables set up. I’d have to show my ID and I’d make my way around to a few tables with New Balance sneakers, Disney water bottles, and the like. I repeat…What was I thinking?! This was Disney, for goodness sake, and the Wow Factor is what they do best.
I was wowed for sure. We found ourselves pulling into the parking lot along with hundreds of other cars. Cast members with Disney smiles directed us where to park. Once we parked our car, we followed the mass of people walking in the same direction. Within the first few steps our first photo op appeared. Quite a few in the crowd stopped here. There were props you could pose with for each of the different races. I decided to come back to that on the way out. As we neared an under construction stadium and buildings I was in awe of the size of this place I never knew existed! How had I been to Disney so many times and never even knew this was here? More Disney smiles directed us onward, my worries about figuring out where to go completely abated. As I got closer to the main buildings, I sensed a feeling of being in a Disney Springs for athletes. Friendly cast members and prominent signs guided us into the building for packet pick-up. The e-guide sent out a few weeks prior to the event stated that we would need a photo ID (Magic Bands not being a sufficient substitute, I assumed) and a signed race waiver. Understanding “vacation brain”, Disney anticipated that some would forget the waiver and provided the option to print and sign there. I, however, had attempted to memorize the event book and all my instructions, so I had my waiver and ID ready to go.
I walked up to the registration kiosk and upon showing my ID, received my clear plastic gEar bag which contained race day essentials: the paper “bib” with Mrs. Potts’ and Chip’s smiling faces and the ID number identifying me as a participant, a few safety pins with which to attach said bib to my shirt, and some energy snacks. We made our way over to the T-shirt table, where I picked up my Princess 5K shirt, which I knew from some of my real-runner friends you don’t wear for the run. (Evidently, the new shirt can cause chafing. I kind of doubted this would be a problem within 3.2 miles but you never know. I just considered myself glad not to add “wardrobe selection” to the list of worries I had been carrying around.)
Trying not to swing my bag too proudly, we made our way to the Health and Fitness Expo. Another “Wow!” Vendor after vendor of runner-friendly items, from free samples of protein bars and rice (a mystery to me, too) to Minnie polka-dot running skirts. But, much as I enjoyed the festive atmosphere, we did a brief walk-thru and headed out in search of a quick dinner.
Disney did it again with their impeccable quality, organization, and magic of course! They replaced my nervousness with pure excitement and anticipation! I was, however, beginning to think about that 3 AM wake-up call…