Well, this post is special for 2 reasons: first, it’s our 100th post! How fitting that this milestone post is a Disney race recap – but that’s not all! The second thing that makes it special is that it’s the recap of a race I ran with Dimity McDowell!!! Now, some of you will instantly recognize that name. Others will remember how much I love and admire Dimity (and her awesome sister from Another Mother Runner, Sarah). If none of this rings a bell, go check out page 77 of Runner’s World this month. That should do it.
So anyway – I was thrilled, thrilled, thrilled to pieces when Dimity and I hatched the plan of running the inaugural Enchanted 10K together, along with a small tribe of mother runners. I mean, how often do you get to race with your running idol? Last year, I had a chance to run with her at the Princess Meet-Up and it was one of my favourite moments of the whole race weekend. Our plan to run the 10K together had me feeling like a kid on Christmas morning! And actually, I kind of look like a kid next to her – she towers a whole foot above me at 6’4. So when I say I look up to her, I mean it!
The day started in the middle of the night, as all Disney races do. As soon as I left my hotel room, I was hit in the face with a wall of humidity. Uh oh. However, I was taking on part 1 of the Glass Slipper Challenge! With Dimity! Nothing could quash my excitement, not even insanely hot Florida weather. I skipped around Hourglass Lake to meet Laural and we caught our bus to the race site, where we were meeting Dimity and the other mother runners in Race Retreat.
Now, an aside: I did race retreat last year at the Princess Half. This year, I did not do it for the Half, but was lucky to have it gifted to me for the 10K, courtesy of runDisney and Another Mother Runner. Having done Disney races both ways, I would unequivocally say: DO IT. Is it ridiculously expensive? Yep. But it’s rather worth it to be treated like a princess. You have a fun place to warm-up for the race with private portapotties (NO lines!), private bag-check, continental breakfast, stretching area, character appearances and a great party atmosphere. After the race, you get a hot breakfast, commemorative items, live race results and a massage area. I’m all about the royal treatment and this experience is it. Plus, it gives you somewhere to celebrate right after the race and keep that party going!
Back to race morning: Dimity showed up, mother runners assembled and we were off to the races – or, in this case, the corrals. And we were headed for Corral A, baby! It was a short walk and we took lots of pictures on the way. The race atmosphere was much less intense and much more relaxed than it would be the next day at the half-marathon. Everyone seemed to be all about having fun and taking it easy, especially given the heat – and the minor matter of having a half-marathon to run the next day!
Soon enough, we were off and running. The first half of the course was on roads around Epcot, so not the most exciting race route. But, in true Disney style, they did their best to make it magical. And when I saw Queen Elsa atop an overpass, I remembered why I love Disney races. As we got closer, we realized it was snowing! Yes, Queen Elsa was making it snow in Florida. Runners were moving to the side to stop and just enjoy the magic. Laural and I slowed to take it all in and then laughed at the irony because we have enough damn snow in Canada – we were trying to get away from the snow, so why were we acting like we’d never seen it before? Enough with the snow! You can keep it, Elsa!
Surprisingly, our group of mother runners was pacing together quite well – I mean, what are the chances that a group of 10 women who had never met would all be similar paces? We chatted back and forth and stopped for lots of photos along the way. Some dropped back and then caught up, some moved off for pictures on their own, but somehow most of the group managed to stick together for the entire race. And there I was, running Disney beside Dimity and chatting like it was all no big deal! This made the time outside the park go by pretty quickly. Soon enough, we were half-way done!
A word about the heat and humidity. I never run with my hair down. Like, ever. But I did for this race because it fit my costume and I thought I could manage it for 10K. Well, as you can probably see, it was soaking wet by the 5K mark and looking like I had just come out of the shower. And in case you are wondering, that adorable little apron is not made of wicking material. If I wasn’t so committed to costuming, that thing would have ended up in Friendship Lake as soon as we hit Epcot! Speaking of Epcot…
Just as I was getting a bit discouraged by the race route, Dimity turned to me and said “There it is, Jodi – we’re coming into the World Showcase”. She could see better than me…you know, because she has that extra foot of height! Good timing because the heat, humidity and seemingly never-ending anticipation of Epcot was starting to get on my nerves. I mean, we were past 6K before we got to the interesting part of the course. Magical snow or not, I know Disney can do better. Luckily, I had interesting people to keep me entertained until the sights could do so!
Everyone’s spirits seemed to pick up as we made our way into the World Showcase – a new energy took hold as we ran around the beautiful lake with the torches lit. Cast members were now out to cheer for us and suddenly there were photographers everywhere. As you can see, Laural and I really needed to cheer up just a little.
After running half of the World Showcase, we took a detour to the Boardwalk area which is also beautiful. This is a really fun place to run at Disney and it was a great addition to the course to have runners experience this little gem. Outside the ESPN Zone, we found Sporty Goofy!
It was now a quick turn back into the World Showcase to finish our tour of the world. By this point, everyone was feeling like they’d been through a steam bath – and that’s exactly what we looked like!
We were all consulting our Garmins to see just how far we had to go, which turned into a very funny conversation about running in kilometres versus running in miles. Being Canadian, I train in kilometres and am always surprised by how far apart the mile markers feel. Running in kilometres is so much better for the sports ego. I mean, what sounds better: “I ran 21 kilometres today” or “I ran 13 miles”? It’s a no-brainer. Dimity decided I should lobby President Obama to have the United States convert to kilometres and everyone agreed. Seems like a totally reasonable plan of attack. Clearly the heat was not effecting us at all!
With Donald cheering us on, we knew we were very close to the Finish. My legs, which had been starting to feel like dead weight, suddenly woke up and were ready for a final push to the end. At this moment, I realized that I’d actually run the whole race with Dimity. We were literally going to cross that finish line together. I was hot and I was ready to be done, but I was not too spent to appreciate what a unique and awesome moment this was – not many people get to run in their favourite place with their running idol. But this is Disney World, after all, where dreams come true!
Watch out, here come the mother runners! We got a great shout out from the runDisney race announcer and even got interviewed by runDisney after we crossed! Yep, it really pays to run with a celebrity sometimes.
And then THIS happened: instead of getting my medal handed to me by a volunteer, I got mine placed around my neck by Dimity. This moment will be very hard to top!
And now it was time to celebrate back in Race Retreat where we hydrated and refuelled. We got our little sweat towels (really could have used that on the course!) and cute flip flops too. There were also some characters waiting to celebrate with us!
Soon enough though everyone was ready to head their separate ways. Dimity had a speaking engagement at the Expo, and I was getting ready for a wardrobe change because I had another race to do: The Kids Mile with my daughters. Oh come on, what’s one more mile at this point, right?
And with that, the first leg of the Glass Slipper Challenge was complete! A fairy tale run if ever there was one.